What The Fuck Just Happened Today?

Today's essential guide to the daily shock and awe in national politics. Read in moderation.
Curated by @matt_kiser

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Day 185: "The unvaccinated folks."

1/ Trump’s PAC collected $75 million this year, but so far the group has not put money into pushing for the 2020 ballot reviews he touts. Even as he assiduously tracks attempts by his allies to cast doubt on the integrity of the 2020 election, the former president has been uninterested in personally bankrolling the effort in Arizona or to push for similar endeavors in other states, according to people familiar with the finances. Instead, the Save America leadership PAC — which has few limits on how it can spend its money — has paid for some of the former president’s travel, legal costs and staff, along with other expenses. (Washington Post)

2/ Alabama Republican Gov. Kay Ivey blamed “the unvaccinated folks” for the rise in COVID-19 cases in her state, a remarkable plea at a time when many GOP leaders are refusing to urge people to get vaccinated even as COVID-19 cases surge in many parts of the country. Alabama is the least vaccinated state in the country, with roughly 33.9% of residents fully vaccinated, according to data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (CNN / Washington Post)

3/ Trump ally Tom Barrack strikes a $250 million bail deal to get out of jail. A federal magistrate judge on Friday ordered Tom Barrack, a longtime associate of Trump who was indicted earlier this week on charges of illegal foreign lobbying, released from jail pending trial, freeing him on a bail package that includes a $250 million bond secured by $5 million in cash. The judge also ordered Barrack to wear a GPS location monitoring bracelet, barred him from transferring any funds overseas, and restricted his travel to parts of Southern California and New York. (CNN)

4/ The conservative House Freedom Caucus urged Kevin McCarthy to try remove Nancy Pelosi from her position as Speaker of the House. In a letter Friday, the far-right group asked McCarthy to file and bring up a privileged motion by July 31 “to vacate the chair and end Nancy Pelosi’s authoritarian reign as Speaker of the House.” The motion is all but guaranteed to fail in the Democratic House, but it signals a stewing anger on the right towards the speaker. (Politico)

5/ Biden is expected to nominate Caroline Kennedy as U.S. ambassador to Australia. Kennedy, the daughter of former President John F. Kennedy, served as ambassador to Japan during the Obama administration. She is a longtime friend, ally and donor to Biden who endorsed the President’s candidacy early in the campaign and spoke last summer at the Democratic convention. (CNN)

6/ Lawyers for the state of Mississippi urged the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade. The state is appealing lower court rulings that struck down a law banning most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. The court agreed in May to hear the case, which will be argued in the fall, most likely in November or December. (NBC News)

Day 183: "Extremely enthusiastic."

1/ Nancy Pelosi rejected two of the five GOP members who were selected to serve on the 1/6 committee. House Speaker Pelosi on Wednesday rejected the appointment of Reps. Jim Jordan of Ohio and Jim Banks of Indiana, both of whom objected to the certification of the November 2020 election in the House, to serve on the commission. In response, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy pulled the remaining three GOP members. (CNN / The Hill / Washington Post / Politico)

2/ Trump’s longtime friend and ally Thomas Barrack was accused of trying to use his influence to help the United Arab Emirates. The billionaire businessman was arrested Tuesday in California and charged with violating foreign lobbying laws, obstructing justice and making false statements, officials said. (Washington Post / NBC News / CNBC)

3/ Ted Cruz is blocking diplomats from being confirmed for reasons that have nothing to do with their qualifications. An extraordinary effort by Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz to block nominees from being confirmed to vital jobs in the State Department is creating hurdles for the Biden administration and hindering U.S. diplomacy, according to Democrats and Republicans who spoke to CNN. (CNN)

4/ U.S. life expectancy fell by a year and a half in 2020, the largest one-year decline since World War II, public health officials said Wednesday. The decrease for both Black Americans and Hispanic Americans was even worse: three years. The drop spelled out by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is due mainly to the COVID-19 pandemic, which health officials said is responsible for close to 74% of the overall life expectancy decline. (Associated Press)

5/ Senate Republicans blocked a vote Wednesday to start debate on a $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill, as they push for more time to strike a deal with Democrats and write the legislation. The vote was 49-51, short of the 60 votes needed to advance the measure. (CNN / Politico)

poll/ 48% of Democratic voters are “very” or “extremely” enthusiastic about the midterms, down 5 percentage points since April. A third of Republican voters said they’re “extremely enthusiastic” about the midterms. (Morning Consult)

poll/ 33% of Black adults and 43% of White adults say race relations in the United States are good. 40% of Black adults say race relations will eventually work out, down 14 points. U.S. adults’ positive ratings of relations between Black and White Americans are at their lowest point in more than two decades of measurement. (Gallup)

Day 181: Repatriated.

1/ Attorney General Merrick Garland formally prohibited the seizure of reporters’ records. Reversing years of department policy, Garland formally prohibited federal prosecutors from seizing the records of journalists in leak investigations, with limited exceptions. (Associated Press)

2/ The U.S. formally accused China of hacking Microsoft. The Biden administration is also organizing a broad group of allies to condemn Beijing for cyberattacks around the world, but will stop short of taking concrete punitive steps. (New York Times)

3/ One of the U.S. Capitol rioters was convicted of a felony and sentenced to 8 months in prison. Paul Hodgkins, a 38-year-old Floridian, is now the first Capitol rioter convicted of a felony to be sentenced. He pleaded guilty to breaching the Senate chamber during the U.S. Capitol insurrection and was sentenced on Monday in a closely watched case that could influence how hundreds of other rioters charged with the same felony are punished. (CNN / NBC News)

4/ The Biden Administration transferred its first detainee from Guantánamo Bay and repatriated him to Morocco. The Biden team picked up where the Obama administration left off with the repatriation of a Moroccan man, reducing the island prison’s population to 39. (New York Times)

5/ The Department of Justice says it won’t prosecute ex-Trump Commerce chief Wilbur Ross for misleading Congress on a Census question about citizenship status. Ross “misrepresented the full rationale for the reinstatement of the citizenship question” during appearances before House committees in 2018, the Commerce Department inspector general found. (NBC News)

6/ Trump’s business made $2.4 billion during the four years he served as president. Forbes estimates the pandemic helped wipe about $200 million off Trump’s top line last year. (Forbes)

Day 178: "I've got it covered."

1/ Arizona county election officials have identified fewer than 200 cases of potential voter fraud out of more than 3 million ballots cast in last year’s presidential election, undercutting former President Trump’s claims of a stolen election as his allies continue a disputed ballot review in the state’s most populous county. (Associated Press)

2/ A federal judge in Texas ruled that DACA is unlawful. The program has shielded hundreds of thousands of undocumented young adults from deportation, and the decision throws into question yet again the fate of immigrants known as Dreamers. The judge said Obama exceeded his authority when he created the program by executive order in 2012, but that he would not order that the program be immediately vacated. (New York Times)

3/ Sen. Joe Manchin said he wouldn’t carve out an exemption to the chamber’s filibuster rule for voting rights legislation, effectively dashing chances that Democrats could maneuver around Republican opposition to overhauling the nation’s elections laws. The West Virginia Democrat made the remarks after meeting with a group of Texas House Democrats who left the state to stall a vote on Republican-backed legislation that they say would restrict voting. (Bloomberg)

4/ A witness directly implicated Trump in a tax fraud scheme. A witness in the New York investigation against the Trump Organization has told prosecutors that Trump personally guaranteed he would cover school costs for the family members of two employees in lieu of a raise — directly implicating the former president in an ongoing criminal tax fraud case. Jennifer Weisselberg, ex-daughter-in-law of Allen Weisselberg, allegedly relayed to prosecutors that Trump turned to her and said: “Don’t worry, I’ve got it covered.” (Daily Beast)

5/ Biden selected Jane Hartley as ambassador to U.K.. The White House had considered such figures as Mike Bloomberg and Colin Powell to be ambassador to the Court of St. James’s, one of the plum posts in the American diplomatic corps. (Washington Post)

6/ Former Sen. Tom Udall is Biden’s pick as ambassador to New Zealand and Samoa. The two-term lawmaker was one of four choices named Friday. (Politico)

7/ Matt Gaetz’s campaign paid $25K to a Manhattan criminal defense lawyer who represented Jeffrey Epstein, new records show. Gaetz paid criminal defense attorney Marc Fernich $25K in June, records show. Fernich lists Jeffrey Epstein among his “notable clients.” (Business Insider)

poll/ Less than half of Republicans, 45%, are confident in the institution of science, compared with 72% in 1975. At the same time, Democratic confidence in science has increased from 67% to 79%. (Gallup)

Day 176: "Conversations with folks."

1/ Senate Democrats revealed a $3.5 trillion plan to invest in health care, climate change, and more. The measure, which would include money to address climate change, expand Medicare and fulfill other Democratic priorities, is intended to deliver on President Biden’s economic proposal. “If we pass this, this is the most profound change to help American families in generations,” said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. (NBC News / New York Times / Politico)

2/ Vice President Harris suggested that she has discussed filibuster changes with senators. With a major voting bill stalled, the vice president told NPR that she won’t negotiate changes to Senate rules publicly, “but I’m certainly having conversations with folks.” (NPR)

3/ Trump said whoever “leaked” information about his time in the White House bunker last year should be “executed,” according to a new book. Then-President Trump told a number of his advisers in 2020 that whoever leaked the information had committed treason and should be executed for sharing details about the episode with members of the press. (CNN)

4/ The Justice Department attempted to seize Washington Post reporters’ email data one day before former AG Bill Barr left office. Newly unsealed court files shed more light on a contentious leak investigation. (New York Times)

5/ Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer says he will propose the federal decriminalization of marijuana. Schumer will offer draft legislation to remove marijuana from the list of controlled substances and begin regulating and taxing it. (New York Times)

6/ Tennessee abandoned its vaccine outreach to minors — not just for COVID-19. Tennessee halted all outreach to minors for all vaccines amid pressure from Republican lawmakers. A state vaccine expert was also fired. (The Tennessean)

Day 174: "Speculation and conjecture."

1/ Texas Democrats plan to flee the state in an effort to block GOP-backed voting restrictions. The Texas lawmakers will head to D.C., risking arrest by leaving the state during the special legislative session. The move would be an attempt to become national symbols in the fight for voting rights, as Republicans in the state move ahead with a bill that would impose new limits on casting a ballot. (Texas Tribune / NBC News / New York Times)

2/ Trump lawyers might be penalized over a Michigan election lawsuit. The lawsuit alleging widespread fraud was voluntarily dropped after a judge in December found nothing but “speculation and conjecture.” (NBC News)

3/ Republicans are pushing to ban what they call “discrimination” against unvaccinated people. Legislation being introduced in states across the country would protect the civil rights of people who refuse to be vaccinated. (Axios)

4/ The EPA approved the use of toxic chemicals for fracking a decade ago, according to new files. The compounds can form PFAS, also known as “forever chemicals,” which have been linked to cancer and birth defects. The EPA approvals in 2011 came despite the agency’s own concerns about toxicity. (New York Times)

5/ The FDA is expected to announce a new warning about the Johnson & Johnson vaccine related to a rare autoimmune disorder. About 100 preliminary reports of Guillain-Barré have been detected after 12.8 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine were administered, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a statement. (Washington Post / New York Times)

6/ Biden backed Trump’s rejection of China’s claim to the South China Sea. The Biden administration on Sunday upheld a Trump-era rejection of nearly all of China’s significant maritime claims in the South China Sea. Biden also warned China that any attack on the Philippines in the flashpoint region would draw a U.S. response under a mutual defense treaty. (Associated Press)

Day 171: "Any necessary action."

1/ Biden told Putin the U.S. will take “any necessary action” after the latest massive ransomware attack. The White House says Biden has warned Putin that the United States would hold Moscow responsible for cyberattacks originating from Russia even if they cannot be directly linked to the Kremlin. (Washington Post)

2/ Michigan’s attorney general will launch an investigation into those who have allegedly peddled disinformation about the state’s Nov. 3 election for their own financial gain. The inquiry follows a recommendation in a GOP-led investigation into the election after the report found no evidence of widespread fraud. (Detroit Free Press)

3/ Biden nominated Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti as the U.S. ambassador to India. Garcetti would step down as L.A. mayor after Senate confirmation. Denise Bauer, a former ambassador to Belgium and prominent Biden donor, will be nominated ambassador to France. (Los Angeles Times / Washington Post)

4/ The C.D.C. issued new school guidance with an emphasis on full reopening. The guidance acknowledges that many students have suffered from months of virtual learning and urges schools to fully reopen in the fall, even if they cannot take all of the steps the agency recommends to curb the spread of the coronavirus. (New York Times)

5/ Biden signed an executive order to promote competition throughout the U.S. economy, in the most ambitious effort in generations to reduce the stranglehold of monopolies and concentrated markets in major industries. The order takes aim at monopolies in agriculture, airlines, broadband and banking. (Politico)

6/ The Department of Education urged Biden to extend student loan relief. The White House has not yet made a final decision on how and when to restart federal student loan payments, which have been frozen since March 2020. (Politico)

Day 169: "A lot of good things."

1/ Trump sued Google, Facebook, and Twitter. He filed a class action lawsuit seeking “punitive damages” to represent broader complaints about social media policies. (Axios / Associated Press / Washington Post / BBC)

2/ Trump told his chief of staff in 2018 that Hitler “did a lot of good things,” according to a new book by Michael Bender. The remarks shocked John Kelly, Bender reports, detailing the former president’s “stunning disregard for history.” (The Guardian)

3/ Weeks after her visit to the Holocaust Museum, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene made a new Nazi-era comparison in opposing the latest COVID-19 vaccination push. The Georgia Republican used the phrase “medical brown shirts” to describe officials and volunteers who are encouraging all Americans to get vaccinated. (Washington Post)

4/ Russian hackers are accused of breaching a contractor for the Republican National Committee last week, around the same time that Russian cyber-criminals launched the single largest global ransomware attack on record. The attack occurred weeks after a U.S.-Russian summit. (New York Times / Bloomberg / NBC News)

5/ Rep. Mo Brooks says he can’t be sued for inciting the Capitol riot because he is a federal employee. The Alabama Republican said he acted as member of Congress when he gave a fiery speech with Trump on Jan. 6 urging the crowd to overturn the 2020 presidential election results. (Washington Post)

6/ Republican Sen. Ron Johnson mouthed that climate change is “bullshit” during a GOP luncheon. Johnson insisted again last week that he is not a climate change denier, but video of him at a GOP event weeks earlier shows him telling the Republican group that it is “bullshit.” (CNN)

7/ Rep. Matt Gaetz’s associate Joel Greenberg asked for a 90-day sentencing delay due to his cooperation with prosecutors. A lawyer for Greenberg, a key figure in a federal probe involving Gaetz, asked a judge to delay the former county tax collector’s sentencing date by 90 days. The lawyer cited Greenberg’s continued cooperation with federal prosecutors. (CNBC)

8/ The FBI infiltrated a group whose members wanted to test homemade bombs, surveil the Capitol, and secede from the U.S. Court records show the FBI infiltrated a “Bible study” group in Virginia that, after the January 6 riot, had members discussing surveilling the U.S. Capitol and their wish to secede from the U.S. Investigators closely followed one member’s plans to build and test Molotov cocktails. (CNN)

poll/ Americans’ life ratings are at a record high. An estimated 59.2% of U.S. adults rate their lives well enough to be categorized as “thriving” exceeding the previous record-high estimate of 57.3% from 2017. (Gallup)

Day 164: "An affront to our shared humanity."

1/ The U.S. military vacated Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan after nearly 20 years. The base was the epicenter of the U.S. military’s counterterrorism campaign in Afghanistan, with fighter jets, drones, and cargo planes taking off from the twin runways day and night. The airfield was handed over to the Afghan National Security and Defense Force, effectively ending America’s longest foreign war. The U.S., however, will continue to pay nearly $4 billion annually until 2024 to finance the Afghan security forces. (Associated Press / New York Times / Washington Post)

2/ Attorney General Merrick Garland suspended federal executions, saying he said serious concerns about the arbitrariness of capital punishment, its disparate impact on people of color, and “the troubling number of exonerations” in death penalty cases. Garland ordered a review of whether the drug approved for federal executions poses risks of pain and suffering, as well as the decision made late last year to allow other methods of execution besides lethal injection, including electrocution and firing squad. In 2019 – after 17 years without executions – then-Attorney General William Barr directed federal prison officials to begin executing 13 people on death row. (NBC News / Politico / Washington Post)

3/ Biden endorsed major changes to the military justice system that would remove investigating and prosecuting sexual assault cases from the chain of command. The military justice system would instead hand sexual harassment and assault cases off to independent military lawyers. An independent review of how the military deals with sexual assault found that commanders need training in how to prevent what an official calls “daily acts of demeaning language and sexual harassment.” In a statement, Biden backed Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin’s decision to work with Congress on overhauling the system, saying “sexual assault is an abuse of power and an affront to our shared humanity. And sexual assault in the military is doubly damaging because it also shreds the unity and cohesion that is essential to the functioning of the U.S. military and to our national defense. Yet for as long as we have abhorred this scourge, the statistics and the stories have grown worse.” Biden, however, stopped short of backing a congressional effort to strip commanders of oversight of all major crimes. (New York Times / NPR / USA Today / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal)

4/ The U.S. economy added 850,000 jobs in June – the largest number of jobs added in a month since last August. Biden responded to the June jobs numbers, saying the American Rescue Plan relief bill was “proving to the naysayers and the doubters that they were wrong.” He added: “Our economy is on the move, and we have Covid-19 on the run.” The unemployment rate, meanwhile, ticked up to 5.9% from 5.8%. (Washington Post / CNBC)

5/ About 11% of people in the U.S. have missed their second dose of the coronavirus vaccine – nearly 15 million people. Second doses are considered missed if more than 42 days has passed since the initial jab. (Washington Post)

poll/ 59% of Americans believe crime is an “extremely” or “very” serious problem in the U.S. 17% say crime in their area is extremely or very serious, up from 10% last fall. (Washington Post)

poll/ 56% of Americans say ensuring access to voting is more important than tamping down on voter fraud. Among Democrats, 85% said voting access was more important, while 72% of Republicans said making sure no one votes who isn’t eligible was more important. (NPR)

poll/ 67% of Americans believe democracy in the U.S. is under threat, while 29% say democracy in the U.S. is alive and well. (PBS NewsHour)

Day 163: "Sweeping and audacious."

1/ The Supreme Court upheld a pair of restrictive election laws in Arizona, overturning a lower court ruling that found the laws discriminated against minority voters. The Arizona laws invalidate ballots that are cast in the wrong precinct, and ban the practice known as “ballot harvesting,” in which third-party community groups or campaigns collect and return other people’s ballots. Democrats argued that the data showed the restrictions disproportionately affected voters of color, which would be a violation of the Voting Rights Act. Writing for the majority, Justice Samuel Alito said the law requires “equal openness” to the voting process and that a “mere inconvenience cannot be enough to demonstrate a violation” of the law. (NPR / ABC News / NBC News / Washington Post / New York Times / Axios)

2/ The Manhattan district attorney’s office charged the Trump Organization with a 15-year-long “scheme to defraud” the government and charged its chief financial officer with grand larceny and tax fraud. Allen Weisselberg allegedly avoided paying taxes on $1.7 million in off-the-books compensation, including apartment rent, car payments, and school tuition. In all, 15 criminal charges were filed against Weisselberg, including counts of conspiracy, grand larceny, criminal tax fraud, and falsifying business records. Grand larceny in the second degree carries a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison. “To put it bluntly, this was a sweeping and audacious illegal payments scheme,” Carey Dunne said, general counsel for the district attorney. Dunne added that the scheme to get “secret pay raises” while not paying taxes was “orchestrated by the most senior executives.” The Trump Organization, meanwhile, issued a statement, claiming that Weisselberg was being used as a “pawn in a scorched-earth attempt to harm the former president.” Weisselberg pleaded not guilty, as did an attorney on the Trump Organization’s behalf. Trump himself was not charged. (Washington Post / New York Times / Associated Press / Wall Street Journal / CNN)

3/ 130 countries endorsed setting a 15% global minimum corporate tax rate. The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development said the agreement on taxing global companies in countries where their goods or services are sold, even if they have no physical presence there, would generate an estimated $150 billion in additional tax revenue each year. “Multinational corporations will no longer be able to pit countries against one another in a bid to push tax rates down and protect their profits at the expense of public revenue,” Biden said. “They will no longer be able to avoid paying their fair share by hiding profits generated in the United States, or any other country, in lower-tax jurisdictions. This will level the playing field and make America more competitive.” (Washington Post / Bloomberg / New York Times)

4/ Nancy Pelosi appointed Republican Rep. Liz Cheney to the House select committee to investigate the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. In May, House Republicans removed Cheney from her leadership role because of her vote to impeach Trump and her continued criticism of Trump’s repeated lie that the 2020 election was stolen from him. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, meanwhile, threatened to strip any Republican member of their committee assignments if they accept an offer to serve on the committee. (CNN / CNBC / Axios)

5/ The Supreme Court struck down a California law that required charities and nonprofits to disclose their top donors. Under the law, the tax-exempt groups were required to report the names and addresses of all donors who gave more than $5,000 or 2% of the organization’s total donations. Conservative groups challenged the state’s disclosure requirements, saying the information was protected under the First Amendment’s freedom of association and that the disclosure could lead to harassment. California, meanwhile, said the state attorney general needed the information to investigate complaints of charitable fraud and self-dealing. (NPR / Washington Post / CNN / New York Times)

Day 162: "A more stable and secure world."

1/ The House voted to establish a 13-member committee to investigate the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. “That day, Jan. 6, was one of the darkest days in American history,” Nancy Pelosi said before the vote. The mob sought “to block the certification of an election and the peaceful transfer of power that is the cornerstone of our democracy.” The vote was 222-190, with two Republicans voting in favor. Pelosi will select eight of the 13 members herself, including its chairman. The remaining five will be appointed “after consultation with the minority leader,” Rep. Kevin McCarthy. The committee will also have the power to subpoena witnesses and documents. (Bloomberg / Politico / Washington Post / NBC News)

2/ The Supreme Court denied a challenge to the pandemic-related federal eviction moratorium. The court’s order means the CDC moratorium on evictions, which prohibits landlords from evicting certain tenants who fail to pay rent during the Covid-19 pandemic, will remain in place until July 31. John Roberts and Brett Kavanaugh joined with the court’s three liberals to keep the moratorium in place. (CNN / Politico)

3/ The Manhattan district attorney’s office is expected to charge the Trump Organization and its chief financial officer with tax-related crimes on Thursday. The charges reportedly involve non-monetary fringe benefits the Trump Organization gave to top executives, such as the use of apartments, cars, and school tuition. (Wall Street Journal / Associated Press / NBC News)

4/ Bill Cosby was released from prison after his sexual assault conviction was overturned by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. Cosby was convicted on three felony counts of aggravated indecent assault in 2018 for drugging and sexually assaulting a woman in 2004. He served nearly three years of a three- to 10-year sentence. The state Supreme Court concluded that Cosby’s prosecution should never have occurred because of a non-prosecution deal Cosby made with former Montgomery County prosecutor Bruce Castor, who agreed not to criminally prosecute Cosby if he gave a deposition in the civil case brought against him by the woman he drugged and sexually assaulted. Castor is the same lawyer who represented Trump during his second impeachment trial. (Philadelphia Inquirer / ABC News / Associated Press / NBC News)

5/ The architect of the decades-long wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is dead. Donald Rumsfeld, the secretary of Defense under both Gerald Ford and George W. Bush, was 88. Rumsfeld never expressed regret for the decision to invade Iraq, which cost the U.S. $700 billion and 4,400 American lives, insisting instead that “ridding the region of Saddam [Hussein’s] brutal regime has created a more stable and secure world.” In 2004, human rights groups and a bipartisan Senate committee said Rumsfeld should face criminal charges for his decisions that had led to the abuse of Iraqi detainees at Abu Ghraib prison and terrorism suspects at Guantanamo Bay. (New York Times / NPR / Politico / Washington Post / Reuters)

Day 161: "Take the win."

1/ Joe Manchin agreed to support the use of budget reconciliation to pass a broader tax and social spending bill. Manchin said he believes a Democratic-only infrastructure bill “can be done,” but hasn’t agreed on how big it will be, adding that it shouldn’t be linked to the separate bipartisan agreement. Manchin’s comments, however, come as the Progressive Caucus told the White House and party leaders that they would withhold their support for the bipartisan infrastructure bill if the bigger, broader tax and social spending package wasn’t passed in tandem. Manchin, meanwhile, urged progressive Democrats to “take the win” on the bipartisan agreement. (The Hill / Politico / New York Times / Bloomberg / Business Insider)

2/ Maricopa County will replace all of the voting equipment that was turned over to contractors hired by the Republican-controlled state Senate to conduct its audit of 2020 presidential election results. The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors said that because the equipment had been placed “under the control of persons not certified to handle election equipment,” the County would “not use the subpoenaed election equipment in any future election” because it “could pose a risk to free and fair elections.” The potential cost to taxpayers is unknown. The county is currently half way through a $6.1 million lease with Dominion Voting Systems for the equipment. Meanwhile, 49% of Arizona voters say they oppose the recount effort, while 46% support the audit. (Arizona Republic / CNN / The Hill / Politico)

3/ The House will vote to remove statues honoring Confederate and other white supremacist leaders from public display in the Capitol. The legislation would also remove a bust of Chief Justice Roger B. Taney, who wrote the 1857 Dred Scott decision that said Black people weren’t entitled to U.S. citizenship. Under the measure, Taney’s bust would be replaced with one of Thurgood Marshall, the first Black Supreme Court justice. The legislation, however, faces challenges in the evenly divided Senate where it would need 60 votes to overcome a filibuster. A similar bill passed the House last year, but didn’t advance in the then Republican-controlled Senate. (NBC News / New York Times / Washington Post / CBS News)

4/ Trump Organization attorneys met with New York prosecutors to argue why Trump’s company should not be criminally charged. Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance has convened a grand jury and prosecutors have reportedly been considering criminal charges against Allen Weisselberg, the Trump Organization’s chief financial officer, as well as against the organization as an entity. Trump’s personal lawyer, however, has said that Vance does not currently plan to charge the Trump Organization with crimes related to “hush money” payments or real estate value manipulations. Ronald Fischetti said Vance’s team was considering charges against the Trump Organization and individual employees related to alleged failures to pay taxes on corporate benefits and perks. Weisselberg’s former daughter-in-law, meanwhile, said she is prepared to testify before the grand jury as part of the investigation into Trump’s company. (Washington Post / Politico / CNN)

5/ The Justice Department is investigating Rudy Giuliani over possible foreign lobbying for Turkish interests. In 2017, Trump and Giuliani pressured then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to persuade the Justice Department to drop money-laundering charges against Giuliani’s client Reza Zarrab, a Turkey-based, Iranian-born businessman. Giuliani also urged Trump to extradite a Turkish cleric living in exile in the U.S., who Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused of inciting a coup. The inquiry is separate from the criminal probe into Giuliani’s activities in Ukraine. (Bloomberg / ABC News)

Day 160: "Not my intent."

1/ Biden walked back his threat to veto the bipartisan infrastructure deal if lawmakers don’t also pass the rest of his infrastructure proposals – which include tax increases, climate policy, health care provisions, and investments in child care – through budget reconciliation, which would bypass the 60-vote filibuster threshold. In a statement, Biden said it “was certainly not my intent” to create the impression he was threatening to veto “the very plan I had just agreed to.” He added: “Our bipartisan agreement does not preclude Republicans from attempting to defeat my Families Plan; likewise, they should have no objections to my devoted efforts to pass that Families Plan and other proposals in tandem.” Mitch McConnell, meanwhile, continued to pressure Biden and congressional Democrats to further weaken the link between the bipartisan infrastructure deal and the spending bill, warning that Biden and his party want to “hold a bipartisan bill hostage over a separate and partisan process.” Biden “has appropriately de-linked a potential bipartisan infrastructure bill from the massive, unrelated tax-and-spend plans that Democrats want to pursue on a partisan basis,” McConnell said, adding that Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi should follow suit and that Biden should “make sure they follow his lead.” Pelosi, however, has said she would not take up either proposal in the House until both get through the Senate, and Schumer plans to have the Senate vote on both measures next month. (Politico / New York Times / Bloomberg / CBS News / CNBC)

2/ Nancy Pelosi introduced legislation to create a select committee to probe the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob. The House is expected to vote on it Wednesday. (Washington Post)

3/ Biden ordered airstrikes Sunday against “facilities used by Iran-backed militia groups” near the border between Iraq and Syria. The Pentagon said the militias were using the facilities to launch drone attacks against U.S. personnel and facilities in Iraq. The Biden administration called the strikes an act of “self-defense.” (Associated Press / Reuters)

4/ The Supreme Court rejected a Virginia school board’s appeal to reinstate its transgender bathroom ban, which prohibited transgender students from using the restroom and locker room facilities that reflect their gender identity. The Supreme Court left in place lower court rulings that found the policy unconstitutional. (CBS News / ABC News / Politico / NBC News)

5/ Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas suggested that federal laws against the sale and cultivation of marijuana may no longer make sense. As the court declined to hear the appeal of a Colorado medical marijuana dispensary that was denied federal tax breaks, Thomas, one of the court’s most conservative justices, wrote that the “prohibition […] of marijuana may no longer be necessary or proper to support the federal government’s piecemeal approach.” Thomas added that “the federal government’s current approach is a half-in, half-out regime that simultaneously tolerates and forbids local use of marijuana.” (NBC News / CNBC)

6/ A federal judge dismissed antitrust lawsuits brought against Facebook by the FTC and a coalition of 48 state attorneys general. The cases accused Facebook of creating a monopoly over social networking by buying nascent rivals, like Instagram and WhatsApp, to limit competition, as well as stifling would-be competitors by cutting off their access to its data and systems. U.S. District Judge James Boasberg said the lawsuits were “legally insufficient” and didn’t provide evidence to prove that Facebook was a monopoly. The White House, meanwhile, is crafting an executive order aimed at using federal power to actively promote competition throughout the U.S. economy. (NPR / New York Times / Associated Press / Politico)

Day 157: "Particular cruelty."

1/ The Justice Department filed a federal lawsuit against Georgia, alleging that the restrictions from its new voting law purposefully discriminate against Black Americans. Georgia’s Election Integrity Act, which was passed the Republican-led state legislature on a party-line vote and signed into law by Republican Gov. Brian Kemp in late March, changed how voters can cast their votes, imposed new limits on the use of absentee ballots, made it a crime for outside groups to provide food and water to voters waiting at polling stations, and handed greater control over election administration to the state legislature. “Our complaint alleges that recent changes to Georgia’s election laws were enacted with the purpose of denying or abridging the right of Black Georgians to vote on account of their race or color, in violation of Section Two of the Voting Rights Act,” Attorney General Merrick Garland said. Kristen Clarke, the head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, said several of the law’s provisions “were passed with a discriminatory purpose” that would disproportionately “push more Black voters to in-person voting where they will be more likely than white voters to confront long lines.” (Washington Post / New York Times / Politico / Wall Street Journal / ABC News)

2/ Derek Chauvin was sentenced to 22 years and six months in prison for murdering George Floyd. Chauvin was convicted in April on charges of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter. He faced up to four decades in prison – prosecutors had asked for 30 years – and could get out on parole after serving two-thirds of his sentence, or about 15 years. Judge Peter Cahill went beyond the 12 1/2-year sentence prescribed under state guidelines, citing “your abuse of a position of trust and authority and also the particular cruelty” shown to Floyd. Separately, Chauvin and the three other former officers present for Floyd’s murder are also facing federal civil rights charges. (Associated Press / NPR / Bloomberg / New York Times / Washington Post / Axios / Wall Street Journal)

3/ The bipartisan infrastructure deal is now in jeopardy after Republicans complained they were “blindsided by Biden’s efforts to simultaneously pursue both the bipartisan deal and a package of Democratic priorities that can pass via reconciliation without GOP support. Yesterday – when Biden announced the bipartisan infrastructure deal – he said that if this “is the only one that comes to me, I’m not signing it,” adding that the deal is contingent upon it passing “in tandem” with a broader package of priorities. Several of the 11 Republicans who signed off on the bipartisan deal were described as “stunned,” “floored,” and “frustrated” that Biden later put conditions on accepting their deal, privately warning that they could walk away and torpedo the $1.2 trillion deal. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said senators shouldn’t be surprised by the two-track strategy, saying “That hasn’t been a secret, [Biden] hasn’t said it quietly, he hasn’t even whispered it.” Sen. Lindsey Graham, meanwhile, claimed that Biden duped the GOP senators who negotiated the deal, saying “most Republicans could not have known” about the two-track strategy. “There’s no way. You look like a fucking idiot now.” (Politico / Associated Press / The Hill / CNN / Business Insider)

4/ The Manhattan district attorney’s office informed Trump’s lawyers that it is considering criminal charges against the Trump Organization. Cyrus Vance Jr. could announce charges against the Trump Organization and its chief financial officer, Allen Weisselberg, as soon as next week in connection with fringe benefits Weisselberg received from the company. Investigators have also been probing Matthew Calamari – Trump’s Trump bodyguard who’s now the company’s chief operating officer – over whether he received tax-free fringe benefits from the company. It would be unusual to indict a company only for failing to pay taxes on fringe benefits. (New York Times / NBC News)

5/ Nearly all Covid-19 deaths in the U.S. now are among people who weren’t vaccinated. About 63% of eligible Americans 12 and older have received at least one dose, and 53% are fully vaccinated, according to the CDC. “Breakthrough” infections in fully vaccinated people accounted for fewer than 1,200 of more than 853,000 Covid-19 hospitalizations – about 0.1%. (Associated Press)

6/ The House voted to repeal a Trump-era rule that rolled back regulations of methane emissions from oil and gas industries. The final vote was 229-191 and now heads to Biden’s desk for his signature. The Senate passed the resolution at the end of April under the Congressional Review Act. (CNN / Washington Post)

poll/ 41% of Americans ages 18-34 have a positive view of socialism – up from 39% in 2019. 49% of Americans ages 18-34, meanwhile, have a positive view of capitalism – down from 58% in 2019. (Axios)

Day 156: "Root causes."

1/ Biden agreed to a bipartisan infrastructure deal after meeting with a group of senators at the White House. “We have a deal,” Biden said, endorsing the roughly $1 trillion infrastructure plan by a group of 10 senators. Under the framework, the bipartisan package would include about $579 billion in new spending to overhaul the nation’s transportation, electric utilities, water, and broadband infrastructure. The Senate, meanwhile, has started to work on a budget resolution that would allow Democrats to pass a second, much larger package of spending and tax increases unilaterally. Chuck Schumer said the Senate will simultaneously move forward with both the bipartisan agreement and the reconciliation bill. Nancy Pelosi told House Democratic leaders that the House won’t take up the bipartisan agreement until the Senate approves a package through reconciliation. (Bloomberg / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / New York Times / Politico / CNN / NBC News / CNBC)

2/ The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff pushed back against suggestions from a Republican congressman that the military was becoming too “woke” for teaching critical race theory at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. Gen. Mark Milley called the accusations from Rep. Michael Waltz “offensive,” saying that studying institutional racism could be useful in understanding what “caused thousands of people to assault this building and try to overturn the Constitution of the United States of America” during the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol. Milley added that military university graduates should be “open-minded and be widely read,” adding: “I’ve read Mao Zedong. I’ve read Karl Marx. I’ve read Lenin. That doesn’t make me a communist. So what is wrong with understanding — having some situational understanding about the country for which we are here to defend?” The exchange came at a House Armed Services Committee hearing to discuss the 2022 Defense Department budget. (New York Times / Reuters / NPR)

3/ Rudy Giuliani was temporarily barred from practicing law in New York and faces disbarment for making “demonstrably false and misleading statements” while helping Trump challenge to the 2020 election results. The New York State appellate court temporarily suspended Giuliani’s law license, saying Giuliani represented an “immediate threat” to the public and had “directly inflamed” the tensions that led to the Jan. 6 Capitol riot. “The seriousness of respondent’s uncontroverted misconduct cannot be overstated,” the court said. “This country is being torn apart by continued attacks on the legitimacy of the 2020 election and of our current president, Joseph R. Biden.” (New York Times / USA Today)

4/ The Department of Homeland Security is reportedly concerned about the conspiracy theory that Trump will be reinstated as president in August. In a private briefing with the House Committee on Homeland Security, the department’s top counterterrorism official told members that it was monitoring discussion of the topic among online extremist communities and that the department was concerned the false narrative that the election was rigged would trigger violence. Trump, meanwhile, has been telling acquaintances he expects to be reinstated as president by the end of the summer. (Politico)

5/ Nancy Pelosi announced the creation of a select committee to examine the January 6 attack on the Capitol, saying “It is imperative that we establish the truth of that day, and ensure that an attack of that kind cannot happen.” Pelosi said the investigation would take “two paths”: looking at the “root causes” of the attack, and the failures in security of the Capitol. Last month, Senate Republicans blocked the creation of an independent, bipartisan commission. (CBS News / Washington Post / Politico / New York Times / The Guardian)

6/ The Biden administration extended the national moratorium on evictions to help millions of tenants unable to make rent payments during the coronavirus pandemic. The nationwide ban on evictions was scheduled to expire on June 30, but Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the CDC, extended the moratorium until July 31. The CDC said “this is intended to be the final extension of the moratorium.” (New York Times / Associated Press)

Day 155: "Pursuit of truth."

1/ Nancy Pelosi plans to appoint a select committee to investigate the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol after Senate Republicans blocked the creation of an independent, bipartisan commission. While Pelosi has not formally announced the committee, she suggested during a House Steering and Policy Committee meeting that she would move forward with plans to form an independent panel modeled after the 9/11 Commission in “pursuit of truth.” The House passed legislation last month to establish a bipartisan commission, but Senate Republicans filibustered the bill. (Politico / CNN)

2/ Biden’s Justice Department could end up defending Trump in lawsuits seeking to hold him accountable for the Jan. 6 attack, including one filed by two U.S. Capitol Police and one filed by Rep. Eric Swalwell, which alleges that Trump incited the riot in an effort to stop Congress from certifying Biden as the election winner. In an unrelated defamation case against Trump by author E. Jean Carroll, who contends that Trump raped her 25 years ago and then lied about it while in office, the Biden DOJ argued that presidents enjoy immunity for their comments while in office, including the right to a defense by government lawyers. The Biden Justice Department, meanwhile, declined to comment on whether it would use the same legal rationale of presidential immunity as the basis for intervening in other lawsuits Trump faces. (Reuters / Vanity Fair)

3/ Attorney General Merrick Garland backed away from a comprehensive review of actions by the Trump Justice Department, calling it “a complicated question.” Garland noted, however, that the department’s independent inspector general was already investigating related issues, including leak hunts, attempts to overturn the election, and whether Trump had improperly used the department’s powers to investigate and prosecute. (New York Times)

4/ Four Saudi operatives who killed journalist Jamal Khashoggi received paramilitary training in the U.S. a year before. The training of the Saudi Royal Guard was approved by the State Department and provided by Tier 1 Group, an Arkansas-based security company, under a license first issued in 2014, which continued through at least the first year of Trump’s term. Khashoggi was strangled and dismembered in 2018 after he entered the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul. The CIA concluded that Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman directed the operation. Trump later bragged that he protected the prince from Congress after ordering the assassination of Khashoggi. (New York Times)

5/ A Navy counterterrorism training document suggests that socialism is a “terrorist ideology.” A section of the training document, titled “Introduction to Terrorism/Terrorist Operations,” groups anarchists, socialists, and neo-nazis into the same “political terrorist” ideological category. The training document is designed for masters-at-arms, the Navy’s internal police. (The Intercept)

6/ Roughly 900 Secret Service employees tested positive for the coronavirus since March 2020. More than half – 477 – were responsible for protecting Trump and Pence, as well as their families and other government officials. More than 11% of Secret Service employees were infected. (Associated Press / Washington Post)

7/ Biden will replace the director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, which oversees the mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The Supreme Court ruled that Biden had the authority to replace the agency’s director, Mark Calabria, who was appointed by Trump. (Bloomberg / New York Times / NBC News)

8/ Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed legislation requiring the state’s public colleges and universities to survey students, faculty, and staff about their political views. As part of his push against the “indoctrination” of students, DeSantis threatened to cut funding from state universities that he determines doesn’t promote “intellectual diversity.” DeSantis also signed two other education bills mandating new civics and “patriotism” education requirements in K-12 schools, including teaching about the “evils” of communist and totalitarian governments. (Tampa Bay Times / Business Insider)

9/ Texas Gov. Greg Abbott vetoed a bill that would require schools teach children about domestic violence and child abuse. Abbott said the “bill fails to recognize the right of parents to opt their children out of the instruction.” Abbott also vetoed a bill that would have banned the use of heavy chains to tether dogs outside and leave them without drinkable water, adequate shade or shelter. (Texas Tribune / The Hill / The Guardian)

Day 154: "Our great democracy."

1/ Senate Republicans blocked debate on the For the People Act, an amended version of the voting rights legislation that passed the House in March. The vote to start debate on the voting legislation, failed 50-50 on party lines — 10 votes short of the supermajority needed to advance the bill and begin open debate in the Senate. Mitch McConnell called the bill, which would expand early voting, end partisan gerrymandering, make it easier to vote by mail, and make Election Day a federal holiday, a “partisan power grab.” Hours before the vote – and after weeks of saying he would vote against election reform unless it had bipartisan support – Sen. Joe Manchin finally agreed to vote to begin debate on the legislation in a show of unity against the GOP move, saying he reached a compromise with the other members of his party “to ensure every eligible voter is able to cast their ballot and participate in our great democracy.” Republicans, however, were unwilling to even debate voting rights. Earlier in the day, Biden urged the Senate to pass the voting rights bill, saying “we can’t sit idly by while democracy is in peril — here, in America. We need to protect the sacred right to vote and ensure ‘We the People’ choose our leaders, the very foundation on which our democracy rests.” White House press secretary Jen Psaki added that “this fight is not over, no matter the outcome today, it’s going to continue.” (Politico / Bloomberg / New York Times / Washington Post / ABC News / CNN / Wall Street Journal / Associated Press)

2/ Sen. Kyrsten Sinema defended her opposition to nixing the 60-vote legislative filibuster, saying “we will lose much more than we gain.” In an op-ed, Sinema – choosing to defend the filibuster over democracy – argued that eliminating the legislative filibuster would weaken “democracy’s guardrails” by “cementing uncertainty, deepening divisions and further eroding Americans’ confidence in our government.” Sinema also warned that a majority-rule Senate would lead to “ricochet” legislating, suggesting that Republicans would roll back any Democratic policy gains. Joe Manchin has also said he opposes getting rid of the filibuster. Following the failed vote on the For the People Act, Manchin was asked about the possibility of reforming the filibuster. He laughed and replied: “No guys, listen, I think you all know where I stand on the filibuster.” (Washington Post / The Hill / New York Magazine)

3/ The White House does not expect to meet Biden’s goal of having 70% of all adults at least partially vaccinated by July 4. The U.S., however, has hit the vaccination target among adults ages 30 and older, and is expected to reach that threshold for those 27 and older by Independence Day. More than 175 million Americans have received at least one shot, and more than 150 million Americans are fully vaccinated. About one-third of Americans say they have no immediate plan to get vaccinated. (NBC News / CBS News / New York Times)

4/ The highly contagious coronavirus Delta variant is spreading in under-vaccinated pockets and will likely become the predominant strain in the U.S. within weeks, according to a new analysis. The variant, first identified in India, accounts for at least 14% of all new infections in the U.S. and studies suggest it’s around 60% more transmissible than the original strain that emerged from Wuhan, China, in late 2019. Dr. Anthony Fauci called the Delta variant the “greatest threat” to the nation’s attempt to eliminate Covid-19. (Bloomberg / NPR / CNBC)

5/ Trump asked aides in 2019 to look at what the Justice Department and the FCC could do to punish “Saturday Night Live” and other late-night shows for mocking him. After watching a rerun of SNL in March 2019, Trump tweeted that the episode was “not funny/no talent” that kept “knocking the same person (me), over & over, without so much of a mention of ‘the other side.’” He then asked: “Should Federal Election Commission and/or FCC look into this?” According to people familiar with the matter, Trump then asked advisers and lawyers about what the FCC, the courts systems, and the Department of Justice could do to investigate the shows. Trump reportedly had to be repeatedly advised that the shows are satire, a form of protected speech. (Daily Beast / Business Insider)

poll/ 43% of Iowans approve of the job Biden is doing as president, with 52% disapproving. (Des Moines Register)

poll/ 26% of Americans approve of the job Congress is doing – down 10 points from March. (Gallup)

Day 153: "The path of progress."

1/ Nearly 10 million Americans enrolled in Medicaid during the coronavirus pandemic. Roughly 80 million people are now covered by Medicaid – nearly a quarter of the entire U.S. population. Federal health officials attributed the boost in enrollment to the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, approved by Congress in March 2020. That law gave states extra federal money to help cover Medicaid costs as long as the states didn’t remove any enrollees until after the coronavirus public health emergency was declared over. (Washington Post / The Hill / New York Times)

2/ The Biden administration is weighing whether to end a Trump-era policy that directed border officials to immediately expel the majority of immigrants crossing the border. The policy, known as Title 42, allows border agents to turn away migrants before they have the opportunity to seek asylum and was established through the CDC to prevent the coronavirus from spreading in holding facilities. The White House is considering ending family expulsions as early as July 31. (Axios)

3/ Officials in the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office have reportedly grown frustrated by the lack of cooperation from the Trump Organization’s CFO. Allen Weisselberg is a key figure in prosecutors’ efforts to indict Trump due to his central role in nearly every aspect of the Trump Organization. Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance’s investigators have been pressing Weisselberg to provide evidence implicating Trump as they scrutinize Trump’s business practices before he was president, including whether he inflated the value of assets to obtain bank loans and deflated the value of those same assets for tax breaks. Officials also believe Weisselberg continues to regularly speak with Trump. (Washington Post)

4/ The U.S. is preparing more sanctions against Russia in response to the poisoning of Aleksei Navalny. Biden’s national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, said the timing of the sanctions or what they would include would come “as soon as we develop the packages to ensure that we’re getting the right targets.” Biden imposed sanctions on Russia for the poisoning and imprisonment of Navalny, which were directed at Putin and the oligarchs who support him. (New York Times)

5/ The Biden administration will make gender confirmation surgery available to transgender veterans through Veterans Affairs health care coverage. Veterans Affairs Secretary Denis McDonough said that “for far too long, and for far too many,” respect and care “were not the norm for our LGBTQ+ community and our veterans,” adding that is why the VA is “determined to continue down that path. The path of progress.” The National Center for Transgender Equality estimates there are approximately 134,000 transgender veterans. (CNN)

6/ Trump suggested sending Americans infected with Covid-19 to Guantanamo Bay in an effort to suppress the number of cases on U.S. soil. During a February 2020 meeting as administration officials were discussing whether to bring infected Americans home for care, Trump reportedly asked: “Don’t we have an island that we own?” and “What about Guantánamo?” Trump brought it up a second time, saying “We import goods,” “We are not going to import a virus.” Aides eventually scuttled the idea of quarantining Americans on the same base where the U.S. holds terrorism suspects. (Washington Post)

7/ Joe Manchin told an electric utility trade group that the Biden administration’s pledge to cut carbon emissions is too “aggressive.” Manchin, whose home state is a major coal producer, defended coal-fired power plants at Edison Electric Institute’s 2021 conference, arguing that coal is being “singled out by environmentalists” as a polluter. “This is a global climate,” Manchin said. “Some of our environmental friends […] they make [us] believe we are polluting the whole climate.” The Biden administration, meanwhile, has set a goal to cut carbon emissions in half from 2005 levels by 2030, with a 2035 goal for the nation’s electric utilities to convert to 100% clean power. Manchin, however, told EEI that “I’ve always been very, very cautious about” transitioning to a net zero economy, adding that “you cannot eliminate your way there, [but] you can innovate your way there.” (HEATED / Utility Drive / RTO Insider)

poll/ 80% of Americans support requiring a photo ID to vote, while 18% oppose the idea. 71% support making in-person early voting easier, while 16% say it should be made harder. And, 50% said voting by mail should be made easier, while 39% saying it should be made harder. (Monmouth University)

Day 149: "This is a big fucking deal."

1/ The Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Care Act for the third time, dismissing an effort by Texas and 17 other Republican-led states that challenged the entirety of the 2010 healthcare law. The group argued that the ACA’s individual mandate requiring most Americans to obtain health insurance or pay a penalty became unconstitutional after Congress got rid of the penalty in the 2017 tax cut package. They claimed that the entire law, which provides healthcare coverage for about 31 million Americans, should fall – including protections for people with preexisting conditions – because the individual mandate was central to the ACA. In a 7 to 2 vote, the court said the group of states failed to show how they suffered the sort of direct injury that gave them legal standing to bring the case. The court, however, didn’t actually rule on whether the individual mandate is unconstitutional, but suggested it would be difficult for any challengers to try again on the same legal theory. In a tweet, Biden called the decision a “big win for the American people,” adding that “with millions of people relying on the Affordable Care Act for coverage, it remains, as ever, a BFD” – a reference to the 2010 ACA signing ceremony where Biden turned to Obama and said: “This is a big fucking deal.” (New York Times / Washington Post / Associated Press / Wall Street Journal / NPR / Politico / NBC News / CNN)

2/ Mitch McConnell rejected Joe Manchin’s voting rights compromise offer, which focused on expanding early voting, requiring voter ID, ending partisan gerrymandering in federal elections, having at least 15 consecutive days of early voting, and making Election Day a public holiday. McConnell’s pledge all but guarantees that Republicans will filibuster the voting bill that Chuck Schumer plans to send to the floor Tuesday. The bill will need 60 votes to proceed over a filibuster. (Politico / Axios / Washington Post / Bloomberg)

3/ The Biden administration will invest $3.2 billion to advance the development of antiviral pills to treat Covid-19 and other viruses. The Antiviral Program for Pandemics will speed up clinical trials and fund the research and production of oral antiviral drugs that could be taken at home. (NBC News / CNBC / Washington Post)

4/ The Education Department canceled more than $500 million in federal student loan debt for 18,000 borrowers who were defrauded by the now-defunct, for-profit ITT Technical Institute. The college chain closed in 2016 after making exaggerated claims about its graduates’ employment and earnings prospects after graduation. (New York Times / NBC News / Washington Post)

5/ The House voted to repeal the 2002 authorization for the use of military force in Iraq. The 2002 authorization was repeatedly applied beyond its original intent despite the Iraq War ending nearly a decade ago. Chuck Schumer said he will also put the authorization to a vote this year. Earlier this week, Biden said he supports repealing the authorization. Mitch McConnell, however, said he did not support repealing the authorization, calling it “reckless.” The bill would need the support of at least 10 Republican senators to pass. (Politico / New York Times)

6/ Biden signed legislation making Juneteenth a federal holiday to commemorate the end of slavery in the U.S. The bill unanimously passed the Senate, but 14 Republicans in the House voted against the proposal. Harris also signed the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act in her capacity as President of the Senate. The law goes into effect immediately, making Friday (tomorrow) the first federal Juneteenth holiday in American history. [Editor’s note: In observance of Juneteenth, there will be no WTFJHT update tomorrow (June 18). As a reminder, WTFJHT publishes Monday-Friday, except on federal and market holidays, including some other random days, like Biden’s and WTFJHT’s birthdays.] (Reuters / New York Times / Washington Post)

7/ A Florida GOP congressional candidate threatened his Republican opponent with “a Russian and Ukrainian hit squad” that would make her “disappear.” During a 30-minute call that was secretly recorded, William Braddock repeatedly warned a conservative activist not support Anna Paulina Luna in the Republican primary for a Tampa Bay-area congressional seat. Braddock called Luna “a fucking speed bump in the road. She’s a dead squirrel you run over every day when you leave the neighborhood.” In the recording, Braddock added: “I really don’t want to have to end anybody’s life […] But if it needs to be done, it needs to be done.” (Politico / Washington Post)

Day 148: "A partisan circus."

