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 1220: "Not a king."

1/ The Supreme Court approved a white-dominated congressional district drawn by the Republican-controlled South Carolina legislature, reversing a lower court decision that found the map was an unconstitutional racial gerrymander that resulted in the “bleaching of African American voters” from a district. The decision, however, won’t have a direct effect on the 2024 election. South Carolina had asked the justices to issue a decision by Jan. 1, but after that deadline passed the lower court ordered the state to use the map deemed unconstitutional this year no matter how the Supreme Court ruled. (New York Times / NBC News / NPR / Politico / Associated Press / Washington Post / CNN / Wall Street Journal)

2/ A second flag carried by rioters on Jan. 6 was flown outside Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito’s vacation home in New Jersey. The “Appeal to Heaven” flag has been embraced by Christian nationalists and, like the inverted U.S. flag, was carried by rioters at the Capitol on Jan. 6. It dates back to the Revolutionary War. The flag was displayed at Alito’s New Jersey vacation home in July and September of 2023. An upside-down American flag – a symbol of the “Stop the Steal” movement – was hung outside Alito’s home days after the Jan. 6 attack. Democrats, meanwhile, called for Alito to recuse himself from cases related to Trump and the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. In the coming weeks, the Supreme Court will rule on whether those who stormed the Capitol can be prosecuted for obstruction, and whether Trump is immune from prosecution for actions he took while president. (New York Times / Associated Press / CNN / Axios)

3/ House Republicans temporarily banned a Democrat from speaking in the chamber after he listed off Trump’s criminal charges. “Donald Trump might want to be a king, but he’s not a king,” Rep. Jim McGovern said. “We have a presumptive nominee for president facing 88 felony counts, and we’re being prevented from even acknowledging it. These are not alternative facts. There are real facts […] And yet, in this Republican-controlled House, it’s OK to talk about the trial, but you have to call it a sham.” McGovern went on to list the counts Trump was facing, including that he was “on trial for sending a hush money payment to a porn star to avoid a sex scandal during his 2016 campaign, and then fraudulently disguising those payments in violation of the law,” and that he’s charged with conspiring to overturn the election and stealing classified material, and that “a jury has already found him liable for rape in a civil court.” Republicans interjected and demanded that McGovern’s statement be “taken down” from the congressional record. McGovern declined to withdraw them, prompting an extended delay. His remarks were eventually ruled out of order, and he was blocked from speaking on the House floor for the rest of the day. (NBC News / ABC News / Washington Post / Politico / Axios)

4/ The Republican-controlled Louisiana legislature reclassified abortion pills as controlled and dangerous substances, making the state the first to criminalize possession of the drugs without a prescription. Once signed into law by Republican Gov. Jeff Landry, mifepristone and misoprostol will be classified as Schedule IV drugs despite the FDA repeatedly reaffirming over the past 25 years that the drugs are safe and effective. Abortion is already banned in Louisiana with no exceptions for rape or incest. (New York Times / Associated Press / CNN / Wall Street Journal)

Day 1219: "Locked and loaded."

1/ Biden canceled $7.7 billion in student loans for another 160,000 borrowers. This latest round of forgiveness brings the total student debt relief approved by the Biden administration to $167 billion. More than one in 10 Americans with federal student loans have been approved for some form of debt relief under Biden. (Axios / Bloomberg / Associated Press)

2/ The Senate confirmed Biden’s 200th federal judge. At this point in his term, Trump had secured 196 judges. Trump ultimately confirmed 234 judges. If Biden and the Democrats exceed 234 confirmed judges, they’ll have replaced about one-quarter of the federal judiciary. (Politico / NBC News / Associated Press)

3/ Spain, Norway, and Ireland said they would recognize an independent Palestinian state. While a largely symbolic move, the group said they were “confident that further countries will join us in taking this important step in the coming weeks.” More than 140 countries currently recognize a Palestinian state, including more than two-thirds of the United Nations. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu denounced the move, calling it “a reward for terrorism” that would “not stop us from reaching a victory over Hamas.” The White House also rejected unilateral recognition of Palestinian statehood, saying “a Palestinian state should be realized through direct negotiations between the parties.” Still, the announcement comes days after the International Criminal Court requested arrest warrants for Netanyahu, Israel’s defense minister, and the leaders of Hamas for war crimes stemming from the Oct. 7 attacks and the Israeli offensive in Gaza. (New York Times / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / Associated Press / NPR / NBC News / CNN)

4/ Months before Trump was indicted for mishandling classified documents, a federal judge said the Justice Department had “strong evidence” that Trump “intended” to hide classified documents at Mar-a-Lago. After Trump was informed by his attorney of a government subpoena for video footage from his Mar-a-Lago club, he realized that the security cameras could capture his employees moving classified government information that officials were attempting to retrieve. Trump allegedly instructed aides to then return several boxes they had previously removed – without being caught on camera. And, four months after the FBI searched Mar-a-Lago, four documents marked “classified” were discovered in Trump’s personal bedroom. The folders were “mostly empty” and marked as “Classified Evening Summary.” Four other classified documents were found in Trump’s post-presidential office at the resort. The revelations were among several cited by U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell in a newly unsealed 2023 opinion, which found that prosecutors presented compelling evidence that Trump knowingly hid national security documents in his home and attempted to conceal them from the Justice Department. “Notably, no excuse is provided as to how the former president could miss the classified-marked documents found in his own bedroom at Mar-a-Lago,” Howell wrote in March 2023. Trump faces 40 federal charges for keeping classified government documents at Mar-a-Lago and then obstructing government efforts to retrieve them. (ABC News / Washington Post / Politico / CNN)

5/ Trump – resorting to magical thinking and outright fabrication – falsely claimed that Biden was “locked & loaded ready to take me out” during the 2022 search of Mar-a-Lago for classified documents. It’s the first time in U.S. history that a former president accused his successor of trying to kill him. The FBI said in a statement that it “followed standard protocol in this search as we do for all search warrants, which includes a standard policy statement limiting the use of deadly force.” Nevertheless, Trump baselessly claimed on his personal social media platform that he was “shown Reports” that Biden’s Justice Department “AUTHORIZED THE FBI TO USE DEADLY (LETHAL) FORCE” in their search of the property for classified documents. During the search of Mar-a-Lago on August 8, 2022, the FBI seized 33 boxes containing a mix of classified and non-classified documents. Among these, over 100 classified records were identified, including numerous empty folders labeled as classified. Trump faces 40 felony charges related to his mishandling of top secret classified information and obstructing federal investigators’ efforts to retrieve them. (Washington Post / New York Times / ABC News)

poll/ 49% of swing state voters say they’re worried about violence surrounding the November election. (Bloomberg)

Day 1218: "An act of madness."

1/ Israel’s Communications Ministry confiscated camera and broadcasting equipment from the Associated Press, claiming the news agency had violated a new broadcasting law for providing a live feed of Gaza to Al Jazeera. The Associated Press said the seizure was “not based on the content of the feed but rather an abusive use by the Israeli government of the country’s new foreign broadcaster law.” Following swift condemnation from the Biden administration and journalism organizations, Israeli officials said the equipment would be returned. Israeli opposition leader Yair Lapid also denounced the decision to seize press equipment, calling it “an act of madness.” Lapid added: “This government acts as if it has decided to make sure at any cost that Israel will be shunned all over the world. They went crazy.” Earlier this month, Israel shut down Al Jazeera’s operations in the country, accusing the Qatari-based news network of harming Israel’s security and inciting violence against its soldiers. (Associated Press / CNN / Axios / Washington Post / New York Times)

2/ Trump’s campaign adopted Nazi rhetoric in a social media post that referred to “the creation of a unified Reich” if he becomes president again. In a 30-second video posted to Trump’s personal social media platform, a narrator discusses “what’s next for America” if Trump wins again while a series of hypothetical headlines flash across the screen, including “BORDER IS CLOSED — 15 MILLION ILLEGAL ALIENS DEPORTED,” “ECONOMY BOOMS,” and “INDUSTRIAL STRENGTH SIGNIFICANTLY INCREASED BY THE CREATION OF A UNIFIED REICH.” The term “reich” is associated with Nazi Germany under Adolf Hitler, who designated his Nazi regime as the “Third Reich.” The White House denounced the post, calling it “dangerous and offensive” and that it’s “abhorrent, sickening, and disgraceful for anyone to promote content associated with Germany’s Nazi government under Adolf Hitler.” Trump’s campaign responded, calling Biden “the real extremist” and that “this was not a campaign video, it was created by a random account online and reposted by a staffer who clearly did not see the word, while the President was in court” facing 34 felony counts of election interference. (Politico / New York Times / NBC News / NPR / ABC News / Associated Press / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / Axios)

  • 🤔 A Hidden Variable in the Presidential Race: Fears of ‘Trump Forever.’ “Undecided voters are concerned that if Donald Trump returns to the White House, he’ll never leave.” (Bloomberg)

  • 🤔 Imprisoned ex-Trump aide Peter Navarro predicts Fed Chair’s ouster and ‘mass deportations’ in a second presidential term. “Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell would be gone in the first 100 days of a second Donald Trump term that would also include mass deportations of undocumented immigrants and more tariffs on Chinese goods, former White House economic adviser Peter Navarro told Semafor from the federal prison where he is serving a four-month sentence for refusing to cooperate with a congressional probe into the Jan. 6 riots at the Capitol.” (Semafor)

3/ Trump’s defense team rested its case without calling him to testify. With testimony concluded, closing arguments and then jury deliberations are scheduled for after Memorial Day weekend. Trump is charged with 34 counts of falsifying business records to conceal a $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels as part of an illegal effort to influence the 2016 presidential election. (Associated Press / Washington Post / NPR / New York Times / NBC News)

4/ The U.S. said Russia “likely” launched a counterspace weapon capable of attacking other satellites in low Earth orbit last week. In a May 20 speech at the United Nations, U.S. Ambassador Robert Wood said “Russia deployed this new counterspace weapon into the same orbit as a U.S. government satellite” and “follows prior Russian satellite launches likely of counterspace systems to low Earth orbit in 2019 and 2022.” The briefing follows reporting in February about Russia wanting to put a nuclear weapon into space. (CNN / Associated Press)

Day 1217: "Objectionable and personally insulting."

1/ The International Criminal Court will seek arrest warrants for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar for alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity in Gaza. A panel of three judges will decide whether to issue the arrest warrants and allow a case to proceed against Netanyahu, Sinwar, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, and two other senior Hamas officials. The judges are expected take two months to decide. ICC prosecutor Karim Khan said he has evidence that Netanyahu and Gallant are responsible for the “starvation of civilians […] willful killing or Murder […] intentionally directing attacks against a civilian population as a war crime,” and “intentionally and systematically deprived the civilian population in all parts of Gaza of objects indispensable to human survival.” Netanyahu called the ICC’s decision “an utter distortion of reality” that “will not stop us from waging our just war against Hamas.” Biden, meanwhile, called the decision “outrageous,” saying “there is no equivalence — none — between Israel and Hamas.” (Axios / CNN / Associated Press / Politico / Washington Post / New York Times / NBC News)

2/ Prosecutors, who charged Trump with 34 felony counts, rested their case in the election interference trial involving falsified business records. After the prosecution rested, Trump’s lawyers called two witnesses, including Robert Costello, a lawyer who has publicly accused Michael Cohen of lying. Separately, Cohen admitted that he stole $30,000 from the Trump Organization as a form of “self-help” after his bonus had been cut by two-thirds. At one point, Judge Juan Merchan briefly cleared the courtroom after Costello repeatedly made comments under his breath from the stand during objections by prosecutors. Costello is set to return to the stand tomorrow for cross-examination, and the defense said they do not expect to call any more witnesses. Once the defense rests, Merchan said he plans to send the jury home until closing arguments the day after Memorial Day. Meanwhile, Trump’s lawyer asked Merchan to dismiss the case. (New York Times / Washington Post / CNN / Bloomberg / Associated Press / Politico / NBC News / ABC News)

3/ Rudy Giuliani was served notice of his Arizona indictment related in the scheme to overturn the 2020 election results. Giuliani was served papers by two agents of the Arizona attorney general’s office at his 80th birthday party in Palm Beach, Florida. Hours earlier, Giuliani posted a photo of himself with friends and wrote: “If Arizona authorities can’t find me by tomorrow morning. 1. They must dismiss the indictment; 2. They must concede they can’t count votes.” (CNN / Axios)

4/ Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito sold shares of Anheuser-Busch during last year’s conservative boycott of Bud Light over its partnership with a transgender social media influencer. Alito sold between $1,000 and $15,000 worth of stock in Anheuser-Busch in mid-August 2023 and purchased Molson Coors on the same day – the height of a manufactured anti-trans campaign targeting the brewer. In November, the Supreme Court adopted its first-ever code of conduct, which directs the justices to “refrain from political activity.” (Law Dork / CNBC / New Republic)

5/ Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito flew an upside-down American flag at his home after the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol. At the time the symbol of the so-called “Stop the Steal” movement was flying outside Alito’s home, the court was still considering whether to take up a Republican challenge to the presidential election results. Although the court declined to consider the case, Alito, Clarence Thomas, and Neil Gorsuch said it deserved the court’s attention and “a decision would provide invaluable guidance for future elections.” Alito denied any involvement “whatsoever in the flying of the flag,” but instead blamed his wife for “briefly” flying the upside-down American flag “in response to a neighbor’s use of objectionable and personally insulting language on yard signs.” The Supreme Court is currently deciding two cases related to Trump and his supporters efforts to overturn the results of the election. The decisions will affect the 350 pro-Trump rioters involved in the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, and whether Trump has immunity from prosecution on election interference charges. Notably, the wife of Clarence Thomas attended the Jan. 6 “Stop the Steal” rally to protest Biden’s election. (New York Times / CNN / ABC News / USA Today / CNBC)

Day 1213: "Restoring sanity."

1/ Biden asserted executive privilege over the audio of his interview with special counsel Robert Hur, who investigated Biden’s handling of classified documents. Republicans had sought the audio recording of Hur’s interview with Biden as part of their stalled impeachment probe. Hur’s report recommended “no criminal charges,” but described Biden as someone who is “sympathetic, well-meaning elderly man with a poor memory.” Attorney General Merrick Garland advised Biden to assert executive privilege, arguing that releasing the audio would “damage future law enforcement efforts” and that House Republicans haven’t provided a compelling reason to override those concerns. In a letter to Republican House leaders, White House Counsel Ed Siskel added that “demanding such sensitive and constitutionally-protected law enforcement materials from the Executive Branch because you want to manipulate them for potential political gain is inappropriate.” Hours later, the House Judiciary Committee voted 18-15 to move forward with its effort Garland in contempt of Congress for his failure to comply with a subpoena to turn over the recordings. (ABC News / Associated Press / Axios / Politico / NPR / NBC News / New York Times / Wall Street Journal / CNN)

2/ The Justice Department formally moved to reclassify marijuana as a less dangerous drug. While the rescheduling of marijuana would neither make it legal nor decriminalized, it would change the classification from a Schedule I status, alongside heroin and LSD, to Schedule III would bring the drug into regulatory parity with other substances, like ketamine and anabolic steroids. (ABC News / CBS News / Associated Press / CNN)

3/ Despite facing powerful hurricanes, extreme heat, worsening toxic algae blooms, and rising sea levels, Florida eliminated climate change as a state priority. Gov. Ron DeSantis signed legislation that removes most references to climate change in state law, repeals state grant programs that support energy conservation and renewable energy, bans offshore wind turbines, and reduces regulation on gas pipelines. The failed one-time presidential candidate called the bill a common sense policy that’s “restoring sanity in our approach to energy and rejecting the agenda of the radical green zealots.” (Washington Post / NPR / New York Times / The Hill)

Day 1212: "Ready to rumble."

1/ Biden and Trump agreed to a pair of presidential debates before the November election. The first debate is June 27. It’ll be hosted by CNN and will not have an audience. The second debate will be Sept. 10, and hosted by ABC News. Earlier in the day, Biden said he’d “received and accepted an invitation” from CNN to participate in a debate. “Over to you, Donald. As you said: anywhere, any time, any place,” Biden said. Trump accepted the invitation shortly after, saying: “Let’s get ready to Rumble!!!” Neither debate will involve the Commission on Presidential Debates, which has been organizing and hosting debates for nearly 40 years. Meanwhile, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. – aka The Wormaccused Biden and Trump of “colluding” to exclude him from the debate stage “because they are afraid I would win.” (Politico / NBC News / Associated Press / Axios / New York Times / Washington Post / NPR / CNN / Wall Street Journal)

2/ The Supreme Court restored a congressional voting map in Louisiana that includes two majority-Black districts. Louisiana’s Republican-controlled legislature drew new district lines in January after the Supreme Court found the state’s map diluted the power of Black voters in violation of the federal Voting Rights Act. A federal court later blocked the new map, saying the creation of a second majority-Black district amounted to an “impermissible racial gerrymander” that violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution. The Supreme Court order allows the use of the map with the two majority-Black districts in the upcoming elections, increasing Democrats’ likelihood of taking control of a second congressional seat in Louisiana. (Associated Press / CBS News / NBC News / New York Times / Washington Post)

3/ Inflation climbed 3.4% in April compared with the year before – down from 3.5% in March. Prices rose 0.3% in April compared with the month before. Inflation peaked at an annual rate of 9.1% in 2022. In response, the Federal Reserve increased interest rates to cool the rising prices, raising rates 11 times between March 2022 and July 2023 to their highest level in more than two decades. Stubborn inflation, however, prompted Federal Reserve officials to push back on expectations for rate cuts in 2024, saying they need “greater confidence” that inflation is falling back down to their 2% target before they reduce borrowing costs. (Axios / CNBC / Associated Press / Bloomberg / CBS News / New York Times / Washington Post)

4/ The Biden administration will send an additional $2 billion in aid to Ukraine, but remains opposed to allowing Ukraine to strike targets inside Russia with U.S. weapons. The U.S. is also “rushing” most of the military aid from the $60 billion package Biden approved in April. “Ukraine is facing this renewed brutal Russian onslaught,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said. “We are rushing ammunition, armored vehicles, missiles, air defenses. Rushing them to get to the front lines to protect soldiers, to protect civilians,” pointing out that air defenses are “a top priority.” (Washington Post / CNN / ABC News)

5/ The Biden administration plans to move forward with the sale of more than $1 billion in arms and ammunition to Israel. It’s expected to take several years before any weapons in the package are delivered. The notification of the potential sale, however, comes less than a week after the White House withheld a shipment of 3,500 bombs over concerns Israel would use them in a potential invasion of Rafah, where more than 1 million refugees have been sheltering. The new, proposed package includes about $700 million for tank ammunition, $500 million in tactical vehicles, and $60 million in mortar rounds. (Wall Street Journal / Associated Press / Politico / Washington Post / New York Times / USA Today)

6/ House Republicans are expected to force a vote on legislation compelling Biden to deliver all congressionally mandated aid to Israel, including weapons. The bill requires the “prompt delivery” of arms to Israel, restricts funding to the State Department, and Pentagon, and condemns “the Biden Administration’s decision to pause certain arms transfers to Israel” if they refuse. The White House vowed to veto the bill, while House Democratic leadership is actively persuading their colleagues to vote against it. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, meanwhile, acknowledged the tensions with the U.S. over his planned military offensive in Rafah, said: “Yes, we do have a disagreement on Gaza. Rather, on Rafah. But we have to do what we have to do.” And, in a separate meeting with his security cabinet a day after Biden warned Israel against an attack on Rafah, Netanyahu said: “We are not a vassal state of the United States!” (Politico / Axios / NBC News / CNBC / ABC News)

Day 1211: "It's cheating."

1/ Biden announced new tariffs on $18 billion in Chinese imports, including electric vehicles, semiconductors, steel and aluminum products, and medical products. Notably, levies on imported Chinese electric vehicles will quadruple, from 25% to 100%, while tariffs on solar cells and semiconductors will double from 25% to 50%, and certain medical equipment (including PPE, surgical gloves and respirators) will be subject to a 25% tariff. “American workers can outwork and outcompete anyone as long as the competition is fair,” Biden said. “But for too long, it hasn’t been fair. For years, the Chinese government has poured state money into Chinese companies […] it’s not competition, it’s cheating.” Biden will also keep in place Trump’s $300 billion in tariffs on Chinese goods. (Associated Press / NPR / Washington Post / New York Times / ABC News / NBC News / CNN / Bloomberg)

2/ Democrats on the House Oversight Committee launched an investigation into the meeting where Trump promised oil executives he’d repeal regulations intended to lower climate emissions if they contributed $1 billion to his 2024 campaign. At a Mar-a-Lago fundraising dinner, Trump reportedly told nine oil executives that giving him $1 billion would be a “deal” because of the taxes and regulations they’d avoid. (Washington Post / The Guardian)

3/ Michael Cohen resumed testifying against Trump in the election interference trial involving falsified business records. During cross-examination, Trump lawyer Todd Blanche attempted to discredit Cohen’s earlier testimony by pressing him on attempts to monetize his connection to Trump, his own criminal history, and whether he cooperated with prosecutors for a sentence reduction. Then, in an effort to establish Cohen’s bias against Trump and a motive to lie, Blanche confronted Cohen about his past statements about Trump, asking if he ever called Trump a “boorish cartoon misogynist.” Cohen responded: “Sounds like something I would say.” Blanche then asked if he called Trump a “Cheeto dusted cartoon villain.” Cohen responded: “That also sounds like something I would say.” And finally, Blanche asked if he made the statement: “I truly fucking hope this man ends up in prison” Cohen responded that it sounded like something he said on his podcast. (NPR / Axios / Washington Post / CNN / New York Times / Politico / NBC News / ABC News / Associated Press / Bloomberg)

4/ The Justice Department asked a federal judge to order Steve Bannon to begin serving his four-month jail sentence for contempt of Congress. Prosecutors said there is “no legal basis” for the judge to continue the stay on Bannon’s sentence after a federal appeals court unanimously rejected Bannon’s appeal on all grounds and upheld his conviction. Bannon was found guilty in July 2022 by a federal jury of two counts of contempt of Congress for defying a subpoena from the Jan. 6 committee. (CNN / ABC News / NBC News)

5/ Arizona prosecutors have been unable to serve Rudy Giuliani his indictment, which notifies him that he’s been criminally charged here and must appear before a judge on May 21. The attorney general’s office has made multiple attempts to try to contact Giuliani, including going to his New York City apartment and calling his various phone numbers, “and none of them were successful.” An Arizona grand jury indicted Giuliani and 17 others last month on felony charges related to their efforts to overturn Trump’s 2020 election loss in the state. (Washington Post)

Day 1210: "Just do it."

1/ Michael Cohen testified that Trump directed him to personally make the $130,000 hush payment to Stormy Daniels because her story would be “catastrophic” for his campaign. During testimony in Trump’s election interference trial involving falsified business records, Cohen described his role at the Trump Organization as essentially “whatever” Trump “wanted.” Cohen testified that Trump instructed him to “just do it” – referring to the $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels – when he learned that Daniels was looking to sell her story about their alleged affair in 2006. “I thought you took care of this,” Trump told Cohen. “I thought this was under control. This is a disaster, a total disaster. Women will hate me […] this is going to be a disaster for the campaign.” Trump later instructed Cohen to “just take care of it,” but to drag out negotiations as long as possible to “just get past the election. I win, it has no relevance because I’m president, and if I lose, I don’t really care.” (New York Times / NBC News / CNN / Washington Post / Politico / Bloomberg / Associated Press)

  • An aide to Trump’s 2016 campaign alleges that the campaign intentionally obscured settlement payments to women who made discrimination or harassment claims in violation of federal law. “A.J. Delgado’s filing presented evidence of top Trump attorney Marc Kasowitz openly admitting that the campaign wanted to use a law firm to cover up a potential settlement payout in 2017. The arrangement, as Delgado described it, appears specifically designed to evade the consequences of federal disclosure laws that require campaigns to publicly report the identities of payment recipients.” (Daily Beast / Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington)

  • Trump may face a $100 million IRS bill after an audit suggests he double-dipped on tax losses tied to a Chicago skyscraper. The first write-off came on Trump’s tax return for 2008, when he claimed that the investment met the tax code definition of “worthless,” because his debt on the project meant he would never see a profit. Trump claimed as much as $651 million in losses on the project. In 2010, Trump then he shifted the company that owned the tower into a new partnership and used the shift as justification to declare $168 million in additional losses over the next decade. (New York Times / ProPublica)

2/ A State Department report said it was “reasonable to assess” that Israel had used American-provided weapons in Gaza that are “inconsistent” with international law. The report, however, stopped short of officially saying Israel violated the law, saying there was insufficient information to draw firm conclusions in any specific instances. The report concluded that Israel’s assurances that it’s not violating U.S. or international law were “credible and reliable.” The finding allows the continued supply of U.S. weapons to Israel. (Washington Post / NPR / Associated Press / CNN / NBC News / Politico)

3/ A federal appeals court upheld Steve Bannon’s criminal contempt of Congress conviction for his refusal to testify and provide documents to the House Jan. 6 committee. A three-judge panel of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Bannon’s arguments had no merit, clearing the way for Bannon to serve his four-month prison sentence. Bannon had argued that because he acted on the advice of lawyers to not comply with the committee’s subpoena, he did not “willfully” ignore the subpoena. The judges, however, ruled: “This exact ‘advice of counsel’ defense is no defense at all.” (CNBC / Politico / CNN / New York Times)

4/ Biden called Trump “clearly unhinged” after Trump praised the fictional serial killer Hannibal Lecter as a “wonderful man.” Trump, who faces 91 felony counts across four criminal indictments, went off script and riffed about the final scene in “The Silence of the Lambs” (in which Lecter is about to murder someone) to baselessly compare migrants to the fictional psychopath. “Congratulations, the late great Hannibal Lecter,” Trump added. Biden, meanwhile, said “it’s clear that […] “something snapped” in Trump after he lost the 2020 election. “Just listen to what he’s telling people.” (CNN / The Guardian / Axios / New York Times)

✏️ Notables.

  1. Trump asked oil executives for $1 billion in donations to dismantle and rollback Biden’s environmental policies if he’s reelected. “Despite the oil industry’s complaints about Biden’s policies, the United States is now producing more oil than any country ever has, pumping nearly 13 million barrels per day on average last year. ExxonMobil and Chevron, the largest U.S. energy companies, reported their biggest annual profits in a decade last year.” (Washington Post)

  2. Louisiana moved to criminalize possessing the drugs used to induce an abortion without a prescription. If approved, Louisiana would become the first state to categorize mifepristone and misoprostol as “controlled dangerous substances,” a class of drugs that includes medications that can be abused such as narcotics, steroids, and depressants. (Axios / Washington Post)

  3. A Virginia school board reinstated the original Confederate names of two public schools, four years after the names were removed amid nationwide racial justice protests following the murder of George Floyd. The board called the 2020 decision was a “knee-jerk reaction” that showed a lack of “loyalty” to the community, which is more than 90% White and voted overwhelmingly for Trump. (CNN / CBS News / NBC News / NPR / Axios)

Day 1206: "Regrettable."

1/ Biden – acknowledging that U.S. weapons have been used to kill civilians in Gaza – threatened to cut off shipments of American weapons to Israel if Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu orders a full-scale invasion of Rafah. More than a million displaced Palestinians are currently sheltering in the southern Gaza city. Until now, which follows months of growing tension and frustration with Israel’s management of the war, Biden has resisted calls to limit U.S. support of Israel’s efforts to go after Hamas amid a humanitarian crisis in Gaza. The Biden administration has also said for months that it would not support an operation in Rafah unless Israel presented a credible plan to evacuate and protect civilians living in the area. “I made it clear that if they go into Rafah – they haven’t gone in Rafah yet – if they go into Rafah, I’m not supplying the weapons that have been used historically to deal with Rafah, to deal with the cities – that deal with that problem,” Biden said. “Civilians have been killed in Gaza as a consequence of those bombs and other ways in which they go after population centers,” Biden added, referring to 2,000-pound bombs that he paused shipments of last week. On Tuesday, Israeli troops seized control of and closed the Rafah border crossing in what the White House characterized as a limited operation – short of the full invasion of the city. Since then, negotiations for a hostage and ceasefire deal have paused, in part because of the fighting in Rafah, and no aid has entered through Gaza’s southern crossings. The WHO and other humanitarian aid agencies warned that hospitals in southern Gaza have less than three days of fuel supplies left and without fuel “all humanitarian operations will stop.” Meanwhile, Netanyahu, who has vowed to achieve a “total victory” over Hamas and said the country’s military would enter Rafah “with or without” a ceasefire deal, reacted with defiance to Biden’s warning, saying: “If we need to stand alone, we will stand alone.” The IDF’s spokesman added that Israel already had the “necessary weapons” for its planned operations, “including in Rafah.” (CNN / New York Times / Washington Post / Associated Press / CNN / NBC News / ABC News / Politico / Wall Street Journal)

2/ Marjorie Taylor Greene’s effort to oust Speaker Mike Johnson failed after 196 Republicans and 163 Democrats voted to table the motion. After threatening to force a referendum vote on Johnson’s speakership, Greene’s Republican colleagues booed her when she officially filed her motion to vacate. In response, Greene said: “This is the uniparty for the American people watching.” The overall vote was 359-43, with 11 Republicans and 32 Democrats voting to move forward with the motion. After the vote to kill Greene’s effort, Johnson expressed appreciation for lawmakers’ “show of confidence to defeat this misguided effort,” calling for “the end of the personality politics and the frivolous character assassination,” adding: “It’s regrettable.” House Democrats, meanwhile, said their willingness to save Johnson this time was a “one-shot deal” contingent on whether House Republicans “further isolate the extreme MAGA wing.” (NBC News / Washington Post / New York Times / NPR / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal / Associated Press / Politico)

3/ The Ohio House declined to take up a Senate-passed bill to ensure that Biden appears on the November ballot in the state. Under current law, state officials must certify the ballot by Aug. 7 − 90 days beforehand − but Biden won’t be nominated by the Democratic National Convention until 12 days later. Ohio’s Republican Gov. Mike DeWine, meanwhile, said Biden will be on the ballot either through the Legislature or the courts. “I don’t want to minimize that this has to happen, but I do want to minimize anybody thinking that there’s a snowball’s chance in hell that this isn’t going to happen,” DeWine said. “The president’s name is going to be on the ballot.” (USA Today / NBC News)

4/ Stormy Daniels completed her testimony in Trump’s election interference trial involving falsified business records. In more than seven hours of testimony over two days, Daniels described meeting Trump, details of their alleged sexual encounter in 2006, and the $130,000 hush money payment. Trump’s lawyers, meanwhile, repeatedly attacked Daniels for trying to monetize her story about Trump with a book, a tour of strip clubs, and merchandise. “Not unlike Mr. Trump,” Daniels replied. Judge Juan Merchan also denied Trump’s second request for a mistrial and declined to modify Trump’s gag order so he could respond publicly to Daniels’ testimony. Nevertheless, Trump attacked Merchan outside the courtroom, saying: “This judge, what he did, and what his ruling was, is a disgrace.” Trump added: “We’re so innocent, there’s never been anything like it.” (NPR / New York Times / Politico / Associated Press / CNN / Washington Post / ABC News / NBC News / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal / CNBC)

Day 1205: "Problems, clearly."

1/ A Georgia court agreed to hear Trump’s appeal of a decision allowing Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis to continue the election interference case involving Trump and others. The decision makes it unlikely that the case will go to trial before the November election. In March, Judge Scott McAfee declined to remove Willis following revelations that she was engaged in a romantic relationship with a member of her legal team. McAfee ruled that Willis could keep the case if Nathan Wade resign, which he did a few hours later. Nevertheless, nearly six weeks later the Georgia Court of Appeals “granted” a request for appeal and ordered Trump and his co-defendants to file a “notice of appeal” within 10 days. (Washington Post / NPR / Associated Press / NBC News / New York Times / Axios / CNBC / Politico / ABC News)

2/ Biden championed Microsoft’s $3.3 billion investment to build a new artificial intelligence center in Wisconsin as evidence of a “historic boom” in U.S. manufacturing. The facility is located on the same site where, in 2018, Trump touted a $10 billion Foxconn facility that promised to create 13,000 jobs. Although Trump promised to build the “eighth wonder of the world,” Foxconn later downsized its plans for the factory, which has created just over 1,000 jobs so far. “My predecessor made promises, which he broke more than kept,” Biden said, adding: He promised a $10 billion investment by Foxconn. He came with your senator, Ron Johnson, with a golden shovel and didn’t build a damn thing. They dug a hole with those golden shovels and then they fell into it.” Microsoft’s investment is expected to create 2,000 permanent jobs and 2,300 temporary union construction jobs, as well as develop a program to train residents for data center and other technical careers. (Washington Post / NBC News / The Verge / Associated Press / Bloomberg / CNN / Politico)

3/ A Los Angeles man launched an independent campaign for president after discovering a dead worm in his brain. Before his run for president, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. had experienced short- and long-term memory loss, described himself as having “cognitive problems, clearly,” promoted vaccine conspiracy theories, and argued against public health measures enacted during the coronavirus pandemic. Neurologists initially believed the dark spots on Kennedy Jr.’s brain were a tumor, but shortly before a scheduled surgery he received a call from another doctor who believed the mass “was caused by a worm that got into my brain and ate a portion of it and then died.” Doctors ultimately determined that the spot was the remains of a dead parasite of unknown species. Kennedy Jr. has since challenged both Biden and Trump to a debate in order to prove his “mental and physical fitness” for office. (New York Times / Washington Post)

Day 1204: "Blacked out."

1/ Israeli forces seized the Gaza side of the Rafah border crossing with Egypt, shutting down the flow of humanitarian aid. Israel sent tanks into Rafah and took control of the border crossing less than 24 hours after ordering about 100,000 Palestinians to evacuate. The operation followed hours of confusion about a proposed ceasefire deal agreed to by Hamas, but later rejected by Israel. Egypt’s foreign ministry, which repeatedly warned Israel that military action on the border could violate a four-decade-old peace treaty between the two countries, condemned the Rafah operation as a “dangerous escalation [that] threatens the lives of more than a million Palestinians who depend primarily on this crossing, as it is the main lifeline of the Gaza Strip.” The U.N. humanitarian office said the operation had “choked off” the two main points of entry for getting aid into Gaza, calling it “a very effective way of putting the humanitarian operation in its grave.” Israel has now closed two key crossings – the Kerem Shalom and Rafah crossings – for humanitarian aid into Gaza. Biden, meanwhile, condemned the “ferocious surge of antisemitism” in the U.S. following the Oct. 7 Hamas attack against Israel during an address at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum’s annual Days of Remembrance. “Too many people denying, downplaying, rationalizing, ignoring the horrors of the Holocaust and Oct. 7… It is absolutely despicable, and it must stop.” (Washington Post / New York Times / NPR / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal / NBC News / CNN / Associated Press)

2/ The Biden administration is expected notify Congress this week about whether it believes Israel has violated U.S. or international law in Gaza. Under current arms transfer policy, which was updated last February, the U.S. can suspend delivery of American weapons to countries that were “more likely than not” to violate international law or human rights. Last week, senior State Department officials said they didn’t have “credible or reliable” assurances from Israel that they were using U.S.-provided weapons in compliance with international law. The Biden administration, meanwhile, has held up the sale of thousands of precision bombs to Israel. (New York Times / Washington Post / Politico / Wall Street Journal)

3/ Stormy Daniels testified in Trump’s his election interference trial involving falsified business records. Daniels described parts of her 2006 sexual encounter in detail, including how she went to the bathroom and when she returned Trump was “in boxer shorts and t-shirt,” how she thinks she “blacked out” during the encounter, and how Trump didn’t use a condom. She also testified that when she arrived at Trump’s hotel for dinner, he was wearing “silk or satin” pajamas. Daniels was paid $130,000 by Michael Cohen before the 2016 election to remain silent about the affair. Trump’s lawyer, meanwhile, accused Daniels of “looking to extort” him. Daniels replied: “False,” raising her voice. (NBC News / NPR / Associated Press / New York Times / Washington Post / CNN / CNBC / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal / Politico / Axios)

4/ Judge Juan Merchan rejected Trump’s request for a mistrial. Trump’s lawyer argued that Stormy Daniels’s testimony should warrant a mistrial because jurors can’t unhear a number of “extraordinarily prejudicial” details, including that the claim that the encounter was not consensual, and that she had “blacked out” when it happened. Merchan replied that “I don’t think we’re at the point where a mistrial is warranted,” but noted “that I was surprised that there were not more objections” from Trump’s lawyers. “The defense has to take some responsibility for that.” (Axios / Washington Post)

5/ Marjorie Taylor Greene – again – threatened to force a vote on ousting Mike Johnson as speaker unless he defunds the special counsel Jack Smith’s investigation into Trump. Greene also wants Johnson to commit to no more Ukraine aid, avoid a government shutdown before the election by passing a continuing resolution to automatically enact a 1% spending cut, and only advance legislative priorities that have the support of the majority of the majority (i.e. Republicans). Johnson said the House will consider Justice Department funding and oversight of the special prosecutor’s office, saying: “Stay tuned.” (Politico / Axios / Washington Post / Punchbowl)

6/ The judge in Trump’s classified documents case indefinitely suspended the deadline for a key court filing in the criminal proceeding. The trial was initially schedule to begin on May 20, but was delayed at a March 1 hearing and a new trial has not yet been set. Judge Aileen Cannon, who was appointed by Trump, didn’t set a new deadline to resolve multiple pre-trial issues related to the Classified Information Procedures Act, and the delay increases the chance that the trial will not happen before the November election. The latest delay comes after Trump’s lawyers suggested that special counsel Jack Smith’s team had “failed to preserve critical evidence” in the case because some of the hundreds of classified documents documents in some of the 33 boxes the FBI seized almost two years ago from Mar-a-Lago may not be in the same order as when they were taken. (New York Times / The Hill / Associated Press / Washington Post / Axios / CNN / NBC News / Politico)

Day 1203: "Not serving as a deterrent."