1/ After blocking major voting rights legislation for weeks, Sen. Joe Manchin finally outlined a list of changes he wants in a bid for a compromise. Manchin – the only Senate Democrat who is not sponsoring the For the People Act – has opposed the For the People Act, saying it’s too partisan and arguing that changes to voting laws should have bipartisan support. Republicans, however, have uniformly opposed the For the People Act. Manchin’s compromise proposal includes making Election Day a public holiday, providing at least 15 consecutive days of early voting, automatic voter registration through state departments of motor vehicles, and a requirement that states send mail-in absentee ballots to eligible voters if they are unable to vote in person. The proposal also includes voter identification requirements, which Democrats are generally are opposed to. Manchin also reaffirmed that he has not changed his views against eliminating the filibuster, meaning the Manchin version of the election bill would have no chance of passage without 10 Republicans supporting support the legislation. (Washington Post / NBC News / Politico / New York Times / Bloomberg / The Intercept)

2/ The Senate unanimously passed a measure to make Juneteenth, the day that marks the end of slavery in Texas, a federal holiday. The bill now heads to the House, where it is likely to be approved. In July 2020, Wisconsin Republican Sen. Ron Johnson blocked the bill, saying a federal day off would cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars. (Washington Post / CNN)

3/ The Education Department issued new guidance that the rights of transgender and gay students are protected at school by Title IX, a reversal of the Trump-era guidance that gay and transgender students are not protected by any federal laws. “The Supreme Court has upheld the right for LGBTQ+ people to live and work without fear of harassment, exclusion, and discrimination – and our LGBTQ+ students have the same rights and deserve the same protections. I’m proud to have directed the Office for Civil Rights to enforce Title IX to protect all students from all forms of sex discrimination,” Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said. “Today, the Department makes clear that all students – including LGBTQ+ students – deserve the opportunity to learn and thrive in schools that are free from discrimination.” (New York Times / CNN / USA Today)

4/ The Justice Department reversed a Trump-era immigration ruling that limited the possibility of asylum protections in the U.S. for women fleeing from domestic violence in other countries, and some victims of gang violence. Attorney General Merrick Garland vacated the 2018 decision by former Attorney General Jeff Sessions that ordered immigration judges to stop granting asylum to victims of “private violence,” like domestic violence or gangs. (NPR / New York Times)

5/ A federal judge blocked the Biden administration’s temporary suspension of new oil and gas drilling leases on public lands. Judge Terry Doughty said that the power to pause the offshore oil and gas leases “lies solely with Congress” because it was the legislative branch that originally made federal lands and waters available for leasing. The Interior Department said it would “comply with the decision,” suggesting that lease sales to drill in Alaska and in the Gulf of Mexico will likely resume for now. In January, Biden signed an executive order that temporarily banned new drilling leases on federal lands and waters, saying he wanted to pause new leases while the Interior Department reviewed the program. (NBC News / New York Times)

6/ The House Judiciary Committee opened an investigation into efforts by the Trump Justice Department to seize data from members of Congress, journalists, and the then-White House counsel. The Department of Justice’s inspector general has also opened a separate inquiry into the data seizures. In the Senate, Democratic leaders have called for former Attorneys General William Barr and Jeff Sessions to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Mitch McConnell, meanwhile, criticized the inquiries as unnecessary and accused Democrats of embarking on “politically motivated investigations,” saying “There is no need for a partisan circus here in Congress.” (NPR / The Guardian)

7/ The FBI told the House Oversight Committee that it is pursuing “hundreds of investigations” related to the Jan. 6 Capitol riot. FBI Director Christopher Wray called the effort “one of the most far-reaching and extensive” investigations in the bureau’s history. (New York Times)

8/ Twenty-one House Republicans voted against awarding the Congressional Gold Medal to the officers who responded to the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob. The final vote in the House was 406-21 – nearly doubled the number of Republicans who voted against the initial legislation in March. (CNN / Washington Post)

9/ Biden and Putin described their first in-person summit as “constructive” and “good, positive.” Biden spoke to reporters after meeting for just under four hours, saying he pressed Putin over alleged hacking, human rights abuses, and more. “I did what I came to do,” Biden said, adding: “The bottom line is I told President Putin that we need to have some basic rules of the road that we can all abide by.” In a separate, sequential news conference, Putin denied Russia’s involvement in the recent cyberattacks against U.S. institutions, saying the U.S. is the biggest offender, while blaming the U.S. for the deterioration in the U.S.-Russia relationship. Putin added that “there has been no hostility” between the two leaders. (New York Times / Washington Post / NBC News / Politico)

Day 147: "Trust the plan."

1/ The number of confirmed U.S. deaths from Covid-19 surpassed 600,000 – 15 months since the onset of the pandemic. The U.S. Covid-19 death toll is more than 200 times higher than the number of lives lost on Sept. 11, and higher than the number of American soldiers killed in combat during the Vietnam War, World War I, and World War II combined. The U.S., however, is now averaging 375 deaths per day – down from more than 3,000 per day in January and reaching their lowest point since March 2020 – due to the availability of effective vaccines. More than half of the U.S. population has received at least one shot of a Covid-19 vaccine and 43% of the population is fully vaccinated. The White House, meanwhile, plans to host a July 4th “independence from virus” bash as the CDC declared the so-called delta variant, which was first detected in India, a “variant of concern.” The delta variant accounts for 9.9% of cases in the U.S. (ABC News / Wall Street Journal / Associated Press / NBC News / NPR / CNN / Axios)

2/ A National Institutes of Health study suggests that the coronavirus may have been circulating in the U.S. as early as Dec. 24, 2019 – weeks before the first confirmed infection in the country. Nine people who had donated blood between Jan. 2 and March 18, 2020, tested positive for antibodies to SARS-CoV-2, according to the NIH report. (Washington Post / New York Times)

3/ The FBI warned lawmakers that QAnon “digital soldiers” could be compelled to shift “towards engaging in real-world violence” as they come to “no longer ‘trust the plan.’” Instead of abandoning the conspiracy theory after QAnon predictions failed to materialize, a FBI threat assessment concludes that followers might seek to harm “perceived members of the ‘cabal’ such as Democrats and other political opposition” as they take control of the movement. “The participation of some domestic violent extremists who are also self-identified QAnon adherents in the violent siege of the U.S. Capitol on 6 January underscores how the current environment likely will continue to act as a catalyst for some to begin accepting the legitimacy of violent action,” the unclassified FBI assessment says. (CNN / New York Times)

4/ The White House released a national strategy devoted to addressing domestic terrorism. The 32-page strategy calls for increased funding for the Justice Department and FBI to hire analysts, investigators, and prosecutors; improving information-sharing between the federal government and state and local partners as well as with social media companies; and addressing the long-term drivers of domestic terrorism, such as systemic racism. “We cannot ignore this threat or wish it away,” Biden said in the document’s introduction. “Preventing domestic terrorism and reducing the factors that fuel it demand a multifaceted response across the federal government and beyond.” (NBC News / Washington Post / New York Times / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal)

5/ Trump pressured top Justice Department officials to challenge his election loss to Biden, and investigate debunked conspiracy theories and baseless claims of voter fraud. According to emails sent between December 2020 and early January, Trump and his aides – including White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows – pressured then-acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen to investigate unsubstantiated claims that the 2020 election had been stolen. The documents, released by the House Oversight Committee, also detail how an hour before Trump announced that William Barr would be stepping down as attorney general, Trump and his staff began pressuring Rosen – Barr’s eventual replacement – to embrace Trump’s claims of voter fraud and have the Justice Department investigate them. The House Oversight and Reform Committee have asked Meadows and several former Justice Department officials to testify about efforts to advance unsubstantiated allegations of voter fraud. (New York Times / Washington Post / NPR / Bloomberg / Associated Press / Politico / Wall Street Journal / CNN / Axios / CNBC)

6/ A federal judge will allow the Justice Department to keep secret part of the memo used to back then-Attorney General William Barr’s decision not to charge Trump with obstruction of justice. Judge Amy Berman Jackson previously ordered the Justice Department to release the entire memo used in March 2019 to justify not charging Trump, accusing Barr of misleading the court about Robert Mueller’s findings in the Russia investigation. While Attorney General Merrick Garland has already released Section I of the memo, the Justice Department asked to appeal the release of the memo’s Section II. Jackson agreed to allow the Justice Department to keep Section II secret while they appeal. (CNN)

7/ The Senate confirmed Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals in a 53-44 vote. Jackson is the first Black woman confirmed to an appellate court in a decade and is one of five Black female circuit court judges currently serving. She fills the vacancy left by Attorney General Merrick Garland, who served on the bench for 24 years. Jackson is considered a top contender to be appointed to the Supreme Court. (Washington Post / ABC News)

Day 146: "Accountability."

1/ Biden reaffirmed NATO’s Article 5 – the central tenet of collective defense – calling it “a sacred obligation,” adding that the alliance is “critically important for U.S. interests.” The comments were a sharp contrast to Trump, who once declined to endorse Article 5 and called the alliance “obsolete.” NATO leaders, meanwhile, in a summit statement said China’s growing military and “assertive behavior” was “presenting challenges,” accusing the Chinese of working to undermine global order with “systemic challenges to the rules-based international order.” Separately, Biden said the U.S. would “respond in kind” if Putin “chooses not to cooperate” on cybersecurity. (New York Times / ABC News / Wall Street Journal / Associated Press / Washington Post)

2/ The Trump Justice Department subpoenaed Apple for information about an account that belonged to the sitting White House counsel, and then barred the company from telling him about it. Donald McGahn and his wife received disclosures from Apple last month that their accounts were subpoenaed by the Justice Department in February 2018. It’s not clear what the FBI was investigating, but the Justice Department appears to have accessed McGahn’s information around the same time it was reported that Trump had ordered McGahn the previous June to have Robert Mueller fired. McGahn, however, threatened to quit and Trump backed down. The seizure of McGahn’s records also happened the same month the Justice Department subpoenaed Apple for data related to the leaks of information about the Russia inquiry, which included more than 12 people connected to the House Intelligence Committee, including two of its Democratic members. Nancy Pelosi, meanwhile, called on former attorneys general William Barr and Jeff Sessions, as well as Rod Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general at the time, to testify under oath in the House about what they knew. (New York Times / Associated Press / CNN / Politico)

3/ Former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said he was not aware of a subpoena that targeted Democratic members of Congress. At the time of the subpoena, Jeff Sessions was recused from the Russia probe, meaning the leak investigation would have fallen under Rosenstein. Jeff Sessions has also told people he does not recall approving a subpoena for lawmakers’ data in a leak case. And, former Attorney General William Barr, who took office a year after the subpoena was issued, said he does not recall discussing a probe for lawmakers’ data during his time leading the department, adding that he “never discussed the leak cases with Trump.” (CNN / Politico / Washington Post)

4/ Attorney General Merrick Garland said the Justice Department will tighten its rules around seizing information about members of Congress and their aides and vowed “strict accountability” for officials who let politics affect their work. Garland said his deputy, Lisa Monaco, will review and update the department’s existing policies “for obtaining records of the legislative branch,” noting that “we must ensure that full weight is accorded to separation-of-powers concerns moving forward.” The announcement came as John Demers, a Trump-era official who leads the Justice Department’s National Security Division, which oversees leak investigations, said he’ll resign at the end of next week. Garland will also meet with executives from CNN, The New York Times, and The Washington Post to discuss the Trump administration’s leak investigation that involved seeking reporter records from all three media outlets. (New York Times / Associated Press / Washington Post / NBC News / CNN)

5/ Mitch McConnell threatened to block any Supreme Court nominee put forward by Biden during the 2024 election cycle if Republicans regain control of the Senate next year. McConnell suggested that if he became majority leader again, he would give a Biden Supreme Court nominee in 2023 “a fair shot at a hearing” if the person was “not a radical, but a normal mainstream mainstream liberal.” McConnell, however, admitted that the prospects were “highly unlikely,” adding “we’d have to wait and see what happens.” (The Hill / New York Times / NBC News / Bloomberg)

poll/ 52% of Americans trust Biden to negotiate on the country’s behalf with other world leaders, and 49% trust him to negotiate with Putin specifically. 57% of Americans have confidence in Biden to do the right thing regarding world affairs. (ABC News)

Day 143: "A gross abuse of power."

1/ Attorney General Merrick Garland pledged to double the size of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division staff to protect every American’s right to vote. “There are plenty of things up for debate in America, but the right of all eligible Americans to vote is not one of them,” Garland said, calling the expansion of voting rights as a “central pillar” to American democracy. Garland added that the Justice Department will “do everything in its power to prevent election fraud, and if found to vigorously prosecute” but will also scrutinize “new laws that seek to curb voter access.” The additional trial attorneys will be hired over the next the next 30 days. (New York Times / Washington Post / Politico / NBC News / Axios)

2/ The Trump Justice Department secretly subpoenaed Apple for the metadata of at least two Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee, as well as their current and former staff, and family members, including a minor. The records of at least a dozen people tied to the committee were seized, including Rep. Adam B. Schiff, then the panel’s ranking Democrat and now its chairman, and Rep. Eric Swalwell. Trump administration prosecutors, looking for the sources behind news stories about contacts between Trump associates and Russia, subpoenaed Apple in 2017 and early 2018, which included a gag order, seeking the metadata for more than 100 accounts as part of the investigation to determine who was leaking classified information. The data obtained, however, did not tie the committee to the leaks of classified information about Russia. The gag order was renewed three times before it expired this year and Apple notified at least 12 people in May connected to the panel of subpoenas. (New York Times / Washington Post / CNN)

3/ The Justice Department’s inspector general opened an investigation into the Trump administration’s secret seizure of data from Apple belonging to at least two Democratic lawmakers, their staff, and family members. Michael Horowitz said the review “will examine the Department’s compliance with applicable DOJ policies and procedures, and whether any such uses, or the investigations, were based upon improper considerations.” Horowitz added that the investigation would also look into the use of subpoenas to obtain journalists’ phone records, as well as “other legal authorities [used] to obtain communication records […] in connection with recent investigations of alleged unauthorized disclosures of information to the media by government officials.” Separately, Senate Democratic leaders demanded that former attorneys general William Barr and Jeff Sessions testify under oath about the secret subpoenas of Rep. Adam B. Schiff and Rep. Eric Swalwell, calling it “a gross abuse of power and an assault on the separation of powers.” The senators threatened to subpoena Barr and Sessions if they don’t appear voluntarily. The Biden administration, meanwhile, called the “behavior” of Trump’s attorneys general “appalling.” (Washington Post / New York Times / NPR / Bloomberg / USA Today / CNN / Associated Press / NBC News)

4/ The Biden administration will “repeal or replace” a rule allowing roads and development in more than half of Alaska’s Tongass National Forest. The move revives protections originally put in place in 2001 by Clinton, which Trump stripped three months before leaving office. (Washington Post)

5/ A bipartisan group of senators said they reached an agreement on the framework for an infrastructure deal. The deal reportedly includes $579 billion in new spending and would “be fully paid for and not include tax increases.” The overall proposal would spend $974 billion over five years and about $1.2 trillion if it continued over eight years. Lawmakers in both parties sounded skeptical that the proposal, which expected to address a narrow range of physical infrastructure projects, can get the 60 votes needed to overcome a filibuster in the Senate. (New York Times / Wall Street Journal / NBC News)

Day 142: "Point of no return."

1/ The Interior Department’s inspector general concluded that U.S. Park Police did not clear the park outside the White House of protesters on June 1, 2020, so Trump could walk to a nearby church for a photo op. Mark Greenblatt instead found that Park Police had the authority to clear the park and surrounding areas so that a contractor could install anti-scale fencing and did not know that Trump would be leaving the White House and crossing Lafayette Park until “mid-to late afternoon” on June 1 – hours after the contractor had arrived to begin installation. Park Police officials said the plan to clear the area was in place before a 2 p.m. meeting that included then-Attorney General William Barr, who “did not mention a potential presidential visit to the park,” according to the report. Barr, however, did urge officials to speed up the clearing process after Trump decided to walk through the area around 6:10 p.m. (NPR / Politico / NBC News / CBS News / ABC News / CNBC / USA Today)

2/ Former White House counsel Don McGahn testified behind closed doors last week about Trump’s attempts to obstruct the Russia investigation. In a transcript of the interview with members of the House Judiciary Committee, McGahn described Trump’s efforts to get him to tell Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to fire Robert Mueller over Trump’s claim that Mueller had a conflict of interest. McGahn refused to go along with Trump’s effort to fire Mueller, believing it could “cause this to spiral out of control.” McGahn also acknowledged that Trump told then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions that he should resign for having recused himself from overseeing the Russia investigation. Jerry Nadler, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, said “McGahn’s testimony gives us a fresh look at how dangerously close President Trump brought us to, in Mr. McGahn’s words, the ‘point of no return.’” (New York Times / NBC News / Bloomberg / Washington Post)

3/ The U.S. reportedly lost more than $400 billion to fraudulent unemployment claims over the past year. The bulk of the money – representing as much as 50% of all unemployment money – likely ended in the hands of foreign crime syndicates in China, Nigeria, Russia and elsewhere. (Axios)

4/ The Trump Justice Department continued to pursued a CNN reporter’s records for half a year after a federal judge said the argument for access to internal emails was “speculative” and “unanchored in any facts.” The Trump administration also put CNN general counsel David Vigilante under a gag order prohibiting him from sharing any details about the Justice Department’s effort to obtain two months’ of CNN Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr’s 2017 email logs. The pursuit for Starr’s records began in July 2020 under then-Attorney General William Barr. (CNN)

5/ The Keystone XL oil pipeline project was canceled after Biden revoked a key permit. TC Energy, the Canadian company behind the project, said it terminated the $9 billion project after Canadian officials failed to persuade Biden to reverse his cancellation of the permit. Keystone XL was expected to carry 830,000 barrels per day of Alberta oil sands crude to Nebraska. (NBC News / Associated Press / CNN)

poll/ 75% of respondents from 12 nations said they were confident that Biden would “do the right thing regarding world affairs,” compared with 17% for Trump last year. 62% of respondents said they have a favorable view of the U.S. compared to 34% at the end of Trump’s presidency in 2020. (Pew Research Center / Washington Post)

Day 141: "Frustrated."

1/ Biden ended negotiations with a group of Republicans led by Sen. Shelley Moore Capito over infrastructure legislation, telling Capito that the latest GOP offer didn’t “meet the essential needs of our country to restore our roads and bridges, prepare us for our clean energy future, and create jobs.” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Biden was disappointed that Republicans had “increased their proposed new investments by only $150 billion” after he reduced his plan by more than $1 trillion. The White House and Capito ended up about $700 billion away. Capito, meanwhile, said she was “frustrated” with the White House and suggested that it “kept moving the goalposts” during negotiations. Biden will now focus on working with a bipartisan group of 20 senators who have been working separately on an alternative infrastructure proposal. Biden also spoke with Chuck Schumer about passing some of the infrastructure provisions through budget reconciliation, a fast-track procedure that would allow Democrats to avoid a filibuster and push through a package without support from Republicans. And, over in the House a bipartisan group calling themselves the Problem Solvers Caucus proposed a $1.249 trillion infrastructure plan that includes $761.8 billion in new spending. (CBS News / Washington Post / New York Times / ABC News / Politico / NBC News)

2/ The Biden administration will buy 500 million doses of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine to donate to 92 lower income countries and the African Union. The first 200 million doses will be distributed this year through the global COVAX alliance, followed by another 300 million in the first half of 2022. The Biden administration previously announced it would share at least 80 million vaccine doses globally by the end of June. (Washington Post / Associated Press / Politico)

3/ The U.S. is averaging fewer than 1 million vaccinations per day, threatening Biden’s goal of getting at least 70% of adults at least partially vaccinated by July 4. At least 13 states have already vaccinated 70% of adult residents, and an additional 15 states, plus D.C., are over 60% and will likely reach Biden’s goal. Covid-19 hospitalizations rates, meanwhile, continue to rise in communities with low vaccination rates. (Washington Post / New York Times)

4/ Two days after Joe Manchin vowed to block the federal election reform bill, Mitch McConnell said he would not support the bipartisan John Lewis Voting Rights Act, which Manchin and Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski have urged lawmakers to reauthorize. “There’s no threat to the voting rights law,” McConnell said. “It’s against the law to discriminate in voting based on race already. And so I think it’s unnecessary.” Manchin and Murkowski had proposed passing the John Lewis Voting Rights Act as an alternative to the For The People Act, which would restore a key provision of the 1965 Voting Rights Act that the Supreme Court struck down in 2013. That measure would also likely be blocked by a filibuster. Chuck Schumer, meanwhile, said the Senate will vote on the For the People Act, with or without Manchin. (The Hill / Vanity Fair / Business Insider / Politico / Washington Post / NBC News)

5/ The Senate passed the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act, a $250 billion bill aimed at countering China’s technological influence by investing in American technology, science, and research. The final vote was 68-32, with 19 Senate Republicans – including Mitch McConnell – joining Democrats in voting for passage. Bernie Sanders was the only member of the Democratic caucus to vote against the bill. The legislation now heads to the House before going to Biden’s desk. (New York Times / CNN / CNBC)

6/ Biden revoked and replaced three Trump executive orders that sought to ban TikTok and WeChat from the U.S. over national security concerns. Biden’s new order would instead establish “clear intelligible criteria” to evaluate national security risks for apps connected to foreign governments and direct the Commerce Department to undertake an “evidence-based” analysis of transactions involving apps that are manufactured or supplied or controlled by China. (Associated Press / New York Times / CNBC / Wall Street Journal)

7/ Harris warned Guatemalans thinking of migrating to the U.S.: “Do not come.” In her first foreign trip since taking office, Harris said the Biden administration wanted “to help Guatemalans find hope at home.” She added: “I want to be clear to folks in this region who are thinking about making that dangerous trek to the United States-Mexico border: Do not come. Do not come.” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, meanwhile, called Harris’ statement “disappointing,” and that the U.S. needed to “acknowledge its contributions to destabilization and regime change in the region.” Harris responded to criticism from both Republicans and members of her own party, saying: “I’m really clear: We have to deal with the root causes and that is my hope. Period.” (NPR / Politico / ABC News / NBC News)

8/ The Biden administration moved to repeal a Trump-era rule that ended federal protections for hundreds of thousands of streams and wetlands. The Trump-era rule narrowed the types of waterways that qualify for federal protection under the Clean Water Act. EPA Administrator Michael Regan said his team determined that the Trump administration’s rollback is “leading to significant environmental degradation.” (Washington Post / Associated Press / Politico)

9/ House Democrats reintroduced legislation that would protect abortion access even if Roe v. Wade were weakened or overturned. The Women’s Health Protection Act would guarantee the right for health care professionals to provide abortion care and prohibit state and federal lawmakers from imposing certain limits on abortion care, including mandatory ultrasounds, waiting periods, and admitting privileges requirements. The bill was first introduced in 2013, but has never received a vote in either chamber. (NBC News)

poll/ 47% of Americans say abortion is morally acceptable, while 46% say it’s morally wrong. Overall, 48% of Americans believe abortion should be legal “only under certain circumstances,” while 32% favor it being legal “under any circumstances,” and 19% think it should be “illegal in all circumstances.” (Gallup)

poll/ 29% of Republican voters think it’s likely that Trump will be reinstated as president this year. Overall, 72% of voters say they believe America’s democracy is currently being threatened, including 82% of Republicans, 77% of Democrats, and 72% of independents. (Morning Consult)

Day 140: "Planned in plain sight."

1/ Biden’s Justice Department will continue to defend Trump in a defamation lawsuit brought by E. Jean Carroll, who accused him of raping her 25 years ago. In a brief filed with a federal appeals court, the Justice Department argued that it should be permitted to substitute itself for Trump as defendant. The Justice Department, however, insisted that it did not endorse Trump’s “crude and disrespectful” remarks about Carroll, but instead argued that Trump could not be sued for defamation because he had made the statements as part of his official duties as president. Last September, the Justice Department and then-Attorney General William Barr intervened on Trump’s behalf to transfer the lawsuit from state court to federal court, substituting the federal government for Trump as the defendant. (CNN / Politico / New York Times / BuzzFeed News)

2/ The Koch network pressured Joe Manchin to oppose Biden’s key legislative items, including filibuster reform and the For the People Act. In a video series from Americans for Prosperity, a Koch super PAC, grassroots supporters were encouraged to push Manchin to “Reject Washington’s Partisan Agenda” and oppose his party’s own legislative priorities, including the idea of eliminating the filibuster, the For the People Act, and packing the Supreme Court. (CNBC)

3/ Capitol Police had intelligence that Trump supporters planned to attack the Capitol at least two weeks before the Jan. 6 riot but failed to act on the threats. In a joint report from the Senate Rules and Administration and the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs committees, the bipartisan investigation found that Capitol Police intelligence officers knew as early as Dec. 21 that pro-Trump extremists were threatening violence, including plans to “storm the Capitol,” infiltrate the tunnel system, and “bring guns.” The information was only shared with command officers. “The failure to adequately assess the threat of violence on that day contributed significantly to the breach of the Capitol,” Sen. Gary Peters said, chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. “The attack was quite frankly planned in plain sight.” (Washington Post / New York Times / NBC News)

4/ Trump’s impeachment lawyers are defending at least three people charged in connection with the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection. Michael van der Veen is defending a member of the Oath Keepers that helped plan and participate in storming the Capitol. Bruce Castor, meanwhile, is representing a mother and daughter who failed to follow repeated police orders to disperse in violation of a curfew. During Trump’s Senate impeachment trial, van der Veen and Castor argued that those who participated in the riot deserve “robust and swift investigation and prosecution.” (NPR)

5/ Senate Republicans are blocking the confirmation for Biden’s nominee to lead the federal personnel agency because of her support for abortion rights and critical race theory, an academic framework centered on the idea that racism is systemic. The delay on Kiran Ahuja’s nomination to lead the Office of Personnel Management is being led by Sen. Josh Hawley, who is a dipshit. (Washington Post)

6/ The Biden administration determined that more than 3,900 children were separated from their families after the Trump administration implemented its “zero-tolerance policy.” The report from the Biden administration’s Family Reunification Task Force also found that fewer than 60 families are now in the process of being reunited. Nearly 400 children have been repatriated to their country of origin. (ABC News)

7/ The Biden administration threatened to sue Texas if its Republican Governor Greg Abbott moves forward with plans to close more than 50 shelters housing about 4,000 migrant children. Abbott issued a disaster declaration last week, which directed a state agency to “take all necessary steps” to deny or discontinue licenses for child care facilities sheltering migrant children within 90 days. (CBS News)

8/ New audio reveals how Rudy Giuliani pressured the Ukrainian government in 2019 to investigate baseless conspiracies about Biden. During the roughly 40-minute, July 2019 phone call between Giuliani, U.S. diplomat Kurt Volker, and Andriy Yermak, a senior adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, Giuliani repeatedly pressed Yermak to have Zelensky publicly announce investigations into possible corruption by Biden in Ukraine, and into claims that Ukraine meddled in the 2016 election to hurt Trump. Both claims are untrue. “All we need from the President [Zelensky] is to say […] he’s gonna investigate and dig up the evidence, that presently exists and is there any other evidence about involvement of the 2016 election, and then the Biden thing has to be run out,” Giuliani said, according to the audio. The call was a precursor to Trump’s July 25, 2019, call with Zelensky, where he pressured the Ukrainian president eight times to investigate Biden and his son. (CNN)

poll/ 70% of Americans support same-sex marriage – a record high. In 1996, 27% of Americans supported same-sex marriage. (Gallup)

poll/ 51% of voters support Trump’s two-year Facebook ban. Among Republicans, 15% supported the suspension, while 86% of Democrats supported Trump’s temporary ban. 46% of independent voters, however, supported the suspension with and 40% opposing it. (Politico)

Day 139: "A country that's divided."

1/ The U.S. reported an average of about 14,500 daily coronavirus cases over the past week with about 960,000 vaccinations administered each day. While more than half of Americans have received at least one vaccine dose, less than a quarter of Black Americans have received their first shot. 42% of Americans overall are fully vaccinated. (CNBC / Politico)

2/ Joe Manchin vowed to block the federal election reform bill. “I believe that partisan voting legislation will destroy the already weakening binds of our democracy, and for that reason, I will vote against the For the People Act,” Manchin wrote in an op-ed. “Furthermore, I will not vote to weaken or eliminate the filibuster.” The House approved the For the People Act in March with no Republican support. In the Senate, the bill would require at least 10 GOP votes or require elimination of the filibuster to be passed. Later, in a Fox News interview, Manchin called voting reform bill – which would require states to offer at least 15 days of early voting, universal access to mail-in voting, same-day registration for federal races, and make Election Day a national holiday – “the wrong piece of legislation to bring our country together and unite our country, and I’m not supporting that, because I think it would divide us more. I don’t want to be in a country that’s divided any further.” A national security adviser, meanwhile, called protecting the rights of Americans to vote is a national security issue, saying “we are not updating, refurbishing, revamping our own democratic processes and procedures to meet the needs of the modern moment.” (Politico / Associated Press / New York Times / NBC News / CNN / Bloomberg / Axios / CNBC / Washington Post)

3/ Trump’s chief of staff repeatedly pushed the Justice Department to investigate unfounded conspiracy theories about election fraud. In five emails sent during the last week of December and early January, Mark Meadows asked Jeffrey Rosen, then the acting attorney general, to examine debunked claims of election fraud and baseless conspiracies. Rosen declined to open the investigations. (New York Times)

4/ Rep. Mo Brooks was finally served a lawsuit alleging that he and other pro-Trump allies were partially accountable for the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol. According to court filings, Rep. Eric Swalwell’s legal team had been trying since March to serve Brooks and had hired a private investigator to serve the suit. (CNN / Axios)

5/ The Justice Department imposed a gag order on New York Times executives over an attempt to obtain four NYT reporters’ email logs from Google, which operates the Times’s email system. Google resisted the effort to obtain the information, and the secret legal battle, which began during the Trump administration and continued under Biden, was ultimately unsuccessful. A federal court lifted the gag order on Friday, which had been in effect since March 3. The disclosure came two days after the Biden Justice Department notified the four reporters that the Trump administration in 2020 had secretly seized their phone records from early 2017. The Biden administration, meanwhile, disavowed any knowledge that the Justice Department tried to seize the email data of four New York Times reporters and had obtained a gag order. (New York Times)

6/ The Justice Department said it would no longer secretly obtain reporters’ records during government leak investigations. In a statement, Justice Department spokesman Anthony Coley said that “in a change to its longstanding practice,” the department “will not seek compulsory legal process in leak investigations to obtain source information from members of the news media doing their jobs.” The reversal follows the recent disclosures that the Trump Justice Department had used court orders to obtain phone and email records for reporters at the Washington Post, CNN, and the New York Times. (Associated Press / Politico / Wall Street Journal)

7/ The Supreme Court ruled unanimously that thousands of immigrants living in the U.S. for humanitarian reasons are not eligible to apply to become permanent residents. The decision is a setback for as many as 400,000 immigrants in the U.S. who have Temporary Protected Status from deportation because of unsafe conditions in their home countries. The House, meanwhile, has already has passed legislation that would make it possible for TPS recipients to become permanent residents. The bill, however, faces uncertain prospects in the Senate. (Associated Press / Washington Post / ABC News / CNN)

8/ Earth’s atmospheric carbon dioxide hit levels not seen in more than 4 million years. According to scientists from Scripps Institution of Oceanography and NOAA, atmospheric carbon dioxide peaked in May 2020, reaching a monthly average of nearly 419 parts per million – the highest levels in human history. In 2021, daily levels recorded have twice exceeded 420 parts per million. Despite the sharp decrease in global greenhouse gas emissions early in the pandemic, NOAA said there was “no discernible impact” on the rate of increase of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. (Axios / Washington Post / USA Today)

Day 136: "This is progress."

1/ The economy added 559,000 jobs last month – double April’s total. The unemployment rate fell to 5.8% from 6.1%. Despite the gains, the U.S. has only replaced two-thirds of the jobs lost last year – about 7.4 million jobs shy of where it was February 2020. Biden defended the job gains, which were less than the 650,000 jobs economists had predicted, saying “you can’t reboot the world’s largest economy like flipping on a light switch […] This is progress that’s pulling our economy out of the worst crisis in the last 100 years.” Biden added: “We’re on the right track. Our plan is working. And we’re not going to let up now.” (CNN / NPR / NBC News / Wall Street Journal / New York Times / CNBC)

2/ CDC Director Rochelle Walensky urged parents to vaccinate their teenagers against Covid-19, citing a rise in the number of teens hospitalized with the disease. The number of hospitalizations related to Covid-19 among U.S. teens in March and April was about three times greater than hospitalizations rates during three recent flu seasons. “Much of this suffering can be prevented,” Walensky said. “Vaccination is our way out of this pandemic.” Meanwhile, Dr. Anne Schuchat, the No. 2 official at the CDC, said the U.S. response to the coronavirus pandemic “wasn’t a good performance,” and there’s still “a lot of work to do to get better prepared for the next one.” Schuchat is retiring this summer after 33 years at the agency. (NBC News / New York Times / Washington Post / NPR)

3/ Former White House counsel Don McGahn testified before the House Judiciary Committee about Trump’s attempts to obstruct the Russia investigation – two years after House Democrats originally sought his testimony. The committee first asked to interview McGahn in 2019, but the Trump White House blocked him from appearing, citing a Justice Department Office of Legal Counsel opinion. McGahn was the most-cited witness in the Mueller report. (Associated Press / NPR / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / CNN)

4/ The senior vice president and controller at the Trump Organization testified before a special grand jury convened by the Manhattan District Attorney’s office. Jeff McConney is among a number of witnesses that have already appeared before the special grand jury, which will decide whether criminal charges are warranted against Trump, his company, or employees. Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance has been investigating whether Trump inflated the value of assets to obtain bank loans and deflated the value of those same assets for tax breaks. (ABC News)

5/ Pence called the Jan. 6 pro-Trump riot attack on the U.S. Capitol “a dark day in the history of the United States” and that he doubts he’ll ever see “eye to eye” with Trump on the event. Despite distancing himself from Trump, Pence said he was “proud of what we accomplished for the American people over the last four years.” Pence then accused Democrats of using the riot to divide the country to “advance their radical agenda,” including what he called “the left-wing myth of systemic racism.” Two days after Biden attended a commemoration the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre, Pence asserted that “America is not a racist country.” (Politico / New York Times / NPR / NBC News / CNN)

6/ Trump’s Facebook account will remain suspended until at least January 2023 and will only be reinstated “if the risk to public safety has receded.” The decision came after Facebook’s Oversight Board said the platform was justified in removing Trump’s account following the Capitol insurrection on Jan. 6, but that it had been wrong to impose an indefinite ban. Facebook said that when the suspension is “eventually” lifted, Trump would be subject to a set of “rapidly escalating sanctions” for further violations, including the permanent suspension of his account. Meanwhile, Trump – in an emailed statement – complained that the “ruling is an insult” and that the social media company “shouldn’t be allowed to get away with this censoring and silencing.” In a second emailed statement, Trump vowed not to dine privately with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg the “next time I’m in the White House,” adding: “It will be all business!” (Politico / NPR / NBC News / New York Times / Washington Post)

Day 135: "To no avail."

1/ Confirmed coronavirus cases in the U.S. have fallen to the lowest level since March 2020, when the pandemic began. The U.S. averaged roughly 16,860 new cases per day over the past week, and new cases declined in 43 states, while holding steady elsewhere. (NBC News / Axios)

2/ Unemployment claims fell below 400,000 for the first time since March 2020. 385,000 people, however, filed for first time unemployment benefits last week, and continuing claims rose by 169,000 to 3.77 million. (CNBC)

3/ The Biden administration outlined its plan for donating an initial 25 million Covid-19 vaccine doses to help low- and middle-income nations combat the pandemic. The U.S. will distribute about 75% of the doses through the global vaccine aid program COVAX, with the remaining 25% being sent directly to allies and “regional priorities,” including Mexico, Canada, West Bank and Gaza, Ukraine, Egypt, and Iraq. Overall, the White House plans to donate 80 million doses by the end of June, mostly through COVAX. (Politico / New York Times / Associated Press / ABC News)

4/ Biden’s latest infrastructure counteroffer would keep Trump’s 2017 tax cuts intact in exchange for $1 trillion in new spending on top of the $400 billion in baseline spending already approved for infrastructure needs. Instead of paying for the American Jobs Plan by raising the corporate tax rate from 21% to 28%, the bipartisan infrastructure package would be financed through a 15% minimum tax on U.S. corporations and other tax proposals, including beefing up IRS audits and tax enforcement on the wealthy. White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Biden was “absolutely not” abandoning efforts to raise the corporate rate to 28%, adding that it’s a way to “pay for a range of the bold proposals that he has put forward.” Biden has already reduced the cost of his American Jobs Plan to $1.7 trillion from $2.25 trillion. Republicans, meanwhile, have upped their offer to $928 billion from $586 billion, but their proposal only includes roughly $257 billion in new spending on top of the current $400 billion in projected federal spending. Biden wants at least $1 trillion over current levels. (Washington Post / USA Today / New York Times / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal / Politico)

5/ The FBI is investigating Postmaster General Louis DeJoy for potential violation of campaign finance law. The investigation focuses on allegations that DeJoy pressured employees at his former company, New Breed Logistics, to make contributions to Republican candidates or attend political fundraisers, which he would then reimburse through bonuses. FBI agents have interviewed current and former employees at New Breed Logistics, and prosecutors have also issued a subpoena to DeJoy himself for information. DeJoy, meanwhile, denied he ever “knowingly violated” campaign contribution laws. (Washington Post / Politico / New York Times / ABC News)

6/ Rep. Mo Brooks is reportedly avoiding a lawsuit from his colleague Rep. Eric Swalwell that seeks to hold him accountable for the Jan. 6 Capitol riot. Swalwell’s attorneys have hired a private investigator in order to serve the lawsuit that alleges he and other pro-Trump allies were “responsible for the injury and destruction” of the Capitol. The investigator reportedly “has spent many hours over many days” since April searching for Brooks, “to no avail.” (CNN / Axios)

7/ The Justice Department is investigating whether Rep. Matt Gaetz obstructed justice when he called a witness in a potential sex crimes investigation. The obstruction probe stems from an inquiry about whether Gaetz had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old and paid for her travels with him. The witness is one of the women allegedly connected to Gaetz through his “wingman” Joel Greenberg, a Florida tax collector who pleaded guilty to several crimes, including the sex-trafficking of a 17-year-old girl in 2017. While Gaetz has denied all wrongdoing, including obstructing justice or having sex with the trafficked 17-year-old, Greenberg struck a plea deal with prosecutors last month and is cooperating with authorities in the investigation. (Politico / NBC News / CNN / CNBC)

8/ The Trump Justice Department secretly seized the phone records of four New York Times reporters in 2017 as part of a leak investigation. The Justice Department informed the paper that it had seized the phone records of Matt Apuzzo, Adam Goldman, Eric Lichtblau, and Michael Schmidt spanning nearly four months in 2017. The department also secured a court order to seize phone logs – but not the contents – of their emails, but “no records were obtained.” Last month, the Biden Justice Department disclosed that the Trump administration had also seized the phone logs of reporters at the Washington Post, and the phone and email logs for a CNN reporter. (New York Times / Washington Post)

Day 134: "My Republican friends."

1/ Biden declared June a “national month of action” to meet his goal of having 70% of U.S. adults at least partially vaccinated and 160 million adults fully vaccinated by the Fourth of July. Just under 63% of American adults have received at least one dose of the vaccine. The administration announced a raft of new initiatives to encourage Americans to get vaccinated, including free child care for parents and caregivers while they get their shots, as well as a national canvassing effort to work with churches, colleges, businesses, and celebrities. (Washington Post / Bloomberg / New York Times / CNBC)

2/ Texas Gov. Greg Abbott defended the restrictive voting bill that failed to pass, while attacking Biden for his comments that the Texas voting bill is “part of an assault on democracy.” Abbott called the Texas voter law “far more accommodative and provides far more hours to vote than it does in President Biden’s home state of Delaware.” The state of Delaware does not currently have early voting, but new state law will allow for 10 days of early voting starting next year. Abbott added: “If there’s any voter suppression taking place, the easier allegation is say that voter suppression has taken place in Delaware, not Texas.” (Dallas Morning News)

  • Texas Republicans blamed a typographical error for a controversial provision in the failed voting bill, which would have limited voting on Sundays to the hours between 1 p.m. and 9 p.m. Critics, however, say the provision would hurt get-out-the-vote efforts by Black churches. Despite no Republicans raising an issue with the start time during final debate over the bill last month, Republicans insisted that the 1 p.m. start time was an error and that it should have been 11 a.m. Republicans say they plan to use a special session to change the provision. (NBC News / Texas Tribune)

3/ Biden tapped Harris to lead the administration’s efforts to protect voting rights. The move comes as several Republican-led state legislatures have pushed to enact voting restrictions, which Biden called an “unprecedented assault” on democracy. Harris said the administration “will not stand by when confronted with any effort that keeps Americans from voting.” Biden also vowed that his administration would “fight like heck” to enact the For the People Act, which would expand voting rights and change campaign finance rules. The bill already passed the House, but has stalled in the Senate, where Democrats need the support of at least 10 Republicans to overcome a filibuster. Joe Manchin, meanwhile, continues to protect the filibuster, while refusing to support the voting rights bill. (CBS News / NPR / New York Times)

4/ Biden called out Democratic Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema for aligning too closely with Republicans and blocking efforts to pass the voting rights bill and other priorities. “I hear all the folks on TV saying, ‘Why doesn’t Biden get this done?’” Biden said. “Well, because Biden only has a majority of effectively four votes in the House and a tie in the Senate, with two members of the Senate who vote more with my Republican friends.” Sinema and Manchin have frustrated Democrats with their defense of the filibuster as Republican-led state governments have moved to place new limits on voting. While Sinema is a sponsor of the voting rights bill, Manchin has refused to sign on, calling the measure “too broad.” (Washington Post / Yahoo News / Business Insider)

5/ Trump permanently shut down his blog after 29 days, frustrated by the lack of readership, which made him reportedly “look small and irrelevant.” The “From the Desk of Donald J. Trump” blog was Trump’s attempt at influencing news coverage now that he’s out of office and still banned from Twitter and Facebook. (New York Times / CNBC)

Day 133: "An assault on democracy."

1/ Biden issued a presidential proclamation recognizing June as Pride Month, saying he “will not rest until full equality for LGBTQ+ Americans is finally achieved and codified into law.” The White House noted that “after four years of relentless attacks on LGBTQ+ rights, the Biden-Harris Administration has taken historic actions to accelerate the march toward full LGBTQ+ equality.” On his first day in office, Biden signed an executive order directing federal agencies to protect LGBTQ people under federal laws that prohibit discrimination based on sex. Biden also reversed the Trump administration’s ban on transgender people openly enlisting and serving in the military, and issued an executive order expanding Title IX to protect LGBTQ students from discrimination. (NBC News / New York Times)

2/ The Biden administration suspended oil and gas leases in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, undoing a move made by the Trump administration late last year. The Interior Department said a review of the Trump administration’s leasing program in the wildlife refuge found “multiple legal deficiencies,” including “insufficient analysis” required by environmental laws and a failure to assess alternatives. Last week, however, Justice Department attorneys defended a Trump-era oil and gas project in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska – an area that lies to the west of ANWR. (Politico / New York Times / Washington Post / CNN / Wall Street Journal / Bloomberg)

3/ Texas Democrats abandoned the state House floor late Sunday night to block a vote on one of the most restrictive voting bills in the nation. Republicans faced a midnight deadline to approve the measure, which would have made it harder to vote by mail, limited early voting hours, empowered partisan poll watchers, and made it easier to overturn election results. Democrats staged the walkout with an hour left for the Legislature to approve the bill, leaving the House without a quorum needed to take a vote. Republican Gov. Greg Abbott said he would order a special legislative session to revive the measure. Biden, meanwhile, called the restrictive voting bill “un-American” and “an assault on democracy.” (Texas Tribune / Washington Post / Associated Press / New York Times)

4/ Texas Gov. Greg Abbott threatened to defund the state Legislature after House Democrats staged a walkout to block one of his top legislative priorities. “No pay for those who abandon their responsibilities,” Abbott tweeted, pledging to veto the section of the state budget that funds the legislative branch. “Stay tuned.” Abbott has until June 20 to carry out the veto. (Texas Tribune / New York Times / NBC News / NPR / Washington Post)

5/ More than 100 scholars of democracy warned that “our entire democracy is now at risk” as a result of Republican-led states proposing or implementing “radical changes” to election laws. The public “Statement of Concern” calls on Senate Democrats to reform or kill the filibuster in order to pass the For the People Act, which already passed the House. Joe Manchin, meanwhile, has repeatedly pledged to protect the filibuster and has refused to sign on to the voting rights bill, calling the legislation “too darn broad” and partisan. The scholars conclude: “History will judge what we do at this moment.” (New York Times / Forbes / Washington Post)

6/ The Justice Department asked a federal judge to dismiss lawsuits against Trump, former attorney general William Barr, and other officials for using U.S. military and police to violently clear peaceful protestors from Lafayette Square last June so Trump could hold a Bible in front of St. John’s Church for photographs to dispel the notion that he was “weak” for hiding in a bunker. Justice Department lawyers argued that the lawsuits from the ACLU, Black Lives Matter, other civil liberties groups, and individual protesters should be dismissed because the Biden administration does not share Trump’s hostility toward George Floyd and the racial justice movement. An attorney for DC Police, meanwhile, said in court that the department used tear gas on protesters around Lafayette Square Park last June. It was the first time MPD admitted that tear gas was used on peaceful protestors. (Washington Post / WUSA 9)

7/ The Justice Department added four new defendants to the federal criminal conspiracy case against the Oath Keepers, a far-right extremist group that participated in the pro-Trump riot on Jan. 6 at the U.S. Capitol. (CNN)

8/ Trump has reportedly been telling confidants that he expects to be reinstated as president by August as a result of ongoing election audits in states like Arizona and Georgia. Meanwhile, at a QAnon conference, Trump’s first national security adviser called for a Myanmar-like military coup in America. Michael Flynn later claimed that he didn’t endorse a coup despite video of him supporting the idea, and saying “it should happen here.” Trump pardoned Flynn in November after he lost the election. Sidney Powell, the lawyer who is being sued for $1.3 billion by Dominion Voting Systems for defamation over her claims that the company rigged the election against Trump, told conference attendees Trump “can simply be reinstated,” despite there being no constitutional or legal remedy to overturn election results that have been certified by Congress. (New York Times – Maggie Haberman / Business Insider / Yahoo News / CNN / HuffPost)

Day 129: "Short-term political gain."

1/ Senate Republicans blocked the creation of an independent, bipartisan commission to investigate the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, using their filibuster power in the Senate for the first time during Biden’s presidency. The vote was 54 in favor, 35 against, and 11 senators not voting — short of the 60 needed to proceed. Six Republicans voted in favor of proceeding with the legislation. Prior to the vote, McConnell reportedly asked his Republican Senate colleagues to filibuster the bill as “a personal favor” to him, dismissing the proposed commission – modeled after the 9/11 Commission – as a “purely political exercise.” Sen. Joe Manchin said there were “an awful lot of other Republicans that would have supported” the commission “if it hadn’t been for [McConnell’s] intervention,” guessing that “13 or 14” GOP senators might have voted for the bill. Manchin, however, reaffirmed that he would not reconsider his opposition to getting rid of the filibuster. Sen. Lisa Murkowski also took aim at McConnell over his opposition to the commission, saying: “To be making a decision for the short-term political gain at the expense of understanding and acknowledging what was in front of us on Jan. 6, I think we need to look at that critically. Is that really what this is about, one election cycle after another?” (New York Times / Washington Post / NPR / Politico / NBC News / Bloomberg / Axios / Wall Street Journal / CNBC)

2/ Senate Republicans delayed passage of a $195 billion bipartisan bill aimed at countering China’s global economic and political influence. A small group of conservative senators complained they didn’t have time to review the more than 2,400 pages of the American Innovation and Competition Act. The vote was postponed until June 8, when senators return from a weeklong Memorial Day recess. (New York Times / Associated Press / CBS News)

3/ The Biden administration defended a Trump-era oil and gas project in Alaska. The administration declined to explain how its position on the multibillion-dollar plan from ConocoPhillips to drill in part of the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska aligns with Biden’s pledge to cut U.S. emissions in half by 2030, replace fossil fuels with renewable energy, and enhance protections for public lands and waters. The Arctic, meanwhile, is warming three times faster than the rest of the planet due to climate change. ConocoPhillips plans to install “chillers” to refreeze the thawing permafrost to ensure it’s stable enough to support the equipment needed to drill for oil, which will likely accelerate climate change when burned and the further melting of the permafrost. The project was pushed by Alaskan Sen. Lisa Murkowski, a centrist Republican seen as a potential administration ally in the evenly split Senate. (New York Times / Politico / The Guardian)

4/ Biden ordered the 90-day review into the origin of the coronavirus pandemic after intelligence officials told the White House they had unexamined evidence that required additional analysis. Officials declined to describe the evidence, but they’re reportedly “hoping to apply an extraordinary amount of computer power to the question of whether the virus accidentally leaked from a Chinese laboratory.” (New York Times)

5/ Hackers linked to Russian intelligence hacked the email system used by the U.S. Agency for International Development. Once compromised, hackers sent USAID-like emails to more than 3,000 accounts across more than 150 organizations with code that gave hackers access to the computer systems of the recipients, from “stealing data to infecting other computers on a network.” Those emails went out as recently as this week, and Microsoft, which identified the Russian group behind the attack as Nobelium, said it believes the attacks are ongoing. Microsoft also said it was the same group responsible for the SolarWinds hack, which breached at least seven government agencies and hundreds of large American companies. (New York Times)

6/ Federal prosecutors are investigating whether Ukrainian officials attempted to interfere in the 2020 presidential election, including using Rudy Giuliani to spread misleading claims about Biden to help Trump. The FBI and Brooklyn prosecutors are focused on current and former Ukrainian officials suspected of trying to influence the election by spreading unsubstantiated claims of corruption about Biden through several channels. The inquiry began during the final months of the Trump administration. Giuliani’s dealings with Ukrainian oligarchs while working as Trump’s lawyer are also the subject of an investigation by federal prosecutors in Manhattan. Federal agents seized Giuliani’s phone and computers while executive a search warrant in April. (New York Times)

7/ A federal judge appointed a so-called “special master” to review material seized from Rudy Giuliani and another lawyer through a search warrant. The special master will review files on electronic devices seized from Giuliani and Victoria Toensing for material that is potentially privileged. U.S. District Judge Paul Oetken also denied a series of requests by Giuliani and Toensing to return the trove of digital information the FBI seized as part of the investigation into potential violations of laws on lobbying for foreign entities. (Politico / ABC News / CNBC)

poll/ 73% of Republicans blame “left-wing protesters trying to make Trump look bad” for the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol. 23% of Republicans, however, say Trump bears “some” or “a great deal” of the blame for the riot that left several people dead and more than 140 injured. (Yahoo News)

poll/ 23% of Republicans agree that “the government, media, and financial worlds in the U.S. are controlled by a group of Satan-worshipping pedophiles who run a global child sex trafficking operation,” 28% agree that “there is a storm coming soon that will sweep away the elites in power and restore the rightful leaders,” and 28% agree that “because things have gotten so far off track, true American patriots may have to resort to violence in order to save our country.” Among all Americans, fewer than 20% agree with those statements. (PRRI / CNN)

Day 128: "No excuse."

1/ Senate Republicans are expected to use the filibuster to block the establishment of a bipartisan, independent commission to study the Jan. 6 pro-Trump riot at the Capitol, which led to the deaths of five people and about 140 police officers injured. In the House, 35 Republicans backed the bill last week. Fewer than 10 Senate Republicans are expected to support the bill, likely making it the first successful use of a filibuster during the Biden administration. Sen. Joe Manchin, meanwhile, said “there is no excuse for any Republican to vote against” legislation to create a 9/11-style commission to investigate the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. But when asked if he would vote to eliminate the filibuster to allow the commission bill to pass with 51 votes, Manchin replied that while it was “frustrating” to see Republicans opposed to the bill, he is “not willing to destroy our government.” (CNN / Associated Press / Washington Post / Politico / CBS News / ABC News / NBC News)

2/ A federal judge warned that Trump’s “steady drumbeat” of false claims that the 2020 election was “stolen” from him could inspire his supporters to take up arms, as they did during the Capitol insurrection. Judge Amy Berman Jackson wrote: “The steady drumbeat that inspired defendant to take up arms has not faded away; six months later, the canard that the election was stolen is being repeated daily on major news outlets and from the corridors of power in state and federal government, not to mention in the near-daily fulminations of the former President.” Separately, Trump and Rudy Giuliani asked a federal judge to dismiss a lawsuit accusing them of conspiring to incite the Capitol violence. At a pre-riot rally near the Capitol, Trump called on his followers to march to the Capitol and told them: “If you don’t fight like hell you’re not going to have a country anymore.” Giuliani, during the same rally, called for “trial by combat.” (CNN / CNBC)

3/ Senate Republicans offered a $928 billion infrastructure proposal to counter Biden’s American Jobs Plan, which was initially valued at $2.3 trillion. The $928 billion plan is an increase from the GOP’s original, five-year $568 billion proposal. It would not raise taxes, but instead be funded through repurposing unused Covid-19 relief money, an idea that Democrats are opposed to. The $928 billion plan falls short, however, of the White House’s latest $1.7 trillion compromise proposal. Senate Republicans have also made the definition of infrastructure a sticking point in negotiations. (Politico / Washington Post / NPR / CNN / ABC News / CNBC / Wall Street Journal / NBC News)

4/ Biden will propose a $6 trillion budget for the 2022 fiscal year – the highest sustained federal spending since World War II – with annual deficits of more than $1.3 trillion over the next decade. The budget contains no new major policies, but instead reflects the policies that Biden has already introduced, including the $2.3 trillion American Jobs Plan, the $1.8 trillion American Families Plan, and $1.5 trillion in proposed discretionary spending. The White House budget projects that the U.S. economy will grow by about 5% in 2021 and 4.3% in 2022, before leveling off at around 2% for the rest of the decade, after inflation. Biden’s budget also assumes that his proposed capital gains tax rate increase took effect in April, meaning that it’s too late for very-high-income households to realize gains at the lower tax rates if Congress approves the change and retroactive effective date. (New York Times / Washington Post / Bloomberg / CNN)

5/ The Senate voted 68-30 to advance the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act, a bill to address China’s growing economic and geopolitical influence with a $250 billion investment in American technology, science, and research. After the Senate voted on 18 amendments – 14 of them from GOP senators – the vote was further delayed as Republicans threatened to filibuster the bill unless they got more votes on GOP amendments. The bill still faces additional debate before a final vote is held on passage. (Axios / Politico / Bloomberg / CNN / Reuters)

6/ Biden urged Congress to pass stricter gun control measures after eight people were killed during a mass shooting at a Northern California rail yard. “Enough,” Biden said in a statement. “Once again, I urge Congress to take immediate action and heed the call of the American people, including the vast majority of gun owners, to help end this epidemic of gun violence in America.” (NBC News / CNN / Los Angeles Times)

Day 127: "Closer to a definitive conclusion."

1/ Biden directed the intelligence community to “redouble” its efforts to determine the origin of the coronavirus pandemic after a new report highlighted how three scientists at the Wuhan Institute of Virology were hospitalized in November 2019 after developing symptoms consistent with Covid-19. Biden tasked the intelligence community with preparing a report within 90 days “on their most up-to-date analysis of the origins of Covid-19, including whether it emerged from human contact with an infected animal or from a laboratory accident,” in order to “bring us closer to a definitive conclusion.” In the statement Biden said the majority of the intelligence community had “coalesced” around those two scenarios, but “do not believe there is sufficient information to assess one to be more likely than the other.” (Washington Post / NBC News / Associated Press / CNBC / Politico)

2/ New York prosecutors convened a special grand jury to consider evidence in the criminal investigation into Trump’s business dealings. The panel, convened by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, is expected to decide whether to indict Trump, executives at the Trump Organization or the business itself. Vance’s investigation has scrutinized Trump’s relationship with his lenders and whether he manipulated the valuation of his assets for tax benefits. The grand jury will sit for three days a week for six months, and likely hear matters beyond the Trump Organization investigation. One adviser said there’s “a cloud of nerves” hanging over Trump. (Washington Post / Associated Press / CNN / Politico)

3/ Manhattan prosecutors told at least one witness to prepare for grand jury testimony related to the criminal case against Trump, his company, and its executives. (ABC News / CNN)

4/ U.S. troops and their NATO allies are set to be out of Afghanistan by early to mid-July – well ahead of Biden’s Sept. 11 deadline. The Pentagon, however, doesn’t have a plan to counter terrorist threats from groups like Al Qaeda or the Islamic State after troops leave, nor does it have a plan for ensuring security for Kabul’s international airport, which could jeopardize all diplomatic missions in Afghanistan. In addition, Defense Department officials haven’t secured agreements about repositioning American troops in nearby countries and haven’t decided whether American warplanes will continue to provide air support to Afghan forces to prevent cities from falling to the Taliban. (New York Times)

5/ Biden ousted four members of the Commission of Fine Arts, which is tasked with advising on “matters of design and aesthetics” in the nation’s capital. The seven-member independent federal agency consisted entirely of commissioners appointed by Trump. Last year, Trump signed an executive order requiring “beautiful” architecture as the preferred style for federal buildings. (CNN)

poll/ 85% of Republicans would prefer to see candidates running for office that mostly agree with Trump. 66% of Republicans say they think that Biden’s victory was not legitimate. (Quinnipiac)

Day 126: "Appalling."

1/ The Justice Department appealed a district court ruling that ordered it to release the entire memo used in 2019 to justify not charging Trump with obstruction of justice in the Russia investigation. Earlier this month, U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson accused the Justice Department and then-Attorney General William Barr of being “disingenuous to this court” when describing Robert Mueller’s findings about why he decided not to pursue obstruction charges. Jackson ordered the entire document released. The Justice Department, however, released a partially unredacted version of the Office of Legal Counsel memo – a page and a half were made public. (Washington Post / New York Times / NBC News / Politico)

2/ Trump’s former White House counsel agreed to testify behind closed doors about Trump’s efforts to obstruct the Russia investigation. Donald McGahn will testify before the House Judiciary Committee next week about his role as a key witness in the Mueller report. A transcript of the interview will be released afterward. In 2019, the Trump White House invoked executive privilege and ordered McGahn not to comply with a congressional subpoena for documents related to Mueller’s investigation. McGahn spent more than 30 hours speaking to Mueller’s investigators, outlining two episodes where Trump asked him to have Mueller fired, and later asking McGahn to deny news reports about that conversation. McGahn rebuffed both requests. (New York Times / CNN / NBC News)

3/ New York federal prosecutors investigating Rudy Giuliani seized email and iCloud accounts they believe belong to two former Ukranian government officials, as well as the cell phone and iPad of a pro-Trump Ukrainian businessman. The attorney for Lev Parnas, an indicted former Giuliani ally, wrote in a court filing that the evidence seized “likely includes e-mail, text, and encrypted communications” between Giuliani, Victoria Toensing, Trump, William Barr, “high-level members of the Justice Department, Presidential impeachment attorneys Jay Sekulow, Jane Raskin and others, Senator Lindsey Graham, Congressman Devin Nunes and others, relating to the timing of the arrest and indictment of the defendants as a means to prevent potential disclosures to Congress in the first impeachment inquiry of then-President Donald. J. Trump.” The court filing also disclosed that federal prosecutors have “historical and prospective cell site information” related to Giuliani and Toensing – both were the subjects of search warrants executed last month. The court filing contained redacted portions, which could be read by copying and pasting them into another document. (CNN)

4/ Trump responded to a lawsuit seeking to hold him accountable for the Jan. 6 insurrection, saying he is protected under the First Amendment and had “absolute immunity” while President to contest the election. Trump argued that encouraging his supporters to oppose Congress from certifying the vote during the political rally on Jan. 6 was a constitutionally protected act of the presidency. The court filing was in response to a lawsuit from Democratic Rep. Eric Swalwell alleging that Trump “directly incited the violence” by putting out “a clear call to action” and then “watched approvingly as the building was overrun.” (CNN)

5/ Kevin McCarthy and Mitch McConnell both condemned Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene for comparing Covid-19 safety measures to the treatment of Jews during the Holocaust. “Marjorie is wrong, and her intentional decision to compare the horrors of the Holocaust with wearing masks is appalling,” McCarthy said. “Let me be clear: the House Republican Conference condemns this language.” McConnell remarked that Greene’s words were “once again an outrageous and reprehensible comment.” The GOP leaders, however, both stopped short of calling for any formal discipline. Greene, a QAnon conspiracy theorist, was stripped of her committee assignments earlier this year over comments she made before being elected, including calling school shootings a hoax, and endorsing executing Democratic leaders and federal agents. (NPR / Wall Street Journal / USA Today / CNBC)

6/ Moderna said its Covid-19 vaccine provided strong protection in teens ages 12 to 17 in a late-stage trial, and plans to submit the data to U.S. regulators in early June. If authorized, the vaccine would become the second shot available for adolescents as young as 12. The FDA previously expanded authorization of Pfizer’s shot to include kids ages 12 to 15. (Politico / Washington Post)

7/ Half of the adults in the U.S. are now fully vaccinated against the coronavirus. “This is a major milestone in our country’s vaccination efforts,” Andy Slavitt, a White House senior adviser on the Covid-19 response, said. “The number was 1% when we entered office Jan. 20.” Biden set a goal of getting 70% of adults to receive at least their first dose by the Fourth of July. Nearly 5 million adolescents have also received at least one dose of the vaccine. (NPR / CNBC)

8/ The Department of Homeland Security will issue security directives requiring pipeline operators to report cyber incidents to federal authorities. The planned directives follow the ransomware attack on Colonial Pipeline, which forced a shutdown that triggered a spike in gas prices and shortages in parts of the Southeast for 11 days. The directives will also require each company to designate a point person for cybersecurity. The Transportation Security Administration created pipeline-security guidelines more than a decade ago, but compliance has been voluntary. (Washington Post / Wall Street Journal)

9/ Biden will meet with Putin next month in Geneva. The first face-to-face session between the two leaders will take place against the backdrop of rising tensions over Ukraine, cyberattacks, and new nuclear weapons Putin is deploying. (New York Times / Wall Street Journal / Associated Press)

poll/ 81% of Americans say they trust family and friends to be honest about their Covid-19 status. Americans, however, were less likely to trust people about their Covid-19 status outside of their close circles (38%), at sporting events or concerts (25%), indoor restaurants and bars (25%), and airports (24%). (Axios)

Day 125: "We have to be ready."

1/ Biden doubled FEMA’s budget for extreme weather preparation ahead of hurricane and wildfire season, saying “We’re going to spare no expense, no effort, to keep Americans safe and respond to crises when they arise.” The $1 billion for the Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities program will help communities prepare for hurricanes, wildfires, and other natural disasters. The U.S., however, logged 22 separate weather and climate-related disasters in 2020 that each exceeded $1 billion in damages. The administration will also start a new NASA initiative to develop “next generation climate data systems” to track the impact of climate change. “We all know that the storms are coming, and we’re going to be prepared,” Biden added. “We have to be ready.” (CNN / Washington Post / ABC News / New York Times)

2/ The Biden administration extended special protections for Haitians temporarily living in the U.S. after they were displaced by a 7.0-magnitude earthquake in 2010. The temporary protected status designation will be in place for 18 months and could protect as many as 150,000 Haitians already living in the U.S. In 2017, the Trump administration ended temporary protected status for nearly 60,000 Haitians, forcing them to leave the U.S. And, in a meeting on immigration in 2017, Trump said Haitians “all have AIDS” and questioned why the U.S. would admit people from “shithole countries” like Haiti after lawmakers floated the idea of restoring protections for immigrants from Haiti as part of a bipartisan immigration deal. (New York Times)

3/ More than 500 Biden campaign and Democratic Party staffers called on Biden to do more to protect Palestinian human rights and “hold Israel accountable for its actions.” The letter praises Biden for helping negotiate a ceasefire, which went into effect Friday, but called for him to acknowledge the “power imbalance” and the disproportionate number of deaths caused by Israeli forces compared with those caused by Palestinian militants. More than 230 Palestinians were killed by Israeli airstrikes in Gaza before the ceasefire, destroying 1,500 housing and commercial units and displacing more than 75,000 people. 12 people in Israel were killed by Hamas rockets. (Washington Post / Axios)

4/ Secretary of State Antony Blinken condemned Belarus for faking a bomb threat in order to force down a Ryanair flight and arrest a dissident journalist. Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko sent a MiG-29 fighter jet to intercept a commercial plane flying through the country’s airspace and ordered the plane to land in the capital. No bomb was found on board and Belarus’s top investigative agency said it had opened a criminal case into a false bomb threat. “This shocking act,” Blinken said, “perpetrated by the Lukashenka regime endangered the lives of more than 120 passengers, including U.S. citizens. Initial reports suggesting the involvement of the Belarusian security services and the use of Belarusian military aircraft to escort the plane are deeply concerning and require full investigation.” The European Union, meanwhile, called on all E.U. airlines to avoid flying over Belarus and ban Belarusian airlines from flying over the bloc’s airspace or landing in its airports. (Politico / Washington Post / New York Times)

5/ The Trump administration secretly obtained the 2017 phone and email records of a CNN correspondent. The Justice Department informed Barbara Starr in May that prosecutors had obtained her phone and email records last year for the two months between June 1, 2017 to July 31, 2017. It is unclear when the investigation was opened, and whether it happened under Jeff Sessions or William Barr. Starr was never the target of any investigation. In 2020, the Trump Justice Department also secretly obtained the phone records of three Washington Post reporters from 2017, who had covered the FBI’s Russia investigation. (CNN)

6/ Trump’s Commerce Department operated an intelligence-like agency to conduct criminal investigations into Americans’ social media posts, looking for comments critical about the administration and the census. Despite opening more than 1,000 cases, few resulted in arrests or criminal charges. The Investigations and Threat Management Service also searched employees’ offices at night and searched their emails looking for foreign influence. The Biden administration ordered ITMS to pause all criminal investigations in March, and in May suspended all activities. (Washington Post)

poll/ 58% of voters support using reconciliation to pass Biden’s American Jobs Plan and American Families Plan together. 55% of voters believe Republicans should work with Biden to pass the two bills. (Data For Progress)

poll/ 53% of Republicans believe Trump is the actual President, not Biden. 87% of Republicans also believe the government should place new limits on voting to protect elections from alleged fraud. (Ipsos)

Day 121: "Not the case."

1/ The House voted to create an independent commission to investigate the Jan. 6 Capitol assault. The bill to create a bipartisan 10-person commission tasked with delivering a report on the causes and facts of the insurrection passed on a 252-to-175 vote with 35 Republicans supporting the measure. In the Senate, Democrats need 10 Republicans to join them in supporting the measure in order to reach the 60-vote threshold required for passage in the evenly divided Senate. (Washington Post / New York Times / Politico / Axios / CNN)

2/ The House narrowly approved a $1.9 billion spending bill to fortify security at the Capitol after the Jan. 6 insurrection. The legislation was approved in a 213-212 vote after a group of Democratic progressives objected to spending millions more on the Capitol Police without more knowledge about whether some officers were complicit in the Jan. 6 riot. The funding bill, however, is unlikely to advance in the Senate, where Republicans have complained that House Democrats drafted the bill without their input. (Politico / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal / ABC News)

3/ Israel and Hamas agreed to a tentative cease-fire after 11 days of fighting in the Gaza Strip. Since the fighting began, the Israeli aerial and artillery campaign has killed more than 230 Palestinians – including 64 children and 38 women – and wounded another 1,620 people. The truce will take effect Friday morning. (New York Times / CNBC / USA Today / Washington Post)

4/ Sen. Bernie Sanders will introduce a resolution disapproving of the U.S. sale of $735 million in weapons to Israel. The planned sale of the precision-guided weapons was approved by the Biden administration before the latest outbreak of violence between Hamas and the Israeli government. In the House, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Mark Pocan, and Rashida Tlaib introduced a similar resolution yesterday. (Washington Post / CNN)

5/ The Biden administration reinstalled the scientist responsible for producing the federal government’s definitive reports on climate change. The Trump administration removed Michael Kuperberg in November. Kuperberg coordinates climate change research across 13 federal agencies and production of the program’s National Climate Assessment. (Washington Post / HuffPost)

6/ Iowa and Texas both banned mask mandates in public schools. In Iowa, Gov. Kim Reynolds signed a bill preventing schools from mandating masks for students, employees, or members of the public. Cities or counties must also lift mask mandate restriction on businesses, although individual business owners may still require masks at their discretion. The law takes effect immediately. While in Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive order prohibiting counties, public school districts, public health authorities, and government officials from requiring masks. Dr. Anthony Fauci, meanwhile, said many Americans are “misinterpreting” the latest CDC guidance advising that fully vaccinated people no longer needed to wear masks in most cases. “The problem is,” Fauci said, “people interpreted that as a signal that you don’t need masks anymore, which absolutely is not the case.” (Des Moines Register / CNN / Iowa Capital Dispatch / Bloomberg / NBC News)

7/ About 444,000 Americans filed first-time unemployment claims last week – a pandemic-era low. The figure, however, is still well-above pre-pandemic levels. (Bloomberg / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / CNBC)

8/ Lawyers located the parents of 54 migrant children separated from their families by the Trump administration. The Biden administration task force, however, estimates that roughly 1,000 families remain separated. (NBC News)

9/ The New York attorney general’s office opened a criminal tax investigation into the Trump Organization’s longtime chief financial officer. The investigation began with a referral from state tax authorities and involved Allen Weisselberg’s compensation by the Trump Organization and “whether taxes were paid on fringe benefits” from Trump, “including cars and tens of thousands of dollars in private school tuition for at least one” of Weisselberg’s grandchildren. While Weisselberg has not been accused of any wrongdoing, prosecutors are seeking to turn Weisselberg into a cooperating witness against Trump and the Trump Organization. Attorney General Letitia James notified the Trump Organization in January that it had opened an investigation into Weisselberg. (CNN / New York Times / Axios / CNBC / ABC News)

Day 120: "Offensive and humiliating."

1/ Mitch McConnell will oppose legislation to create a commission tasked with investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, making it clear that the legislation will likely not have the votes to get through the Senate. McConnell called the proposal to create a bipartisan commission – with an equal number of Republicans and Democrats – “slanted and unbalanced.” Following McConnell’s remarks, Sen. Mike Rounds, who had previously expressed support for the commission, said he no longer backed the proposal. While the bill is expected to pass the House, the measure will need 10 Senate GOP votes to even start debate and allow amendments. The House is scheduled to vote on the bill today. (Washington Post / Politico / New York Times / CNN)

2/ The New York attorney general’s office opened a criminal investigation into the Trump Organization, in addition to its ongoing civil probe. New York Attorney General Letitia James’ office will join Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance’s office in the criminal investigation, saying: “We have informed the Trump Organization that our investigation into the organization is no longer purely civil in nature. We are now actively investigating the Trump Organization in a criminal capacity, along with the Manhattan DA.” The two offices have been conducting parallel investigations for more than a year: James’ investigation had been a civil one, while Vance’s had been a criminal investigation. Both probes have focused on whether the Trump Organization and Trump deliberately inflated the value of assets and while downplaying property values for tax benefits in financial filings. Separately, Trump is also facing a criminal investigation in Georgia over whether he improperly tried to influence election officials last year. Trump, meanwhile, called the criminal probe of his company “corrupt” and “in desperate search of a crime.” (CNN / New York Times / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / NBC News / CNBC)

3/ Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed into law legislation that prohibits abortion once a fetal heartbeat is detected, effectively banning most abortions in the state before many women know they are pregnant. The bill also allows any citizen to file a civil lawsuit against abortion providers, and anybody who “aids or abets” the performance of the procedure. The bill includes an exception for medical emergencies, but not for pregnancies that resulted from rape or incest. The law takes effect in September. (Texas Tribune / Dallas Morning News / USA Today)

4/ Tennessee will require businesses and government facilities to post a sign indicating that they allow transgender people to use their bathrooms, locker rooms or changing rooms associated with their gender identity. Republican Gov. Bill Lee signed the first-of-its-kind bill Monday, which LGBTQ advocacy groups called “offensive and humiliating.” Lee also signed a bill that opens public schools up to lawsuits if they allow transgender students or staff use bathrooms or locker room that match their gender identity. The bill defines a person’s sex as “a person’s immutable biological sex as determined by anatomy and genetics existing at the time of birth” and requires students and staff at public schools to only use a multi-occupancy bathroom or changing room with other people of the same “biological sex.” In addition, Lee also signed a transgender sports bill into law in March that requires students prove their sex at birth in order to play school sports. (Associated Press / NBC News / The Advocate / Insider / CNN)

5/ U.S. Capitol Police are conducting a criminal investigation related to a subpoena for information about a parody Twitter account dedicated to mocking Rep. Devin Nunes. The disclosure by the Capitol Police came a day after the Justice Department revealed that Trump’s Justice Department had used a secret grand jury subpoena in an attempt to identify the person behind the @NunesAlt account. The investigation, which is still open, reportedly involves a threat made online. Prosecutors, however, declined to identify anything specific that @NunesAlt had posted that was threatening, according to unsealed documents. (New York Times)

6/ The FBI is investigating a scheme to illegally finance Sen. Susan Collins’ 2020 re-election bid. The FBI believes a U.S. defense contractor illegally donated $150,000 to a super PAC for the Maine Republican, and then reimbursed family members for donations to Collins’ campaign. There’s no indication that Collins or her team were aware of the allegedly illegal donations. (Axios / Bloomberg / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal)

Day 119: "Legitimatizing a grift."

1/ House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy will oppose a bipartisan deal to form a 9/11-style commission to investigate the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, saying the independent probe would be “duplicative” of federal law enforcement efforts and “potentially counterproductive.” The formation of a bipartisan Jan. 6 commission, which was negotiated by the top Republican and Democrat on the House Homeland Security Committee, had been delayed for months, because Republicans insisted that the investigation be expanded to include violence by far-left protesters last summer. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called it “disappointing but not surprising” to see the “cowardice on the part of some on the Republican side” who do not “want to find the truth.” The Biden administration, meanwhile, issued a statement in support of the commission, saying: “The nation deserves such a full and fair accounting to prevent future violence and strengthen the security and resilience of our democratic institutions.” (Axios / Wall Street Journal / CNN / CNBC / ABC News / Politico)

2/ The Republican-dominated Maricopa County Board of Supervisors called on the GOP-led state Senate to end the recount of the 2020 election, saying the audit is a “sham” and a “con.” After Trump’s false allegations that fraud cost him the 2020 election, state Senate President Karen Fann used the Senate’s subpoena power to take possession of ballots and voting machines from Maricopa County. Fann then hired Cyber Ninjas, a firm owned by a Trump supporter who has promoted election conspiracies, to conduct an audit. Fann claims that Cyber Ninjas identified “serious problems” with the recount. The county’s five supervisors called the audit a “spectacle that is harming all of us,” with Board Chairman Jack Sellers accusing Fann of making an “attempt at legitimatizing a grift disguised as an audit.” (Washington Post / Associated Press)

3/ The House passed legislation to address hate crimes directed at Asian-Americans during the Covid-19 pandemic. The legislation directs the Justice Department to expedite the review of Covid-related hate crimes, especially those targeting Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, encourages the creation of state-run hate crime hotlines, and provides grants to law enforcement agencies to train officers to identify hate crimes. The vote was 364-62, with only Republicans in opposition. The measure now heads to the White House for Biden’s signature. (NBC News / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / New York Times)

4/ Researchers have found that climate change caused an estimated $8 billion in excess flooding damage during Hurricane Sandy in 2012 and affected an additional 70,000 people. Sea levels at the tip of Manhattan have risen about 8 inches since 1950, according to NOAA, and water levels could rise by more than a foot in New York City by midcentury, compared with the year 2000. Superstorm Sandy caused an estimated $70 billion in total damages, mostly from flooding, due to human-induced sea-level rise. (NPR)

5/ Trump’s Justice Department used a secret grand jury subpoena in an attempt to identify the person behind a Twitter account dedicated to mocking Rep. Devin Nunes. The California Republican also attempted to sue the owners of two parody accounts, one pretending to be his cow and the other his mother, and Twitter itself in 2019, claiming that the nameless critics had tried to “intimidate” him and “intended to generate and proliferate false and defamatory statements.” Twitter fought the subpoena and questioned whether the Justice Department might be abusing federal criminal law enforcement power to retaliate against a critic of a close ally of Trump. The DOJ request was later withdrawn after Biden took office. The person who operates the @NunesAlt account, meanwhile tweeted “why am I being sued by a US congressman? Why would the DOJ ever target me? Is it the mean tweets and bad memes?” (New York Times / Washington Post)

Day 118: "Grave concern."

1/ The Supreme Court will hear a challenge to a Mississippi law that prohibits nearly all abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization will be the first abortion case since Justice Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation last October, who is an outspoken opponent of abortion. The case directly challenges Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 decision that legalized abortion nationwide, and the court said it will specifically review the question of whether states can ban abortions before a fetus can survive outside the womb. The Mississippi law would ban almost all abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, with narrow exceptions made for medical emergencies or cases in which there is a “severe fetal abnormality,” but not for instances of rape or incest. (Washington Post / New York Times / Politico / Associated Press / NBC News / CNN / Vox / CBS News)

2/ The U.S. will send at least 20 million doses of the Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson and Johnson coronavirus vaccine abroad by the end of June. The 20 million doses are in addition to Biden’s previous commitment to send 60 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to other countries once the vaccine is cleared for use by the FDA. It’s unclear which countries will receive the doses, but Biden promised to “not use our vaccines to secure favors from other countries.” (New York Times / Associated Press / NBC News / Bloomberg / CNN)

3/ The Biden administration approved the sale of $735 million in precision-guided weapons to Israel. Congress was formally notified of the intended sale on May 5, and lawmakers have 15 days to object with a nonbinding resolution of disapproval. Lawmakers, however, are not expected to object to the deal despite violence between Israel and Palestinian militants, but more than 25 Democratic senators called for an immediate ceasefire to “prevent further loss of life and further escalation of violence.” Biden, meanwhile, “expressed his support” for a cease-fire in a call to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as fighting entered its eighth day, with more than 200 people dead, most of them Palestinians in Gaza. The U.S. also blocked a unanimous statement by the 15-nation U.N. Security Council expressing “grave concern” over the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the loss of civilian lives. It was the third time the U.S. blocked the Security Council statement. (Washington Post / Associated Press /Reuters / CNN / New York Times / NPR / NBC News / Axios)

4/ About 39 million American families will start receiving monthly child tax credit payments starting July 15. The payments, which are part of the expanded child tax credit program in the American Rescue Plan, provide up to $300 a month for each child under 6, and up to $250 a month for each child 6 to 17 years old. The Biden administration estimates that more than 65 million children — or 88% of all U.S. kids nationwide — will receive the benefit. (Washington Post / NBC News / Politico)

5/ Attorneys for Rudy Giuliani accused federal authorities of treating Trump’s former personal attorney “as if he was the head of a drug cartel or a terrorist” after learning that investigators had obtained access to his iCloud account with an undisclosed 2019 search warrant. FBI agents also executed a search warrant in April and seized Giuliani’s electronic devices. Federal prosecutors asked the U.S. Southern District of New York to appoint a special master to review the evidence and filter out whatever information may be covered by attorney-client privilege. Lawyers for Giuliani said the material seized from covert 2019 search was illegal and suggested the search warrants executed in April were the “fruit of this poisoned tree.” In 2019, Giuliani and other trump allies sought damaging information on Biden and his son, Hunter Biden, which became a central part of Trump’s first impeachment proceeding. (Daily Beast / CNN / Washington Post / CNBC)

Day 115: "Very concerning."

1/ The House Homeland Security Committee agreed to create a bipartisan, independent commission to investigate the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. The legislation would create a 10-person panel – half appointed by Democrats, including the chair, and half by Republicans – to conduct an investigation, make recommendations, and issue a final report by the end of the year. Subpoenas would require bipartisan support. The deal had been stalled for months since House Speaker Nancy Pelosi first proposed a 9/11-type commission, with both House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell concerned about the scope of the investigation. Pelosi wanted the panel to focus only on Jan. 6 and the groups that participated in the riot, but Republicans insisted that the scope include political violence by the far-left during protests against police brutality last year. McCarthy was noncommittal about whether he supports the commission, and in response to being told that the commission would be limited in scope to the Jan. 6 riot, he replied: “That’s very concerning to me.” (NBC News / CNN / Bloomberg / NPR / Washington Post)

2/ House Republicans elected Rep. Elise Stefanik as their new No. 3 leader, replacing Rep. Liz Cheney with a Trump loyalist. The secret-ballot vote came two days after House Republicans removed Cheney from the role following her criticism of Trump and refusal to stay quiet about Trump’s false narrative that the election was stolen. (New York Times / NPR / Politico / ABC News)

3/ The executive director of a top conservative group bragged in a leaked video that her organization had crafted the new voter suppression law in Georgia. During a private meeting in April, Jessica Anderson, the executive director of Heritage Action for America (a sister organization of the Heritage Foundation), told the foundation’s donors that her group was also helping craft similar bills for Republican state legislators across the country. “In some cases, we actually draft them for them,” Anderson said, “or we have a sentinel on our behalf give them the model legislation so it has that grassroots, from-the-bottom-up type of vibe.” The Georgia law had “eight key provisions that Heritage recommended,” Anderson said, including restricting mail ballot drop boxes, preventing election officials from sending absentee ballot request forms, making it easier for partisan workers to monitor the polls, preventing the collection of mail ballots, and restricting donations from nonprofit groups seeking to aid in election administration. (Mother Jones)

4/ Several Project Veritas operatives were reportedly involved in a secrete plot during the Trump administration to discredit perceived “enemies” of Trump inside the government. The campaign included a planned operation against Trump’s national security adviser at the time, H.R. McMaster, and surveillance operations against FBI employees. Female undercover operatives arranged dates with FBI employees aimed at secretly recording them making disparaging comments about Trump. The campaign against McMaster involved a plan to hire a woman armed with a hidden camera to capture McMaster making disparaging remarks his opponents could then use as leverage to get him fired as national security adviser. The operation ended in March 2018 when McMaster resigned. (New York Times)

5/ A Rep. Matt Gaetz associate agreed to cooperate with federal investigators and admitted to paying an underage girl to have sex with him and other men. Joel Greenberg pleaded guilty to six federal charges, including identity theft, stalking, wire fraud, conspiracy to bribe a public official, and sex trafficking of a minor. Greenberg admitted that he had paid a 17-year-old girl for sex and gave her drugs. Greenberg admitted that he “introduced the minor to other adult men, who engaged in commercial sex acts” with her. The former Florida tax official’s criminal case led to the investigation into whether Gaetz violated sex trafficking laws by having sex with the same girl. (New York Times / Associated Press / NBC News)

Day 114: "A great day for America."

1/ The CDC said Americans who are fully vaccinated can safely go without masks or physical distancing in most cases, including indoors or in large groups. CDC Director Rochelle Walensky called the updated CDC guidance an “exciting and powerful moment,” which offered the country a renewed hope that a return to pre-pandemic “normalcy” is achievable as more people get vaccinated. Biden, calling it “a great day for America,” added that “It’s been made possible by the extraordinary success we’ve had in vaccinating so many Americans so quickly.” More than 154 million Americans have had at least one shot and 117 million are fully vaccinated – 35% of the population. Under the new guidance, which is based on recent real-world studies from Israel and the U.S., fully vaccinated people can resume domestic travel without needing to get tested before or after, and they do not need to self-quarantine. They also do not need to quarantine following exposure as long as they are asymptomatic. (NBC News / CNN / Washington Post / New York Times / CNBC / NPR)

2/ Jobless claims fell to a new pandemic low of 473,000 last week. The 2019 pre-pandemic weekly unemployment average, however, was 218,000. At least 13 Republican-led states, meanwhile, are terminating their involvement in federal pandemic-related unemployment programs early, which include the extra $300-a-week payments. (Wall Street Journal / Axios / The Hill)

3/ A Florida politician – and Rep. Matt Gaetz associate – is expected to plead guilty. Joel Greenberg previously pleaded not guilty to several charges, including stalking, wire fraud, and sex trafficking of a minor, but has been cooperating with the Justice Department since last year, providing investigators with information about encounters he and Gaetz had with women who were given cash or gifts in exchange for sex. The investigation into Greenberg spawned the sex-trafficking investigation into Gaetz. Multiple women paid by Greenberg have said they felt pressured to drink, do drugs, and then have sex with him. (Washington Post / Orlando Sentinel / NBC News / Daily Beast)

4/ The Republican, QAnon-supporting congresswoman from Georgia aggressively confronted Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and falsely accused her of supporting “terrorists” as they both exited the House chamber yesterday. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene reportedly approached Ocasio-Cortez and shouted questions about her support of antifa and Black Lives Matter, falsely labeling them as “terrorist” groups, and accusing Ocasio-Cortez of failing to defend her “radical socialist” beliefs by declining to publicly debate her. Ocasio-Cortez didn’t stop to answer Greene, but instead turned around threw her hands up in the air in exasperation. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, meanwhile, called Greene’s decision to “verbal[ly] assault” and “abuse” Ocasio-Cortez outside the House chamber “egregious” behavior and “a matter for the Ethics Committee.” Greene later tweeted that Ocasio-Cortez supports “defund the police” but “wants to call the police for security bc she’s afraid of debating with me about her socialist” Green New Deal, adding that Ocasio-Crotez was “a fraud & a hypocrite.” In February, the House voted to remove Greene from her two committee seats for embracing baseless QAnon conspiracy theories and supporting violent rhetoric against Democrats, including the assassination of Pelosi. (Washington Post / NBC News)

5/ [Speculation alert] Florida officials are reportedly preparing “contingency plans” for a Trump indictment as the Manhattan district attorney’s criminal investigation enters its final stages. Law-enforcement personnel in Palm Beach County are preparing for “thorny extradition issues that could arise” from a provision in Florida law that gives the state’s governor the authority to order an investigation into “the situation and circumstances of the person” in question “and whether the person ought to be surrendered” to another state if they’re indicted. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is a staunch Trump ally. Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr.‘s office is currently investigating whether Trump and his businesses committed banking and tax fraud. The Supreme Court also granted Vance’s investigators access to Trump’s tax and financial records. Trump, however, is residing at his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey, which is led by Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy, who would likely be less sympathetic than DeSantis if Trump were indicted while in New Jersey. (Politico / Business Insider / South Florida Sun Sentinel)

poll/ 57% of unvaccinated adults said a $1,000 savings bond would persuade them to get a Covid-19 vaccine. 57% of unvaccinated adults who are employed said they’d get vaccinated if it were required to work in-person. (Morning Consult)

Day 113: "Ignoring the lie emboldens the liar."

1/ House Republicans removed Rep. Liz Cheney from her leadership role because of her criticism of Trump’s repeated lie that the 2020 election was stolen from him and his role in the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. Prior to the removal of Cheney as the No. 3 House Republican over her condemnation of Trump’s election lies, Cheney delivered a defiant final speech from the House floor, calling Trump a “threat we have never seen before.” Cheney also warned that Trump “risks inciting further violence” by continuing to push his baseless claims about voter fraud that her fellow Republicans colleagues have echoed. “Remaining silent and ignoring the lie emboldens the liar. I will not participate in that,” Cheney said, adding: “If you want leaders who will enable and spread his destructive lies, I’m not your person, you have plenty of others to choose from. That will be their legacy.” Republicans are expected to replace Cheney with Rep. Elise Stefanik, a former moderate turned Trump loyalist who voted against certifying the results of the 2020 election. (New York Times / Washington Post / Politico / USA Today / Bloomberg / Axios)

2/ Trump’s acting attorney general testified that the Justice Department had “no evidence of widespread voter fraud” at the time of the Jan 6. attack on the Capitol. Jeffrey Rosen, however, declined to answer House Oversight Committee questions about whether Trump instructed him to take any action to advance the unfounded claims of election fraud. Meanwhile, Christopher Miller, who was the acting defense secretary on Jan. 6, testified about why it took hours for the National Guard to respond to the Capitol as the mob descended on the Capitol, saying he had worried that sending troops to the Capitol would contribute to perceptions of a “military coup” under Trump. (New York Times / Associated Press / NPR / Wall Street Journal)

3/ More than 100 Republicans threatened to form a third party if the Republican Party doesn’t break with Trump. The signatories, which include former ambassadors, governors, congressional members and Cabinet secretaries, called for the party to return to “principled” leadership, and reject division and conspiracy theories. The statement, which will be released Thursday and includes 13 principles that the signatories want the GOP to embrace, follows House Republicans ousting Liz Cheney. (Reuters / New York Times / NBC News)

4/ Biden’s attorney general and homeland security secretary both testified that the greatest domestic threat to the U.S. is from “those who advocate for the superiority of the white race.” Merrick Garland added that “if there has to be a hard hierarchy of things that we prioritize,” the Jan. 6 attack would be at the top because it most threatened democracy. “I have not seen a more dangerous threat to democracy than the invasion of the Capitol,” Garland said, calling it “an attempt to interfere with the fundamental element of our democracy, a peaceful transfer of power.” Alejandro Mayorkas added that “the department is taking a new approach to addressing domestic violent extremism, both internally and externally.” (New York Times)

5/ House Democrats and the White House reached an agreement to allow Donald McGahn to testify before Congress about Trump’s efforts to obstruct Robert Mueller’s investigation. House Democrats subpoenaed Trump’s former White House counsel in 2019 seeking his testimony about his role as a key witness in the Mueller report about Trump’s efforts to obstruct the Russia investigation. After McGahn refused to appear – at Trump’s direction – the Judiciary Committee sued. Trump’s Justice Department, which defended McGahn, argued that McGahn was “absolutely immune” from testifying before Congress about his job, which the D.C. Circuit later rejected. The deal offered no details about the testimony agreement, including McGahn whether would testify in public. (New York Times)

  • 📌 Day 838: The White House invoked executive privilege and ordered former counsel Donald McGahn not to comply with a congressional subpoena for documents related to Robert Mueller’s investigation. In a letter to the House Judiciary Committee, White House counsel Pat Cipollone argued that “McGahn does not have the legal right to disclose these documents to third parties” and asked that the committee instead direct the request to the White House, “because they implicate significant Executive Branch confidentiality interests and executive privilege.” Trump has also promised to assert executive privilege to block McGahn’s testimony to the committee later this month. McGahn spent more than 30 hours speaking to Mueller’s investigators, outlining two episodes where Trump asked him to have Mueller fired, and later asking McGahn to deny news reports about that conversation. McGahn rebuffed both requests.

  • 📌 Day 844: The White House asked Don McGahn to declare that Trump never obstructed justice. Two requests by presidential advisers show how far the White House has gone to try to push back on accusations that the president obstructed justice.

  • 📌 Day 851: Trump instructed former White House counsel Don McGahn to defy a congressional subpoena and skip a House Judiciary Committee hearing scheduled for Tuesday.

  • 📌 Day 852: Former White House counsel Don McGahn failed to appear at hearing in front of the House Judiciary Committee, following Trump’s instructions to ignore the congressional subpoena.

  • 📌 Day 930: The House Judiciary Committee sued to force former White House counsel Donald McGahn to testify before Congress. The Judiciary Committee claimed that McGahn is “the most important witness, other than the president,” in their investigation into possible obstruction of justice by Trump. They asked a federal judge to strike down the Trump administration’s claim that McGahn and other aides are “absolutely immune” from the committee’s subpoenas.

Day 112: "A lifeline."

1/ The FDA authorized Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine for children ages 12 and up, expanding access to the vaccine for millions of kids ahead of the next school year. The vaccine was 100% effective in preventing Covid-19 in children ages 12-15, similar to the 95% efficacy among adult clinical trial participants. CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, meanwhile, urged parents to vaccinate their children, saying “I would encourage all parents to get their children vaccinated.” Pfizer vaccines for children could be administered as soon as Thursday. (ABC News / CBS News / Washington Post)

2/ More than one million people signed up for Affordable Care Act coverage during the special enrollment period that Biden launched in mid-February. “Since it became law more than a decade ago, the Affordable Care Act has been a lifeline for millions of Americans. The pandemic has demonstrated how badly it is needed, and how critical it is that we continue to improve upon it,” Biden said. “Through this opportunity for special enrollment, we have made enormous progress in expanding access to health insurance.” The Trump administration declined to reopen ACA enrollment after the Covid-19 pandemic began. Sign-ups are open through August 15. (CNN / NBC News / The Hill)

3/ Biden said that the White House will “make it clear” that people collecting unemployment benefits under the American Rescue Plan must take a “suitable” job offer or they’ll lose their benefits. As the number of job openings increased to 8.12 million in March – a record high – Republicans and businesses have said that the $300 weekly unemployment benefit is discouraging workers from returning to the labor market. “We’re going to make it clear that anyone collecting unemployment, who was offered a suitable job, must take the job or lose their unemployment benefits,” Biden said, adding: “There are a few Covid-19-related exceptions.” The latest jobs report showed that the U.S. economy added 266,000 jobs in April, short of the one million economists had forecast and a drop-off from the 770,000 jobs added in March. (NPR / Bloomberg / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal)

4/ The Biden administration approved the nation’s first large-scale offshore wind farm. The Vineyard Wind project calls for up to 84 turbines to be installed off Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts, creating enough electricity to power 400,000 homes. The White House estimates that the project will also create about 3,600 jobs. (New York Times / Washington Post)

5/ Two Trump family members got “inappropriately – and perhaps dangerously – close” to the Secret Service agents protecting them, according to an upcoming book by Washington Post reporter Carol Leonnig. Zero Fail: The Rise and Fall of the Secret Service details how agents reported that Vanessa Trump, the wife of Trump Jr, “started dating one of the agents who had been assigned to her family.” Vanessa Trump filed for divorce in March 2018. Tiffany Trump – Trump’s daughter with Marla Maples – reportedly broke up with a boyfriend and “began spending an unusual amount of time alone with a Secret Service agent on her detail.” Leonnig reported that Secret Service leaders “became concerned at how close Tiffany appeared to be getting to the tall, dark and handsome agent.” The agent was subsequently reassigned. (The Guardian)

Day 111: "Step up."

1/ The Biden administration announced new protections against discrimination in health care based on gender identity and sexual orientation. “Fear of discrimination can lead individuals to forgo care, which can have serious negative health consequences,” HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra said in a statement. “It is the position of the Department of Health and Human Services that everyone — including LGBTQ people — should be able to access health care, free from discrimination or interference, period.” The move reverses a Trump policy that limited protections for transgender people in health care, which narrowed the legal definition of “sex discrimination” to “the plain meaning of the word ‘sex’ as male or female and as determined by biology.” (NPR / New York Times / Washington Post / NBC News / Associated Press)

2/ The FBI confirmed that a Russian criminal group was responsible for the ransomware attack that closed a U.S. energy pipeline that transports 45% of the East Coast’s fuel supply. The Colonial Pipeline Company shut down all its operations Friday after Darkside hackers broke into some of its networks. In a statement, Darkside – a relatively new player in the ransomware space and believed to be operated by a Russian cybercrime gang referred to by the same name – said it wasn’t to blame and suggested that an affiliate may have been behind the attack. The group promised to do a better job of screening customers that buy its malware to run ransomware attacks. Biden, meanwhile, is expected to sign an executive order to strengthen cybersecurity for federal agencies and contractors. The Department of Transportation also issued an emergency declaration for 17 states and Washington, D.C., to keep fuel supply lines open. Colonial is using a phased approach to restore the pipeline, and said it may take several more days to recover from the cyberattack. (NBC News / New York Times / Bloomberg / Axios / CBS News / Politico)

3/ Three Republican governors plan to cut enhanced jobless benefits in their states in an effort to force people to return to work. Arkansas, Montana, and South Carolina have targeted the extra $300 in weekly enhanced jobless benefits from the $1.9 trillion pandemic relief package as businesses reopen and states lift restrictions. Other Republican governors have also recently reinstated requirements for unemployment aid, which they had suspended earlier in the pandemic. Biden, meanwhile, said the White House doesn’t “see much evidence” that the $300 per week federal unemployment benefit has deterred people from taking jobs, adding that “Americans want to work.” Biden instead called on companies to “step up” by helping workers access vaccines and raising wages, saying “My expectation is that as our economy comes back, these companies will provide fair wages and safe work environments. And if they do, they’ll find plenty of workers.” (Washington Post / CNBC)

4/ The WHO reclassified the highly contagious triple-mutant Covid-19 variant spreading in India as a “variant of concern.” In preliminary studies, the variant known as B.1.617 spread more easily than the original virus and there is concern that it may able to evade vaccines. The WHO initially classified B.1.617 as a “variant of interest,” because it had certain mutations were linked to higher transmission. (CNBC / New York Times / Wall street Journal)

5/ Mitch McConnell suggested that the “proper price tag” for Biden’s infrastructure package is between $600 billion and $800 billion. Biden, however, has proposed $2.3 trillion in infrastructure spending. Biden is set to meet with lawmakers from both parties this week in an effort to craft a compromise bill to refresh U.S. transportation, broadband, and water systems. (CNBC / The Hill)

6/ The Department of Homeland Security is implementing a warning system to gather intelligence and detect security threats from public social media posts. The goal is to detect the sort of posts that seemed to predict the Jan. 6 Capitol attack but were missed by law enforcement. (NBC News)

7/ The Biden administration launched the Scientific Integrity Task Force to ensure that the federal government’s scientific policies are free from political influence. An administration official said the task force’s review is less about the Trump administration’s actions to interfere in scientific decisions and more about protecting science in the federal government going forward. The 46 members from across the federal government will meet for the first time this week. (CNN)

8/ Air pollution from U.S. farms accounts for more than 17,000 annual deaths, according to a first-of-its-kind study that linked thousands of premature deaths per year to methane, ammonia, and hydrogen sulfide emissions by U.S. farms. About 80% of deaths were linked to fine-particle pollution from animal-based food agriculture at beef, pork, and dairy facilities. These emissions now account for more annual deaths than pollution from coal power plants. (Washington Post)

poll/ 64% of Americans think social media platforms do more to divide the nation than to bring it together, while 27% of adults believe that those platforms do more to bring us together. 66% of adults say they use social media once a day or more. (NBC News)

poll/ 63% of Americans approve of the job Biden is doing as president. 71% approve his handling of the pandemic. (Associated Press)

Day 108: "We have a long way to go."

1/ The U.S. economy added 266,000 jobs in April – short of the one million that economists had forecast and a sharp drop-off from the 770,000 jobs added in March. The April unemployment rate remained unchanged at 6.1%. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce blamed the weaker-than-expected jobs report on the $300-per-week federal jobless benefit. Biden, however, argued that the disappointing employment numbers are evidence that Congress should pass his $4 trillion infrastructure and jobs package, saying: “Today’s report just underscores, in my view, how vital the actions we’re taking are – checks to people who are hurting, support for small businesses, for child care and school reopening, support to help families put food on the table.” Biden added: “Today there is more evidence our economy is moving in the right direction, but it is clear we have a long way to go.” (Wall Street Journal / New York Times / CNBC / ABC News / Axios / Washington Post / Politico / NBC News)

2/ Texas legislators approved new, more restrictive state election rules. The bill would make it a felony to provide voters with an application to vote by mail if they hadn’t requested one, empower partisan poll workers, and limit extended early voting hours. The House version of the bill differs significantly from the state Senate version and will go to a conference committee to resolve the differences. The vote in the Texas House came after Florida enacted its own restrictive voting laws. Gov. Ron DeSantis signed the legislation live on Fox News’ “Fox & Friends,” which restricts voting by mail and at drop boxes. (NPR / NBC News / New York Times / Washington Post / CNN)

3/ The Justice Department filed federal criminal charges against Derek Chauvin and three other former Minneapolis police officers in connection with the death of George Floyd. The federal indictment accuses Chauvin – who was recently convicted on state charges of murder and manslaughter, and is now asking for a new trial – of depriving Floyd of his rights to be protected from the use of unreasonable force by a police officer when Chauvin held his knee on Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes. The other three ex-officers are accused of letting Floyd die by “willfully” failing to stop Chauvin when they saw Floyd “lying on the ground in clear need of medical care.” Separately, Chauvin was charged in another federal indictment with violating the civil rights of a 14-year-old Minneapolis boy during a September 2017 arrest by holding the boy by the neck and hitting him multiple times in the head with a flashlight “without legal justification.” (Associated Press / NPR / Washington Post / CNBC)

4/ The Federal Election Commission dropped the hush-money case looking into whether Trump violated election law when he directed Michael Cohen to pay Stormy Daniels $130,000 shortly before the 2016 election. The payment was never reported on Trump’s campaign filings. Cohen, however, was sentenced to prison for breaking campaign finance laws, tax evasion, and lying to Congress. Trump, meanwhile, thanked the FEC for dropping what he called “the phony case against me concerning payments to women relative to the 2016 presidential election.” (New York Times)

5/ The top respiratory disease official at the CDC resigned. Dr. Nancy Messonnier was the first U.S. official to warn about the severity of the coronavirus pandemic last year, saying “It’s not so much of a question of if this will happen anymore but rather more of a question of exactly when this will happen,” and that cities and towns should plan for “social distancing measures.” Trump threatened to fire Messonnier shortly after her warning, leading to the halt of regular CDC press briefings about the pandemic. Dr. Messonnier’s resignation is effective May 14. She will become an executive director at a philanthropical organization based in California. (Washington Post / New York Times / NPR / Politico)

6/ Trump’s Justice Department secretly obtained the phone records of three Washington Post journalists over reporting during the early months of the Trump administration about Russia’s role in the 2016 election. The Justice Department also tried to obtain their email records. A Justice Department spokesman said the approval of subpoenas to get records of reporters happened in 2020. William Barr served as Trump’s attorney general for nearly all of 2020, before departing Dec. 23. The subpoenas, however, covered the period from April 15, 2017 to July 31, 2017. The three reporters – Ellen Nakashima, Greg Miller, and Adam Entous – wrote a July 21, 2017, story detailing how Jeff Sessions had discussed the Trump campaign with the Russian ambassador while serving as Trump’s foreign policy adviser. In early August 2017, Sessions issued a warning that the “culture of leaking must stop.” (Washington Post)

Day 106: "Disingenuous."

1/ A federal judge accused the Justice Department and then-Attorney General William Barr of misleading the court about how they decided that Trump should not be charged with obstructing Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation. In a 35-page opinion ordering the release of a March 2019 Office of Legal Counsel memo, Judge Amy Berman Jackson called Barr and department lawyers “disingenuous” for withholding the document, saying the department tried to “obfuscate” the purpose of the memo because Barr and his advisers had already decided they wouldn’t charge Trump with a crime before getting the written advice. “The review of the document reveals that the Attorney General was not then engaged in making a decision about whether the President should be charged with obstruction of justice,” Jackson wrote. “The fact that he would not be prosecuted was a given.” Barr and Justice Department attorneys had argued that the memo was part of the department’s decision-making process that helped Barr decide not to prosecute Trump for obstruction of justice. Jackson said because Barr had already decided against charging Trump before he got the written advice, the memo could be made public. (Washington Post / New York Times / Politico / CNN)

2/ A federal judge struck down the national eviction moratorium, ruling that the CDC exceeded it’s authority and should be vacated. The moratorium was due to expire at the end of January, but Biden extended it – first until April and later through June. Federal Judge Dabney Friedrich noted that while Congress had ratified earlier extensions of the moratorium order – aimed at helping victims of the pandemic hold onto their homes – it had not done so for the latest extension, potentially leaving millions of Americans at risk of losing their homes. (NBC News / CNBC)

3/ The Biden administration said it supports waiving intellectual property protections for Covid-19 vaccines. “This is a global health crisis, and the extraordinary circumstances of the Covid-19 pandemic call for extraordinary measures,” U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai wrote in a statement. “The Administration believes strongly in intellectual property protections, but in service of ending this pandemic, supports the waiver of those protections for Covid-19 vaccines.” Pharmaceutical companies, however, have opposed the move, saying it won’t solve supply-production problems in the short term, and, until now, the U.S., other wealthy nations, and the European Union have opposed the waiver, saying IP protection creates incentives to innovate. (Associated Press / Wall Street Journal / New York Times / CNBC)

4/ ICE deportations fell to the lowest monthly level on record. In April, ICE deported 2,962 immigrants – a 20% decline from March. Illegal border crossings, however, remain at a 20-year high. (Washington Post)

5/ Trump’s Facebook account will remain suspended for the time being. The company-funded tribunal of outside experts, however, ruled that it was not appropriate to indefinitely suspend Trump, saying “Within six months of this decision, Facebook must reexamine the arbitrary penalty it imposed on January 7 and decide the appropriate penalty.” In a statement, Trump called the decision “a total disgrace and an embarrassment to our country […] these corrupt social media companies must pay a political price.” Trump also began fundraising off of the Facebook announcement, texting supporters with a link to donate to his fundraising committee. (Politico / USA Today / Washington Post / NBC News)

Day 105: "New normal."