1/ Judge Juan Merchan threatened Trump with jail and fined him $1,000 for his 10th violation of the gag order in his election interference trial involving falsified business records. Last week, Merchan fined Trump $9,000 for the nine previous violations of the gag order. “It appears that the $1,000 fines are not serving as a deterrent,” Merchan said. “Going forward, this court will have to consider a jail sanction.” Merchan noted that “to take that step would be disruptive to these proceedings” and that he worries about the court officers, Secret Service, and other personnel required to jail Trump, “but at the end of the day, I have a job to do.” (NPR / Axios / CNN / Politico / Wall Street Journal / New York Times)

2/ Prosecutors called two witnesses who worked in accounting in the Trump Organization on the 12th day of Trump’s his election interference trial involving falsified business records. Jeffrey McConney, a former Trump Organization controller, walked the jury through the paper trail that showed how executives organized and paid back Michael Cohen for the money he paid to Stormy Daniels. McConney testified that nine of the 11 payments to reimburse Cohen – covering the hush money payment, a bonus, and additional funds – came from Trump’s personal account, which were recorded as “legal expenses.” Deborah Tarasoff, an accounts payable supervisor, described how checks were paid at the company, testifying that invoices over $10,000 had to be approved by Trump or one of his sons. Tarasoff helped arrange the 12 checks for $35,000, each signed by Trump, that were sent to Cohen in 2017 as reimbursement for the $130,000 hush money payment to Stormy Daniels. In all, Trump paid $315,000 of the $420,000 from his personal bank account, and the other $105,000 came from a Trump trust account. On Friday, Hope Hicks testified that the “Access Hollywood” tape that came out in October 2016 “was damaging,” calling it “a crisis” for the campaign. Jurors also saw a full transcript of the “Access Hollywood” tape, including Trump’s “grab ‘em by the pussy” comment, which the Trump campaign had tried to dismiss as “locker room talk.” Prosecutors, meanwhile, said they need about more two weeks to finish presenting their case. After leaving the courthouse, Trump complained about the trial’s timeline, calling it “election interference.” (CNN / NBC News / New York Times / Bloomberg / Washington Post / Associated Press)

  • The SEC charged the auditing firm for Trump Media and the auditor’s owner with “massive fraud” and operating a “sham audit mill.” BF Borgers CPA, and its owner Benjamin Borgers, agreed to be permanently suspended from practicing as accountants for “deliberate and systemic failures,” including “fabricating” audit documentation and falsely representing to clients its work would comply with accounting standards. They agreed to pay a combined $14 million in civil penalties. (CNN / CNBC / CBS News / New York Times)

3/ The Israel Defense Forces dropped leaflets in Rafah ordering about 110,000 people sheltering there to “evacuate immediately.” The U.N. Relief and Works Agency that aids Palestinians warned that an Israeli offensive in Rafah “would mean more civilian suffering and deaths” and that the consequences would be “devastating” for the 1.4 million people sheltering there. Biden also spoke with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and “reiterated his clear position on Rafah,” which is that the U.S. opposes any major ground offensive in the city unless Israel has a clear plan to protect civilians seeking refuge there. Biden, meanwhile, put a hold on a shipments of U.S.-made ammunitions to Israel. Elsewhere, a top U.N. official said northern Gaza was now in “full-blown famine” that’s “moving its way south.” And, in other news, Israel shut down Al Jazeera’s news operations in the country and seized some of its communication equipment. (New York Times / Bloomberg / CNN / Washington Post / ABC News / NBC News)

4/ Israel’s war cabinet unanimously rejected a Qatari-Egyptian ceasefire proposal that Hamas had agreed to, saying the deal was “far from Israel’s necessary demands.” The proposal, which diverged from the one Israel helped craft with Egypt more than a week ago, included an initial 40-day ceasefire in exchange for the release of between 20 and 33 hostages and the release of Palestinian prisoners. The proposal that Hamas said it agreed to doesn’t use the word “ceasefire” but instead called for “the permanent halt to Israeli military operations and hostilities in Gaza” – a demand that Israel rejected. Israel vowed to continue “its operation in Rafah to exert military pressure on Hamas,” but also said it will also send a delegation of mediators “to exhaust the possibility of reaching an agreement.” (Bloomberg / New York Times / Washington Post / CNN / Axios / Associated Press)

5/ Israel Defense Forces carried out air strikes against Hamas in Rafah. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel will continue operations in Rafah “so as to advance the release of our hostages” and asserted Israel’s right to fight its “genocidal enemies” in rejection of international pressure to rein in its military campaign in Gaza. The strikes came hours after Hamas said it had accepted the Egyptian-Qatari ceasefire proposal. (The Guardian / NBC News / Associated Press / New York Times / Washington Post / ABC News / CNN)

Day 1199: "What have we done."

1/ Trump refused to unconditionally accept the results of the 2024 presidential election if he doesn’t win. In an interview with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Trump said he was prepared “to fight for the right of the country” – an echo to his speech on the Ellipse on Jan. 6, where he urged his supporters to “fight like hell” and march to the Capitol. “If everything’s honest,” Trump added, “I’ll gladly accept the results.” In 2020, Wisconsin was one of several states where Trump and his allies attempted to undermine election results through baseless accusations of widespread fraud. Nevertheless, Trump repeated his lie that he beat Biden in Wisconsin, saying: “If you go back and look at all of the things that had been found out, it showed that I won the election in Wisconsin. It also showed I won the election in other locations.” (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel / Reuters / NBC News / CNN / New York Times / Rolling Stone)

  • Emails Reveal Top Trump Accountant Had Secret Campaign Role. “Not only was Allen Weisselberg handling the Trump Org’s books, he was also advising the former president’s campaign 2016 campaign.” (Daily Beast)

2/ On day 10 of Trump’s election interference trial involving falsified business records, the lawyer who represented Stormy Daniels finished his testimony and Judge Juan Merchan held another hearing on whether Trump is continuing to violate his gag order. Two days after Merchan held Trump in contempt of court for violating his gag order nine times, the judge held a second hearing on four additional claims made by the prosecution. “His statements are corrosive to this proceeding and the fair administration of justice,” prosecutor Chris Conroy said, adding that Trump’s public comments “are deliberate shots across the bow to everyone who may come to this courtroom […] to talk about the defendant and what he did.” Merchan didn’t immediately rule, but advised Trump’s lawyer about social media posts: “I think the best advice to give your client is when in doubt, steer clear.” Meanwhile, Davidson testified that “there was an understanding” that his efforts to strike deals to bury the stories of Karen McDougal and Stormy Daniels “may have in some way assisted the presidential campaign of Donald Trump.” On election night 2016, Davidson texted Dylan Howard, the National Enquirer editor who helped broker the deals, “What have we done.” Howard responded: “Oh my god.” The next witness called to testify was Douglas Daus, who works for the Manhattan district attorney’s office as a technology expert. (CNN / New York Times / NBC News / Washington Post / Politico / Associated Press)

3/ Biden defended “the right to protest but not the right to cause chaos,” demanding that “order must prevail.” In his first comments since protests against the Israel-Hamas war have escalated on college campuses in the past two weeks, Biden reiterated his support for Israel and rejected calls for the National Guard to intervene. He added that “vandalism, trespassing, breaking windows, shutting down campuses, forcing the cancellation of classes and graduations — none of this is a peaceful protest.” (NBC News / CNN / Bloomberg / NPR / Axios / Washington Post / New York Times / Politico / Associated Press)

4/ The U.S. accused Russia of using chemical weapons against Ukrainian soldiers. The State Department said Russia’s use of chloropicrin “is not an isolated incident and is probably driven by Russian forces’ desire to dislodge Ukrainian forces from fortified positions and achieve tactical gains on the battlefield.” Chloropicrin is listed as a banned choking agent by the Hague-based Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. Separately, the Treasury Department imposed sanctions on more than 280 individuals and entities connected to Russia’s military-industrial base and financial system. (NBC News / Axios)

Day 1198: "Absolutely calling it."

1/ Biden will cancel $6 billion in student loans for people who attended the Art Institutes, a shuttered group of private for-profit colleges accused of fraud. “This institution falsified data, knowingly misled students, and cheated borrowers into taking on mountains of debt without leading to promising career prospects at the end of their studies,” Biden said in a statement. The move will provide relief for 317,0000 people who enrolled in the colleges between 2004 and 2017. This latest round of student loan forgiveness brings the total approved by the Biden Administration to almost $160 billion for nearly 4.6 million borrowers – an average of nearly $35,000 per student. (NPR / Associated Press / New York Times / CBS News / Bloomberg)

2/ The Federal Reserve held interest rates unchanged at their highest level in two decades. The federal funds rate has been between 5.25% and 5.50% since July 2023. After the consumer price index came in at 3.5% on an annual basis last month, the central bank said there’s been “a lack of further progress” toward its 2% percent inflation goal. (Wall Street Journal / Bloomberg / CNBC / CNN / ABC News)

3/ A federal court blocked Louisiana from using a new congressional map for this year’s elections, which created a second majority-Black district. In the 2-1 decision, the judges ruled the new map amounted to an “impermissible racial gerrymander” that violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution. The ruling in favor of a group of self-described “non-African American” voters comes after the state legislature was ordered to redraw congressional districts to comply with Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. The case is likely to reach the Supreme Court, which leaves uncertainty about which map will be used for this year’s elections that are six months away. (Politico / NBC News / New York Times / NPR / Washington Post / USA Today)

4/ Democrats won a special election House seat in New York, further shrinking the Republicans’ majority in the House. Democratic state Sen. Tim Kennedy defeated Republican town supervisor Gary Dickson in the 26th District, and will serve out former Democratic congressman Brian Higgins’s term, which ends in January. House Republicans hold 217 seats and Democrats have 213 seats, leaving vacant five seats. (Associated Press / NBC News / Washington Post / New York Times)

5/ Marjorie Taylor Greene plans to force a vote on ousting House Speaker Mike Johnson next week. House Democrats, however, have pledged to block the effort after Johnson pushed through a $95 billion aid package for Ukraine and the reauthorization of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. “I think every member of Congress needs to take that vote,” Greene said, accusing Johnson of selling out his conservative values by working with Democrats to pass legislation. “Next week I am going to be calling this motion to vacate, absolutely calling it.” (NBC News / Wall Street Journal / New York Times / Washington Post / NPR / Politico / Bloomberg / Axios / Associated Press)

6/ The Arizona state Senate voted to repeal its Civil War-era ban on nearly all abortions. Two Republicans broke with their party and joined 14 Democrats in voting in favor of repealing the 1864 law. Gov. Katie Hobbs, a Democrat, is expected to sign the bill, which would reinstate a 2022 law that permitted abortions through 15 weeks of pregnancy. (Washington Post / New York Times / Associated Press)

7/ Florida’s ban on most abortions after six weeks of pregnancy went into effect. Florida joins eleven other states in the South that have restricted abortion access, either with six-week bans or total bans. Florida’s new law will replace its 15-week ban, forcing most Floridians and other Southerners to travel further to places like Virginia, Illinois or Washington, D.C. More than 9,300 people traveled to Florida last year for abortions. (Associated Press / NPR / NBC News / Washington Post / New York Times)

poll/ 49% of Americans want politicians to pass laws ensuring national abortion access, while 37% say abortion laws should be left to states, and 14% want nationwide restrictions. (CNN)

Day 1197: "You know, it depends."

1/ Trump was held in contempt of court and fined $9,000 for repeatedly violating a gag order that barred him from making public statements about witnesses and jurors in his Manhattan criminal trial. Trump was also ordered to remove seven “offending” social media posts and two posts on his campaign website. Judge Juan Merchan warned Trump he could be jailed for further violations. (Associated Press / NPR / Wall Street Journal / Axios / NBC News / CNBC)

  • On the witness stand today: Keith Davidson, the lawyer who represented Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal when they sold their stories of affairs with Trump to the National Enquirer.

  • “I have a blockbuster Trump story,” Davidson said in a text to an Enquirer editor, referring to McDougal’s relationship with Trump.

  • Davidson testified that interest in Stormy Daniels’s story intensified after the emergence of the “Access Hollywood” tape, on which Trump bragged about assaulting women.

  • “Every single time I talked to Michael Cohen he leaned on his close affiliation with Donald Trump,” Davidson testified. “I don’t know if it was ever explicitly stated that ‘I am negotiating this matter on behalf of Donald Trump,’ but it was part of [Cohen’s] identity.”

  • Sources: New York Times / Washington Post / NBC News / Associated Press / CNN / Politico / Bloomberg

2/ House Democrats said they’d block Marjorie Taylor Greene’s effort to remove Speaker Mike Johnson. Greene and two other Republicans hardliners have threatened for weeks to introduce a motion to oust Johnson because he worked with Democrats to approve a $95 billion foreign aid package for Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan. “If she invokes the motion, it will not succeed,” House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries said. “From the very beginning of this Congress, House Democrats have put people over politics and found bipartisan common ground with traditional Republicans in order to deliver real results. At the same time, House Democrats have aggressively pushed back against MAGA extremism. We will continue to do just that.” Greene, nevertheless, suggested she’d force a vote anyway, saying: “if the Democrats want to elect him Speaker (and some Republicans want to support the Democrats’ chosen Speaker), I’ll give them the chance to do it.” (Politico / Associated Press / NBC News / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal / Axios)

3/ Universities across the country called on campus, city and state police officers to quell civil disobedience by students protesting the U.S.-backed Israeli military offensive in Gaza. While the majority of protests have been peaceful, there have been several incidents of antisemitism and violent threats that have marred the demonstrations and made Jewish students feel unsafe on campus. At many schools, students have setup campus tent encampments and called on their universities’ endowments to divest from military weapons manufacturers and defense contractors linked to Israel. At Columbia University, student protesters were threatened with expulsion for occupying Hamilton Hall – the same building that antiwar protesters occupied in 1968. Protesters renamed the building Hind’s Hall, after Hind Rajab, a 6-year-old who was killed in Gaza in January, and then unfurled a banner from the building that said “intifada,” an Arabic word meaning “an uprising.” In Oregon, Portland State University closed its campus after demonstrators took over the school’s library; police officers used riot gear and pepper spray to break up a protest at Virginia Commonwealth University; students who refused to leave an encampment at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill were arrested; and police and state troopers in Texas arrested nearly 80 protesters at the University of Texas at Austin. In total, there have been more than 1,200 arrests made so far related to pro-Palestinian protests and encampments on college campuses across the country. About four dozen encampments on campuses remain. The White House said that while Biden “respects the right to free expression,” he “believes that forcibly taking over a building on campus is absolutely the wrong approach,” and “not an example of peaceful protest.” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, meanwhile, pledged to invade Rafah “with or without” a ceasefire deal “in order to achieve the total victory.” The latest ceasefire proposal calls for 20 to 33 hostages to be released over several weeks in exchange for the “restoration of sustainable calm” and the release of Palestinian prisoners. Israel is awaiting a response from Hamas. Nevertheless, Netanyahu said that “the idea that we will halt the war before achieving all of its goals is out of the question.” (New York Times / CNN / Washington Post / NBC News / Associated Press / NPR / Wall Street Journal / Rolling Stone / New York Magazine / Vox / Axios / Politico / CNN)

4/ The Biden administration will ease federal restrictions on cannabis, reclassifying marijuana from the most strict Schedule I to the less stringent Schedule III. The new rule would not legalize cannabis outright for recreational use, but instead recognize the medical uses of marijuana. It’s the first time that the U.S. government has acknowledged the potential medical benefits of marijuana. (Associated Press / NBC News / Politico / Axios / New York Times / Washington Post)

👑 Portrait of a President.

  1. Trump refused to commit to vetoing a national abortion ban and said he would allow states to monitor women’s pregnancies and prosecute those who violated abortion restrictions

  2. Trump said he’d “absolutely” consider pardoning the hundreds of criminals convicted in connection with the attack on the U.S. Capitol. Trump is currently facing felony criminal charges in connection with Jan. 6.

  3. Trump suggested he’d use the National Guard to deport undocumented migrants. “If they weren’t able to, then I’d use [other parts of] the military.”

  4. Trump refused to rule out the possibility of political violence following the presidential election. “If we don’t win, you know, it depends. It always depends on the fairness of the election.”

  5. Sources: Time / Axios / New York Times / NBC News

Day 1196: "Serious questions."

1/ Senior State Department officials warned that they don’t have “credible or reliable” assurances that Israel is using U.S.-provided weapons in accordance with international law. Under a National Security Memorandum that Biden issued in February, Secretary of State Antony Blinken must determine whether Israel is using U.S. weapons “in a manner consistent with all applicable international and domestic law and policy, including international humanitarian law and international human rights law.” Blinken must tell Congress by May 8 whether he has certified the assurances to be credible and reliable. Four bureaus – Democracy, Human Rights and Labor; Population, Refugees and Migration; Global Criminal Justice; and International Organization Affairs – raised “serious concern over non-compliance” with international humanitarian law during the war. Their assessment cited eight examples of Israeli military actions that raise “serious questions” about potential violations of international humanitarian law, such as repeatedly striking protected sites and civilian infrastructure, “unconscionably high levels of civilian harm to military advantage,” and “killing humanitarian workers and journalists at an unprecedented rate.” The assessment also cited 11 instances of Israeli military actions that “arbitrarily restrict humanitarian aid,” including rejecting aid trucks due to a single “dual-use” item, “artificial” limitations on inspections, and repeated attacks on humanitarian sites that should be protected. Meanwhile, a coalition of lawyers called on Biden to cut off military aid to Israel, arguing that its actions in Gaza violate U.S. law, including the Arms Export Control Act and Leahy Laws, as well as international humanitarian law prohibiting disproportionate attacks on civilian populations. (Reuters / CNN)

2/ Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asked Biden to help stop the International Criminal Court from issuing arrest warrants for senior Israeli officials – including himself. The ICC launched an investigation three years ago into possible war crimes by both Israel and Palestinian militants dating back to the 2014 Israel-Hamas war. Israeli officials reportedly believe that the ICC is preparing to issue warrants for senior government officials, include Netanyahu, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, and Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi. (Axios / New York Times / NBC News / Bloomberg)

  • U.S. determined that five Israeli security units committed human rights violations before outbreak of Gaza war. The “State Department has determined that five Israeli security units committed gross violations of human rights prior to the outbreak of the war with Hamas in Gaza, but is still deciding whether to restrict military assistance to one of the units under US law.” (CNN / Washington Post)

3/ Israel presented a new hostage deal proposal to Hamas in exchange for a “sustained” 40-day ceasefire in Gaza. The current deal would see 33 hostages freed in the first stage in exchange for a temporary ceasefire and the release of “potentially thousands” of Palestinians in Israel. For months, Israel had demanded that Hamas release a group of at least 40 hostages made up of women, children, the elderly, and those with serious medical conditions in order to secure a ceasefire. Hamas, however, reportedly doesn’t have 40 living hostages who fit that criteria. Israeli officials believe there are about 130 hostages remaining in Gaza, and at least 30 of those have died in captivity. Secretary of State Antony Blinken urged Hamas to accept what he said was an “extraordinarily generous” proposal for a ceasefire and hostage release, and that Hamas alone stood in the way of a deal. If no deal is made, Israel is expected to launch a ground invasion into the southern Gaza city of Rafah, where more than 1 million displaced Palestinians are sheltering. (New York Times / Washington Post / NBC News / CNN / Axios)

  • What to Know About the Campus Protests Over the Israel-Hamas War. “Recent arrests at Columbia University spurred a nationwide movement of pro-Palestinian protests and encampments on campuses.” (New York Times)
  • The deadline set by Columbia University for demonstrators to vacate an encampment there or face suspension has passed. “There were about 80 tents and dozens of protesters left in the encampment just after 2 p.m.” (CNN / NBC News / Bloomberg / New York Times)

4/ A federal appeals court ruled that state healthcare plans must cover gender-affirming surgeries. State officials in West Virginia and North Carolina had argued that their policies were based on “legitimate government interests,” such as cost concerns, rather than bias. The court, however, ruled that the denial of some health care services via government-sponsored insurance for transgender people was discriminatory. (Associated Press / Washington Post / Axios)

5/ Trump’s allies are reportedly working on proposals to reduce the Federal Reserve’s independence if Trump is re-elected, including letting the president influence interest rate decisions. Under the plan, the Fed chair would be required to seek Trump’s review on interest rate policy, negotiate with the committee on the president’s behalf to steer policy, and to require candidates for Fed chair to agree to privately consult informally with Trump on the central bank’s decisions. The 10-page document also suggests that Trump would have the authority to oust Jerome Powell as Fed chair before his four-year term ends in 2026. (Wall Street Journal)

6/ The Supreme Court rejected former Trump adviser Peter Navarro’s request to be released from prison while he appeals his contempt of Congress conviction. Navarro is serving a four-month sentence for defying a congressional subpoena from the Jan. 6 committee investigating the attack on the Capitol. (CBS News / USA Today / CNN)

poll/ 53% of voters who don’t follow political news say they support Trump, while 27% say they support Biden. Among voters who read newspapers, 70% say they support Biden, while 21% say they support Trump. Overall, 54% of voters polled described themselves as traditional news consumers, while 40% described themselves as digital media consumers. Among the traditional news consumers, 52% support Biden compared to 41% for Trump. Among digital media consumers, however, 47% support Trump compared to 44% for Biden. (NBC News)

poll/ 55% of Americans say they see Trump’s presidency as a success, while 44% see it as a failure. In a January 2021 poll, 55% considered Trump’s presidency a failure. (CNN)

Day 1192: "A rule for the ages."

1/ Former National Enquirer publisher David Pecker returned to the stand on the seventh day of Trump’s election interference trial involving falsified business records. Pecker testified that he spoke with Trump and Michael Cohen about paying Karen McDougal $150,000 to keep her story of an affair with Trump quiet ahead of the 2016 presidential election. “We didn’t want the story to embarrass Mr. Trump or embarrass or hurt the campaign,” Pecker said. Cohen told Pecker should pay the fee to kill the story, which prompted him to ask who would reimburse him. Cohen allegedly told Pecker: “Don’t worry. The boss will take care of you” which Pecker said he took to mean either Trump or the Trump Organization would pay him back. Pecker also testified that he knew that Cohen didn’t have the authorization “to buy, to acquire or spend any money” without Trump’s prior approval. The payment to McDougal was disguised as a deal for her to write a health and fitness column and appear on magazine covers, which Pecker acknowledged was unlawful. Trump faces 34 charges of falsifying business records to cover up hush money payments made by Michael Cohen. (New York Times / Washington Post / Associated Press / NBC News / CNN / ABC News / USA Today)

2/ The Supreme Court appeared likely to reject Trump’s claim of absolute immunity from prosecution for trying to subvert the 2020 election, but appeared open to granting some level of immunity to former presidents for crimes committed while in office. Trump’s lawyers argued that his efforts to overturn the 2020 election were “official acts” taken in office, but did concede that some of the alleged conduct supporting the criminal charges against Trump were private. Chief Justice John Roberts raised the prospect of returning the case to the appeals court to distinguish between Trump’s official acts as president and his private ones, a result that could jeopardize the ability to hold a trial before the November election. “I’m not focused on the here and now of this case,” Justice Brett Kavanaugh said. “I’m very concerned about the future.” Justice Neil Gorsuch added: “I’m not as concerned about this case so much as a future one. We’re writing a rule for the ages.” Justice Samuel Alito also said he didn’t want to talk about the “particular facts,” but rather to talk “in the abstract.” Instead, Alito suggested an alternate reality in which granting immunity “is required for the functioning of a stable democratic society” because it gives an incumbent president to “leave office peacefully” after losing an election. Alito explained: “If an incumbent who loses a very close, hotly contested election knows that a real possibility after leaving office is not that the president is going to be able to go off into a peaceful retirement but that the president may be criminally prosecuted by a bitter political opponent, will that not lead us into a cycle that destabilizes the functioning of our country as a democracy?” Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, meanwhile, said: “The most powerful person in the world could go into office knowing that there would be no potential penalty for committing crimes. What disincentive is there for turning the Oval Office into the seat of criminality in this country?” (Associated Press / CNN / Washington Post / NBC News / NPR / New York Times / Wall Street Journal / Bloomberg / Politico)

3/ A grand jury in Arizona indicted 18 Trump allies – including Mark Meadows, Rudy Giuliani, and Boris Epshteyn – on felony charges related to their efforts to overturn Trump’s 2020 election loss in the state. Arizona Attorney General Kris Mayes said a state grand jury approved criminal charges against 11 Republicans who submitted a certificate falsely declaring they were “duly elected and qualified” electors and claiming that Trump won the state. The document was sent to Congress and the National Archives, where it was ignored. Meadows, Giuliani, Epshteyn, Jenna Ellis, John Eastman and Christina Bobb, and Mike Roman were also accused of aiding the unsuccessful “fake elector” schemes to award the state’s electoral votes to Trump instead of Biden. The indictment also describes Trump as an unindicted co-conspirator. Arizona joins Michigan, Georgia, and Nevada to bring charges against “fake electors.” (NPR / Washington Post / Associated Press / Wall Street Journal / Politico / CNN / NBC News / New York Times)

4/ A federal judge upheld the verdict and $83 million in damages awarded to E. Jean Carroll by a jury, which found Trump liable for defamation in January. Judge Lewis Kaplan also rejected Trump’s request for a new trial, writing that “Trump’s argument is entirely without merit both as a matter of law and as a matter of fact.” (CNN / ABC News / CBS News / Axios)

5/ The EPA issued a new rule requiring coal-fired power plants to capture 90% of their carbon dioxide emissions or shut down. The new rules are expected to cut 1.4 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions – roughly equivalent to the power sector’s 2022 emissions. When burned, coal emits more carbon dioxide than any other fuel source, and power plants are the second biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions behind transportation. (New York Times / NPR / Wall Street Journal / Associated Press)

Day 1191: "Everyone knows it."

1/ Biden signed the $95 billion national security package into law, overcoming months of opposition and infighting by Republicans in Congress. The package includes $60 billion in aid to Ukraine, $26 billion for Israel and humanitarian relief in Gaza, and $8 billion for security in Taiwan and the Indo-Pacific. Biden said the package is “going to make the world safer. And it continues America’s leadership in the world, and everyone knows it.” He said shipments to Ukraine would start “in the next few hours.” The Pentagon added that it would rush the first $1 billion in aid to Ukraine, which includes more than 20 different types of weapons and military equipment. (NBC News / New York Times / Bloomberg / NPR / Associated Press / Axios)

  • The U.S. provided Ukraine with long-range ballistic missiles for the first time earlier this month that Ukrainian forces immediately used the weapons to attack a Russian military airfield in Crimea. The Army Tactical Missile Systems armed with cluster munitions that can travel nearly 200 miles. The Pentagon will include additional long-range ATACMS in the $1 billion package of military aid Biden approved. (Politico / New York Times / NBC News)

2/ Biden signed legislation forcing TikTok’s Chinese parent company to divest from its U.S. operations or face a nationwide ban. U.S. officials and lawmakers have cited national security concerns with TikTok’s ownership structure, which could allow the Chinese government to obtain U.S. user data or influence content on the app with its algorithms, including interfering in American elections. ByteDance now has 270 days to sell TikTok, though Biden can extend the deadline another 90 days if he determines the company’s made progress toward a sale. It’s the first time the U.S. has passed a law that could ban a social media platform. TikTok’s CEO, meanwhile, said: “Rest assured, we aren’t going anywhere.” (Axios / Politico / NPR / Washington Post / CNN)

3/ The Arizona House repealed a Civil War-era ban on nearly all abortions – two weeks after the state’s Supreme Court upheld the 1864 law. Three state House Republicans joined Democrats in repealing the law that made abortion a felony punishable by two to five years in prison for anyone who performs one or helps a woman obtain one. The measure now heads to the state Senate and the Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs would need to sign it to reinstate a 2022 law, which permitted abortions through 15 weeks of pregnancy. (Washington Post / Associated Press / NBC News / Politico / Axios)

4/ The Supreme Court appeared divided over whether Idaho’s abortion ban is constitutional. Idaho’s Defense of Life Act prohibits nearly all abortions, with exceptions for reported cases of rape or incest or when “necessary to prevent the death of the pregnant woman.” The Biden administration, however, sued the state, arguing that the law conflicts with the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act of 1986, which requires emergency rooms that receive Medicare funds to offer “stabilizing treatment” to all patients whose health is in jeopardy regardless of the patients’ ability to pay. The court’s conservative majority framed the case as federal overreach into state power, while the court’s liberals focused on medical emergencies that were not covered by the limited life-of-the-woman exemption in Idaho’s ban. A decision is expected by the end of June. (CNN / ABC News / Associated Press / New York Times / NBC News / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal)

5/ Trump, Mark Meadows, and Rudy Giuliani were named as “unindicted co-conspirators” in the Michigan attorney general’s case against the state’s 15 “fake electors” in the 2020 election. Prosecutors believe the three participated in the scheme to commit forgery by attempting to replace Michigan’s electoral votes for Biden with electoral votes for Trump at the certification of the vote on Jan. 6. It’s unclear what legal jeopardy Trump, Meadows, and Giuliani face in Michigan. (ABC News / New York Times / The Detroit News)

Day 1190: "Silly."

1/ Trump will likely be found in contempt of court for violating his gag order in the election interference case involving falsified business records to conceal a hush money payment during the 2016 campaign. Prosecutors argued that Trump violated the limited gag order at least 10 times, and asked Judge Juan Merchan to hold Trump in contempt of court, fine Trump $10,000, and force Trump to delete his social media posts. “His disobedience of the order is willful, it’s intentional,” prosecutors said. “He knows what he’s not allowed to do and he does it anyway.” Trump’s attorney Todd Blanche, meanwhile, claimed that Trump was just defending himself online when he posted about witnesses in the case, including Michael Cohen and Stormy Daniels. Merchan, however, characterized the position as “silly” and warned Blanche that he was “losing all credibility with the court” with his argument that Trump was being “careful” about the gag order. While Merchan did not immediately rule on whether Trump had violated the order, minutes after the hearing Trump posted on his personal social media platform that Merchan “should recuse himself” because he’s taking away his “right to free speech” and claiming that he was “not allowed to defend myself.” (Bloomberg / Axiosy / NBC News / ABC News)

2/ Testimony resumed in Trump’s election interference case involving falsified business records trial, with tabloid publisher David Pecker taking the stand for a second day to detail the “catch-and-kill” scheme to bury negative stories about Trump during the 2016 election. Pecker said he acted as the campaign’s “eyes and ears,” notifying Michael Cohen about possible scandals, including “about women selling stories,” and agreeing to “run or publish positive stories about Mr. Trump and I would publish negative stories about his opponents.” Pecker also testified that alerting Trump about damaging information had a mutual benefit for the Enquirer and the campaign. (CNN / Bloomberg / NPR / Associated Press / New York Times / Washington Post / Politico / ABC News)

3/ The FTC banned employers from using noncompete contracts that prevent workers from switching jobs within their industry. It’s the first time in more than 50 years that the FTC has issued an economy-wide regulation to how companies compete. “Robbing people of their economic liberty also robs them of all sorts of other freedoms,” FTC Chair Lina Khan said. The FTC estimates that banning noncompetes could create jobs for 30 million Americans and raise wages by at least $400 billion over the next 10 years. (Wall Street Journal / Bloomberg / Washington Post)

poll/ 45% of Americans say climate change is a very important issue, but only 10% of respondents have heard a lot about what the Biden administration has done to address it. If that sounds like you, then here’s a refresher: Biden rejoined the Paris climate agreement on his first day in office, signed the bipartisan infrastructure bill that allocated $550 billion to combat climate change, signed the Inflation Reduction Act that included nearly $370 billion into combating climate change, canceled all seven Trump-issued oil and gas leases in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and prohibited oil drilling in 13 million acres in the federally owned National Petroleum Reserve, issued executive orders to conserve at least 30% of federal lands and ocean areas by 2030, and cut the federal government’s carbon emissions 65% by the end of the decade, and be carbon neutral by 2050. Trump, meanwhile, withdrew from the Paris agreement, rolled back environmental regulations, promoted fossil fuels, reduced the scope of national monuments, and dismissed climate change as a hoax, calling for “global warming” to “come back fast.” (CBS News)

Day 1189: "It’s called democracy."

1/ On the fifth day of Trump’s election interference case involving falsified business records to conceal a hush money payment during the 2016 campaign, the prosecution and defense both delivered opening statements. Prosecutor Matthew Colangelo framed that case as “a planned, long-running conspiracy” – orchestrated by Trump – “to corrupt the 2016 presidential election,” and that Trump then “covered up that criminal conspiracy by lying in his New York business records over and over and over again.” Trump’s lawyer cast his actions – falsifying 34 business records in an attempt to cover up a payment to a porn star in the days before the 2016 election – as run-of-the-mill, saying: “There’s nothing wrong with trying to influence an election; it’s called democracy.” Prosecutors called their first witness: David Pecker, the former National Enquirer publisher. In his initial testimony, Pecker described the tabloid’s use of “checkbook journalism” to pay for stories — a practice in the tabloid industry of suppressing a potentially damaging story by buying the rights to it. The first “catch-and-kill” deal, Pecker said, was a $30,000 payment to a Trump Tower doorman, who said he had heard Trump had fathered a child out of wedlock. The second payment – made three months before the 2016 election – was made to former Playboy model Karen McDougal, who was paid $150,000 for her story about an affair she had with Trump while he was married. And in the final deal – made one month before the election – Pecker and the Enquirer’s editor helped Michael Cohen negotiate a $130,000 hush-money payment to Stormy Daniels, the former porn star who also said she had sex with Trump. (Associated Press / New York Times / Washington Post / CNN / Politico / NPR / NBC News / Axios)

2/ The House passed the $95 billion foreign aid package for Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan. Each portion of the package, which was split into separate bills, received bipartisan support. The Senate is expected to pass the legislation as early as Tuesday and send it to Biden’s desk. The House also passed a fourth measure full of bipartisan priorities, including forcing TikTok to divest from its Chinese parent company or face a ban in the U.S., seizing Russian assets to resell to Ukraine, and imposing new sanctions on Russia, China, and Iran. (Washington Post / New York Times / NPR / Axios)

  • The head of intelligence for Israel’s military resigned over his “leadership responsibility” for the Hamas attack on Oct. 7. Maj. Gen. Aharon Haliva is the highest-ranking leader to resign over the assault. (CNN / New York Times / Washington Post)

  • The U.S. vetoed a U.N. resolution for Palestinian statehood. The vote was 12 in favor, the U.S. opposed, and Britain and Switzerland abstaining. U.S. officials had said that voting for statehood now would undermine prospects for a lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinians. Earlier this month, the Palestinian Authority, which governs parts of the occupied West Bank, formally asked the Security Council to reconsider its 2011 application to upgrade its status from “nonmember observer state.” Gaza is governed by Hamas. (Washington Post / New York Times / NPR / Associated Press)

  • Israel has carried out a military strike inside Iran. The strike was reportedly originally intended to be much broader in scope, but after pressure from allies, Israeli opted for a limited strike that avoided significant damage. (New York Times / Associated Press)

3/ Biden signed legislation extending a federal warrantless surveillance program for another two years. The reauthorize Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act comes as both progressive and conservative civil liberties advocates warned that the program is too expansive and impinge on the privacy of Americans. Section 702 permits the government to collect, without a warrant, the communications of non-Americans located abroad, as well as the communications of Americans when they’re in contact with those targeted foreigners. The new law also redefined the definition of an electronic communications service providers to include any “service provider who has access to equipment that is being or may be used to transmit or store wire or electronic communications.” The senior director of the Brennan Center for Justice’s Liberty and National Security Program warned that the provision would “allow the government to force almost any business in this country to assist with Section 702 collection by giving the NSA access to its phones, computers, and WiFi routers. The NSA would be on the honor system to extract and remove only foreign targets’ communications. This is a truly Orwellian power that no democracy should allow its government to have.” Sens. Ron Wyden and Josh Hawley added that the expansion could be used to compel “ordinary Americans and small businesses to conduct secret, warrantless spying.” (NBC News / Washington Post / CBS News / CNN / Associated Press / The Verge / Common Dreams / Wired / TechCrunch)

poll/ 64% of voters say they’re very interested in November’s election – lower than at this point in the 2008 (74%), 2012 (67%), 2016 (69%), and 2020 (77%) presidential elections cycles. (NBC News)

✏️ Notables.

  1. Biden marked Earth Day with $7 billion in federal grants for residential solar projects serving 900,000-plus households in low- and middle-income communities. The 60 projects are expected to reduce emissions by the equivalent of 30 million metric tons of carbon dioxide and save households $350 million annually. (Associated Press)

  2. The Supreme Court’s conservative majority seemed inclined to uphold a series of local ordinances that allowed an Oregon city to ban homeless people from sleeping or camping in public spaces. The ordinances passed by Grants Pass bar sleeping or camping on publicly owned property, like sidewalks, streets, bridges, and city parks, imposing fines ranging from $75 to $295. Three homeless people sued the city in 2018, arguing that the laws violated the Eighth Amendment’s protections against cruel and unusual punishment because of “their status of being involuntarily homeless.” The court’s three liberal justices, meanwhile, appeared concerned about criminalizing homelessness and the most basic of human needs, like sleeping. (Washington Post / NBC News / CNN / New York Times)

  3. The Supreme Court agreed to consider whether the Biden administration can regulate “ghost guns,” mail-order kits that allow people to build untraceable guns at home. In 2022 by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, broadened the definition of “firearm” in the Gun Control Act of 1968, and issued a federal rule requiring that these kits include serial numbers and mandating background checks for people who buy them from dealers. (CNN / NBC News / New York Times / Washington Post)

Day 1185: "Annoyance."

1/ On the third day of Trump’s election interference case involving falsified business records to conceal a hush money payment late in the 2016 campaign, two of the seven jurors already seated in the case were removed. One expressed concerns after being identified publicly based on details reported by the media. After being dismissed, Judge Juan Merchan blamed journalists for being too accurate in their reporting, and ordered the press to not report on certain details about prospective jurors going forward. The second juror was dismissed over concerns that he may not have been truthful about whether he’d ever been accused or convicted of a crime. Prosecutors said they found an article featuring a person with the same name who was arrested in Westchester in the 1990s for tearing down political ads. The juror reportedly “expressed annoyance about how much information was out there about him in the public.” Seven new jurors were seated hours later, bringing the total number to 12 jurors. The next six jurors selected will serve as alternates. Meanwhile, the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office re-upped its request for Merchan to hold Trump in contempt of court for violating his gag order seven more times since Monday, calling the behavior “ridiculous.” Merchan said he would take up the matter next week. (Washington Post / New York Times / CNN / NBC News / Politico / Bloomberg / Associated Press / Wall Street Journal / CBS News / NBC News / Axios)

2/ House Republicans privately urged Speaker Mike Johnson to change the chamber’s rules and raise the threshold required to trigger the procedure to oust the speaker. Doing so would allow Johnson to pass the $95 billion foreign aid package and still keep his job over the opposition from the House Freedom Caucus and other conservatives. Johnson, however, opted against the rule change, saying lowering the threshold for introducing a motion to vacate has “harmed this office and our House majority.” House Democrats have signaled they’ll provide the votes to overcome a planned blockade by conservatives and pass the long-stalled aid to Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan. However, if Republicans add political amendments or measures that weaken the bill, Democrats won’t provide the votes. Meanwhile, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene embarrassed herself and wasted everyone’s time by repeatedly proposing absurd and juvenile amendments to the foreign aid package, including “space laser technology on the southern border,” requiring lawmakers voting for Ukraine aid to “conscript in the Ukrainian military,” redirecting Ukraine aid to deport undocumented migrants, prohibiting aid for Ukraine unless the country bans abortion, and offsetting the cost of aid to Ukraine with the salaries of lawmakers who support it. In response, Florida Democrat Jared Moskowitz proposed renaming Greene’s office in the House the “Neville Chamberlain Room” (the British prime minister known for his policy of “appeasement” toward Adolf Hitler), and naming Greene “Vladimir Putin’s Special Envoy to the United States Congress.” The House is expected to hold a series of votes Saturday on the aid package with the Senate taking it up next week. (Punchbowl News / Axios / CNN / Politico / Wall Street Journal / Bloomberg / Washington Post)

3/ The Biden administration imposed new sanctions on Iran’s drone, steel, and auto industries in response to its missile attack on Israel. The new package is designed to “degrade and disrupt” Iran’s drone production. The U.K. also announced sanctions against Iranian military figures and organizations, and E.U. said they would increase sanctions against Iran. Tehran, meanwhile, said “We told the Americans in messages clearly” that Iran’s decision “to punish” Israel was “definite and final,” adding that they’re “not looking” for further escalation in the region. (Politico / Axios / Washington Post / NBC News / New York Times / Washington Post / CNN)

poll/ 53% of Americans under 30 say they’ll “definitely be voting” in the 2024 presidential election – on par with 2020 polling, which indicated 54% planned to vote. If the election were held today, 56% of likely young voters said they would vote for Biden, while 37% said they’d support Trump. (Harvard Youth Poll)

Day 1184: "Make our own decisions."

1/ Speaker Mike Johnson defied threats from his Republican colleagues to oust him and scheduled a vote on individual bills to fund Israel, Ukraine, and Taiwan. Johnson plans to have the House vote on three individual foreign aid bills, a fourth bill sanctioning Russia, China, and Iran, and a fifth bill addressing border security measures. The package largely mirrors the Senate-passed $95 billion aid package, with the exception for the border security provisions. Johnson, however, will almost certainly need Democratic votes to get the package to the floor, as well as to save his job if he faces a motion to vacate. Biden endorsed the plan and urged Congress to work quickly. The House is expected to vote Saturday evening. (NBC News / Associated Press / CNN / Politico / New York Times / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / Bloomberg / NPR / Axios / CNBC)

2/ Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel would “do everything necessary to defend itself.” Over the weekend, Iran launched more than 300 attack drones and cruise and ballistic missiles at Israel in response to an Israeli strike on Iran’s embassy in Syria that killed two Iranian generals. The U.S., U.K., and Germany have pressed Israel to not further escalate tensions with Iran and to instead be satisfied with its successful air defense that intercepted nearly all the missiles and drones. British Foreign Secretary David Cameron, however, said it’s “clear the Israelis are making a decision to act — we hope they do so in a way that does as little to escalate this as possible.” The U.S. and the E.U are also planning new sanctions on Iran meant to “degrade Iran’s military capacity.” Nevertheless, Netanyahu said Israel “will make our own decisions” about how to respond to Iran’s retaliatory strikes. Iran, meanwhile, warned that even the “tiniest invasion” by Israel would bring a “massive and harsh” response. (Washington Post / New York Times / NBC News / CNN / Wall Street Journal / Associated Press)

3/ For the second time in two weeks, Arizona House Republicans blocked an attempt to repeal the state’s 160-year-old near total ban on abortion, which was reinstated last week by the state Supreme Court. Despite pressure from Republican candidates facing competitive races in the state, including Trump and Kari Lake, the GOP-controlled legislature blocked the Democratic-led effort to repeal the abortion ban. Arizona Republicans hold a two-seat majority in both legislative chambers. Abortion rights advocates, meanwhile, say they’ve gathered enough signatures to put a proposed constitutional amendment on the November ballot that would create a “fundamental right” to receive abortion care up until fetal viability, or about the 24th week of pregnancy. (New York Times / NBC News / CNN / ABC News / Politico / Wall Street Journal / Axios / The Guardian)

4/ The Senate dismissed the impeachment case against Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. The Democratic-controlled Senate deemed both impeachment articles unconstitutional because they didn’t rise to the level of “high crimes and misdemeanors.” The trial was then adjourned without any votes to convict or acquit. House Republicans voted to impeach Mayorkas in February on their second try by a single vote over his handling of the southern border. He became the first Cabinet secretary to be impeached in nearly 150 years. (New York Times / Associated Press / Wall Street Journal / Washington Post / NBC News / Politico / CNN)

Day 1183: "A clusterfuck."