1/ The FDA is expected to authorize Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine for children as young as 12 by next week. The Pfizer vaccine was authorized by the FDA for people 16 and older in December, while Moderna is currently authorized for ages 18 and up. Children now account for 22.4% of new coronavirus cases in the U.S. (New York Times / NPR / Washington Post / Associated Press)

2/ The number of people getting their first Covid-19 vaccine dose has declined in at least 47 states as the country approaches 150 million vaccinated people. The average number of people getting a first or single dose vaccine each day has fallen by about 50% from the April 13 peak. While the 11-day safety-based pause in the use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is partly responsible, health officials say the decline is the mark of a successful campaign as the people most eager to get vaccinated have already gotten their shots. Biden, meanwhile, set a July 4th goal for the country to have 160 million adults in the U.S. fully vaccinated, and 70% of adults having at least one vaccine shot. More than 56% of adult Americans have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, and nearly 105 million are fully vaccinated. (Bloomberg / New York Times / Associated Press / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal)

3/ The White House will reallocate some Covid-19 vaccine doses away from states with lower demand to those where demand remains high. States will continue to receive weekly vaccine allotments based on their populations, but the new policy puts unordered doses into a federal bank for other states to order from. States with greater demand for vaccines can request and receive up to 50% of their regular allocation. Previously, unordered doses carried over week to week. (Washington Post / Politico / USA Today)

4/ America’s “new normal” temperature is one degree hotter than it was two decades ago, according to NOAA’s updated set of climate averages for the contiguous U.S. based on the 30-year period from 1991 to 2020. The 30-year average temperature for the contiguous U.S. hit a record high of 53.28 degrees. Twenty years ago, normal was 52.3 degrees based on data from 1971 to 2000, and the average U.S. temperature for the 20th century was 52 degrees. The U.S. is not just hotter, but also wetter in the eastern and central parts of the nation, and drier in the West than a decade earlier. (Associated Press / Washington Post)

5/ More than 180 businesses, executives, and community leaders released letters calling for expanded voting access in Texas, saying they oppose “any changes that would restrict eligible voters’ access to the ballot.” The letters criticize two voting bills currently advancing through the state’s Republican-controlled Legislature, including the reallocation of polling machines, limiting early voting options, and adding criminal penalties to various parts of the election process. “These provisions, among others, will inevitably damage our competitiveness in attracting businesses and workers to Houston,” the group, called Fair Elections Texas, said. “Voter suppression is a stain on our reputation that could cost our region millions of dollars.” (NBC News / New York Times / ABC News)

6/ House minority leader Kevin McCarthy said Republican lawmakers are questioning whether Rep. Liz Cheney can continue in her leadership role as she continues to criticize Trump and reject his false claims that the 2020 election was stolen. “I have heard from members concerned about her ability to carry out the job as conference chair, to carry out the message,” McCarthy said on Fox News. “We all need to be working as one if we we’re able to win the majority.” Cheney, the party’s No. 3, accused Trump of “poisoning” U.S. democracy by repeating his false claims about the 2020 election and that Republicans should not “whitewash” the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, saying Trump’s role in fomenting it “is a line that cannot be crossed.” During an off-air moment caught on a hot mic, McCarthy told Fox and Friends host Steve Doocy: “I think she’s got real problems. I’ve had it with […] I’ve had it with her. You know, I’ve lost confidence. […] Well, someone just has to bring a motion, but I assume that will probably take place.” (Bloomberg / CNN / Axios / New York Times / Politico)

Day 104: "America's values."

1/ Scientists and public health experts say that “herd immunity” in the U.S. may not be attainable due to vaccine hesitancy. About 30% of the U.S. population remains reluctant to be vaccinated. The original herd immunity threshold, meanwhile, was estimated to be about 60 to 70% of the population. Experts, however, now estimate that the herd immunity threshold to be at least 80% due to more contagious variants circulating in the U.S. Experts also say the coronavirus will most likely continue to circulate in the U.S., causing hospitalizations and deaths but in much smaller numbers. (New York Times)

  • Los Angeles County reported no new deaths related to Covid-19 and just 313 new cases of the coronavirus. Infections in L.A. County are at their lowest levels since the start of the pandemic. (Los Angeles Times)

  • Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis suspended the state’s remaining Covid-19 public health restrictions, saying “we are no longer in a state of emergency.” Since the beginning of the pandemic, Florida has reported the third-most Covid-19 cases in the U.S. at more than 2.2 million and the fourth-highest death toll at more than 35,000 fatalities. (CNBC / ABC News)

2/ The U.S. will restrict travel from India starting Tuesday, citing a surge in Covid-19 cases in the country and the emergence of coronavirus variants. The policy does not apply to American citizens, lawful permanent residents or other people with exemptions. India recorded 386,452 Covid-19 cases on Friday – the ninth day in a row the country has added more than 300,000 cases a day. The country also reported 3,498 deaths, bringing the death toll to 208,330. (Associated Press / CNN / NBC News)

3/ The EPA proposed phasing out the use of a common refrigerant blamed for driving global warming. The proposed regulation would cut down on the production and use of hydrofluorocarbons in cooling appliances in the U.S. by 85% over the next 15 years. It’s the first time the federal government has set national limits on hydrofluorocarbons, a class of man-made chemicals thousands of times more potent than carbon dioxide at warming the planet. Phasing out HFCs worldwide is expected to avert up to 0.5 degrees Celsius of global warming by the end of the century. (New York Times / Washington Post / NBC News / Wall Street Journal)

4/ The Biden administration will raise the refugee ceiling to 62,500 this fiscal year. In a statement, Biden said that raising the cap “erases the historically low number set by the previous administration of 15,000, which did not reflect America’s values as a nation that welcomes and supports refugees.” The White House, however, abruptly reversed course on the number of refugees it will allow into the U.S. last month after the Biden administration said it would keep Trump’s historically low refugee admissions target at 15,000. (CNN / USA Today)

5/ The Biden administration will reunite four migrant families separated during the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy in 2017. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas called it “just the beginning” of a broader effort. More than 1,000 families, however, remain separated. (Associated Press / ABC News / NBC News)

6/ Rep. Liz Cheney pushed back against Trump’s attempt to commandeer the term “Big Lie” and accused him and those who perpetrate the falsehoods of “poisoning” democracy. After Trump issued a statement from his Save America PAC proclaiming that the presidential election “will be, from this day forth, known as THE BIG LIE!” – a term used to refer to the false claims that the 2020 election was stolen from Trump – the No. 3 House Republican publicly rejected Trump’s false claim, tweeting: “The 2020 presidential election was not stolen Anyone who claims it was is spreading THE BIG LIE, turning their back on the rule of law, and poisoning our democratic system.” Cheney was one of 10 House Republicans to vote to impeach Trump for inciting the riot at the Capitol. (CNN / NBC News / Politico / Washington Post)

7/ The Capitol Police official who directed officers to look for anti-Trump protesters in the pro-Trump crowd on the morning of Jan. 6 was the deputy chief and sixth-ranking official in the department. Eric Waldow is facing congressional scrutiny for his 8:24 a.m. radio transmission: “With regards to pedestrian traffic on — on the grounds today, we anticipate a — a large presence for pro-Trump participants. What we’re looking for is any anti-Trump counter protesters.” (Politico)

8/ The Biden administration disclosed secret Trump-era rules for targeted killings away from conventional war zones. In 2017, Trump issued rules for counterterrorism “direct action” operations, like drone strikes and commando raids, in certain countries, giving commanders broad latitude to make decisions about attacks, including that there should be “near certainty” that civilians “will not be injured or killed in the course of operations.” A Biden administration review discovered that the Trump-era operating principles often made an exception to the requirement of “near certainty” that there would be no civilian casualties. The Biden administration suspended the rules on its first day in office and imposed an interim policy requiring approval for strikes outside of the war zones of Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria. (New York Times)

9/ Joe Manchin said he does not support the bill to make D.C. the nation’s 51st state, likely dooming the measure’s chances in the Senate. “If Congress wants to make D.C. a state, it should propose a constitutional amendment,” Manchin said. “It should propose a constitutional amendment and let the people of America vote.” (Washington Post / CBS News)

Day 101: "One god-awful mess."

1/ The FBI warned Rudy Giuliani in late 2019 that he was the target of a Russian disinformation operation aimed at damaging Biden ahead of the election. Giuliani received a so-called “defensive“ briefing by the FBI while involved with Trump’s 2020 reelection campaign and efforts in Ukraine to dig up dirt about Biden and his son, Hunter. Despite the warning, Giuliani continued to try and find damaging information on the Bidens, meeting with Kremlin-tied associates and publicly pushing misleading and unsubstantiated claims that were part of a Russia disinformation campaign. The FBI seized Giuliani’s cellphone and other electronic devices this week as part of a long-running criminal investigation into whether he acted as an unregistered foreign agent. (Washington Post / CNN / NBC News)

2/ The Trump administration’s firing of the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine is at the center of the federal criminal investigation into Rudy Giuliani. At least one of the search warrants executed this week seeks evidence related to Marie Yovanovitch and her role as ambassador. Guiliani worked to oust Yovanovitch, believing she had been obstructing his efforts to dig up dirt on the Biden family. Federal authorities are expected to check Giuliani’s electronic devices for communications between him and Trump administration officials about Yovanovitch before she was recalled in April 2019. (New York Times)

3/ Florida Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz’s close friend wrote a “confession” letter last year detailing how he and Gaetz paid for sex with multiple women, including a minor who was 17 at the time. Joel Greenberg’s letter was part of a failed attempt to secure a pardon from Trump – with the help of Roger Stone – for their alleged sex crimes, which the Justice Department is investigating. “On more than one occasion, this individual was involved in sexual activities with several of the other girls, the congressman from Florida’s 1st Congressional District and myself,” Greenberg wrote. “From time to time, gas money or gifts, rent or partial tuition payments were made to several of these girls, including the individual who was not yet 18. I did see the acts occur firsthand and Venmo transactions, Cash App or other payments were made to these girls on behalf of the Congressman.” Stone wrote to Greenberg on Jan. 13: “I hope you are prepared to wire me $250,000 because I am feeling confident.” The pardon effort was not successful. (Daily Beast / CNN / Vanity Fair / Washington Post)

4/ Mitch McConnell and 37 Republicans called on Education Secretary Miguel Cardona to remove the “1619 project” from federal grant programs. The project reframes American history around August 1619 when the first slave ship arrived and the legacy that slavery played in shaping the country. Biden’s Education Department has proposed a grant program for schools that would incentivize them to use tools like the 1619 Project in their classrooms. In a letter, McConnell and republicans argued that the project tells a revisionist history of America’s founding and claimed that the administration put “ill-informed advocacy ahead of historical accuracy.” (Politico / CNN)

5/ The Biden administration returned more than $14 billion to the Pentagon, which was diverted by the Trump administration for the construction of a wall at the southwestern border. The administration also plans to cancel all related construction contracts. The Defense Department said the reclaimed funds would be returned to accounts designated for “schools for military children, overseas military construction projects in partner nations, and the National Guard and Reserve equipment account.” (ABC News / The Hill / Politico)

6/ Biden blamed the Trump administration for the problems at the U.S.-Mexico border, saying his administration inherited “one god-awful mess at the border.” Biden added that the border situation is the result of “the failure to have a real transition — cooperation from the last administration, like every other administration has done.” (NBC News)

7/ Republicans in the Florida Legislature passed an election overhaul bill that would place restrictions on ballot drop boxes and residents’ ability to vote by mail. The bill will limit the use of drop boxes and restrictions on where drop boxes cab be placed, add new voter ID and signature requirements, require voters to request an absentee ballot for each election, limit who could collect and return ballots, and restricts who can hand out items – including food or water or election-related material – for voters waiting in line. Gov. Ron DeSantis said on Fox News that he “of course” would sign the bill. (New York Times / NPR / CNN / NBC News / Washington Post)

Day 100: "Crisis into opportunity."

1/ Biden declared that “America is rising anew” in his first address to Congress, calling for a $4 trillion investment in infrastructure, children, families, and education to help rebuild the economy and compete with rising global competitors. Biden pointed to the nation’s emergence from the coronavirus and events that, in his view, tested American democracy, saying “We have stared into an abyss of insurrection and autocracy — of pandemic and pain — and ‘we the people’ did not flinch.” Biden delivered his remarks with Nancy Pelosi and Kamala Harris sitting behind him – the first president to deliver an address to Congress with two women behind him – representing the line of succession to his office. “Now, after just 100 days, I can report to the nation: America is on the move again,” he added. “Turning peril into possibility. Crisis into opportunity. Setback into strength.” (Associated Press / Washington Post / New York Times / NBC News)

  • poll/ 85% of Americans who watched Biden’s first address to a joint session of Congress approve of his speech. 15% disapproved. Viewers described Biden’s speech as “Presidential, “Caring,” “Inspiring,” and “Bold.” (CBS News)

  • poll/ 71% of Americans who Biden’s speech said they feel more optimistic about the country’s direction. Overall, 68% said Biden has had the right priorities so far, while 32% said he has ignored the most important problems. (CNN)

2/ Another 553,000 Americans filed for initial unemployment benefits last week – a pandemic low for the third consecutive week. (Washington Post)

  • The State Department urged U.S. citizens to leave India “as soon as it is safe to do” due to the coronavirus outbreak. The travel advisory noted that “access to all types of medical care is becoming severely limited in India due to the surge in Covid-19 cases […] U.S. citizens who wish to depart India should take advantage of available commercial transportation options now.” (Washington Post)

3/ The Justice Department charged three white men with hate crimes for shooting and killing Ahmaud Arbery. A father and son armed themselves, got into a truck and chased and fatally shot the 25-year-old Black man after spotting him running in their Georgia neighborhood. Travis McMichael and his father, Gregory, and William “Roddie” Bryan where each charged with one count of interference with civil rights and attempted kidnapping. The McMichaels were also charged with using, carrying, and brandishing a firearm during a crime of violence. (USA Today / Associated Press)

4/ The Senate voted to restore an Obama-era regulation designed to reduce climate-changing methane emissions from oil and gas fields. The Trump administration eliminated federal requirements for oil and gas companies to monitor and repair methane leaks from pipelines, storage facilities, and wells. (NPR / CNBC)

5/ A bipartisan group of senators proposed legislation to remove military commanders from their role in prosecuting service members for sexual assault. There were 7,825 reports of sexual assault involving service members as victims in 2019 – a 3% increase from 2018. The conviction rate, however, was 7% in both 2018 and 2019 – the lowest rate since the department began reporting in 2010. (New York Times)

6/ Federal agencies are investigating at least two incidents on U.S. soil that appear similar to the “Havana syndrome” attack, a mysterious, invisible event reported by American diplomats based in Cuba in late 2016. One of the unexplained attacks occurred in November near the Ellipse, the oval lawn south of the White House, and sickened one National Security Council official. (CNN / CNBC)

Day 99: "Investments in our future."

1/ The White House unveiled a $1.8 trillion spending and tax plan to expand access to child care, education, paid leave, and an extension of some tax credits. Biden is expected to detail the American Families Plan in a joint session of Congress tonight, which starts around 9 p.m. ET. The proposed plan, which includes about $1 trillion in investments and $800 billion in tax credits over a decade, would provide $200 billion in universal pre-kindergarten, more than $100 billion in free community college, extend the expanded child tax credit through 2025, and set aside $225 billion to create a national paid family and medical leave program, among other initiatives. The plan, which the White House has billed as “generational investments in our future,” would largely be funded by raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans. Between the $2.3 trillion American Jobs Plan, which the White House unveiled last month, and the $1.8 trillion American Families Plan, Biden is proposing roughly $4 trillion in investments over the next decade that would expand the U.S. social safety net and the role of government in public life. (New York Times / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / Bloomberg / CNN / Politico / USA Today / CNBC)

2/ Federal investigators executed search warrants at Rudy Giuliani’s New York City home and office as part of a criminal investigation into his dealings in Ukraine. Investigators seized Giuliani’s electronic devices as part of a yearslong investigation by Manhattan federal prosecutors into possible violation of foreign-lobbying rules. The FBI also executed a search warrant at the Washington-area home of Victoria Toensing in connection with the Giuliani investigation. Toensing, a lawyer close to Giuliani, had dealings with several Ukrainians in an effort to try to dig up dirt about Biden as he ran for president. (New York Times / Wall Street Journal / Washington Post / CBS News / NBC News / CNN)

3/ Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office repeatedly prevented state health officials from releasing the true coronavirus death toll in New York nursing homes for at least five months. Starting last April, Cuomo’s most senior aides overruled and obscured the state’s health officials from releasing a scientific paper, which incorporated the death toll, and two letters by the Health Department and meant for state legislators were never sent. The full data on nursing home deaths was not released until late January 2021, when a report by the state attorney general found that the state might have undercounted the true death toll by as much as 50%. (New York Times)

4/ Biden nominated a critic of Trump’s immigration policies to serve as director of ICE. If confirmed, Harris County, Texas, Sheriff Ed Gonzalez would be the first politically appointed director in years. The Trump administration never had a Senate-confirmed director. (CNN)

5/ The Biden administration will propose a ban on menthol cigarettes. Research shows menthol cigarettes are easier to become addicted to and harder to quit than regular tobacco products. Approximately 20 million Americans smoke menthols. (Washington Post / CBS News / New York Times)

poll/ 53% of Americans approve of the way Biden is handling his job and say he has the right priorities. 59% say Biden is doing a good job keeping his campaign promises, and 66% approve of his handling of the coronavirus pandemic. (CNN)

Day 98: "A beautiful day."

1/ Americans fully vaccinated against the coronavirus no longer need to wear masks outdoors in most situations except for large gatherings, according to updated CDC guidance. People who are fully vaccinated can go without masks outdoors when walking, running or biking, or gathering in small groups with friends outdoor. “Over the past year, we have spent a lot of time telling Americans what they cannot do, what they should not do,” CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said. “Today, I’m going to tell you some of the things you can do if you are fully vaccinated.” Despite declining coronavirus infections and deaths in the U.S., the CDC still recommends wearing a mask – even for vaccinated individuals – in public settings indoors and outdoors where there is a substantial risk of Covid-19 transmission, such as at concerts, sporting events, and other crowded gatherings. “Beginning today, gathering with a group of friends, in a park, going for a picnic […] as long as you are vaccinated and outdoors, you can do it without wearing a mask,” Biden said, calling it “a beautiful day.” (Washington Post / New York Times / Wall Street Journal / Axios / NBC News)

  • India reported more than 300,000 new confirmed Covid-19 cases for the sixth day in a row. India’s 323,144 new infections over the past 24 hours comprises 39% of global cases. (Washington Post / New York Times)

2/ The Department of Homeland Security limited ICE’s ability to arrest immigrants in or near courthouses. ICE officers will now be allowed to make civil immigration arrests near a courthouse only when it involves national security, a risk of imminent death or harm to anyone, the “hot pursuit” of someone who is “a threat to public safety,” or when there is risk of destruction of evidence in a criminal case. Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said that the Trump administration’s “expansion of civil immigration arrests at courthouses […] had a chilling effect on individuals’ willingness to come to court or work cooperatively with law enforcement.” (BuzzFeed News / NBC News)

3/ Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas launched an internal probe “to address the threat of domestic violent extremism within the Department of Homeland Security.” The task force will provide a “comprehensive review of how to best prevent, detect, and respond to threats related to domestic violent extremism within DHS.” The review comes after the Pentagon completed a 60-day “stand down” to address extremism after several veterans were found to have taken part in the Capitol riot. (ABC News / New York Times)

4/ Biden is expected to propose an $80 billion funding boost for the IRS and increased authority to combat tax dodging by the wealthiest Americans. The administration projects that the plan would generate about $700 billion over 10 years in net revenue. If approved, individuals who earn more than $400,000 a year would face a higher likelihood of a tax audit. (New York Times / Wall Street Journal / Washington Post / CNN)

5/ Biden signed an executive order to raise the minimum wage paid by federal contractors to $15 an hour. The raise from $10.95 an hour would begin in January 2022, and agencies would have to implement the measure by March. (NBC News / New York Times)

poll/ 68% support Biden’s $2 trillion infrastructure proposal, while 29% oppose it. (CNBC / Monmouth University)

poll/ 25% of American women say they are financially worse off today than before the pandemic began, compared to 18% of men. 27% of non-White Americans say they are worse off now vs. 18% of Whites. (Washington Post)

Day 97: "Presidential, focused, and competent."

1/ The U.S. Census Bureau released the first set of updated state population totals from the 2020 census, which were delayed for months due to the coronavirus pandemic and the Trump administration’s interference last year. California, Illinois, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia all lost a seat in the House, while Texas picked up two seats, and Colorado, Florida, Montana, North Carolina, and Oregon all gained one seat each. Over the past decade, the U.S. population grew at the slowest rate since the 1930s. The full Census data used for redistricting will not be publicly released until the end of September. (NPR / Axios / Bloomberg / New York Times / Wall Street Journal / Washington Post / CNN / Politico)

2/ The Justice Department opened an investigation into the practices of the Louisville Metro Police Department – 13 months after LMPD officers killed Breonna Taylor inside her own apartment while serving a no-knock warrant. Attorney General Merrick Garland referred to Taylor during his announcement of the investigation, saying the Justice Department “will assess whether (Louisville Metro Police Department) engages in a pattern or practice of using unreasonable force, including with respect to people involved in peaceful expressive activities.” Last week, Garland announced a similar investigation into the Minneapolis Police Department following the police killing of George Floyd. (CNN / NBC News)

3/ Biden signed an executive order to create a White House task force to promote union membership. Kamala Harris will lead the task force, which will issue recommendations about how the federal government can use its authority to help workers join labor unions and bargain collectively. In 2018, Trump signed three executive orders to limit union protections and bargaining rights for federal employees. (New York Times)

4/ The Department of Agriculture extended a pandemic benefits program to feed up to 34 million children from low-income families over this summer. The plan will provide about $375 per child to buy food for the roughly 10 weeks they are out of school in the summer – about $7 a weekday. (NBC News / Axios)

5/ The U.S. will send 60 million doses of AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine abroad. The AstraZeneca vaccine, which hasn’t been authorized for use in the U.S. by the FDA, will be sent to other countries once it clears federal safety reviews. “We do not need to use AstraZeneca in our fight against covid,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said. AstraZeneca has not sought FDA authorization for its vaccine, but has already manufactured millions of doses in the U.S. under a federal contract. (Associated Press / Bloomberg / Washington Post)

6/ The CEO of a vaccine production facility sold more than $10 million worth of his company stock before disclosing that it had ruined 15 million doses of Johnson & Johnson’s coronavirus vaccine. The transactions were Robert Kramer’s first substantive sales of Emergent stock since April 2016. (Washington Post)

  • poll/ 22% of Americans said they’re willing to get the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, while 73% not yet immunized against the coronavirus say they’re not willing, and 4% had no opinion. (Washington Post)

7/ The Supreme Court agreed to hear an appeal to a New York law that restricts an individual from carrying a concealed handgun in public. It’s the first time in more than a decade that the court has agreed to take up a central issue of the gun rights debate. (NBC News / Associated Press / Washington Post / New York Times)

poll/ 58% of Americans approve of the job Biden is doing as president, while 42% disapprove. A majority of Americans described Biden as “presidential,” “focused,” and “competent.” (CBS News)

Day 94: "A critical step."

1/ The U.S. death rate in 2020 was the highest above normal ever recorded. In 2020, 3.4 million people died in the U.S., representing a 16% increase from the previous year in what epidemiologists call “excess deaths,” or deaths above normal. The 1918 flu pandemic caused a 12% jump in excess deaths. The CDC has said about 10% of the deaths last year can be directly attributed to Covid-19. (New York Times)

  • The State Department issued more than 115 “Do Not Travel” advisories, citing “ongoing risks due to the COVID-19 pandemic.” As of last week, 33 countries were on the U.S. Do Not Travel list. (NPR)

2/ Sen. Ron Johnson questioned the “big push” to get everyone vaccinated against the coronavirus, saying he sees “no reason to be pushing vaccines on people,” asking “quite honestly, what do you care if your neighbor has one or not?” The Wisconsin Republican added that he was “highly suspicious” of the vaccine distribution effort, saying that it should be “limited” to the most vulnerable because – he claims – it’s “not a fully approved vaccine.” At the same time, Johnson acknowledged that the coronavirus “vaccines are 95% effective.” (Forbes / CNN)

  • Covid-19 hospitalizations among Americans 65 and older have fallen more than 70% since the start of the year. Covid-19 deaths among Americans 65 and older have declined more than 50% since their peak in January. (Associated Press)

3/ A federal vaccine advisory panel recommended that the U.S. resume the use of the Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine, saying the benefits outweighed the risk of a rare blood clot disorder. The vaccine would carry a warning label about a potential increase in the risk of rare but severe blood clots and low platelet counts. CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky is expected to decide whether to formally accept the recommendation shortly. Out of nearly 8 million people who have received the J&J shot, health officials discovered 15 cases of a rare kind of blood clot, three of them fatal. (Associated Press / NBC News / Politico / Axios / New York Times / Washington Post)

4/ The Department of Housing and Urban Development withdrew a Trump-era proposal that would’ve allowed single-sex homeless shelters to discriminate against transgender people. The Trump administration rule allowed federally funded homeless shelters to base admissions on a person’s “biological sex” instead of their gender identity. “We are taking a critical step in affirming HUD’s commitment that no person be denied access to housing or other critical services because of their gender identity,” Housing Secretary Marcia Fudge said. “HUD is open for business for all.” (New York Times / Washington Post / NBC News)

5/ The Justice Department expects to charge more than 500 people in connection with the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol. “Over 400 individuals have been charged in connection with the Capitol attack,” federal prosecutors said in court documents. “The investigation continues and the government expects that at least one hundred additional individuals will charged.” (NBC News)

poll/ 59% of 18-to-29-year-old Americans approve of Biden’s job performance, 65% approve of his handling of the coronavirus and 57% race relations. (Harvard Youth Poll)

poll/ 60% of Americans say the U.S. should do more to hold police accountable for the mistreatment of Black people, while 33% say the country is doing too much to interfere in how police officers do their job. (Washington Post)

Day 93: "A moral imperative."

1/ Biden pledged to reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by at least 50% by 2030 – double the country’s prior commitment under the 2015 Paris climate agreement – saying “the signs are unmistakable, the science is undeniable and the cost of inaction keeps mounting.” As of 2019, U.S. emissions were about 13% below 2005 levels. “This is the decisive decade,” Biden said during an Earth Day summit with 40 world leaders. “This is the decade that we must make decisions to avoid the worst consequences of the climate crisis. This is a moral imperative. An economic imperative. A moment of peril, but also a moment of extraordinary possibilities.” About 85% of current global emissions come from outside the U.S. The United Kingdom recently announced plans to reduce its emissions by 78% by 2035, while the European Union pledged to cut 55% of its emissions by 2030. China, the world’s largest emitter, pledged to reduce coal consumption starting in 2025 as part of an effort to reach net zero emissions by 2060. (NPR / New York Times / CNBC / Washington Post / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal)

2/ The Senate passed legislation denouncing discrimination against Asian communities in the U.S. The bill will also appoint an official in the Justice Department to review and expedite Covid-19-related hate crime reports. The vote was 94-1, with Sen. Josh Hawley voting in opposition. The legislation is expected to pass in the House before heading to Biden’s desk for a signature. (Axios / Washington Post / CNN)

3/ The House voted along party lines to grant statehood to Washington, D.C. The legislation would enfranchise more than 712,000 Americans, giving the 51st state one representative in the House and two senators. The White House, the Capitol, and the National Mall would remain a federal district. An identical bill passed the House in 2020, but died in the then-Republican-controlled Senate. The legislation would likely require at least 10 Republican Senators to vote in support to clear a 60-vote threshold for passage. It’s unclear if all Senate Democrats support the bill, which Republicans have called a Democratic power grab. (NBC News / NPR / New York Times / Washington Post / CNN / Axios)

4/ The average daily number of coronavirus vaccinations in the U.S. dropped 11%. Over the past week, 3.02 million doses per day were administered – the biggest downturn in the seven-day average since February when winter storms forced vaccination sites to close and delayed shipments nationwide. (Washington Post)

  • poll/ 29% of health care works have considered leaving their profession as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. 55% of health workers are burned out. (Washington Post)

5/ An Office of Professional Responsibility investigation found that a Capitol Police official radioed “all outside units’ attention” on the morning of Jan. 6, that they should not be “looking for any pro-Trump in the crowd.” Rep. Zoe Lofgren, describing the radio broadcast during a House Administration Committee hearing on security failures around the Capitol attack, added that the radio transmission directed police to “only looking for any anti-Trump” protestors. Capitol Police, meanwhile, said the call “has been misquoted and is lacking […] necessary context.” (Politico / CNN)

6/ The Trump administration delayed approximately $20 billion in hurricane relief for Puerto Rico and then obstructed the investigation into the delay, according to a Housing and Urban Development inspector general report. “Delays and denials of access and refusals to cooperate negatively affected the ability of the [Office of Inspector General] to conduct this review,” the report said. Inspector General Rae Oliver Davis, appointed by Trump, found unprecedented bureaucratic hurdles set by the White House, including former senior administration officials in the Office of Management and Budget refusing to provide requested information about decision-making related to the relief funds. (Washington Post)

7/ Biden is expected to formally acknowledge that the killing of an estimated 1.5 million Armenians in the early 20th century constituted genocide. A bipartisan group of more than 100 House members called on Biden to become the first U.S. president to recognize the World War I-era deportation, starvation, and massacres of Armenians by the Ottoman Empire in modern-day Turkey as genocide. Turkey, meanwhile, has denied that the killings constituted genocide, saying that Armenians rose up against the government. (New York Times / Associated Press / Wall Street Journal)

8/ Biden is expected to propose almost doubling the capital gains tax rate for people earning more than $1 million, increasing the rate they pay on that income from 20% to 39.6%. The proposal would help pay for Biden’s American Family Plan, which would provide hundreds of billions of dollars for universal pre-kindergarten, expanded subsidies for child care, a national paid leave program, and free community college tuition. Biden will detail the American Family Plan in a joint address to Congress on April 28. (Bloomberg / New York Times)

9/ Senate Republicans released an outline for their own $568 billion infrastructure plan. Democrats, however, rejected the counteroffer to Biden’s $2 trillion infrastructure spending package, calling the GOP proposal “totally anemic” and an “insult.” Elizabeth Warren added that “the Republican proposal does not meet the moment.” (CNBC / Politico / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / NBC News)

Day 92: "An American achievement."

1/ The Justice Department will investigate whether the Minneapolis Police Department “engages in a pattern or practice of unconstitutional or unlawful policing,” including the use of excessive force, discriminatory conduct, or the abuse of those with mental health illness or physical disabilities. Attorney General Merrick Garland announced the investigation one day after former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was convicted of murder in the death of George Floyd. The investigation is separate from the previously announced federal criminal inquiry into whether Chauvin violated Floyd’s civil rights during his arrest and death last May. (Washington Post / New York Times / NPR / Associated Press / Wall Street Journal)

  • A 16-year-old Black girl was shot and killed by a police officer outside her home after she called 911 for help in Columbus, Ohio. The shooting happened about 20 minutes before Derek Chauvin’s guilty verdict was announced. (Columbus Dispatch / NPR)

  • poll/ 71% of Americans agree that Derek Chauvin was guilty, while 13% disagreed and 15% had no opinion. (USA Today)

2/ Republican lawmakers in 34 states have introduced 81 anti-protest bills – more than twice as many proposals as in any other year. Republican legislators in Oklahoma and Iowa have granted immunity to drivers who strike and injure protesters with their car in public streets; Indiana would bar anyone convicted of unlawful assembly from state employment, including elected office; Minnesota would prohibit those convicted of unlawful protesting from receiving student loans and unemployment benefits; Kentucky would make it a crime to insult or taunt a police officer; and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed sweeping legislation he’s called “the strongest anti-looting, anti-rioting, pro-law-enforcement piece of legislation in the country.” (New York Times)

3/ The U.S. has administered 200 million coronavirus vaccines since Biden took office. Biden said that more than half of all U.S. adults had received at least one shot and that more than 80% of Americans 65 and older have been partially or fully vaccinated. “Today, we did it, today we hit 200 million shots in the 92nd day in office,” Biden said. “This is an American achievement, a powerful demonstration of unity and revolve – what unity will do for us, and a reminder of what we can accomplish when we pull together, as one people, to a common goal.” About 13 million doses were administered during the Trump administration. (Politico / NPR / CNN / ABC News)

  • New coronavirus cases globally were reported last week than in any seven-day period since the beginning of the pandemic. Last week’s 5.24 million new cases broke the previous record of 5.04 million, which was set in the week ended Jan. 4. (New York Times)

4/ The Trump administration awarded nearly $1.3 billion to a company to supply more than 100 million prefilled Covid-19 vaccine syringes in 2020, which have never been delivered. The ApiJect syringe never received the needed FDA approvals and the plant to manufacture the needles was never built. Pfizer said that even if ApiJect got all the needed approvals, it would “not have any impact on our output or process.”(NBC News)

5/ The U.S. Postal Service is running a covert internet surveillance program that tracks and collects Americans’ social media posts, looking for what a government bulletin described as “inflammatory” postings. The Internet Covert Operations Program has not previously been made public. According to a March 16 government bulletin, which was marked as “law enforcement sensitive” and distributed through the Department of Homeland Security, the iCOP program “monitored significant activity regarding planned protests occurring internationally and domestically […] Locations and times have been identified for these protests, which are being distributed online across multiple social media platforms, to include right-wing leaning Parler and Telegram accounts.” Why the post office, which handles mail deliveries, would a run social media surveillance program is unclear. (Yahoo News)

Day 91: "Overwhelming."

1/ Derek Chauvin was convicted of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter for killing George Floyd. In May 2020, Chauvin, who is white, knelt on Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes as the 46-year-old Black man, who was handcuffed and face down in the street, repeatedly cried out, “I can’t breathe.” The former Minneapolis police officer faces up to 75 years in prison when he is sentenced in the coming weeks. Minnesota’s sentencing guidelines, however, call for sentences short of the maximum. Each murder charge for a person with no criminal history carries a presumptive prison sentence of 12.5 years in Minnesota, while manslaughter carries a presumptive prison sentence of four years. The jurors deliberated for about 10 hours over two days after the prosecution and defense teams presented nearly six hours of closing arguments. (New York Times / Politico / Washington Post / NBC News / Politico / Wall Street Journal / Bloomberg / CNBC)

  • 📌 Day 1226: Trump threatened military violence against U.S. citizens in Minneapolis who were protesting the death of George Floyd, a handcuffed, unarmed black man who was killed while pleading for air as a white police officer kneeled on his neck for several minutes. Trump, who previously called the video of Floyd’s death “shocking,” tweeted that the protesters were “THUGS” and warned that “the Military is with [Gov. Tim Walz] all the way […] Any difficulty and we will assume control but, when the looting starts, the shooting starts. Thank you!” Hours later, the White House reposted Trump’s comment on its official account. Last month, Trump tweeted support for protesters in Minnesota, Michigan, and Virginia to “LIBERATE” themselves and defy coronavirus stay-at-home orders. In 2017, when neo-Nazis marched in Charlottesville, Va., and a counter-protester was killed, Trump responded by saying there were “very fine people” on “both sides” of the issue. (New York Times / Politico / NBC News / Washington Post / CNN)

  • 📌 Day 1228: Police nationwide responded to protests against police violence by deliberately targeting demonstrators, journalists, and bystanders with pepper spray, tear gas, rubber bullets, and excessive use of force. The ongoing protests following the killing of George Floyd by a white police officer – who knelt on Floyd’s neck for more than eight minutes – have taken place in at least 75 cities, including at the gates of the White House, in the days since Floyd’s death in Minneapolis. The officer, Derek Chauvin, has since been fired, arrested, and charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter. Since then, police have tear-gassed protesters, drove vehicles through crowds, opened fire with rounds of rubber bullets and pepper balls on journalists and bystanders, pushed over an elderly man with a cane who was walking away, shot a woman in the face with a rubber bullet as she left a grocery store, and shot a photojournalist in the eye with a rubber bullet, who is now permanently blind. Curfews have been enacted in more than two dozen cities, and about 5,000 National Guard troops have been activated in 15 states and the District of Columbia. Organizers have tried to keep the protests focused on police accountability and social justice through chanting and marching, but agitators, posing as peaceful protesters, have exploited the situation by looting stores, setting fire to buildings and police cars, and throwing firecrackers, bottles, bleach, and, reportedly, a molotov cocktail at police. Some advisers, meanwhile, have urged Trump to formally address the nation and call for calm, while others have said he should condemn only the looting or risk losing middle-of-the-road voters in November. The White House, however, declared a lid, which means no one should expect to see or hear from Trump for the rest of the day. (Slate / Nick Waters / Vox / Washington Post / New York Times / Washington Post / CNN / The Week)

  • 📌 Day 1230: Trump threatened to deploy “thousands and thousands of heavily armed soldiers” to end “riots and lawlessness” if states and cities failed to quell the demonstrations sparked by the killing of George Floyd. In a brief Rose Garden speech, Trump declared himself “your president of law and order” and said he would mobilize every available federal force, both “civilian and military,” to “quickly solve the problem” and end the nationwide protests. Trump denounced the violence as “domestic acts of terror” as he ordered governors and mayors to establish “an overwhelming law enforcement presence.” Trump, however, stopped short of invoking the Insurrection Act, which would allow him to deploy active duty U.S. troops to respond to protests in cities across the country. After Trump made the announcement, he left without taking questions from reporters. (New York Times / Politico / Bloomberg / CNBC / CNN / Axios / NBC News / NPR / Wall Street Journal / New York Times / Washington Post)

2/ EARLIER TODAY: Biden suggested that the evidence against Derek Chauvin was “overwhelming” and said he was praying for the “right verdict” in the George Floyd case. Biden also called the Floyd family to express his support and sympathy. Rep. Maxine Waters, meanwhile, urged protesters in Minnesota to “stay on the street” and “get more confrontational” if Chauvin is not convicted. The judge overseeing the trial, however, said the comments could be grounds for appeal and “may result in this whole trial being overturned.” (New York Times / Politico / NBC News / Washington Post / CNN)

3/ The Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general declined to investigate what role the Secret Service played in the clearing of peaceful protesters from Lafayette Square in June 2020 so Trump could stage a photo op. According to documents, Joseph Cuffari’s staff submitted a draft plan on June 10 to investigate whether the Secret Service violated its use-of-force policies when it cleared the area with rubber bullets and a sprayed chemical irritant. Trump and his aides then walked across the park to demonstrate strength and control amid the civil unrest that followed George Floyd’s death. Cuffari declined to approve the investigation, as well as another investigation into the spread of the coronavirus among the Secret Service as Trump continued to hold campaign events during the pandemic. Hundreds of officers were either infected with the coronavirus or had to quarantine after potential exposure. (Washington Post)

  • 📌 Day 1230: As he spoke from the Rose Garden, police cleared peaceful protesters outside the White House with tear gas and flash grenades so Trump could pose by a church for photographs to dispel the notion that he was “weak” for hiding in a bunker over the weekend. Following his remarks in the Rose Garden, Trump left the White House and walked through Lafayette Square, where riot police and military police had cleared protesters moments before. Once Trump reached the far side of the square, he raised a bible in front of the church for a photo. Trump’s decision to speak to the nation from the Rose Garden and to then visit the church came together because he was reportedly upset about the news coverage of him retreating to the White House bunker amid the protests. Just before Trump spoke, Attorney General William Barr personally ordered law enforcement officials to clear protesters from Lafayette Square. (New York Times / CNN / ABC News / Vox / Washington Post / YouTube / Religious News Service)

4/ Biden will pledge to cut U.S. greenhouse gas emissions at least in half by 2030 – a near-doubling of the target that the U.S. committed to under the 2015 Paris climate agreement – when he convenes a virtual climate summit with more than three dozen world leaders on Thursday. In 2015, the U.S. pledged to cut emissions between 26 and 28% compared to 2005 levels as part of the Paris accord. Biden officials are still considering a target range for reducing its emissions, which could go above 50%. Trump pulled the U.S. from the global climate deal in 2017. (Washington Post)

5/ The Biden administration said it “strongly supports” making D.C. the 51st state, adding that Congress should “provide for a swift and orderly transition to statehood” for the more than 700,000 Washington residents who do not have full voting representation in the House and Senate. (Washington Post / CNBC)

6/ The U.S. ambassador to Russia initially refused to leave the country after the Kremlin “advised” him to return home following sanctions by the Biden administration. John Sullivan later announced that he would return home for “consultations” with American officials. Russia’s foreign ministry, meanwhile, announced it would expel 10 American diplomats and bar current officials from visiting Russia. Satellite photos, meanwhile, show that Russia has moved warplanes and troops to Crimea and bases near Ukraine to a greater extent than has previously been disclosed. (Axios / NPR / Politico / Wall Street Journal / New York Times)

7/ A dozen megadonors contributed $1 in every $13 raised for federal candidates and political groups since 2009. The top 12 donors and their spouses – split equally between six Democrats and six Republicans – donated a combined $3.4 billion. (New York Times / Bloomberg)

Day 90: "Seriousness and urgency."

1/ The White House abruptly reversed course on the number of refugees it will allow into the U.S. On Friday, the administration said it would keep Trump’s historically low refugee admissions target at 15,000, walking back Biden’s pledge to lift the cap to 62,500 this year and push it to 125,000 for the fiscal year that starts Oct. 1. Democratic leaders called the administration’s admissions target “unacceptable” and hours later the White House said it would increase the cap on refugee admissions for the rest of this fiscal year by May 15. White House press secretary Jen Psaki said that Biden would set the final cap and expects that it will be higher than Trump’s ceiling, but is “unlikely” to rise to the 62,500 that Biden had promised in February. (Washington Post / CNN / New York Times / Wall Street Journal)

2/ The Biden administration ordered U.S. immigration enforcement agencies to stop using terms such as “alien,” “illegal alien,” and “assimilation” when referring to immigrants. In memos sent to department heads at Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Customs and Border Protection, “alien” will become “noncitizen or migrant,” “illegal” will become “undocumented,” and “assimilation” will change to “integration,” among others. (Washington Post)

3/ The U.S. and China agreed to cooperate to fight climate change “with the seriousness and urgency that it demands.” John Kerry, the Biden administration’s special envoy for climate, said that despite various political disputes between the two countries, “it’s very important for us to try to keep those other things away, because climate is a life-or-death issue in so many different parts of the world.” China and the U.S. are the world’s two biggest carbon emitters, accounting for nearly half of the planet’s carbon dioxide. Biden is scheduled to hosts a virtual summit of world leaders to discuss efforts to reduce carbon emissions later this week. (New York Times / Associated Press)

  • poll/ 56% of Americans think climate change needs to be addressed immediately, while 11% think it needs to be addressed in the next few years, and 33% say action on climate can wait or doesn’t need to be addressed. (CBS News)

4/ The White House removed the Trump-appointed scientist from overseeing the National Climate Assessment, the government’s definitive report on the effects of climate change. Betsy Weatherhead – considered a mainstream scientist who believes that climate change is a real and serious issue – was reassigned to the U.S. Geological Survey, the Interior Department’s scientific arm. (Washington Post / CNN)

5/ The Supreme Court declined to take up a case from Republicans challenging changes to election rules in Pennsylvania. The case, by a former Republican congressional candidate and four individual voters, challenged the secretary of state’s decision to allow three extra days for receiving mail ballots because of the statements from the U.S. Postal Service that delivery would likely be slow amidst the coronavirus pandemic. (CNN / NBC News)

  • poll/ 63% of Americans supported term or age limits for Supreme Court justices, while 22% said they opposed limits. (NBC News)

6/ The Biden administration allocated $150 million to boost coronavirus response for underserved communities and vulnerable populations. Community-based health care providers must apply for the funds from the American Rescue Plan by May 14 and then the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will decide who is approved for funding. (CNN)

7/ Trump won nine of the 10 states in the 2020 election where most residents said they would probably or definitely not get a Covid-19 vaccine. Further, in more than 500 counties, at least a quarter of adults are unwilling to get vaccinated. A majority of residents in these counties voted to re-elect Trump. (New York Times)

  • poll/ 36% of adults under the age of 35 say they don’t plan on getting a Covid-19 vaccine. Overall, 27% of adults say they don’t plan to get the vaccine. (Quinnipiac / CNN)

8/ The Justice Department sued Roger Stone for nearly $2 million in unpaid federal income taxes and fees. The lawsuit accused Stone and his wife, Nydia, of underpaying their income taxes by $1,590,361 from 2007 to 2011, and that Stone was short on his 2018 tax bill by $407,036. (NBC News)

9/ A federal judge revoked bail for two leaders of the Proud Boys, contending that they’re too dangerous to remain free while awaiting trial. “The defendants stand charged with seeking to steal one of the crown jewels of our country, in a sense, by interfering with the peaceful transfer of power,” Judge Timothy Kelly said. “It’s no exaggeration to say the rule of law and […] in the end, the existence of our constitutional republic is threatened by it.” Ethan Nordean and Joseph Biggs are charged with conspiring to stop the certification of the 2020 election, and with organizing dozens of Proud Boys to the Capitol. (Politico)

10/ Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo violated federal ethics rules governing the use of taxpayer-funded resources, according to a report by the State Department’s inspector general’s office. The government watchdog determined that Pompeo and his wife, Susan, asked State Department employees to carry out tasks for their personal benefit more than 100 times. In 2020, Trump fired the State Department inspector general, Steve Linick, who had opened an investigation into Pompeo. (Politico)

Day 87: "Disastrous."

1/ Biden will keep Trump’s historically low refugee admissions target at 15,000, walking back his pledge to lift the cap to 62,500 this year and push it to 125,000 for the fiscal year that starts Oct. 1. Biden, however, signed an emergency determination to speed refugee admissions to the U.S and adjust the allocation limits set by Trump, who placed strict restrictions on accepting refugees from certain African and majority-Muslim countries. Rep. Ilhan Omar called Biden’s decision “shameful,” while Rep. Pramila Jayapal said it was “disastrous.” (New York Times / Washington Post / Associated Press / NBC News)

2/ The Biden administration will spend $1.7 billion to track coronavirus variants. The money – which was part of the $1.9 trillion Covid-19 relief bill passed last month – will go toward sequencing coronavirus genomes, creating six new new genomic epidemiology centers, and creating a national bioinformatics infrastructure. (Politico / NPR / Associated Press / Washington Post)

  • The U.S. and other nations will likely need booster shots and annual vaccinations against Covid-19. David Kessler, the chief science officer for Covid-19 response,, told a House subcommittee hearing that the U.S. should plan for booster shots in the future. Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla, meanwhile, said that a “likely scenario” included the need for a third vaccine dose within 12 months after inoculation, after which “there will be an annual revaccination.” (CNBC / Washington Post / New York Times)

3/ Police officers and public officials donated money to Kyle Rittenhouse, who stands accused of murdering two protesters last August. Rittenhouse traveled about 15 miles from neighboring Illinois to Kenosha, Wisconsin, to offer armed protection to businesses during the protests over the police shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black man who was shot multiple times at close range and left paralyzed. A data breach at a Christian crowdfunding website revealed that the donations were attached to email addresses traceable to police and other public officials. (The Guardian)

  • A gunman killed eight people and injured several others before shooting himself at a FedEx facility in Indianapolis. Brandon Hole was a former employee at the facility. The FBI was previously warned by a relative about Hole’s potential for violence. The FBI opened a preliminary investigation, but closed the inquiry after concluding there wasn’t sufficient evidence to continue. (The Indianapolis Star / New York Times / CNN)

4/ A founding member of the Oath Keepers arrested in the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol pleaded guilty and agreed to cooperate. Jon Ryan Schaffer is the first defendant to publicly flip in the domestic terrorism investigation, which has led to more than 410 people being charged. (Washington Post)

5/ Russia expelled 10 U.S. diplomats and indefinitely barred entry to eight U.S. officials in response to U.S. sanctions and expulsions. The officials included Attorney General Merrick Garland; Michael Carvajal, director of the U.S. Federal Bureau of Prisons; Alejandro Mayorkas, Secretary of Homeland security; Susan Rice, Biden’s domestic policy adviser; FBI Director Christopher Wray; and Avril Haines, director of National Intelligence. (Washington Post / Wall Street Journal)

poll/ 28% of Americans said they support bills restricting transgender athletes’ participation on sports teams, while 67% oppose such bills. (PBS / NPR)

  • The Alabama Legislature passed a bill to prevent transgender girls from playing on female sports teams. The bill would prohibit K-12 schools from letting a “biological male” participate on a female team. More than a dozen states are considering similar restrictions on transgender athletes or gender-confirming health care for transgender minors. (Associated Press)

poll/ 64% of Americans approve of Biden’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, while 29% disapprove. (Quinnipiac)

poll/ 59% of Americans approve of the way Biden is handling his job as president, while 39% disapprove. (Pew Research Center)

Day 86: "Disinformation and interference."

1/ The Biden administration imposed sanctions on Russia for alleged interference in the 2020 presidential election, the cyberattack against U.S. government and corporate networks, the illegal annexation and occupation of Crimea, and human rights abuses. The administration sanctioned six Russian technology companies that supported hacking operations run by Russia’s intelligence services and expelled 10 intelligence officers working under diplomatic cover in the U.S. The White House formally said the Russian intelligence service SVR was responsible for the hacking operation known as SolarWinds. The Treasury Department also sanctioned 32 entities and individuals for “carrying out Russian government-directed attempts to influence the 2020 U.S. presidential election, and other acts of disinformation and interference,” as well as eight individuals and entities associated with Russia’s actions in Crimea. The White House said the sanctions were intended “to impose costs on Russia for actions by its government and intelligence services against U.S. sovereignty and interests.” (Politico / Associated Press / New York Times / Washington Post / NBC News / CNBC)

2/ Paul Manafort’s associate and former employee “provided the Russian Intelligence Services with sensitive information on polling and campaign strategy” during the 2016 election, according to the Treasury Department. Konstantin Kilimnik was one of 16 people sanctioned for attempting to influence the 2020 U.S. presidential election at the direction of the Kremlin. Kilimnik also “sought to promote the narrative that Ukraine, not Russia, had interfered in the 2016 U.S. presidential election,” the Treasury Department statement read. The Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on 2016 Russian election interference assessed that Kilimnik was a Russian intelligence officer, who worked with Manafort as a lobbyist for the pro-Russia president of Ukraine. Manafort was Trump’s campaign manager. (CNBC / Just Security / Axios / Washington Post)

3/ The House Judiciary Committee voted to recommend the creation of a commission to study the issue of paying reparations to the descendants of slaves in the U.S. The commission would also consider a “national apology” for the harm caused by slavery. It’s the first time the committee has acted on the decades-long effort to advance the measure to the full House. Neither chamber of Congress, however, has committed to a floor vote. (NBC News / New York Times / USA Today / CBS News)

4/ The House Committee on Oversight and Reform advanced legislation to make D.C. the 51st state. The full House is expected to pass the Washington, D.C. Admission Act – possibly as soon as next week – for the second consecutive year. The bill, however, is likely to face significant hurdles in the Senate where it needs the support of 60 senators to advance. (Washington Post)

5/ Democrats introduced legislation to expand the Supreme Court from nine justices to 13. “The court is broken, and make no mistake about it,” Sen. Edward Markey said. “The court is broken because Sen. Mitch McConnell, his Senate Republican colleagues, and Donald Trump broke it.” Nancy Pelosi, however, said she has “no plans to bring it to the floor,” adding that she supports Biden’s recent move to create a commission to study possible expansion of the Supreme Court. (NBC News / Politico / CBS News / CNN / ABC News)

6/ Biden reportedly hasn’t raised the Trump-era refugee cap because of political optics. One Democratic aide said Biden has not yet signed off on the refugee program because he wants to preserve his options. White House press secretary Jen Psaki, meanwhile, said Biden was committed to raising the refugee ceiling, but refused to provide a timeline. In February, Biden’s State Department said it planned to expand the Trump cap – set at 15,000 refugees – to up to 62,500. As of March 31, only 2,050 refugees had been allowed to resettle in the U.S, putting the Biden administration on track to accept the fewest number of refugees this year of any modern president – including Trump. (CNN)

Day 85: "We stand for democracy."