1/ The House will vote on three individual bills to fund Israel, Ukraine, and Taiwan. A fourth bill would wrap several Republican foreign policy proposals into one, including the seizure of Russian assets, and a House-approved bill that could ban TikTok in the U.S. In total, the legislative package roughly resembles the $95 billion aid bill the Senate passed two months ago. House Speaker Mike Johnson, however, doesn’t necessarily have the votes to bring the bills to the House floor and the House Freedom Caucus has threatened to oust him from the speakership if he moved forward with funding for Ukraine. Notably absent from the bills are any measures to address border security, which Republicans have demanded for months as a condition of approving aid to foreign countries. Further, it’s unclear if Johnson has the Senate’s support, given the chamber already passed bipartisan foreign aid legislation back in February, which has been sitting in the House ever since. (CNBC / Politico / New York Times / Washington Post / NPR)

2/ A second Republican agreed to co-sponsor an effort to oust House Speaker Mike Johnson from his job, less than 24 hours after Johnson outlined a plan to send aid to Ukraine and Israel. Rep. Thomas Massie, joining Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene’s attempt to end Johnson’s speakership, stood up during a closed-door Republican conference meeting and told Johnson to resign, saying “you’re not going to be the speaker much longer.” Johnson, meanwhile, dismissed the effort to remove him as speaker as “absurd,” saying: “I am not resigning.” Without Democratic support, Republicans would need a simple majority to oust their second speaker in six months. One Republican called the situation “a clusterfuck,” and another said: “We are screwed.” (Politico / CNN / Washington Post / The Hill / Axios / Wall Street Journal)

3/ House Republicans sent articles of impeachment against Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas to the Senate. In February, House Republicans voted to impeach Mayorkas, citing his alleged failure to enforce border laws, reduce migrant crossings, and secure the southern border. Their first attempt to impeach Mayorkas failed when four Republicans joined Democrats in voting against the impeachment, but they were successful on their second try by a single vote. House Republicans have demanded a full trial, while the Democratic-controlled Senate is expected to dismiss the charges without a trial or conduct a speedy trial that ends without a conviction. At least one Republican Senator — Mitt Romney — has already said he’ll vote against a full trial. (NBC News / Washington Post / CNN / ABC News)

4/ The Supreme Court allowed Idaho to temporarily enforce a strict statewide ban on gender-affirming health care for transgender teenagers. The law makes it a felony to provide medical treatment, such as puberty-blocking drugs, hormone therapy, and surgical procedures, to transgender minors. Doctors could face up to 10 years in prison for providing gender-affirming care. The court did not address the merits of the issue, but whether the law could take effect as an appeal moves forward. (Washington Post / NBC News / CNN / NPR / Politico / ABC News / New York Times)

5/ The Supreme Court heard a challenge to the federal obstruction law that the Justice Department used to charge more than 350 pro-Trump rioters involved in the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. The statute, which criminalizes efforts to obstruct, influence or impede any official proceeding, is also the basis for one of the four obstruction counts brought against Trump in a separate criminal case brought by special counsel Jack Smith. Conviction can result in a prison sentence of up to 20 years. The court appeared divided on the issue, with the conservative majority expressing concern with the Justice Department’s application of the law. The three liberals, meanwhile, seemed to agree that the federal obstruction law is broad enough to encompass the rioters who stormed the Capitol and disrupted Congress’ certification of Biden’s 2020 presidential election victory over Trump. A decision is expected by late June. (Associated Press / NPR / New York Times / Politico / NBC News / Bloomberg / Washington Post / CNN)

6/ On the second day of jury selection in Trump’s election interference case involving falsified business records to conceal a hush money payment late in the 2016 campaign, prosecutors moved to hold Trump in contempt for allegedly violating his gag order. The request to sanction Trump for violating his gag order by commenting on likely witnesses came on the second day of jury selection in the first-ever criminal trial of a U.S. president. “He is a criminal defendant, and like all criminal defendants, he is subject to court supervision,” assistant District Attorney Chris Conroy told Manhattan Supreme Court Judge Juan Merchan. The prosecutor asked Merchan to impose a $1,000 sanction for each of Trump’s three social media posts, order Trump to delete them, and to warn Trump that another violation could result in jail time. Merchan said he would hold a hearing on the request on April 24. Meanwhile, the first seven jurors were seated. Five more jurors and another six alternates still need to be picked. At one point, Merchan scolded Trump for muttering and gesturing while a prospective juror was being questioned, saying: “I won’t tolerate that. I will not have any jurors intimidated in this courtroom. I want to make this crystal clear.” (NBC News / CNN / CNBC / Politico / Associated Press / Washington Post / New York Times / Axios / Bloomberg)

  • Why Trump’s “hush money” case is bigger than hush money. “The allegations are in substance, that Donald Trump falsified business records to conceal an agreement with others to unlawfully influence the 2016 presidential election.” (Washington Post)

poll/ 35% of Americans believe Trump did something illegal with regard to the hush money allegations, while 31% think he did something unethical without breaking the law, and 14% think he did nothing wrong at all. (Associated Press)

Day 1182: "Take the win."

1/ Jury selection in Trump’s criminal hush money trial began, marking the first criminal prosecution of an American president. Trump is charged with 34 felony counts of falsifying business records as part of a scheme to conceal hush money payments during his 2016 campaign. If convicted, Trump could face up to four years in prison. The task of selecting 12 jurors and six alternates could take up to two weeks. More than half of the first 96 prospective jurors were dismissed after saying they can’t be fair or impartial, and the court adjourned for the day with no jurors chosen. Trump, meanwhile, appeared to nod off several times, sitting motionless in his seat at the defense table, his back slightly arched, his head drooping onto his chest, and his mouth going slack. Trump will be required to attend the trial each day, which will take place four days a week and could last eight weeks. This is the first of Trump’s four criminal prosecutions to go to trial. (New York Times / Associated Press / Washington Post / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal / CNN / Politico / NPR / NBC News / Axios)

2/ Biden warned Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu against launching new strikes on Iran. Over the weekend, Iran launched a barrage of over 300 drones and missiles on Israel in retaliation for Israel’s assassination of two Iranian generals at the country’s embassy in Syria. Israeli air defense, supplemented by U.S. planes and warships, intercepted 99% of the incoming Iranian munitions. “You got a win. Take the win,” Biden told Netanyahu, warning him that the U.S. would not support or participate in any offensive counter-strike against Iran. In private, Biden has reportedly said he fears that Netanyahu is trying to drag the U.S. into a wider regional conflict. Nevertheless, Israeli Minister of Defense Yoav Gallant claimed that Israel had no choice but to respond to the attack, vowing to “exact a price.” Israel’s war Cabinet met for several hours and one official said Israel’s response to the Iranian attack may be “imminent,” but “will be coordinated with the Americans.” Iran, meanwhile, claimed its attack on Israel was “legitimate” and “responsible,” and that Tehran is not seeking to raise tension but will take “proportionate action” to defend itself. (Associated Press / New York Times / NBC News / CNN / Politico / Vox / Washington Post / NPR / Axios / Politico)

3/ The Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal from Black Lives Matters organizer DeRay Mckesson, leaving in place a lower court decision that effectively eliminated the right to organize a protest in the states of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas. At issue is whether an organizer of a protest can be held liable for injuries caused by another protester. Mckesson was sued by a Baton Rouge police officer, who was hit in the head with an object during a protest in July 2016 by an unknown assailant. Mckesson did not throw the object, and the fact is uncontested. Nevertheless, the officer sued Mckesson anyway because he was “in charge of the protest” and was “seen and heard giving orders” to protesters throughout the event. While there were no dissents, Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote separately that the court’s refusal to hear the case “expresses no view about the merits of Mckesson’s claim.” Sotomayor, however, noted a First Amendment decision from the Supreme Court last year and said she expects the 5th Circuit to “give full and fair consideration to arguments” regarding that ruling’s impact in future proceedings in Mckesson’s case. (Vox / CNN / Daily Beast / USA Today / CBS News / NBC News)

4/ Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas missed the court’s scheduled cases with no explanation. The court typically provides an explanation for why a justice is absent. Chief Justice John Roberts, instead, said in court that Thomas “is not on the bench today” but would “participate fully” in the two cases being argued based on the briefs and transcripts. Thomas, 75, is the eldest of the nine justices, as well as the court’s longest-serving member. (Associated Press / Axios / NBC News)

Day 1178: "No guarantee."

1/ Biden is reportedly considering an executive order to limit the number of asylum-seekers who can cross the southern border. After the bipartisan Senate bill collapsed earlier this year, the Biden administration is studying whether Biden has the use authority in Section 212(f) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, which gives the president the ability to block entry of certain immigrants if it would be “detrimental” to U.S. national interests. “We’re examining whether or not I have that power,” Biden said. “There’s no guarantee that I have that power all by myself without legislation. And some have suggested I should just go ahead and try it. And if I get shut down by the court, I get shut down by the court. But we’re trying to work that, work through that right now.” (Axios / Bloomberg)

2/ The Biden administration finalized a rule to close the “gun show loophole,” requiring people who sell firearms online and at gun shows to conduct background checks on customers. The new rule is estimated to impact more than 20,000 people engaged in unlicensed firearms sales. (Bloomberg / CNN)

3/ Biden will expand the boundaries of two national monuments in California: the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument and the Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument. Biden set a goal of conserving 30% of America’s lands and waters by 2030. He has designated five new national monuments this term. (Washington Post)

4/ The top U.S. humanitarian aid official said famine is occurring in northern Gaza. Samantha Power, the administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development, cited an assessment from the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification, which stated that the “latest evidence confirms that Famine is imminent in the northern governorates of the Gaza Strip and projected to occur anytime between mid-March and May 2024.” Power said the USAID “believe that assessment is credible.” The IPC classifies food shortages as a famine when at least 20% of households face an extreme lack of food, when at least 30% of children suffer from acute malnutrition, and when at least two adults or four children for every 10,000 people die each day from starvation or disease linked to malnutrition. Power said the rate of malnutrition among children in northern Gaza prior to Oct. 7 was “almost zero” but it now stands at one in three. (New York Times / CNN / Axios)

Day 1177: "Out of step."

1/ The EPA finalized the first-ever national limits on toxic “forever chemicals” in drinking water, a group of human-made chemicals that are considered especially harmful because they don’t degrade, can accumulate in the body and the environment, and pose a health risk to people at even the smallest detectable levels of exposure. The new rule is expected to reduce drinking water exposure to these per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, for about 100 million people and prevent thousands of related illnesses and deaths. This is the first time the EPA has set a drinking water standard for a new contaminant since 1996. (Associated Press / NPR / Axios / Washington Post / New York Times / The Verge / Politico / Bloomberg)

2/ Judge Aileen Cannon agreed to shield the names of potential witnesses in Trump’s criminal classified documents case. Special counsel Jack Smith has been arguing since January that witnesses would likely face threats and harassment if their identities were revealed publicly. Among the people Smith was seeking to protect were FBI agents, Secret Service agents, “career civil servants and former close advisers” to Trump, including one who was so concerned about potential threats from “Trump world” that he refused to permit investigators to record an interview with him. Cannon, however, refused to categorically block witness statements from being disclosed, saying there was no basis for such a “sweeping” and “blanket” restriction on their inclusion in pretrial motions. (Washington Post / New York Times / Politico / CNN / Associated Press)

3/ Hours after Arizona’s Supreme Court upheld a 160-year-old law banning nearly all abortions, Republicans in the state attempted to distance themselves from the ruling. Kari Lake, an Arizona Republican running for the U.S. Senate, denounced the ruling, saying it was “out of step with Arizonans” and called on state lawmakers to “come up” with a “solution that Arizonans can support.” Lake, a Trump ally and a 2020 election denier, however, had voiced support for the law in 2022, calling it a “great law” and an example for other states. Despite having supported abortion restrictions in the past two Arizona Republicans in the U.S. House representing districts that Biden won – Rep. Juan Ciscomani and Rep. David Schweikert – called the ruling a “disaster for women and providers” and that the issue “should be decided by Arizonans, not legislated from the bench,” urging the state legislature to “address this issue immediately.” Meanwhile, two days after saying states should make their own decisions about abortion Trump – who has repeatedly taken credit for the Supreme Court decision that ended the federal right to an abortion – said Arizona’s abortion law went too far. “That will be straightened out,” Trump suggested, adding that he wouldn’t sign a national abortion ban if he’s re-elected and passed by Congress. Abortion rights groups in Arizona said they’ve acquired enough signatures to put a constitutional amendment on abortion on the state’s ballot in November. (NBC News / Associated Press / CNN / Politico / Washington Post / Axios)

4/ House conservatives revolted against their own leadership and blocked legislation to extend a warrantless surveillance program after Trump urged lawmakers to “kill” it. It was Mike Johnson’s third attempt to reauthorize Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, a controversial surveillance law that Democratic and Republican administrations have claimed is vital to protecting Americans from terrorists, hackers, and other foreign threats. In a 228 to 193 vote, 19 House Republicans blocked the House from debating their own party’s legislation. Although most Democrats and the White House support extending FISA, House Democrats refused to provide votes because Republicans had bundled the measure with an unrelated resolution condemning Biden’s border policies. (Politico / CNN / New York Times / NBC News / Wall Street Journal)

5/ Trump’s former chief financial officer was to five months in jail after admitting that he had lied under oath about helping Trump inflate his net worth to win favorable loan terms. Allen Weisselberg will serve his sentence in New York City’s Rikers Island jail complex. Weisselberg spent three months in jail at Rikers last year after pleading guilty to helping orchestrate a tax fraud scheme at Trump’s company. (Associated Press / Washington Post / NBC News / New York Times / Politico)

Day 1176: "The extreme agenda."

1/ Arizona’s Supreme Court upheld a 160-year-old near-total ban on abortion. The court ruled that a 1864 territorial law, which went into effect 48 years before Arizona became a state, supersedes the state’s 2022 15-week ban. Under the 19th-century law, abortion is outlawed from the moment of conception, except when necessary to save the life of the mother. It makes no exceptions for rape or incest, and doctors who administer an abortion face a mandatory prison sentence of two to five years. The court delayed implementation of the ban for at least two weeks to allow for additional legal arguments. The Biden campaign responded to the ruling, saying “this is what leaving it to the states looks like” – a reference to Trump’s suggestion that abortion restrictions should be a states’ rights issue. In a statement, Biden called the ban “cruel” and “a result of the extreme agenda of Republican elected officials who are committed to ripping away women’s freedom” and vowed to “continue to fight to protect reproductive rights.” In March 2022, the Republican-controlled Arizona Legislature enacted a 15-week trigger ban, which went into effect after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. Arizona’s near-total abortion ban is one of the strictest in the nation, similar to laws in Texas, Alabama, and Mississippi. (NBC News / Arizona Republic / CNN / Washington Post / New York Times / Wall Street Journal / Axios)

2/ Special counsel Jack Smith urged the Supreme Court to reject Trump’s claim that he’s immune from prosecution for attempting to overturn the 2020 election. “The Framers never endorsed criminal immunity for a former President, and all Presidents from the Founding to the modern era have known that after leaving office they faced potential criminal liability for official acts,” Smith said. “The president’s constitutional duty to take care that the laws be faithfully executed does not entail a general right to violate them.” The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear oral arguments on April 25, and a decision is expected by July. Trump faces four felony charges, including conspiracy to defraud the U.S. and obstruction. (ABC News / New York Times / Axios / Politico / CNN)

3/ The EPA issued new rules to force more than 200 chemical plants across the U.S. to reduce their cancer-linked toxic air pollution. The rule, the first update to national standards in nearly two decades, will cut more than 6,200 tons of toxic air pollution each year, and reduce emissions of ethylene oxide and chloroprene by 80%. The EPA estimates that around 104,000 people in the U.S. live within about 6 miles of facilities that use chemicals linked to cancer higher risks. Those living near such facilities are disproportionately low-income and minority neighborhoods that have elevated rates of cancer, respiratory problems, and premature deaths. (Axios / New York Times / Washington Post)

4/ The European Court of Human Rights ruled – for the first time – that a country had violated human rights by not protecting its people from the effects of climate change. In a first-of-its-kind case, a group of 2,000 Swiss women over 64 years old sued their government, arguing that climate change-driven heat waves undermined their health and quality of life, and put them at risk of dying. The court agreed that the Swiss government had violated their human rights due to “critical gaps” in its effort to enact laws to combat climate change. The court ordered Switzerland to put in place measures to address those shortcomings, and to pay the group’s legal expenses. (New York Times / The Verge / CNN / Bloomberg / Axios / Politico / Associated Press)

5/ For the 10th consecutive month Earth experienced record-high temperatures. Both the air and ocean temperatures reached their highest levels ever recorded in March. Over the past 12 months, average global temperatures have been 1.58C (2.8 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels, surpassing the Paris climate agreement threshold of 1.5C. (The Guardian / Axios / The Hill)

Day 1175: "The cruelty and the chaos."

1/ Biden announced a new student loan forgiveness plan that would cancel student debt for more than 30 million borrowers. Under the new plan, the administration would cancel up to $20,000 of a borrower’s accrued, unpaid interest regardless of their income. About 4 million student loan borrowers could see their debt fully canceled under the proposal, and an additional 10 million more borrowers could get $5,000 or more in relief. If the full plan is implemented, the Biden administration estimates it will “fully eliminate” accrued interest on 23 million borrowers’ unpaid balances. “This relief can be life-changing,” Biden said. “Folks, I will never stop to deliver student debt relief on hardworking Americans, and it’s only in the interest of America that we do it. And again, it’s for the good of our economy that’s growing stronger and stronger — and it is. By freeing millions of Americans from this crushing debt […] it means they can finally get on with their lives, instead of their lives being put on hold.” Since taking office, Biden has canceled $146 billion in student loans debt for 4 million public servants, defrauded students, disabled borrowers, and others already entitled to forgiveness under existing programs. About 43 million Americans have some form of student loan debt. (Axios / Associated Press / Politico / NPR / Washington Post / New York Times / CNN / NBC News / Wall Street Journal / USA Today)

2/ The Biden administration awarded a $6.6 billion grant to the world’s leading maker of advanced semiconductor chips to help it build three factories in Arizona. The funding, under the U.S. CHIPS and Science Act, will support Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company’s more than $65 billion investment in three fabrication plants in Phoenix. TSMC is also eligible for around $5 billion in loans under the CHIPS Act. “For the first time ever, we will be making, at scale, the most advanced semiconductor chips on the planet here in the United States,” Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said. Biden added: “America invented these chips, but over time, we went from producing nearly 40% of the world’s capacity to close to 10%, and none of the most advanced chips. (That exposes) us to significant economic and national security vulnerabilities.” The three fabs are expected to create about 6,000 direct manufacturing jobs and more than 20,000 construction jobs. (NBC News / Politico / CNN / CNBC / New York Times)

3/ The chair of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence warned that it was “absolutely true” that some Republican members of Congress were repeating Russian propaganda on the House floor. “We see directly coming from Russia attempts to mask communications that are anti-Ukraine and pro-Russia messages,” Rep. Michael Turner said of his fellow Republicans, adding: “There are members of Congress today who still incorrectly say that this conflict between Russia and Ukraine is over NATO, which of course it is not.” Turner’s comments follow remarks from House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Michael McCaul, who said Russian propaganda had “infected a good chunk of my party’s base” and suggested that conservative media was to blame. (Washington Post / NBC News / The Guardian)

4/ Trump declined to endorse a national abortion ban, saying he believes it should be a states’ rights issue. Trump, who has repeatedly taken responsibility for the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade in 2022 because of the three conservative justices he appointed, said that it was “up to the states to do the right thing” on abortion, accusing Democrats of being “radical” on the issue. Following the Supreme Court ruling, Biden and Democrats have made abortion rights a central issue and voters have repeatedly voted in favor of greater abortion rights in state-level ballot measures, including in red states like Kansas and Kentucky. In a 604-word statement, Biden accused Trump of “lying,” saying: “Let there be no illusion. If Donald Trump is elected and the MAGA Republicans in Congress put a national abortion ban on the Resolute Desk, Trump will sign it into law.” Biden added that Trump was “responsible for creating the cruelty and the chaos that has enveloped America since the Dobbs decision.” Anti-abortion groups, meanwhile, said they were “deeply disappointed” in Trump’s refusal to endorse a federal ban on abortion. Nevertheless, the Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America group and its members said they would continue to work “tirelessly” to defeat Biden and Democrats in November. (ABC News / NPR / Washington Post / New York Times / CNN / NBC News / Wall Street Journal / Politico / Associated Press / Axios / The Hill)

5/ Trump sued the judge overseeing his criminal hush money case in an effort to – again – delay the start of the trial. New York appeals court judge, however, rejected Trump’s request to delay his April 15 trial. Trump had asked an appellate court for a change of venue and for a stay of Judge Juan Merchan’s gag order that prevents Trump from attacking witnesses, prosecutors, court staff, and the judge’s family. Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, meanwhile, accused Trump of making a “last-ditch” bid to postpone the trial with his “effort to end-run” the gag order and “pollute the court” with attacks against the judge and his family “as part of a meritless effort to call the integrity of these proceedings into question.” (Associated Press / CNBC / The Hill / CBS News / New York Times / CNN)

6/ Biden could be left off the ballot in Ohio. Ohio’s presidential ballot law requires presidential candidates be certified 90 days before the general election, making the deadline Aug. 7. The Democratic National Convention, however, isn’t scheduled to convene until Aug. 19. The Secretary of State suggested that the issue could rectified in two ways: either the DNC moves up its nominating convention to meet the Aug. 7 deadline or by getting the state’s Republican legislature to “create an exemption to this statutory requirement.” Ohio voted for Trump in 2016 and 2020. (ABC News / NBC News / USA Today / Associated Press / Washington Post)

poll/ 21% of Americans think it would be “a good thing” if the next president has the power to change policy unilaterally without approval from Congress or the courts, while 30% think it’s neither good nor bad. (AP-NORC)

Day 1171: "There will be a change."

1/ Biden called for “an immediate ceasefire” in Gaza to “protect innocent civilians.” During a reportedly tense phone call with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Biden called the deaths of humanitarian workers caused by Israeli airstrikes and the overall humanitarian situation in Gaza “unacceptable.” Biden conditioned future U.S. support for Israel with Netanyahu implementing “specific, concrete, and measurable steps to address civilian harm, humanitarian suffering, and the safety of aid workers.” He also urged Netanyahu “to empower his negotiators to conclude a deal without delay to bring the hostages home.” The White House added that “U.S. policy with respect to Gaza will be determined by our assessment of Israel’s immediate action on these steps.” Secretary of State Tony Blinken echoed the point, saying: “If we don’t see the changes we need to see, there will be a change in our policy.” (New York Times / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / NBC News / Associated Press / CNN / Axios)

  • The Biden administration authorized the transfer of over 1,000 500-pound bombs and over 1,000 small-diameter bombs to Israel. The authorization on the same day that Israeli airstrikes killed seven aid workers for the charity group World Central Kitchen in Gaza. (CNN / Washington Post)

2/ A federal judge denied Trump’s request to dismiss the criminal charges that he mishandled classified documents. Trump had argued that the Presidential Records Act protected him from prosecution. Judge Aileen Cannon, however, said the PRA “does not provide a pre-trial basis to dismiss” either the mishandling charges or the related obstruction charges against Trump. The decision comes two days after special counsel Jack Smith said Cannon was pursuing a legal premise about the PRA that was “wrong” and based on a “fundamentally flawed” understanding of the case that has “no basis in law or fact.” (Washington Post / NBC News / Axios / CNN / Associated Press / Politico)

3/ A Georgia judge rejected Trump’s attempt to get his criminal election interference case dismissed on First Amendment grounds. Trump had argued that he can’t be charged because his denials, challenges, and lies about the outcome of the 2020 presidential election were protected by his right to free speech, even if they were false. Fulton County Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee, however, ruled that “the defense has not presented, nor is the Court able to find, any authority that the speech and conduct alleged is protected political speech.” McAfee added that First Amendment protections don’t shield Trump or the other defendants because the indictment alleges that their statements were made “in furtherance of criminal activity.” (CNN / Axios / NBC News / CNBC)

4/ The judge overseeing Trump’s criminal case in Manhattan rejected his effort to delay the trial beyond April 15. Justice Juan Merchan said Trump had “myriad opportunities” to make the argument that he was immune in the hush money case before March 7. The timing of Trump’s March 7 filing “raises real questions about the sincerity and actual purpose of the motion,” Merchan wrote in his six-page decision. Trump faces charges of falsifying business records during the 2016 presidential campaign in effort to buy the silence of a woman he had an affair with. (Washington Post / CNN / New York Times / Politico / NBC News)

Day 1170: "Fundamentally flawed."

1/ Special Counsel Jack Smith warned the judge overseeing Trump’s classified documents case that she is pursuing a legal premise that “is wrong” and would “distort” the trial. In an unusual order last month, Judge Aileen Cannon directed Trump and Smith to submit briefs on potential jury instructions for two legal interpretations of the Espionage Act, under which Trump is charged with mishandling 32 classified records. In one version, jurors would be instructed to assume that Trump had complete authority to take any records he wanted from the White House under the Presidential Records Act — a 1978 law that manages the maintenance of White House documents produced during each presidency. Under this scenario, “neither a court nor a jury” would have the ability to review the decision, which could nullify much of Smith’s case against Trump. In the other version, jurors would review and determine whether a record retained by Trump could be categorized as “personal” or “presidential.” In this scenario, jurors could decided that official documents were mishandled. Federal prosecutors, however, rejected both proposals, writing that the PRA “should not play any role at trial at all,” arguing that Trump’s alleged mishandling of classified records occurred after his presidency ended. Smith added that Cannon’s order was based on a “fundamentally flawed” understanding of the case that has “no basis in law or fact.” Smith indicated that federal prosecutors would appeal if Cannon rules against them and accepts Trump’s arguments about his record-retention powers. (CNN / Washington Post / Bloomberg / Axios / New York Times / NBC News / Associated Press / CBS News)

  • How legal fights and stalling by judge could push Trump documents trial after election. “US District Judge Aileen Cannon, who was appointed to the federal bench by Trump in 2020, has drawn out the case with an unusual, eyebrow-raising approach in her nearly 10-month oversight of the case, delaying rulings on what experts say are routine legal questions that must be resolved before the case can go to trial.” (CNN)

  • Trump is trying everything he can to delay this month’s hush money criminal trial. Trump’s “own incessant rhetoric is generating significant publicity, and it would be perverse to reward defendant with an adjournment based on media attention he is actively seeking,” Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s office said. The filing was in response to a request by Trump’s lawyers to delay the trial for the foreseeable future because of “prejudicial” publicity around the case. (CNN / NBC News)

2/ Biden condemned the Israeli strike that killed seven aid workers and blamed Israel for failing to protect both aid workers and civilians. “Incidents like yesterday’s simply should not happen,” Biden said. “This is not a stand-alone incident. This conflict has been one of the worst in recent memory in terms of how many aid workers have been killed. This is a major reason why distributing humanitarian aid in Gaza has been so difficult — because Israel has not done enough to protect aid workers trying to deliver desperately needed help to civilians.” Despite the tough talk, Biden reportedly has no plans to change his policy toward Israel. The Biden administration, meanwhile, said it wanted to see the results of an Israeli investigation into the airstrike on a charity helping to feed hungry Palestinians in the besieged Gaza Strip before making any decisions about how it would proceed. (Politico / Washington Post / CNN / New York Times)

3/ Trump sued his two own co-founders of Trump Media & Technology Group, accusing them of failing “spectacularly” to get the company off the ground, making a “series of reckless and wasteful decisions at a critical time” that caused “significant damage” to the company, and a “decline in the stock prices of its merger.” The suit argues that Andy Litinsky and Wes Moss — who own an 8.6% stake in the company — should forfeit their stock because they didn’t set up the corporate governance structure for Trump Media properly and failed to find a viable merger partner. In their own suit, the two say Trump was planning to dilute their stake while seeking millions of extra shares. TMGT went public last month, but share prices plummeted after the company disclosed a $58 million net loss for 2023 while generating total revenues of $4.1 million. (Bloomberg / CNN / Associated Press / CNBC / Daily Beast / Rolling Stone)

  • Trump Media was saved in 2022 by a Russian-American under criminal investigation. “Through leaked documents, the Guardian has learned that ES Family Trust operated like a shell company for a Russian-American businessman named Anton Postolnikov, who co-owns Paxum Bank and has been a subject of a years-long joint federal criminal investigation by the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) into the Trump Media merger.” (The Guardian)

poll/ 47% of Americans approved of the job the Supreme Court is doing — the highest level in over a year — while 53% disapproved. In February, 40% of adults approved of the Supreme Court, while 60% disapproved. (Politico)

poll/ 28% of Republicans believe that Americans may have to resort to violence to get their country back on track, while 12% of Democrats agreed with the statement. Overall, 79% of Americans disagree that violence is a solution. (PBS)

poll/ 57% of Americans say Biden is more likable than say Trump (37%). Americans also say Biden is more honest and trustworthy than Trump (46% to 35%). (Gallup)

Day 1169: "This happens in war."

1/ An Israeli airstrike killed seven aid workers, leading to the World Central Kitchen charity suspending delivery of 240 tons of food to Gaza, where famine is imminent. The U.S.-based disaster relief nonprofit group said its team was traveling through a demilitarized zone in two armored cars and a third vehicle that were clearly marked with the World Central Kitchen logos when the convoy was hit three times in succession by missiles fired from a drone until the aid workers were all killed. The organization had coordinated its movements with the IDF. Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu admitted that an “unintentional” Israeli airstrike killed “innocent people” in Gaza, adding: “This happens in war.” The White House, meanwhile, said it was “outraged” and that the attack was “emblematic of a larger problem.” World Central Kitchen had served 42 million meals in the 175 days it operated in Gaza. More than 200 aid workers have been killed in the six months of fighting. (New York Times / Axios / Associated Press / Politico / NPR / Washington Post / CNN / NBC News / CNBC / Wall Street Journal)

2/ Florida’s Supreme Court ruled that the state’s constitution does not protect abortion rights, allowing the state’s six-week abortion ban to take effect May 1. But in a separate ruling, the court allowed a proposed state constitutional amendment on the November ballot, which would enshrine abortion rights in the state’s constitution. Amendment 4, if approved, will allow abortion up to the point of viability, which is generally around 24 weeks into a pregnancy. Constitutional amendments in Florida need the support of at least 60% of voters to be approved. (Washington Post / CNN / NBC News / USA Today / CBS News / ABC News / Politico / Associated Press / New York Times / Wall Street Journal)

3/ A New York judge expanded Trump’s gag order to stop him from attacking family members of those involved in the criminal hush money case. Judge Juan Merchan expanded the gag order after Trump repeatedly targeted his daughter in social media posts. Trump’s “pattern of attacking family members of presiding jurists and attorneys assigned to his cases serves no legitimate purpose. It merely injects fear in those assigned or called to participate in the proceedings, that not only they, but their family members as well, are ‘fair game’ for Defendant’s vitriol,” Merchan said. “It is no longer just a mere possibility or a reasonable likelihood that there exists a threat to the integrity of the judicial proceedings. The threat is very real.” When jury selection begins April 15, Trump will become the first former American president to face criminal prosecution. (Axios / Politico / CNN / USA Today / NBC News / Washington Post / New York Times / CNBC)

4/ Trump posted a $175 million bond in his New York civil fraud case, preventing state Attorney General Letitia James from seizing his assets while the case is under appeal. Last week, a New York appeals court reduced Trump’s $464 million bond to $175 million, and extended the deadline by 10 days after more than 30 bond companies rejected Trump. If Trump doesn’t win on appeal, he will have to pay more than $450 million. Last year, New York Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron found Trump, the Trump Organization, Trump Jr., Eric Trump, and two former executives liable for knowingly inflating Trump’s net worth to get better loans and business deals. (Washington Post / Politico / Associated Press / New York Times / ABC News / Axios / CNN / NBC News)

5/ Trump’s net worth fell by more than $1 billion, as shares of his MAGA meme stock social media company plunged 21.5%. The Trump Media & Technology Group disclosed a $58 million net loss for 2023 while generating total revenues of $4.1 million. Trump owns 57% of the company, with his stake now worth $3.76 billion on paper. The company said it expects to operate at a loss for the “foreseeable future.” (Bloomberg / Axios / NBC News / CNBC / CNN)

6/ A group of House Republicans introduced a bill to rename D.C.’s Dulles International Airport to the Donald J. Trump International Airport. The effort has next to no prospects in Congress given the Republican’s one-vote majority in the House and Democrats controlling the Senate. Nevertheless, Rep. Guy Reschenthaler, a Pennsylvania Republican who sponsored the legislation, said: “In my lifetime, our nation has never been greater than under the leadership of President Donald J. Trump.” Democrats, meanwhile, panned the bill as “ridiculous” and an attempt by Republicans to “suck up” to Trump. “Donald Trump is facing 91 felony charges. If Republicans want to name something after him, I’d suggest they find a federal prison,” one Democrat said in a statement. Another Democrat added: “Dulles is an old, ugly airport that no one wants to see. So I think this is a fitting tribute to 45.” (Axios / Politico / NBC News / CBS News)

Day 1168: "Outrageous and abhorrent."

1/ The Biden administration authorized another weapons transfer to Israel despite public frustration with Israel’s conduct in the war and opposition to Israel’s planned invasion of Rafah, which could lead to mass casualties and exacerbate the humanitarian disaster on Gaza. The weapons package, worth billions of dollars, includes more than 1,800 MK84 2,000-pound bombs and 500 MK82 500-pound bombs, which have been linked to civilian deaths during Israel’s military campaign in Gaza. It was approved in 2008 but is only being fulfilled now. The Biden administration, however, is considering a new weapons sales worth more than $18 billion to Israel of fighter jets, air-to-air missiles, and guidance kits, which turn dumb bombs (like the MK84 and MK82) into precision-guided weapons. While the sale is pending U.S. government approval, it will be years before the weapons arrive in Israel. U.S. and Israeli officials, meanwhile, held virtual talks to discuss the Biden administration’s alternative proposals to the invasion of Rafah, where more than one million Palestinians are sheltering with nowhere to go. The meeting was supposed to take place last week in-person, but Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu canceled it after the U.S. didn’t veto a U.N. resolution calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza. (Washington Post / NBC News / Associated Press / ABC News / CNN)

  • Al-Shifa Hospital has become a graveyard, Palestinian health official says. (Washington Post)

  • “Entire families dead”: Journalist describes scene at Al-Shifa Hospital after Israeli troops withdraw. (CNN)

  • “A horror movie”: One man describes the aftermath of Israel’s raid on Al-Shifa. (New York Times)

  • Israeli lawmakers vote to authorize ban on Al Jazeera operating in Israel, which will allow Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to ban the Qatar-based news network Al Jazeera from operating in Israel, citing national security concerns over its coverage of the war in Gaza. (Washington Post)

2/ Trump posted a video to his personal social media website depicting Biden with his hands and feet tied together in the back of a pickup truck. In a 20-second video, a pickup truck featuring pro-Trump flags can be seen with a large decal on its tailgate showing Biden hogtied, lying horizontally. “This image from Donald Trump is the type of crap you post when you’re calling for a bloodbath or when you tell the Proud Boys to ‘stand back and stand by,’” the Biden campaign said in a statement. “Trump is regularly inciting political violence and it’s time people take him seriously — just ask the Capitol Police officers who were attacked protecting our democracy on January 6.” Trump’s campaign, meanwhile, responded: “Democrats and crazed lunatics have not only called for despicable violence against President Trump and his family, they are actually weaponizing the justice system against him.” (CNN / USA Today / Washington Post / New York Times / NBC News)

3/ Biden proclaimed March 31 Transgender Day of Visibility and called on Americans to “join us in lifting up the lives and voices of transgender people throughout our Nation and to work toward eliminating violence and discrimination based on gender identity.” Despite International Transgender Day of Visibility being held annually on March 31 since 2009, Republicans attacked Biden for issuing the proclamation because it coincided with Easter (which varies from year to year). House Speaker Mike Johnson claimed that the “Biden White House has betrayed the central tenet of Easter” and called the decision “outrageous and abhorrent.” Trump’s reelection campaign characterized Biden’s proclamation in support of transgender and gender-nonconforming people as “blasphemous” part of a “years-long assault on the Christian faith.” The White House accused Republicans of “seeking to divide and weaken our country with cruel, hateful and dishonest rhetoric,” adding: “Biden will never abuse his faith for political purposes or for profit.” Trump, meanwhile, is now selling copies of the Bible, called the “God Bless the USA Bible,” for $60. (ABC News / CNN / Associated Press / Washington Post)

4/ The Manhattan district attorney asked the judge overseeing Trump’s criminal hush money trial to expand the gag order to stop Trump from attacking family members of people involved in the case. Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg made the request after Trump repeatedly attacked New York Supreme Court Justice Juan Merchan as “compromised” and called Merchan’s daughter, who works for a political consulting firm, a “Rabid Trump Hater.” Trump launched the series of attacks shortly after Merchan imposed a gag order barring Trump from making statements about witnesses, jurors, prosecutors, court staff or the family members of prosecutors and court staff. (Washington Post / CNN)

Day 1164: "The ideal must bend to the practical."

1/ The International Court of Justice ordered Israel to “take all necessary and effective measures” to improve the humanitarian situation in Gaza as famine sets in, including opening more land crossings to allow food, water, fuel, and medical supplies into the enclave. The court’s order comes in response to a case brought by South Africa, which accuses Israel of state-sanctioned genocide in Gaza. The legally binding order instructs Israel to take measures “without delay” to ensure “the unhindered provision” of basic services and humanitarian assistance “at scale.” In a separate order, the judges called for Israel to ensure that its military “does not commit acts which constitute a violation” of Palestinians’ rights under the Genocide Convention. International aid organizations have said Israel’s restrictions on humanitarian supplies into Gaza have led to a man-made famine. (Axios / New York Times / Washington Post / Associated Press)

  • Visualizing Gaza’s aid shortage as “man-made” famine looms. “Up to half of Gaza’s population faces starvation between now and July, according to recent estimates by global emergency experts.” (Washington Post)

2/ South Carolina will use a congressional map that a federal court ruled was “unconstitutional” because the Supreme Court hasn’t ruled on the redistricting case it heard in October. With no decision and the state facing a June 11 primary, the same court that had deemed the map unconstitutional agreed to allow South Carolina to use the racially gerrymandered map for this year’s congressional election. The three-judge panel noted that “with the primary election procedures rapidly approaching, the appeal before the Supreme Court still pending, and no remedial plan in place, the ideal must bend to the practical.” Last year, the judges held that the state’s Republican-controlled Legislature had “exiled” more than 30,000 Black residents from the 1st Congressional District in what the court called a “bleaching” to benefit Republicans. That amounted to an unconstitutional racial gerrymander, they concluded. If the Supreme Court later upholds the lower court ruling, then new maps would have to be drawn for the 2026 election. (CNN / Washington Post / NBC News / Politico)

3/ A California judge ruled that one of Trump’s former lawyers should be disbarred for his role in developing the legal strategy to overturn the 2020 election. John Eastman championed the fringe legal theory that Trump could pressure Pence to block or delay the Electoral College certification to overturn Biden’s victory. Nevertheless, Judge Yvette Roland ruled that Eastman violated ethics rules — and even potentially criminal law — by promoting Trump’s efforts to overturn the election. “In view of the circumstances surrounding Eastman’s misconduct and balancing the aggravation and mitigation, the court recommends that Eastman be disbarred,” Roland wrote. Eastman is also facing racketeering and conspiracy charges in a Georgia case accusing Trump and his allies of plotting to subvert the 2020 election results in the state. (Politico / Axios / Washington Post)

4/ Biden restored a series of Endangered Species Act protections that were stripped by Trump. The finalized regulations will reinstate blanket rule protections for species newly classified as threatened species with extinction. The new rules also give federal officials more leeway to consider the threat of climate change when protecting a species. In 2019, Trump weakened the Endangered Species Act and allowed the government to put an economic cost on saving a species. (Associated Press / CNN / New York Times)

Day 1163: "A clear message."

1/ An Alabama Democrat won a special election in the state Legislature after making in vitro fertilization and abortion rights central to her campaign. Marilyn Lands – who had criticized the state’s near-total abortion ban and the recent state Supreme Court ruling that temporarily banned in vitro fertilization – said her win sends “a clear message” to Montgomery and called for the legislature to “repeal Alabama’s no-exceptions abortion ban, fully restore access to IVF, and protect the right to contraception.” The Biden campaign said the victory was a “warning sign” for Trump and “extreme MAGA Republicans,” adding that Alabama voters “know exactly who’s to blame for restricting their ability to decide how and when to build their families and they’re ready to fight back.” In 2020, Trump narrowly carried the district. (CNN / NBC News / Associated Press / Politico / The Hill / New York Times)

2/ The Biden administration pledged to rebuild Baltimore’s Francis Scott Key Bridge after a 984-foot cargo ship hit a pillar, causing it to collapse. Six people are presumed dead. “It’s my intention that the federal government will pay for the entire cost of reconstruction in that bridge,” Biden said. “I expect the Congress to support my effort.” Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg warned of a “long and difficult path” to full recovery, but added that “Infrastructure is, or at least ought to be, a bipartisan priority.” Buttigieg said he expects the White House will need Congress to authorize additional funds beyond the approximately $1 billion allocated by the 2021 infrastructure law for emergency relief, noting that some Republicans “crossed the aisle” to support the bipartisan infrastructure bill. (Politico / ABC News / Washington Post / New York Times / CNN / NBC News)

3/ A federal appeals court blocked Texas’ plan to arrest migrants suspected of illegally entering the U.S. The 2-1 decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit follows a lower-court ruling in February that said the state law, which would criminalize unauthorized immigration at the state level, is probably unconstitutional. The same court temporarily froze the law March 19 – hours after the Supreme Court said it could go into effect. The Biden administration initially challenged the law in January, arguing that the state law conflicts with the federal government’s immigration policy and violates the Constitution’s supremacy clause, which says that federal laws preempt conflicting state laws. Texas can now ask the Supreme Court to allow the law to go into effect again. In the meantime, same court is set to hear arguments on April 3 over the constitutionality of the law. (NBC News / Washington Post / Politico / Texas Tribune / CBS News)

4/ In a reversal, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will send officials to Washington for talks about his planned military operation in Rafah. On Monday, Netanyahu canceled the trip in protest over the U.S. not vetoing a U.N. Security Council resolution calling for a ceasefire in Gaza and the release of hostages held by Hamas, which the White House called “perplexing,” “a mistake,” and “unnecessary drama on Netanyahu’s part.” Biden plans to discuss “alternatives” to Israel’s attack on Rafah, which is overflowing with more than 1.4 million displaced civilians that’s been characterized by UNICEF as “unrecognizable” and “a hellish disregard for basic human needs and dignity.” The Biden administration has also repeatedly said it would not support a “major military operation” in Rafah, with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin urging Israel to abandon plans for the offensive. Israeli officials, neverthless, have made clear that they’ll enter Rafah and direct civilians to “humanitarian islands.” (Axios / Washington Post / Associated Press / New York Times / CNN / Bloomberg)

  • Poll: 55% of Americans disapprove of Israel’s military action in Gaza, while 36% approve. In November, 50% approved and 45% disapproved. (Gallup)

5/ Trump repeatedly attacked the New York judge – and the judge’s daughter – who imposed a gag order limiting what he can say about his upcoming criminal hush money trial. In a series of posts on his personal social media platform hours after being put under a gag order, Trump called Judge Juan Merchan a “hater” that, he claims, is “biased and conflicted.” Trump also complained that the gag order was “illegal, un-American, unConstitutional” and that Merchan was “wrongfully attempting to deprive me of my First Amendment Right to speak out against the Weaponization of Law Enforcement.” The gag order bars Trump from making public statements about jurors, potential witnesses, court’s staff, prosecution team or their families in the hush money trial. It doesn’t, however, bar comments about Merchan or his family. Trump is charged with 34 counts of falsifying business records to conceal a hush money payment to Stormy Daniels. The trial begins April 15. (Associated Press / NBC News / CNBC)

Day 1162: "Sufficient risk."

1/ The New York judge presiding over Trump’s hush money criminal trial imposed a gag order barring Trump from attacking witnesses, prosecutors, and jurors. Trump’s history of “prior extrajudicial statements establishes a sufficient risk to the administration of justice,” Justice Juan Merchan ruled, adding “there exists no less restrictive means to prevent such risk.” Merchan called Trump’s past attacks “threatening, inflammatory,” and “denigrating,” and said similar attacks would “undoubtedly risk impeding the orderly administration of the Court.” Trump is also barred from commenting about lawyers in the case, court staff, employees in the Manhattan District Attorney’s office and their family members if those statements are made with the “intent to materially interfere” with the case. The order, however, doesn’t apply to Merchan or Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg. The trial begins with jury selection on April 15 – the first of Trump’s four criminal cases to go to trial. It will also mark the first criminal prosecution of a former American president. (New York Times / Washington Post / NBC News / CNN / Associated Press / Bloomberg / CNBC)

2/ The Supreme Court appeared likely to preserve access to the abortion pill mifepristone, which is used in over 60% of U.S. abortions. The court heard oral arguments on the Biden administration’s appeal of lower court rulings, which restricted access to the pill, including its availability by mail. During arguments, there was little discussion about whether the FDA’s decisions to lift restrictions on the drug were unlawful, but instead the justices focused on whether the the group of anti-abortion doctors who brought the lawsuit even had legal standing to bring the claim. The case is the first abortion-related hearing since the court reversed Roe v. Wade. The Supreme Court has never restricted access to an approved drug by overriding the FDA’s conclusions about safety. A decision is expected by July. (Associated Press / Washington Post / NPR / Politico / NBC News / CNN / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal)

  • 🔍 What’s at stake? Access to mifepristone directly affects women’s healthcare choices and autonomy over their bodies. If access is restricted, it could lead to increased use of surgical abortions or unapproved, more complicated medical procedures. The case also tests the FDA’s authority and could set a precedent that challenges the FDA’s ability to make independent, science-based decisions on drug safety and efficacy.

3/ NBC News is expected to drop former Republican National Committee chair Ronna McDaniel as a paid contributor after NBC and MSNBC anchors criticized the network on its own airwaves. McDaniel was hired after resigning from her RNC post following Trump’s pressure campaign to force her out. Following the 2020 election, McDaniel endorsed Trump’s baseless, false claims that the 2020 presidential election was stolen. She also participated in a call with Trump in which he pressured Wayne County canvassing officials to not certify the election results. Rachel Maddow – the biggest star and highest-rated anchor at MSNBC – opened her show with a 29-minute monologue that called McDaniel’s hiring “inexplicable,” and describing McDaniel as “someone who hasn’t just attacked us as journalists, but someone who is part of an ongoing project to get rid of our system of government. Someone who still is trying to convince Americans that this election stuff, it doesn’t really work.” Chuck Todd added that McDaniel “has credibility issues that she still has to deal with.” And Nicolle Wallace, meanwhile, accused NBC News of “wittingly or unwittingly” signaling to “election deniers” that they could spread falsehoods “as one of us, as badge-carrying employees of NBC News, as paid contributors to our sacred airwaves.” McDaniel, meanwhile, is exploring legal options if NBC terminates her contributor deal. (Variety / New York Post / Washington Post / New York Times / Axios / Associated Press / Wall Street Journal)

Day 1161: "A bit surprising and unfortunate."

1/ The U.N. Security Council passed a resolution demanding an immediate ceasefire in Gaza during the month of Ramadan and the release of all hostages. The U.S., however, abstained, which allowed the resolution to pass 14-0. This is the first ceasefire resolution to pass after four previous failures: The U.S. has vetoed three previous resolutions since the conflict began, while Russia and China vetoed a U.S.-sponsored resolution last week. After the resolution passed, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accused the U.S. of “retreating” from a “principled position” and that the U.S. abstention “harms the war effort as well as the effort to liberate the hostages.” Netanyahu then canceled a diplomatic visit to Washington, which Biden had requested to discuss Netanyahu’s planned ground invasion of Rafah. The U.S. had intended to use the meeting to offer alternatives to reduce civilian casualties. The State Department called the decision “a bit surprising and unfortunate.” (NPR / New York Times / Wall Street Journal / NBC News / CNN / Politico / Washington Post / Bloomberg / Associated Press / Axios)

2/ Trump’s hush money trial – his first of four criminal trials – will start April 15 in Manhattan. Trump’s lawyers had argued that a late release of more than 100,000 pages of potential evidence should postpone the trial. Prosecutors argued that only about 300 documents were pertinent to the trial, and that “99 percent” were irrelevant. At the hearing, Judge Juan Merchan refused to allow further delays, saying that despite Trump’s claims, the district attorney’s office “is not at fault for the late production of documents from the U.S. attorney’s office” and that Trump “has been given a reasonable amount of time.” Assuming the date holds, Trump will become the first former American president to face a trial on criminal charges. (Washington Post / NBC News / Axios / Associated Press / Politico / New York Times / Bloomberg)

3/ Trump only needs to post a bond of $175 million – not the original $454 million – while he appeals the verdict in his civil fraud case, a New York appeals court ruled. Trump now has 10 additional days to post the bond. The ruling comes on the last day of a 30-day grace period before New York Attorney General Letitia James could begin to collect on the judgment. Prior to the ruling, more than 30 bond companies had turned down Trump’s requests to guarantee the $454 million bond. The $175 million bond will be in place until at least September, meaning James won’t be able to seek to enforce the judgment until then, which could involve seizing Trump’s assets. (CNN / New York Times / Bloomberg / Axios / Associated Press / Politico / NPR / Washington Post / NBC News / Wall Street Journal)

4/ House Republicans are down to a one-vote majority after Rep. Mike Gallagher announced he’ll resign from Congress April 19. Wisconsin law requires Gallagher’s seat to remain empty for the rest of his term. After his departure, Republicans will control 217 House seats to the Democrats’ 213. (NBC News / Politico / New York Times / Bloomberg)

5/ Marjorie Taylor Greene filed a motion to oust Speaker Mike Johnson after the House passed a $1.2 trillion government funding deal with mostly Democratic votes. In October, a contingent of hard-right conservatives oust then-Speaker Kevin McCarthy – a first in U.S. history – for working with Democrats to avoid a shutdown. Under current House rules, it takes one lawmaker to bring up a vote to oust the speaker, but a majority of the House for that vote to pass. “This is a betrayal of the American people. This is a betrayal of Republican voters,” Greene said. “The clock has started. It’s time for our conference to pick a new speaker.” (NPR / Associated Press / New York Times / NBC News / Politico)

6/ The Supreme Court will hear arguments this week on whether to roll back the availability of the abortion pill mifepristone – less than two years after overturning the constitutional right to an abortion. The FDA first approved mifepristone nearly 25 years ago and multiple studies have shown it to be safe. It’s used in nearly two-thirds of all abortions nationally, and at least 5.9 million women have used mifepristone since its approval in 2000. It’s also regularly prescribed for miscarriage treatment. Nevertheless, a conservative Christian anti-abortion group sued in November 2022, arguing that the FDA exceeded its authority when it approved mifepristone in 2000 and that it overstepped again in 2016 and 2021 when it made the pill easier to obtain, including through mail-order pharmacies. The court will also hear a second case next month, concerning whether to allow state bans on abortion even when an emergency room doctor believes ending a pregnancy would preserve the mother’s health. Federal emergency-care law that requires hospitals receiving Medicare dollars to provide “necessary stabilizing treatment” to patients. Decisions in both cases are expected by the end of June or in early July. (Associated Press / Washington Post / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal / CNN / NPR / USA Today / NBC News)

Day 1157: "Enough is enough."

1/ The Biden administration will cancel nearly $6 billion in federal student loans for 78,000 Americans through the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program. The latest student debt cancellation allows eligible borrowers to have their remaining debt forgiven if they have made a certain number of payments and are working for approved employers, like teachers, nurses, and firefighters. An additional 380,000 borrowers in the public sector are one to two years away from qualifying for the same debt forgiveness. In total, Biden has canceled $144 billion of federal student loan debt for nearly 4 million borrowers. (USA Today / NBC News / NPR / CNN / CBS News / Associated Press / CNBC / Axios)

2/ Congressional leaders released details of their $1.2 trillion deal to fund the government and avert a partial government shutdown. The package would fund about three-quarters of the federal government for the next six months, including defense, homeland security, financial services, and health agencies. The House will vote on the package on Friday, meaning lawmakers will need to waive a rule giving members 72 hours to consider legislation before voting on it. Meanwhile, Rand Paul and other Senate conservatives have threatened to slow swift passage of the bill down by introducing amendments. Government funding expires at midnight Friday. (Axios / Associated Press / Politico / NPR / Washington Post / New York Times)

3/ New York Attorney General Letitia James took her first step toward seizing Trump’s golf club and private estate in Westchester County, formally entering the judgments with the clerk’s office. James said she’s prepared to start seizing assets if Trump misses the March 25 deadline to post a $454 million bond for the civil fraud judgment she won against him. Trump’s lawyers claim it’s “a practical impossibility” to get the more than $350 million, plus roughly $100 million in interest, together by the deadline. Trump asked the appeals court to pause the judgment, saying 30 bonding companies have turned him down and he’ll be forced to sell properties in a “fire sale” to raise money if the court doesn’t waive the bond or allow him to post a smaller one for $100 million. (Bloomberg / CNN / The Hill / USA Today / Washington Post / Axios / CNBC)

4/ Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg said no further delay in Trump’s hush money trial is warranted and that fewer than 300 of the some 200,000 documents turned over to Trump’s lawyers are relevant to the criminal case. Last week, Judge Juan Merchan delayed the March 25 start of Trump’s hush money case by at least 20 days to give Trump’s lawyers time to review the records. Trump had asked Merchan to dismiss the indictment and delay the trial for 90 days, claiming prosecutors withheld information from them about the federal prosecution of Michael Cohen. Bragg, however, told Merchan there was nothing in the material that should push the start of the trial past mid-April, saying “Enough is enough. These tactics by defendant and defense counsel should be stopped.” Trump faces 34 charges of falsifying business records in connection with a hush money payment to Stormy Daniels during the 2016 presidential election. (NBC News / CNN / Washington Post / New York Times)

5/ The U.S. submitted a draft resolution to the United Nations calling for “an immediate and sustained ceasefire” in Gaza tied to the release of Israeli hostages. The U.N. Security Council is expected to vote on the resolution Friday morning. The draft resolution being circulated says that the Security Council “determines the imperative of an immediate and sustained ceasefire to protect civilians on all sides, allow for the delivery of essential humanitarian assistance, and alleviate humanitarian suffering, and towards that end unequivocally supports ongoing international diplomatic efforts to secure such a ceasefire in connection with the release of all remaining hostages.” Secretary of State Antony Blinken, meanwhile, said the “gaps are narrowing” between Israel and Hamas to get a temporary ceasefire in exchange for the release of hostages, but conceded that “there’s still real challenges.” (NBC News / CNN / Wall Street Journal / New York Times / The Guardian / Axios)

Day 1156: "Historic progress."

1/ A federal appeals court blocked a Texas law allowing state police to arrest people suspected of illegally crossing the Texas-Mexico border — hours after the Supreme Court had allowed it to go into effect. The appeals court judges are now considering whether the law should remain on hold while its constitutionality is being challenged in court. A district court ruled last month that the measure conflicts with federal immigration law. The law, known as Senate Bill 4, was signed by Republican Gov. Greg Abbott in December and allows law enforcement to arrest and deport migrants if they’re suspected of crossing the border illegally. However, Mexico’s government said it would not “under any circumstances” accept the return of any migrants from Texas. Those who reenter illegally after a deportation could face felony charges and a 10-to-20-year prison sentence. (New York Times / Washington Post / Texas Tribune / Associated Press / CNN / NBC News / Politico / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal)

2/ The Biden administration issued the strictest-ever rules for tailpipe emissions to ensure that the majority of new passenger cars and light trucks sold in the U.S. are all-electric or hybrids by 2032. The new standards require automakers to reduce emissions by over two-thirds by 2032 – limits so stringent they’ll compel automakers to rapidly boost sales of electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles. In 2023, EVs made up about 7.6% of new car sales, but the new rule is targeting 35% to 56% for EVs in 2032, and 13% to 36% for plug-in hybrids. The rule will prevent 7.2 billion metric tons of carbon emissions from entering the atmosphere through 2055 – roughly four times the total emissions of the transportation sector as of 2021. “Three years ago, I set an ambitious target: that half of all new cars and trucks sold in 2030 would be zero-emission,” Biden said. “Together, we’ve made historic progress. Hundreds of new expanded factories across the country. Hundreds of billions in private investment and thousands of good-paying union jobs. And we’ll meet my goal for 2030 and race forward in the years ahead.” (New York Times / CNN / Politico / Bloomberg / CBS News / The Verge / Axios / NPR / Washington Post / NBC News / Wall Street Journal)

3/ The Biden administration awarded Intel with about $20 billion in grants and loans to fund an expansion of its semiconductor factories across four states. The funding comes from the 2022 CHIPS and Science Act, which provides $53 billion in subsidies to boost the U.S. production of semiconductors. Most of the world’s advanced chips are currently made in Asia. The government grant is the largest yet from the CHIPS Act award and will go to the construction and expansion of Intel chip facilities in Arizona, Ohio, New Mexico, and Oregon. The projects are expected to create more than 10,000 manufacturing jobs and roughly 20,000 construction jobs. (NPR / Axios / Bloomberg / USA Today / Semafor / New York Times / NBC News / CNBC / Wall Street Journal)

4/ The Federal Reserve left interest rates unchanged, but still expects to cut rates three times in 2024. Committee members held rates steady at about 5.3% – a 23-year high. Inflation has eased considerably since hitting a 40-year high of 9.1% in 2022. Fed officials now predict inflation will end the year at 2.6%. As of February, inflation was at 3.2%. (Associated Press / NPR / Axios / Washington Post / NBC News / CNBC / Wall Street Journal / Bloomberg / New York Times)

5/ Alabama Republicans passed legislation that bans state funding for diversity, equity, and inclusion programs in public schools, universities, and state agencies. The law imposes restrictions on eight “divisive concepts” surrounding race, personal identity, and gender, and requires public colleges to designate bathrooms “for use by individuals based on their biological sex.” Gov. Kay Ivey signed the bill into law, which will take effect on Oct. 1. (NPR / Washington Post / New York Times)

Day 1155: "Further chaos."

1/ Biden and House Republicans reached a deal to fund the government, but Congress might not have time to pass the legislation before a partial shutdown this weekend. House rules require 72 hours between when legislation is made public and when members can vote, which means that the chamber can’t take it up until late Friday. The Senate, meanwhile, requires 30 hours of debate, unless all 100 senators give consent to move faster – any one senator can slow down consideration. Funding for several key agencies expires at midnight Friday. The six spending bills in package collectively fund about 70% of the federal government. (Washington Post / NPR / Politico / Associated Press / New York Times / NBC News / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal)

2/ The Supreme Court will allow Texas to immediately begin enforcing a controversial immigration law that gives state police the power to arrest people suspected of crossing the border illegally. The ruling doesn’t uphold the law, but allows it to go into effect while litigation continues in lower courts. A federal judge in Texas struck down the law in late February, but the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed that decision without explanation, leading to an emergency request by the Biden administration, which argued that the Texas law is a clear violation of federal authority to set immigration policy. Justice Sonia Sotomayor, joined by Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, warned in a dissenting argument that the law “invites further chaos and crisis in immigration enforcement” and “upends the federal-state balance of power that has existed for over a century, in which the National government has had exclusive authority over entry and removal of noncitizens.” The law makes it a state crime to illegally cross the Texas-Mexico border, allows police to arrest migrants suspected of illegally crossing the border from Mexico, and imposes criminal penalties of up to six months in jail and up to 20 years in prison for subsequent offenses. S.B. 4 also empowers state judges to order deportations to Mexico without Mexico’s consent. (NBC News / CNN / Axios / Associated Press / Bloomberg / Washington Post / New York Times)

3/ Trump urged the Supreme Court to declare that he’s absolutely immune from criminal charges for his attempts to subvert the 2020 election, which resulted in the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. In a 52-page filing, Trump argued that a ruling against him would “incapacitate every future president […] The president cannot function, and the presidency itself cannot retain its vital independence if the president faces criminal prosecution for official acts once he leaves office.” The court will hear oral arguments on the matter on April 25. (New York Times / NBC News / ABC News / Bloomberg / CBS News)

4/ Trump filed a defamation lawsuit against ABC News, arguing that George Stephanopoulos had harmed his reputation by saying multiple times on-air that Trump had raped E. Jean Carroll. The jury in the civil case last year found Trump was liable for sexually abusing and defaming Carroll, but didn’t find him liable for rape. Under New York law, rape is defined as forcible penetration with the penis. The judge later clarified that because of New York’s narrow legal definition of “rape,” the jury’s finding didn’t mean that Carroll had “failed to prove that Trump ‘raped’ her as many people commonly understand the word ‘rape.’” (CNN / New York Times / Associated Press / Politico)

5/ Former Trump White House adviser Peter Navarro reported to prison. Navarro – who claimed credit for the plan to overturn the 2020 election – was convicted of two counts of contempt of Congress for refusing to provide testimony and documents to the Jan. 6 select committee. He was sentenced to four months in jail and ordered to pay a $9,500 fine. Before reporting to jail, Navarro called the case against him an “unprecedented assault on the constitutional separation of powers,” adding: “I am pissed – that’s what I am feeling right now.” Navarro is the first high-ranking Trump official to serve prison time related to the Jan. 6 Capitol riot. (CNN / Axios / NBC News / Politico / Washington Post / New York Times / CBS News / ABC News)

6/ A pro-Trump lawyer – who tried to overturn the 2020 election – was arrested and charged with conspiring to seize Michigan voting machines after the election. Stefanie Lambert was arrested after a hearing in a separate case about her leaking internal emails from Dominion Voting Systems. Lambert shared over 2,000 confidential Dominion documents with a southwestern Michigan sheriff, who has embraced conspiracy theories about the 2020 election and used his office to investigate false claims of widespread election fraud against Trump. Lambert faces four felony charges for accessing voting machines in Michigan. (Associated Press / USA Today / CNN / Washington Post / The Detroit News / The Hill)

7/ Jared Kushner praised the “very valuable” potential of Gaza’s “waterfront property” and suggested that Israel should “move the people out and then clean it up.” The former Trump White House intern, who is a real-estate developer with no diplomacy or foreign policy experience, called for Israel “do its best” to “move” those in Gaza to the desert in southern Israel. He added that “with diplomacy” Palestinian civilians could then be moved into Egypt. A United Nations report, meanwhile, predicts that all 2.2 million people in Gaza do not have enough food to eat, with half of the population on the brink of starvation and famine projected to arrive in northern Gaza “anytime between mid-March and May 2024.” U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken added that “100% of the population in Gaza is at severe levels of acute food insecurity. That is the first time an entire population has been so classified.” The U.N. human rights chief blamed Israel’s sustained restrictions on aid into Gaza for the preventable starvation and famine that’s unfolding in the enclave. Neverthless, Kushner suggested that Israel “has gone way more out of their way than a lot of other countries would to protect civilians from casualties.” (The Guardian / Politico / CNN / Rolling Stone)

Day 1154: "A practical impossibility."

1/ Trump doesn’t have enough money to post the $464 million appeal bond he owes in his New York civil fraud case, according to a court filing by Trump’s attorneys. Trump needs to post the appeal bond in order to prevent New York Attorney General Letitia James from seizing his real estate assets. Trump’s legal team said they spent “countless hours” contacting about 30 surety companies through four separate brokers to try and raise the money, but none were willing to underwrite the bond. They ultimately concluded that raising the money for the appeal bond was “a practical impossibility.” Trump would need nearly $1 billion in cash reserves in order to convince the companies to help him out, which neither Trump nor the Trump Organization possesses. In the filing, Trump’s lawyers asked a panel of five Manhattan appeals court judges to allow him to hold off on posting the bond while he appeals the verdict. If the request is denied, AG James could start seizing Trump’s properties on March 25. (CNBC / New York Times / NBC News / CNN / Axios / Wall Street Journal / Washington Post / ABC News)

2/ The EPA banned asbestos in the United States, a carcinogen linked to more than 40,000 American deaths annually. The rule bans the use of chrysotile asbestos, the only form still used in the U.S., which is found in products like brake linings, gaskets, and in chlorine bleach and sodium hydroxide production. Exposure to asbestos is known to cause lung cancer, mesothelioma and other cancers. The ban is a significant expansion of an earlier EPA regulation under the 2016 Frank Lautenberg Chemical Safety Act and will be implemented in phases, with immediate effects on imports and gradual prohibitions on other uses over the next two to five years. The rule does provide an exception for the Savannah River Site in South Carolina until 2037 to ensure the safe disposal of nuclear material. (ABC News / NBC News / Wall Street Journal)

3/ Mike Pence declared that he will not endorse Trump in the 2024 general election. Pence cited “profound differences” between their views on various issues, including Trump’s stance on the national deficit, abortion, the TikTok ban reversal, and the Jan. 6 insurrection. Pence also criticized Trump for a political platform that he said is “at odds with the conservative agenda” they followed during their administration. Pence declined to say who he would personally vote for in the 2024 election, but said he would “never” vote for Biden. Pence said he plans to instead focus on promoting a “broad mainstream conservative agenda” for the remainder of the year. (Wall Street Journal / ABC News / The Guardian)

  • Trump once again described immigrants as criminals who are “poisoning the blood” of the country and compared them to animals released from prisons and mental institutions. During a nearly hourlong interview on Fox News, Trump also discussed his stances on abortion, NATO, and the potential TikTok ban, while continuing to falsely claim that the 2020 election was rigged. (New York Times)

  • Trump called for the imprisonment of Liz Cheney and other members of the January 6 committee in a series of posts on his personal social media platform. He also claimed that they suppressed evidence that would exonerate him from charges related to the Jan. 6 insurrection and said they should “go to jail along with the rest” of the January 6 “unselect” committee. Cheney responded by saying Trump was “afraid of the truth.” (The Guardian)

4/ Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held their first phone call in a month amidst growing disagreements over the war in Gaza. A White House spokesperson said the two discussed “the latest developments in Israel and Gaza, including the situation in Rafah and efforts to surge humanitarian assistance to Gaza.” Netanyahu also complained about a speech by Chuck Schumer that was critical of Israel’s actions in Gaza, which Biden endorsed, while defending his leadership and questioning the influence of domestic politics on Gaza war policy. (Axios)

Day 1150: "Serious consideration."

1/ The Manhattan DA’s office agreed to delay the start of the hush money case against Trump by 30 days. “Specifically, yesterday the USAO produced approximately 31,000 pages of additional records and represented that there will be another production of documents by next week,” the DA’s office wrote in a motion to the court. The newly disclosed evidence relates to Trump’s former attorney, Michael Cohen, who pleaded guilty and served time for various offenses in a separate case in 2018. Trump’s defense attorneys had sought a longer postponement of up to 90 days and have asked the judge to sanction the DA’s office over the late disclosure of documents, claiming that the DA’s office engaged in “widespread misconduct” to improve their position in the potential trial. The trial was initially set to begin with jury selection on March 25. (NBC News / ABC News / New York Times)

2/ A federal judge in Florida rejected a motion to dismiss Trump’s classified documents case. In a brief written order, U.S. District Court Judge Aileen Cannon said some of Trump’s arguments merit “serious consideration,” but she also noted that dismissing charges at this stage over definitional disputes of the terms in the Espionage Act would be premature. Cannon also expressed skepticism towards the defense’s argument based on the Presidential Records Act. Trump’s lawyers highlighted the lack of prosecution against Hillary Clinton for her use of a private email server, despite the FBI finding no classified material in her emails. Trump and his co-defendants, Walt Nauta and Carlos De Oliveira, have pleaded not guilty to all 40 criminal charges related to the alleged mishandling of classified documents. (Washington Post / ABC News / NBC News)

  • A federal appeals court unanimously rejected former Trump adviser Peter Navarro’s attempt to avoid prison while appealing his contempt of Congress conviction for defying a Jan. 6 committee subpoena. Navarro, 74, must report to a Miami facility by March 19 to serve a four-month sentence, becoming the first former Trump adviser jailed for actions related to the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. (ABC News)

3/ Chuck Schumer criticized Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a speech on the Senate floor and called for new elections in Israel. Schumer cited Netanyahu’s prioritization of political survival over Israel’s best interests in the wake of Hamas’ attack and the ongoing bombardment of Gaza. Schumer, the highest-ranking elected Jewish official in the U.S., emphasized the need for change and a negotiated two-state solution, while also calling for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to step down. (ABC News / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / NBC News)

4/ The Biden administration imposed unprecedented sanctions on two Israeli settler outposts and three individuals in the West Bank due to violence against Palestinians. The move comes amid increased tensions between the Netanyahu government and the U.S. over the ongoing settler violence and humanitarian crisis in Gaza, where Israeli forces have killed more than 31,000 people. The sanctions block access to U.S. assets or property and prohibit banks from working with the targets of the sanctions. (Washington Post)

5/ An American company that paid indicted FBI informant Alexander Smirnov $600,000 in 2020 has ties to a UK firm owned by Trump business associates in Dubai. Smirnov was accused of lying to the FBI about the Bidens’ involvement in a bribery scheme with Ukrainian company Burisma and provided false accounts that Republicans used to justify a House impeachment investigation. The CEO of the American company, ETT, along with a Pakistani American investor and a former Damac Properties chairman linked to Trump, registered the related UK company in March 2020. The connections raise questions about the motivations behind Smirnov’s fabricated allegations and their potential political implications. (The Guardian)

Day 1149: "Lack of detail."

1/ A Georgia judge threw out six charges in the Georgia election meddling case against Trump and his allies. The decision by Fulton County Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee marks the first time any charges have been dropped in the four criminal cases Trump faces. Most of the charges still stand, however, including claims that Trump and his team broke the law by trying to stay in power after he lost the 2020 election. The tossed charges were related to Trump’s efforts to pressure officials to violate election laws, like when he called Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and told him to “find” enough votes for Trump to win. In his decision, Judge McAfee wrote that prosecutors could seek a reindictment to supplement the six dismissed counts, but said the “lack of detail” regarding the essential legal elements of the charges did not give the defendants “enough information to prepare their defenses intelligently.” (ABC News / Washington Post / Axios)

2/ The House overwhelmingly passed a bill to force TikTok’s Chinese owner to sell the app or face a U.S. ban, with both parties saying it threatens national security despite the company’s efforts to wall off U.S. data. The bill’s fate remains uncertain in the Senate, and courts may say it violates free speech, but some worry the move could worsen tensions with China as the U.S. continues to go after Chinese tech companies. The White House has said it backs the bill and views it as a way to address data risks. (New York Times / CNBC / CBS News / Washington Post)

3/ Biden and Trump both won enough votes in their respective primary races to be their parties’ nominees in the 2024 election, setting up a rematch of the 2020 election. Biden had little competition, while Trump easily beat his GOP opponents despite the ongoing criminal cases against him. The 2024 election campaign will be one of the longest in American history and the first presidential rematch in almost 70 years. (New York Times / Washington Post)

poll/ 63% of respondents blamed recent price increases on “large corporations taking advantage of inflation” — up from 54% in November. 38% blamed the price increases on Democratic policies, unchanged from November. (Financial Times-Michigan Ross via CNBC)

Day 1148: "Requisite intent."

1/ A group of Independent and Democratic senators led by Bernie Sanders urged Biden to suspend U.S. military aid to Israel until it allows humanitarian assistance to reach Gaza. In a letter, the senators argued that blocking aid violates the Foreign Assistance Act. The senators insisted that more leverage is needed to change Israel’s policy. (New York Times / New Republic)

2/ The Biden administration announced a $300 million weapons package for Ukraine. The aid will be drawn from existing U.S. stockpiles and is meant as a stopgap measure to address the country’s need for ammunition and air defense systems amid Russia’s ongoing attacks. The move comes as Congress remains deadlocked over a $60.1 billion Ukraine aid bill, with the U.S. having exhausted its assistance to Ukraine since the last package in December 2022. (New York Times / NBC News)

  • Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán claimed Trump told him he would cut off military aid to Ukraine to end the conflict with Russia. Orbán’s comments come after his visit to Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate last Friday, where the Trump praised Orbán despite his critical stance on providing aid to Ukraine and his resistance to NATO expansion. (NBC News)

3/ Trump may not have sufficient liquid assets to cover the full $464 million civil fraud judgment against him if he loses his appeal. In a court filing, NY Attorney General Letitia James argued that Trump and his co-defendants should be required to post cash or bonds covering the entire amount to pause the judgment while they challenge the ruling, citing potential fluctuations in his real estate holdings’ value, post-judgment interest, and his other legal battles, including an $83.3 million defamation judgment. James urged the appeals court to reject Trump’s bid to stay the judgment with a $100 million bond, warning that Trump and his co-defendants might attempt to evade or impede enforcement of the judgment if they lose the appeal. (NBC News / CNBC / ABC News)

4/ Trump plans to argue in his upcoming hush money trial that he was unaware that his actions were illegal because his lawyers were involved in the process. Trump’s attorneys plan to argue that he “lacked the requisite intent to commit the conduct charged in the indictment.” The judge in the case, however, is not likely to allow Trump to present evidence of his lawyers’ involvement without explicitly invoking the advice-of-counsel defense, and Trump’s lawyers said they don’t plan to formally invoke that defense. Trump faces 34 charges related to allegedly covering up a $130,000 payment made to Stormy Daniels during his 2016 presidential campaign. The trial is set to begin with jury selection on March 25. (NBC News / CNN / USA TODAY)

5/ A bipartisan panel of three North Carolina judges unanimously ruled that a Republican-led effort to restructure the state’s election boards is unconstitutional. The law, passed by the GOP-controlled legislature over Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto, would have shifted the power to appoint election board members from the governor to the legislature and created boards with an equal number of Democrats and Republicans. The judges found that this infringed on the governor’s constitutional duties and was an unlawful attempt by the legislature to seize power from the executive branch. The ruling leaves the current structure in place, with the governor appointing a majority of members from his own party. Republican legislative leaders are expected to appeal the decision. (Raleigh News & Observer / Associated Press / New York Times)

Day 1147: "Not on my watch."

1/ Biden proposed a $7.3 trillion budget for the next fiscal year that would raise taxes on high earners and corporations to keep Social Security and Medicare from hitting insolvency within the next decade. Additionally, the budget calls for restoring the expanded Child Tax Credit, fully funding nutrition assistance for women, infants and children through the WIC program, and allowing Medicare to negotiate more aggressively to bring down the cost of prescription drugs. Biden’s budget would cut the deficit by $3 trillion over the next 10 years through changes to the tax code that target the ultra-wealthy and cutting to “wasteful subsidies.” The fiscal 2025 budget would cut the deficit by $3 trillion over the next decade, and raise taxes by a net total of $4.9 trillion – more than 7% above what the government would collect without any policy changes. The plan, however, stand almost no chance of becoming law, given that Republicans control the House and have been unable to pass a budget for the current fiscal year, which began Oct. 1. (ABC News / Politico / Axios / Associated Press / NPR / Washington Post / New York Times / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal)

2/ Trump suggested that he’s open to “cutting” Social Security and Medicare, but later backtracked and claimed he was talking about “cutting waste.” In an interview, Trump, when was asked how he’d resolve the long-term solvency problems of Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, said that there was “a lot you can do in terms of entitlements in terms of cutting and in terms of also the theft and the bad management of entitlements, tremendous bad management of entitlements.” Biden immediately seized on the comments, saying: “Not on my watch.” He later added: “Many of my Republican friends want to put Social Security and Medicare back on the chopping block again. Many of them are trying to cut Social Security and Medicare or raise the retirement age again. I will stop them.” Social Security is projected to be solvent through 2034, while Medicare is projected to be solvent through 2028. After that, benefits will face automatic cuts with policy changes to add revenue or reduce spending. (NBC News / Washington Post / New York Times / CNN / CNBC)

3/ Trump posted a $91.6 million bond to appeal the $83.3 million judgement against him in the E. Jean Carroll defamation case. In January, a federal jury awarded Carroll $83.3 million in damages for Trump’s defamatory statements that denied he raped her, said she wasn’t his type, and accused her of making up the allegation. The bond prevent Carroll from collecting her $83.3 million judgment while Trump appeals the defamation verdict. Nevertheless, after posting his bond, Trump – again – denied Carroll’s rape and defamation claims against him, claiming she is “not a believable person.” Carroll’s lawyer, meanwhile, said she was considering a third defamation lawsuit against Trump. (New York Times / Axios / NBC News / CNN / Bloomberg / CNBC / Washington Post / Politico / NBC News / New York Times / CNBC)

4/ Trump asked to postpone his New York state hush-money trial until the Supreme Court rules on whether “presidential immunity” protects him from criminal prosecution. Trump has been charged with 34 counts of falsifying business records tied to a hush money payment to Stormy Daniels during his 2016 campaign. The trial is scheduled to begin on March 25. (Associated Press / Politico / CBS News / NBC News / CNN / Bloomberg)

5/ The Republican National Committee voted to install a new leadership team that was hand-picked by Trump, completing his takeover of the national party. Michael Whatley, a North Carolina Republican and supporter of Trump’s baseless claims of voter fraud in the 2020 presidential election, was elected the party’s new national chairman. And Trump’s daughter-in-law, Lara Trump, was voted in as co-chair. The newly installed leadership team began the process of pushing out dozens of staffers and other officials. (Washington Post / New York Times / USA Today / ABC News / NBC News / CNN / Associated Press / Politico)

Day 1143: "We're not waiting."