1/ The U.S. Capitol Police inspector general found that the agency’s leaders failed to adequately prepare for the Jan. 6 attack despite being warned that “Congress itself is the target.” In a 104-page document, Michael Bolton criticized the way the Capitol Police prepared for and responded to the violence, finding that “heavier, less-lethal weapons,” including stun grenades, “were not used that day because of orders from leadership.” The IG report also found that some police equipment was at least 20 years old, including riot shields that shattered on impact. (New York Times / Wall Street Journal / Reuters / NPR)

  • The Justice Department won’t file charges against the Capitol Police officer who fatally shot Ashli Babbitt during the Jan. 6 riot. Babbitt attempted to breach a set of doors deep in the Capitol during the siege. (NBC News / Washington Post)

2/ Hundreds of U.S. corporations and executives signed on to a statement opposing “any discriminatory legislation” that would make it harder for people to vote. “We stand for democracy,” the statement reads. “We all should feel a responsibility to defend the right to vote and to oppose any discriminatory legislation or measures that restrict or prevent any eligible voter from having an equal and fair opportunity to cast a ballot.” The statement comes as Republicans have tried to enact new, restrictive voting rules in almost every state. Senior Republicans, including Trump and Mitch McConnell, have also called for companies to stay out of politics. (Bloomberg / New York Times / NBC News / CNBC)

3/ The former Minnesota police officer who shot and killed Daunte Wright during a traffic stop was arrested and charged with second-degree manslaughter. Kim Potter resigned from the Brooklyn Center Police Department Tuesday. Under Minnesota law, a person convicted of second-degree manslaughter can face up to 10 years behind bars and a fine of up to $20,000. (NBC News / Washington Post / New York Times)

4/ The Senate will take up the Covid-19 Hate Crimes Act. The bill intends to combat violence against Asian Americans by designating a Justice Department employee to expedite the review of hate crimes reported to police during the pandemic. The Stop AAPI Hate organization documented at least 3,795 attacks from last March 2020 to February 2021. At least 60 senators are needed to advance the legislation, which would require bipartisan support. (Reuters / NPR)

5/ The House Judiciary Committee will vote on legislation to create a commission to study the implications of slavery and develop reparations proposals for African Americans. If approved by the committee, as expected, it would set up a floor vote on the measure. The legislation has been stalled in the House for nearly 30 years. (NPR / CBS News / Washington Post)

6/ Matt Gaetz’s associate has been cooperating with the Justice Department since last year. Joel Greenberg has been providing investigators with information about encounters he and Gaetz had with women who were given cash or gifts in exchange for sex. Federal prosecutors are investigating allegations that Gaetz had sex with an underage girl who was 17 at the time, as well as with women who were provided drugs and money in violation of sex trafficking and prostitution laws. (New York Times / CNN)

Day 84: "Abundance of caution."

1/ The CDC and the FDA recommended a “pause” in the use of the Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine after six women developed an “extremely rare” disorder involving blood clots and one died. More than 6.8 million people in the U.S. have received the vaccine without any other serious adverse reactions. In a statement, the two health agencies said that the move to temporarily halt administration of the shots was out of an “abundance of caution.” Scientists will examine possible links between the vaccine and the blood clot disorder and determine whether the FDA should continue to authorize the use of the vaccine or modify the authorization. The White House said the pause would “not have a significant impact on our vaccination plan” to administer 200 million shots by the end of April. White House Covid-19 coordinator Jeff Zients added that the “Johnson & Johnson vaccine makes up less than 5% of the recorded shots in arms in the United States to date.” (New York Times / Associated Press / NBC News / CNN / Wall Street Journal / Politico)

2/ Biden nominated Robert Santos to head the U.S. Census Bureau. If confirmed by the Senate, Santos would be the first person of color to permanently lead the agency. Santos, a third-generation native Mexican American, currently serves as the vice president and chief methodologist at the Urban Institute and as the president of the American Statistical Association. (NPR / Washington Post)

3/ Biden will withdraw all American troops from Afghanistan by Sept. 11 – the 20th anniversary of the attacks that first drew the country’s into its longest war. In an agreement with the Taliban, the withdrawal extends the U.S. troop presence past the May 1 deadline set by the Trump administration. The 2021 threat assessment from U.S. intelligence agencies reported that a peace deal was unlikely and that “the Afghan government will struggle to hold the Taliban at bay if the coalition withdraws support.” Since October 2001, more than 2,200 U.S. troops have died and another 20,000 have been wounded. There are roughly 2,500 U.S. troops in Afghanistan now, as well as an additional 7,000 foreign coalition forces. American troop levels reached a high of 100,000 troops in August 2010. (Washington Post / New York Times / ABC News / CNN)

4/ Biden called on Putin to “de-escalate tensions” following a Russian military buildup at Ukraine’s border, saying the U.S. would “act firmly in defense of its national interests.” Russia has stationed the highest number of troops along Ukraine’s border since 2014. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, meanwhile, said the U.S. would increase its military presence in Germany by about 500 soldiers. Biden also suggested meeting Putin “in a third country” in the coming months. (New York Times / Associated Press / NBC News / Politico / CNN)

5/ Iran will begin enriching uranium to 60% purity for the first time after an attack on one of its key nuclear facilities. Iran blamed Israel for the attack, which they said caused a blackout and damaged centrifuges. Israel has not publicly admitted or denied a role in the explosion, and the White House asserted that “the U.S. was not involved in any manner. We have nothing to add on speculation about the causes or the impacts.” Iran’s foreign minister, however, warned that the attack could hurt ongoing negotiations to revive the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and six world powers. Weapons-grade levels requires uranium enriched to around 90% purity. (Associated Press / New York Times / Politico / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal)

6/ The police officer who fatally shot Daunte Wright resigned. Kim Potter had been an officer with the Brooklyn Center Police Department for 26 years. The city’s police chief, Tim Gannon, also resigned. Yesterday, Gannon said he believed that Potter was attempting to use a Taser on Wright, but instead pulled her firearm, fired a single, fatal shot into Wright’s chest after she repeatedly yelled “Taser!” (Washington Post / New York Times / USA Today / NPR / CNBC)

Day 83: "Accidental discharge."

1/ The White House put the creation a national police oversight commission on hold, despite Biden’s campaign pledge to establish one within his first 100 days. Instead, the administration is moving forward with its efforts to pass the police reform bill named after George Floyd, who was killed after Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin put his knee to Floyd’s neck for seven minutes and 46 seconds. Chauvin’s murder trial is currently ongoing. The White House said national civil rights organizations and police unions counseled the administration that a commission was not necessary and redundant. (Politico / CNN)

2/ Biden called for an investigation into the police officer who shot and killed a 20-year-old Black man in a Minneapolis suburb. Brooklyn Center Police Chief Tim Gannon said the officer who fatally shot Daunte Wright shouted “Taser!” but then fired a handgun instead. “The question is: was it an accident? Was it intentional? That remains to be determined by a full blown investigation,” Biden said. Gannon, meanwhile, said it was his “belief” that the officer intended to use their Taser during a traffic stop, but instead shot Wright, saying “This appears to me, from what I viewed, and the officer’s reaction and distress immediately after, that this was an accidental discharge.” After the officer fired, she is heard on video saying, “Holy shit. I just shot him.” Wright was killed about 10 miles from where George Floyd was killed by Derek Chauvin last year, and hours before the 11th day of Chauvin’s murder trial was set to begin. (New York Times / Associated Press / Star Tribune / ABC News / CNN / Axios /

3/ The U.S. administered 4.6 million vaccine doses on Saturday – a single-day record. The country has now averaged 3.1 million doses per day over the past week. Meanwhile, the U.S. is reporting 70,000 new coronavirus infections per day on average over the past week, a figure that’s above July’s peak of 67,000 cases. (CNBC)

  • 38.9% of U.S. Marines have declined Covid-19 vaccinations.(CNN)

4/ Michigan’s average daily case count jumped about seven times since February. CDC Director Rochelle Walensky called on the state “to close things down,” rebuffing a request from Gov. Gretchen Whitmer for the federal government to send more vaccines. “If we try to vaccinate our way out of what is happening in Michigan, we would be disappointed that it took so long for the vaccine to work, to actually have the impact,” Walensky said. “The answer is not necessarily to give vaccine. The answer to that is […] to go back to our basics […] to shut things down, to flatten the curve, to decrease contact with one another, to test to the extent that we have available to contact trace.” (Axios / New York Times / Bloomberg / CNBC)

5/ Biden nominated the Tucson police chief to lead Customs and Border Protection. If confirmed, Chris Magnus – a critic of the Trump administration’s anti-immigration policies – would be responsible for contending with the biggest increase in migrants arriving at the southwest border in two decades. Magnus also opposed Trump’s efforts to make Tucson a “sanctuary city.” Biden also said he intends to nominate Ur Jaddou as director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. (New York Times / Politico / Washington Post)

  • The Biden administration secured agreements with Mexico, Honduras, and Guatemala to secure their borders and slow the number of migrants arriving at the U.S. border. (CNN / New York Times)

6/ The Biden Justice Department refused to disclose documents from the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy that separated thousands of migrant families at the U.S. border. The documents, requested by the lawyers representing separated families, include emails between Trump officials and minutes of high-level meetings during the planning of the policy. Among the unreleased documents is the agenda from a May 2018 meeting that included a show of hands vote by Trump officials on whether to separate families. (NBC News)

7/ The U.S. has admitted 2,050 refugees at the halfway point of this fiscal year, putting the Biden administration on track to accept the fewest number of refugees this year of any modern president – including Trump. Eight weeks ago Biden promised to reverse Trump-era immigration policies, to rebuild and enhance federal programs to resettle refugees, and to raise the annual cap on refugee admissions to 125,000 for the fiscal year that starts Oct. 1, up from Trump’s limit of 15,000. Biden, however, hasn’t signed what is known as a presidential determination to make those changes official. At the current pace and without the reversal of Trump’s policies, the Biden administration will admit about 4,510 refugees – less than half of the figure admitted in Trump’s final year. (Washington Post)

Day 80: "Out of whack."

1/ Biden created a bipartisan commission to study adding seats to the Supreme Court. Biden said the group has 180 days to produce a report on court expansion, term limits, and other “recommendations as to how to reform the court system, because it’s getting out of whack.” The executive order also mandates that the group holds public meetings and take input from a range of stakeholders. Biden previously said he’s “not a fan” of adding additional seats to the Supreme Court in order to alter its ideological balance, which currently has a 6 to 3 conservative tilt. Meanwhile, Justice Stephen Breyer, one of the court’s three liberals, recently warned against expanding the Supreme Court, saying its authority depends on “a trust that the court is guided by legal principle, not politics.” (New York Times / Politico / Washington Post / NPR)

2/ The White House released Biden’s $1.52 trillion budget request for 2022, calling for significant increase in spending aimed at fighting poverty and climate change, while keeping defense spending relatively flat. The budget outline would increase overall spending on discretionary programs by $118 billion (about 8% above last year’s levels), while defense spending would see an increase of $12.3 billion (1.7%), and other domestic programs would get a 15.9% boost. Administration officials said the budget request was “complimentary” to Biden’s $2 trillion infrastructure plan. (Washington Post / NPR / Politico / NBC News / Bloomberg / CNN)

3/ Former Trump administration appointees privately celebrated successfully influencing the CDC’s scientific reports on the coronavirus. New documents show that former Health and Human Services senior adviser Paul Alexander shared two examples of the CDC bowing to his pressure and changing language in their scientific reports to more closely align with Trump’s political messages about the pandemic. “Small victory but a victory nonetheless and yippee!!!” Alexander wrote in one email to then-HHS public affairs chief Michael Caputo on Sept. 9, 2020. (Washington Post / CNN)

4/ The CDC said the U.S. is seeing an increase in Covid-19 cases linked to youth sports. Between January and March, Michigan saw 291 cases stemming from youth sports teams, while in Minnesota at least 68 coronavirus cases were linked to participants in both school and club sports activities. CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said the increases in Michigan and Minnesota were “due, in part, to more highly transmissible variants.” The highly infectious B.1.1.7 variant, first identified in the U.K., recently became the dominate Covid strain in the U.S. (CNBC / CNN)

  • Pfizer requested that the FDA expand the emergency use of its Covid-19 vaccine to adolescents aged 12 to 15. (CNBC)

5/ The White House “border czar” will step down at the end of the month despite the administration struggling to address the flow of immigration from Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador. Roberta Jacobson, the former ambassador to Mexico, said her appointment on the National Security Council as the border coordinator was always intended to last for only about 100 days. Biden tapped Kamala Harris last month to lead the government’s diplomatic efforts with that region. (New York Times)

6/ Matt Gaetz sent accused sex trafficker Joel Greenberg $900 in May 2018, who then – using the same app – sent three young women money totaling $900. In the memo field of one of the Venmo payments, Gaetz instructed Greenberg to “hit up____,” using the nickname for one of the girls. The House Ethics Committee announced it was opening an investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct by Gaetz. The House probe comes amid a Department of Justice investigation into Gaetz’s alleged relationship with a 17-year-old girl and whether she was paid to travel for sex, which could violate federal sex-trafficking laws. Gaetz, meanwhile, hired two defense lawyers to represent him in the investigations. One of the lawyers represents the Trump Organization in a separate criminal probe. (Daily Beast / Washington Post / CNBC / NBC News / Bloomberg)

Day 79: "International embarrassment."

1/ Biden announced executive actions to address what he called an “epidemic” of gun violence. Biden also pressed Congress to close background check loopholes, ban assault weapons, and strip gun manufacturers of liability protections, saying “much more needs to be done.” Biden said he asked the Justice Department to identify “immediate, concrete actions” he could take unilaterally. The Justice Department will also issue a proposed rule to curb so-called ghost guns and publish model “red flag” laws for states to use as guides. “We’ve got a long way to go, it seems like we always have a long way to go,” Biden said. “Gun violence in this country is an epidemic, and it’s an international embarrassment.” (Washington Post / Politico / NBC News / New York Times)

2/ More than 18,800 unaccompanied children crossed the southern border in March. The previous one-month high for unaccompanied minors arriving at the border was 11,861 – set in May 2019. U.S. authorities apprehended more than 172,000 migrants at the border in March – a 15-year high in monthly crossings. Of those, more than 100,000 were almost immediately expelled. (Politico / Washington Post)

3/ The Biden administration is spending at least $60 million per week to care for unaccompanied migrant teenagers and children in shelters operated by the Department of Health and Human Services. The cost of emergency shelter sites is more than 2.5 times higher than permanent shelters “due to the need to develop facilities quickly and hire significant staff over a short period of time,” a spokesman for HHS’s Administration for Children and Families said, adding that the average daily cost per child is “approximately $775 per day based on past experience.” (Washington Post)

4/ Justice Department lawyers still cannot find the parents of 445 children separated from their families at the U.S.-Mexico border by the Trump administration. The parents of 61 separated migrant children have been located since February. (New York Times)

5/ Joe Manchin will not vote to eliminate or weaken the filibuster under any circumstances and suggested that he would also be opposed to using budget reconciliation process to push major aspects of Biden’s agenda through Congress. “The time has come to end these political games, and to usher a new era of bipartisanship where we find common ground on the major policy debates facing our nation,” Manchin wrote in an op-ed. As a result, 10 Republicans would be needed to join all Democrats in the 50-50 Senate to pass major pieces of legislation. (CNBC / New York Times / Washington Post / Bloomberg / CNN)

6/ Investigators from the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office seized financial records from the former daughter-in-law of the Trump Organization’s Chief Financial Officer. Jennifer Weisselberg was married to Barry Weisselberg — the son of Allen Weisselberg — from 2004 to 2018. District Attorney Cyrus Vance’s office took possession of three boxes and a laptop as part of a grand jury subpoena. Jennifer Weisselberg turned over all records she possessed of her ex-husband’s bank accounts and credit cards, plus his statements of net worth and tax filings. Separately, the Trump Organization hired an experienced criminal defense attorney to represent it in the Manhattan prosecutors’ investigation into possible bank, tax or insurance fraud by the Trump and the Trump Organization. (Washington Post / Wall Street Journal)

7/ One of Matt Gaetz’s associates, who faces a sex trafficking charge, is expected to plead guilty and will likely cooperate with federal prosecutors. Investigators are looking into a Bahamas trip Gaetz allegedly took in late 2018 or early 2019 and whether he violated sex trafficking or prostitution laws. Joel Greenberg’s possible cooperation with the Justice Department could provide investigators with key details. Specifically, investigators are trying to determine if the escorts were illegally trafficked across state or international lines for the purpose of sex with Gaetz. Greenberg introduced Gaetz to women he found through websites that connect people who are willing to go on dates in exchange for gifts and allowances, which feature women looking for “sugar daddy” relationships with wealthy men. Greenberg’s lawyer, Fritz Scheller, said his client was “uniquely situated” to help prosecutors and was seeking a deal “with the least exposure possible.” Scheller added: “I’m sure Matt Gaetz is not feeling very comfortable today.” (New York Times / CBS News / Washington Post / Politico / CNN / NBC News)

  • Matt Gaetz privately asked the White House for blanket pre-emptive pardons from Trump for himself and unidentified congressional allies for any crimes they may have committed. The request came in the final weeks of Trump’s term when Gaetz was already under investigation over whether he violated sex trafficking laws. Trump, meanwhile, said Gaetz “has never asked me for a pardon.” (New York Times / Politico)

Day 78: "Good faith negotiations."

1/ The CDC said the coronavirus variant first identified in the U.K. is now the dominant strain in the United States. The variant, known as B.1.1.7, is 50% more contagious than others and now accounts for about 27% of cases in the U.S. CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said that the newer strain is more transmissible among younger people and that new outbreaks in the U.S. have been linked to youth sports and day care centers. (NPR / NBC News / Washington Post / CNBC)

  • 😷 Dept. of “We’re gonna get through this.”

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~132,776,000; deaths: ~2,881,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~30,908,000; deaths: ~559,000; fully vaccinated: ~19.4%; partially vaccinated: ~33.1%

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University / Washington Post

2/ Biden signaled that he was open to “good faith negotiations” with Republicans on his $2.3 trillion infrastructure proposal, but insisted he would “not be open to doing nothing. Inaction is simply not an option.” When asked if he would consider a lower corporate tax rate than 28%, as his plan currently calls for, Biden replied: “I’m willing to listen to that. We’ve got to pay for this,” noting that there are “many other ways we can do it.” The Treasury Department, meanwhile, outlined a proposed tax increase on businesses that, if enacted, would raise $2.5 trillion in revenue over 15 years, meant to offset the costs of the infrastructure package. (New York Times / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / CNBC)

3/ Biden will announce new executive actions to curb gun violence on Thursday. While the extent of tomorrow’s announcement is unclear, Biden is expected to require background checks on buyers of so-called ghost guns – homemade or makeshift firearms that lack serial numbers. (Politico / CNN)

4/ The U.S. and Iran agreed – through intermediaries – on a plan to try to get both countries back into compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal. During a meeting with the current members of the deal, all parties agreed to establish a working group to focus on how to get the U.S. back to the deal by lifting economic sanctions imposed or reimposed after Trump pulled out of the accord in May 2018. Another working group would focus on how to get Iran back into compliance with the accord’s limitations on nuclear enrichment and stockpiles of enriched uranium. (New York Times)

5/ More than 500,000 Americans signed up for health care coverage through the Affordable Care Act marketplace between mid-February and the end of March. The Biden administration initially opened a “special enrollment period” for everyone on HealthCare.gov for people to buy insurance through May 15. The period was later extended until Aug. 15. (HuffPost)

6/ The National Republican Congressional Committee is warning donors who opt out of recurring monthly donations that “we will have to tell Trump you’re a DEFECTOR.” A tool provided by WinRed, a for-profit Republican donation platform, prechecks the box to enroll donors into repeating monthly donations by default. Donors who proactively uncheck the box are threatened with being labeled a “DEFECTOR.” The prechecked box is the same tactic that the Trump campaign used, which resulted in complaints of fraud to banks and credit card companies. (New York Times)

Day 77: "Irritating."

1/ All adults in the U.S. should be eligible to receive the Covid-19 vaccine by April 19, almost two weeks sooner than Biden’s original May 1 deadline. All but two states – Oregon and Hawaii – are already set to meet the new target date. “That doesn’t mean they will get it that day, that means they can join the line that day if they have not already done that beforehand,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said. As of last week, about half of states had already opened vaccinations to everyone 16 and older, which is expected to rise to 36 states by the end of this week. The Biden administration also said that 150 million coronavirus vaccine doses have been administered to Americans. (CNN / NBC News / NPR / Bloomberg / Associated Press)

  • 😷 Dept. of “We’re gonna get through this.”

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~132,132,000; deaths: ~2,866,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~30,832,000; deaths: ~557,000; fully vaccinated: ~19.0%; partially vaccinated: ~32.6%

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University / Washington Post

2/ Texas Gov. Greg Abbott banned government agencies, private businesses, and organizations that receive state funding from creating “vaccine passports,” saying Covid-19 vaccinations are voluntary and that no one should have to disclose private health information as a condition of engaging in normal activities. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis issued an executive order last week banning businesses from requiring customers to show proof they have been vaccinated against Covid-19 in order to get service. The Biden administration, meanwhile, has said “the government is not now, nor will we be, supporting a system that requires Americans to carry a credential” because it doesn’t want vaccine passports “used against people unfairly.” Instead, the administration will provide guidance for private-sector development of credentials. (Texas Tribune / New York Times / Washington Post / Bloomberg)

3/ The nonpartisan Senate parliamentarian ruled that Democrats could use budget reconciliation to advance more of Biden’s agenda with a simple majority. Democrats previously used budget resolution to pass the American Rescue Plan. “I always would prefer to do legislation in a bipartisan way, but we have to get big, bold things done,” Chuck Schumer said. “And so we need to have as many options as possible if Republicans continue to obstruct.” All 50 Democratic senators would need support the approach to advance Biden’s $2 trillion infrastructure and jobs package this fiscal year without a single Republican vote. Democratic moderates like Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema, however, have advised against using the reconciliation process a second time. They also oppose eliminating the filibuster to pass all bills with 51 votes, instead of 60, arguing that the supermajority requirement forces lawmakers to seek broad compromises. (Politico / Vox / New York Times / CNBC / Axios / NPR / ABC News / Associated Press / CBS News)

4/ Mitch McConnell warned businesses critical of state voting restrictions to “stay out of politics.” McConnell called it “quite stupid” for corporations to speak out politically on “incendiary” issues, like Georgia’s new voting law, but said he supports corporations making political donations. McConnell suggested that businesses have “a right to participate in the political process,” specifically noting that he’s “not talking about political contributions.” He added that “Republicans drink Coca-Cola, too, and we fly, and we like baseball. It’s irritating one hell of a lot of Republican fans.” (The Guardian / ABC News / CNN / Forbes / Washington Post)

5/ Arkansas’ Republican-controlled House and Senate enacted a ban on gender-affirming care for transgender children. The override comes a day after Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s vetoed the bill. The state is the first to criminalize gender-affirming medical care for transgender youth. (Associated Press / Axios)

6/ The Education Department will hold a public hearing on how schools should handle sexual misconduct cases as part of an overhaul of Title IX regulations. During the presidential campaign, Biden promised to dismantle Trump-era rules on sexual misconduct that afforded greater protections to students accused of assault. Former Education Secretary Betsy DeVos formalized rules for how universities and K-12 schools should handle complaints of sexual assault and misconduct in 2020, which created protections for the accused, including the presumption that they’re innocent and the right to cross-examine their accusers. After the hearing, the department will begin the formal process to rewrite the Title IX rules. (NBC News / New York Times)

7/ Carbon dioxide topped 420 parts per million in the atmosphere for the first time – the halfway point to doubling preindustrial CO2 levels. The Mauna Loa Observatory on the Big Island of Hawaii began collecting CO2 measurements in the late 1950s. At the time, atmospheric CO2 concentration sat at around 315 parts per million. On Saturday, the daily average hit 421.21 parts per million – the first time in recorded history that atmospheric CO2 concentration has been so high. Previously, it had never exceeded 420 parts per million. (Washington Post)

Day 76: "Consequences."

1/ A record 4 million people in the U.S. received a coronavirus vaccine on Saturday. Over the past seven days, an average of 3.1 million shots have been administered each day and about 1 in 4 adults are now fully vaccinated, Andy Slavitt said, the White House’s senior adviser for Covid-19 response. While the daily coronavirus death toll in the U.S. is at its lowest level in months, the seven-day average of new daily cases rose 7% to 64,000, according to CDC Director Rochelle Walensky. In Michigan, daily new cases are up 39% compared with a week ago. Experts, however, disagree on whether the U.S. is on the cusp of a “fourth wave” or seeing the last gasps of the 14-month pandemic. Michael Osterholm, an adviser to Biden’s Covid-19 advisory board, predicted that the next two weeks would bring “the highest number of cases reported globally since the beginning of the pandemic.” Osterholm called Michigan’s 8,400 new cases a “wake-up call to everyone.” Meanwhile, Dr. Scott Gottlieb, the former head of the FDA under Trump, said he did not foresee a fourth wave, saying “I think with the rate of vaccination that we’re having right now […] I think that there’s enough immunity in the population that you’re not going to see a true fourth wave of infection.” (Washington Post / CNBC / New York Times / CNN / Axios)

  • 😷 Dept. of “We’re gonna get through this.”

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~131,594,000; deaths: ~2,857,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~30,756,000; deaths: ~556,000; fully vaccinated: ~18.8%; partially vaccinated: ~32.4%

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University / Washington Post

2/ Nearly 200 companies signed a joint statement against proposals that threaten to restrict voting access in dozens of states. “We call on elected leaders in every state capitol and in Congress to work across the aisle and ensure that every eligible American has the freedom to easily cast their ballot and participate fully in our democracy,” the statement said. In Texas, there are currently 49 restrictive bills that have been introduced in the state legislature. Senate Bill 7 would ban overnight early voting and drive-through early voting. The state House is also considering its own voting bill, House Bill 6, which would prohibit election officials from sending absentee ballot applications to voters without their requests. Mitch McConnell, meanwhile, warned corporations of “serious consequences” if they use their economic power to act like “a woke parallel government.” McConnell called corporate opposition to restrictive new voting laws the “Outrage-Industrial Complex.” Since 2015, corporations have donated more than $50 million to state lawmakers to state legislators supporting voter suppression bills, including $22 million during the 2020 election. (Washington Post / Politico / Bloomberg / Associated Press)

  • Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp complained about Major League Baseball’s decision to pull the All-Star Game out of the state over new voting restrictions Georgia’s Legislature recently approved. Kemp argued that the move would economically hurt the state. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, meanwhile, turned down an invitation to throw the first pitch at the Texas Rangers’ home opener, citing MLB’s decision to move the All-Star Game out of Atlanta. (New York Times / Politico)

3/ Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen called for a global minimum corporate tax rate, saying she wants to halt an international “race to the bottom” by countries competing to lure corporations with lower taxes. As part of the Biden administration’s $2 trillion infrastructure and jobs proposal, the U.S. would raise the domestic corporate tax rate to 28% from 21%, raise the international minimum rate for foreign income from U.S. companies to 21% from 10.5%, and make it harder for foreign-owned companies with U.S. operations to benefit from shifting profits to low-tax countries. Trump lowered the U.S. tax rate from 35% to 21%, arguing that U.S. companies were incentivized to relocate offshore. Yellen criticized Trump’s unilateralist strategy, saying the U.S. “isolated ourselves and retreated from the international order that we created.” (Axios / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal / CNN)

4/ The Trump campaign refunded 10.7% of the money it raised online in 2020 – $122 million. Donors complained of fraud to banks and credit card companies after the Trump operation had used multiple prechecked boxes to enroll them into recurring contributions. In total, the Trump and party operation raised $1.2 billion. (New York Times)

5/ The Supreme Court vacated an appeals court ruling that Trump could not block critics from his Twitter feed. In 2019, a lower court ruled that Trump’s account was a public forum because he had used it to regularly communicate with the public and that he could not exclude people based on their viewpoints. Both sides in the suit agreed that the case is moot since Trump is no longer president and has been banned from Twitter. In a 12-page concurring opinion, Justice Clarence Thomas wrote that the court will need to examine the power of tech companies, calling it is “unprecedented” to have “control of so much speech in the hands of a few private parties.” (New York Times / Politico / Washington Post / USA Today / CBS News)

6/ Arkansas’ Republican governor vetoed an anti-transgender health care bill that would make it illegal for transgender minors to receive gender-affirming “procedures.” Gov. Asa Hutchinson called the legislation “a product of the cultural war in America,” even though he believed the bill was “well-intended.” The Arkansas State Legislature could still override Hutchinson’s veto of the bill. (New York Times / CNN)

poll/ 40% of Americans disapprove of the Biden administration’s handling of the unaccompanied migrant children arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border, while 24% approve, and 35% have no opinion. (Associated Press)

poll/ 55% of Republicans believe the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol was led by left-wing activists “trying to make Trump look bad.” 51% of Republicans also believe that the riot was “mostly peaceful, law-abiding Americans.” And, 55% of Republicans believe Trump’s 2020 election loss was the result of illegal voting or election rigging. (Reuters)

Day 73: "Low risk."

1/ One U.S. Capitol Police officer was killed and another hospitalized after a man rammed his car into a security checkpoint outside the Capitol. The suspect was shot and killed after he “exited the vehicle with a knife in hand” and began “lunging” at the officers. The incident comes two weeks after the outer perimeter fence to the Capitol complex was removed. Investigators do not believe the incident was “terrorism related,” Chief Robert Contee of the Washington Metropolitan Police Department said. (CNBC / New York Times / Washington Post / NPR / Wall Street Journal / NBC News / ABC News)

2/ The CDC relaxed its travel guidance, saying Americans fully vaccinated against Covid-19 can resume domestic and overseas travel “at low risk to themselves.” The CDC guidance recommends they continue to wear a mask, avoid crowds, maintain social distance, and frequently wash their (damn) hands. Individuals do not need to get a test before or after domestic travel and do not need to self-quarantine on return, as long as they follow public health measures. CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, however, said Americans should still try to avoid travel because Covid-19 cases are rising across the country. “We must balance this guidance with the fact that most Americans are still not vaccinated,” Walensky said. (New York Times / Washington Post / NBC News / Politico / Wall Street Journal)

  • 😷 Dept. of “We’re gonna get through this.”

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~129,989,000; deaths: ~2,833,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~30,591,000; deaths: ~554,000; fully vaccinated: ~16.4%; partially vaccinated: ~30.7%

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University / Washington Post

3/ More than 171,000 migrants were taken into custody along the U.S. southern border in March, including a record number of unaccompanied minors. It was the highest monthly total since 2006. (Washington Post / CNN)

4/ Major League Baseball pulled its All-Star Game out of Atlanta due to Georgia’s restrictive new voting law. “Major League Baseball fundamentally supports voting rights for all Americans and opposes restrictions to the ballot box,” MLB Commissioner Robert Manfred said in a statement. (Axios / NBC News)

5/ The U.S. and Iran agreed to resume negotiations on restoring the 2015 nuclear agreement. The two countries will negotiate through intermediaries in Vienna next week to try to bring both back into compliance with the nuclear accord. In 2018, Trump unilaterally withdrew from the agreement to rein in Iran’s nuclear program, calling is “the worst deal ever negotiated.” Iran responded by exceeding enrichment and research limits. White House press secretary Jen Psaki called the upcoming indirect talks “a welcome and potentially constructive early step.” (Wall Street Journal / New York Times / Washington Post / CNN)

6/ The Justice Department investigation into Rep. Matt Gaetz is centered on whether he and an indicted Florida politician solicited women online for sex in exchange for cash, gifts, or drugs. Investigators believe Joel Greenberg, who was indicted last year for sex trafficking and other crimes, met women on websites that connects people for dates in exchange for gifts, fine dining, travel, allowances, etc. The Justice Department inquiry is also investigating whether Gaetz had sex with a 17-year-old girl and whether she received gifts. The sex trafficking charge against Greenberg involved the same girl. It’s a violation of federal child sex trafficking law to provide someone under 18 with anything of value – like meals, hotels, drugs, alcohol or cigarettes – in exchange for sex. A conviction carries a 10-year mandatory minimum prison sentence. Gaetz has also allegedly showed other lawmakers – while on the House floor – photos and videos of nude women he said he had slept with. (New York Times / CNN / ABC News)

Day 72: "Based on a lie."

1/ The Texas Senate passed new voting restrictions in the state. Senate Bill 7 would limit extended early voting hours, prohibit drive-thru voting, and make it illegal for election officials to send applications to vote by mail to voters, even if they qualify. The bill now heads to the House for consideration. (Texas Tribune / NBC News / Associated Press)

2/ Georgia’s Republican-controlled House stripped Delta Air Lines of a tax break worth tens of millions of dollars as punishment for its CEO’s criticism of the state’s new voting restrictions. The bill, however, was not taken up by the state Senate before it adjourned and has not become law. Delta’s CEO, Ed Bastian, called the bill “unacceptable” and that it “does not match Delta’s values.” Bastian added: “The entire rationale for this bill was based on a lie: that there was widespread voter fraud in Georgia in the 2020 elections. This is simply not true.” Delta Air Lines is Georgia’s largest employer. Coca-Cola, UPS, Home Depot, Porsche Cars North America, and the Atlanta Falcons have also criticized the legislation. (Forbes / CNN / Reuters / NPR / CNBC / New York Times)

  • State lawmakers have introduced 361 restrictive election bills in 47 state legislatures – a 43% increase since mid-February. (NBC News)

3/ About 15 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine were accidentally ruined after a manufacturing contractor mistakenly mixed the vaccine with ingredients from the AstraZeneca coronavirus shot. The company still met its goal of shipping 20 million doses to the U.S. in March, and has promised 100 million doses by the end of May. (New York Times / Politico / NPR)

  • 😷 Dept. of “We’re gonna get through this.”

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~129,335,000; deaths: ~2,822,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~30,533,000; deaths: ~554,000; fully vaccinated: ~15.9%; partially vaccinated: ~30.0%

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University / Washington Post

  • Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine provides high levels of protection against Covid-19 six months after the second dose, with no serious safety concerns, according to the ongoing Phase 3 clinical trial. The trials also suggest that the vaccine is effective against the variant that first emerged in South Africa. (NBC News / CNN)

4/ Biden asked Education Secretary Miguel Cardona to conduct a review of his legal authority to cancel student debt. White House chief of staff Ron Klain said Biden will make a decision on how to proceed once he reviews the memo. “He’ll look at that legal authority, he’ll look at the policy issues around that, and then he’ll make a decision,” Klain said. “He hasn’t made a decision on that, either way, in fact, he hasn’t yet gotten the memos that he needs to start to focus on that decision.” (Politico / NBC News)

5/ Another 719,000 people applied for unemployment benefits – up 61,000 from last week. Prior to the pandemic, jobless claims typically ran below 220,000 a week. (Politico / Bloomberg)

Day 71: "Hard-fought progress."

1/ Biden unveiled his $2.25 trillion jobs, infrastructure, and green energy proposal to reshape the U.S. economy. Over the next eight years, the plan would rebuild 20,000 miles of roads, repair 10 of the most economically important bridges in the country, eliminate lead pipes from the nation’s water supply, update and modernize the electric grid, fund the construction of about a half-million electric vehicle charging stations, expand high-speed broadband across the entire country, upgrade and build new schools, and more. The White Houses said the spending would generate millions of new jobs as the country shifts away from fossil fuels and accelerates the fight against climate change. The White House also said the proposal would pay for itself over 15 years by raising the corporate tax rate to 28%, increasing the global minimum tax paid to 21%, ending federal tax breaks for fossil fuel companies, and ramping up tax enforcement. Nancy Pelosi said she wants to have the House pass the package by July 4. (New York Times / Washington Post / Associated Press / NPR / Politico / CNBC / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal)

2/ The Pentagon reversed Trump-era policies that banned transgender people from serving in the military. The new department policies will “allow transgender people who meet military standards to enlist and serve openly in their self-identified gender, and they will be able to get medically necessary transition-related care authorized by law.” Biden also issued his first presidential proclamation to formally celebrate Transgender Day of Visibility – an international day to commemorate trans lives and accomplishments. Biden said that despite the “hard-fought progress” for transgender and gender non-conforming people to “live openly and authentically,” trans people “still face systemic barriers to freedom and equality,” such as higher rates of violence, harassment and discrimination. (Associated Press / Axios / NPR / NBC News)

3/ Covid-19 was the third leading cause of death in the U.S. in 2020, behind heart disease and cancer. More than 3.3 million deaths were reported in the U.S. last year, a 15.9% increase from 2019. (CNBC / CNN)

  • 😷 Dept. of “We’re gonna get through this.”

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~128,558,000; deaths: ~2,810,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~30,448,000; deaths: ~552,000; fully vaccinated: ~15.5%; partially vaccinated: ~29.4%

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University / Washington Post

  • Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine is 100% effective in preventing Covid-19 in children ages 12 to 15. A clinical trial found no symptomatic infections among vaccinated the children, and there were no serious side effects. The data, however, have not yet been reviewed by independent experts. (New York Times / CNBC)

  • Republicans dismissed the idea of “vaccination passports”, which are designed to ensure that people can safely return to normal activities, such as flights, concerts, and indoor dining. The effort by some Republicans to create doubt about a vaccine passport program is centered on the idea that the federal government will try to control the population. (Washington Post)

4/ The House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis reviewing the federal response to Covid-19 obtained documents that show the Trump administration “pursued a haphazard and ineffective approach to procurement” of personal protective equipment and medical supplies at the start of the pandemic. Specifically, Peter Navarro, who served as Trump’s trade adviser, warned Trump on March 1, 2020, to acquire medical supplies and invest in coronavirus tests, and other supplies to fight the virus, according to a memo. After Trump ignored Navarro’s recommendations, he pursued his own strategy to acquire supplies, committing more than $1 billion in federal funds with little oversight, which has since prompted multiple probes by multiple congressional committees. (Washington Post / Politico / CNN)

5/ The Biden administration dismissed more than 40 outside experts at the EPA, who were appointed by Trump. EPA Administrator Michael Regan said the decision to oust researchers with The Science Advisory Board and the Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee was necessary to “ensure the agency receives the best possible scientific insight.” (Bloomberg / Washington Post / CNBC)

6/ Russian hackers stole thousands of State Department officials’ emails last year. A previously unreported breach revealed that Russians accessed emails in the department’s Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs and Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs. While it’s unclear whether the hack of State Department emails was part of the SolarWinds espionage campaign, it does not appear that the classified network was accessed. (Politico)

7/ Two Capitol Police officers sued Trump for the physical and emotional injuries they suffered as a result of the Jan. 6 Capitol riot. In the lawsuit, James Blassingame and Sidney Hemby, accused Trump of inciting the violent mob with baseless claims of voter fraud and that Democrats were “trying to steal” the election. About 140 D.C. and Capitol police officers were injured during attacks, and two officers who had been on duty at the Capitol later died by suicide. (Washington Post / Bloomberg / Politico / ABC News)

8/ A federal judge ruled that a non-disclosure agreement that Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign required employees to sign was “invalid and unenforceable.” Jessica Denson, who had worked on Trump’s campaign as a phone bank supervisor and Hispanic outreach coordinator, claimed that she was the target of abusive treatment and sexual harassment. The Trump campaign later won a $50,000 award against Denson for violating the non-disparagement agreement. Denson then sued on behalf of herself and other Trump campaign aides who had been forced to sign confidentiality agreements, asking that they be invalidated as too broad and illegal in New York because they lasted indefinitely. (New York Times / Politico)

9/ Prosecutors working for the Manhattan district attorney subpoenaed the personal bank records of the Trump Organization’s chief financial officer and are scrutinizing gifts he received from Trump. While Allen Weisselberg has not been accused of wrongdoing, the effort appears to be an attempt to gain his cooperation to help prosecutors understand the inner workings of the company. Prosecutors are also examining whether Trump and the company manipulated property values to obtain loans and tax benefits. (New York Times)

10/ The Justice Department is investigating whether Rep. Matt Gaetz had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old and violated federal sex trafficking laws by paying her to travel with him. Attorney General William Barr opened the investigation in the final months of the Trump administration. Trump and several senior Justice Department officials were notified of the investigation. Gaetz called the investigation part of a scheme involving “false sex allegations” to extort his family for $25 million, adding that he and his father, Don Gaetz, have been cooperating with the FBI by “wearing a wire.” Gaetz, meanwhile, has privately told confidants that he’s considering not seeking re-election and possibly leaving Congress early for a job at Newsmax. (New York Times / Politico / Axios)

Day 70: "Trailblazing."

1/ Biden announced a “trailblazing” set of 11 judicial nominees who “reflect the full diversity of the American people — both in background and in professional experience.” Biden’s list of nominees include nine women, and nine people of color. Among the group, Ketanji Brown Jackson was nominated for the U.S. Court of Appeals seat vacated by Merrick Garland when he became U.S. attorney general. Jackson is considered a potential Supreme Court contender. Chuck Schumer, meanwhile, pledged to quickly confirm Biden’s first batch of nominees in order to “significantly mitigate the influence of Donald Trump’s unqualified, right-wing judges.” (New York Times / NBC News / Politico / NPR / The Guardian / Washington Post)

2/ Biden signed a two-month extension of the Paycheck Protection Program, which was set to expire on March 31. The extension also gives the Small Business Administration an additional 30 days to process loans submitted before the new May 31 deadline. (New York Times / Washington Post)

3/ A group of 21 Senate Democrats urged Biden to include recurring direct payments and an extension of jobless benefits in his infrastructure and economic recovery plan. “This crisis is far from over, and families deserve certainty that they can put food on the table and keep a roof over their heads,” the senators wrote. “Families should not be at the mercy of constantly-shifting legislative timelines and ad hoc solutions.” Biden is scheduled to unveil his $3 to $4 trillion recovery package on Wednesday, which is expected to be split into two pieces of legislation. (CNBC / CNN / The Hill)

4/ WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the joint mission to study the origins of the coronavirus in China didn’t adequately analyze the possibility of a lab leak before deciding the virus most likely spread from bats to humans via another animal. “Although the team has concluded that a laboratory leak is the least likely hypothesis, this requires further investigation,” Tedros said in a statement. The U.S. and 13 other countries, meanwhile, voiced frustration with the level of access China provided in a joint statement, saying the mission’s report “lacked access to complete, original data and samples.” White House press secretary Jen Psaki also criticized China’s lack of cooperation, saying “they have not been transparent. They have not provided underlying data. That certainly doesn’t qualify as cooperation.” (Bloomberg / Washington Post)

  • 😷 Dept. of “We’re gonna get through this.”

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~127,988,000; deaths: ~2,798,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~30,379,000; deaths: ~551,000; fully vaccinated: ~15.1%; partially vaccinated: ~28.9%

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University / Washington Post

5/ Several civil rights groups have filed at least three legal challenges to Georgia’s new voting limitations, arguing that curtailing voting access represents “intentional discrimination” against the state’s Black voters. One lawsuit, filed by the Georgia NAACP and other groups, said the law “is the culmination of a concerted effort to suppress the participation of Black voters and other voters of color by the Republican State Senate, State House, and governor.” Black residents in Georgia are 88% more likely to be below poverty level and therefore less likely to have the required forms of photo ID. (New York Times / NBC News)

6/ Attorney General Merrick Garland directed Justice Department employees to examine “the disturbing trend” of violence against Asian Americans, and to give priority to investigating and prosecuting hate crimes and incidents. The Biden administration also reinstated and expanded the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders to include coordination across federal agencies in responding to anti-Asian bias and violence. (Bloomberg / CBS News / The Hill)

7/ A New York appeals court allowed for a defamation lawsuit against Trump to move forward. Summer Zervos, a former contestant on “The Apprentice,” sued Trump for defamation after he denied her allegations that he sexually assaulted her in 2007. The case had been delayed until Trump was out of office because, as a sitting president, he was immune from a lawsuit brought in state court. (CNN)

poll/ 68% of Americans are satisfied with the Covid-19 vaccine process – up 34 percentage points since January. 74% of Americans say they are willing to receive a Covid-19 vaccine – up from 50% in September. (Gallup)

poll/ 52% of Americans approve of the job Biden is doing as president. 65% approve of his handling of the coronavirus pandemic, 51% approve of his handling of the economy, and 34% approve of his handling of immigration. (NPR)

Day 69: "This is deadly serious."

1/ CDC Director Rochelle Walensky warned of “impending doom” as Covid-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths rise throughout the U.S. The seven-day average for new daily Covid-19 cases is nearly at 60,000 – up 10% from the prior week. Hospitalizations are up to about 4,800 a day, from 4,600 a week earlier. And, deaths have also started to rise again. Walensky attributed the rise to the spread of more contagious variants, increased travel, and governors lowering restrictions too quickly. “We have so much to look forward to, so much promise and potential of where we are and so much reason for hope,” Walensky said, “but right now I’m scared.” (NBC News / Politico / Bloomberg)

  • 😷 Dept. of “We’re gonna get through this.”

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~127,443,000; deaths: ~2,788,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~30,292,000; deaths: ~550,000; fully vaccinated: ~14.9%; partially vaccinated: ~28.6%

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University / Washington Post

  • The CDC extended the national ban on evictions through the end of June. The CDC initially released an order in September barring eviction through the end of 2020, citing a 1944 public health law. Congress extended it in December, and the Biden administration renewed it again through March 31. (CNBC / Politico)

  • A WHO-China report on the origins of Covid-19 concluded that the most likely scenario of the coronavirus jumping from bats to humans was through another animal and that the lab leak theory is “extremely unlikely.” It is not clear, however, if China will allow outside experts direct access to the data. Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said: “We’ve got real concerns about the methodology and the process that went into that report, including the fact that the government in Beijing apparently helped to write it.” (Associated Press / New York Times)

  • Documentary: Dr. Deborah Birx said she received a “very uncomfortable” and “very difficult” phone call from Trump following her Covid-19 warnings. “Well, I think you’ve heard other conversations that people have posted with the president,” Birx said as part of a CNN documentary, “Covid War: The Pandemic Doctors Speak Out.” “I would say it was even more direct than what people have heard. It was very uncomfortable, very direct and very difficult to hear.” (CNN / NBC News / Washington Post)

2/ Biden announced that 90% of adults will be eligible to get a coronavirus vaccine starting April 19. Additionally, the federal government will increase the number of pharmacies participating in the pharmacy vaccination program from 17,000 to 40,000 locations. The U.S. is on pace to administer 3 million vaccines a day. Biden, meanwhile, urged states that have eased mask and social distancing restrictions to reinstate them, saying “the war against Covid-19 is far from won,” “this is deadly serious […] If we let our guard down now we could see the virus getting worse not better.” (Bloomberg / CNN / Politico / Washington Post / New York Times)

  • The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are 90% effective at preventing symptomatic and asymptomatic infections after two doses in study of real-life conditions. One dose prevented 80% of infections by two weeks after vaccination. (New York Times / Washington Post)

3/ The Biden administration expects the number of unaccompanied children crossing the border to increase from more than 16,000 currently to as many as 26,000 by September. Until this month, the record for children taken into custody by Border Patrol officials was 11,475 in May 2019. (Wall Street Journal / Axios)

4/ Biden plans to expand wind farms along the East Coast in an effort to jump-start the growth of a zero-emission power source to fight climate change. The plan would generate 30 gigawatts of offshore wind power by the end of the decade, which is would power more than 10 million homes and cut 78 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions. (Washington Post / Wall Street Journal)

5/ The Biden administration will investigate Trump-era political interference on the science that informed policy. The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy said that it will form a task force to review federal government policies and make sure they “prevent improper political interference” from affecting research or data. The task force also aims to prevent “the suppression or distortion of scientific or technological findings.” (New York Times / CNN)

6/ Russian hackers gained access to email accounts belonging to Trump’s Homeland Security chief and members of the department’s cybersecurity staff, who were responsible for identifying threats from foreign countries. The accounts were accessed as part of the SolarWinds hack, which included at least nine federal agencies and dozens of private companies. (Associated Press)

poll/ 72% of Americans approve of Biden’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, including 53% of Republicans who approve of Biden’s handling of vaccine distribution. (ABC News)

poll/ 38% of Americans say Trump made progress toward solving the major problems facing the country, while 37% say he made things worse, 15% said Trump tried but failed to solve the nation’s problems, and 10% said he did not address them. (Pew Research Center)

Day 66: "Outrageous."

1/ Georgia’s governor signed new voting restrictions into law. The overhaul of the state’s election laws would impose rigid absentee voter identification requirements, limit drop boxes, shortens state runoffs, and expand the Legislature’s power over elections. Republican Gov. Brian Kemp signed the measure into law just over an hour after the bill passed both chambers of the legislature, calling it “common sense” legislation that ensure Georgia’s elections “are secure, accessible and fair.” Dozens of state legislatures are considering similar restrictions on voting following the 2020 presidential election. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution / NBC News / Washington Post / Bloomberg / CNN / New York Times)

2/ Biden condemned the new voting restrictions in Georgia as “outrageous,” “un-American,” and “Jim Crow in the 21st Century.” Three voting-advocacy groups, meanwhile, sued Georgia state officials over the new law, claiming that it will unconstitutionally restrict voting rights of all Georgians while disproportionately impacting Black voters. “Georgia has a long and egregious history of implementing election laws that hinder Black and minority citizens’ ability to participate equally in the political process,” the groups said in the complaint. The defendants include Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and four members of the State Election Board. (NBC News / Wall Street Journal / Bloomberg / Washington Post)

3/ Dominion Voting Systems filed a $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit against Fox News, alleging that the network intentionally aired false claims that the voting company had rigged the 2020 election in order to boost ratings. Dominion argued that Fox News and several of its on-air personalities promoted baseless claims that the company had manipulated its machines to benefit Biden in the election, and allowed falsehoods by their guests to go unchecked. Those same claims were repeatedly pushed by Trump’s lawyers, Rudolph Giuliani and Sidney Powell, during multiple appearances on Fox programs. Dominion has also sued Giuliani, Powell, and the MyPillow guy, Mike Lindell, for defamation, seeking damages of more than $1 billion. (Associated Press / Washington Post / New York Times)

4/ CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky warned of another surge in Covid-19 cases as the nation’s seven-day average of new cases per day jumped 7% over the last week. New hospitalizations are also up “slightly” at roughly 4,700 admissions per day. “I remain deeply concerned about this trajectory,” Walensky said. “And we know from prior surges that if we don’t control things now, there is a real potential for the epidemic curve to soar again.” (CNBC / ABC News)

  • 😷 Dept. of “We’re gonna get through this.”