1/ Biden will order the U.S. military to build a temporary port and pier in Gaza so more humanitarian aid can reach 2.3 million Palestinian civilians in need. Biden has reportedly grown frustrated with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has restricted the flow of humanitarian aid into the beleaguered territory despite U.S. pressure. “We’re not waiting on the Israelis,” one U.S. official said, noting that the ship transport of aid will supplement the on-going U.S. airdrops. The project is expected take several weeks before it’s operational, which will then allow aid to be distributed inside Gaza by the United Nations and other humanitarian personnel. Israel also agreed to open a third border crossing for delivery of trucked food and medicine to northern Gaza. Biden will announce the “emergency mission” to open a maritime route for humanitarian assistance during his State of the Union address tonight. Meanwhile, efforts to secure a ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas war before the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan appear to be failing with the Hamas delegation leaving negotiations in Cairo “to consult with the leadership of the movement.” Netanyahu has publicly ruled out Hamas’ demands for a permanent ceasefire, saying Israel intends to resume the offensive after any pause and expand it until “total victory” is achieved. (Politico / Associated Press / CBS News / Bloomberg / New York Times / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / CNN / ABC News / Axios)

2/ Despite facing criminal charges for mishandling of classified documents, Trump will receive U.S. intelligence briefings after he secures the Republican nomination. Although the there are no legal requirements to share classified information with Trump, it’s a tradition that dates back to 1952. The Biden administration is expected to modulate what it shares with Trump. Shortly after Biden took office, he barred Trump from receiving intelligence briefings typically given to former presidents, citing Trump’s “erratic behavior unrelated to the insurrection.” One former senior U.S. intelligence official added that they’d be “afraid” to give Trump access to classified intelligence. Trump is currently facing 40 counts related to the possession of classified documents and then obstructing efforts to retrieve them. (Politico / Daily Beast)

3/ Sweden formally joined NATO as the 32nd member, ending decades of post-World War II neutrality and joining the military alliance in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine more than two years ago. With Sweden’s neighbor Finland joining the alliance last year, NATO now controls almost all of the Baltic Sea. (New York Times / Politico / Associated Press)

4/ Alabama’s governor signed a bill to protect in vitro fertilization into law after the state Supreme Court ruled that frozen embryos are considered unborn children and that individuals could be held liable for destroying them. The legislation, however, doesn’t define or clarify whether under state law frozen embryos created via IVF have the same rights as children, but instead provides criminal and civil immunity “for death or damage to an embryo” related to IVF. Two Alabama clinics said they would resume IVF procedures, while one expressed significant caution. 66% of Americans oppose considering frozen embryos as people, while 31% support it. (NBC News / Politico / Washington Post / Axios)

  • About 1 in 8 voters say abortion is the most important issue in the 2024 elections. (Axios)

5/ Earth posted its warmest February ever – setting a monthly record for the ninth time in a row. It was also Earth’s warmest 12-month period. February 2024’s averaged 13.5 degrees Celsius (56.3 degrees Fahrenheit), breaking the previous record from 2016 by 0.12 degrees (0.22 degrees Fahrenheit). The last 12-months exceeded the Paris Agreement’s 1.5-degree target for a full year, coming in at 1.56 degrees (2.8 degrees Fahrenheit) warmer than preindustrial levels. (Washington Post / Axios / Associated Press)

⏩ Notably next: Biden will deliver his State of the Union address tonight at 9 p.m. Eastern.

Day 1142: "Earn the votes."

1/ The House passed a $460 billion package of spending bills, setting up a Senate vote before Friday’s deadline to avert yet another partial government shutdown. The measure packages six of the 12 required appropriations bills and will extend funding through Sept. 30 for the departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Justice, Energy, Interior, Veterans Affairs, Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, as well as the FDA, military construction, and other federal programs. Lawmakers are still negotiating the other six government spending bills, which must pass by March 22 to avert a lapse in funding. (Washington Post / ABC News / New York Times / Associated Press / Politico / NBC News)

2/ The Supreme Court will hear arguments April 25 about whether Trump is immune from criminal prosecution for trying to overturn the results of the 2020 election. The case will be the last one argued in the court’s current calendar, but could take months for the justices to issue an opinion. The outcome will determine whether and how quickly Trump faces trial for allegedly trying to block Biden’s election victory. (Washington Post / CNBC / Bloomberg / CNN)

3/ Voting on Super Tuesday went as expected: Biden and Trump – facing 91 criminal charges – are all but certain to be headed for a rematch in 2024. Notably, while Biden lost North Carolina to Trump by about 75,000 votes in 2020, several exit polls indicated that 80% of Nikki Haley voters wouldn’t necessarily vote for the Republican nominee in November, and 66% said they didn’t believe Trump was physically or mentally fit to be president. Haley won about 249,651 of the Republican votes in North Carolina on Super Tuesday. The “uncommitted” protest against Biden continued in Minnesota, with nearly 19% of Democratic voters choosing “uncommitted” rather than for Biden. (Associated Press / Axios / Politico / NPR / New York Times / Washington Post)

4/ Nikki Haley suspended her presidential campaign, but stopped short of endorsing Trump. Instead, Haley said it’s up to Trump to “earn the votes of those in our party who did not support him.” Trump responded by saying “Nikki Haley got TROUNCED last night, in record setting fashion.” His campaign then sent out a fundraising email asking Republicans “TO UNITE AS A PARTY AND DEFEAT JOE BIDEN!” Biden, meanwhile, reached out to Haley’s supporters, saying: “Trump made it clear he doesn’t want Nikki Haley’s supporters. I want to be clear: There is a place for them in my campaign. I know there is a lot we won’t agree on. But on the fundamental issues of preserving American democracy, on standing up for the rule of law, on treating each other with decency and dignity and respect, on preserving NATO and standing up to America’s adversaries, I hope and believe we can find common ground.” (ABC News / NPR / NBC News / New York Times / Associated Press)

5/ Mitch McConnell endorsed Trump for president despite once denouncing Trump as “morally and practically responsible for provoking” the Jan. 6 insurrection in a “disgraceful dereliction of duty.” Nevertheless, McConnell said it was “abundantly clear” that Trump had “earned” the support of Republican voters and that “it should come as no surprise that as nominee, he will have my support.” The two have not spoken since 2020 – when McConnell acknowledged Biden as the winner of the 2020 presidential election. (Associated Press / Washington Post / Axios / Politico / NPR / New York Times / ABC News)

Day 1141: "The situation is simply intolerable."

1/ Today is Super Tuesday. Democrats and Republicans are casting ballots in 15 states for their party’s nominee for president, Senate, House, and governors races that can determine political control of Congress and states for the next two to four years. Over a third of the total delegates are up for grabs: 854 Republican delegates and 1,420 Democratic delegates. It takes 1,215 delegates to win the Republican nomination, while it takes 1,968 delegates to win the Democratic nomination. Trump is expected to widen his lead over Nikki Haley, while Biden is expected to sweep on the Democratic side. [Editor’s note: Check back tomorrow for a full recap on Super Tuesday 2024.] (Associated Press / Washington Post / NPR / New York Times / CNN / NBC News / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal)

  • Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema will not seek re-election, setting up a race between Democratic Rep. Ruben Gallego and Republican Kari Lake to succeed her. Sinema left the Democratic Party in 2022 to become an independent. (Politico / Washington Post / New York Times / NBC News)

  • The number of Americans who think Trump committed serious federal crimes has declined since December after steadily rising since the fall of 2022. (New York Times)

  • Do Americans have a “collective amnesia” about Trump? “It’s only been three years, but memories of Trump’s presidency have faded and changed fast.” (New York Times)

  • Biden’s new strategy: Go for Trump’s jugular. “Biden has told friends he thinks Trump is wobbly, both intellectually and emotionally, and will explode if Biden mercilessly gigs and goads him — ‘go haywire in public,’ as one adviser put it. (Axios)

2/ The Supreme Court temporarily blocked a new Texas immigration law, which allow state police to arrest, jail, and prosecute migrants suspected of illegally crossing the U.S. border. Justice Samuel Alito issued the administrative hold, which will block the law from taking effect until March 13, after civil rights groups and the Department of Justice sued, arguing the law is unconstitutional and could lead to racial profiling. The Justice Department also said the law would “profoundly” alter the status quo “that has existed between the United States and the States in the context of immigration for almost 150 years.” (NBC News / CNN / Bloomberg)

3/ The U.S. continued to airdrop aid into Gaza as the humanitarian crisis deepens. The Biden administration said it’s working to increase the delivery of humanitarian aid “through as many channels as possible,” because “the situation is simply intolerable.” Biden, meanwhile, said that a possible six-week ceasefire in Gaza is “in the hands of Hamas right now,” adding: “We need a ceasefire.” Israel, Hamas, and mediators want to secure a deal before March 10, the start of Ramadan, the holiest period in the Islamic calendar, which is observed by a month of fasting. (NPR / Bloomberg / New York Times / Washington Post)

4/ The Biden administration will cap all credit card late fees at $8, which regulators say will save Americans up to $10 billion a year. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau rule will close a legal loophole that had allowed some financial services to charge an average of $32 per month for a missed or late payment. Biden also announced the formation of a new “strike force” meant to crack down on “junk fees,” and other “anti-competitive, unfair, deceptive, or fraudulent business practices” on things like groceries, prescription drugs, health care, housing and financial services. (Associated Press / Washington Post / NPR / ABC News)

Day 1140: "Such chaos."

1/ The Supreme Court unanimously reversed the Colorado Supreme Court decision to remove Trump from the ballot for engaging in an insurrection on Jan. 6. The ruling ends efforts in Colorado, Illinois, Maine and elsewhere to remove Trump from the ballot. In an unsigned ruling with no dissents, the court said that only Congress – not the states – can disqualify a presidential candidate under the Constitution’s insurrection clause, suggesting that the result could lead to an unworkable “patchwork” where a candidate could be ineligible in one state but not another. “Nothing in the Constitution requires that we endure such chaos — arriving at any time or different times, up to and perhaps beyond the inauguration,” the court wrote. Five of the six conservative justices went further, saying that Congress must determine who was disqualified under Section 3 of the Constitution’s 14th Amendment. The justices, however, didn’t weigh in on whether Trump engaged in an insurrection by attempting to overturn the 2020 election results or encouraging the violence on Jan. 6. Trump, meanwhile, posted on his personal social media network after the decision: “BIG WIN FOR AMERICA!!!” (Washington Post / NBC News / Associated Press / Politico / NPR / New York Times / Axios / ABC News / CNN / CNBC / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal)

  • Biden warned that Trump won’t concede if he loses in November, saying: “Losers are never graceful.” (Axios)

2/ Trump’s former chief financial officer pleaded guilty to perjury related to testimony he gave during Trump’s civil fraud trial. Allen Weisselberg pleaded guilty to two counts of perjury and will be sentenced to five months in jail – his second guilty plea in a criminal case involving his work for Trump. He pleaded guilty in a tax fraud case in 2022 and was sentenced to five months. (Axios / NBC News / Politico / Associated Press / CNN / ABC News / Wall Street Journal / New York Times)

  • Trump – again – requested a delay in the $83 million judgment against him in the E. Jean Carroll’s defamation case. Trump also owes $454 million in his civil fraud case. (ABC News)

3/ Kamala Harris called for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, citing the “humanitarian catastrophe” caused by the Israel-Hamas War. “Given the immense scale of suffering in Gaza, there must be an immediate ceasefire,” Harris said. Israel has reportedly agreed to a deal in principle, in which there would be a four- to six-week ceasefire in exchange for Hamas releasing hostages, and that “the onus right now is on Hamas.” Still, Harris added: “The Israeli government must do more to significantly increase the flow of aid. No excuses. […] People in Gaza are starving. The conditions are inhumane and our common humanity compels us to act.” The U.S. began air-dropping 38,000 meals and other aid over the Gaza Strip after more than 100 Palestinians were killed in a chaotic scene where the Israeli military opened fire on a crowd gathered around a convoy of trucks carrying desperately needed aid. Meanwhile, a member of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s war cabinet is scheduled to meet with Harris as talks drag on over a deal to release hostages taken during the Oct. 7 attacks. (Reuters / USA Today / NPR / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal / ABC News / NBC News)

4/ The United Nations reported that it had found “reasonable grounds” to believe that sexual violence occurred during the Hamas terror attacks on Israel, including rape and gang rape in at least three locations. “In most of these incidents, victims first subjected to rape were then killed,” the report said, “and at least two incidents relate to the rape of women’s corpses.” The team also said it had found “clear and convincing evidence” that hostages being held by Hamas in Gaza were subjected to “rape and sexualized torture and sexualized cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment.” (Washington Post / New York Times / CNN)

⏩ Notably next: Super Tuesday is tomorrow. Here’s what to expect. (NPR / Washington Post)

Day 1136: "Posed a threat."

1/ A state judge in Illinois ruled that Trump had engaged in insurrection and disqualified him from the state’s primary ballot. Trump appealed Judge Tracie Porter’s decision to ban him for his role in the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. Illinois is the third state where Trump has been disqualified under the 14th Amendment, which bars insurrectionists from running for office. Rulings in all three states have been stayed pending appeals, which means Trump will still be on the Republican ballot when Illinois holds its primary March 19. (Bloomberg / Axios / CNN / New York Times / NBC News)

2/ A federal judge temporarily blocked a new Texas law that would allow state police to arrest, jail, and prosecute migrants suspected of illegally crossing the U.S. border. The law, Senate Bill 4, was set to take effect March 5, but U.S. District Judge David Ezra issued a preliminary injunction after the Justice Department and the American Civil Liberties Union sued to stop the law from being enforced, arguing that it’s unconstitutional and could lead to racial profiling. Ezra wrote in his opinion that the federal government “will suffer grave irreparable harm” if the law took effect because it could inspire other states to pass their own immigration laws, creating an inconsistent patchwork of immigration regulations. Texas appealed the ruling to the conservative 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. (Texas Tribune / Axios / Associated Press / New York Times / Washington Post / ABC News)

3/ The House passed a temporary funding bill to avert a partial government shutdown and extend funding for one week, sending the measure to the Senate, where it is expected to pass. It’s the fourth time that Congress has been forced to pass a stop-gap funding measure to avoid a shutdown despite Biden and then-Speaker Kevin McCarthy agreeing on a 2024 fiscal year budget last May. Far-right Republicans in the House, however, revolted against a bipartisan spending deal and ousted McCarthy instead. (Washington Post / CNN / Bloomberg / Axios / Politico / NPR / New York Times / Wall Street Journal)

4/ Israeli troops opened fired on a large crowd of Palestinians waiting for humanitarian aid, killing more than 112 people and injuring at least 750 others. The convoy was bringing food to shelters for Palestinian civilians. Israeli troops reportedly opened fire as people pulled boxes of flour and canned goods off the trucks, causing the Palestinians to hide. After the shooting stopped, people went back to the trucks, and the soldiers opened fire again. Israel claimed that troops “didn’t open fire on a humanitarian aid convoy,” but also said the crowd “posed a threat” to soldiers “who responded to the threat with live fire.” Israel didn’t clarify what the threat was. The incident comes after the U.N. warned that a quarter of Gaza’s 2.3 million Palestinians face starvation. Biden, meanwhile, acknowledged that the shooting complicates negotiations in the hostage-for-ceasefire deal, saying “Probably not by Monday, but I’m hopeful.” Since the war began, at least 30,035 people have been killed in Gaza and 70,457 others have been injured. One U.S. official privately said the Biden administration is growing concerned that “Gaza is turning into Mogadishu.” (Associated Press / New York Times / NBC News / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / ABC News / CNN)

Day 1135: "Bait."

1/ Mitch McConnell will step down as the Senate Republican leader in November. The 82-year-old is the longest-serving Senate leader in history and has faced a series of recent health issues, including a concussion, a fall that required him to use a wheelchair periodically to get around, and at least two episodes where he momentarily froze in front of the media. Aides, however, said McConnell’s announcement was unrelated to his health. “One of life’s most under appreciated talents is to know when it’s time to move on to life’s next chapter,” McConnell said. “So I stand before you today […] to say that this will be my last term as Republican leader of the Senate.” McConnell’s legacy includes blocking Obama from filling a vacant Supreme Court seat in 2016 with Merrick Garland. The decision directly led to the confirmation of three Trump-nominated Supreme Court justices – Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett – creating the most right-leaning court in nearly a century, which went on to overturn Roe v. Wade in June 2022, ending the national right to abortion. McConnell also helped guide 234 Trump-appointed judicial nominees to the bench, shifting the balance of the judiciary towards conservatives for the next generation. McConnell has called the Garland decision “the single most consequential thing I’ve ever done.” [Editor’s note: So long snake!] (Associated Press / NPR / NBC News / Politico / Washington Post / New York Times / CNN / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal)

2/ The Supreme Court agreed to decide whether Trump is immune from prosecution for conspiring to overturn the 2020 election to remain in power. Arguments are set for the week of April 22 – a schedule that would permit a ruling with enough time for a trial before the November election – to consider an unanimous appeals court ruling, which rejected Trump’s assertion that he’s immune from federal prosecution for his efforts to overturn the 2020 election. Trump has repeatedly argued that his actions related to the Jan. 6 insurrection were part of his “official” duties as president and he therefore can’t be prosecuted without first being impeached and convicted by Congress. Since the Senate acquitted Trump of inciting the Jan. 6 insurrection, Trump has claimed he’s now subject to “double jeopardy.” He faces four felony counts brought by Special Counsel Jack Smith, including conspiring to defraud the U.S., conspiring to obstruct the formal certification in Congress of Biden’s victory, obstructing a congressional proceeding, and conspiracy against the right to vote. (Washington Post / Bloomberg / Axios / New York Times / CNBC / CNN / Politico / NPR / NBC News)

3/ A New York judge ordered Trump to pay his full $454 million civil fraud penalty before he can proceed with an appeal. Trump had offered to post a $100 million bond to temporarily delay the judgement, arguing that the lending ban in the Feb. 16 verdict made it “impossible” to secure a bond for the “complete” amount. Trump’s lawyers also noted that if he’s forced to put up a bond for the entire amount, “properties would likely need to be sold to raise capital under exigent circumstances” to raise the money. Judge Anil Singh, however, denied Trump’s request to delay paying the full amount while he appeals. Trump has until March 25 to post the full bond to pause collection so he can appeal, or he’ll be forced to pay the monetary penalty or risk having some of his assets seized. (CNBC / CNN / Associated Press / Washington Post / New York Times / Bloomberg)

4/ Biden and Trump won their party’s Michigan primary elections, but Biden faced opposition from voters over his support for Israel’s military campaign in Gaza. More than 100,000 voters – about 13% – marked “uncommitted” on their ballot in the Democratic primary as part of a pressure campaign to have Biden call for a permanent, unconditional ceasefire in Gaza. Biden won Michigan in 2020 by about 154,000 votes, while Trump carried the state in 2016 by about 11,000 votes. About 20,000 Democrats voted “uncommitted” in each of the last three Michigan Democratic presidential primaries. There are about 200,000 registered voters in Michigan who identified as Muslim, and about 300,000 identify as Middle Eastern or North African. (Politico / New York Times / Washington Post / NPR / Associated Press / CNN)

5/ Israel and Hamas both rejected Biden’s optimism that a hostage-for-ceasefire deal in Gaza could come as soon as next week. Hamas continues to demand that Israel agree to a permanent ceasefire and to withdraw all of its troops from Gaza before they’ll release the remaining hostages, while Israel has called the demand “delusional” and insists that it will continue fighting “until total victory.” More than 29,900 people have been killed in Gaza since the war began, with more than 70,300 injured, and thousands more missing and presumed dead. About 80% of the enclave’s population has been displaced. The U.N., meanwhile, warned that one in four people – about 575,000 people – in the Gaza Strip are “one step away” from starvation. (Associated Press / NBC News / CNN / New York Times / Bloomberg)

6/ Congress reached a deal to extend government funding for one week and avoid a partial shutdown. The agreement would extend funding for six agencies –Agriculture, Commerce, Justice and Science, Energy and Water, Interior, Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Transportation and Housing and Urban Development – until March 8. The deal also extends the deadline for the other six agencies – Defense, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Financial Services, State and Foreign Ops, and Legislative Branch – through March 22. Although there is bipartisan agreement, the House and Senate still need to pass the stopgap measure by Friday night. (Politico / CNN / Bloomberg / Axios / NBC News / Wall Street Journal)

7/ Senate Republicans blocked passage of a bill to protect access to in vitro fertilization nationwide following the Alabama Supreme Court’s ruling that frozen embryos are children. Sen. Tammy Duckworth brought up the bill under unanimous consent – a procedure that allows any one senator to object – but it was blocked by Cindy Hyde-Smith, who called the legislation “a vast overreach.” Senate Republicans characterized the bill – which states that people have a right to “access assisted reproductive technology,” that doctors have the right to provide it, and insurers the right to cover it – as “bait” while also claiming they support IVF. In the wake of the scuttled vote, the Biden campaign tied the Alabama ruling to the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade in June 2022, arguing that if “Trump supported IVF, he would demand Republicans protect access to it — but he hasn’t.” (Politico / New York Times / Axios)

Day 1134: "You can't do both."

1/ Biden suggested that a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas could begin as soon as next week, saying talks were “close but not done yet.” Negotiators are nearing an agreement that would halt Israel’s military operations in Gaza in exchange for the release of many of the more than 100 remaining hostages being held by Hamas. Biden also confirmed that Israel had agreed to pause fighting in Gaza during the Islamic fasting month of Ramadan, which begins in two weeks. He added that Israel risks losing “the overwhelming support of the vast majority of nations” if its “incredibly conservative” government continues down its current path. Israel, however, said it was “surprised” by Biden’s optimism of a ceasefire deal. Meanwhile, an active-duty member of the U.S. Air Force died after setting himself on fire outside the Israeli Embassy in Washington to protest Israel’s war in Gaza. Aaron Bushnell livestreamed his self-immolation on social media, declaring that he “will no longer be complicit in genocide […] I am about to engage in an extreme act of protest, but compared to what people have been experiencing in Palestine at the hands of their colonizers, it’s not extreme at all.” Bushnell repeatedly yelled “Free Palestine” until he collapsed to the ground. (Washington Post / New York Times / NBC News / Bloomberg / NPR / CNN / Axios / CNN)

  • ✏️ Inside the Democratic rebellion against Biden over the Gaza war. “Biden’s campaign has been surprised by the depth of anger and frustration over Israel. ‘We are getting hurt more than we anticipated’ by Biden’s support for Israel, one senior campaign adviser said.” (Reuters)

  • ✏️ Biden Faces ‘Uncommitted’ Vote in Michigan’s Primary. “A protest vote against President Biden’s policies on Israel will show the extent of Democratic divisions, while Donald Trump is favored to win again as Nikki Haley presses on.” (New York Times)

  • ✏️ Biden’s Stance on Israel-Hamas War Sows Reelection Risks. “Tuesday’s primary in the crucial swing state of Michigan may deliver a symbolic rebuke to the president’s handling of the Israel-Hamas war. Much of its sizable Arab-American population blames Biden for siding with Israel and failing to stop the fighting. Many younger voters and Black Americans agree, and there’s a grassroots push to vote ’uncommitted’ instead of endorsing the president, who has no serious challengers for the Democratic nomination.” (Bloomberg)

  • ‌✏️ In Michigan Primary, Voters Vent Anger at Biden Over Gaza. “Michigan is home to the largest percentage of Arab-Americans in the U.S., many concentrated in Dearborn, represented in Congress by Democratic Rep. Rashida Tlaib, the lone Palestinian-American member of Congress. She and the city’s Arab-American mayor have backed the ‘uncommitted’ protest.” (Wall Street Journal)

2/ Speaker Mike Johnson was “unequivocally” clear that he wants to avoid a government shutdown during an “intense” private meeting with Biden and other congressional leaders. Biden summoned the top four leaders of Congress to the White House with four days to go until federal funding partially runs out. “I think that it’s Congress’s responsibility to fund the government,” Biden said. “We’ve got to get about doing it. A shutdown would damage the economy significantly. I think we can all agree to that. And we need bipartisan solutions.” Johnson, who is facing pressure from Biden, Democrats, Senate Republicans, and the ultraconservative wing of the House, said he believed they could come to an agreement and that Republicans were working in “good faith” on spending negotiations. “We’re very optimistic,” he added, saying that preventing a shutdown was “our first responsibility.” Aid for Ukraine, however, remains in doubt with Johnson refusing to take up the $95 billion aid package that the Senate passed earlier this month. “The need is urgent,” Biden demanded. “The consequences of inaction every day in Ukraine are dire.” Johnson, nevertheless, claims the Senate’s package “does nothing” to secure the U.S.-Mexico border, saying: “The first priority of the country is our border and making sure it’s secure.” (Politico / Washington Post / Associated Press / Axios / ABC News / NBC News / New York Times / CNN / Wall Street Journal)

3/ The former FBI informant charged with lying about the Bidens will be held in custody indefinitely because he poses a significant flight risk. Federal prosecutors indicted Alexander Smirnov on Feb. 14 for falsely telling the FBI that a Ukrainian energy company had paid bribes to Biden and his son Hunter. The bribery claim was a central part of House Republicans’ impeachment inquiry into Biden. House Republicans, meanwhile, subpoenaed Attorney General Merrick Garland for records from special counsel Robert Hur’s investigation into Biden’s handling of classified documents. The chairmen of the House Oversight and Judiciary committees linked the request directly to their ongoing presidential impeachment inquiry, which centers on allegations that Biden and his family engaged in corrupt business practices. (Politico / NBC News / New York Times / Washington Post / CNBC / CNN / Axios / The Hill)

4/ Democrats in New York unveiled new congressional maps designed to help them retake the House majority this fall after voting down district lines proposed by a bipartisan redistricting committee. The map improves Democrats’ chances of picking up seats in two districts, but leaves the partisan makeup of 24 of the state’s 26 districts largely intact. (CNN / New York Times / Associated Press)

5/ Senate Democrats demanded a vote on a bill to federally protect in vitro fertilization and other fertility treatments. The Access to Family Building Act, introduced in January by Sen. Tammy Duckworth, who had her two daughters via IVF, would add federal protections for those seeking IVF and other reproductive assistance methods. Duckworth asked the Senate for unanimous consent, effectively daring Republicans to block its passage. Under unanimous consent, any one senator can object to moving the bill forward. In 2022, Duckworth tried to call for unanimous consent to pass the bill, but Republican Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith blocked it without explanation. “Donald Trump suddenly supports IVF after crowing and claiming and taking credit for the fall of Roe v. Wade. You can’t do both,” Duckworth said. “And so let’s find out tomorrow if any Republicans show up to block the unanimous consent […] If you truly care about the sanctity of families, and you’re genuinely, actually, honestly interested in protecting IVF then you need to show it by not blocking this bill on the floor.” (Politico / Axios / CBS News / The Hill / NPR)

6/ Republicans in the Tennessee House passed a bill to ban displaying pride flags in public school classrooms. The legislation on behalf of parents who were concerned about display of the pride flags the classroom. The bill would prohibit public schools from displaying flags other than the U.S. and Tennessee state flag. While the measure would allow schools to display the POW/MIA flag, a flag that represents a city or metropolitan government or an official school flag, among other exceptions, it does not explicitly prohibit display of the Nazi or Confederate flags in schools. The 70-24 vote sends the legislation to the state Senate, where a final vote could happen as early as this week. (The Tennessean / Associated Press / The Hill)

Day 1133: "Clarifying."

1/ Alabama lawmakers are considering “clarifying” legislation that would “protect” in vitro fertilization following the state Supreme Court’s ruling that embryos are children and protected under Alabama’s Wrongful Death of a Minor Act. With abortion and reproductive rights seen as a major liability for Republicans in 2024, the National Republican Senatorial Committee released talking points instructing Republicans to voice support for the procedure and distance themselves from the ruling. The state’s Republican attorney general said he “has no intention of using the recent Alabama Supreme Court decision as a basis for prosecuting IVF families or providers.” And, Trump called on the Alabama legislature to “act quickly to find an immediate solution to preserve the availability of IVF in Alabama” because Republicans “should always be on the side of the Miracle of Life — and the side of Mothers, Fathers, and their Beautiful Babies.” However, 125 House Republicans — including Speaker Mike Johnson — have cosponsored the “Life at Conception Act,” which clarifies that a “human being” includes “all stages of life, including the moment of fertilization, cloning, or other moment at which an individual member of the human species comes into being.” The bill doesn’t include an exception for in vitro fertilization. Democrats, meanwhile, accused Trump and the Republicans of trying to divert attention away from the role they played in overturning Roe v. Wade. The House Democrats’ main super PAC promised to pour money into attacking Republicans on fertility treatments. (New York Times / CNN / NBC News / Politico / Business Insider / Axios / Politico)

2/ A Republican Oklahoma state senator called the LGBTQ+ community “filth” following the death of 16-year-old nonbinary student Nex Benedict, who died after a fight in a high school bathroom. “We are a Republican state,” Tom Woods said at a legislative forum. “I’m going to vote my district. I’m going to vote my values. And we don’t want that in the state of Oklahoma […] I represent a constituency that doesn’t want that filth in Oklahoma.” Separately, the Oklahoma school superintendent, Ryan Walters, claimed that “radical leftists” had created a narrative about Nex’s death that “hasn’t been true.” Walters added: “There’s not multiple genders. There’s two. That’s how God created us,” saying he didn’t believe that nonbinary or transgender people exist. Transgender students in the school district said that Walters’ rhetoric has been seen by their classmates as permission to harass and bully them at school. In bodycam footage from an interview with Nex at the hospital following the Feb. 7 attack at the school, Nex described how they “got jumped” and “blacked out” while being beaten on the floor of the bathroom by three girls who had previously mocked Nex and their friends “because of the way that we dress.” School district officials said the students involved were in the bathroom for less than two minutes and all of the students “walked under their own power” to the nurse and assistant principal’s office after the fight. Nex died the next day. (Salon / The Independent / The Oklahoman / HuffPost / NBC News / New York Times / Mother Jones / New York Times)

3/ Trump claimed “the Black people” like him because they can relate to his criminal prosecutions and mug shot. After repeatedly citing the 91 felony charges he faces, including racketeering, conspiracy to obstruct justice and falsifying business records, Trump said: “A lot of people said that that’s why the Black people like me, because they have been hurt so badly and discriminated against. And they actually viewed me as I’m being discriminated against.” In a speech to the Black Conservative Federation, Trump continued: “When I did the mug shot in Atlanta, that mug shot is number one,” adding the Black population “embraced it more than anyone else […] “I’m being indicted for you, the Black population.” The Biden campaign, meanwhile, called Trump an “anti-Black tyrant” and “the proud poster boy for modern racism.” (Washington Post / ABC News / Associated Press / New York Times / NBC News / CNN)

  • 👑 “My ultimate and absolute revenge”: Trump gives chilling CPAC speech on presidential agenda. “Trump styled himself as a ‘proud political dissident’ and promised ‘judgment day’ for political opponents in an address on Saturday that offered a chilling vision of a democracy in imminent peril.” (The Guardian)

  • 👑 Trump’s CPAC speech showed clear signs of major cognitive decline. Trump claimed that America is on a “fast track to hell” under Biden and the Democrats and that “If crooked Joe Biden and his thugs win in 2024, the worst is yet to come. Our country will sink to levels that are unimaginable.” (Salon)

  • 👑 Trump rambles his way through incoherent Nashville speech. “They want you to say what they want you, what they want to have you say. And we’re not gonna let that happen.” (HuffPost)

  • 👑 Inside Trump’s potential second-term agenda. From nationwide abortion bans to classroom culture wars, assaults on climate science and political weaponization of the military, his return to the White House could make Trump 1.0 seem tame. (Politico)

  • 👑 At CPAC, Trump Invokes Clashing Visions of America’s Future. “He used his speech to focus on a general-election contest between him and President Biden, not once mentioning his main Republican rival, Nikki Haley.” (New York Times)

  • 👑 Dark Trump at CPAC: “Biden’s fast track to hell.” (Axios)

  • Nazis mingle openly at CPAC, spreading antisemitic conspiracy theories and finding allies. “The presence of these extremists has been a persistent issue at CPAC, and in previous years conference organizers have ejected well-known Nazis and white supremacists such as Nick Fuentes.” (NBC News)

4/ Trump appealed the $464 million civil fraud judgment against him in his New York civil fraud case. Trump’s appeal, however, won’t automatically halt enforcement of the judgment: he’ll need to post bond to cover the $364 million and an additional roughly $100 million in interest he was ordered to pay to prevent the New York attorney general’s office from collecting the $464 million he owes. The fine increases by nearly $112,000 per day until he pays. Trump also faces an $83.3 million judgment in an unrelated defamation case and, according to a recent analysis of his finances, he doesn’t have enough cash on hand to cover it all himself. (Associated Press / CNN / Axios / New York Times / CBS News / NBC News / CNBC / Bloomberg)

  • The Manhattan district attorney’s office asked for a gag order in Trump’s criminal case related to hush money payments made during his 2016 presidential campaign. The request – made before the trial even started – noted that Trump’s “longstanding history of attacking witnesses, investigators, prosecutors, judges, and others involved in legal proceedings against him.” The trial is scheduled to begin on March 25. Trump is accused of 34 felonies. (New York Times)

✏️ Notables.

  1. Trump won South Carolina’s Republican primary, beating Nikki Haley in her home state. Trump has now won every contest that’s counted for Republican delegates, adding to previous wins in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Trump has collected 110 delegates so far, while Haley has won 20. The first candidate to win 1,215 delegates will win the Republican presidential nomination. (Associated Press / NPR / Politico)

  2. The chair of the Republican National Committee will step down following Trump’s call for a new RNC leader. Ronna McDaniel will leave on March 8 – days after Super Tuesday. Trump had criticized the RNC for its decision to hold primary debates, which he refused to appear is. Trump said he wants Michael Whatley to be RNC chair and Lara Trump – his daughter-in-law – to be RNC co-chair. (Politico / NPR / Associated Press)

  3. At least one member of the Republican National Committee is trying to stop the party from paying Trump’s legal bills. The effort to keep committee neutral in the primary and to not spend committee funds on Trump’s legal bills comes after Trump called for the RNC’s current leaders to be replaced, and instead install one of his senior campaign advisors and his daughter-in-law in top roles. Lara Trump, meanwhile, suggested that Republicans voters would support the committee paying Trump’s legal bills. (Associated Press / New York Times)

  4. Hungary’s parliament approved Sweden’s bid to join NATO, ending the Nordic country’s more than 200-year history of military non-alignment. Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, widely seen as the most pro-Putin leader in the European Union, withheld approval of Sweden’s bid for more than 600 days. That ended after Sweden agreed to send Hungary fighter jets. (Axios / Politico / NPR / New York Times)

  5. The Federal Trade Commission sued to block the $24.6 billion merger of the country’s two largest supermarket chains. The FTC argues that Kroger’s purchase of Albertsons – its biggest rival – would lead to higher prices, lower-quality products and services, and “eliminate fierce competition” for both shoppers and workers. (NPR / CNN / Axios)

  6. House Republicans’ effort to impeach Biden appears to have collapsed after an FBI informant admitted that Russian intelligence was involved in his false claims about the Biden family. “I don’t see it going anywhere substantive,” one House Republican said, adding that there “aren’t close to enough” GOP votes to impeach Biden. (Axios / Politico)

⏩ Notably next: The Supreme Court still hasn’t acted on cases that could determine whether Trump can be kicked off the Colorado primary ballot or can further delay his election interference trial. (NBC News)

Day 1129: "That's unfortunate."

1/ A third Alabama fertility clinic stopped its vitro fertilization program following the state Supreme Court ruling that frozen embryos are children. By classifying “cryopreserved embryos” as children, the ruling opens families, clinics, and doctors up to wrongful death lawsuits. Biden called the ruling “a direct result of the overturning of Roe v. Wade,” adding: “The disregard for women’s ability to make these decisions for themselves and their families is outrageous and unacceptable.” The Biden campaign directly blamed Trump for the state court’s ruling, saying “What is happening in Alabama right now is only possible because Donald Trump’s Supreme Court justices overturned Roe v. Wade.” Tim Scott, who is among Trump’s possible picks for VP, dodged a question about the ruling, saying “ I haven’t studied the issue,” while Nikki Haley, who initially said she agreed that “embryos are babies,” she said she didn’t support the court’s decision. Alabama Sen. Tommy Tuberville, meanwhile, acknowledged that the situation is “hard” for women, and when asked what he would say to women who won’t have access to IVF treatment, he replied: “That’s unfortunate.” (CNN / Politico / NBC News / Axios)

  • ✨ Why should I care? As an individual, this ruling may seem distant, especially if IVF isn’t a personal concern. However, its implications reach far beyond fertility clinics, and reflects a shift in how legal systems intersect with medical ethics and personal choices. If the core of American democratic values lies in the principles of liberty, personal autonomy, and the pursuit of happiness, then this ruling challenges those values by imposing legal definitions that restrict individual choices in matters of reproductive health. Moreover, it sets a precedent that could extend beyond Alabama’s borders, influencing policies in other states and reshaping the national discourse on reproductive rights and healthcare. Today, it’s IVF treatments; tomorrow, it might be another aspect of healthcare or personal liberty.

  • Unsettled questions: What happens if patients are no longer able or willing to pay embryo storage fees? What if stored embryos are damaged as a result of a freezer malfunction? What happens if an embryo transfer results in a miscarriage?

2/ Biden suggested that the current Republicans in Congress are “worse” than the “real racists” he served with as a senator in the 1970s, including segregationist Strom Thurmond. Biden said Thurmond did “terrible things,” but “at least you could work with some of these guys.” Biden added that the current generation of Republicans have “become a party of chaos and division […] These guys do not believe in basic democratic principles.” The comments come as Speaker Mike Johnson and House Republicans have continued to block an aid package for Ukraine and Israel, which already passed the Senate. Johnson, meanwhile, called Biden’s remarks “outrageous.” Biden also took aim at Trump for comparing his legal problems to the persecution of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who died in jail last week. “Where the hell does this come from? If I stood here 10-15 years ago you all would have thought that I should be committed,” Biden continued, adding that Trump’s comment – “It is a form of Navalny [… It is a form of communism, of fascism” – was “astounding.” (Washington Post / Axios / New York Times / NBC News / ABC News / CNN)

3/ A federal appeals court revoked a moratorium on new coal mine leasing on public lands. The leasing moratorium — originally enacted in 2016 by then-Interior Secretary Sally Jewell as part of a strategy to address climate change — didn’t halt mining, but instead prohibited federal lease sales. However, a year later then-Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke rescinded Jewell’s decision and ordered the resumption of federal coal leasing. A court then reinstated the ban in 2022. And finally, a three judge panel in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals tossed the moratorium, saying the case was moot because Biden administration Interior Secretary Deb Haaland had already revoked the Zinke order to speed up energy permitting. The judges noted that a “de facto moratorium” appears to be in now since lease sales have dropped sharply over the past decade after many electric utilities switched to less polluting sources of energy generation. More than 260 million tons of coal – about half of the nation’s total – was mined on federal land in 2022. More than 400 million tons of coal were mined from federal lands in 2014. It’s not clear how Biden will respond to the ruling or how soon new federal leasing could resume. [Editor’s note: If this is confusing, you are not alone! This may be the most in the weeds WTFJHT blurb yet!] (Associated Press / NPR / The Hill)

4/ New York Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron denied Trump’s request to delay paying $453.5 million in fines stemming from his decade-long scheme to inflate the value of assets to obtain more favorable loan and insurance terms. Trump’s lawyer asked for a month-long delay in enforcement of the civil fraud judgment, saying it would “allow for an orderly post-Judgment process, particularly given the magnitude of Judgment.” Engoron replied that Trump’s attorney had “failed to explain, much less justify, any basis for a stay,” denying Trump’s request to pause enforcement of his ruling. Trump now has 30 days to post bond and appeal the ruling. (CBS News / Washington Post / Axios / NBC News / ABC News)

Day 1128: "The type of chaos that we expected."

1/ The Alabama Supreme Court ruled that frozen embryos created through in vitro fertilization are “children” under the state’s Wrongful Death of a Minor Act. The Alabama ruling permits three couples to sue for wrongful death after their frozen embryos were destroyed in an accident at a fertility clinic. The state Supreme Court ruled that “unborn children are ‘children,’” including “extrauterine children,” and covered under the state’s Wrongful Death of a Minor law. “Even before birth, all human beings have the image of God, and their lives cannot be destroyed without effacing his glory,” Chief Justice Tom Parker wrote. The court’s ruling threatens the entire IVF industry in the state since the standard medical procedure during treatment is to extract multiple eggs from a woman, fertilize them to create embryos, transfer one embryo into the uterus in order to maximize the chances of successful implantation, and then store the remaining embryos that were genetically normal. The White House press secretary said the Alabama ruling was “exactly the type of chaos that we expected when the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade and paved the way for politicians to dictate some of the most personal decisions families can make.” Meanwhile, the University of Alabama at Birmingham health system paused all IVF procedures following the court decision due to fear of criminal prosecution and lawsuits. (CNN / Washington Post / Associated Press / New York Times / NPR / NBC News / AL.com)

2/ Trump privately told advisers and allies that he supports a 16-week national abortion ban, but wants to wait until after he secures the Republican presidential nomination to discuss his views publicly. “Know what I like about 16?” Trump reportedly told a source. “It’s even. It’s four months.” Trump, however, said he does support three exceptions: rape, incest, or to save the life of the mother. The Trump campaign, meanwhile, called the reporting “fake news,” but declined to say what, if any, national-level abortion policy Trump does support. (New York Times / Politico / NBC News / Associated Press)

  • Project 2025: An influential think tank close to Trump is developing plans to infuse Christian nationalist ideas in his administration should he return to power. “Spearheading the effort is Russell Vought, president of The Center for Renewing America, part of a conservative consortium preparing for Trump’s return to power.” (Politico)

3/ The former FBI informant charged with lying about the Bidens has “extensive and extremely recent” contacts with Russian intelligence agencies. Federal prosecutors said that Alexander Smirnov admitted that “officials associated with Russian intelligence were involved in passing a story” about Hunter Biden. Smirnov was arrested and charged with making a false statement and creating a false and fictitious record. Smirnov’s claims were a key part of the Republican impeachment inquiry into Biden. Democrats have called for an end to the probe after the Smirnov indictment, but Republicans have instead claimed their case “is not reliant” on the false claims and instead they would continue to “follow the facts.” Republicans, meanwhile, deleted references to the discredited FBI informant in a letter they sent to a potential witness in their impeachment inquiry. (Associated Press / NBC News / NPR / CBS News / CNN)

  • 10 Republicans who treated the Biden bribery claim like gospel: Rep. Jim Jordan, Pat Fallon, Elise Stefanik, Andrew Clyde, Tim Burchett, Vivek Ramaswamy, Trump, Marjorie Taylor Greene, Anna Paulina Luna, and Nancy Mace. (Washington Post)

4/ Biden canceled an additional $1.2 billion in student loan debt for about 153,000 borrowers. The loan forgiveness covers borrowers who are enrolled in Biden’s loan repayment program (the Saving on a Valuable Education plan), initially borrowed $12,000 or less, and have been repaying their debt for at least 10 years. With the latest round of relief, Biden has canceled $138 billion of student debt for nearly 3.9 million borrowers since taking office. (NPR / New York Times / Politico / Washington Post / CNN)

poll/ 49% of voters said they support Biden over Trump (45%) in a hypothetical 2024 presidential matchup. 93% of Democrats support Biden and 91% of Republicans support Trump, while independents are divided, with 44% supporting Biden and 42% supporting Trump. (Quinnipiac)

Day 1127: "Wishful and irresponsible."

1/ For the third time, the U.S. vetoed a United Nations Security Council resolution calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza. The vote in the 15-member Security Council was 13 in favor with the U.S. against. The U.K. abstained from voting. The U.S. ambassador to the U.N. called the resolution “wishful and irresponsible,” adding that “demanding an immediate, unconditional ceasefire without an agreement requiring Hamas to release the hostages will not bring about a durable peace.” The U.S., meanwhile, proposed its own resolution, which instead calls for a “temporary ceasefire” linked to the release of hostages held by Hamas. (NPR / CNN / Washington Post / New York Times / NBC News / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal / Associated Press)

2/ The Biden administration is preparing “major sanctions” against Russia in response to the death of opposition leader Alexei Navalny. Russia claims that Navalny lost consciousness and died after taking a walk in the Arctic prison, where he was serving a combined prison sentence of more than 30 years on charges of extremism and fraud that he denied. “Whatever story the Russian government decides to tell the world, it’s clear that President Putin and his government are responsible for Mr. Navalny’s death,” National Security Communications Adviser John Kirby said. The “substantial package” of financial penalties will “come on the eve of the two-year anniversary of the Ukraine war,” National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan added. Biden, meanwhile, said “Make no mistake: Putin is responsible for Navalny’s death.” (Politico / ABC News / Bloomberg / Associated Press / NBC News / New York Times / NBC News)

3/ The Supreme Court declined to take up a case challenging an admissions policy aimed at encouraging diversity at a Virginia high school. Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, often ranked the best high school in the country, changed its admissions process in 2020 to boost racial diversity at the school. The new process ended the application fee, allotted a number of seats proportionally among the district’s middle schools, removed standardized tests, and shifted to a more holistic evaluation based on grades, a problem-solving essay and “experience factors,” among other measures. The effect on the first class admitted under the new process increased the percentage of Black students from 1% to 7% and Hispanic students from 3% to 11%. Asian American representation decreased from 73% to 54%. A group of parents, many of them Asian American, filed a lawsuit against the district, alleging that the new process was discriminatory months after the court overturned decades of precedent and effectively ended affirmative action programs in higher education. (Washington Post / ABC News / New York Times / Axios / Associated Press / NBC News / Wall Street Journal)

4/ An FBI informant was indicted on two counts for providing agents allegedly false information about Biden and his son Hunter Biden during the 2020 presidential campaign. A federal grand jury indicted Alexander Smirnov with making a false statement and creating a false and fictitious record that Biden and his son each sought $5 million bribes from a Ukrainian company. Congressional Republicans, notably James Comer and Jim Jordan, have repeatedly praised Smirnov as “credible” and put his uncorroborated claims at the center of their impeachment inquiry into Biden. (Associated Press / NBC News / New York Times / Washington Post / ABC News / CNN)

5/ A Manhattan judge ordered Trump to pay $355 million (plus interest) and barred him from serving in a top role of any New York company for three years for fraudulently inflating the values of his properties. Justice Arthur Engoron concluded that Trump, his sons, and two former top finance executives were civilly liable for falsifying records, issuing false documents, and related conspiracy offenses. Engoron also ordered Eric Trump and Trump Jr. to pay $4 million and blocked them from serving as an officer or director for any New York corporation for two years. The company’s former longtime chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg was ordered to pay $1 million. New York Attorney General Letitia James said that with pre-judgment interest, the judgment totals over $450 million. Engoron criticized Trump and the defendants for refusing to admit wrongdoing for years, saying “Their complete lack of contrition and remorse borders on pathological.” Trump, meanwhile, announced the launch of a line of $399 Trump-branded sneakers. (NBC News / Associated Press / New York Times / Washington Post / CNN / Wall Street Journal / Bloomberg / NBC News / Associated Press)

Day 1122: "Unprecedented stress."

1/ The first of Trump’s four criminal trials will start March 25. Justice Juan Merchan set the trial date after denying Trump’s attempt to dismiss the 34 felony charges, which center on allegations that Trump falsified business records to cover up hush money payments to Stormy Daniels during the 2016 presidential election. Trump’s lawyer, meanwhile, “strenuously” objected to the trial date, claiming the decision is “election interference” because “Trump is going to now spend the next two months working on this trial instead of out on the campaign trail running for president.” The trial is expected to last six weeks and Trump will be required to attend his Manhattan criminal trial in person. (Politico / New York Times / NBC News / NPR / CNBC / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / Axios / Associated Press)

2/ The district attorney overseeing Trump’s election interference case in Georgia took the stand to defend her romantic relationship with the top special prosecutor in the case. Trump claimed that Fani Willis’s relationship with Nathan Wade created a conflict of interest that warrants removing her from the proceedings. Both Willis and Wade acknowledged that they had a personal relationship, but denied any wrongdoing. Wade testified that their relationship began in early 2022 — after he was hired for the case in Nov. 2021 — and ended in summer 2023. A former friend of Willis’s, however, testified that the relationship began in 2019. (New York Times / Washington Post / CNN / NBC News)

3/ Israel Defense Forces raided the main hospital in southern Gaza – a site where thousands of Palestinians have been using as a shelter. The IDF said it was conducting an operation to recover the bodies of hostages at Nasser Hospital, the largest functioning hospital in the enclave. Elsewhere, the Biden Administration and “a small group of Middle East partners” have been working on a “comprehensive plan” for durable peace between Israel and the Palestinians, which would include a pathway to a Palestinian state. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, nevertheless, warned the U.S. against recognizing a Palestinian state – whether directly or indirectly – saying it “would be a prize for those who planned and orchestrated the Oct. 7 massacre.” The State Department is currently reviewing policy options on possible U.S. and international recognition of a Palestinian state after the war in Gaza. Netanyahu, meanwhile, vowed to forge ahead with a “powerful” operation in Rafah where 1.1 million Palestinians currently reside, which the the Biden administration said it wouldn’t support under any circumstances. (CNN / NBC News / Axios / Washington Post / Associated Press / Wall Street Journal / New York Times)

4/ Joe Manchin – who still hasn’t said whether he’ll launch a third party bid for president – suggested Mitt Romney would be his hypothetical running mate. Manchin also said he would consider Rob Portman, the moderate former Republican senator from Ohio, as a running mate. Manchin made the comment as part of his “listening tour.” When asked if he’s ruled out running for president, Manchin replied: “Third party run, everything is on the table. Nothing’s off the table. I’m still evaluating all that. Super Tuesday [March 5] pretty much would be a deadline that tells you where you are.” (NBC News / Politico)

5/ Up to half of the Amazon rainforest may cross a tipping point as soon as 2050 as “unprecedented stress” from climate change, deforestation, drought, fire, and rising temperatures threaten the ecosystem. While a catastrophic collapse of the entire forest is unlikely this century, by mid-century 10% to 47% of the Amazon will be exposed to stressors that could lead to a rapid transition from a rainforest to a savannah. The Amazon is home to more than 10% of Earth’s biodiversity and holds up to 20 years’ worth of global carbon dioxide emissions. The collapse of part or all of the rainforest would release the decades worth of global emissions into the atmosphere. Further, those same trees pump huge amounts of water into the atmosphere, which contributes up to 50% of rainfall and moisture supply in the region. (Axios / New York Times / The Guardian / Earth.org / Nature)

Day 1121: "Destabilizing."

1/ Democrats won a special election and flipped George Santos’ seat in the House. Tom Suozzi defeated Republican Mazi Pilip to take the seat vacated by Santos, who was indicted on a charge of fraud and then expelled from Congress. When Suozzi is sworn in, Republicans will control 219 seats and Democrats will control 213 – meaning Republicans will only be able to lose two votes to pass legislation on party-line votes if all members are present and voting. After New York’s 3rd district flipped from red to blue, Santos texted a group chat with the top New York Republicans in the House: “I hope you guys are happy with this dismal performance and your 10 million for futile Bull Shit cost the party. I look very forward to most of you losing due to your absolute hate filled campaign to remove me from Congress arbitrarily. Now go tell the Republicans Base what you fucking idiots did and good luck raising money next quarter.” (Associated Press / Washington Post / Politico / New York Times / CNN / Daily Beast / Semafor)

2/ House Republicans voted to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas on their second try by a single vote. The vote was 214-213, with three Republicans voting against the impeachment, which alleges that Mayorkas intentionally violated federal immigration laws and blocked congressional oversight of the Department of Homeland Security. Mayorkas is the first cabinet member to be impeached since William Belknap, secretary of war under Ulysses S. Grant, in 1876. Mayorkas is all but certain to be acquitted by the Democratic-led Senate. (New York Times / Washington Post / Axios / CNN / Associated Press / NPR / NBC News)

3/ The head of the House Intelligence Committee warned of a “serious national security threat” and called on Biden to “declassify all information” related to it. While Mike Turner did not provide additional public details, the threat is reportedly related to Russia wanting to put a nuclear weapon into space. Multiple sources familiar with the intelligence characterized it as “very sensitive,” “highly concerning and destabilizing.” Officials also said the capability was still under development, and Russia had not deployed it, yet. In an email to members of Congress, Turner said his committee had “identified an urgent matter with regard to a destabilizing foreign military capability” that should be known by all lawmakers. He encouraged them to come to a SCIF to review the intelligence. Biden was made aware of the threat last week and directed national security adviser Jake Sullivan to offer a briefing to senior lawmakers. The top Democrat on the Intelligence Committee said the classified information is “significant,” but “not a cause for panic.” White House officials also confirmed that the matter is “serious” but that there are ways to “contain” the threat without triggering mass panic. And, House Speaker Mike Johnson added: “We just want to assure everyone, steady hands are at the wheel. We’re working on it and there’s no need for alarm.” Johnson, nevertheless, announced the House would start its two-week recess early. Members return on Feb. 28 and a partial government shutdown is scheduled to begin Mar. 1. (NBC News / Washington Post / Politico / ABC News / New York Times / CNN / The Guardian / Associated Press / CBS News)

Day 1120: "It will be devastating."

1/ The Senate approved $95 billion in aid to Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan by a 70-29 vote. Despite efforts by Trump, hard-right Republicans, and House Speaker Mike Johnson to kill the legislation, Senate Republican support for the deal increased overnight, with 22 Republican senators voting in favor of the package. Hours before the vote, Johnson preemptively rejected the legislation and said he would not bring the Senate package to the House floor for a vote. Further, many hard-right Republicans have threatened to oust Johnson if he brings the legislation up in the House. Democrats, however, are limited in their options to bring the legislation to the floor: It would require a bipartisan group of lawmakers getting 218 members to sign on to a discharge petition to circumvent Republican leadership and force a floor vote. Discharge petitions rarely succeed. Biden, meanwhile, called for House Republicans to pass the aid package, saying: “Supporting this bill is standing up to Putin. We can’t walk away now. That’s what Putin is betting on.” (Politico / Washington Post / New York Times / NPR / Associated Press / NBC News / CNN / Bloomberg)

2/ The Supreme Court gave special counsel Jack Smith one week to respond to Trump’s request to delay his federal criminal election subversion trial. Trump is appealing a court ruling that unanimously rejected his claim that he’s absolutely immune from criminal charges for actions he took while in office. Smith, however, has already urged the Supreme Court to resolve the immunity dispute quickly so that Trump’s trial, originally set for March 4, can begin later this year, but the court’s timing suggests that it might take its time reviewing the broader questions related to the issue of immunity. (Politico / New York Times / CNBC / Bloomberg)

  • All 4 of Trump’s criminal cases reach inflection points this week: “In Trump’s New York case, a judge is slated to finalize the timetable for his trial on charges that he falsified business records to cover up an affair with a porn star; In his Washington, D.C., case, the Supreme Court may signal whether it will quickly resolve Trump’s claim that he is “immune” from federal charges; In his Georgia case, where Trump is also facing state charges related to the 2020 election, a judge has scheduled a Thursday hearing to examine an effort by Trump and several co-defendants to disqualify the prosecutors; And in his Florida case, a judge is weighing Trump’s latest motion to postpone key deadlines.” (Politico)

3/ Inflation eased in January, slowing from 3.4% to 3.1% on a 12-month basis. Excluding food and fuel, “core” prices were flat at 3.9% compared with December. On a monthly basis, CPI rose by 0.3% from December to January, up from a 0.2% increase the previous month. Economists, however, were expecting inflation to ease to 0.2% from December (2.9% annually). The report puts pressure on the Federal Reserve to keep interest rates higher for longer as officials wait for further evidence that inflation is headed back to their 2% target. (Axios / Associated Press / Politico / Washington Post / New York Times / CNN / NBC News / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal / CNBC)

4/ More than 125 million Americans will be exposed to unhealthy levels of air pollution by 2054 as a result of climate change, according to a new report. After decades of success reining in pollution from smokestacks and tailpipes thanks to regulations like the 1970 Clean Air Act, climate change-related events are expected to cause a steady deterioration in U.S. air quality through 2054. The study finds that extreme heat, drought, and wildfires are increasing the prevalence of both tropospheric ozone and particulate matter, commonly referred to as PM2.5. Currently, about 83 million Americans – 1 in 4! – are already exposed to “unhealthy” air quality every year. But, by 2054 more than 125 million Americans will be exposed to at least one day of “unhealthy” air quality each year, 11 million will face at least one day of “very unhealthy” air quality, and two million will be exposed to at least one day of “hazardous” air quality. (The Verge / Axios / New York Times / CBS News)

5/ The Atlantic Ocean’s currents are heading towards a “tipping point” that would be “bad news for the climate system and humanity.” The Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation carries warm water from the tropics to the North Atlantic, where it cools, becomes saltier and sinks deep into the ocean, before sending the colder water south along the ocean floor. But, as human-caused global heating melts the Greenland ice sheet, fresh water is released into the North Atlantic, diluting the dense and salty sea, which slows the AMOC. The research suggests that once the system passes its tipping point, Western Europe would start to cool down by as much as 5.4 degrees Fahrenheit every decade, sea levels in the North Atlantic would surge by around 3.3 feet, the southern hemisphere would become warmer, the bottom of the ocean would run short on oxygen, and the Amazon’s wet and dry seasons could flip (potentially pushing the already weakened rainforest past its own tipping point). The AMOC has declined 15% since 1950 and is in its weakest state in more than a millennium, according to past research. “The temperature, sea level and precipitation changes will severely affect society, and the climate shifts are unstoppable on human time scales,” the authors of the latest study warn. “What surprised us was the rate at which tipping occurs. It will be devastating.” (CNN / The Guardian / Scientific American / Washington Post / Common Dreams)

Day 1119: "Appalling and unhinged."

1/ Trump said he would “encourage” Russia to “do whatever the hell they want” to NATO countries that were “delinquent” in meeting the group’s guidelines for defense spending. Trump, recounting an exchange from his time in office with the leader of a “big country” who asked whether it would be protected if Russia attacked, said: “You didn’t pay. You’re delinquent […] No, I would not protect you. In fact, I would encourage them to do whatever the hell they want.” The White House called Trump’s comments “appalling and unhinged,” adding that “encouraging invasions of our closest allies by murderous regimes […] endangers American national security, global stability and our economy at home.” NATO’s secretary-general meanwhile, said that “any suggestion that allies will not defend each other undermines all of our security, including that of the U.S., and puts American and European soldiers at increased risk.” After Russia annexed the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine in 2014, NATO countries pledged to spend 2% of their economic output on defense. So far, only 11 of the 31 member countries have hit that target. (NBC News / Washington Post / NPR / New York Times / BBC / Associated Press / USA Today / The Guardian / Bloomberg / Politico / CNN / CNBC)

2/ More than a dozen Republicans ignored Trump and voted to forward on a bill to send $95 billion in aid to Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan. The vote was 67 to 27, with 18 Republicans voting to advance the foreign aid package. Last week, Republicans rejected a bipartisan version of the bill, which included border policy changes they had demanded, after Trump campaigned against the legislation for fear it could be seen as a win for Biden. It’s unclear, however, if House Speaker Mike Johnson would take up the legislation if it passes the Senate. (CNN / Politico / Washington Post)

3/ Despite Biden warning Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that a military operation in Rafah “should not proceed” without a “credible and executable” plan to protect the more than 1 million people sheltering there, Israel launched a “wave” of airstrikes that killed dozens of people, including children. The operation freed two hostages, and Netanyahu vowed to use “continued military pressure” to return the remaining hostages. (Associated Press / Washington Post / New York Times / Politico / CNN / NBC News / NPR)

4/ Biden – in private – has called Benjamin Netanyahu an “asshole,” saying the prime minister is impossible to deal with and the campaign in Gaza is “over the top.” So far, Biden has stopped short of directly criticizing Netanyahu in public and the White House has rejected calls to withhold military aid to Israel or impose conditions on it, saying that would only embolden Hamas. In private, however, Biden has suggested that “this guy” wants the war to drag on so he can remain in power, noting Netanyahu’s failure to shift tactics in Gaza and the repeated rejections of basic U.S. demands, like allowing, food, water, and medicine into Gaza. (NBC News / CNN / Washington Post)

5/ Trump asked the Supreme Court to block a lower court ruling that rejected his claim that he’s absolutely immune from criminal charges for attempting to overturn the 2020 election. While two lower courts have rejected Trump’s claim of total immunity, Trump insisted that presidents are shielded from prosecution and that a trial would “radically disrupt” his reelection bid. Nevertheless, Trump warned that if a president can be prosecuted for actions taken while in office “such prosecutions will recur and become increasingly common, ushering in destructive cycles of recrimination,” adding that “Without immunity from criminal prosecution, the Presidency as we know it will cease to exist.” Trump was charged by special counsel Jack Smith with four counts in connection with his efforts to overturn the 2020 election. U.S. District Judge Tanya S. Chutkan has paused proceedings and the scheduled March 4 trial date until Trump’s appeal is resolved. (NBC News / NPR / Washington Post / New York Times)

Day 1115: "A good first step."

1/ The Senate advanced a $95 billion aid package for Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan after Republicans rejected a version of the bill that included the border policy changes they had demanded. The vote of 67-32 allows the Senate to begin consideration of the legislation, which would provide $60.1 billion for Ukraine, $14.1 billion for Israel, and $10 billion in humanitarian aid for civilians in global conflicts. The bill, however, still faces an uncertain future, and it’s unclear if the final package will clear the 60-vote threshold in Democratic-led Senate. It’s also expected to be even more difficult to win approval in the Republican-controlled House. Nevertheless, Chuck Schumer described the vote as a “good first step,” adding: “Failure to pass this bill would only embolden autocrats like Putin and Xi, who want nothing more than America’s decline.” (NBC News / Politico / Washington Post / New York Times / Wall Street Journal / Axios)

2/ The EPA set strict, new limits on one of the deadliest types of air pollution. The new rules will limit the annual amount of fine particulate matter – also called PM2.5 – from factories, power plants, and other industrial facilities from 12 micrograms per cubic meter to 9. The new standards – the EPA’s first tightening of the rules since 2012 – are expected to prevent up to 4,500 premature deaths and avoid around 800,000 cases of asthma symptoms. (NPR / New York Times / CNN / Washington Post)

3/ The special counsel examining Biden’s handling of classified documents recommended “no criminal charges,” but did find evidence that Biden had “willfully retained and disclosed classified materials.” The report from special counsel Robert Hur said that while Biden’s practices “present serious risks to national security,” he wouldn’t recommend charges because Biden presents as a “sympathetic, well-meaning elderly man with a poor memory.” The report also made clear the “material distinctions” between a theoretical case against Biden and the pending case against Trump for his handling of classified documents. “Unlike the evidence involving Mr. Biden, the allegations set forth in the indictment of Mr. Trump, if proven, would present serious aggravating factors,” Hur writes. “Most notably, after being given multiple chances to return classified documents and avoid prosecution, Mr. Trump allegedly did the opposite.” (Washington Post / Associated Press / New York Times / NBC News / CNN / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal)

4/ The FCC outlawed unwanted robocalls generated by artificial intelligence. In a unanimous ruling, the FCC declared that calls made with AI-generated voices are “artificial” under the 1991 Telephone Consumer Protection Act, which restricts marketing calls that use artificial and prerecorded voice messages. The move follows a January incident where thousands of voters in New Hampshire received an unsolicited robocall from a faked voice of Biden that instructed voters to abstain from voting in the first primary of the election season. (CNN / Associated Press / New York Times / Wall Street Journal / Axios)

5/ The Supreme Court appeared broadly skeptical that Colorado had the power to disqualify Trump from the ballot for engaging in an insurrection in an attempt to remain in the White House after losing the 2020 election. The justices heard arguments on a ruling from Colorado’s Supreme Court, which found that Trump engaged in an insurrection leading up to the riot at the Capitol on Jan. 6. At issue is Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, which bars certain public officials from serving in the government if they took part in an insurrection. During more than two hours of arguments, the court expressed concerns about the ability of a single state to disqualify a candidate from seeking national office, and appeared to be searching for a way to leave election decisions to voters. Justices from across the ideological spectrum suggested that Congress – not individual states – must set the standards before a presidential candidate can be disqualified for engaging in insurrection. (NPR / Washington Post / CNN / Axios / Associated Press / New York Times / NBC News / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal)

Day 1114: "Delusional."

1/ House Republicans failed to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas after four Republicans joined Democrats in voting against what would have been the second-ever impeachment of a Cabinet official. Although the vote failed 214-216, Republicans immediately moved to bring back the resolution up for another vote, but it’s unclear when or if that will happen. (New York Times / NPR / Bloomberg / Washington Post / CNN / Associated Press)

2/ House Republicans failed to pass a standalone bill to send $17.6 billion in aid to Israel after Speaker Mike Johnson called the bipartisan Senate package that combined Israel and Ukraine with stricter border security and asylum laws “dead-on-arrival” in the chamber. The vote failed 250 to 180, with 166 Democrats and 14 Republicans opposing the measure. The bill required the support of two-thirds of the House to pass. (NBC News / Washington Post / Axios / CNN / CBS News)

3/ Senate Republicans blocked the $118 billion bipartisan border package that Republicans had demanded but then rejected after pressure from Trump, who is making the border a campaign issue. The bill failed to advance 49-50, falling short of the 60-vote threshold and essentially guarantees Congress won’t pass any broad immigration or border legislation before the presidential election. Republicans had initially demanded strict border policy changes in exchange for Ukraine aid, but abandoned that trade-off when House Republican leadership called the bill “dead on arrival.” After the failed vote, Chuck Schumer released a narrower, $95.3 billion version of the same package that would fund Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan, but without the border-security provisions or funding. “Why have Republicans backed off on border when they know it’s the right thing to do?” Schumer said. “Two words: Donald Trump.” (Associated Press / Politico / NPR / Washington Post / New York Times / NBC News / CNN / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal)

4/ Nikki Haley lost Nevada’s presidential primary to “None of These Candidates.” The primary, which is largely symbolic and awards no delegates, didn’t include Trump on the ballot. With 88% of the votes counted, Haley had 30.5% to 63.2% for “none of these candidates.” Following the embarrassing loss, Haley claimed the state’s nominating process had been “rigged” in favor of Trump. (Politico / NPR / ABC News / Bloomberg / USA Today / NBC News / Washington Post / New York Times)

5/ Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected Hamas’s terms for a cease-fire and hostage-release agreement, calling the plan “delusional.” Hamas’s cease-fire proposal, negotiated by the U.S., Qatar, Israel and Egypt, included a three-phase hostage release plan, a 45-day pause in fighting, and the withdrawal of the Israeli military from Gaza. “There is no solution besides total victory,” Netanyahu said, adding that an Israeli victory in Gaza was “within reach.” (CNN / Associated Press / Politico / Washington Post / NBC News / New York Times / Wall Street Journal)

Day 1113: "Show some spine."

1/ A federal appeals court rejected Trump’s claim that he’s immune from federal prosecution for his efforts to overturn the 2020 election. “We cannot accept former President Trump’s claim that a President has unbounded authority to commit crimes that would neutralize the most fundamental check on executive power — the recognition and implementation of election results,” the three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit wrote. “Nor can we sanction his apparent contention that the Executive has carte blanche to violate the rights of individual citizens to vote and to have their votes count.” Trump has repeatedly argued that his actions before and during the Jan. 6 insurrection were part of his official duties as president and therefore he can’t be prosecuted for those crimes without first being impeached and convicted by Congress. Since the Senate acquitted Trump of inciting the Jan. 6 insurrection, Trump has claimed he’s now subject to “double jeopardy.” The D.C. Circuit panel, however, rejected the double jeopardy argument, writing that “the weight of historical authority indicates that the Framers intended for public officials to face ordinary criminal prosecution as well as impeachment.” The court concluded: “For the purpose of this criminal case, former President Trump has become citizen Trump, with all of the defenses of any other criminal defendant. But any executive immunity that may have protected him while he served as President no longer protects him against this prosecution.” Trump has until Feb. 12 to ask the Supreme Court to overturn the decision or ask the appeals court’s entire judicial lineup to take up the issue. He faces four counts, including conspiring to defraud the U.S. and to obstruct an official proceeding. (NPR / New York Times / Washington Post / Politico / Wall Street Journal / NBC News / CBS News / ABC News / CNBC / CNN / Associated Press / Axios / Bloomberg)

2/ House Republicans now plan to vote on a standalone Israel aid bill after rejecting a bipartisan border deal they had previously demanded. It’s not clear, however, whether Speaker Mike Johnson has the two-thirds majority needed to pass the standalone bill to provide $17.6 billion in aid to Israel. Nevertheless, Biden called on congressional Republicans to “show some spine” and pass the $118 billion bipartisan package that paired strict border security measures with assistance to Israel and Ukraine. “All indications are this bill won’t even move forward to the Senate floor. Why? A simple reason: Donald Trump. Because Donald Trump thinks it’s bad for him politically,” Biden said, adding that Trump wants to “weaponize” the issues at southern U.S. border for his presidential race rather than “actually solve it.” (New York Times / Associated Press / NPR / Politico / Politico / ABC News / NBC News / Bloomberg / CNN)

3/ Instead of passing the “toughest set of reforms to secure the border ever,” House Republicans plan to vote on a resolution to impeach Alejandro Mayorkas even though it’s unclear if they have enough support to charge the homeland security secretary. Republicans have a three-vote majority in the House and two Republicans are already on record opposing impeachment. The articles of impeachment accuse Mayorkas of “willful and systemic refusal to comply with the law” and “breach of public trust” amid a surge in unauthorized migrant crossings. If the vote is successful, Mayorkas would be the first Cabinet member impeached by the House in almost 150 years. However, he is not expected to be convicted in a trial in the Democratic-led Senate. (New York Times / Washington Post / CNN / Axios / Politico / ABC News / NBC News / Wall Street Journal / Associated Press)

  • Why the GOP wants to impeach Mayorkas but not pass the border deal. “Despite the GOP-controlled House taking steps to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas over immigration this week, there’s little appetite among the party for a bill that might be in the national interest but that could alienate the past and possibly future president.” (CNN)

Day 1112: "Playing politics."

1/ House Republicans vowed to kill the Senate’s bipartisan $118.3 billion national security bill that pairs strict border enforcement policies with aid for Ukraine, Israel, and other U.S. allies. For months, Republicans have demanded concessions from Democrats, threatening to tank any deal that didn’t link significant new U.S. immigration restrictions with unrelated aid for Ukraine, Israel, and other U.S. allies. The proposed agreement includes $20.2 billion to improve security at the U.S. border, and would require the president to close the border if the number of migrant crossings reach a certain threshold, allow the government to more easily expel migrants at the border, and make it more difficult for migrants to claim asylum. In exchange, the bill includes $60.1 billion in aid for Ukraine, $14.1 billion for Israel, $10 billion in humanitarian assistance for civilians in Gaza, $2.33 billion for refugees from the war in Ukraine, and $4.83 billion for allies to “deter aggression by the Chinese government.” Nevertheless, House Speaker Mike Johnson called the legislation “even worse than we expected” and declared it “dead on arrival” in the House. Trump, who’s made the border his signature campaign issue, called it a “great gift to the Democrats, and a Death Wish for The Republican Party.” Several Republicans have admitted they’d rather walk away from border security policies they’ve sought for years than give Biden a win ahead in an election year. Biden, meanwhile, called the agreement some of the “toughest and fairest set of border reforms in decades,” and ones that he “strongly” supports. “Now, House Republicans have to decide. Do they want to solve the problem? Or do they want to keep playing politics with the border?” The Senate is expected to hold a key test vote on the package this week, which would require 60 votes to pass. It’s unclear whether it has the support to pass a filibuster. (Axios / Politico / NBC News / Associated Press / CNN / NPR / New York Times)

2/ Trump’s federal 2020 election trial was officially postponed indefinitely. The case had been paused since December while Trump appealed a lower-court’s rejection of his immunity claims. “The court will set a new schedule if and when the mandate is returned,” Judge Tanya Chutkan said in her order. The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals eventual ruling will likely be appealed to the Supreme Court, prompting further delays. The delay in the federal election interference case makes it likely that the first of Trump’s four criminal trials will begin March 25 in Manhattan on New York state charges of business fraud in connection with hush money payments during the 2016 election. (NBC News / Associated Press / New York Times / Axios / Bloomberg / Washington Post / Politico)

  • 64% of Americans want to see a verdict on the federal charges Trump faces related to election subversion in 2020 before this year’s presidential election. “A 72% majority of Democrats and 52% of independents say it’s essential that a verdict is reached pre-election. Republicans are more split. While 38% say that a verdict should be reached before the presidential election, including 20% who call that essential, another 39% say it doesn’t matter when the trial is held, and 23% that they think the trial should be held after this election.” (CNN)

3/ The Biden administration said it will take “further action” against Iranian-backed militias who have carried out attacks on U.S. troops in the Middle East. On Friday, the U.S. military struck more than 85 targets in Iraq and Syria used by Iranian forces and the Iran-backed militants. That action was followed by airstrikes on Saturday by the U.S. and U.K. targeting Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen in response to the group’s continued attacks in the Red Sea. “I would just say that the president was clear when he ordered them and when he conducted them that that was the beginning of our response and there will be more steps to come,” Biden’s national security adviser Jake Sullivan said. (NBC News / CNN / Washington Post / New York Times / Bloomberg / NPR)

Day 1108: "This is a dangerous moment."

1/ The House passed a bipartisan tax package that pairs a temporary expansion of the child tax credit with a trio of business tax breaks. The bill includes $33 billion to expand the child tax credit for three years. The bill is estimated to benefit roughly 16 million children in low-income families in the first year, and lift half a million children out of poverty. The legislation would also revive some expired parts of the 2017 Republican tax cuts for businesses, including deductions for research and development, interest expenses, and investments in equipment. The vote was 357 to 70, with 188 Democrats and 169 Republicans voting in favor and 23 Democrats and 47 Republicans opposed. The bill will next go to the Senate, where Republicans can block the bill with a filibuster. (NPR / Politico / Washington Post / NBC News / Associated Press)

2/ Biden signed an executive order to impose new sanctions on four Israeli settlers involved in violent attacks against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank. At least eight Palestinians, including a child, have been killed, and 115 more have been injured in the nearly 500 attacks by Israeli settlers since Oct. 7. The first round of sanctions block the four from using the U.S. financial system and bar American citizens from dealing with them. The order notes that the violence by settlers undermines U.S. foreign policy objectives, “including the viability of a two-state solution and ensuring Israelis and Palestinians can attain equal measures of security, prosperity, and freedom.” (Politico / NPR / Associated Press / Washington Post / Axios / CNN / NBC News / Wall Street Journal)

3/ The U.S. carried out airstrikes against a drone ground control station belonging to the Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen. U.S. officials also confirmed that plans have been approved for a series of strikes over a number of days against targets inside Iraq and Syria in response to drone and rocket attacks on U.S. forces in the region. “This is a dangerous moment in the Middle East,” Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said. “We will continue to work to avoid a wider conflict in the region, but we will take all necessary actions to defend the United States, our interests and our people, and we will respond when we choose, where we choose and how we choose.” (CNN / CBS News / Associated Press / New York Times / NBC News)

4/ Trump’s lawsuit over the dossier that alleged he engaged in “perverted sexual acts” and paid bribes to Russian officials was dismissed by a British High Court judge. Judge Karen Steyn said “there are no compelling reasons to allow the claim to proceed to trial,” because Trump had “chosen to allow many years to elapse – without any attempt to vindicate his reputation in this jurisdiction – since he was first made aware of the dossier” in January 2017. Last year, Trump sued ex-MI6 agent Christopher Steele and his consultancy, Orbis Business Intelligence, saying he suffered “significant damage and distress” from the publication of the Steele Dossier. Steyn, however, said she wouldn’t determine the accuracy of the dossier itself. (Bloomberg / Associated Press / Washington Post)

Day 1107: "A holy war."

1/ FBI Director Christopher Wray warned that Chinese hackers are preparing to “wreak havoc and cause real-world harm” to critical U.S. infrastructure, including water treatment plants, electrical grids, oil and natural gas pipelines, and transportation systems. Wray, appearing before the House Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party, argued that “there has been far too little public focus” that Chinese hackers are targeting U.S. infrastructure, adding: “And the risk that poses to every American requires our attention — now.” During congressional testimony, Jen Easterly, director of the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, said: “This is a world where a major crisis halfway across the planet could well endanger the lives of Americans here at home through the disruption of our pipelines, the severing of our telecommunications, the pollution of our water facilities, the crippling of our transportation modes—all to ensure they can incite societal panic and chaos and to deter our ability to marshal military might and civilian will.” (NBC News / Wall Street Journal / CNN)

2/ The State Department is reportedly exploring the possibility of recognizing a Palestinian state following the end of the Gaza war. Secretary of State Tony Blinken asked State Department officials to review options for the recognition of a Palestinian state, including what a demilitarized Palestinian state would look like and how a two-state solution could be implemented in a way that assures security for Israel. While there has been no policy change, the consideration represents a major shift in American thinking, and the Biden administration has made linking normalization between Israel and Saudi Arabia to the creation of a Palestinian state. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, however, has opposed the establishment of Palestinian state after the Israel-Hamas war. Negotiators, meanwhile, have been discussing a framework for a hostage release and six-week ceasefire. The Israeli government has also discussed an internal plan to exile top Hamas officials involved in the Oct. 7 terrorist attack to a third Middle East country as a step toward ending the war in the Gaza Strip. (Axios / Wall Street Journal / Semafor / Washington Post)

3/ The Federal Reserve left interest rates unchanged at a 22-year-high amid improving consumer confidence and a declining inflation rate. The Fed, however, continued to signal that they expect to cut rates by three-quarters of a percentage point over the course of 2024 as they gain “greater confidence that inflation is moving sustainably toward 2%.” The Fed’s preferred inflation gauge, the personal consumption expenditures price index, ended 2023 at 2.6% from a year earlier – well below the 5.4% increase at the end of 2022. Interest rates, meanwhile, have remained at 5.25% to 5.5% since last summer, after the central bank raised rates 11 times since March 2022 in an effort to catch up with inflation that soared to 40-year highs. Meanwhile, three gauges of consumer confidence all reached their highest levels since 2021. (Washington Post / CNBC / Wall Street Journal / Bloomberg / New York Times / NBC News / Associated Press / CNN)

poll/ 53% of voters in seven swing-state would be unwilling to vote for Trump if he were found guilty of a crime. 55% said they’d be unwilling to vote for Trump if he’s sentenced to prison. Trump faces 91 criminal charges across four separate indictments. (Bloomberg)

poll/ 50% of voters said they vote for Biden if the presidential election were held today. 44% said they’d vote for Trump. (Quinnipiac)

🤡 Dept. of Taylor Swift Living Rent Free in MAGA Heads.

  1. Taylor Swift hasn’t endorsed Biden, but Trump and his MAGA allies nevertheless declared a “holy war” on the singer-songwriter. Swift, however, is reportedly a key name on Biden’s “wish lists of potential surrogates.”

  2. Fox News host Sean Hannity urged Swift to “think twice” before endorsing Biden – months after defending Swift from conservatives for “hating on her” and her relationship with Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce, who has appeared in commercials for Bud Light and Pfizer.

  3. Several pro-Trump influencers and conspiracy theorists claimed that the NFL is “rigged” in order to spread “Democrat propaganda” with the “unneeded and unwanted Taylor coverage” during the broadcast. “Calling it now: KC wins, goes to Super Bowl, Swift comes out at the halftime show and ‘endorses’ Joe Biden with Kelce at midfield.”

  4. Fox News host Jeanine Pirro warned Swift to stay out of politics in 2024: “Don’t get involved. Don’t get involved in politics; we don’t want to see you there.”

  5. Newsmax host Greg Kelly accused Swifties of “elevating her to an idol […] and you’re not supposed to do that. In fact, if you look it up in the Bible, it’s a sin!”

  6. Earlier this month, Fox News host Jesse Waters claimed that Swift was a “Pentagon asset” developed at a NATO meeting to help Democrats as part of an “election interference psyop.”

  7. Trump, meanwhile, reportedly told allies that he is “more popular” than Swift, and that no amount of celebrity endorsements will save Biden.

Sources: Rolling Stone / New York Times / Daily Beast / Rolling Stone / Mediaite / The Guardian

Day 1106: "That's absurd."