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~125,865,000; deaths: ~2,762,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~30,130,000; deaths: ~548,000; fully vaccinated: ~13.8%; partially vaccinated: ~27.0%

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University / Washington Post

  • Johnson & Johnson will deliver 11 million doses of its single-shot Covid-19 vaccine to the U.S. next week. The U.S. received 4 million doses of the vaccine shortly at the end of February. (NBC News)

  • The U.S. administered 3.4 million Covid-19 doses in a single day, breaking the previous record of 2.62 million doses. (Axios)

  • The White House canceled a 50-person indoor party the Interior Department was planning to celebrate Secretary Deb Haaland’s confirmation after senior administration officials raised concerns that it could become a superspreader event. (Politico)

5/ Democrats introduced the “DEJOY Act” to block a piece of Postmaster General Louis DeJoy’s 10-year restructuring plan for the U.S. Postal Service. The Delivering Envelopes Judiciously On-time Year-round Act would prohibit the Postal Service from lengthening mail-delivery windows and require that it to adhere to current “service standards.” Under DeJoy’s plan, about 30% of first-class mail would take four to five days to arrive from the current standard of no more than three days. (Washington Post)

Day 65: "Chaos as a consequence."

1/ The Biden administration expects to distribute 200 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines in its first 100 days – double its original goal that was surpassed last week. (Politico / NPR)

  • 😷 Dept. of “We’re gonna get through this.”

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~125,235,000; deaths: ~2,750,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~30,059,000; deaths: ~546,000; fully vaccinated: ~13.5%; partially vaccinated: ~26.3%

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University / Washington Post

2/ Another 684,000 people filed for initial unemployment claims last week – the lowest since mid-March of last year but still at historically high levels. In total, some 18.95 million people continue to collect jobless benefits. (ABC News / Washington Post / New York Times / Wall Street Journal)

  • The Senate voted 92-7 to extend the Paycheck Protection Program for another two months, sending the bill to Biden for his signature after the House passed the legislation last week. (Politico)

  • Black farmers received $20.8 million out of nearly $26 billion in payments under the Trump administration’s coronavirus relief for American farmers – about 0.1% of the overall package. (Washington Post)

3/ The U.S. could have limited coronavirus deaths to under 300,000 had it adopted widespread mask, social distancing, and testing protocols while awaiting a vaccine, according to a new research paper. UCLA economics professor Andrew Atkeson projected that the final U.S. death toll will be close to 670,000, and that without a vaccine that number would be close to 1.27 million. (Reuters)

4/ The White House will direct $10 billion to expand coronavirus vaccine access for low-income, rural, and minority communities. About $6 billion will go to 1,400 federally funded community health centers that serve high risk patients. An additional $3 billion will go to education and outreach programs by local health and community organizations to increase vaccination access and acceptance in high-risk communities. (NBC News)

  • FEMA will reimburse families for funeral expenses of loved ones who died last year from Covid-19. FEMA set aside $2 billion dollars to reimburse individuals and households for funeral expenses between Jan. 20 and Dec. 31, 2020, paying up to $9,000 in expenses for individual funerals and a maximum of $35,000 for families who lost multiple members. (ABC News)

5/ Gov. Andrew Cuomo arranged special access to state-administered coronavirus testing for family members and other influential people. New York law prohibits state officials from using their positions to secure privileges for themselves or others. (New York Times / Washington Post)

6/ The Texas attorney general’s office refused to release messages Ken Paxton sent or received while in Washington for the Jan. 6 pro-Trump rally that led to the Capitol riot. Paxton’s office is supposed to enforce the state’s open records laws under the Texas Public Information Act, which guarantees the public’s right to government records. Instead, the office has refused to release copies of Paxton’s emails and text messages. (Texas Tribune)

7/ The Senate confirmed Dr. Rachel Levine as assistant secretary for health in the Department of Health and Human Services – the first openly transgender federal official to be confirmed by the Senate. (NPR)

8/ The Georgia House passed a sweeping election overhaul bill to limit voting access in the state. The Republican-led effort would rewrite many of the state’s voting regulations, including limiting drop boxes, increasing absentee voter ID requirements, prohibiting distributing food and most beverages to people waiting in line to vote, and stripping the secretary of state of some authority. The 100-75 party-line vote sends the bill to the state Senate where Republican lawmakers are expected to pass the final bill next week before the end of the session. Biden, meanwhile, called efforts to limit voting rights “sick” and “un-American,” saying he’s “worried about is how un-American this whole initiative is. It’s sick. It’s sick.” (Atlanta Journal-Constitution / New York Times / Talking Points Memo / Politico / CNN)

9/ Joe Manchin said he had “legitimate” concerns over some of the provisions in the For the People Act, the most significant federal election and voting rights expansion in a generation. Manchin urged Democrats to take a bipartisan approach, saying “pushing through legislation of this magnitude on a partisan basis may garner short-term benefits, but will inevitably only exacerbate the distrust that millions of Americans harbor against the U.S. government.” To pass in the Senate, Democrats will likely need to persuade all 50 Democrats to change the filibuster rules to overcome uniform Republican opposition to the legislation. Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema, however, have said they are no votes on getting rid of the filibuster. Biden, meanwhile, said the filibuster was being “abused in a gigantic way” and signaled that he could support changing the Senate’s rules in order to pass key parts of his agenda. “We’re going to get a lot done. And if we have to — if there’s complete lockdown and chaos as a consequence of the filibuster, then we’ll have to go beyond” the talking filibuster. (New York Times / Politico / NBC News / Washington Post)

Day 64: "An existential threat."

1/ Kamala Harris will takeover efforts to address illegal immigration at the U.S.-Mexico border. Harris will work in the near term to slow the flow of “irregular migrants” by addressing “the root causes” that prompt them to leave their home countries. Long-term, Harris will be responsible for establishing a “strategic partnership” with Mexico and countries in the Northern Triangle – El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala – that is “based on respect and shared values, to enhance prosperity, combat current corruption, and strengthen the rule of law.” (ABC News / Politico / New York Times / Axios / CNBC)

  • Biden transition officials said the Trump administration didn’t increase capacity for child migrants despite warnings until just days before the inauguration. “They were sitting on their hands,” one transition official said. “It was incredibly frustrating.” (NBC News)

2/ Gun violence killed nearly 20,000 Americans in 2020, making it the deadliest year for gun violence in at least two decades. The next-highest recent year for shooting deaths was 2017, when nearly 16,000 people were killed. In 2020, people purchased about 23 million guns – a 64% increase over 2019 sales. (Washington Post)

3/ Biden extended the special enrollment period for purchasing Affordable Care Act health plans by three months, until Aug. 15. The second extension will help enrollees take advantage of the enhanced subsidies in the Covid-19 relief package. (NBC News / Washington Post)

4/ Chuck Schumer and Mitch McConnell clashed during a Senate Rules Committee hearing on a Democratic plan to overhaul federal elections and expand voting rights. The legislation under consideration is S. 1, the For the People Act, which would make it easier to vote, enact new campaign finance laws, and end partisan gerrymandering of congressional districts. It passed the House earlier this month with no Republican support, but faces steep odds of passing in the 50-50 Senate, where it will need at least 60 votes to advance. “Today, in the 21st century, there is a concerted, nationwide effort to limit the rights of citizens to vote and to truly have a voice in their own government,” Schumer said, calling Republican state legislators’ efforts to restrict voting access an “existential threat to our democracy” reminiscent of Jim Crow segregationist laws. “Shame! Shame! Shame!” McConnell told the Rules Committee that the bill “is a solution in search of a problem,” which would create an “implementation nightmare” for election administrators and officials, and is “an invitation for chaos.” Joe Manchin, meanwhile, demanded that any voting rights legislation be bipartisan, saying “We should not at all attempt to do anything to that will create more distrust and division.” (New York Times / Washington Post / Bloomberg / USA Today / CNBC / Wall Street Journal)

5/ Members of the Oath Keepers coordinated with the Proud Boys and other paramilitary groups in advance of Trump’s Jan. 6 rally. According to new evidence filed by the Justice Department, Kelly Meggs, the Florida leader of the Oath Keepers, said in private messages on Facebook that he coordinated with Proud Boys leadership, saying “I organized an alliance between Oath Keepers, Florida 3%ers, and Proud Boys. We have decided to work together and shut this shit down.” A week later, Meggs sent a private message that said: “Trump’s staying in, he’s gonna use the emergency broadcast system on cell phones to broadcast to the American people. Then he will claim the insurrection act […] Then wait for the 6th when we are all in dc to insurrection.” (Politico)

  • Trump and Trump Jr. hired an attorney to represent them in the lawsuit filed by Rep. Eric Swalwell, which alleges that Trump and his associates “directly incited the violence” during the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol by putting out “a clear call to action” and then “watched approvingly as the building was overrun.” (Daily Beast)

6/ The U.S. dropped 11 points in a global ranking of political rights and civil liberties over the last decade. The U.S. earned 83 out of 100 possible points, putting it on par with countries like Panama, Romania, and Croatia, and behind countries such as Argentina and Mongolia. A decade ago, the U.S. received a score of 94 out of 100. (The Guardian)

Day 63: "An American issue."

1/ Biden called on Congress to “immediately pass” legislation that would close loopholes in gun background checks and ban the purchase of assault weapons a day after the mass shooting at a grocery store in Boulder, Colorado, which left 10 dead. “I don’t need to wait another minute, let alone an hour to take common sense steps that will save the lives in the future,” Biden said, adding that background checks “should not be a partisan issue — it is an American issue […] We have to act.” Earlier this month, the House passed a pair of bills aimed at strengthening the nation’s gun laws. One would expand background checks and the other would extend the waiting period for background checks to 10 days from three days. Both bills face opposition in the Senate, where they don’t not currently have the 60 votes needed to advance. (USA Today / NPR / New York Times / NBC News / Wall Street Journal / Bloomberg / CNBC / Washington Post)

  • The Boulder attack was the seventh mass shootings in the past week across the United States. On Tuesday, March 16, eight people, including six Asian women, were killed at three spas in Atlanta, Georgia; Five people were shot in a drive-by shooting in Stockton, California on March 17; Four people were taken to the hospital after a shooting outside of Portland, Oregon on March 18; Five people were shot inside a club in Houston, eight people were shot in Dallas, and one person was killed and five others injured during a shooting in Philadelphia on March 20. (CNN)

2/ A Colorado judge blocked Boulder’s ban on assault weapons 10 days ago – the gunman used an AR-15 rifle he purchased six days ago. In 2018, following the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, the city of Boulder passed an ordinance banning the possession, transfer or sale of assault weapons, and large-capacity magazines. But on March 12, Boulder County District Judge Andrew Hartman sided with the plaintiffs (the Colorado State Shooting Association and Boulder-based Gunsport of Colorado), ruling that a 2003 state law banned cities and counties from restricting guns that are otherwise legal under federal and state law. (Washington Post / Denver Post / Associated Press / New York Times)

3/ The second-largest teachers union is “not convinced” it’s safe to reduce social distancing in schools to three feet between students. Last week, the CDC updated its guidance for social distancing in schools to prevent the spread of Covid-19 from six feet to three feet. CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, citing studies of limited virus transmission from the WHO and the American Academy of Pediatrics, said the “updated recommendations provide the evidence-based roadmap to help schools reopen safely, and remain open, for in-person instruction.” Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, however, said: “We are not convinced that the evidence supports changing physical distancing requirements at this time. Our concern is that the cited studies do not identify the baseline mitigation strategies needed to support 3 feet of physical distancing.” (CBS News)

4/ AstraZeneca’s recent Covid-19 vaccine trial results “may have included outdated information” that “provided an incomplete view of the efficacy” in its announcement touting its shot’s 79% effectiveness against the coronavirus, according to a statement by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. AstraZeneca unveiled its interim results on Monday without conducting the full analysis requested by the Data and Safety Monitoring Board. While the company announced its vaccine was 79% effective, the panel said it had seen data showing the vaccine may be 69 to 74% effective, and had “strongly recommended” that that information be included in the news release. “This is really what you call an unforced error,” Dr. Anthony Fauci said. “Because the fact is: This is very likely a very good vaccine, and this kind of thing does, as you say, do nothing but really cast some doubt about the vaccines and maybe contributes to the hesitancy.” (NBC News / Washington Post / New York Times / STAT News / Politico / ABC News)

  • 😷 Dept. of “We’re gonna get through this.”

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~123,978,000; deaths: ~2,729,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~29,907,000; deaths: ~544,000; fully vaccinated: ~13.0%; partially vaccinated: ~25.3%

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University / Washington Post

  • The Biden administration is not confident Johnson & Johnson will meet its deadline to deliver 20 million coronavirus vaccines by the end of March. Johnson & Johnson shipped four million doses at the end of February and an another 1.2 million doses since. (CNN)

5/ Postmaster General Louis DeJoy’s 10-year strategic plan for the U.S. Postal Service includes higher postage rates, slower services, and reduced post office hours. “Does it make a difference if it’s an extra day to get a letter?” DeJoy told the House Oversight and Reform Committee in February. “Because something has to change. We cannot keep doing the same thing we’re doing.” (NBC News / CNN / NPR / Washington Post)

6/ Lawyers for pro-Trump attorney Sidney Powell claimed that “no reasonable person” would believe that her false conspiracies about widespread election fraud were “statements of fact.” Powell also asked a federal court to dismiss a $1.3 billion defamation suit filed against her by Dominion Voting Systems over her conspiracy theories. (CNBC / CNN / Wall Street Journal / The Guardian)

7/ The Trump administration impeded at least nine key oversight investigations, and 11 inspectors general or their senior aides said hostility to oversight reached unprecedented levels during Trump’s time in office. (Washington Post)

Day 62: "A fork in the road."

1/ Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas defended Biden’s immigration strategy, saying “the border is closed. We are expelling families, we are expelling single adults and we have made a decision that we will not expel young, vulnerable children.” Nearly 100,000 migrants were detained at the border in February. Mayorkas, in part, blamed Trump for the record number of migrants seeking entry into the country from Mexico and Central America, saying “there was a system in place in both Republican and Democratic administrations that was torn down during the Trump administration, and that is why the challenge is more acute than it ever has been before.” In 2019, the Trump administration cut more than $500 million in aid to Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador in an effort to slow the migration to the U.S. White House officials will travel to Mexico and Guatemala this week for what administration officials described as “ongoing discussions on how to manage an effective and humane plan of action on migration.” (Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / ABC News / NPR / CNBC)

  • 👑 Portrait of a President: Inside the Biden administration’s failure to contain the border surge. “The Biden administration is scrambling to control the biggest surge in 20 years, with the nation on pace for as many as 2 million migrants at the southern border this year — the outcome Biden said he wanted to avoid.” (Washington Post)

2/ More than 800 unaccompanied migrant children have been in Border Patrol custody for more than 10 days. The average time in custody is 130 hours, which exceeds the 72-hour legal limit. As of Saturday, Department of Health and Human Services was housing approximately 15,500 unaccompanied migrant minors, including more than 5,000 unaccompanied minors who are being held in a Customs and Border Protection tent holding facility not designed for long-term custody. (CNN / CBS News)

3/ The Biden administration secured hotel rooms to hold around 1,200 migrant families who cross the U.S.-Mexico border. The $86 million contract is for six months near border areas, including in Arizona and Texas. (Axios)

4/ Department of Homeland Security officials requested airplanes to transport migrants to states near the Canadian border for processing. Customs and Border Protection officials requested the air support from Immigration and Customs Enforcement after 1,000 members of families and unaccompanied minors crossed the Rio Grande on Friday. At the time, there were another 1,000 migrants that officials had been been unable to process. In recent days, CBP has used ICE planes to transport migrant families from the Rio Grande Valley, where facilities are overcapacity, to the El Paso area. (Washington Post)

5/ Border agents in the Rio Grande Valley were authorized to release adult migrants and families from custody before they have been given a date to appear in court. The move is “intended to mitigate operational challenges” by reducing the time immigrants spend in custody. Migrants are typically given a “notice to appear” before they are released or sent to Immigration and Customs Enforcement for detention. (NBC News)

6/ The U.S. seven-day average of daily new coronavirus cases is up at least 5% in 27 states. CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, meanwhile, said the U.S. could experience “another avoidable surge” as states lift restrictions too early, warning Americans to continue to wear masks, avoid crowds, and wait to travel, even if they’ve been vaccinated. Lifting restrictions is a “serious threat to the progress we have made,” Walensky said. “We are at a critical point in this pandemic, a fork in the road.” (CNBC / Bloomberg / Axios)

  • 😷 Dept. of “We’re gonna get through this.”

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~123,546,000; deaths: ~2,721,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~29,856,000; deaths: ~543,000; fully vaccinated: ~12.8%; partially vaccinated: ~24.9%

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University / Washington Post

  • Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club has been partially closed after some of its employees were infected with the coronavirus. Trump moved to Mar-a-Lago after leaving Washington in January. (Associated Press / Washington Post)

7/ AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine provided strong protection against Covid-19 in a large clinical trial. The AstraZeneca vaccine was 79% effective over all in preventing symptomatic infections, 80% effective in participants aged 65 and over, and 100% effective in preventing serious illness and hospitalization across ages and ethnicities. The company plans to apply for emergency use authorization from the FDA in the first half of April. If authorized, it would be the fourth Covid-19 vaccine available in the U.S. (Associated Press / New York Times / Wall Street Journal / CNN)

  • 💡 Why J&J’s shots aren’t reaching more arms. (Politico)

8/ The Justice Department said evidence from the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol supports charges of seditious conspiracy against some defendants. Sedition is the crime of conspiring to overthrow the government. People who conspire to “oppose by force the authority” of the government or use force “to prevent, hinder or delay the execution of any law of the United States” can be charged with sedition. “I personally believe the evidence is trending toward that, and probably meets those elements,” Michael Sherwin said, the federal prosecutor who had been leading the Justice Department’s inquiry. “I believe the facts do support those charges. And I think that, as we go forward, more facts will support that.” Sherwin also reiterated that prosecutors were examining Trump’s role in inciting the mob that marched to the Capitol. “It’s unequivocal that Trump was the magnet that brought the people to D.C. on the 6th. Now the question is, is he criminally culpable for everything that happened during the siege, during the breach?” Sherwin said. “We have people looking at everything.” Federal prosecutors, meanwhile, are preparing to start plea discussions with many of the more than 300 suspects charged in the riot. (New York Times / Washington Post)

9/ The House Oversight Committee held a hearing on legislation that the House passed last year to make Washington, D.C., the 51st state. Democrats argued that Washingtonians are treated as second-class citizens, performing the responsibilities of citizens but not receiving representation in Congress in return. Republicans, meanwhile, are uniformly opposed to the idea, claiming that the legislation violates the Constitution and accused Democrats of backing it in an attempt to improve their majorities in the House and the Senate. A new national poll finds that 54% of likely voters think D.C. should be a state, a record high level of support. (NBC News / New York Times / CBS News / Washington Post)

10/ The White House is considering a $3 trillion infrastructure and jobs package as part of Biden’s “Build Back Better” agenda. That effort is expected to be broken into two parts, rather than trying to push a single package through Congress. One plank would be focused on infrastructure, roads, bridges, and several climate change initiatives. The other would be centered on reducing economic inequities through investments in paid leave, universal pre-K, and community college, and extending the Child Tax Credit. Advisers are expected to present the proposal to Biden this week. (New York Times / Washington Post / CNBC)

11/ The Education Department canceled $1 billion in student loans for 72,000 students defrauded by for-profit schools. The move reversed a Trump administration policy that had provided only partial relief. Former Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos overruled department officials on student loan forgiveness in 2019, which Congress tried to overturn last March. Trump vetoed the measure. (Associated Press / Axios)

12/ Betsy DeVos earned at least $225 million in outside income while Trump’s education secretary. DeVos’s exact income is unclear because her income was reported in such wide ranges, with many assets being reported as “over $5 million” or “over $1 million.” (Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington / Forbes)

Day 59: "Wasting time."

1/ The House passed two immigration bills that would establish a path to citizenship for roughly 3.4 million undocumented immigrants. The American Dream and Promise Act, which passed 228 to 197, would create a path for citizenship for the approximately 2.5 million undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children, known as “Dreamers,” and others granted Temporary Protected Status for humanitarian reasons. The House also passed The Farm Workforce Modernization Act, which could create a path for more than 1 million undocumented farm workers to apply for legal status. The bills are narrower than the comprehensive immigration package introduced in February, which would have created a path to citizenship for most of the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S. Neither bill, however, is likely to overcome the 60-vote threshold in the Senate. “Democrats [are] wasting time on a bill that could not be less timely or targeted to the issue at hand,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said. (New York Times / Washington Post / Politico / CNBC / CNN / Bloomberg / ABC News / Wall Street Journal)

2/ More than 500 unaccompanied migrant children and teens have been held in jail-like detention centers for more than 10 days at the border. Under law, minors are allowed to be held for 72 hours in the Customs and Border Protection detention centers. (NPR)

3/ Biden urged Congress to “swiftly pass” the Covid-19 Hate Crimes Act to address the rise in discrimination and violence against Asian Americans following the mass shooting that killed eight people, including six Asian woman. “While we do not yet know the motive, as I said last week, we condemn in the strongest possible terms the ongoing crisis of gender-based and anti-Asian violence that has long plagued our nation,” Biden said in a statement. The measure would increase Justice Department oversight of coronavirus-related hate crimes, expedite the federal response to the rise of hate crimes, provide support to state and local governments to improve hate crimes reporting, and ensure that information on hate crimes is more accessible to Asian American communities. (CNBC / The Guardian / Washington Post / Axios)

4/ The CDC revised its physical distancing requirements for children in school, from 6 feet to 3 feet. Teachers and adult school staff, however, must still adhere to the 6 feet guidelines. Masks remain mandatory for all. (ABC News / NBC News / Associated Press / CNN / Washington Post)

  • 😷 Dept. of “We’re gonna get through this.”

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~122,080,000; deaths: ~2,696,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~29,715,000; deaths: ~541,000; fully vaccinated: ~12.0%; partially vaccinated: ~23.3%

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University / Washington Post

  • 52% of front-line healthcare workers have been vaccinated. (Washington Post)

5/ The FBI is investigating whether Gov. Andrew Cuomo and his aides gave false data on New York nursing home deaths to the Justice Department. The state initially released only the number of nursing homes residents who died of Covid-19, despite knowing that thousands of residents had died after being transferred to hospitals. The FBI has also questioned state officials about a provision in last year’s state budget that granted nursing homes and hospitals broad legal protections for care during the pandemic, which made it difficult for families of residents who died or were infected by the coronavirus to sue. (The City / New York Times)

6/ U.S. diplomats accused China of threatening world stability while Chinese officials alleged that America is a human rights hypocrite during the first high-level meeting between the two global powers. In his opening statement, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Beijing needed to return to a rules-based system and vowed to bring up “deep concerns” about China’s actions in Hong Kong and Xinjiang. China’s Yang Jiechi replied that the U.S. was being “condescending” and wasn’t “qualified to speak to China from a position of strength,” adding “We hope that the United States will do better on human rights” – a reference to the Black Lives Matter movement in the U.S. The public exchange was supposed to be a four-minute photo-op but it lasted more than hour as the two sides traded barbs. (NBC News / Politico / CNN / Bloomberg / New York Times / CBS News / Reuters)

7/ The White House asked several staffers to resign or work remotely after past marijuana use was discovered during their background checks – regardless of whether they had been in one of 14 states where the drug is legal. White House press secretary Jen Psaki said that “only five people” are no longer employed at the White House after disclosing marijuana use. (Daily Beast / Politico / CNN)

Day 58: "Strings attached."

1/ The U.S. is on track to surpass Biden’s goal of administering 100 million Covid-19 shots by Friday. Just over 99 million shots have been administered since Biden took office, and the country is averaging nearly 2.5 million injections per day. 65% of people age 65 or older had received at least one shot and 36% have been fully vaccinated. The Biden administration is reportedly looking toward the middle of May to relax travel restrictions with Mexico and Canada, and on inbound international travel from the U.K., Europe, and Brazil. (NBC News / Politico / CNBC / Bloomberg)

  • 😷 Dept. of “We’re gonna get through this.”

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~121,595,000; deaths: ~2,687,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~29,659,000; deaths: ~540,000; fully vaccinated: ~11.8%; partially vaccinated: ~22.7%

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University / Washington Post

2/ Biden agreed to send about 2.5 million of doses of the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine to Mexico. The announcement of the vaccine deal follows a recent call where Biden asked President Andrés Manuel López Obrador of Mexico whether more could be done to limit the flow of migrants coming to the border. Today, Mexico announced that it will limit travel across its northern and southern borders starting March 19, and deploy sanitary control measures at both borders to slow the spread of Covid-19. White House press secretary Jen Psaki said that the discussions over vaccines and border security were “unrelated” but also “overlapping.” When asked if the vaccine offer to Mexico had “strings attached,” Psaki replied that there were “several diplomatic conversations — parallel conversations — many layers of conversations” at play. The U.S. will also send about 1.5 million doses to Canada. (Washington Post / NBC News / New York Times / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal)

3/ An inspector general’s report found no evidence to support a Pennsylvania postal worker’s claim that his supervisors had tampered with mail-in ballots during the presidential election. Richard Hopkins initially alleged that he overheard plans to backdate ballots received after Nov. 3 and pass them off as legitimate. Hopkins later released a sworn affidavit recanting those allegations. Lindsey Graham and other Republicans, however, repeatedly cited the initial allegation to press baseless claims of voter fraud in the election. (Washington Post)

4/ A dozen House Republicans voted against awarding Congressional Gold Medals to three police officers who defended the U.S. Capitol when it was attacked by a pro-Trump mob on Jan. 6. Several of the lawmakers objected to the use of the term “insurrectionists” in the resolution, while others objected to the use of the word “temple” to describe the Capitol. (Washington Post)

5/ 21 Republican-led states sued Biden for revoking the Keystone XL oil pipeline permit. The lawsuit alleges that Biden exceeded his authority to revoke the permit because of a 2011 provision that required Obama to approve the pipeline or issue a determination that it wasn’t in the national interest. Obama ultimately rejected the application, but Trump approved it. Biden then revoked the approval. Several of the states aren’t even near the proposed pipeline path. (NBC News)

6/ The Senate confirmed Xavier Becerra as health and human services secretary, the first Latino to lead the department. The vote was 50-49. Susan Collins was the only Republican to support Becerra’s nomination. (New York Times / NBC News / CNN)

7/ The Senate confirmed William Burns to be Biden’s CIA director. Ted Cruz had delayed Burns’ nomination in an effort to pressure the Biden administration to issue sanctions to stop the completion of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline between Russia and Germany. After Secretary of State Antony Blinken issued a “strong declaration” suggesting future sanctions, Cruz said he would no longer delay Senate confirmation. (Politico / CNN)

8/ New York prosecutors investigating Trump’s business practices sent new subpoenas to local governments near Trump’s Seven Springs as part of an inquiry into whether the value of the Westchester County property was improperly inflated to reduce his taxes. District Attorney Cyrus Vance’s office has also subpoenaed material from people who worked with Trump to develop the property. Meanwhile, the Manhattan district attorney’s office is scheduled to meet again with Michael Cohen for the eighth time. (Associated Press / Washington Post)

9/ Putin wished Biden “good health” after he agreed that the Russian leader was a “killer.” Biden also pledged that the Kremlin is “going to pay” for Russian interference in the 2020 election, which was detailed in a declassified intelligence report. Russia recalled its Washington ambassador after Biden’s comments, and warned of the possibility of an “irreversible deterioration of relations.” (New York Times / Reuters / CNN)

Day 57: "Democracy is having a hard time functioning."

1/ Biden discouraged potential migrants hoping to enter the United States, saying “don’t come […] don’t leave your town or city or community.” More than 13,000 unaccompanied migrant children are currently in U.S. custody and the country is on pace to stop more migrants crossing the border than in the last 20 years. Republicans, meanwhile, have blamed the surge of migrants and unaccompanied minors at the southern border on Biden rescinding Trump’s immigration policies, including a program that returned asylum seekers to wait in Mexico while their cases were being considered. (ABC News / CBS News / CNN / The Guardian / USA Today)

2/ Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas testified that the U.S.-Mexico “border is secure and the border is not open.” In a hearing held by the House Homeland Security Committee, Mayorkas defended the Biden administration’s approach to creating a “fair and humane” immigration system despite the administration struggling to accommodate a surge of unaccompanied minors at the border. Republican lawmakers, meanwhile, repeatedly called the situation a “crisis” and blamed Biden for mishandling immigration policy. “The situation is undoubtedly difficult,” Mayorkas said. “What the president is committed to and what I am committed to execute is to ensure that we have an immigration system that works and that migration to our country is safe, orderly and humane.” (CNN / Politico / New York Times / Wall Street Journal)

3/ The Biden administration limited what Border Patrol can share with the media about the migrant surge at the border. Officials said the restrictions are seen as an unofficial “gag order” that were communicated verbally – not through an official memo. Border Patrol officials were also told to deny all media requests for “ride-alongs” with agents and send all questions from the media to the press office in Washington for approval. (NBC News)

4/ Twenty-one Republican state attorneys general threatened to take action against the Biden administration over $350 billion set aside under coronavirus stimulus relief to help cities, counties, and states pay for the cost of the pandemic. In a seven-page letter, the Republican officials asked Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen to clarify a provision in the $1.9 trillion stimulus law that prevents them from using the federal funds to deliberately reduce their revenue through local tax cuts. The law requires repayment if any of the money is spent in violation of that condition. The group claimed that the restrictions “would represent the greatest invasion of state sovereignty by Congress in the history of our Republic” — and they threatened to take “appropriate additional action” in response. (Washington Post / New York Times)

  • 😷 Dept. of “We’re gonna get through this.”

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~121,003,000; deaths: ~2,676,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~29,594,000; deaths: ~538,000; fully vaccinated: ~11.5%; partially vaccinated: ~22.2%

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University / Washington Post

  • Health and Human Services is directing $10 billion to increase Covid-19 testing in schools. Another $2.25 billion will support scaled-up testing in underserved populations and $150 million will be allocated to help get Covid-19 treatments to underserved communities. (NBC News / Wall Street Journal / Bloomberg)

  • The CDC plans to update Covid-19 guidance for schools to reduce social distancing recommendations from 6 feet to 3 feet. A study published in Clinical Infectious Diseases, compared infection rates in Massachusetts public schools with different physical distancing requirements. The research suggests that 3 feet may be as safe as 6 feet if everyone is masked. (CNBC)

  • Twenty-three out of 31 top posts at the Department of Health and Human Services are held by officials in acting capacities. Approval of Biden’s nominees have been held up in the Senate by Republicans. (New York Times)

  • Trump recommended that everyone get the Covid-19 vaccine, calling it “safe” and “something that works.” (CNN / NBC News)

5/ Senate Democrats introduced the For the People Act, a comprehensive voting reform and anti-corruption bill that was passed by the House earlier this month. Chuck Schumer said proposals to roll back voting access in several Republican-led states “smack of Jim Crow” and represent a threat to democracy, which would be countered by the legislation. The bill, however, faces an uphill battle in the Senate, where it would require at least 10 Republican votes to overcome a filibuster. Schumer added “everything is on the table […] Failure is not an option.” (Bloomberg / CNBC / CNN / Axios / Washington Post)

6/ Biden suggested that he supports reforming the filibuster after Mitch McConnell threatened to go “scorched earth” if Democrats move all legislation to a simple majority vote in the Senate. “I don’t think that you have to eliminate the filibuster,” Biden said, adding that he preferred a return to the “talking filibuster” (a requirement that a senator holds the floor in order to delay a bill). “It’s getting to the point where, you know, democracy is having a hard time functioning.” At least nine Democratic senators, however, have said they aren’t ready to scrap the supermajority requirement for most legislation yet. (ABC News / Politico / New York Times / NPR)

7/ Biden promised that Putin “will pay a price” for his efforts to undermine the 2020 election following a declassified intelligence report that Russian meddled in the election with the aim of “denigrating” Biden’s candidacy. When asked what the consequences would be, Biden replied: “You’ll see shortly.” (CNN / Politico / Reuters / The Guardian)

Day 56: "Exacerbating divisions."

1/ Putin authorized operations to interfere in the 2020 election by conducting an influence campaign aimed at “denigrating” Biden and the Democratic Party, while “supporting Trump, undermining public confidence in the electoral process, and exacerbating sociopolitical divisions in the U.S.,” according to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. No foreign government, however, attempted to change votes or alter ballots. Putin used proxies linked to Russian intelligence services to promote “influence narratives – including misleading or unsubstantiated allegations against President Biden – to U.S. media organizations, U.S. officials, and prominent U.S. individuals, including some close to former President Trump and his administration.” The U.S. intelligence community also found that Iran conducted influence operations and that China “considered but did not deploy influence efforts” intended to change the outcome of the election. (CNN / New York Times / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / Axios / NBC News)

2/ The Army initially rejected Washington, D.C.’s request for the National Guard ahead of the Jan. 6 rally that led to the Capitol riot, saying the military shouldn’t be needed to help police with traffic and crowd management, unless more than 100,000 demonstrators were expected. The Army ultimately approved the mission and provided 340 members of the National Guard to help with street closures and crowd control as requested. (Washington Post / CNN)

3/ The U.S. is on pace to see the largest number of migrants apprehended at the U.S.-Mexico border in two decades. The surge has created a backlog in Border Patrol stations, with more than 4,200 children in custody and 2,943 of those children being held over the 72-hour legal limit. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, however, insisted that the “difficult” situation was under control. Mayorkas defended the administration’s policy of allowing unaccompanied teens and children to remain in the country – rejecting the Trump-era policy of immediately sending children back to Mexico or other countries – but said “We are expelling most single adults and families.” As the Biden administration struggles to find space for the surge in migrant children and teenagers, many are being forced to sleep on gym mats with foil sheets and go for days without showering. (NBC News / Wall Street Journal / New York Times / Associated Press)

4/ Mitch McConnell threatened to go “completely scorched earth” if Democrats weaken or eliminate the filibuster. McConnell promised to “break the Senate” and turn the chamber into a “100-car pileup” with procedural delays if Democrats nix the 60-vote threshold for most legislation. Sen. Dick Durbin, the No. 2 Democrat in the Senate, meanwhile, said the filibuster was “making a mockery of American democracy” and holding the Senate “hostage” by turning “the world’s most deliberative body into one of the world’s most ineffectual bodies.” Democrats need 51 votes to kill off the filibuster, but Sens. Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema have said they oppose to changing the rules, as has Biden. Democratic priorities, including voting-rights legislation, background checks for gun purchases, a national $15 minimum wage, and immigration overhaul, will all likely face Republican filibusters. (New York Times / Axios / Bloomberg / CNN / Wall Street Journal)

5/ A Democratic senator suggested that the FBI’s 2018 background check of Brett Kavanaugh may have been “fake.” During his Supreme Court confirmation hearing, Kavanaugh was accused of sexual assault by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and several other women. Trump agreed at the time to order the “FBI to conduct a supplemental investigation” into the allegations against Kavanaugh. Then-FBI Director Christopher Wray, however, told the Senate that the White House had limited the Kavanaugh investigation. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse called on the newly-confirmed attorney general, Merrick Garland, to facilitate “proper oversight” into questions about how thoroughly the FBI investigated Kavanaugh during his confirmation hearing. (The Guardian)

6/ The Senate confirmed Deb Haaland to lead the Interior Department, making the congresswoman the first Native American ever to serve as a Cabinet secretary. Haaland will oversee the agency that manages the federal government’s relations with tribes, as well as 20% of U.S. land, and nearly a quarter of the nation’s oil and gas production. (Politico / ABC News)

7/ U.S. intelligence assessed that North Korea could be preparing to carry out their first weapons test since Biden took office. Kim Jong Un’s sister, meanwhile, warned the U.S. to “refrain from causing a stink” if it wants to “sleep in peace” for the next four years. The Biden administration had tried to reach out to North Korea through multiple channels since last month to start a dialogue on Pyongyang’s nuclear-weapons and ballistic-missile programs. The U.S. never received a response. (CNN / Associated Press / Wall Street Journal)

Day 55: "Risky business."

1/ Biden deployed FEMA to the U.S.-Mexico border to help shelter and transfer thousands of unaccompanied migrant teens and children, who are currently being held in Customs and Border Protection detention facilities and tent shelters. There are roughly 4,000 children currently in CBP custody – a 25% increase from a week earlier. The Biden administration has struggled to expand Health and Human Services shelter capacity, where about 8,500 teens and children are currently being held. Unaccompanied minors continue to arrive more quickly than HHS officials can match them with sponsors. The current average time children spend in facilities designed to hold adults for 24 hours, has increased to 117 hours – 45 hours longer than the legal limit. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said that a CBP facility is “no place for a child,” but that border agents are “working around the clock in difficult circumstances to take care of children temporarily in our care.” The White House, meanwhile, has declined to call the situation a “crisis” or label it a national emergency, which Trump did in 2019 to circumvent Congress and fund his border wall with money lawmakers refused to give him. (New York Times / NBC News / ABC News / Washington Post / Vox / CNN)

2/ FEMA will temporarily house up to 3,000 migrant teenage boys at a Dallas convention center in an effort to alleviate overcrowding at border facilities in South Texas. The Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center will be used for up to 90 days starting this week. (Associated Press / Washington Post)

3/ The CDC’s Covid-19 guidance during the Trump administration was not grounded in science or “primarily authored” by staff, according to a review ordered by Biden’s CDC director, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, as part of her pledge to restore public trust in the agency. The review found that some guidance “used less direct language than available evidence supported,” “needed to be updated to reflect the latest scientific evidence,” and “presented the underlying science base for guidance inconsistently.” (Washington Post / CNN)

4/ The CDC warned that the U.S. could see another surge in Covid-19 cases as states relax restrictions and Americans return to airports for spring break travel. “I’m pleading with you, for the sake of our nation’s health,” CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said. “Cases climbed last spring, they climbed again in the summer, they will climb now if we stop taking precautions when we continue to get more and more people vaccinated.” The Transportation Security Administration, however, has screened more than 1 million people every day since Thursday – the highest volumes in a year. Dr. Anthony Fauci, meanwhile, warned states against the “risky business” of eliminating public health measures, saying even though things are headed “in the right direction,” caseloads were still too high to declare “victory” by eliminating restrictions. “Don’t spike the ball on the five-yard line. Wait until you get into the end zone. We are not in the end zone yet.” (CNBC / NBC News / CNN / CBS News)

5/ The Justice Department arrested and charged two men with assaulting the Capitol Police officer who died after being sprayed with a chemical by rioters storming the Capitol on Jan. 6. While it’s not clear whether Brian Sicknick died because of his exposure to the spray, Julian Elie Khater and George Pierre Tanios were charged with nine counts, including assaulting three officers with a deadly weapon. The Justice Department said that the rioters were recorded on video talking about attacking officers, including Sicknick. (Washington Post / NPR / New York Times)

6/ The U.S. has about 1,000 more troops in Afghanistan than it has disclosed, which brings the actual number of troops to around 3,500. The Trump administration and the Taliban agreed last year to remove all remaining American forces by May 1. Biden, meanwhile, hasn’t decided whether U.S. troops will stay beyond May 1 or leave, ending America’s longest war after more than 19 years. (New York Times)

7/ The Defense Department’s inspector general’s office concluded its long-delayed investigation into Michael Flynn and his acceptance of money from Russian and Turkish interests before joining the Trump administration, a potential violation of the Constitution’s emoluments clause. The inspector general’s investigation was opened in April 2017, but was put on hold for more than three years. After Trump’s pardon, however, the Justice Department allowed the inspector general’s office to resume its investigation. The watchdog’s office closed its investigation one week after the Biden administration took office and forwarded its findings to the Army. (Washington Post)

8/ The White House is expected to propose a suite of federal tax increases on corporations and the wealthy – the first major hike in almost 30 years – to fund key initiatives like infrastructure, climate, and expanded help for poor Americans. The tax hikes would be included as part of infrastructure and jobs packages and would likely include repealing portions of Trump’s 2017 tax law, which benefited corporations and wealthy individuals. The planned increases reportedly include: raising the corporate tax from 21% to 28%; increasing the income tax rate on people making more than $400,000; expanding the estate tax; paring back tax preferences on pass-through businesses such as LLCs; and setting up a higher capital gains tax rate for individuals making at least $1 million. The Tax Policy Center found that the plan would raise around $2.1 trillion over 10 years. (Bloomberg)

9/ Officials found the audio recording of Trump’s call urging Georgia’s top investigator to find evidence of voter fraud in the trash folder on her device. The audio file of the Dec. 23 call between Trump and investigator Frances Watson was discovered as part of a public records request. State officials originally said they did not think audio of the call existed. It’s also not clear why Watson moved the audio of the call to her trash folder. (CNN)

Day 52: "Changes the paradigm."

1/ Biden directed states to make all adults eligible for coronavirus vaccinations no later than May 1, and set a July 4th goal to “mark our independence from this virus.” The White House has promised that the country will have enough vaccine supply for all adults by the end of May – meaning not all adults will be able to get a vaccine on May 1, but instead they will be able to get in line for one. Biden also said he was doubling the number of pharmacies and the number of federally run mass vaccination centers to administer doses. The U.S., meanwhile, has administered more than 100 million Covid-19 shots so far, with 35 million people have been fully vaccinated and 66 million having received at least a first dose. The U.S. is now averaging of over 2 million doses a day. And at a Rose Garden event celebrating the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, Biden said the legislation “changes the paradigm. For the first time in a long time, this bill puts working people in this nation first.” (NBC News / NPR / Washington Post / Vox / CBS News / Bloomberg / New York Times / CNBC / The Guardian)

2/ The Justice Department expects to charge at least 100 more still-unidentified people connected to the Jan. 6 attack at the U.S. Capitol. Describing the investigation as “one of the largest,” “most complex” investigations and prosecutions in U.S. history, federal prosecutors have charged 320 people so far, executed more than 900 search warrants, and have received more than 15,000 hours of surveillance video. Authorities have also reviewed more 1,600 electronic devices, 210,000 tips, and 80,000 witness interviews. Prosecutors asked a judge for 60-day delays across a series of Capitol riot cases, saying it “will take time” to organize the evidence and make it available to suspects and their defense attorneys. (ABC News / Politico / NBC News / Washington Post)

3/ Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Jerry Nadler, and at least 13 other House Democrats from New York called for Gov. Andrew Cuomo to resign. Six women have accused Cuomo of sexual assault or harassment, and allegations have also emerged that his administration covered up Covid nursing home deaths. “Unfortunately, the Governor is not only facing the accusation that he engaged in a pattern of sexual harassment and assault,” the lawmakers said in a joint statement. “There is also the extensive report from the Attorney General that found the Cuomo administration hid data on COVID-19 nursing home deaths from both the public and the state legislature.” The six harassment allegations are being investigated by state Attorney General Letitia James, while Democrats in the state Assembly initiated an impeachment investigation that will be carried out concurrently with the AG probe. Cuomo, meanwhile, addressed the allegations at a news conference, saying “I did not do what has been alleged, period […] I’m not going to resign, I was not elected by the politicians, I was elected by the people.” (ABC News / NPR / NBC News / CNN / Bloomberg / New York Times / Politico / Washington Post / The Guardian)

4/ The Biden administration will end a Trump-era policy that allowed the Department of Homeland Security to deport caregivers for unaccompanied migrant children. The 2018 policy allowed DHS to identify the immigration status of would-be caregivers and deport those who were in the country illegally. Officials said they hoped that revoking the policy would encourage more parents to come forward to claim their children, which would also help alleviate crowding at Health and Human Services facilities. (NBC News)

5/ The Manhattan district attorney leading the criminal investigation against Trump and the Trump Organization will not run for re-election. The decision by Cyrus Vance means that if he decides to indict Trump, the next district attorney will inherit the investigation and be responsible for prosecuting Trump. (New Yorker / New York Times / Bloomberg / CNN)

Day 51: "This dark tunnel."

1/ Biden signed the $1.9 trillion economic relief package into law – his first major legislative achievement in office. “This historic legislation is about rebuilding the backbone of this country,” Biden said during signing. The American Rescue Package authorizes a third round of one-time stimulus payments up to $1,400 for most Americans, extends enhanced unemployment benefits, and changes the tax code to benefit families with children. The package also unlocks new federal aid to help schools reopen, aid cities and states with budget shortfalls, provide billions in aid for small businesses, and assists in the rollout of a coronavirus vaccine. The U.S. has officially allocated over $5 trillion in funding for Covid-19 relief. (Washington Post / Politico / New York Times / Wall Street Journal / ABC News / Bloomberg / The Guardian)

2/ Some Americans could receive coronavirus stimulus checks as soon as this weekend, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said. “This is, of course, just the first wave,” Psaki said, adding “payments to eligible Americans will continue throughout the course of the next several weeks.” (CNBC)

3/ Biden will address the nation tonight at 8 p.m. Eastern, marking the one-year anniversary of the day the World Health Organization declared a pandemic, and Covid-19 restrictions that forced the U.S. into lockdown. Biden is expected to use his prime-time remarks to “address the American people and talk about what we went through as a nation this past year.” Biden previewed his remarks on Wednesday, saying “I’m going to talk about what comes next […] explain what we will do as a government and what we will ask of the American people. There is light at the end of this dark tunnel. But we cannot let our guard down now or assume the victory is inevitable. Together, we’re gonna get through this pandemic and usher in a healthier and more hopeful future.” (ABC News / Bloomberg / CNN)

4/ The U.S. death rate increased 15% last year as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic – the deadliest year in recorded U.S. history. Covid-19 killed nearly 400,000 people in the U.S. in 2020, making it the third-leading cause of death behind heart disease and cancer. (Politico)

  • 😷 Dept. of “We’re gonna get through this pandemic.”

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~118,358,000; deaths: ~2,626,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~29,207,000; deaths: ~531,000; fully vaccinated: ~10.0%; partially vaccinated: ~19.3%

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University / Washington Post

  • All living former presidents and first ladies — except the Trumps — appeared in a public service announcement urging Americans to get vaccinated against the coronavirus. The Trumps received their coronavirus vaccinations privately at the White House in January, which wasn’t disclosed until recently. (Politico)

  • Trump issued a statement on presidential letterhead demanding credit for the privately developed coronavirus vaccines, saying “I hope that everyone remembers when they’re getting the Covid-19 (often referred to as the China Virus) Vaccine, that if I wasn’t president, you wouldn’t be getting that beautiful ‘shot’ for 5 years, at best, and probably wouldn’t be getting it at all. I hope everyone remembers!” (ABC News / Washington Post)

5/ More than 3,700 unaccompanied migrant children are in Border Patrol custody. One Homeland Security official described the border facilities as “absolutely” overcrowded, adding several were “severely overcapacity.” Border Patrol apprehended nearly 800 unaccompanied migrant children yesterday – nearly double current 450 daily average. After being taken into custody, unaccompanied children are required by law to be turned over to the Department of Health and Human Services within 72 hours. Kids, however, are currently staying in Border Patrol custody more than four days on average. (CNN)

6/ The House passed two bills bills aimed at strengthening the nation’s gun laws. The bills would expand background checks on the purchase or transfer of firearms and close the “Charleston loophole,” which allows gun sales to proceed without a completed background check if three businesses days have passed. The bill, however, faces opposition in the Senate, where it does not currently have the 60 votes needed to advance. (USA Today / NPR / New York Times)

  • 84% of voters support universal background checks, while 11% oppose the policy. 77% of Republicans, 82% of independents, and 91% of Democrats approve of universal background checks. (Newsweek)

7/ In a newly released December phone call, Trump pressured Georgia’s Secretary of State chief investigator to find evidence of fraud with absentee-by-mail ballots, telling her that she would be “praised” for overturning results that were in favor of Biden. “Whatever you can do […] it would be — it’s a great thing,” Trump told Frances Watson, adding that “When the right answer comes out, you’ll be praised […] something bad happened.” At the time, Watson was investigating an audit of more than 15,000 signatures in Cobb County, which resulted in no evidence of fraudulent mail-in ballots. The six-minute call was first reported in January and released in full on Wednesday. (Wall Street Journal / NPR / CNN)

  • Michael Cohen has met with Manhattan district attorney’s office prosecutors at least seven times related to the investigation into Trump’s taxes and finances. (NBC News)

8/ Former Acting Secretary of Defense Chris Miller said he believes that Trump’s speech on the morning of Jan. 6 caused a mob to violently attack the U.S. Capitol later that day, saying “Would anybody have marched on the Capitol, and tried to overrun the Capitol, without the president’s speech? I think it’s pretty much definitive that wouldn’t have happened.” As the acting defense secretary at the time, Miller was in charge of the military’s response and has since been criticized for the Department of Defense’s slow deployment of the National Guard. While Miller has rejected the criticism, calling the speed of the response normal, he added that political climate at the time as a “constant drumbeat” of “potential illegal, immoral, and unethical activities.” (Vice News)

9/ A bipartisan group of senators introduced the “Sunshine Protection Act of 2021” to make Daylight Saving Time permanent. Sixteen states have passed initiatives to keep DST year-round, but a federal statue is require for the state to enact the change. Daylight Saving Time begins Sunday and ends November 7. (CBS News)

poll/ 30% of Americans say they won’t get a coronavirus vaccine, while 45% say they will, and 22% saying they have already been vaccinated. 49% of Republican men, 47% of Trump supporters, 30% of white men without college degrees, and 38% of white evangelical Christians all say they will not get vaccinated. (NPR)

Day 50: "Help is on the way."

1/ The House passed Biden’s $1.9 trillion Covid-19 relief package, which will send $1,400 stimulus checks to millions of Americans, extend enhanced unemployment benefits, help schools and colleges reopen, and fund vaccine distribution. One Democrat — Rep. Jared Golden — joined all Republicans in voting against the measure. The House passed a similar version of the bill last month, but had to approve changes made by the Senate after the parliamentarian ruled that the federal minimum wage increase violated the Senate’s rules. “This legislation is about giving the backbone of this nation – the essential workers, the working people who built this country, the people who keep this country going – a fighting chance,” Biden said in a statement. Nancy Pelosi called the bill a “force for fairness and justice in America,” comparing it to the Affordable Care Act in its significance, and saying “I join President Biden in his promise: help is on the way.” Despite 70% of Americans favoring the package, Republicans argued that the plan was a bloated “laundry list of left-wing priorities that predate the pandemic.” Biden is expected to sign the relief bill Friday, and mark the one-year anniversary of the pandemic in his first prime-time address to the nation Thursday. (New York Times / Washington Post / NPR / Politics / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal / NBC News / The Guardian / ABC News / CBS News / USA Today)

  • What’s in the Covid-19 relief package: Stimulus checks, unemployment assistance, aid to states and municipalities, nutrition assistance, housing aid, tax credits for families and workers, optional paid sick and family leave, education and child care funding, health insurance subsidies and Medicaid matching funds, more money for small businesses, and vaccine and testing funds. (CNN)

2/ Biden ordered an additional 100 million doses of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine. The planned purchase would bring the country’s total vaccine order to 800 million doses – split among three manufacturers – and give the U.S. more than enough supply to vaccinate every adult in the country. Johnson & Johnson, however, is unlikely to deliver the additional 100 million shots in time to speed up vaccinations this spring. (NBC News / Politico)

3/ Thousands of unaccompanied migrant children are being held in U.S. Border Patrol custody for more than four days on average in facilities unfit for minors. Under U.S. law, unaccompanied children have to be turned over within 72 hours to the Department of Health and Human Services. Instead, they’re staying in Customs and Border Protection facilities for 107 hours on average because, in part, the number of unaccompanied children crossing the border is outpacing the availability of proper shelter space for kids. Over the last 21 days, CBP encountered an average of 435 unaccompanied children daily – up from an average of around 340 children. (CNN)

4/ The Senate confirmed Merrick Garland to be the next U.S. attorney general. The 70-30 vote comes five years after Obama nominated Garland to serve on the Supreme Court. The Senate, then under Republican control, refused to consider a hearing or vote. Garland told senators that the attorney general is “not the president’s lawyer,” while noting that he will follow Biden’s lead on policy matters “as long as it is consistent with the law.” He is expected to be sworn in at the Justice Department on Thursday. (Associated Press / Politico / NPR / ABC News / New York Times / Washington Post)

5/ The Senate confirmed Rep. Marcia Fudge as secretary of Housing and Urban Development, making her the first Black woman to lead the agency in more than four decades. Her appointment leaves a vacancy in the House, where Democrats hold a narrow majority. (CNN / Washington Post)

6/ Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin extended the deployment of National Guard members at the U.S. Capitol through May. The number of Guard members will be reduced from about 5,200 to 2,300. Mitch McConnell, meanwhile, called the enhanced security measures at the Capitol an overreaction, “We’ve overdone it. I’m extremely uncomfortable with the fact that my constituents can’t come to the Capitol. There’s all this razor wire around the complex. It reminds me of my last visit to Kabul.” (Washington Post / ABC News / Politico)

7/ An expert on Georgia’s racketeering law was hired to help prosecutors investigating potential efforts by Trump and others to influence the 2020 election. Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis engaged John Floyd to serve as a special assistant district attorney to work with her office on any cases involving allegations of racketeering. On Feb. 10, Willis’s office said it had opened a criminal investigation into “potential violations of Georgia law prohibiting the solicitation of election fraud, the making of false statements to state and local government bodies, conspiracy, racketeering, violation of oath of office and any involvement in violence or threats related to the election’s administration.” Willis’s office also confirmed that the investigation includes the Jan. 2 phone call in which Trump pressured Georgia’s secretary of state to “find” him enough votes to overturn the state’s presidential election results. (ABC News)

Day 49: "110% confident."