1/ Republicans – who have for months insisted on changes to border and migration policy as a condition of approving any additional aid to Ukraine – declared that the bipartisan Senate-proposed border deal would be “dead on arrival” in the House. The bipartisan deal, which represents the Republican’s best chance in decades to make substantial changes to immigration and border security, would require the U.S. to close the border if about 5,000 migrants cross illegally on any given day. It would also speed up the asylum process. Speaker Mike Johnson, who still hasn’t seen the legislative text, said House Republicans won’t accept any proposal that allows “even one illegal crossing,” calling it “surrender” and that “the number must be ZERO.” Asked whether the House Republican opposition to the legislation is due to Trump’s campaign against it, Johnson responded: “That’s absurd.” Immigration has been Trump’s defining issue, dating back to his first presidential campaign news conference on June 16, 2015 when he accused Mexico of sending “rapists” to the U.S. (The Hill / Politico / HuffPost / Politico)

2/ The Illinois State Board of Elections voted unanimously to dismiss an effort seeking to disqualify Trump from the state’s primary ballot, saying it didn’t have the authority to decide whether Trump had engaged in insurrection. The board’s unanimous ruling comes after its hearing officer found that a “preponderance of the evidence” shows Trump engaged in insurrection and is ineligible to run for president. The hearing officer, however, said “the Election Code is simply not suited for issues involving constitutional analysis,” and recommended that the board let the courts make the decision. While the decision is expected to be appealed in state courts, the issue will likely be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court, which hears arguments on whether Trump’s role in the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol disqualifies him from the presidency. (Associated Press / CNN / New York Times / ABC News)

3/ A federal appeals court rejected a request to review a ruling that threatens to make it harder to enforce the Voting Rights Act’s protections against racial discrimination in the election process. The full 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals found that federal law doesn’t allow private groups or individuals to pursue cases enforcing Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act because the law doesn’t explicitly name them. Only the U.S. attorney general can file lawsuits to enforce the Voting Rights Act’s protections against racial discrimination. The vast majority of Voting Rights Act lawsuits for decades, however, have been filed by private parties – not the Justice Department. The ruling is expected to be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. (Reuters / NPR)

  • 🔎 What’s at Stake? The integrity of the democratic process in the U.S. hinges on the fair and equal access to voting. By limiting the ability of private groups and individuals to file lawsuits under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, the ruling could lead to a reduction in the oversight and enforcement of voting rights. Given the historical significance of the Voting Rights Act in combatting racial discrimination in voting, this ruling can be seen as a step backwards as it disproportionately affects minority voters, who are more likely to be impacted by discriminatory voting practices.

  • 📌 Day 1035: A federal appeals court ruled that only the federal government — not private citizens or civil rights groups — can sue to enforce the Voting Rights Act. In a 2-to-1 ruling, the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that private entities cannot bring lawsuits under Section 2, a provision of the 1965 Voting Rights Act that prohibits discriminatory voting practices. The ruling runs counter to decades of legal practice and the vast majority of Voting Rights Act claims are brought by private entities. The decision will almost certainly be appealed and is likely headed to the Supreme Court. (CNN / Wall Street Journal / New York Times / NPR / Politico / NBC News)

4/ Trump called the United Auto Workers president a “dope” and called for his removal after the union endorsed Biden. Trump accused the union’s leader, Shawn Fain, of “selling the Automobile Industry right into the big, powerful, hands of China.” Fain, however, said Biden had “earned” the endorsement, saying Biden had “a history of serving others and serving the working class,” while Trump had “a history of serving himself and standing for the billionaire class.” Meanwhile, Biden, who joined the picket line with UAW members during their six-week strike against Detroit automakers last year, will travel to Michigan ahead of the state’s Feb. 27 presidential primary election. (Politico / New York Times / Politico)

Day 1105: "Something Donald Trump hates."

1/ House Republicans released two articles of impeachment against Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, accusing him of “willful and systemic refusal to comply with the law” and “breach of public trust.” Republicans have repeatedly accused Mayorkas of failing to enforce immigration laws as a record number of migrants arrived at the U.S.-Mexico border, as well as obstructing congressional oversight, and rolling back Trump-era policies, including the construction on the U.S.-Mexico border wall. The articles of impeachment will be reviewed in committee on Tuesday. If they pass the committee, they then go to the full House for an impeachment vote. It would then be up to the Democratic-led Senate on whether to convict and potentially remove Mayorkas. (ABC News / CBS News / Axios / Politico / NPR / NBC News / Associated Press)

2/ Biden promised to “shut down the border when it becomes overwhelmed” if Congress passes a border security package. In the Senate, a bipartisan group reached a deal that would force the federal government to shut down the border for migrants crossing illegally during surges and expedite the asylum process. Biden said the deal would “be the toughest and fairest set of reforms to secure the border we’ve ever had in our country […] I would use it the day I sign the bill into law.” Trump, who has made immigration reform and the border a central part of his election campaign, has pressured House Republicans to kill the deal, writing that “it is the WORST BORDER IN THE HISTORY OF THE WORLD, an open wound in our once great Country.” At the same time, Trump demanded “CLOSE THE BORDER!” Speaker Mike Johnson, meanwhile, said the bipartisan Senate deal would be “dead on arrival” in the House. (Associated Press / Politico / CNN / Axios / Washington Post)

3/ Trump must pay writer E. Jean Carroll $83.3 million in damages for repeatedly defaming her. The jury awarded Carroll $18.3 million in compensatory damages – $11 million for repairing her reputation and $7.3 million for emotional harm – and $65 million in punitive damages. The verdict came after Trump stormed out of the courtroom during Carroll’s closing argument. He later posted on his personal social media site that he would be appealing, because “They have taken away all First Amendment Rights. THIS IS NOT AMERICA!” A different jury in May 2023 found Trump liable for sexually abusing Carroll in the 1990s, and for defaming her by mocking her claims after he left the White House. They awarded her $5 million in damages, which Trump is appealing. Carroll, meanwhile, vowed to use the money on “something Donald Trump hates,” suggesting she would create a “fund for the women who have been sexually assaulted by Donald Trump.” (New York Times / ABC News / CBS News / NBC News)

  • Trump lashed out at the financial monitor overseeing the Trump Organization and urged a judge to end the watchdog’s oversight of his company. “The request came days after Barbara Jones reported a range of issues — including an allegedly errant $48 million loan — in the former president’s New York civil business fraud case.” (CNBC / Daily Beast / Bloomberg)

4/ Biden is reportedly looking into slowing down weapons sales to Israel as leverage to get Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to scale back military operations in Gaza. A White House official, however, said there “has been no request” from the White House for the Defense Department to “slow walk deliveries.” The effort comes following weeks of unsuccessful attempts by the Biden administration to convince Netanyahu to change tactics in Gaza that minimize civilian casualties and to accept a postwar two-state solution. The Biden administration has twice approved emergency sales of weapons to Israel, bypassing Congress. (NBC News / The Hill / Reuters / Associated Press)

  • The U.S. and at least eight other countries paused funding for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees after Israel alleged that at least 12 UNRWA employees were “involved in” the Oct. 7 Hamas terrorist attack. UNRWA has fired the accused staffers and launched an investigation. (Axios / Associated Press)

5/ American air defenses failed to intercept a drone attack that killed three U.S. troops in Jordan because it was confused with a U.S. drone that was returning to base at the same time. At least 34 troops were injured in the drone strike, which the Biden administration said was launched from Iraq by an Iran-backed militia. Biden vowed to respond, but was “working through options.” The National Security Council said the U.S. would react “in a time and a manner of our choosing,” adding: “We don’t want a wider war with Iran. We don’t want a wider war in the region, but we’ve got to do what we have to do.” (Associated Press / New York Times / Wall Street Journal / Washington Post)

Day 1101: "The nominee."

1/ Trump threatened anyone who donates to Nikki Haley “will be permanently barred from the MAGA camp.” The super political action committee backing Haley raised $50.1 million in the last six months of 2023 – about $5 million more than Trump’s super PAC. The Republican National Committee, meanwhile, is considering a move to declare Trump the “presumptive 2024 nominee” for the party’s presidential nomination, even though Haley has vowed to continue her campaign. While Trump would still need to reach the delegate requirements necessary to win the nomination, he would gain access to the RNC’s data operation, fundraising, and other committee ground operations. Trump needs to secure 1,215 delegates to officially become the party’s nominee. He currently has 32 delegates while Haley has 17. (Axios / The Dispatch / Bloomberg / CNN / NBC News / CNBC)

2/ Mitch McConnell privately told Republicans that Trump has complicated an emerging bipartisan border deal, which explicitly ties strict border policy changes to funding for Israel and Ukraine. McConnell, referring to Trump only as “the nominee,” said the politics “have changed,” and “we don’t want to do anything to undermine him.” Trump doesn’t want Congress to pass a border deal so he can use the issue in the presidential campaign. He’s encouraged Republicans to reject any border deal “unless we get EVERYTHING” the party has demanded, adding he would only accept a “PERFECT” deal. “We’re in a quandary,” McConnell said. (Punchbowl News / Washington Post / New York Times / NPR / CNN / Associated Press / Bloomberg / NBC News / Politico)

3/ Trump accused Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis of trying to “foment racial bias” in an effort disqualify her from prosecuting him and his allies. In addition to Willis’ disqualification, Trump wants the 13 counts against him, including violations of Georgia’s racketeering law, to be dismissed. The motion comes more than two weeks after Trump’s co-defendant Mike Roman alleged that Willis appointed Nathan Wade to serve as lead prosecutor in the case while engaging in a romantic relationship with him. Willis said the accusations were racist because they are Black, which Trump’s lawyers called an “attempt to foment racial animus.” The motion to dismiss charges was originally filed by Roman. (Axios / NBC News / Atlanta Journal-Constitution / Washington Post)

4/ Peter Navarro – who claimed credit for the plan to overturn the 2020 election – was sentenced to four months in jail and ordered to pay a $9,500 fine for defying a subpoena from the Jan. 6 select committee. Navarro refused to testify and provide documents related to attempts to overturn the 2020 election. “You are not a victim. You are not the object of a political prosecution. You are not,” Judge Amit Mehta told Navarro. “You have received every process you are due. Every process.” The former Trump White House adviser is the second senior Trump aide to be sentenced for stonewalling the Jan. 6 investigation. Stephen Bannon was sentenced to four months in prison on a similar contempt conviction in Oct. 2022. (Politico / NPR / USA Today / New York Times / Washington Post / NBC News / ABC News)

Day 1100: "Disruptive consequences."

1/ Trump won New Hampshire’s primary, defeating Nikki Haley and advancing closer to the Republican nomination. It was the first time a non-incumbent Republican candidate in the modern era won both the Iowa and New Hampshire Republican contests. Trump, however, used his victory speech to attack Haley after she refused to drop out of the race, calling her “DELUSIONAL!!!,” and an “imposter” who “had a very bad night.” He added: “I don’t get too angry. I get even.” Nevertheless, Haley vowed to continue her campaign and challenged Trump to debate her. “I have news for all of them. New Hampshire is first in the nation. It is not the last,” Haley said. “This race is far from over.” (Washington Post / Politico / NBC News / New York Times / CNN / Associated Press / NPR / Wall Street Journal)

  • Why the Supreme Court could matter more than Iowa and New Hampshire. “Even as Trump rumbles to the nomination, his eligibility to run for president still has not been settled.” (Politico)
  • Most N.H. GOP primary voters say Trump fit for presidency even if convicted. “About half of those who voted in the New Hampshire Republican primary Tuesday believed the false claim that Joe Biden did not legitimately win the 2020 presidential election, according to preliminary exit polls, underscoring the persistence of Trump’s false claims within the GOP that the election was stolen from him.” (Washington Post)
  • Majority of GOP primary voters aren’t MAGA, but most would be satisfied with Trump nomination. “About two-thirds of New Hampshire GOP primary voters described themselves as conservative, according to the early results of the exit poll, with about one-quarter calling themselves very conservative. Most said they did not consider themselves a part of the MAGA movement, referring to the ‘Make America Great Again’ slogan popularized by Trump in 2016.” (CNN)

2/ The United Auto Workers endorsed Biden for president. “This election is about who will stand up with us and who will stand in our way,” UAW President Shawn Fain said. “Our endorsement must be earned and Joe Biden has earned it.” Fain called Trump “a scab,” who “stands against everything we stand for as a union – as a society.” The UAW represents around 400,000 members. (NBC News / CNN / New York Times / Associated Press / Washington Post)

3/ A record 21.3 million Americans signed up for health insurance through the Affordable Care Act’s marketplaces. A record 5 million more people signed up for ACA policies for 2024 compared to 2023 – the third straight year of record enrollment. The 30% annual increase in ACA sign-ups come as Trump’s once again promised to repeal the program, saying it “sucks.” Enrollment figures, however, indicate that Republican-leaning states would be most affected if the law were repealed. (Washington Post / CNN / Axios / The Hill)

4/ The Justice Department urged the Supreme Court preserve full access to a widely used abortion pill, warning that a lower-court ruling restricting its availability would have “disruptive consequences” for women and “threatens profound harms” nationwide. The Supreme Court has agreed to review the lower court’s ruling, which would cut off mail-order prescriptions of mifepristone and require in-person doctor visits. “The loss of access to mifepristone would be damaging for women and healthcare providers around the Nation. For many patients, mifepristone is the best method to lawfully terminate their early pregnancies,” the Justice Department said. Central to the issue is the scope of the FDA’s authority to regulate mifepristone, which was first approved in 2000, and later approved for wider access through telemedicine, mail delivery, and prescribing by pharmacists in 2016. (Axios / CNN)

5/ More than 64,500 pregnancies have resulted from rape in the 14 states that banned abortion since Roe v. Wade was overturned, according to research by JAMA Internal Medicine. The majority of states with total bans on abortion don’t have exceptions for rape. And those that do have exceptions require victims to report the rape to authorities, something that only happens in a small fraction of sexual assaults. (Axios / NPR)

Day 1099: "An atmosphere of fear."

1/ Nikki Haley vowed to continue her presidential campaign even if Trump wins New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation Republican primary, saying “This has always been a marathon. It’s never been a sprint.” Most polls, however, showed Haley trailing Trump going into today’s primary by double digits. Voting is scheduled to close statewide at 8 p.m. Eastern. New Hampshire is the second state on the Republican electoral calendar after the Iowa caucuses, which Trump won last week. The Nevada Republicans will hold caucuses Feb. 8, followed by South Carolina’s primary Feb. 24. (NBC News / CNN / Washington Post / New York Times / Associated Press / NPR / Politico / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal)

  • Why many Democrats want Trump to win big in New Hampshire. “Either Trump dominates Nikki Haley in New Hampshire and the general election campaign effectively begins Wednesday — or Trump gets caught in a drawn-out primary at least until South Carolina’s GOP contest on Feb. 24.” (Axios)

  • Trump has a big problem ahead. “There’s a whole swath of the Republican electorate and a good chunk of independents who appear firmly committed to not voting for him in November if he becomes the nominee.” (Politico)

2/ Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who recently ended his 2024 presidential campaign and endorsed Trump, suggested that he would veto a proposed Republican bill to use taxpayer money to help pay Trump’s legal bills. The proposed bill would have allowed the state to create the “Freedom Fighters Fund,” which could then give Trump up to $5 million in taxpayer dollars for legal fees incurred from his ongoing court cases. The proposed new fund would come from the state’s public campaign-matching funds program and later be replenished from voluntary donations via driver’s license registrations. DeSantis, however, said he did not support the measure, tweeting: “But not the Florida Republican who wields the veto pen…” (Politico / Axios / Bloomberg)

3/ A federal appeals court rejected Trump’s request to lift a gag order that restricts his ability to criticize witnesses in his criminal case for attempting to overturn the 2020 election. “The court had a duty to act proactively to prevent the creation of an atmosphere of fear or intimidation aimed at preventing trial participants and staff from performing their functions within the trial process,” Judge Patricia Millett wrote for the unanimous three-judge panel. The gag order was initially imposed by Judge Tanya Chutkan in October in response to concerns from special counsel Jack Smith that Trump’s threats to witnesses, attorneys, and court personnel could taint the proceedings, intimidate witnesses, and influence jurors. A three-judge panel upheld the gag order last month, but narrowed the restrictions on speaking about witnesses in the case, but freed Trump to publicly criticize Smith. Trump can now appeal to the Supreme Court. (Associated Press / Politico / CNN)

4/ Israel proposed allowing Hamas senior leaders to leave Gaza as part of an agreement for a two-month ceasefire in exchange for the release of all remaining hostages. Pressure is building on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to resolve his nearly four-month war, which has failed to capture or kill most of Hamas’s senior leaders in Gaza and left around 70% of Hamas’ fighting force intact, according to Israel’s own estimates. International calls for a two-state solution have also intensified, which Netanyahu has repeatedly rejected. Meanwhile, Israel’s military said 24 soldiers were killed in the Gaza Strip – the deadliest day for the country’s forces since the war began – while trying to demolish part of a Palestinian neighborhood to create what they describe as a “security zone” between Gaza and Israel. The buffer zone would be about a half-mile wide and run along the entire length of Israel’s roughly 36-mile border with Gaza. Since Oct. 7, more than 25,000 people have been killed in Gaza, with more than 62,000 injured, over 1.9 million Palestinians have been displaced, nearly the entire Gaza Strip population faces a humanitarian crisis, and more than half a million people in the territory face “catastrophic hunger.” (CNN / Axios / Washington Post / New York Times / NBC News / CNN / Wall Street Journal)

5/ The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists set their “Doomsday Clock” at 90 seconds to midnight, citing global instability driven by Russia’s war in Ukraine, Israel’s war on Hamas, the proliferation of nuclear weapons, artificial intelligence, state-sponsored disinformation, and the worsening climate crisis. The time on the symbolic clock is the same as last year. (NBC News / USA Today / CBS News)

Day 1098: "A total failure to launch."

1/ The Biden administration announced new steps to expand access to contraception, abortion medication, and emergency abortion care at hospitals on the 51st anniversary of Roe v. Wade. Eighteen months after the Supreme Court overruled Roe v. Wade, Biden called on Congress to “stop playing politics with a woman’s life and freedom” and codify Roe v. Wade into law. The Departments of Treasury, Labor, and Health and Human Services announced new guidance to “clarify standards” and make sure FDA-approved contraceptive medications are available for free under the Affordable Care Act. The Office of Personnel Management will offer new guidance to insurers to strengthen access to contraception for federal workers, retirees, and family members. HHS also announced a “comprehensive plan” to increase awareness and understanding about the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act, which requires patients to receive emergency medical care regardless of their ability to pay. “We need to understand the horrific reality that women face every single day,” Harris said. “As we face this crisis and as we are clear-eyed about the harm, let us also understand who is responsible, shall we? The former president handpicked three Supreme Court justices because he intended for them to overturn Roe. He intended for them to take away your freedoms. And it is a decision he brags about.” (NBC News / Washington Post / New York Times / ABC News / CNN / Bloomberg)

2/ The Supreme Court allowed Border Patrol agents to cut through or move razor wire along the Mexican border that Texas installed to keep migrants from crossing into the state. The ruling, by a 5-to-4 vote, vacates a Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals’ injunction and reinstates federal authority over the international boundary between Mexico and Texas. Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch, and Brett Kavanaugh dissented. (NPR / New York Times / NBC News / CNN / Wall Street Journal)

3/ Trump warned the Supreme Court that removing him from Colorado’s 2024 ballot would “unleash chaos and bedlam.” Trump urged the court to “put a swift and decisive end” to lawsuits that say he is ineligible to serve as president because he “engaged in insurrection” on Jan. 6. The Colorado ruling was the first to find that the 14th Amendment’s insurrection clause applies to Trump, which prohibits someone from holding “any office […] under the United States” if they “engaged in insurrection” after taking an oath to support the Constitution. The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear the case on Feb. 8. (Politico / ABC News / Bloomberg / NBC News / Axios / The Hill)

4/ Nikki Haley questioned whether Trump was “mentally fit” to serve as president after he repeatedly confused her for Nancy Pelosi during a speech. “Last night, Trump is at a rally and he’s going on and on mentioning me several times as to why I didn’t take security during the Capitol riots. Why I didn’t handle January 6 better. I wasn’t even in DC on January 6. I wasn’t in office then,” Haley said, adding: “They’re saying he got confused. That he was talking about something else. That he was talking about Nancy Pelosi. He mentioned me multiple times in that scenario.” Trump responded by boasting about his cognitive abilities, saying, “A few months ago I took a cognitive test my doctor gave me […] and I aced it.” Trump later challenged Haley to a cognitive test, saying “it would be my result against her result and she’s not going to win, not gonna even come close to winning.” (NBC News / The Hill / New York Times / CNN / Wall Street Journal / Axios)

5/ Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis suspended his presidential campaign and endorsed Trump. “We don’t have a clear path to victory,” DeSantis said days before New Hampshire’s primary, where he’s projected to fall behind both Trump and Nikki Haley. As one former DeSantis adviser said: “It was a total failure to launch. This thing blew up on the launch pad.” (NBC News / Washington Post / Politico)

6/ The New Hampshire attorney general’s office is investigating an “unlawful attempt” at voter suppression after voters received a robocall that appears to be an AI voice clone of Biden. The fake recording called the election “a bunch of malarkey,” and urged voters that “it’s important that you save your vote for the November election […] your vote makes a difference in November, not this Tuesday.” Former New Hampshire Democratic Party chair Kathy Sullivan contacted the state’s attorney general after people started telling her they had received the robocall with her number on their caller IDs. The AG’s office said that “Although the voice in the robocall sounds like the voice of President Biden, this message appears to be artificially generated based on initial indications.” (NPR / Washington Post / NBC News / New York Times / CNN / Axios)

Day 1094: "Cascading failures."

1/ The House and Senate passed a stopgap spending bill to prevent a partial government shutdown this weekend, sending the measure to Biden as Congress continues to struggle with approving all 12 appropriations bills that fund the government. The short-term spending package – the third since September – will extend current funding for the FDA, Energy, Agriculture, and Veterans Affairs through March 1, with funding for the rest of the government, including the Pentagon, continuing through March 8. Lawmakers, however, are in session together for six days prior to the March 1 deadline, and for 10 days before the March 8 deadline. The Senate passed the legislation, 77-18, followed by the House, 314-108, hours later, after 13 hardline Republicans – who have repeatedly held the chamber hostage in retaliation for the spending deal Speaker Mike Johnson reached with Democrats – launched a last-minute campaign to attach partisan border security measures to the funding package. (Politico / Washington Post / New York Times / Wall Street Journal / NBC News)

2/ A Justice Department investigation into the 2022 school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, found “cascading failures” and “no urgency” by law enforcement before, during, and after the attack that killed 19 children and two teachers. “Had law enforcement agencies followed generally accepted practices in an active shooter situation and gone right after the shooter to stop him, lives would have been saved and people would have survived,” Attorney General Merrick Garland said in announcing the 600-page report, adding that the law enforcement response was a “failure that should not have happened.” For 77 minutes, nearly 400 law enforcement officers failed to intervene as an 18-year-old gunman with a semiautomatic rifle remained inside a pair of connected fourth grade classrooms. “During that period, no one assumed a leadership role to direct the response towards the active shooter, provide situational status to responding officers, establish some form of incident command, or clearly assume and communicate the role of incident commander,” the report said. All told, fewer than 10 law enforcement officers on the scene that day are known to have either been fired or resigned. (Associated Press / New York Times / Washington Post / NBC News / Wall Street Journal / NPR / Politico / USA Today)

3/ Texas refused to comply with a cease-and-desist letter from the Biden administration demanding that Texas National Guard stop blocking U.S. Border Patrol agents from accessing a public park. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton rejected the Biden administration’s demand that the state abandon the public park along the U.S.-Mexico border. “Because the facts and law side with Texas, the State will continue utilizing its constitutional authority to defend her territory, and I will continue defending those lawful efforts in court,” Paxton said. Homeland Security officials said a woman and two children drowned in the Rio Grande after Border Patrol agents “were physically barred by Texas officials from entering the area” under orders from Republican Gov. Greg Abbott. The Biden administration has threatened to “refer the matter to the Department of Justice for appropriate action” if Texas continues to deny Border Patrol agents full access to the area. (CBS News / NBC News / Axios)

4/ Florida House Republicans introduced legislation that would ban flags that depict a “racial, sexual orientation and gender, or political ideology viewpoint” in government buildings and schools. Republicans claim the ban on flags is to protect children from being “subliminally indoctrinated with critical race theory, Marxism and transgender ideology” in classrooms. Critics called legislation an attempt by Republicans to “bully” the LGBTQ and minority communities in the state. In the past two years, Florida banned “classroom discussion about sexual orientation or gender identity” in the state’s public schools, ordered its schools to ignore federal guidelines aimed at protecting LGBTQ students and teachers from discrimination, expanded its ban on classroom instruction about sexual orientation and gender identity, banned an AP African-American Studies course, and released new standards for teaching Black history that requires students to learn that enslaved people “developed skills” that “could be applied for their personal benefit.” (Axios / Politico / Associated Press / The Hill / The Guardian)

Day 1093: "Loudly saying things that are false."

1/ A Maine judge delayed ruling on whether Trump’s name can appear on that state’s primary ballot, saying the Supreme Court needs to issue a decision on a similar case in Colorado first. Earlier this year, Maine’s secretary of state removed Trump from the ballot based on the Constitution’s “insurrectionist ban.” The ruling sent the case back to Maine’s secretary of state, ordering her to modify, withdraw or confirm her ruling after the Supreme Court rules on the Colorado case. Oral arguments on the Colorado case are scheduled for Feb. 8. For now, Trump’s name is still on the ballot for the Maine Republican primary on March 5, which is Super Tuesday. (Associated Press / Axios / NPR / New York Times / Washington Post / CNN)

2/ A federal judge threatened to throw Trump out of court for making “disruptive” comments while E. Jean Carroll’s testified at his defamation trial. After an initial warning from Judge Lewis Kaplan, Carroll’s lawyer complained a second time that Trump could still be heard “loudly saying things that are false,” including “it is a witch hunt” and “it really is a con job,” while the columnist was testifying. Kaplan warned Trump that while he “has the right to be present here. That right can be forfeited and it can be forfeited if he is disruptive […] I hope I don’t have to consider excluding you from the trial.” Trump then threw his hands up and fired back at the judge: “I would love it, I would love it.” At the time of the exchange, Carroll was testifying about how Trump’s attacks on her credibility – after she publicly accused him of a sexual assault – led to threats of violence from his supporters and that put her in fear for her safety. A jury in a separate civil case last year found that Trump sexually abused and defamed Carroll and owed her $5 million in damages. This new trial is focused on whether Trump owes Carroll additional damages for separate comments he made about her. (Associated Press / Washington Post / New York Times / NBC News / Wall Street Journal / CNN / CNBC)

3/ The Supreme Court’s conservative majority seemed inclined to overturn or limit a 40-year-old precedent that gives federal agencies wide latitude to interpret unclear laws. The justices heard two cases concerning the so-called “Chevron deference,” which requires federal judges to defer to federal agencies when they offer a reasonable interpretation of an ambiguous statute. The 1984 decision was intended to stop judges from substituting their own interpretations of statues over the expertise of agencies. During 3 1/2 hours of oral arguments, the conservative majority generally signaled skepticism toward the Chevron deference, though it was unclear whether the court had the votes to overturn the ruling. The court could also take a different approach and place limits on when lower court judges can defer to agencies without overturning Chevron. (NBC News / CNN / NPR / Politico / New York Times / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal / Axios)

  • 💡 What’s at stake? The potential rollback of the Chevron deference by the Supreme Court would fundamentally alter how federal agencies implement laws aimed at safeguarding public interests, especially in areas like environmental protection and public health. Federal agencies have traditionally used the deference to swiftly implement laws in response to emerging issues. If the Chevron deference is eliminated, agencies will face increased judicial scrutiny, leading to a decrease in regulatory action. This shift not only affects the environment and public health, but also impacts economic regulations, consumer protections, and education policies. Further, it also shifts the balance of power between the branches of government, potentially weakening the executive branch’s role in day-to-day governance.

4/ The Biden administration put the Houthi militant group back on a global terrorism list in response to their dozens of attacks on merchant and commercial vessels in the Red Sea. The “specially designated global terrorists” designation triggers an asset freeze and blocks the Iran-backed group’s access to the global financial system. After taking office, Biden removed the Trump administration’s designation of the Houthis as terrorists, arguing that it hampered humanitarian assistance to people in Yemen. (Washington Post / CNN / Axios / CNBC / Bloomberg / New York Times)

Day 1092: "The situation sucks."

1/ Congressional leaders agreed on a short-term funding bill to avert a partial government shutdown. The House, however, canceled votes on the spending bill due to a winter storm despite several agencies and government functions set to run out of funding on Friday. The continuing resolution will extend the current two-tier funding deadline structure through March 1 and March 8 to give lawmakers more time to write and pass all 12 spending bills for the current fiscal year. (Politico / Axios / NPR / CBS News / NBC News)

2/ Trump won the Iowa Republican caucuses by an unprecedented margin, defeating Ron DeSantis by some 30 points. About 31 minutes after caucusing began, networks declared Trump the winner. Trump, facing 91 charges across four criminal cases, won 98 of 99 counties in Iowa. (Axios / Associated Press / New York Times / Washington Post / Bloomberg / CNN)

  • [Poll] 66% of Iowa caucus-goers said Biden did not legitimately win the presidential election in 2020. 69% of those voters supported Trump. (Washington Post)
  • [Poll] 72% of Republicans agree that immigrants who enter the U.S. illegally are “poisoning the blood” of America. (CBS News)
  • Vivek Ramaswamy suspended his presidential campaign following Iowa caucuses. Ramaswamy won about 8% of support from caucusgoers. (CBS News / NBC News)
  • Asa Hutchinson suspended his presidential campaign after coming in last place at the Iowa caucuses. (CBS News)

3/ Biden is reportedly “running out” of patience with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as the war against Hamas in Gaza entered its 100th day. Despite unprecedented military and diplomatic support, Biden hasn’t spoken to Netanyahu in more than 20 days due to Netanyahu’s resistance to address U.S. priorities, unwillingness to discuss plans for after the war, and his rejection of the U.S. plan for a reformed Palestinian Authority to have a role in post-Hamas Gaza. One U.S. official remarked: “The situation sucks and we are stuck.” Netanyahu, nevertheless, vowed to keep fighting until “total victory,” adding: “Nobody will stop us — not The Hague, not the axis of evil and not anybody else.” The Hague is currently hearing accusations that Israel is committing genocide against the Palestinians in Gaza. (Axios / New York Times / NBC News / CNN)

4/ The U.S. has carried out its third military strike against Yemen-based Houthis, targeting four anti-ship ballistic missiles apparently being readied by the Iran-backed rebel group to attack commercial vessels and Navy ships. The militants have launched nearly 30 attacks on merchant ships in the region since November, vowing solidarity with Palestinians in Gaza and linking their actions to Western support for Israel. Many of the group’s targets, however, have had no connection to Israel. (New York Times / Washington Post / Associated Press / ABC News / CNN)

5/ The Biden administration demanded that Texas stop blocking federal Border Patrol agents from accessing a section of the U.S. southern border after a woman and two children drowned in the Rio Grande. Homeland Security said that when Border Patrol agents tried to respond to a distress call, they were “physically barred” by Texas Military Department agents from accessing the area, which had blocked off the area with fencing, gates, and razor wire. Texas officials said the three drownings had already occurred when Border Patrol asked for permission to enter the area. “It is impossible to say what might have happened if Border Patrol had had its former access to the area — including through its surveillance trucks that assisted in monitoring the area,” the Justice Department said. “At the very least, however, Border Patrol would have had the opportunity to take any available steps to fulfill its responsibilities and assist its counterparts in the Mexican government with undertaking the rescue mission. Texas made that impossible.” (CBS News / New York Times / CNN)

6/ Trump returned to a New York courtroom for the start of his second civil trial over a defamation lawsuit filed by E. Jean Carroll, who previously brought a civil lawsuit alleging Trump raped her in a Manhattan department store and then defamed her when he denied her story. Last year, a jury found Trump had sexually abused Carroll and then defamed her, awarding her $5 million in damages. This trial is for a separate incident of defamation, and will determine the damages Trump owes after remarks he made about Carroll during a televised town hall last year following the end of the first trial. (NPR / Axios / Politico)

Day 1087: "One of the greatest shows of hypocrisy in history."

1/ Trump defied the judge presiding over his $370 million civil fraud trial and delivered a brief courtroom speech claiming that he’s an “innocent man” and that the lawsuit brought by New York Attorney General Letitia James is “a fraud on me.” Judge Arthur Engoron had previously denied Trump’s request to give his own closing statement because Trump wouldn’t agree to refrain from personal attacks. Nevertheless, Trump’s attorney asked Engoron to allow Trump to speak for two to three minutes during closing arguments. Engoron then asked Trump if he would agree to stick to case-related subjects, which prompted Trump to begin his diatribe. For roughly five minutes, Trump claimed that James “hates Trump and uses Trump to get elected,” that the case was a “political witch hunt,” and demanded that prosecutors “should pay me for what I’ve gone through.” Trump then attacked Engoron, remarking that “You have your own agenda […] You can’t listen for more than one minute.” Engoron then instructed Trump’s lawyer to “control your client,” who didn’t appear to make any effort to do so. The trial has now concluded and Engoron said he plans to issue his ruling later this month. James has asked Engoron to impose $370 million in penalties and permanently bar Trump from running a business in New York. Hours before the trial’s final day began, police responded to a “swatting incident” at Engoron’s home. The bomb squad was called to investigate, but nothing was found. (Associated Press / New York Times / NBC News / CNN / Washington Post / Axios)

2/ South Africa formally accused Israel of committing genocide in Gaza. South Africa called on the International Court of Justice to order Israel to immediately suspend its “continuous bombing” of the Gaza Strip, where more than 23,400 people have been killed since the war began, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry. More than 59,600 have been injured, and thousands more are missing and presumed dead. South Africa condemned Hamas’ attacks, but said “nothing” could justify Israel’s response. Lawyers representing South Africa argued that Israel’s military campaign was intended to “bring about the destruction” of the Palestinian population, noting that comments by Israeli leaders – calling Palestinians “human animals” – and actions – imposing a “complete siege” on the Gaza Strip – signaled “genocidal intent.” Israel dismissed the accusation as “absurd blood libel,” “atrocious and preposterous,” and called the case “one of the greatest shows of hypocrisy in history.” U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, meanwhile, described the case as “meritless,” and called it “particularly galling given that those who are attacking Israel – Hamas, Hezbollah, the Houthis, as well as their supporter of Iran – continue to openly call for the annihilation of Israel and the mass murder of Jews.” The court is expected to rule on South Africa’s request to stop the violence in Gaza within weeks, but a verdict on the question of genocide could take years. While the court’s rulings are legally binding, enforcement can be difficult. (CNN / New York Times / NBC News / Washington Post / Associated Press)

  • Looming Starvation in Gaza Shows Resurgence of Civilian Sieges in Warfare. “A U.N.-affiliated panel said the territory could tip into famine very soon. International laws to protect people from human-made famines offer little help.” (New York Times)

  • American intel officials warn of risk of Hezbollah attacking U.S. “U.S. officials assess that there’s a rising risk Lebanese Hezbollah militants will strike Americans in the Middle East — and even potentially hit inside the United States.” (Politico)

3/ The House Freedom Caucus continued to hold the chamber hostage while pressuring Speaker Mike Johnson to renege on the bipartisan spending deal to avert a government shutdown. Yesterday, members of the far-right group and their allies revolted against the bipartisan spending deal, openly criticized Johnson, and blocked a procedural vote on an unrelated bill in protest over the $1.66 trillion bipartisan spending deal. The ultra-conservative group is demanding the top-line budget number be at least $70 billion less, and include new border security. Some frustrated Republican centrists and appropriators are calling on Johnson to stick to the bipartisan deal and punish the conservatives. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, meanwhile, plans to introduce a short-term stopgap spending plan in order to give Congress more time to work out the details of the bipartisan spending agreement. (Politico / NBC News / Bloomberg)

4/ The Pentagon failed to properly track $1 billion worth of military equipment sent to Ukraine for its defense against Russia, according to a report by the Defense Department’s inspector general. The report, however, offered no evidence that any of the items – including night vision devices, air defense missiles, anti-tanks missiles, launch equipment, and kamikaze drones – have been misused or stolen. The new report comes as Congress debates whether to authorize a supplemental package of more than $60 billion in aid for Ukraine amid significant Republican opposition. (CNN / Bloomberg / New York Times)

✨ Well, That’s Fantastic!

  1. U.S. carbon emissions shrank in 2023 for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic. Last year, U.S. greenhouse gas pollution from energy and industrial activities fell by 1.9% despite the economy growing by about 2.4%. To put that into perspective: in 2023, the U.S. emitted as much carbon as it did in 1991, when the economy was about a quarter of its current size. (Heatmap / NBC News)

  2. The world’s capacity to generate renewable electricity grew by 50% in 2023 – the fastest rate in the past 25 years. The International Energy Agency reported that the global energy systems’ renewable energy capacity reached nearly 510 gigawatts last year – enough to power nearly 51 million homes for a year. About 75% of the growth was in increased solar capacity. (Associated Press / The Hill / International Energy Agency)

  3. U.S. battery storage capacity could double in 2024 if all of the planned energy storage systems are brought online on schedule. Since 2021, battery storage in the U.S. has been growing, ending last year with around 16 gigawatts utility-scale battery capacity. Developers plan to add another 15 GW in 2024 – an 89% increase(!) – and around another 9 GW in 2025. Meanwhile, 12 GW of coal-fired capacity is expected to retire in 2024 and 2025. (Power Engineering / Energy Information Administration)

  4. The Biden administration announced $623 million in grants to support electric vehicle charging infrastructure across the country. The grants will support 47 projects in 22 states and Puerto Rico, with an emphasis on rural areas and underserved communities, and lead to the construction of about 7,500 new EV charging ports. (Wired / ABC News)

Day 1086: "Irrelevant matters."

1/ House Republicans revolted against a bipartisan spending deal, openly criticized their new speaker, and blocked a procedural vote on an unrelated bill. As a result, House votes for the day were cancelled while Speaker Mike Johnson attempts to reach a deal with members of the ultra-conservative House Freedom Caucus. The 13 hard-line GOP members said they were “absolutely not” happy with Johnson, because “we’ve been involved in nothing” and the agreement largely resembles the one former Speaker Kevin McCarthy reached with Biden last year. The group also complained that the bipartisan spending deal, which would avert a partial government shutdown starting next week, was “unacceptable” because it doesn’t “secure the border” or “cut our spending.” (Axios / Politico / Wall Street Journal / CNN / NBC News)

2/ Hunter Biden made a unannounced appearance at the House Oversight Committee’s meeting on whether to hold him in contempt of Congress. Hunter Biden skipped the closed-door deposition last month, citing concerns that Republicans would distort his comments. “You are the epitome of white privilege, coming to the Oversight Committee, spitting in our face, ignoring a congressional subpoena to be deposed — what are you afraid of?” Republican Nancy Mace said, adding: “You have no balls.” Hunter Biden, however, has offered to testify publicly at least six times, but Republicans have refused the offer and insisted that any interview be held privately. Nevertheless, both the Judiciary and Oversight Committees voted along party lines to recommend holding him in contempt of Congress. (Politico / Washington Post / NBC News / NPR / Associated Press / New York Times)

3/ Trump will not be allowed to personally make a closing argument at his New York civil fraud trial after refusing to abide by the judge’s restrictions — including that he not give “a campaign speech” and that he sticks to “relevant” matters. Judge Arthur Engoron said he was initially “inclined” to let Trump speak with the caveat he limits his remarks to the “relevant, material facts” of the case, doesn’t introduce new evidence, “testify,” “comment on irrelevant matters,” “deliver a campaign speech,” or “impugn myself, my staff, plaintiff, plaintiff’s staff or the New York State Court System.” A Trump attorney, however, said Trump “cannot agree […] to the proposed preconditions and prior restraints.” Closing arguments are slated to take place on Thursday. Attorney General Letitia James has asked Engoron to impose a $370 million fine, ban Trump from working in New York’s real estate industry for life, and ban him from serving as an officer or director of a New York corporation. (Associated Press / NBC News / CNN / New York Times / Axios / CNBC)

4/ Trump, forgetting that his own mother was born in Scotland, baselessly promoted a false “birther” conspiracy theory that Nikki Haley is ineligible to be president because her parents were not U.S. citizens when she was born. Trump’s latest attack comes as a recent poll shows Haley cutting into his lead in New Hampshire, and his own eligibility under the insurrection clause of the Constitution is now under review by the Supreme Court. While Haley’s parents became citizens after her birth, she was born in South Carolina. Under the 14th Amendment, being born in the U.S. makes her a natural-born citizen, and therefore eligible to become president. Trump has previously used the false “birther” claims against then-President Barack Obama and later against Ted Cruz. (NBC News / NPR / New York Times)

  • 📆 Republican presidential primary debate tonight. Ron DeSantis and Nikki Haley are set to go head-to-head on CNN, while Trump will take part in a Fox News town hall at the same time. Chris Christie, suspended his presidential campaign, and Vivek Ramaswamy didn’t qualify for the debate.

Day 1085: "Trump doesn’t give a damn about people."