1/ House Democrats plan to pass the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package Wednesday and send it to Biden so he can sign it before key unemployment aid programs expire on Sunday. Despite united Republican opposition and a narrow Democratic majority, Nancy Pelosi said she is confident they have the votes to pass one of Congress’s largest-ever economic relief bills. House Democratic Caucus Chair Hakeem Jeffries said he was “110% confident” the package will pass. Millions of Americans are expected to receive direct payments of up to $1,400 this month. Expanded unemployment benefits would also be extended through Sept. 6 at $300 a week. The “American Rescue Plan” will also increase the tax break to $3,000 for every child age 6 to 17 and $3,600 for every child under the age of 6. (Politico / Washington Post / CNN / CNBC / ABC News)

  • Biden’s won’t out his name on the next round of stimulus checks in an effort to speed distribution. Distribution of an earlier round of coronavirus stimulus checks were delayed because Trump decided to add his name to the memo line of the checks. (New York Times / Bloomberg)

2/ The coronavirus relief bill will expand subsidies for health plans under the Affordable Care Act, making health insurance affordable for 1.3 million more Americans who could not afford insurance under the original law. The changes, however, will last only for two years. (New York Times / Associated Press)

3/ Since the pandemic, about 700,000 mothers have dropped out of the U.S. workforce in states where most students are learning from home. The participation rate of mothers in the labor force was about 18 percentage points lower than fathers’ before the pandemic. Last year, the gap widened by 5 points in states offering mostly remote instruction. About 10 million mothers living with their school-age children were unemployed in January, roughly 1.4 million more than in the same period last year. Separately, a national study found that younger children have fallen behind on reading skills during the pandemic. Second graders were 26% behind where they would have been, absent the pandemic, in their ability to read aloud accurately and quickly. Third graders were 33% behind. (Bloomberg / New York Times)

4/ More than 3,400 migrant children are in Customs and Border Protection custody – triple the number two weeks ago. More than 1,360 of the children have been detained in border facilities longer than the maximum 72 hours permitted by law despite being referred for placement in shelters by Homeland Security. Of those, 169 children are younger than 13. Around 2,800 are awaiting placement in shelters suitable for minors, but there are just under 500 beds available to accommodate them. Border agents, meanwhile, encountered about 78,000 migrants at the border in January — more than double the same time a year ago and higher than in any January in a decade. (New York Times / CNN)

5/ The Biden administration is “not ending family detention” despite recent court filings and public comments condemning migrant family detention. Instead, a senior Immigration and Customs Enforcement official said the agency will release some families more quickly and expand the number of family detention beds in order to move families through the process faster, including for deportation. “ICE does maintain and continues to a system for family detention,” the ICE official said. “We are not closing the family detention centers.” There are more than 100 families in a facility near San Antonio and over 350 in a South Texas facility. The number of immigrants taken into custody by ICE officers, meanwhile, fell more than 60% in February compared with the last three months of the Trump administration. (NBC News / Washington Post)

6/ The Biden administration notified the Supreme Court that it was dropping its defense of the Trump-era expansion of the “public charge” rule, which made it more difficult for immigrants to obtain permanent residency if they were likely to need benefits such as Medicaid, food stamps or federal housing aid. In 2019, the Department of Homeland Security expanded the public charge definition to include anyone likely to require a broader range of government benefits for more than 12 months in any three-year period. The Justice Department notified the court that the Biden administration agreed with the local governments challenging the policy. (NBC News / CNBC)

7/ Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds signed a Republican-backed bill into law that makes it harder to vote by cutting the state’s early voting period and closing the polls an hour earlier on Election Day. Republicans in the state House and Senate approved the changes over the opposition of all Democratic legislators, saying election integrity must be protected. They noted, however, that Iowa has no history of election irregularities and that November’s election saw record turnout with no evidence of widespread voter fraud. (Des Moines Register / CNN / NBC News)

8/ The Georgia Senate passed a bill to repeal no-excuse absentee voting and require more voter ID. Under the legislation, voters would need to be 65 years old or older, absent from their precinct, observing a religious holiday, be required to provide care for someone with a physical disability, or required to work “for the protection of the health, life, or safety of the public during the entire time the polls are open,” or be an overseas or military voter to qualify for an absentee ballot. In addition, Georgians would need to provide a driver’s license number, state ID number or other identification. The legislation heads to the Georgia House of Representatives, where it is expected to pass. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution / CNN / NPR)

9/ The Manhattan district attorney’s office subpoenaed documents from a company that loaned the Trump Organization $130 million for its Chicago skyscraper and are examining whether the company misled lenders or insurance brokers about the valuation for certain properties. The subpoena to Fortress Investment Management was issued late last year. (CNN)

10/ The Republican National Committee brushed aside Trump’s cease-and-desist demand, saying it has “has every right to refer to public figures” while fundraising. Trump’s attorneys had asked the RNC and other GOP organization to stop using Trump’s name and likeness in fundraising appeals. The RNC, however, will move part of its spring donor retreat to Mar-a-Lago from a nearby hotel. (Politico / Washington Post)

poll/ 70% of adults say they support Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package, while 28% oppose the legislation. (Pew Research Center)

Day 48: "We just need to hang on a bit longer."

1/ The Senate passed the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package. The American Rescue Plan includes $1,400 stimulus checks for hundreds of millions of Americans, $300-per-week jobless benefits until early September, a child allowance of up to $3,600 for one year, $350 billion for state aid, $34 billion to expand Affordable Care Act subsidies, and $14 billion for vaccine distribution. “I promised the American people help was on the way,” Biden said. “Today, I can say we’ve taken one more giant step of delivering on that promise.” The final vote was 50-49 along party lines. The legislation will have to be passed by the House again before Biden can sign it into law, because the Senate made changes to its version. The Senate bill limited the number of people receiving direct payments, capping them at $80,000 in income for individuals and $160,000 for couples. It also reduced the jobless benefit to $300 from $400 in the House bill. The House plans to pass the relief bill as soon as Tuesday, putting Biden on track to sign his first major legislative accomplishment into law by the end of the week. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki, meanwhile, said that the Treasury Department was still “working on” the exact timeline of the stimulus check rollout, but that the White House expected “a large number of Americans to receive relief by the end of the month.” (NBC News / New York Times / Washington Post / ABC News / CNBC / Washington Post)

  • 😷 Dept. of “We Have It Totally Under Control.”

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~117,061,000; deaths: ~2,598,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~29,034,000; deaths: ~526,000; fully vaccinated: ~9.4%; partially vaccinated: ~18.1%

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University / Washington Post

  • More than one in five adults have now received at least one coronavirus vaccine dose, and just over one in ten have received two doses. The U.S. administered 5.3 million vaccines over the weekend, and is now administering more than 2 million shots a day on average. New coronavirus cases in the U.S., meanwhile, posted the slowest weekly increase since the pandemic began almost a year ago. (CNBC / Bloomberg)

  • Dr. Anthony Fauci said the number of vaccine doses available will sharply rise in the coming weeks following federal approval of Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose shot. (CBS News)

2/ New CDC guidance says that people who are fully vaccinated against Covid-19 can safely visit with other fully vaccinated people indoors without wearing a mask or social distancing. The recommendations also say that vaccinated people can visit indoors with unvaccinated people from a single household who are at low risk for severe Covid-19 disease. The CDC, however, recommends that vaccinated people continue to adhere to public health restrictions, such as mask wearing and social distancing while in public. Dr. Anthony Fauci also warned that it is too early to end Covid-19 restrictions, saying “we’re going in the right direction but we just need to hang on a bit longer.” The guidelines continue to discourage visits involving long-distance travel. (Politico / New York Times / Washington Post / Associated Press / ABC News / CNN / NBC News / The Guardian)

3/ Russian intelligence agencies are spreading disinformation to undermine confidence in the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. The State Department’s Global Engagement Center identified four Russian websites spreading misinformation about the virus, as well as “international organizations, military conflicts, protests; and any divisive issue that they can exploit.” The campaign has played up the risk of side effects, questioned the efficacy of the vaccines, and said the U.S. rushed the Pfizer vaccine through the approval process, among other false or misleading claims. (Wall Street Journal / CNN)

4/ The Biden administration notified facilities handling migrant children that they can expand to full, pre-Covid-19 capacity, acknowledging “extraordinary circumstances” due to a rising number of minors crossing the U.S.-Mexico border. Shelters had been operating at 50% capacity to slow the spread of the coronavirus. A separate CDC document, however, says “facilities should plan for and expect to have Covid-19 cases,” citing the nature of the pandemic and that “there is no 0% risk scenario.” (CNN / Axios)

5/ The Biden administration granted temporary protected status to up to 320,000 Venezuelan migrants in the United States. The designation offers legal protections for 18 months to Venezuelans unable to safely return home because of natural disaster, violence, or civil unrest. Eligibility extends only to those in the country as of March 8 who apply within the next 180 days and meet vetting requirements. (Politico / Washington Post)

poll/ 68% of Americans approve of Biden’s approach to the pandemic. 56% of Americans think loosening mask mandates and restrictions on public gatherings is happening too quickly. (ABC News)


✏️ Notables.

  1. Biden signed executive orders that would establish a Gender Policy Council within the White House and direct the Department of Education to review Trump administration policy changes to Title IX, which overhauled how schools and universities handle complaints of sexual assault and misconduct. (NPR / Bloomberg / NBC News / Washington Post)

  2. Biden nominated two female generals to elite, four-star commands – months after their Pentagon bosses had agreed on their promotions but held them back out of fears that Trump would reject the officers because they were women. (New York Times)

  3. Biden signed an executive order directing federal agencies to take a series of steps to promote voting access in what the White House calls “an initial step” in its efforts to “protect the right to vote and ensure all eligible citizens can freely participate in the electoral process.” Biden signed the order on the 56th anniversary of “Bloody Sunday,” when civil rights activists marching for the right to vote were brutally beaten by police while crossing Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama. (Associated Press / CBS News / CNN)

  4. Georgia’s Republican-controlled state Legislature is moving quickly to push through dozens of “election integrity” bills, which would, among other things, limit mail-in voting primarily to Georgians who are elderly, disabled or out of town on Election Day. One new proposal has targeted Sunday voting, which could reduce the impact of Black voters in the state. (New York Times / NBC News)

  5. The Supreme Court rejected Trump’s final challenge to overturn the presidential election, dismissing his appeal of lower court rulings that upheld Wisconsin’s handling of mail-in ballots. (NBC News / USA Today)

  6. The FBI said a member of the far-right nationalist Proud Boys was in communication with the Trump White House in the days before the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol. The FBI would not reveal the names of either party. Separately, a leader of the far-right group said he had been in touch with Roger Stone while at a protest in front of Marco Rubio’s home. During the protest, Enrique Tarrio put Stone on speaker phone to address the gathering. (New York Times)

  7. Sen. Roy Blunt will not run for reelection in 2022. Blunt joins four other Republican senators – Rob Portman, Pat Toomey, Richard Shelby, and Richard Burr – to not seek reelection. (Politico / CNN)

  8. Trump’s lawyers sent cease-and-desist letters to three of the largest GOP fundraising groups for using his name and likeness on fundraising emails and merchandise. Trump was reportedly upset that his name was being used without permission by groups that had helped Republicans who voted to impeach him. (CNBC / Politico)

Day 45: Brat attacks.

1/ Senate Democrats agreed to lower the federal unemployment benefits to $300 a week – down from the $400 approved by the House – as part of the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package. Under the amendment, benefits would be extended through September instead of August, and the first $10,200 of unemployment benefits would be non-taxable income. The White House praised the agreement, with press secretary Jen Psaki tweeting that it would “provide more relief to the unemployed than the current legislation.” Passage of the relief bill, however, stalled for hours after Joe Manchin said he was unsatisfied with the concession. Manchin was also seen talking with Rob Portman, who has pushed an alternate unemployment amendment that would extend unemployment benefits at their current $300-per-week level into July, but without the new tax relief. The developments came as part of the Senate’s hours-long marathon of amendment votes on the relief package, known as a vote-a-rama, which followed Ron Johnson’s earlier demand that the clerks read the entire 628-page plan word by word. Meanwhile, seven Democrats joined with Republicans in voting down an effort by Bernie Sanders to restore raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour to the bill. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona voted down the minimum wage increase with a dramatic thumbs-down. (Wall Street Journal / Politico / Washington Post / New York Times / NPR / CNN / NBC News / Bloomberg)

  • 😷 Dept. of “We Have It Totally Under Control.”

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~115,922,000; deaths: ~2,577,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~28,882,000; deaths: ~523,000; fully vaccinated: ~8.4%; partially vaccinated: ~16.3%

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University / Washington Post

2/ Senate Democrats are reportedly warming to the idea of eliminating the filibuster as fears grow that Republicans will block Biden’s agenda, including his plans for climate change, immigration, gun control, voting rights, and LGBT protections. Pressure started building last week after the proposed minimum wage increase had to be removed from the coronavirus relief package, forcing the White House to cut deals. However, two Senate Democrats — Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema — have said they will oppose any effort to do away with the filibuster, which requires 60 votes to end debate on major bills. (New York Times / Washington Post)

3/ There are about 9.5 million fewer jobs today than a year ago despite the U.S. economy adding 379,000 jobs in February. About 4 million people have been out of work for 27 weeks or longer. The unemployment rate in February was 6.2%, down from 6.3% in January. (NBC News / New York Times / Bloomberg / ABC News / CNBC)

4/ New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s senior aides rewrote a June nursing home report by state health officials to hide the higher Covid-19 death toll. The public report said 6,432 nursing home residents had died, when nearly 10,000 residents had actually died. Cuomo released the complete data after the state attorney general said thousands of deaths of nursing home residents had been undercounted. Cuomo claimed that he had withheld the true data out of fear that it could be used against the state by the Trump administration. State officials now say more than 15,000 residents of nursing homes and long-term-care facilities were confirmed or presumed to have died from Covid-19 since March of last year – about 50% higher than earlier official death tolls. (Wall Street Journal / New York Times / CNN)

5/ Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan rejected an allotment of 6,200 Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccines because he wants Detroiters to get “the best vaccines,” which he said are the Moderna and Pfizer shots. The White House senior adviser for COVID-19 response called Duggan’s comments a “misunderstanding.” Nationwide demand for a coronavirus vaccine, meanwhile, continues to outpace available supply. (Detroit Free Press / CNN)

6/ Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis received a $250,000 donation from a resident of a private, gated community about a month after the Key Largo club received enough coronavirus vaccine doses for 1,200 residents over the age of 65. Ocean Reef Club resident and former Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner made the donation to the Friends of Ron DeSantis PAC on February 25 after the club was chosen as a “pop-up” vaccination center. All 17 people from Key Largo who donated to DeSantis’ political committee live in Ocean Reef. Since DeSantis started using pop-up vaccinations sites, his political committee raised $2.7 million in February – more than any other month since he first ran for governor in 2018. DeSantis, meanwhile, said the state “wasn’t involved in it in any shape or form.” (Miami Herald / ABC News / CNN / Washington Post)

7/ Former House impeachment manager Eric Swalwell sued Trump, Trump Jr., Rudy Giuliani, and Rep. Mo Brooks, alleging that they and others were “responsible for the injury and destruction” of the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. In the 65-page suit, Swalwell alleges that they “directly incited the violence” by putting out “a clear call to action” and then “watched approvingly as the building was overrun.” It’s the second major lawsuit seeking to hold Trump and his allies accountable for inciting the insurrection at the Capitol. Rep. Bennie Thompson previously sued Trump for inciting the riot, accusing him of violating the 1871 Ku Klux Klan Act by trying to prevent Congress from carrying out its official duties. (ABC News / CNN / Axios)

8/ The FBI arrested a Trump-appointed State Department aide on charges related to the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, including assaulting an officer with a dangerous weapon, unlawful entry, violent and disorderly conduct, and obstructing Congress and law enforcement. Federico Guillermo Klein, now a former State Department aide, is the first arrest of a Trump administration official in connection with the insurrection. Klein was seen on camera wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat and shoving a riot shield into an officer and inciting the crowd as it tried to push past the police line, shouting, “We need fresh people, we need fresh people.” (Politico / Washington Post / Associated Press / New York Times / Wall Street Journal)

9/ The Trump appointee at the agency that oversees Voice of America spent more than $1 million investigating his own staff. Michael Pack was reportedly “irate” last summer when he couldn’t fire or suspend U.S. Agency for Global Media executives, who had warned him that some of his plans might be illegal. Instead of using the inspectors general to determine what – if any – wrongdoing the executives might have committed, Pack personally signed a no-bid contract to hire a law firm to review social media posts, “news articles relating to Michael Pack,” and an inspectors general “audit on Hillary Clinton’s email breach.” (NPR)

poll/ 69% of Americans intend to get a Covid-19 vaccine or already have – up from 60% who said they planned to get vaccinated in November. (Pew Research Center)

poll/ 60% of Americans believe that the Covid-19 situation is improving, while 26% say it’s staying the same, and 14% believe it is getting worse. (Gallup)

poll/ 60% of Americans approve of Biden’s job performance so far. 70% approve his handling of the coronavirus pandemic. (Associated Press)

Day 44: "No matter how long it takes."

1/ The Senate voted to open debate on Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill. The vote was 51 to 50, with Harris breaking the 50-to-50 tie. As soon as the Senate voted to proceed to the bill, Sen. Ron Johnson forced the clerk to read all 628 pages of the bill, which will take hours. Republicans can use up to 20 hours of debate time, and then force an unlimited number of amendment votes. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer dismissed Johnson’s effort to delay, saying the tactic “will accomplish little more than a few sore throats for the Senate clerks […] No matter how long it takes, the Senate is going to stay in session to finish the bill this week.” Nancy Pelosi, meanwhile, has promised that the House will pass the Senate’s version of the bill, despite the limited eligibility for $1,400 relief checks and excluded $15 minimum wage increase. (Politico / NPR / Washington Post / Bloomberg)

  • 😷 Dept. of “We Have It Totally Under Control.”

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~115,468,000; deaths: ~2,566,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~28,809,000; deaths: ~520,000; fully vaccinated: ~8.4%; partially vaccinated: ~16.3%

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University / Washington Post

  • The United States is averaging 2 million vaccine doses administered per day. A month ago, the average was about 1.3 million. (New York Times)

2/ The Trump administration spent about $10 billion in hospitals funds on Operation Warp Speed contracts. Congress had allocated the money to help health care providers pay for pandemic-related expenses including staffing, personal protective equipment, and vaccine distribution. While Congress allowed the Department of Health and Human Services to move money between accounts, lawmakers required the agency notify them at least 10 days in advance of a transfer. Instead, HHS spent the money directly out of Provider Relief Fund on Operation Warp Speed contracts, without making a transfer, which didn’t trigger the congressional notification requirements. (STAT News)

3/ The House passed an expansion of federal voting rights over unified Republican opposition. The bill, titled the “For the People Act,” creates uniform national voting standards, overhauls campaign finance laws, and outlaws partisan redistricting – similar to a bill passed two years ago that stalled in the Senate, which was controlled by Republicans at the time. The measure passed 220-210, with one Democrat joining all Republican House members in voting against it. The bill is unlikely to draw the 60 votes needed to advance in the 50-50 Senate unless Democrats abandon the filibuster. (Washington Post / New York Times / NBC News / NPR)

4/ The House passed the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act. The policing reform bill would ban chokeholds, end racial and religious profiling, establish a national database to track police misconduct, and prohibit certain no-knock warrants. The legislation would also alter “qualified immunity” – a legal doctrine that shields officers from lawsuits – making it easier to pursue claims of police misconduct. The bill passed 220 to 212, with two Democrats voting against it, and one Republican accidentally voting for it. After the vote, Rep. Lance Gooden tweeted that he had pressed the wrong button and meant to vote “no.” The House passed a similar bill last year, which failed in the Republican-controlled Senate. (NPR / Washington Post)

5/ The Biden administration will convert immigrant family detention centers in Texas into quick-release intake facilities, which would rapidly screen migrant parents and children and release them into the U.S. within 72 hours. The Department of Health and Human Services, meanwhile, has already re-opened a Trump-era overflow shelter in Carrizo Springs, Texas, to accommodate an influx of unaccompanied minors crossing the U.S.-Mexico border. The shelter system is currently at 94% occupancy and expected to reach its maximum this month. (Washington Post / Axios / Bloomberg)

  • Texas Gov. Greg Abbott stalled federal efforts to test migrants released from custody for Covid-19 and then blamed the Biden administration exposing Texans to the coronavirus. Earlier this week, Abbott relaxed the state’s Covid-19 restrictions despite health officials’ warnings. (CNN)

6/ Capitol Police requested that the National Guard continue to provide security at the U.S. Capitol for another two months. There are more than 5,000 Guard members currently in Washington, D.C. They’re all scheduled to go home on March 12. The House, meanwhile, canceled its session today after Capitol Police warned of a “possible plot” by a militia group to storm the building. (Associated Press / Politico / Washington Post / NPR / CNN)

7/ Federal investigators are examining communication records between members of Congress and the pro-Trump mob that attacked the U.S. Capitol. Justice Department officials have assigned more than two dozen prosecutors to look into whether lawmakers wittingly or unwittingly helped the insurrectionists. (CNN)

8/ The Trump administration referred at least 334 leaks of classified information for criminal investigation – a record. Under Trump, the FBI also established a special unit in its Counterintelligence Division for investigating leaks. Very few referrals, however, ended up identifying the leaker or going to trial. (The Intercept)

9/ Trump’s Justice Department declined to open a criminal investigation into the actions by Elaine Chao when she was transportation secretary. According to an Office of Inspector General report, Chao, the wife of Mitch McConnell, repeatedly used her position and agency staff to help family members who run a shipping business with ties to China. Chao also required DOT staff to help with personal errands, and do chores for her father, which included editing his Wikipedia page and promoting his Chinese-language biography. The inspector general referred the findings to the Justice Department in December 2020, which declined to open an investigation, citing “there is not predication” to do so. (New York Times / NPR)

10/ South Carolina senators added a firing squad to the list of execution methods in a bid to restart the state’s executions after nearly 10 years. Currently, inmates can choose between the electric chair and lethal injection. South Carolina, however, can’t put anyone to death currently because its supply of lethal injection drugs has expired and can no longer be used or purchased. Utah, Oklahoma, and Mississippi also allow a firing squad. (Associated Press)

Day 43: "Neanderthal thinking."

1/ Biden called Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s decision to relax coronavirus restrictions “Neanderthal thinking” and that it was a “big mistake” for people to stop wearing masks. Other states, including Mississippi, have also begun to relax restrictions and end requirements to wear masks citing vaccination rates and lower numbers of Covid-19 cases. Rochelle Walensky, director of the CDC, criticized the decision by governors of Texas and Mississippi to lift mask requirements and other restrictions to slow the spread of the coronavirus, saying “We have been very clear now is not the time to release all restrictions. The next month or two is really pivotal in terms of how this pandemic goes.” White House press secretary Jennifer Psaki added: “This entire country has paid the price for political leaders who ignored the science when it comes to the pandemic.” (USA Today / ABC News / New York Times / Bloomberg / Washington Post)

2/ Biden and Senate Democrats agreed to limit the number of people who are eligible for $1,400 stimulus checks. Under the new structure, payments would phase out at a faster rate than the House’s Covid-19 relief bill, which zeroed out at individuals earning $100,000 and $200,000 for couples. The Senate bill will cut off payments at $80,000 for individuals and $150,000 for couples. About 12 million fewer adults and 5 million fewer kids would get the stimulus payments under the new compromise. In January, Biden promised to boost stimulus payments for Americans to $2,000, telling Georgia voters that they would get $2,000 payments if Democrats won both Senate runoff elections. (NBC News / Washington Post / CNBC / Bloomberg)

3/ The Department of Homeland Security and the FBI warned of a “possible plot” by a militia group to breach the U.S. Capitol and “remove Democratic lawmakers on or about” March 4. The bulletin, titled “National Capital Region Remains Attractive Target for Domestic Violent Extremists,” warned that “Domestic Violent Extremists” or “Militia Violent Extremists” were emboldened by the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol and may “exploit public gatherings either formally organized or spontaneous to engage in violence.” The threat appears to be connected to a QAnon conspiracy theory that Trump will return to power on March 4, because that was the original presidential inauguration day until 1933, when it was moved to Jan. 20. (NBC News / Associated Press / CBS News / Bloomberg)

4/ Maj. Gen. William Walker testified that he had National Guard troops at the ready for more than three hours on Jan. 6, while he waited for Trump’s Defense Department to authorize their deployment. Walker also told senators that on Jan. 5, he received a letter with the “unusual” restriction that he was first required to seek approval from the Secretary of the Army and Defense before deploying any Quick Reaction Force service members. Walker added that military leaders — including Michael Flynn’s brother — advised that deploying troops would not be “good optics.” (NPR / CNN / CNBC)

poll/ 62% of Americans support the $1.9 trillion Covid stimulus package, while 34% oppose it. (Monmouth University)


✏️ Notables.

  1. The House Oversight Committee reissued a subpoena to Trump’s accounting firm for financial records related to the panel’s investigations into presidential conflicts of interest. The committee first issued the subpoena to Mazars USA in April 2019, but that expired with the new Congress. Separately, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance enforced a subpoena for Trump’s tax documents from Mazars last week. (NBC News)

  2. The New York City Bar Association called for a “serious investigation” into Rudy Giuliani for promoting Trump’s baseless claims of voter fraud in the 2020 election. Multiple complaints have been sent to the Attorney Grievance Committee alleging Giuliani violated rules of conduct for attorneys. The committee’s staff attorney can recommend giving Giuliani a warning, suspending their license temporarily, or disbarring them altogether. (CNN)

  3. The White House pulled Neera Tanden’s nomination to lead the Office of Management and Budget following bipartisan opposition stemming from her past social media posts that criticized lawmakers in both parties. The White House said it would find her another role in the administration that didn’t require confirmation. (CNN / New York Times / CBS News)

  4. The Senate confirmed Gina Raimondo as the next secretary of the U.S. Commerce Department. The Senate also confirmed Cecilia Rouse to chair the Council of Economic Advisers. Rouse will be the first Black person to serve as the President’s top economist. (NPR / CNN)

  5. At least 10 rockets were fired on an air base in Iraq where U.S. forces are stationed. A U.S. contractor died of a heart attack during the rocket barrage. The attack came less than a week after the U.S. military struck Iran-aligned militia targets in Syria in response to rocket attacks on American forces in the region in recent weeks. The Defense Department and the White House did not identify the group responsible for the attack. (Associated Press / New York Times / CNN)

  6. Bipartisan senators introduced legislation that would repeal repeal the 1991 and 2002 authorizations for the use of military force in the Middle East. Sens. Tim Kaine and Todd Young unveiled the measure hours after an Iraqi military base housing U.S. troops and civilian contractors was hit by rocket attacks. Biden also angered congressional Democrats when he launched airstrikes in Syria last week without first seeking congressional approval. (Politico)

  7. Trump’s White House physician made “sexual and denigrating” comments about a female subordinate, violated policy for drinking alcohol during presidential trips, and took Ambien while working that prompted concerns about his ability to provide proper care, according to the Department of Defense inspector general. Rep. Ronny Jackson denied the allegations, saying Democrats were “using this report to repeat and rehash untrue attacks on my integrity.” The findings, however, stem from a years-long IG investigation into Jackson that included interviews with dozens of colleagues. Jackson was elected to represent a Texas congressional district in November. (CNN / NBC News / Washington Post)

Day 42: "It's not going away anytime soon."

1/ Biden said the U.S. expects to have a large enough supply of coronavirus vaccines to vaccinate every adult in the nation by the end of May – two months earlier than anticipated. The White House said it was increasing supply of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines to states next week to 15.2 million doses per week – up from 14.5 million. States will also receive 2.8 million doses of Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine this week, with the supply climbing to 4-6 million by the end of March and 5-6 million by the end of April. White House coronavirus coordinator Jeff Zients said states should prepare to administer 17-18 million total weekly doses of Pfizer and Moderna vaccines by early April. (Associated Press / CNBC)

  • 😷 Dept. of “We Have It Totally Under Control.”

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~114,698,000; deaths: ~2,545,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~28,705,000; deaths: ~516,000; fully vaccinated: ~7.9%; partially vaccinated: ~15.6%

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University / Washington Post

  • Merck will help manufacture Johnson & Johnson’s coronavirus vaccine to boost the supply of the newly authorized vaccine. Under the unusual arrangement, Merck will dedicate two facilities in the U.S. to Johnson & Johnson’s shots. The White House said it was utilizing the Defense Production Act to help Merck secure equipment needed to upgrade its facilities for vaccine production, including the purchase of machinery, bags, tubing, and filtration systems. Biden has promised enough vaccine doses for 300 million Americans by the end of July. (Washington Post / CNN)

  • Trump’s homelessness czar resigned. During his last month in his post, Robert Marbut Jr. traveled the country and showed up uninvited at shelters for tours despite restrictions put in place to prevent the spread of Covid-19 among one of the highest-risk populations. Marbut also received one of about 70 available coronavirus vaccines at one facility. (Bloomberg)

2/ The World Health Organization warned that the global number of new coronavirus cases rose for the first time in nearly two months. Over the past week, cases jumped in every region except for Africa and the Western Pacific. The WHO blamed the surge on new variants and premature efforts to lift public health restrictions. (Washington Post)

3/ Texas’s governor ended his statewide mask mandate, saying “it is now time to open Texas 100 percent.” All businesses in the state will be able to reopen next week with no capacity limits. Meanwhile, more than 6,000 people were hospitalized with Covid-19 in Texas today, with more than 1,700 of those patients in intensive care units. Nevertheless, Greg Abbott said the “state mandates are no longer needed.” Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves also lifted his state’s mask mandate, saying that hospitalizations in the state have “plummeted” and that cases have declined dramatically. CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky, meanwhile, said she was “really worried” about rolling back restrictions in some states, cautioning that with “stalling” cases and new variants spreading, “we stand to completely lose the hard-earned ground we have gained.” (New York Times / Politico / NBC News / Washington Post)

4/ FBI Director Christopher Wray told the Senate Judiciary Committee that the Jan. 6 insurrection was “an inspiration to a number of terrorist extremists” and that he considers the attack “domestic terrorism.” Wray defended the FBI’s handling of intelligence in the weeks leading up to Jan. 6, saying the FBI tracked “a large amount of information” about the potential for violence, but he didn’t explain what the FBI did with the information. Wray also told lawmakers that there’s no evidence indicating that the rioters were “fake Trump protesters” – a baseless claim that Republican Sen. Ron Johnson has advanced in recent weeks in an effort to downplay the violence committed by the pro-Trump mob. Wray said that there are 2,000 domestic terrorism investigations – up from almost 1,000 when he first started in 2017. “The problem of domestic terrorism has been metastasizing across the country for a long time now,” Wray added, “and it’s not going away anytime soon.” (Politico / NBC News / Washington Post / CNN / New York Times / NPR / Bloomberg / ABC News / Wall Street Journal)

5/ The Supreme Court is hearing arguments over two Arizona voting restrictions – one requiring election officials to discard ballots cast at the wrong precinct and the other making it a crime to collect ballots for delivery to polling places. Democrats sued, arguing that Republicans are increasingly trying to suppress the vote and that the rules discriminate against minorities and that they violate Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. The justices reportedly seemed poised to uphold both Arizona laws. (Washington Post / New York Times / NBC News)

6/ The U.S. needs 20,000 beds to shelter unaccompanied migrant children crossing the U.S.-Mexico border. While Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas has claimed yesterday that the current influx is not a crisis, Biden was briefed today that the number of migrant children is on pace to exceed the all-time record by 45%. The Department of Health and Human Services, meanwhile, plans to loosen its coronavirus protocols to make room for an additional 2,000 kids and teens. Biden has asked Mexico’s president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, for help in keeping Central American migrants from immediately surging north toward the United States through Mexico. (Axios / New York Times)

7/ The Senate confirmed Miguel Cardona as education secretary. Cardona will be tasked with helping to reopen schools, addressing inequity in the nation’s education system, and managing the $1.5 trillion federal student loan program. (Washington Post)

8/ The Biden administration sanctioned seven senior Russian government figures over the poisoning and imprisonment of opposition leader Alexei Navalny. The sanctions block access to financial or other assets in the United States. The European Union also issued its own sanctions against four top Russian officials. (ABC News / NBC News / Washington Post)

9/ The Manhattan district attorney’s office has increased its focus on the Trump Organization’s chief financial officer as part of its financial fraud investigation. District Attorney Cyrus Vance has been asking witnesses about Allen Weisselberg and his sons, Barry and Jack Weisselberg, related to whether Trump and the Trump Organization manipulated property values to obtain loans and tax benefits. In 2018, Weisselberg was granted immunity by federal prosecutors in New York as part of their criminal investigation into hush-money payments to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal during the 2016 presidential campaign. (New York Times)

10/ Former White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany will join Fox News as an on-air commentator. McEnany – who told reporters “I will never lie to you” when she took on the role of White House press secretary – routinely defended and promoted Trump’s misleading statements during press conference. (NBC News)

Day 41: "The most powerful and heartbreaking example of the cruelty that preceded this administration."

1/ The House passed Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package in a 219 to 212 vote. The measure would provide $1,400 payments to millions of Americans, speed up vaccine distribution and testing, and extend unemployment aid through the summer. More than a dozen House Republicans skipped the vote, saying they can’t attend “due to the ongoing public health emergency.” Those members, however, were scheduled to speak at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Orlando. The Senate will take up the measure this week, which currently includes hiking the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour. The bill, however, is unlikely to receive support from Senate Republicans. Federal jobless aid expires on March 14. (Politico / CNN / USA Today)

2/ Senate Democrats and the White House abandoned efforts to include a $15 minimum wage increase in order to move Biden’s $1.9 trillion relief package forward before current supplemental unemployment benefits expire on March 14. Senior Democratic lawmakers briefly considered new tax penalties on big companies that don’t pay at least $15 an hour, but dropped the plan after it became clear that getting all 50 Senate Democrats to agree on the specifics would risk missing the deadline for extending unemployment benefits. The tax idea was floated after the Senate parliamentarian ruled that the increase in the federal minimum wage would violate the chamber’s rules. A group of 23 progressive lawmakers urged Biden to keep his campaign promise to raise the minimum wage and overrule the Senate parliamentarian. The White House, however, declined to overrule the parliamentarian, saying “that’s not an action we intend to take.” Democratic Sens. Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin, meanwhile, have both said they do not support increasing the minimum wage to $15 as part of the coronavirus relief package. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said the administration would work with “members of Congress, with their staffs, about the best vehicle moving forward. But we don’t have a clear answer on what that looks like at this point.” (Washington Post / Bloomberg / Politico / CNN / ABC News / Business Insider / Wall Street Journal)

3/ The FDA authorized Johnson & Johnson’s one-shot coronavirus vaccine for emergency use. Johnson & Johnson’s initial supply will be limited to 3.9 million doses – expected to ship this week – with about 800,000 going directly to pharmacies. An estimated 20 million doses are expected by the end of March and 100 million doses by the end of June. (ABC News / NPR / New York Times / Washington Post)

  • 😷 Dept. of “We Have It Totally Under Control.”

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~114,351,000; deaths: ~2,537,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~28,649,000; deaths: ~515,000; fully vaccinated: ~7.7%; partially vaccinated: ~15.3%

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University / Washington Post

  • Biden will not consider sharing U.S. coronavirus vaccine supply with Mexico if Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador asked. White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Biden “has made clear that he is focused on ensuring that vaccines are accessible to every American. That is our focus.” (Politico)

4/ The Biden administration’s task force for reuniting migrant families separated by the Trump administration will allow those families to reunite and settle in either in the U.S. or their county of origin. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas called the separation of more than 5,500 migrant families under the Trump administration “the most powerful and heartbreaking example of the cruelty that preceded this administration.” Approximately 105 families have been reunited so far. (Politico / NBC News)

5/ The Senate Judiciary Committee voted to advance Merrick Garland’s nomination for attorney general. The vote was 15 to 7 with all Democratic senators and four Republicans in favor. (CNN / NBC News)

6/ The Biden administration won’t release the visitors logs of attendees to virtual meetings, which is the primary meeting form during the coronavirus pandemic. “Virtual meetings will not be subject to release — in the same way that previous administrations didn’t release phone logs — but we’re planning on regularly releasing the attendee lists for in-person meetings at the White House,” an official said. Before the inauguration, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the White House would release its visitor logs and that Biden wants to bring “truth and transparency back” to the White House. In 2017, three organizations sued Trump for not releasing White House visitor logs and the Secret Service agreed to stop erasing the visitors logs following Freedom of Information Act requests at the time. (Politico)

7/ Republicans, conservative activists, and media personalities have repeatedly pushed false and fictional narratives about what happened on Jan. 6, in order to rewrite the story that a mob – incited by Trump – breached the United States Capitol to keep Trump in power through violence. For nearly two months, a campaign by pro-Trump groups has tried to minimize the insurrection by advancing baseless claims that antifa provocateurs were to blame for the violence on Jan. 6; that a few troublemakers spoiled the protest; and that the riot wasn’t a big deal. And, at a Senate hearing last week, Sen. Ron Johnson repeated the falsehood that “fake Trump protesters” fomented the violence. Democrats, meanwhile, have called for more investigations of the attacks – including Trump’s role – and negotiations continue over creating an outside commission. (Washington Post / New York Times)

8/ Trump attacked Biden’s tenure as president in his first public appearance since leaving office, calling it “the most disastrous first month of any president in modern history.” Trump started his 90-minute address – which began more than an hour late – by asking the Conservative Political Action Conference crowd: “Do you miss me?” before reviving his false claims of election fraud and attacking the Supreme Court for not siding with him, saying, the justices “should be ashamed of themselves for what they’ve done to our country [they] didn’t have the guts or the courage to do anything about it.” Trump said that he is “not starting a new party,” but suggested he may run again in 2024, saying: “Who knows? I may even decide to beat them for a third time.” Trump also named every Republican who supported his second impeachment and called for them to be ousted. 95% of conference attendees said the GOP should continue to embrace Trump’s policy ideas, and 68% of attendees said Trump should run again in 2024. (NPR / New York Times / NBC News / ABC News / CNN / Politico)

Day 38: "Too complicated."

1/ The Senate parliamentarian ruled that the $15-an-hour minimum wage increase cannot be included in the $1.9 trillion Covid relief package. Elizabeth MacDonough said the plan to gradually increase the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2025 was not compliant with the rules governing the budget reconciliation process that Congress is using to pass the bill with a simple majority. Democrats used budget reconciliation to keep Republicans from filibustering the minimum wage increase in the Senate. Rep. Ilhan Omar, meanwhile, called for MacDonough to be fired and replaced, which Republicans did in 2001 when the parliamentarian ruled against their plans. The White House, however, said it will not support overruling or firing MacDonough. Despite the ruling, the House still plans to vote Friday to pass the stimulus relief package with the $15 minimum wage included and send it to the Senate. Biden has promised to support a standalone bill to raise the minimum wage to $15, but it’s unlikely to get Republican support. About 11.4 million workers will lose unemployment benefits starting March 14. (NPR / New York Times / Washington Post / NBC News / Politico / Axios / The Guardian)

2/ Biden authorized retaliatory airstrikes in Syria against two Iranian-backed militia groups. The Pentagon said the buildings belonged to Iran-backed militia groups responsible for the recent attacks against American and allied personnel in Iraq. The strikes – seven 500-pound bombs – were just over the border in Syria at an unofficial crossing at the Syria-Iraq border used to smuggle across weapons and fighters. (Politico / New York Times / Washington Post / CNN / Reuters)

3/ Biden won’t hold Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman accountable for approving the operation that led to the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. “We assess that Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman approved an operation in Istanbul, Turkey to capture or kill Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi,” a declassified intelligence report’s executive summary states. While the U.S. is preparing to levy sanctions against a group of Saudis implicated in the killing – but not Prince Mohammed himself – Biden’s national security team advised against bringing criminal charges or imposing travel sanctions that would bar MBS from entering the U.S., saying it would be “too complicated” and could jeopardized Saudi cooperation on counterterrorism and in confronting Iran. Biden’s aides said the administration would instead not invite MBS to the U.S. anytime soon. On the campaign trail, Biden promised to punish Saudi leadership for its role in Khashoggi’s murder in a way that Trump wouldn’t. (New York Times / Washington Post / CNN / ABC News / Wall Street Journal / CNN / New York Times / NBC News)

4/ The Biden administration is planning to open another tent facility in Texas in the coming weeks to house migrant families and children. The temporary U.S. Customs and Border Protection facility in Del Rio, Tex., is similar to the “soft-sided” structure that opened in Donna, Tex., three weeks ago to hold migrant family groups. The Del Rio tent facility also differs from the Carrizo Springs, Tex., facility that opened this week, which Health and Human Services uses to hold migrant teens who crossed the border without a parent. (Washington Post)

5/ The FDA advisory committee voted unanimously to recommend Johnson & Johnson’s single-shot coronavirus vaccine for emergency use. If the agency agrees, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine would be the third one cleared for use in the U.S., it will be the first vaccine to require just one dose instead of two. (NPR / USA Today / New York Times / CNBC / Politico / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal)

  • 😷 Dept. of “We Have It Totally Under Control.”

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~113,268,000; deaths: ~2,514,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~28,465,000; deaths: ~510,000; fully vaccinated: ~6.8%; partially vaccinated: ~14.2%

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University / Washington Post

6/ Mitch McConnell said he would “absolutely” support Trump as the 2024 Republican presidential nominee. Earlier this month, McConnell called Trump’s role in the deadly Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol a “disgraceful dereliction of duty,” saying “Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of the day.” (NBC News)

Day 37: "A critical step."

1/ The House passed the Equality Act, which would amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by extending civil rights protections to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. Last week Biden called the bill “a critical step toward ensuring that America lives up to our foundational values of equality and freedom for all.” The same legislation was previously passed by the House in 2019, but blocked in the Republican-led Senate. While Democrats now control the White House, House, and Senate, the measure still faces an uphill fight in the Senate, where it would need 60 votes to break a legislative filibuster. (New York Times / Washington Post / CNN)

  • Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene posted an anti-transgender sign outside of her office, which is directly across the hall from another lawmaker who has a transgender child. Rep. Marie Newman had earlier hung a transgender pride flag next to her door in protest over Greene’s opposition to the Equality Act. (NBC News / CNN)

2/ Biden ended Trump’s ban on legal immigration that had dramatically cut legal immigration to the U.S. during the coronavirus pandemic. Last spring, Trump ordered a “pause” on the issuance of green cards and halted certain temporary work visas, saying he needed to protect U.S. jobs amid high unemployment due to the coronavirus pandemic. Biden said the Trump policy did “not advance the interests of the United States” and had prevented qualified and eligible non-U.S. residents from entering the country. Biden also eliminated Trump’s effort to cut funding for cities he deemed were “permitting anarchy, violence and destruction” following anti-police brutality protests last summer. (NPR / New York Times / NBC News / CBS News / The Guardian /Bloomberg)

  • Biden revoked Trump’s executive order that made classical architecture the preferred style for federal buildings in Washington. Trump had called modern federal buildings constructed over the last five decades “undistinguished,” “uninspiring” and “just plain ugly.” Instead, Trump required all new buildings be “beautiful.” (NPR)

3/ The Biden administration reopened a tent facility in Carrizo Springs, Texas, to house up to 700 immigrant teenagers after they cross the U.S.-Mexico border unaccompanied by a parent. The facility, closed since July 2019, is reopening because permanent facilities for migrant children have had to cut capacity by 40% because of the coronavirus pandemic. The administration is also planning to reopen a for-profit emergency temporary shelter in Homestead, Florida that once held up to 3,200 children and came under fire in 2019 following reports of sexual abuse, overcrowding, and negligent hiring practices. The administration has maintained that it has to reopen the facilities because of limited capacity at existing facilities during the pandemic and an influx of unaccompanied children. (Washington Post / Associated Press / Vox / NBC News / CNN / New York Times / CBS News)

  • A federal judge indefinitely blocked the Biden’s administration from enforcing a 100-day moratorium on most deportations. Judge Drew Tipton issued the preliminary injunction sought by Texas, which argued the moratorium violated federal law and risked imposing additional costs on the state. (CBS News)

  • Lawyers have located the parents of 105 children separated by the Trump administration. The parents of 506 separated migrant children, however, still haven’t been found and 322 of them were likely to have been deported. (NBC News)

4/ A new coronavirus variant is spreading rapidly in New York City and contains a mutation that may weaken the effectiveness of vaccines. The new variant, called B.1.526, first appeared in November, but by mid-February it accounted for about 27% of NYC viral sequences deposited into a database. Meanwhile, a new variant detected in California, which goes by two names, B.1.427 and B.1.429, now makes up more than half of the infections in 44 counties in the state. (New York Times / Washington Post)

  • 😷 Dept. of “We Have It Totally Under Control.”

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~112,869,000; deaths: ~2,505,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~28,398,000; deaths: ~508,000; fully vaccinated: ~6.2%; partially vaccinated: ~13.6%

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University / Washington Post

5/ Another 730,000 people filed for initial unemployment benefits – down from 841,000 the previous week. Continuing claims decreased to a pandemic-era low of 4.42 million, which is significantly higher than the pre-pandemic norm. Although the unemployment rate stands at 6.3%, a broader measure that includes those who have given up on their job searches is closer to 10%. (CNBC / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal / Politico)

6/ Acting U.S. Capitol Police Chief Yogananda Pittman warned that the same groups involved in the Jan. 6 insurrection want to “blow up the Capitol” and “kill as many members as possible” during Biden’s first official address to Congress. During a House Appropriations subcommittee hearing on the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol, Pittman told lawmakers that over 10,000 pro-Trump rioters came onto the Capitol grounds and that more than 800 of them ended up breaching the building. “Officers were unsure of when to use lethal force on Jan. 6,” Pittman said. “The department will also implement significant training to refresh our officers as to the use of lethal force.” Biden is expected to deliver an address to a joint session of Congress after passing Covid-19 relief. (NBC News / CNN / Bloomberg / New York Times / Washington Post)

7/ Trump’s tax returns and other financial documents were turned over to the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office. Cyrus Vance’s office enforced a subpoena on Trump’s accounting firm, Mazars USA, after the Supreme Court rejected Trump’s request to prevent the millions of pages of records from being handed over as part of an ongoing criminal grand jury investigation. Trump spent nearly 18 months trying to keep the records secret. (Washington Post / New York Times / CNN / Politico / CBS News / NBC News / CNBC)

8/ The Senate voted 64-35 to confirm Jennifer Granholm as secretary of the Department of Energy. Granholm – the second woman to head the department – is expected to play a major role in Biden’s promises to accelerate and expand the country’s shift renewable energy sources. (Axios)

9/ Postmaster General Louis DeJoy apologized for “unacceptable” mail delays during the holiday season in testimony before the House Oversight Committee, but warned that the postal system is “in a death spiral” and needs legislation to help restore it to financial stability. During testimony, DeJoy told lawmakers he intends to be around “a long time,” saying: “Get used to me.” Shortly after DeJoy testified, however, Biden announced three nominees to the Postal Service’s Board of Governors, which has the power to appoint and replace the postmaster general. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Biden wants to see leaders who can do a “better job” running USPS. (NPR / ABC News / Politico / Washington Post / NBC News / Bloomberg

Day 36: "More must be done."

1/ House Democrats plan to pass the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill by Friday, setting up the Senate to approve the bill with a simple majority, and send it to Biden before March 14, when several unemployment programs expire. A ruling from the Senate parliamentarian is expected soon about whether Biden’s proposed $15-an-hour minimum wage increase would be allowable under Senate “budget reconciliation” rules. Meanwhile, more than 150 American companies urged congressional leaders to pass “immediate and large-scale federal legislation to address the health and economic crises brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic,” saying “more must be done to put the country on a trajectory for a strong, durable recovery.” (CNBC / Washington Post / CNN / Bloomberg)

  • 😷 Dept. of “We Have It Totally Under Control.”

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~112,420,000; deaths: ~2,493,000
  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~28,322,000; deaths: ~505,000; vaccinated: ~13.4% of total population
  • Source: Johns Hopkins University / Washington Post

2/ The FDA said Johnson & Johnson’s coronavirus vaccine meets the requirements for emergency use authorization in a document posted ahead of Friday’s FDA advisers meeting, setting the stage the third effective vaccine developed in under a year to be authorized in the U.S. FDA scientists found that the single dose vaccine was 85% effective at preventing severe illness in clinical trials and 66% effective at preventing Covid-19 cases with any symptoms. (ABC News / New York Times / Washington Post)

3/ The Biden administration will make 25 million masks available – for free – to Americans at community health centers and food banks. The masks will be delivered by Department of Health and Human Services, in partnership with the Department of Defense starting in March through May. (ABC News)

4/ Two Senate committees postponed Neera Tanden’s confirmation hearing – Biden’s pick to head the White House Office of Management and Budget. The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee and the Senate Budget Committee were set to vote on Tanden’s nomination Wednesday ahead of a full Senate floor vote, but postponed “because members are asking for more time to consider the nominee.” (Axios / USA Today / Politico)

5/ The Biden administration is expected to release a U.S. intelligence report that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman approved the 2018 killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Separately, documents filed as part of a Canadian civil lawsuit say two private jets used by the Saudi assassination squad that killed and dismembered Khashoggi were owned by a company that the crown prince had seized less than a year before. Biden reportedly plans to call Saudi Arabia’s King Salman ahead of Thursday’s release of the report, which would be Biden’s first conversation as president with the Saudi king. (Reuters / CNN / The Guardian / Axios)

6/ The Washington, DC, attorney general’s office deposed Trump Jr. related to a lawsuit alleging the misuse of Trump inaugural funds. The attorney general’s office alleges that the Trump Organization signed a contract for a block of rooms at the the Loews Madison hotel during the 2017 inauguration, but forwarded the invoice to the Presidential Inaugural Committee, which then paid the bill. (CNN)

  • The Manhattan district attorney’s office subpoenaed Steve Bannon’s financial records related to crowd-funding border wall effort. The New Jersey attorney general’s office has also launched a civil inquiry into We Build the Wall, in addition to the criminal investigation. (CNN)

poll/ 61% of adults say the possibility that students will fall behind academically without in-person instruction should be given a lot of consideration as K-12 schools decide whether to reopen. In July 2020, 48% said students falling behind academically should be given a lot of consideration about whether to open for in-person instruction in the fall. (Pew Research Center)

poll/ 5.6% of U.S. adults identify as LGBT – up from 4.5% since 2017. (Gallup)

Day 35: "Intelligence failures."

1/ Officials in charge of Capitol security on Jan. 6 blamed “intelligence failures” by the federal government for the “coordinated, military-style” attack on Congress that threatened the peaceful transfer of power. Testifying before a joint bipartisan committee of senators, former Capitol Police chief Steven Sund said he never saw a Jan. 5 FBI report warning that extremists were preparing to travel to Washington to commit violence and wage “war” on Jan. 6. “A clear lack of accurate and complete intelligence across several federal agencies contributed to this event, and not poor planning by the United States Capitol Police,” Sund said. “But none of the intelligence we received predicted what actually occurred.” Former House Sergeant-at-Arms Paul Irving said that while they were informed that Congress would be a target and some protesters could be armed, “the intelligence was not that there would be a coordinated assault on the Capitol, nor was that contemplated in any of the inter-agency discussions that I attended in the days before the attack.” Acting D.C. police chief Robert Contee added that he and Sund called the National Guard for help after the mob stormed the building, but a top Pentagon official said he would recommend against deploying the National Guard for fear of the “optics” of armed troops in front of the Capitol. (NBC News / Politico / New York Times / Washington Post / Bloomberg / CNN / USA Today / BuzzFeed News / ABC News / Wall Street Journal)

2/ The House is expected to approve Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief proposal this week, after the House Budget Committee advanced the bill on Monday. The House will likely pass the bill, which includes $1,400 in direct payments to Americans, money for vaccine distribution and funding to state and local governments, in a party-line vote. It’s unclear, however, whether raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2025 will be included in the final Senate version of the legislation. Republicans, meanwhile, have proposed raising the federal minimum wage to $10, but only if businesses are required to use the E-Verify system designed to prevent employers from hiring undocumented workers. (CBS News / USA Today)

3/ The Biden administration is preparing sanctions to punish Russia for poisoning and jailing Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, as well as the SolarWinds hack on government agencies and private companies. The administration is calling the SolarWinds operation “indiscriminate” and “disruptive,” which was not equivalent to the kind of espionage the U.S. conducts. The U.S. is expected to coordinate sanctions with European allies in the coming weeks. (Washington Post / Politico)

4/ Democrats accused Sen. Joe Manchin – a conservative Democrat – and Republicans of having a “double standard” when it comes to confirming the women and people of color that Biden has nominated. Manchin said he was opposed to Neera Tanden becoming the first Asian American woman to lead the Office of Management and Budget because of her past tweets attacking lawmakers on both sides of the aisle. Democrats, however, argued that after Trump, there is no justification for having someone’s tweets disqualify them. Manchin has also indicated that he was having doubts about Deb Haaland, who would become the first Native woman to run the Interior, while Republicans have accused Haaland of being “radical,” because of her support for progressive environmental policies and opposition to new oil and gas drilling leases on federal land. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, meanwhile, pointed out that Manchin had voted to confirm Jeff Sessions – Trump’s first attorney general – despite accusations of racism throughout his career. Rep. Grace Meng added that “in the past, Trump nominees that they’ve confirmed and supported had much more serious issues and conflicts than just something that was written on Twitter.” Manchin responded, saying “I’m all about bipartisanship. I really am […] This is not personal at all.” Republicans have also pushed back on Xavier Becerra – Biden’s choice to run the Heath and Human Services Department – citing his views on expanding health care and abortion access to unauthorized immigrants. (Politico / The Guardian)

  • The Senate voted 78-20 to confirm Linda Thomas-Greenfield as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. Thomas-Greenfield promised to restore the U.S. role as a defender of human rights and will look to repair multilateral relationships. (Axios)

  • The Senate confirmed Tom Vilsack as agriculture secretary. The vote was 92-7. (CNN)

  • Georgia Republican David Perdue will not run against an incumbent Democrat, Senator Raphael Warnock, in 2022 – one week after filing paperwork for a new campaign and days after visiting with Trump. (New York Times / Atlanta Journal-Constitution / CNBC)

Day 34: "The work continues."

1/ The U.S. death toll from the coronavirus topped 500,000 with more than 28,000,000 confirmed cases. More Americans have died from Covid-19 than in World War I, World War II, and the Vietnam War combined – and public health officials have said the actual death toll is likely significantly higher. Dr. Anthony Fauci called the death toll a “stunning,” “terrible,” “really horrible,” and “historic” figure, adding that the U.S. had “done worse than most any other country” despite being a “highly developed, rich country.” On February 23, 2020, Trump suggested that the coronavirus is “going to go away,” because “we’ve had no deaths” and “we have it very much under control in this country.” The coronavirus has killed more than 2,462,000 people worldwide. (NBC News / New York Times / ABC News / Politico / Washington Post / CNN / The Guardian / Wall Street Journal)

  • 😷 Dept. of “We Have It Totally Under Control.”

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~111,643,000; deaths: ~2,472,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~28,175,000; deaths: ~500,000; vaccinated: ~13.3% of total population

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University / Washington Post

  • First doses of the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines have reduced Covid-19 hospital admissions among the elderly in the U.K. by up to 85% and 94%, respectively. (Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / Bloomberg)

2/ Biden altered the Paycheck Protection Program to direct more funding toward very small businesses and those owned by minorities or located in underserved communities. Starting March 9, businesses with more than 20 employees will be shut out of the PPP for two weeks. Biden criticized the PPP’s early rollout for privileging larger businesses with existing banking connections while smaller businesses struggled to obtain relief. The administration, however, has not said whether it will seek to extend the program after the current funding expires March 31. (NBC News / Washington Post / New York Times / Wall Street Journal)

3/ The Supreme Court rejected Trump’s last-ditch effort to keep his private financial records from the Manhattan district attorney. After a four-month delay, the court denied Trump’s motion in a one-sentence order with no recorded dissents, clearing the way for prosecutors in New York City to receive eight years of his tax returns and other financial records as part of an ongoing investigation into possible tax, insurance, and bank fraud. Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance can now enforce a subpoena to Trump’s accountants, Mazars USA, to turn over records Trump has repeatedly refused to surrender. Mazars previously said it would comply with the final ruling of the courts. “The work continues,” Vance said in response to the Supreme Court order. (Politico / Washington Post / New York Times / Bloomberg / NBC News / CNN / ABC News / The Guardian)

4/ The confirmation of Neera Tanden to lead the Office of Management and Budget is in doubt after two Republicans and a Democrat said they will vote against her nomination. Sens. Susan Collins, Mitt Romney, and Joe Manchin said Tanden’s “past actions” on social media behavior, including criticizing Bernie Sanders and Mitch McConnell, demonstrated the animosity that Biden “pledged to transcend” and that the OMB nominee did not have the “experience nor the temperament” to lead the office. The White House, meanwhile, signaled that it will continue to support Tanden, despite her path to confirmation growing increasingly narrow. (Politico / NBC News / Bloomberg / New York Times / Washington Post / Politico / CNN)

  • Republicans in the House and Senate are demanding that Biden withdraw the nomination of Xavier Becerra to head the Department of Health and Human Services, because of his support for abortion rights and “Medicare for All.” Despite the GOP’s opposition to Becerra, Democrats are confident they have the votes to get Becerra confirmed. (Politico / National Reviews)

5/ The U.S. Supreme Court declined to take up Republican challenges to the presidential election results in Pennsylvania. Trump and the Pennsylvania Republican Party had urged the justices to review a Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruling, which had extended the deadline for receiving mail-in ballots until three days after the election. About 10,000 ballots arrived during the three-day window – short of the number needed to overturn Biden’s 80,555-vote victory in the state. The justices offered no public explanation for their decision, but Justice Clarence Thomas dissented. (Washington Post / Politico / CNN)

6/ Dominion Voting Systems sued MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell for more than $1.3 billion, alleging that the Trump ally spread a baseless conspiracy theory that its voting machines were rigged “because the lie sells pillows.” Trump’s lawyers, Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani, have also each been sued by Dominion for $1.3 billion in damages. (Axios / ABC News / CNBC / NPR)

7/ The Justice Department and the FBI are investigating communications between the rioters who attacked the Capitol and Roger Stone. For weeks Justice Department officials have debated whether to open a full investigation into Stone, but if they find messages showing that Stone knew about or took part in plans to disrupt the certification of Biden’s electoral victory, officials would have a basis to open a full criminal investigation into Stone. Trump commuted Stone’s sentence in July and pardoned him in late December. The pardon, however, does not protect Stone from future prosecutions. (New York Times / Washington Post)

8/ Trump will speak at next week’s Conservative Political Action Conference – his first public appearance since leaving office. Trump reportedly intends to attack Biden’s immigration plan and tell attendees that he is Republicans’ “presumptive 2024 nominee” for president. (Axios / The Guardian / New York Times / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal)

poll/ 17% of Trump voters believe Biden was legitimately elected president, while 73% say Biden wasn’t legitimately elected. (USA Today / Suffolk University)

Day 31: "We have a lot to do."

1/ The United States officially returned to the Paris climate accord, four years after the Trump administration abandoned the global climate pact. “This is a global existential crisis,” Biden said. “We can no longer delay or do the bare minimum to address climate change.” Under the terms of the agreement, the U.S. would reduce its emissions by about 25% by 2025. The country, however, is only on track to achieve about a 17% reduction and Biden has promised to chart a path toward net-zero U.S. emissions by 2050. “We know that just doing Paris is not enough,” John Kerry said, Biden’s special envoy for climate. “We feel an obligation to work overtime to try to make up the difference. We have a lot to do.” (Associated Press / NBC News / NPR / CNN / Bloomberg / The Guardian / Reuters)

2/ Biden affirmed that the United States is “fully committed” to NATO but warned global leaders that “democratic progress is under assault” and the world faces an “inflection point” that could result in a tilt toward autocracy. Without mentioning Trump, Biden said “I know the past few years have strained and tested our transatlantic relationship,” but the U.S. is “determined to reengage with Europe, to consult with you, to earn back our position of trusted leadership.” (New York Times / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / ABC News / NBC News / Bloomberg)

  • The Biden administration said it was ready to restore the Iran nuclear deal that the Trump administration abandoned, offering to hold talks with other world powers and Iran to discuss Tehran’s nuclear program. (NBC News / New York Times / Bloomberg)

3/ Biden privately told a group of mayors and governors that the $15-an-hour minimum wage hike was unlikely to be in the final Covid-19 relief bill. “I really want this in there but it just doesn’t look like we can do it because of reconciliation,” Biden told the group. House Democrats, meanwhile, released the full text of the $1.9 trillion stimulus bill, which includes an increase in the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour, $1,400 direct checks for Americans making $75,000 or less, an extension of $400 federal unemployment benefits, and money for small businesses. (Politico / CNN)

4/ The Manhattan district attorney’s office enlisted an expert on white-collar crime to investigate Trump and the Trump Organization. District Attorney Cyrus Vance is investigating possible tax and bank-related fraud, including whether the Trump Organization inflated the value of its properties to obtain loans and tax benefits. Mark Pomerantz will serve as a special assistant district attorney and work exclusively on the Trump investigation. (New York Times)

  • A venture capitalist who donated nearly $1 million to Trump’s inaugural committee was sentenced to 12 years in prison. Imaad Zuberi pleaded guilty to tax evasion for filing false foreign agent registration records and providing illegal campaign contributions while lobbying high-level U.S. officials. Zuberi funneled from foreign entities over five years between 2012 and 2016, including a $900,000 contribution to the Trump inaugural committee in December 2016. Zuberi was also fined $1.75 million and ordered to pay $15.7 million in restitution. (NBC News)

5/ The U.S. Capitol Police suspended six officers with pay for their actions during the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol. Another 29 are under investigation. Acting Chief Yogananda Pittman “has directed that any member of her department whose behavior is not in keeping with the Department’s Rules of Conduct will face appropriate discipline.” The Justice Department, meanwhile, charged six people suspected of being members of the Oath Keepers, alleging that they “did knowingly combine, conspire, confederate, and agree with each other and others known and unknown” to force entry to the Capitol and obstruct Congress from certifying the election results. (CNN / NBC News / CNBC / Washington Post / New York Times)

poll/ 56% of Americans are dissatisfied with U.S. gun laws and policy – the ninth consecutive year of dissatisfaction. (Gallup)

Day 30: "Restore common sense."

1/ The coronavirus pandemic cut life expectancy in the U.S. by an entire year in the first half of 2020 – the largest drop since World War II. Overall, Americans can now expect to live 77.8 years – similar to what it was in 2006. Life expectancy of the Black population, however, declined by 2.7 years to 72 years. The CDC noted that the data only reflects deaths that occurred during the first six months of 2020 and does not show the full impact of Covid-19. (New York Times / Washington Post / NBC News / Associated Press / CNN)

  • 😷 Dept. of “We Have It Totally Under Control.”

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~110,181,000; deaths: ~2,438,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~27,882,000; deaths: ~493,000; vaccinated: ~12.7% of total population

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University / Washington Post

2/ Another 861,000 people filed for unemployment last week – up 13,000 from the prior week – and another 516,000 claims were filed last week for the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, a program for gig and self employed workers. The total number of people claiming benefits in all unemployment programs was 18.34 million. According to the Labor Department, since the beginning of the pandemic some 2.5 million women have left the American work force, compared with 1.8 million men. (Bloomberg / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / CNBC / New York Times)

  • More than 100 million workers in the world’s largest economies may need to switch occupation by 2030 as the Covid-19 pandemic accelerates changes to the labor force. (Bloomberg)

3/ The White House pledged $4 billion dollars to an international effort to get coronavirus vaccines to low- and middle-income countries. Despite more than 190 countries participating in the Covax program, the Trump administration opted out, partly because of Trump’s feud with the WHO. The U.S. will contribute an initial $2 billion in the coming days and the remaining $2 billion over the next two years. (Washington Post / NBC News)

4/ The U.S. attorney in Brooklyn and the FBI are investigating how New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo handled the Covid-19 pandemic in the state’s nursing homes. Cuomo’s administration recently revealed that more than 15,000 people have died from the coronavirus in New York’s nursing homes and long-term care facilities – up from the 8,500 previously disclosed – and his top aide admitted in a call with state lawmakers that the state had withheld data because it feared that the Trump administration would use the information to begin a federal civil rights investigation. Democrats in the New York State Senate, meanwhile, accused Cuomo of a “cover-up” and are moving to strip him of the emergency powers granted during the pandemic. Cuomo also allegedly threatened to “destroy” a New York State Assemblyman’s political career if he didn’t help cover up the nursing home-related deaths. (NBC News / New York Times / Wall Street Journal / CNN)

5/ Ted Cruz and his family flew to Cancun as 3 million Texans were left without power, safe drinking water, or heat amid freezing weather. After photos surfaced of his family boarding a flight from Houston, Cruz claimed he flew to Mexico for the night because his “girls asked to take a trip with friends” and he wanted to be a “good dad.” The CDC, however, has advised that Americans “avoid all travel to Mexico” due to the coronavirus pandemic and that “[a]ll air passengers coming to the United States, including U.S. citizens, are required to have a negative COVID-19 test” before boarding a U.S.-bound flight. Cruz, meanwhile, booked his return ticket from Cancun to Texas at 6 a.m. today. (Washington Post / New York Times / Associated Press / CNN / Axios / Dallas Morning News)

6/ Biden approved emergency declarations for Oklahoma and Texas as the region battles the effects of severe winter weather. The declaration authorizes FEMA to coordinate disaster relief, including sending generators, blankets, and other supplies. (The Hill / Washington Post)

7/ Congressional Democrats introduced a Biden-backed bill to remake the U.S. immigration system and provide a path to citizenship for millions of undocumented Americans. The U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021, while unlikely to win Republican support, would provide an eight-year pathway to citizenship for 11 million people living in the country without legal status, remove restrictions on family-based immigration, and expand worker visas. “We have an economic and moral imperative to pass big, bold and inclusive immigration reform,” Sen. Bob Menendez said, adding: “We’re here today because last November 80 million Americans voted against Donald Trump and against everything he stood for. They voted to restore common sense, compassion, and competence in our government. And part of that mandate is fixing our immigration system, which is a cornerstone of Trump’s hateful horror show.” (NBC News / New York Times / CNN / Associated Press / Axios)

8/ The White House and congressional Democrats are divided over efforts to force Trump’s former White House counsel to testify about Trump’s efforts to obstruct the Russia inquiry. Under Trump, the Justice Department had been representing Donald McGahn in fighting a subpoena from House Judiciary Committee to testify at an oversight hearing. In a court filing, however, the Biden administration asked “whether an accommodation might be available with respect to the Committee’s request” to force McGahn to testify at an oversight hearing. House Democrats urged the court to move forward in the “interests of judicial efficiency or fairness to the parties.” Biden’s White House lawyers are reportedly worried about establishing a precedent that could someday force them to testify about internal matters. (New York Times)

9/ The Supreme Court has refused – for nearly four months – to act on emergency filings related to a Manhattan grand jury’s subpoena of Trump tax returns. The grand jury is seeking Trump personal and business records back to 2011, including information about the hush-money payments Michael Cohen made to cover up alleged affairs. The justices have not explained the delay.(CNN)

10/ Nearly 5,000 National Guard troops will remain in Washington through mid-March amid concerns that QAnon followers believe Trump will return to office March 4. During a hearing with defense officials, the top Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee said “Some of these people have figured out that apparently 75 years ago, the president used to be inaugurated on March 4. OK, now why that’s relevant, God knows, at any rate, now they are thinking maybe we should gather again and storm the Capitol on March 4. … That is circulating online.” (CNN / The Hill)

11/ South Carolina banned most abortions. After South Carolina lawmakers passed a restrictive “fetal heartbeat” abortion ban bill and S.C. Gov. Henry McMaster signed it into law – five weeks into the legislative session – legislators and members of the public began singing the words “Praise God” to the tune of “Amazing Grace.” (Associated Press / The State)

Day 29: "I'm tired of talking about Donald Trump."

1/ Biden suggested that anyone in the country who wants a vaccine should be able to get one “by the end of July.” Jeff Zients, White House COVID-19 response coordinator, said in a task force briefing that “We are on track to have enough vaccine supply for 300 million Americans by the end of July.” The U.S. has averaged 1.64 million doses a day over the last week and about 56.3 million total doses have been administered. If the pace of vaccination stays where it is now, Biden’s initial goal of 100 million Covid-19 vaccine shots in the first 100 days of his presidency would be met in late March – around Day 67 of his presidency. (New York Times / USA Today / The Guardian)

  • 😷 Dept. of “We Have It Totally Under Control.”

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~109,837,000; deaths: ~2,428,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~27,812,000; deaths: ~490,000; vaccinated: ~12.2% of total population

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University / Washington Post

  • About a third of U.S. military personnel are declining to be vaccinated. About 960,000 members of the military and its contractors have been vaccinated. (New York Times)

2/ Biden clarified that his goal is to open the majority of K-8 schools by the end of his first 100 days in office. When asked to explain what he meant by “open,” Biden said, “I think many of them five days a week. The goal will be five days a week” in person. Last week, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the administration wants more than 50% of schools to have “some teaching” in person “at least one day a week” – not fully reopened – by the end of April. Kamala Harris, meanwhile, stressed that teachers should be given priority for Covid-19 vaccinations, but wouldn’t say if she believed that teacher vaccinations should be a prerequisite for reopening schools. Dr. Anthony Fauci, however, added that vaccinating all teachers against Covid-19 before reopening schools is a “non-workable” solution. (NPR / NBC News / Politico)

3/ The Biden administration will invest more than $1.6 billion to expand coronavirus testing and genetic sequencing. About $650 million will go toward testing in K-8 schools and homeless shelters, $815 million will increase manufacturing to address shortages in testing supplies, and $200 million will go to increasing genetic sequencing efforts to help track existing and new variants. The White House called the $200 million a “down payment” that would increase the number of virus samples that labs can sequence jumping from around 7,000 to around 25,000 each week. Testing coordinator Carole Johnson, meanwhile, described the $1.6 billion package a “pilot” that will serve as a bridge until Congress passes the $1.9 trillion Covid-19 relief bill. (Washington Post / Politico / New York Times)

4/ Biden declined to support Democratic proposals to cancel up to $50,000 per borrower in student loan debt, saying “I will not make that happen.” Biden, however, said he was prepared to cancel $10,000 in debt, but anything more than that would require congressional action. Chuck Schumer and Elizabeth Warren, and other lawmakers introduced a resolution in early February calling on Biden to use executive action to wipe out up to $50,000 in student loan debt, arguing that the secretary of education has broad administrative authority to cancel the federal debt. In response to Biden’s dismissal to forgiving student debt, Schumer and Warren issued a joint statement saying that action is needed “to immediately deliver much-needed relief to millions of Americans.” “It’s time to act. We will keep fighting,” they added. (NBC News / CNN / Washington Post / Bloomberg)

5/ Economists warn that millions of jobs that have been eliminated by the coronavirus pandemic are permanent and unlikely to come back. A report coming out later this week from the McKinsey Global Institute says that 20% of business travel won’t come back and about 20% of workers could end up working from home indefinitely, which means fewer jobs at hotels, restaurants, and downtown shops. (Washington Post)

poll/ 52% of voters approve of the job Biden is doing as president. In February, 2017, voters gave Trump a 38% approval rating. (Quinnipiac)


✏️ Notables.

  1. The Biden administration will send generators to Texas amid ongoing power outages and freezing weather. Biden also declared a state of emergency in Texas over the weekend. (Axios)

  2. The Pentagon delayed promotions for two female generals over fears that Trump would replace them before leaving office. Then-Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, agreed to delay their promotion recommendations for Gen. Jacqueline Van Ovost of the Air Force and Lt. Gen. Laura Richardson of the Army until after the November elections on the assumption that the Biden administration would be more supportive. Both promotions are expected to go to the White House and then to the Senate for approval within the next few weeks. (New York Times)

  3. Dominion Voting Systems “imminently” plans to sue MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell over his claims about nonexistent election fraud. The suit would make Lindell the third Trump ally sued by Dominion after the company filed $1.3 billion suits against attorneys Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani. (Daily Beast)

  4. Trump issued a highly personal statement attacking Mitch McConnell after McConnell voted no on impeachment but said he held Trump “practically and morally responsible” for the assault on the Capitol on Jan. 6. Trump called McConnell a “dour, sullen, and unsmiling political hack” who “doesn’t have what it takes,” claiming that McConnell cost Republicans the Senate and that senator won his reelection because of his endorsement. “If Republican senators are going to stay with him,” Trump said, “they will not win again.” (New York Times / Politico / NBC News)

  5. Biden said he’s spoken to all former presidents “with one exception.” Trump was the first president in modern history to decline to meet with his successor. After confirming that he hasn’t spoken to Trump, Biden added: “I’m tired of talking about Donald Trump, don’t want to talk about him anymore.” [Editor’s note: Amen.] (CNN / Axios)

Day 28: "Get to the truth."

1/ The chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee sued Trump, Rudy Giuliani, and two extremist groups, accusing them of conspiring to incite the violent riot at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 in order to interfere with Congress’ certification of the Electoral College count. The lawsuit, filed by the NAACP on behalf of Rep. Bennie Thompson, alleges that Trump and Giuliani, in collaboration with the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers, violated the Ku Klux Klan Act, an 1871 statute designed to protect lawmakers from violent interference in Congress’s constitutional duties. The suit, filed in federal court in Washington, says that by repeatedly claiming that the election was stolen, Trump and Giuliani “endorsed rather than discouraged” threats of violence from his supporters in the weeks leading up to the assault on the Capitol. And, at the Jan. 6 rally near the White House, the two “began stoking the crowd’s anger and urging them to take action to forcibly seize control of the process for counting and approving the Electoral College ballots.” (Washington Post / New York Times / Wall Street Journal / Politico / Associated Press / NPR / NBC News / The Guardian / ABC News / CNN / Axios)

2/ The White House said Biden would support efforts to establish the creation of a “9/11-type commission” to investigate the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. Nancy Pelosi said Monday that the House would move to establish an independent commission for Congress to “get to the truth” of the Capitol attack as well as “the interference with the peaceful transfer of power.” Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, said the White House would also cooperate with Congress to deter similar episodes in the future. (Politico / New York Times / NBC News / Washington Post / CNN)

3/ House Democrats are finalizing the details of Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package, aiming to vote on final legislation Feb. 26. Currently, the legislation would provide billions of dollars for schools and small businesses, extend unemployment benefits through the fall, provide $1,400 in direct payments, and gradually increase in the federal minimum wage to $15. While the full House could pass the legislation as soon as next week, two Democrats in the Senate have voiced opposition to raising the federal minimum wage. Any changes made in the Senate would mean that the bill would have to go back to the House for another vote. (New York Times / Bloomberg / CNBC / CNN)

  • 😷 Dept. of “We Have It Totally Under Control.”

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~109,387,000; deaths: ~2,415,000
  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~27,740,000; deaths: ~488,000; vaccinated: ~12% of total population
  • Source: Johns Hopkins University / Washington Post

4/ Biden extended the federal moratorium on home foreclosure through the end of June, saying the pandemic had “triggered a housing affordability crisis.” Biden had previously extended the moratorium, which was set to expire at the end of January, until the end of March in an executive actions on his first day in office. The White House also extended the enrollment window to request forbearance mortgage and six months of additional forbearance for those who enroll on or before June 30. The moves will benefit about 2.7 million homeowners currently in Covid-19 forbearance and extend the availability of forbearance options for around 11 million other government-backed mortgages nationwide. (NBC News / CNBC / New York Times / Wall Street Journal)

5/ The Biden administration will increase coronavirus vaccine doses sent to states to 13.5 million a week – up from 11 million doses. The White House will also double vaccines doses shipped to pharmacies, increasing the number of doses per week from 1 million to 2 million. White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the weekly vaccine doses sent to states represents a 57% increase in supply since Biden was inaugurated Jan. 20. About 12% of the U.S. population has received at least one dose of a vaccine. (Washington Post / The Guardian / Bloomberg)

Day 27: "A disgraceful dereliction of duty."

1/ Trump was acquitted for the second time in 13 months. The Senate voted 57-43 Saturday in favor of convicting Trump – one month and a week after insurrectionists incited a riot at the Capitol on Jan. 6 – 10 votes short of the required two-thirds majority necessary for conviction. Republicans Richard Burr, Bill Cassidy, Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski, Mitt Romney, Ben Sasse, and Patrick Toomey joined all 50 Democrats in voting to find Trump guilty of “incitement of insurrection” – the largest number of senators to vote to find a president of their own party guilty of high crimes and misdemeanors. Trump is also the only U.S. president to have been impeached twice. (New York Times / Washington Post / Associated Press / Politico / ABC News)

  • 👑 Six hours of paralysis: Inside Trump’s failure to act after a mob stormed the Capitol. “He was hard to reach, and you know why? Because it was live TV,” said one close Trump adviser. “If it’s TiVo, he just hits pause and takes the calls. If it’s live TV, he watches it, and he was just watching it all unfold.” (Washington Post)

  • 👑 One Legacy of Impeachment: The most complete account so far of Jan. 6. “Though Mr. Trump escaped conviction, the Senate impeachment trial has served at least one purpose: It stitched together the most comprehensive and chilling account to date of last month’s deadly assault on the Capitol, ensuring that the former president’s name will be inextricably associated with a violent attempt to subvert the peaceful transfer of power, the first in American history.” (New York Times)

2/ Before the vote to acquit, House impeachment managers unexpectedly called for witnesses after Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler said House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy told her that Trump supported the mob in a phone call as the Jan. 6 attack was unfolding. Herrera Beutler said that McCarthy had relayed the details of his call with Trump to her, and that McCarthy asked Trump “to publicly and forcefully call off the riot.” Trump, instead, reportedly told McCarthy: “Well, Kevin, I guess these people are more upset about the election than you are.” House impeachment managers seized on her account, saying they wanted to subpoena her as a witness. The Senate then voted to call witnesses, which was reversed a few hours later after a deal to allow her statement read into the record. Trump’s attorney also threatened to seek depositions from 100 or more witnesses, which would have delayed Biden’s agenda by dragging out the trial. (Washington Post / New York Times / NPR / Bloomberg / ABC News / NBC News)

3/ Mitch McConnell denounced Trump minutes after voting to acquit, saying Trump was guilty of a “disgraceful dereliction of duty.” In his post-acquittal speech, McConnell said that Trump was “morally and practically responsible for provoking” the Jan. 6 insurrection, but said he is “constitutionally not eligible for conviction” because he is no longer in office. The Senate trial occurred after Trump left office because McConnell said he would not call back the Senate before lawmakers were set to return Jan. 19 unless every senator agreed to do so. The House impeached Trump on Jan. 13. McConnell also suggested that Trump could still face criminal liability, saying “The Constitution makes perfectly clear that Presidential criminal misconduct while in office can be prosecuted after the President has left office,” adding that Trump “didn’t get away with anything yet.” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, meanwhile, called it “pathetic” for McConnell to have “kept the Senate shut down” and unable to receive the article of impeachment. Pelosi added that the 43 Republicans who voted to acquit Trump are “a cowardly group […] who apparently have no options, because they were afraid to defend their job, respect the institution in which they serve.” (New York Times / USA Today / NBC News / Washington Post)

4/ Trump celebrated the Senate voting to acquit him of inciting an insurrection minutes after the verdict was announced, calling the proceedings “yet another phase of the greatest witch hunt” perpetuated against him by “one political party.” Trump suggested that the Democrats’ attempt to end his political career had failed, saying “our historic, patriotic and beautiful movement to Make America Great Again has only just begun.” Lindsey Graham said Trump remains the party’s “most potent force” even after his second impeachment and that “the Trump movement is alive and well.” Trump, however, has reportedly voiced concern about being charged related to Jan. 6 riot. (NPR / Bloomberg / New York Times / Politico)

  • New York prosecutors are investigating more than $280 million in loans Trump took out for four Manhattan buildings. In court filings, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance said he is pursuing an investigation into possible insurance and bank fraud by the Trump Organization and its officers. (Wall Street Journal)

  • The Fulton County district attorney plans to investigate the post-Election Day phone call between Sen. Lindsey Graham and Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger as part of a criminal investigation into whether Trump or his allies broke Georgia laws while trying to reverse his defeat in the state.(Washington Post)

5/ Lawmakers in both parties called for a bipartisan 9/11-style commission to investigate why government officials and law enforcement failed to stop the attack on the U.S. Capitol. In a letter to House Democrats, Nancy Pelosi said “our next step will be to establish an outside, independent 9/11-type Commission to ‘investigate and report on the facts and causes relating to the January 6, 2021 domestic terrorist attack upon the United States Capitol Complex.’” A commission is the primary remaining option for Congress to try to hold Trump accountable for his role in the assault. Separately, two Senate committees will investigate security failures during the riots, and Nancy Pelosi has also asked the House for a review of the Capitol’s security process. (The Guardian / New York Times / CNN / ABC News / Associated Press)

poll/ 58% of American believe Trump should have been convicted. 61% said Trump’s conduct warranted him being impeached and put on trial. (ABC News)

poll/ 75% of Republicans say they’d like to see Trump play a prominent role in the Republican Party. Overall, 60% of Americans do not want Trump to play a prominent role in the party. (Quinnipiac)

poll/ 62% of Americans say a third political party is needed – up from 57% in September. 33% of Americans say the two major parties are doing an adequate job representing the public. (Gallup)


✏️ Notables.

  1. For the first time since November, the daily average of new coronavirus infections in the U.S. fell below 100,000 – well below the average daily infection rate of 200,000 for December and nearly 250,000 in January. (NPR / NBC News)

  2. The U.S. is administering about 1.7 million coronavirus vaccines a day and more than 50 million Americans have now received the Covid-19 vaccine. (New York Times / ABC)

  3. Biden reopened the federal health insurance marketplace on for three months so that uninsured people can buy a plan and those who want to change their marketplace coverage can do so. (NPR / Axios)

  4. The WHO authorized the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine for emergency use. The vaccine will be distributed mainly to low- and middle-income countries as part of the global COVAX initiative. (Politico / Bloomberg)

  5. At least 32 million of the 142 million rapid Covid-19 tests distributed by the U.S. government to states last year weren’t used as of early February. The unused tests cost taxpayers $160 million. (Wall Street Journal)

  6. U.S. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy plans to slow down mail delivery and make it more costly by raising postage rates and eliminating first-class mail. DeJoy, with the support of the agency’s bipartisan but Trump-appointed governing board, has discussed lumping all first-class mail into the same three- to five-day window as non-local mail. (Washington Post / NBC News)

  7. Deputy White House press secretary TJ Ducklo resigned after he berated and threatened a female reporter who asked about his relationship with another reporter as part of a story about a potential conflict. (Washington Post / CNN)

Day 24: "Ordinary political rhetoric."

⚖️ Trump’s Second Senate Impeachment Trial: Day 4.

What happened today? Trump’s legal team concluded its defense, accusing House impeachment managers of “political vengeance” and calling Trump’s second impeachment trial “a politically motivated witch hunt.” Trump’s team spent two hours and 32 minutes of the 16 hours allotted to present a defense, calling Democrats’ allegations that Trump incited the Capitol riot “patently absurd” and that his calls for supporters to “fight” on his behalf “ordinary political rhetoric” that fell short of the legal standard for incitement. “No thinking person could seriously believe that the president’s January 6 speech on the Ellipse was in any way an incitement to violence or insurrection,” Michael van der Veen, one of Trump’s attorneys, said. Trump’s defense then showed a selectively edited video of Democrats using the words “fight” or “fighting” in political speeches. Trump’s other lawyer, Bruce Castor, echoed complaints of “cancel culture,” saying “Let us be clear: This trial is about far more than President Trump. It is about silence and banning the speech the majority does not agree with. It is about canceling 75 million Trump voters and criminalizing political viewpoints.” And, finally, Trump lawyer David Schoen complained about “the hatred, the vitriol, the political opportunism that has brought us here today.” He blamed Trump’s impeachment on “hatred, animosity, division, political gain – and let’s face it, for House Democrats, President Trump is the best enemy to attack.”

What’s next? The Senate completed a question-and-answer session, and a vote on whether to convict or acquit could come as early as Saturday.


1/ The CDC released updated guidance to help schools safely bring students back into classrooms during the pandemic. The agency now recommends a combination of in-person and remote learning, proper use of masks, social distancing of six feet, strict cleaning and maintenance of classrooms, and rapid contact tracing. The guidance doesn’t mandate school reopenings, but calls it “critical for schools to open as safely and as quickly as possible for in-person learning.” CDC Director Rochelle Walensky urged states to prioritize teachers for vaccination, saying it would serve as an “additional layer of protection,” but that schools need to keep up safety practices “for the foreseeable future.” (NPR / Politico / Washington Post / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal)

  • 😷 Dept. of “We Have It Totally Under Control.”

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~108,070,000; deaths: ~2,379,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~27,478,000; deaths: ~481,000; vaccinated: ~10.9% of total population

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University / Washington Post

  • The FDA agreed to allow Moderna to put as many as 14 doses in each vial of the company’s coronavirus vaccine — up from the current 10. Moderna currently supplies about half of the nation’s vaccine stock and a 14-dose vial could increase the vaccine supply by as much as 20%. (New York Times / Politico)

  • Gov. Andrew Cuomo and his administration reportedly covered up the scope of the coronavirus death toll in New York’s nursing homes out of fear it could be used against them by the Trump administration. (New York Times / ABC News)

2/ Trump was sicker with Covid-19 than publicly acknowledged and officials believed he would need to be put on a ventilator. When he was hospitalized with the coronavirus in October, Trump’s blood oxygen levels dropped into the 80s. Covid-19 is considered severe when blood oxygen levels fall to the low 90s. Trump received the Regeneron antibody cocktail before he was taken to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, which was not widely available at the time. Once at the hospital, Trump received the dexamethasone, a steroid recommended for Covid-19 patients with severe or critical forms of the disease, who often need mechanical ventilation or supplemental oxygen. Trump also received a five-day course of the antiviral drug remdesivir. Trump’s physician, Dr. Sean Conley, repeatedly downplayed concerns at the time, saying he wanted “to reflect the upbeat attitude that the team, the president, his course of illness has had,” and that he “didn’t want to give any information that might steer the course of illness in another direction.” (New York Times / CNN)

3/ The 2020 census data needed for legislative districts won’t be ready until Sept. 30 – six months after the March 31 deadline. The delay, first by the coronavirus pandemic and then by the Trump administration’s interference, threatens to upend the 2022 elections as states face tighter redistricting deadlines for Congress, as well as state and local offices. (New York Times / NPR)

4/ The Biden administration will phase in a new asylum process on Feb. 19 for tens of thousands of people seeking asylum at the southern U.S. border who have been forced to wait in Mexico under a Trump-era policy. The Department of Homeland Security plans to process about 300 people per day from among an estimated 25,000 people with “active cases” in the now-defunct “Remain in Mexico” program. (Associated Press / NPR)

5/ Biden’s deputy White House press secretary was suspended for one week without pay after verbally harassing and threatening a female reporter. T.J. Ducklo was put on leave following a Vanity Fair story reporting that Ducklo had made derogatory and misogynistic comments to a Politico reporter, including tell her “I will destroy you,” after learning that Politico was planning to publish an article about his relationship with a reporter at Axios. (NBC News / CNBC)

Day 23: "A new terrible standard."

⚖️ Trump’s Second Senate Impeachment Trial: Day 3.

What happened today? The House impeachment managers prosecuting Trump rested their case, saying that if Trump is not convicted, it sets “a new terrible standard for presidential misconduct.” The managers used their final day of arguments to show how the insurrectionists – using his specific words – carried out the attack on the Capitol at Trump’s direction, warning that Trump could incite more violence if not convicted. The managers also focused on Trump’s history of celebrating violence and his lack of remorse following the Jan. 6 insurrection to demonstrate why he should be convicted and barred from holding federal office again. “Senators, America, we need to exercise our common sense about what happened,” Rep. Jamie Raskin, the lead impeachment manager, said in his final arguments. “Let’s not get caught up in a lot of outlandish lawyers’ theories here. Exercise your common sense about what just took place in our country.”

What’s next? Trump’s defense team will begin their arguments tomorrow against conviction. Trump’s defense is not expected to use all 16 hours of their allotted time for presentations and instead plans finish its arguments in the Senate’s impeachment trial by Friday night. A verdict could come as early as the weekend. Democrats are looking for at least 17 Senate Republicans to join them in voting to convict Trump.

  • ✏️ Sources: New York Times / Politico / The Guardian / CNN / Bloomberg

  • 💻 Live blogs: New York Times / Washington Post / NPR / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal / Politico / NBC News / The Guardian / ABC News / CNBC / CNN

  • ✏️ News and notes:

  • Sen. Tommy Tuberville told Trump on Jan. 6 that Pence had been evacuated from the chamber before rioters reached Senate. Pence was removed from the Senate at 2:14 p.m., according to video footage from that day. Trump tweeted at 2:24 p.m. that “Mike Pence didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution.” Meanwhile, Trump reportedly has not expressed remorse for putting Pence in that situation. (Politico / HuffPost)

  • The Justice Department said a leader of the Oath Keepers paramilitary group waited for Trump’s direction before the siege on the Capitol. The Justice Department filing says Jessica Watkins was “concern[ed] about taking action without his backing was evident in a November 9, 2020, text in which she stated, ‘I am concerned this is an elaborate trap. Unless the POTUS himself activates us, it’s not legit. The POTUS has the right to activate units too. If Trump asks me to come, I will. Otherwise, I can’t trust it.’ Watkins had perceived her desired signal by the end of December.” (CNN / New York Times)

  • A federal judge ordered a Proud Boy charged in the Capitol riot to be held without bond. Dominic Pezzola told a court that he was duped by Trump’s “deception” and “acted out of the delusional belief” that he was responding patriotically. (Politico)


1/ The Biden administration secured deals for another 200 million doses of the coronavirus vaccine, increasing available supply by 50%. Biden promised last month to purchase an additional 200 million doses — 100 million from Pfizer and 100 million from Moderna. The additional doses are expected to be delivered and available this summer. (Washington Post)

2/ Biden rescinded Trump’s national emergency declaration over the U.S.-Mexico border. In Feb. 2019, Trump used the emergency proclomation to redirect billions of dollars for construction of a wall along the southern border. (Axios / USA Today)

3/ Senior Justice Department officials in 2020 repeatedly tried to block a search warrant for Rudy Giuliani’s records related to his activities in Ukraine. While career Justice Department officials supported the search warrant – about whether Giuliani had illegally lobbied the Trump administration on behalf of Ukrainian officials and oligarchs who had helped him look for dirt on Biden in 2019 –  political appointees raised concerns that the warrant would be issued too close to the election. The prosecutors tried again after the election, but political appointees at the Justice Department wouldn’t approve the warrant because Trump was still contesting the election, which was being led by Giuliani. (New York Times / CNN)

report/ Roughly 40% of coronavirus deaths in the U.S. could have been prevented if the nation’s average death rate matched other industrialized nations. The Lancet Commission on Public Policy and Health in the Trump Era report faulted Trump’s “inept and insufficient” response to Covid-19 for the death rate, saying his actions “caused a lot of citizens to fail to take it seriously and interfered with the kind of coordinated response they have been able to use in a lot of countries that are more successful than the U.S. in controlling the epidemic.” The report also said Trump weakening of the Affordable Care Act caused 2.3 million more Americans to become uninsured, which does not include those who lost health coverage during the pandemic. [Editor’s note: It’s important to highlight that the nation’s poor health outcomes can be traced back to more than four decades of health, economic, and social policies – not just Trump’s response to the pandemic.] (USA Today)

poll/ 66% of Republicans still believe Biden’s election was not legitimate. Overall, 65% of Americans view Biden’s 2020 victory as legitimate. (New York Times)

poll/ 39% of Republicans agreed that violence may be necessary to achieve political goals, while 31% of independents, and 17% of Democrats support taking violent actions if elected leaders do not defend the country. (NPR)

poll/ 29% of Republicans believe the debunked QAnon conspiracy theory that a group of government officials secretly worked to undermine the Trump administration. (Religion News Service)

Day 22: "Inciter in chief."

⚖️ Trump’s Second Senate Impeachment Trial: Day 2.

What happened today? House Democrats opened their impeachment case against Trump arguing that he “assembled, inflamed and incited” the attack against the U.S. Capitol because he “ran out of nonviolent” ways to overturn the result of the election. The House impeachment managers, calling Trump no “innocent bystander” but the “inciter in chief,” presented never-before-seen security footage from Jan. 6 of a pro-Trump mob storming the Capitol, played audio of Capitol Police declaring a riot, and methodically detailed a nearly minute-by-minute account of what happened once the Capitol was breached. The prosecution argued that Trump sought to “prime” his supporters for the deadly Capitol attack months before it happened by engaging in a series of “false, outlandish lies” that he could only lose the election through fraud, likening Trump’s actions to someone trying “to light the match.”

What’s next? The Senate has taken a break in the proceedings for dinner and will resume shortly. Each trial day is expected to last about eight hours, and House managers have 16 total hours to make their presentations, after which Trump’s team will have the same amount of time to present its defense. Thursday’s proceedings are scheduled to begin at noon Eastern.


1/ Trump was reportedly “not happy” and “frustrated” by the performance of his lawyers during the first day of his second impeachment trial. Trump was particularly angry at Bruce Castor, one of his lawyers, for praising the House impeachment manager’s presentation before delivering a meandering, nearly hour-long defense during the first day of the Senate impeachment trial. In fact, Trump’s other lawyer, David Schoen, was supposed to present first, but Castor told the Senate that they “changed what we were going to do on account that we thought that the House managers’ presentation was well done.” Castor also referred to Trump as the “former president,” conceding that Trump lost the 2020 election when “smart” voters elected Biden. One person familiar with Trump’s reaction said that on a scale of one to 10, with 10 being the angriest, Trump “was an eight.” (New York Times / CNN / Politico / The Guardian)

  • Mitch McConnell signaled to Republicans that the vote on Trump’s impeachment is matter of conscience, suggesting that senators who disputed the constitutionality of the trial could still vote to convict. Six Republicans on yesterday voted in favor of the constitutionality of the Senate process. (Bloomberg / Politico)

2/ Georgia prosecutors opened a criminal investigation into Trump’s efforts to overturn the state’s 2020 election result, including a January phone call where Trump pressured the state’s top elections official to “find” enough votes to reverse Biden’s victory. In letters to state Republican officials, including Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis requested that they preserve documents related to “an investigation into attempts to influence the administration” of the 2020 election, “with particular care being given to set aside and preserve those that may be evidence of attempts to influence the actions of persons who were administering that election.” Willis did not mention Trump by name, but the letters indicate that the office is conducting a criminal investigation. (New York Times / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / Politico / Axios / NBC News)

3/ The CDC recommends double masking to reduce exposure to the coronavirus. A new study found that when you and another person double mask – i.e. wear a surgical mask with a cloth mask on top – the risk of transmitting the coronavirus falls more than 95%. The benefit falls to 80% if only one person wears a double mask. For optimal protection, the CDC study suggests improving the fit of the surgical mask – by knotting the ear loops and tucking in the sides close to the face to form a closer fit – so the mask fits snugly against your face. When only one person adjusted their surgical mask for a tighter fit, the protection benefit of double masking fell to 60%. The CDC continues to recommend that everyone age 2 and older should wear a mask when outside their home. (ABC News / Washington Post / Bloomberg / Politico / NPR)

  • The Biden administration is on track to meet its goal of administering 100 million Covid-19 shots in his first 100 days in office. The administration is averaging 1.5 million shots per day – up from 1.1 million two weeks ago. (NBC News)

4/ The White House clarified Biden’s school reopening goal, saying the administration wants more than 50% of schools to have “some teaching” in person “at least one day a week” – not fully reopened – by Day 100. In December, Biden said his goal was for “a majority of our schools” to be open within 100 days – a benchmark that many schools are already hitting. White House press secretary Jen Psaki called the objective “not the ceiling,” adding “hopefully, it’s more.” Last week, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said “there is increasing data to suggest that schools can safely reopen” and that “vaccination of teachers is not a prerequisite for safe reopening of schools.” Teachers, however, have called for more coronavirus testing, vaccinations and other safety measures before returning to classrooms. (USA Today / CNN / Bloomberg)

5/ The Biden administration “indefinitely” shelved the Trump administration’s forced U.S. takeover of TikTok. Last year, Trump ordered a ban on the Chinese-owned app, citing on national security concerns, unless it allowed for Oracle and Walmart take a large ownership stake in the popular video app. (Wall Street Journal / ABC News)

6/ Biden announced sanctions against Myanmar and those involved in the military coup. “The military must relinquish power seized and demonstrate respect for the role of the people,” Biden said as he signed an executive order to impose “strong export controls” and freeze U.S. assets that benefit Myanmar’s government. (Politico / NBC News)

poll/ 67% of Americans plan to get the Covid-19 vaccine or have already done so, 15% are certain they won’t, and 17% say probably not. (Associated Press)

poll/ 37% of Americans have a positive opinion of the Republican Party – down from 43% in November. 48% of Americans have a positive opinion of the Democratic Party. (Gallup)

Day 21: "This cannot be our future."

⚖️ Trump’s Second Senate Impeachment Trial:

What happened today?

  1. Trump’s impeachment trial kicked off in the Senate with House Democrats playing a video montage of Trump whipping up a crowd of supporters, encouraging them to march to the U.S. Capitol and “fight like hell,” showing the pro-Trump mob violently breaching the Capitol, attacking police officers, and invoking Trump’s name as they tried to disrupt the certification of the November election. “Senators, this cannot be our future. This cannot be the future of America,” Rep. Jamie Raskin said in opening remarks. “We cannot have presidents inciting and mobilizing mob violence against our government and our institutions because they refuse to accept the will of the people.”

  2. The first day of the proceeding were devoted to a debate over the constitutionality of the House prosecuting a president who has already left office. While Trump’s lawyers condemned the violence, they rejected the suggestion that he was responsible for it and maintained that the Constitution did not allow for an impeachment trial of a former president because it was meant to lead to removal. According to his defense attorneys, Trump was “horrified” by the violence at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, and that it is “absolutely not true” that Trump failed to quickly act to end the riot. In their revisionist history, Trump reportedly tweeted calls for peace “upon hearing of the reports of violence” and took “immediate steps” to mobilize resources to counter the rioters storming the building – these statements, however, conflict with the actual timeline of events. Bruce Castor, one of Trump’s attorneys, argued that Trump should not be punished for a “political speech,” and since he is “no longer is in office … the object of the Constitution has been achieved. He was removed by the voters.” House impeachment managers, meanwhile, argued that there is no “January exception” for presidents to escape repercussions through impeachment on their way out of office, saying the framers of the Constitution did not provide a waiver for accountability.

  3. After House managers and Trump’s team presented their arguments on whether the trial was constitutional, the Senate voted 56 to 44 to proceed with Trump’s impeachment trial. Six Republicans voted to affirm the constitutionality of the trial.

  4. ✏️ Sources: Associated Press / Bloomberg / Politico / CNN / NBC News / NPR

What’s next?

  1. Trump’s trial is adjourned until Wednesday, when each side will have up to 16 hours to present their case, spread out over two days per side. Senators will also have four hours to question the House managers and Trump’s attorneys.
  • 📝 News and Notes:

  • One of Trump’s impeachment lawyers sued him last year, accusing him of making “repeated claims” that mail voting is ripe with fraud “despite having no evidence in support of these claims.” Michael van der Veen filed a lawsuit against Trump, the USPS, and Postmaster General Louis DeJoy in August on behalf of a client running for office, claiming that operational changes at USPS would make it harder for voters to cast ballots during the coronavirus pandemic. (Washington Post)

  • Trump – confident of his acquittal – plans a reemergence and retribution after his impeachment trial. (Politico)

  • 77 Days: Trump’s Campaign to Subvert the Election. Hours after the United States voted, the president declared the election a fraud — a lie that unleashed a movement that would shatter democratic norms and upend the peaceful transfer of power. (New York Times)

  • Trump’s Jan. 6 Speech, Annotated. “The speech Trump gave at a rally just before the Capitol riot is at the center of the impeachment proceedings against the former president. Read and listen to the speech, with annotations on passages cited by the two sides.” (Wall Street Journal)

  • 💻 Live blogs: New York Times / Washington Post / Politico / NPR / CNBC / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal / ABC News / Axios / CNN


1/ The Biden administration will begin sending doses of Covid-19 vaccines to community health centers next week and boost the supply of vaccines sent to states by 5%. Since taking office, the number of doses sent to states has increased by 28% to 11 million doses a week. (NBC News / CNBC)

  • 😷 Dept. of “We Have It Totally Under Control.”

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~106,741,000; deaths: ~2,335,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~27,161,000; deaths: ~467,000; vaccinated: ~10% of total population

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University / Washington Post

  • Johnson & Johnson’s suggested that people may need to get vaccinated against Covid-19 annually – just like seasonal flu shots – over the next several years. (CNBC)

  • A team of WHO scientists investigating the origins of the coronavirus pandemic said it’s “extremely unlikely” that the virus was leaked from a laboratory in Wuhan. After 12 days of field work, the team said they found that the virus was spreading in Wuhan both inside and outside the Huanan Seafood Market, which indicates that the market was also not the original source of the outbreak. (Washington Post / NBC News / ABC News / New York Times)

2/ The office of Georgia’s secretary of state launched an investigation into Trump’s attempts to overturn the state’s election results. In December, Trump called Georgia officials amid an ongoing audit, asking Brad Raffensperger’s office to “find the fraud,” telling them they’d be a “national hero” for it. And on Jan. 2, Trump repeatedly demanded that Raffensperger “find” the 11,780 votes needed to overturn the results of the election in the state. (New York Times / ABC News)

3/ The Biden administration asked nearly all U.S. attorneys appointed during the Trump administration to resign. Several acting U.S. attorneys, who aren’t Senate confirmed or were appointed by the courts, will remain until a Biden appointee is approved by the Senate. The Justice Department, however, will allow John Durham to remain in the role of special counsel appointed to investigate the origins of the Trump-Russia inquiry. (CNN / NBC News / New York Times)

4/ The Air Force will deploy B-1 bombers and approximately 200 personnel to Norway for the first time in order to react more quickly to potential Russia aggression. (CNN)

poll/ 56% of Americans would like the Senate to vote to convict Trump. The same percentage say Trump encouraged the violence at the Capitol. (CBS News)

poll/ 49% of Americans said they were certain or very likely to get a Covid-19 vaccine, while 19% said they were “somewhat likely” to get vaccinated, and 32% said they were “not likely.” (CNBC / Bloomberg)

Day 20: "More dire than we thought."

1/ The coronavirus variant first found in the U.K. – known as B.1.1.7 – is spreading rapidly across the U.S., doubling roughly every 10 days. The variant is more contagious than earlier forms of the coronavirus, may be more lethal, and the CDC warned that B.1.1.7 could become the predominant strain in the U.S.