1/ The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit reacted with skepticism to Trump’s unprecedented claim that a president could only be charged with a crime if they’ve been impeached and convicted by Congress first. Trump argued that prosecuting him for “official acts” unless first impeached by the House and convicted by the Senate would “open a Pandora’s box” of indicting other former presidents for actions they took while in office. At one point, when asked hypothetically if a president could face prosecution for ordering the SEAL Team Six to assassinate a political rival, Trump’s lawyer argued that such a case could only proceed “if he were impeached and convicted first.” If that’s the case, the Justice Department lawyer representing special counsel Jack Smith asked, “what kind of world are we living in” if a president can order a political assassination and avoid criminal charges by resigning before he can be impeached, adding that Trump’s view of immunity would mean an “extraordinarily frightening future.” All three judges appeared unlikely to dismiss Smith’s election subversion charges against Trump on claims of presidential immunity. Following the hearing, Trump warned of “bedlam” and declined to rule out political violence if the criminal charges against him hurt him in the 2024 election. [Editor’s Note: I typically avoid speculative reporting, prioritizing concrete events (i.e. it’s called “WHAT The Fuck Just Happened Today?” after all). However, the exceptional nature of this situation demands our attention as its outcome impacts democratic norms and necessitates a thorough examination.] (New York Times / Washington Post / CNN / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal / NBC News / NPR / ABC News / Associated Press / Politico / The Guardian)

  • ✨ Why should I care? The Constitution was designed to prevent the concentration of power and ensure accountability, including for the President. Granting immunity to a former president would conflict with these principles, potentially creating a dangerous precedent where presidential power is unchecked and unbalanced. The outcome will either affirm or challenge the foundational values of American democracy. If Trump is granted immunity, it could lead to a dangerous precedent where former presidents evade legal accountability, undermining the rule of law. Additionally, it serves as a reminder of the citizen’s role in democracy – to be informed, engaged, and critical of the actions of elected officials. This case demonstrates the necessity for a robust and independent judiciary as a check on executive power, emphasizing the importance of separation of powers in preserving democratic governance.

  • ✏️ A federal court in Georgia is hearing a case on the security of the state’s voting machines. Despite Trump’s allegations, multiple audits and recounts in Georgia using these machines in 2020 and 2022 found no evidence of fraud. The trial is set to conclude by mid-2024, possibly affecting the general election. A ruling against the state could force changes in voting methods or increased security measures. (Politico)

2/ Trump said he hoped the economy would crash this year so the blame falls on Biden rather during his hypothetical second term. “And when there’s a crash, I hope it’s going to be during this next 12 months because I don’t want to be Herbert Hoover. The one president – I just don’t want to be Herbert Hoover,” Trump said. The U.S. stock market crashed during Hoover’s first year in office in 1929, which evolved into the Great Depression. “Donald Trump should just say he doesn’t give a damn about people, because that’s exactly what he’s telling the American people when he says he hopes the economy crashes,” Biden’s campaign manager said. “In his relentless pursuit of power and retribution, Donald Trump is rooting for a reality where millions of Americans lose their jobs and live with the crushing anxiety of figuring out how to afford basic needs.” The White House added: “A commander in chief’s duty is to always put the American people first; never to hope that hard-working families suffer economic pain for their own political benefit.” Trump’s comments came amid rising consumer confidence, cooling inflation, lower gas prices, rising wages, and optimism that the economy can achieve a so-called soft landing and avoid a recession. (CNN / Wall Street Journal / New York Times / CNN / CNBC)

3/ Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned Israel to “stop taking steps that undercut the Palestinians’ ability to govern themselves effectively.” Blinken met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other top Israeli leaders in an effort to push the U.S. ally to moderate its assault on the Gaza Strip, defuse regional tensions to prevent a broader war, and to work with Palestinians and neighboring countries to rebuild and govern the territory. “Extremists settler violence carried out with impunity, settlement expansion, demolitions, evictions all make it harder – not easier – for Israel to achieve lasting peace and security,” Blinken said. “Israel must be a partner to Palestinian leaders who are willing to lead their people in living side by side in peace with Israel as neighbors.” Far-right members of the Israeli government, however, have called for the mass removal of Palestinian civilians from Gaza and dismissed American demands for a “revamped and revitalized” Palestinian Authority, which runs parts of the West Bank, to take control in a postwar, Hamas-free Gaza. (Washington Post / CNN / NBC News / New York Times / Associated Press)

4/ Last year was Earth’s hottest in recorded history. The European Union’s climate agency reported that global temperatures in 2023 were “exceptionally high,” and averaging 1.48 degrees Celsius (2.66 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels during 1850-1900. This year is predicted to be even hotter, with Earth’s 12-month average temperature likely to exceed 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) – the limit established by the 2015 Paris Agreement to limit warming to 1.5 degrees C (2.7 degrees F) above pre-industrial times to avert the most catastrophic consequences of climate change. (NBC News / Axios / Associated Press / Washington Post / New York Times)

Day 1084: "Fair notice."

1/ The Supreme Court agreed to review the Colorado Supreme Court’s decision to remove Trump from that state’s ballot. The court will hear the case on an expedited basis with arguments starting Feb. 8. The Colorado Republican Party urged the justices to rule by March 5, when many states, including Colorado, hold their primaries. Last month, Colorado’s top court disqualified Trump from the ballot, finding he engaged in an insurrection before and during the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol. Maine’s secretary of state also barred Trump from that ballot over his role in the Capitol attack. Trump is separately appealing that ruling to a state court in Maine. The Republican National Committee and the National Republican Congressional Committee, meanwhile, filed an amicus brief with the Supreme Court supporting Trump’s efforts to remain on the 2024 ballot. (New York Times / NPR / NBC News / Washington Post / Associated Press / CBS News / CNN / Bloomberg)

  • Trump refused to sign Illinois’ ballot pledge to not “advocate the overthrow of the government.” “Under Illinois law, presidential candidates wanting to be on the state’s March 19th primary ballot had to turn in their nominating petitions to the State Board of Elections on Thursday or Friday, and the loyalty oath is a time-honored part of that process.” (WBEZ / Chicago Sun-Times)

  • Trump suggested that if he is re-elected he would have Biden indicted. “Trump has argued that former presidents are entitled to absolute immunity from criminal prosecution for any “official acts” conducted during their presidency.” (NBC News)

2/ Trump asked a Georgia judge to dismiss his 13 felony racketeering and conspiracy charges for trying to subvert the 2020 election, claiming the election subversion case violated presidential immunity, double jeopardy, and due process protections. Trump argued that pressuring Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger in January 2021 to “find” enough votes to overturn Biden’s victory in the state was part of his official duties as president, and therefore he should enjoy immunity from criminal prosecution. In addition, Trump argued in the due process motion that he “lacked fair notice” that his baseless claims about widespread election fraud could be criminalized. Trump also argued that the case should be tossed because he was tried and acquitted on related charges before the U.S. Senate during his second impeachment, citing double jeopardy. (NBC News / CNN / Politico / New York Times / Bloomberg / ABC News / CBS News / Axios)

3/ The Supreme Court allowed Idaho to enforce its near-total ban on abortions, agreeing to hear an appeal in the case and scheduling arguments for April. A ruling is expected by the end of June. Idaho’s 2020 law bans most abortions and makes it a crime with a prison term of up to five years for anyone who performs or assists in an abortion, with an exception when “necessary to prevent the death of a pregnant woman.” In August 2022 the Biden administration sued to block the law, arguing that it illegally conflicts with the federal Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act, which requires hospitals to provide “necessary stabilizing treatment” when the health of the mother is in danger. (NPR / NBC News / Associated Press / Washington Post / New York Times / USA Today)

4/ House Republicans and Senate Democrats reached an agreement to avert a shutdown and keep the federal government funded until the end of the fiscal year. The deal would establish an overall spending level of $1.66 trillion for the 2024 fiscal year, setting spending levels at $886 billion for the military and $772 billion for other non-defense federal spending. The agreement is inline with the deal that Biden and then-Speaker Kevin McCarthy agreed to last year, who was later ousted by far-right House Republicans in October for cutting a deal with Biden and the Democrats. Nevertheless, the Freedom Caucus called Speaker Mike Johnson’s agreement a “total failure” and “totally unacceptable.” The House and Senate now have to craft the underlying bills and pass them in less than two weeks to avert a partial government shutdown. Funding for roughly 20% of the government will run out on Jan. 19, and money for the rest of the government runs out on Feb. 2. (Politico / New York Times / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / NBC News / NPR)

✏️ Notables.

  1. The Pentagon didn’t tell Biden, Congress, or other top officials that Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin was hospitalized. Austin first underwent what military officials described as an “elective medical procedure” on Dec. 22 and remained at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. On Jan. 1, Austin was admitted to the ICU related to complications from his procedure. The White House and Congress were notified on Jan. 4. (Politico / NPR / New York Times / Wall Street Journal)

  2. House Republicans recommended Hunter Biden be held in contempt of Congress for defying a subpoena, saying he “violated federal law.” Last month, Hunter Biden offered to answer questions in a public setting, contending that the Republican-led committees would release excerpts of the closed-door testimony in small batches that lacked context in an effort to damage the Biden family politically. (NBC News / Axios)

  3. 32% of Republicans disapprove of the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. Three years ago, 51% disapproved of those who forced their way into the Capitol to disrupted the peaceful transfer of power. (CBS News)

Day 1080: "A scandal."

1/ Trump’s businesses received at least $7.8 million from foreign governments – most of it from China – during his time in office, according to a report by the House Oversight Committee. During the two-year period that the committee was able to review, at least 20 foreign government paid millions to Trump’s hotels in Washington, D.C., Las Vegas, New York’s Trump Tower, and Trump World Tower. Jamie Raskin, the ranking member of the Oversight Committee, said that the $7.8 million is “almost certainly only a fraction of Trump’s harvest of unlawful foreign state money, but this figure in itself is a scandal and a decisive spur to action.” The report argues that the payments violated the Constitution’s foreign emoluments clause, which prohibits a president from accepting money, payments or gifts “of any kind whatever” from foreign governments and monarchs unless he obtains “the consent of the Congress” to do so. Trump never went to Congress to seek consent. The evidence that Trump’s businesses profited from foreign governments during his presidency is the same conduct that House Republicans have unsuccessfully used as the basis of their impeachment inquiry into Biden. The Republican’s yearlong investigation has failed to produce evidence of anything approaching high crimes or misdemeanors. (New York Times / CNN / Washington Post / NBC News / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal / Politico)

  • 🔎 What’s at stake? Trump’s acceptance of millions from foreign governments as president violates constitutional safeguards and undermines American democratic principles and norms. This act not only questions the impartiality of presidential decisions, but also threatens the nation’s integrity and independence. Such conduct risks setting a dangerous precedent where personal gain overshadows national interest, potentially allowing for critical policy decisions to be influenced by foreign entities. This issue is a reminder that in a democracy, leaders must prioritize the country’s welfare above all, maintaining integrity and independence from external influences.

2/ The Justice Department sued Texas over the state’s new law that would allow police to arrest, jail, and prosecute migrants who illegally enter the U.S. The state law makes it a misdemeanor to illegally cross the border and a second-degree felony for illegal re-entry, with punishments ranging from 180 days in jail to 20 years in prison. It also allows judges in Texas to issue de facto deportation orders. The Justice Department argued that the Constitution assigns the federal government – not individual states – the authority to regulate immigration and manage international borders. “Texas cannot run its own immigration system,” the Justice Department wrote in the lawsuit. “Under the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution and longstanding Supreme Court precedent, states cannot adopt immigration laws that interfere with the framework enacted by Congress.” (Associated Press / Axios / Politico / CBS News)

3/ Florida’s surgeon general – citing widely debunked misinformation – called for a halt to using mRNA coronavirus vaccines. Joseph Ladapo has repeatedly falsely claimed that the vaccine is ineffective and can permanently contaminate human DNA. Federal health officials and other experts, meanwhile, have refuted each of Ladapo’s false claims. “We’ve seen this pattern from Dr. Ladapo that every few months he raises some new concern and it quickly gets debunked,” Ashish Jha, a former White House Covid-19 response coordinator, said. “This idea of DNA fragments — it’s scientific nonsense. People who understand how these vaccines are made and administered understand that there is no risk here.” The coronavirus vaccines have prevented more than 3 millions deaths and saved the U.S. more than $1 trillion in medical costs. Covid hospitalizations, meanwhile, have been on the rise nationally, with nearly 30,000 Americans newly hospitalized the week of Dec. 23. (Washington Post / New York Times / The Guardian / The Hill)

4/ Federal prosecutors accused Sen. Bob Menendez of using his political influence to benefit Qatar and Egypt. The superseding indictment accuses Menendez of taking actions to benefit the government of Qatar in exchange for cash, gold bars, luxury watches, and Formula 1 tickets. In addition to the bribery charges, Menendez is accused of acting as a foreign agent for the government of Egypt while serving as the chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Menendez has resisted calls that he resign from the Senate and has not ruled out running for re-election. His trial is scheduled for May. (New York Times / ABC News / Washington Post / CNN)

poll/ 25% of Americans falsely believe the FBI “probably” or “definitely” instigated the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. 11% think there is “solid evidence” that the FBI organized and encouraged the attack, while 13% say this is their “suspicion only.” Among Republicans, 34% said the FBI instigated the attack, compared with 30% of independents, and 13% of Democrats. (Washington Post)

Day 1079: "The fate of our democracy."

1/ Trump asked the Supreme Court to keep his name on Colorado ballot. Last month, the Colorado Supreme Court ruled that Trump engaged in an insurrection before and during the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol and as a result Trump was “disqualified from holding the office of President under Section Three of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.” It was the first time that Section 3 of the 14th Amendment’s “insurrection clause” has been used to disqualify a presidential candidate. And, last week Maine’s secretary of state removed Trump from the state’s presidential primary ballot based on the Constitution’s “insurrectionist ban.” Both states – which hold their primaries on Super Tuesday on March 5 – temporarily put their decisions on hold so they could be appealed. (Washington Post / CNN / ABC News / NBC News / New York Times / Wall Street Journal / Associated Press)

2/ Biden will mark the third anniversary of the Jan. 6 insurrection with a speech at a key site in the Revolutionary War. Biden will deliver remarks – expected to highlight the stakes of the presidential election – near a site where a group of militias gathered to form a coalition to fight for democracy in the 1770s, and where George Washington rallied troops into a unified army. “We are running a campaign like the fate of our democracy depends on it, because it does,” Biden’s reelection campaign said, adding: If Trump wins in November, he “will use all of his power to systematically dismantle and destroy our democracy.” Trump faces 91 criminal charges stemming from his efforts to overturn his loss to Biden and three other felony cases. (Associated Press / NBC News / Washington Post / NPR / Axios)

  • 💡 American democracy has overcome big stress tests since the 2020 election. More challenges are ahead. “Trump is running for the White House again and has been dominating the Republican primary as the first votes approach. He has called for pardoning those prosecuted for the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol, continues to insist falsely that the 2020 election was ‘stolen’ and says he will use the federal government to seek revenge on his political enemies. Trump has used increasingly authoritarian rhetoric as he campaigns for the GOP nomination. If he wins, allies have been planning to seed the government with loyalists so the bureaucracy doesn’t hinder Trump’s more controversial plans the way it did during his first term.” (Associated Press)

3/ At least six states were forced to evacuate their state capitols after receiving bomb threats. No explosives were found and federal officials dismissed the threats as a hoax, which was sent via a mass email titled “Explosives inside of your State Capitol.” The email was sent to government offices in at least 23 states, although no specific state was mentioned in the email. The FBI said it was aware of the “numerous hoax” bomb threats. (Axios / ABC News / Washington Post / CNN / NPR / Associated Press)

4/ A federal appeals court ruled that Texas hospitals and doctors are not required to perform emergency abortions despite the Biden administration arguing that federal guidance takes priority over state laws. Texas had sued the Department of Health and Human Services over its 2022 guidance that required health providers to perform abortions in emergency situations, in accordance with a 1986 federal law that requires emergency rooms to provide stabilizing care regardless of a patient’s ability to pay. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, however, concluded that the federal law “does not mandate any specific type of medical treatment, let alone abortion.” The law “does not govern the practice of medicine,” the court added. (NBC News / Axios / New York Times / Washington Post / Texas Tribune)

Day 1078: "Of course."

1/ Maine’s secretary of state removed Trump from the state’s presidential primary ballot based on the Constitution’s “insurrectionist ban.” The decision makes Maine the second state to disqualify Trump from office, after the Colorado Supreme Court removed him from the ballot because of his actions before and during the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. Hours later, California announced that Trump would remain on the ballot in the nation’s most populous state, despite a request from the state’s lieutenant governor to consider excluding him on constitutional grounds. The Michigan Supreme Court, meanwhile, declined to hear a case attempting to remove Trump from the state’s ballot. Trump is expected to appeal the Colorado Supreme Court ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court and the decision by Maine’s secretary of state to that state’s Superior Court. (Associated Press / CNN / Washington Post / New York Times / Politico / CNN / Detroit Free Press / New York Times / Washington Post / Politico)

  • [Poll] 53% of Americans said Trump bears “a great deal” or “a good amount” of responsibility for the Jan. 6 attack. Two years ago, 60% of Americans blamed Trump for the attack. Among Republicans, 14% say Trump bears responsibility for the attack on the Capitol, about half as many as did in 2021 (27%). (Washington Post)

2/ A federal judge approved Georgia’s new, Republican-drawn congressional map that preserves Republican power. In October, the judge ordered the Georgia General Assembly to draw new congressional and state legislative maps to include an additional majority-Black district, two additional majority-Black state senate districts, and five additional majority-Black state House districts following the 2020 census, which diluted the political power of Black voters. The Republican-controlled legislature, however, approved a new congressional map that complied with the order, but safeguarded the Republicans 9-5 edge in its U.S. House delegation. (CNN / CBS News / Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

3/ Nikki Haley declined to say that slavery was a cause of the Civil War. Instead, she said the causes were “basically how the government was going to run” and “freedoms and what people could and couldn’t do.” The Republican candidate then turned the question around on the person who asked it. Hours later, Haley baselessly blamed a Democratic “plant” for the question at her New Hampshire campaign event and said “of course the Civil War was about slavery.” (ABC News / Politico / Associated Press)

4/ Ohio’s Republican governor vetoed a bill that would have prevented minors from receiving gender-affirming health care and restricted transgender girls’ participation on school sports teams. Mike DeWine said the “gut-wrenching” decision about whether a minor should have access to gender-affirming care “should not be made by the government, should not be made by the state of Ohio,” rather it should be made by the child’s parents and doctors. DeWine is one of two Republican governors who have vetoed restrictions on gender-affirming care. (NBC News / Axios / Associated Press / New York Times)

5/ A senior Hamas leader was killed by Israel in an explosion in Beirut – the biggest Israeli strike on the Lebanese capital since the 2006 war between the two countries. Israel, however, said it had “not taken responsibility” for the attack that killed Saleh al-Arouri in Lebanon, adding that they were bracing for retaliatory strikes from Hezbollah and Hamas militants in Lebanon. Senior U.S. officials, however, confirmed that Israel was responsible for the strike, raising concerns of a regional escalation of the war in Gaza. The Biden administration, meanwhile, bypassed Congress to approve a $147.5 million emergency sale of weapons to Israel. More than 22,000 people have been killed in Gaza since the war began, and about half of Gaza’s 2.2 million people are at risk of starvation, and 90% regularly go without food for a whole day. (CNN / NBC News / Washington Post / New York Times / Politico / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal / New York Times / ABC News)

Day 1072: "Dictatorship," "revenge," and "power."

1/ The Supreme Court rejected special counsel Jack Smith’s request to immediately decide whether Trump is immune from prosecution for bid to overturn his 2020 election loss. The decision raises the possibility that Trump’s federal 2020 election trial will be delayed beyond its scheduled March 4 start date – the day before the Super Tuesday primary contests. A federal appeals court, meanwhile, is simultaneously considering the issue. Arguments before the court are set for Jan. 9, and the losing party will likely appeal and send the matter right back to the Supreme Court early in the new year. (New York Times / Washington Post / NBC News / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal NPR / Axios / Politico)

2/ Trump urged a federal appeals court to dismiss special counsel Jack Smith’s criminal election subversion case, arguing – again – that he is “absolutely immune” from prosecution because plotting to overturn the 2020 election was related to his official duties as president. Trump argued that no current or former president may be criminally prosecuted for “official acts” unless they have been impeached and convicted by the Senate. Since he was twice impeached but acquitted, Trump claims he has “absolute immunity.” The move came a day after the Supreme Court refused to fast track consideration of whether Trump should be immune from prosecution. (NPR / Politico / CNN / Bloomberg / New York Times)

3/ The Michigan Supreme Court rejected an attempt to keep Trump off the state’s 2024 primary ballot based on the Constitution’s “insurrectionist ban.” The ruling contrasts a recent ruling from the Colorado Supreme Court, which removed Trump from its primary ballot because of his role in the Jan. 6 Capitol riot – the first time in history that Section 3 of the 14th Amendment has been used to disqualify a presidential candidate. That decision has been paused pending an appeal, which the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to hear. (Associated Press / CNN / New York Times / Bloomberg / Axios)

4/ Trump endorsed a voter survey describing his potential second term political goals as “dictatorship,” “revenge,” and “power.” Earlier this month, Trump refused to rule out abusing power if re-elected president, saying he would not be a “dictator” if elected in 2024 “other than day one.” Trump has also praised authoritarian leaders, including Chinese President Xi Jinping, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, and North Korean strongman Kim Jong-un. (Politico / Axios)

  • Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco decried Republican claims that the Justice Department has been politicized against Trump, saying those accusations have contributed to an “unprecedented rise” in threats against law enforcement and other officials. “On a weekly basis — sometimes more often — I am getting reports about threats to public officials, threats to our prosecutors, threats to law enforcement agents who work in the Justice Department, threats to judges,” Monaco said. (NBC News / Politico / ABC News)

5/ Rudy Giuliani filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy after being ordered to immediately pay the $148 million he owes for defaming two former Georgia election workers. Giuliani listed his net worth between $1 million and $10 million, but claims he owes as much as $500 million to various creditors. The decision allowed Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss to go after Giuliani’s assets in New York and Florida. (ABC News / Washington Post / Bloomberg / NBC News)

6/ The Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled that the state’s legislative maps, which favor Republicans, are unconstitutional and ordered new maps ahead of the 2024 elections. Under the now-tossed legislative maps, Republicans controlled 64 of the 99 seats in the state Assembly and 22 of the 33 in the state Senate. While the ruling likely won’t swing Republican control of either legislative chamber to Democrats, it will weaken the Republican’s 12-year hold on both. (New York Times / CNN / NBC News)

Day 1065: "Destroying the fabric of our country."

1/ Trump doubled down on his racist and xenophobic comments that undocumented immigrants are “poisoning the blood of our country” and rebuffed bipartisan criticism that his rhetoric echos Hitler. “They’re destroying the blood of our country,” Trump said about undocumented immigrants at a speech in Iowa. “That’s what they’re doing. They’re destroying our country. They don’t like it when I said that — and I never read ‘Mein Kampf.’ They said, ‘Oh, Hitler said that.’” Hitler used the term “blood poisoning” to denigrate immigration in his manifesto “Mein Kampf.” Nevertheless, Trump brushed off the Hitler comparison and claimed that Hitler meant it “in a much different way,” without making his meaning clear. Undocumented immigrants, Trump added, were “destroying the blood of our country” and “destroying the fabric of our country.” Trump is the frontrunner for the Republican presidential nomination. (New York Times / Bloomberg / Politico / NBC News / Associated Press / ABC News)

2/ Biden said there’s “no question” that Trump supported the Jan. 6 insurrection, a day after the Colorado Supreme Court ruled that Trump was disqualified from the state’s 2024 ballot. “Well I think certainly it’s self-evident,” Biden said. “You saw it all. Now whether the 14th Amendment applies, I’ll let the court make that decision. But he certainly supported an insurrection. No question about it — none, zero. And he seems to be doubling down on everything.” Biden’s comments came hours after the state Supreme Court ruled that Trump was ineligible to serve as president because of his role in the Jan. 6 insurrection. “Once again,” Biden said, “[Trump] embraces political violence instead of rejecting it. We can’t let this happen.” Republican Senator Thom Tillis, meanwhile, introduced legislation that would withhold federal election administration funds from states that “misuse” 14th Amendment. The bill would amend the Help America Vote Act of 2002 and add language to clarify that the Supreme Court has “sole jurisdiction” to adjudicate such 14th Amendment cases. (NBC News / Politico / ABC News / Bloomberg / USA Today / Axios / The Hill)

3/ Trump urged the Supreme Court to hold off on deciding whether he is entitled to immunity from federal criminal charges for his efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election. The court filing was in response to special counsel Jack Smith’s request for the Supreme Court to take up consideration of Trump’s immunity claim directly and skip over the appeals court process that could take months to resolve to ensure the trial can start on March 4. Trump’s lawyers argued that Smith has given “no compelling reason” why the Supreme Court should immediately step in other than to ensure “Trump will be subjected to a months-long criminal trial at the height of a presidential campaign where he is the leading candidate.” Earlier this month, Judge Tanya Chutkan denied Trump’s motion to dismiss his indictment on presidential immunity and constitutional grounds, writing that his “four-year service as Commander in Chief did not bestow on him the divine right of kings to evade the criminal accountability that governs his fellow citizens.” (NBC News / Bloomberg / USA Today)

Day 1064: "Trump is disqualified from holding the office of President."

1/ The Colorado Supreme Court removed Trump from the state’s 2024 presidential ballot, ruling that Trump engaged in an insurrection leading up to the riot at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. “A majority of the court holds that President Trump is disqualified from holding the office of President under Section Three of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution,” the decision reads. “Because he is disqualified, it would be a wrongful act under the Election Code for the Colorado Secretary of State to list him as a candidate on the presidential primary ballot.” The decision from Colorado’s high court reverses a lower court’s ruling that said Trump had “engaged in an insurrection,” but that presidents are not subject to Section 3 of the 14th Amendment because they are not an “officer of the United States.” The ruling marks the first time in history that Section 3 of the 14th Amendment’s “insurrection clause” has been used to disqualify a presidential candidate. The ruling was 4-3 and will be placed on hold pending appeal until Jan. 4. [Editor’s note: This is breaking news. More soon.] (Washington Post / New York Times / Politico / CNN / Associated Press / Wall Street Journal / Bloomberg / NBC News / ABC News / CNBC / CBS News / Axios)

2/ Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott signed one of the harshest state immigration laws in modern U.S. history. Senate Bill 4 makes unauthorized border crossings a state crime, authorizes state officials to arrest undocumented immigrants anywhere in the state, and allows judges to issue them de facto deportation orders. The law makes it a state crime – a Class B misdemeanor – to cross the Texas-Mexico border between ports of entry, and carries a punishment of up to six months in jail. Repeat offenders could face a second-degree felony with a punishment of two to 20 years in prison. The law allows a judge to drop the charges if a migrant agrees to be deported to Mexico – regardless of whether or not they emigrated from Mexico in the first place. The American Civil Liberties Union and the Texas Civil Rights Project filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the new Texas law. (Texas Tribune / CBS News / Associated Press / NPR / Axios / New York Times)

3/ After winning a $148 million defamation lawsuit against Rudy Giuliani, two Georgia election workers sued him again. Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss want a court to “permanently bar” Giuliani from repeating his debunked claims and making further defamatory statements against them. After an eight-person federal jury ordered Giuliani to pay the two workers $148 million in damages, Giuliani told reporters that his debunked allegations “were supportable and are supportable today,” adding that “he was in possession of video evidence demonstrating the truth of his allegations.” Giuliani, however, claimed he was unable to present the evidence of “all the videos at the time” showing “what happened at the arena.” In August, U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell found Giuliani was liable for defaming Freeman and Moss, a determination that was based in part on his refusal to preserve and turn over key evidence in the case. (Politico / NBC News / Washington Post / CNBC)

4/ The U.N. Security Council delayed a vote on a new resolution calling for more humanitarian aid and a ceasefire in Gaza. About 20,000 Palestinians have been killed, with 70% of them women and children, by Israeli forces since Oct. 7, and the majority of the enclave’s 2.2 million people have been displaced with an estimated 60% of the population facing starvation. Diplomats have been working to finalize a resolution drafted by the United Arab Emirates, which calls for “cessation of hostilities” to allow for the delivery of needed humanitarian aid, in hopes of getting the U.S. to abstain or vote in favor of the resolution. The U.S. was the only Security Council member to veto the two previous ceasefire resolutions. And in the General Assembly, the U.S. was among 10 countries that voted against a resolution calling for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire. “We’re still working through the modalities of the resolution,” U.S. National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby said. “It’s important for us that the rest of the world understand what’s at stake here and what Hamas did on the 7th of October and how Israel has a right to defend itself against those threats.” Israel, meanwhile, reportedly offered to pause fighting in Gaza for one week as part of a new deal to get Hamas to release more than three dozen hostages. (CNN / NBC News / Associated Press / New York Times / Washington Post / ABC News)

Day 1063: "They're all laughing at us."

1/ Trump approvingly quoted Putin to support his unfounded claim that his four criminal indictments are political payback. During a Saturday campaign stop in New Hampshire, Trump baselessly claimed that Biden is a “threat to democracy” and that “even Vladimir Putin […] says that Biden’s – and this is a quote – politically motivated persecution of his political rival is very good for Russia because it shows the rottenness of the American political system.” Trump added: “They’re all laughing at us.” Trump also called Jan. 6 defendants “hostages,” and praised authoritarian leaders Viktor Orban as “highly respected” and Kim Jong Un as “very nice.” Trump faces 91 criminal charges across four separate cases of falsifying business records in a hush money scheme, mishandling classified documents, and trying to overturn the 2020 election results. There is no evidence that Biden has meddled in the prosecutions of Trump, which are taking place in four different federal and state courts. (Washington Post / New York Times / USA Today / CNN)

2/ Biden condemned Trump for his repeated statements that immigrants are “poisoning the blood” of America,” criticizing the rhetoric as “parroting Adolf Hitler.” During a Sunday speech in Nevada, Trump reiterated his baseless claim that migrants were “invading” the U.S. from prisons and “mental institutions” in other countries, while pledging to conduct the “largest deportation operation in American history” if elected to a second term. The term “blood poisoning” was used by Hitler in “Mein Kampf,” in which he criticized immigration and the mixing of races as an existential threat to the Aryan race. “Echoing the grotesque rhetoric of fascists and violent white supremacists and threatening to oppress those who disagree with the government are dangerous attacks on the dignity and rights of all Americans, on our democracy, and on public safety,” the White House said. “It’s the opposite of everything we stand for as Americans.” Trump’s remarks come as congressional Republicans have stalled a Ukraine-Israel aid package until Democrats agree to unrelated U.S.-Mexico border security reforms. (NBC News / CNN / Associated Press / Politico / Washington Post / The Hill / CNBC / Axios)

3/ A binder containing highly classified information related to Russian election interference disappeared in the final days of Trump’s presidency. The disappearance of the raw intelligence, known as “Crossfire Hurricane,” was so concerning to officials that the Senate Intelligence Committee was briefed about it last year because it contained details that could reveal secret sources and methods. The day before leaving office, Trump had the 10 inches thick binder brought to the White House so he could declassify most of the documents related to the FBI’s Russia investigation. In the two-plus years since Trump left office, the government has been unable to retrieve the missing intelligence, which was last seen at the White House during Trump’s final days in office. (CNN / New York Times)

4/ A federal appeals court rejected an effort by Mark Meadows to move his Georgia election interference case from state court to federal court. The judges found that “the events giving rise to this criminal action were not related to Meadows’s official duties,” and that “even if Meadows were an ‘officer,’ his participation in an alleged conspiracy to overturn a presidential election was not related to his official duties.” A key part of the Fulton County criminal case against Meadows involves setting up a call on Jan. 2, 2021, in which Trump urged Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to “find” enough votes to reverse his election loss in the state. (NBC News / Bloomberg / ABC News)

5/ A jury ordered Rudy Giuliani to pay two Georgia poll workers $148 million after he falsely accused them of helping to steal the 2020 presidential election from Trump. The eight-member panel awarded Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss $16.2 million apiece for claims that Giuliani defamed them, as well as $20 million apiece for the emotional suffering they experienced after Giuliani’s allegations were followed by threats, harassment, and professional consequences. Judge Beryl Howell had previously ruled that Giuliani had defamed the two workers. (NBC News / Politico / CNN / New York Times / Washington Post)

6/ House Democrats called on Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas to recuse himself from the case examining whether Trump is absolutely immune from federal prosecution. Citing the court’s new code of conduct’s guidance on impartiality, Democrats told Thomas that his wife’s activities after the 2020 election raise “serious questions” about his ability to remain impartial in cases that involve the last presidential election and the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol. Ginni Thomas pressed the Trump White House and lawmakers to overturn Biden’s 2020 victory. She exchanged more than two dozen text messages with Mark Meadows to pursue overturning the election in the weeks after the vote, attended the Stop the Steal rally before the Jan. 6 Capitol attack, and told the House committee investigating the attack that she still believed the 2020 election was stolen. Separately, Thomas complained about his salary to a Republican lawmaker in January 2000 – almost a decade into his tenure – and suggested that if Congress didn’t increase salaries, “one or more justices will leave soon.” Thomas made the equivalent of $300,000 today. A month prior, Thomas borrowed $267,000 from a friend to buy a high-end RV. (Washington Post / ProPublica / CBS News / Politico)

Day 1059: "Choosing to waste time."

1/ The White House warned Israel that its “high intensity” war in Gaza needs to “transition to the next lower intensity phase in a matter of weeks, not months.” National security adviser Jake Sullivan called for Israel to end its large-scale ground campaign in the Gaza Strip and to adopt more surgical and precise tactics in its war against Hamas. Biden administration officials believe that moving to lower-intensity fighting will decrease civilian casualties, allow more humanitarian aid into Gaza, and decrease the risk for regional war. The rate of civilian deaths in Gaza has outpaced those of other conflict zones in the 21st century, including “the deadliest moments of U.S.-led attacks in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan, which were themselves widely criticized by human rights groups.” More than 18,700 Palestinians have been killed, with 70% of them women and children. The vast majority of its 2.2 million people are displaced, and around half the population faces starvation. Nevertheless, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant told Sullivan that Hamas will be destroyed, but “it will last more than several months, but we will win.” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also pledged to press ahead with the offensive, saying: “Nothing will stop us. We are going on to the end, until victory, nothing less.” Earlier this week, Biden warned Israel that “indiscriminate bombing” of Gaza was costing it the support of the international community. (Axios / Washington Post / NBC News / New York Times / CNN / ABC News / Associated Press)

2/ Putin suggested that Western support for Ukraine is collapsing and that there would be no peace until Russia achieves its goals. Putin vaguely defined the goals of his “special military operation” as the “demilitarization” and “denazification” of Ukraine – the same false justifications that he used to launch the invasion nearly two years ago. Putin’s annual, four-hour news conference, called “Results of the Year with Vladimir Putin,” comes the same week that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky visited Capitol Hill to make a last-ditch plea for more U.S. military aid. Congressional Republicans, however, have refused to approve additional aid for Ukraine unless it includes unrelated U.S.-Mexico border security reforms. European Union leaders, meanwhile, agreed to open negotiations for Ukraine to join the bloc. (NBC News / ABC News / New York Times / Washington Post / CNBC)

3/ The House and Senate have approved a $886 billion defense policy bill. The National Defense Authorization Act now heads to Biden’s desk for his expected signature. The annual defense bill provides a 5.2% pay raise for military personnel – the largest raise for service members in more than two decades – but also temporarily reauthorizes a controversial, warrantless surveillance program. Notably, many of the conservative provisions, like policies to restrict abortion access and transgender healthcare for service members, were stripped from the package. (NBC News / Washington Post / New York Times / Politico / Wall Street Journal)

4/ Without evidence of high crimes or misdemeanors, House Republicans voted to authorize a bogus impeachment inquiry into Biden. Republicans allege that Biden and his family engaged in an “influence peddling” scheme and took payments from foreign adversaries, despite a yearlong investigation by Republicans on the House Judiciary and Oversight committees that hasn’t produced any evidence of wrongdoing. Following the 221 to 212 party-line vote, Biden denounced the inquiry as “baseless” and accused Republicans of ignoring the country’s “pressing challenges […] Instead of doing anything to help make Americans’ lives better, they are focused on attacking me with lies. Instead of doing their job on the urgent work that needs to be done, they are choosing to waste time.” Republicans are also moving to hold Hunter Biden in contempt of Congress for refusing to comply with their subpoena to testify privately. Hunter Biden said he is willing to testify publicly, citing concerns about Republicans manipulating any private testimony. (ABC News / New York Times / Washington Post/ Associated Press / NPR / Bloomberg / CBS News / NBC News / Axios)

Day 1058: "No one is declaring victory."

1/ The COP28 climate summit ended in a historic deal that committed the world to “transitioning away from fossil fuels” for the first time. It’s the first time in three decades that the annual United Nations climate talks have explicitly called for curtailing fossil fuels. The non-binding deal, however, lacks what many countries and activists wanted: an unequivocal “phaseout” of fossil fuels. The final agreement calls for countries to reduce “both consumption and production of fossil fuels, in a just, orderly and equitable manner” while “accelerating action in this critical decade, so as to achieve net zero by 2050 in keeping with the science.” Over the next two years, countries will submit formal plans for curbing their greenhouse gas emissions through 2035. (Politico / NPR / New York Times / Washington Post / Bloomberg / Axios)

2/ The Supreme Court will decide whether to limit access to the commonly used abortion pill mifepristone. The court agreed to hear the Biden administration’s appeal of a lower court’s ruling that would cut off mail-order prescriptions of mifepristone and require in-person doctor visits, even in states where abortion remains legal. The White House said the lower court ruling “threatens to undermine the FDA’s scientific independent judgment and would reimpose outdated restrictions on access to safe and effective abortion medication.” The Alliance Defending Freedom – a conservative Christian anti-abortion group – filed the legal challenge, claiming the FDA minimized and overlooked the health risks of the drug when it was approved in 2000, and when it approved wider access through telemedicine, mail delivery, and prescribing by pharmacists in 2016. FDA v. Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine will be the Supreme Court’s first abortion case since it overturned Roe v. Wade last year. A decision is expected by the end of June. (Washington Post / New York Times / Politico / Associated Press / NBC News / Bloomberg)

3/ The Supreme Court agreed to hear a challenge to the felony obstruction statute used to charge at least 327 people in connection with the Jan. 6 Capitol riot. The justices will review an appeals court ruling that said the Justice Department could prosecute defendants under a federal law that makes it a crime to obstruct or impede an official proceeding. “Obstruction of an official proceeding” carries a 20-year maximum sentence, and is one of the four counts brought against Trump by special counsel Jack Smith in the federal election interference case. The justices are separately weighing Smith’s request to fast-track consideration of Trump’s claim he is immune from prosecution in the election-obstruction case. (NBC News / Washington Post / Politico / New York Times / ABC News / Associated Press / Axios / CBS News / USA Today / The Hill)

4/ The federal judge overseeing Trump’s election interference case temporarily paused all procedural deadlines while he appeals her decision that he’s not entitled to “presidential immunity” from criminal prosecution. Judge Tanya Chutkan said Trump’s appeal gives the higher court jurisdiction over the case and “automatically stays any further proceedings that would move this case towards trial or impose additional burdens of litigation on Defendant.” Chutkan previously dismissed Trump’s arguments, ruling that his “four-year service as Commander-in-Chief did not bestow on him the divine right of kings to evade the criminal accountability that governs his fellow citizens.” In a bid to speed that appeals process, special counsel Jack Smith has asked both the Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court to hear the appeal on an expedited basis. The ruling doesn’t affect Trump’s conditions of release, the gag order, or the protective order in the case. Chutkan also noted that Trump’s March 4 trial date could be affected, and that she would reconsider that date when the appeals process has concluded. (CNN / NBC News / ABC News / CBS News / The Hill)

  • [Poll] 31% of Republican voters said they would not vote for Trump in 2024 if he’s convicted of a felony crime by a jury. (Reuters)

5/ A federal appeals court rejected Trump’s attempt to use presidential immunity in the upcoming defamation lawsuit brought by writer E. Jean Carroll for comments he made while denying her rape accusations in 2019. A three-judge panel of the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said Trump had effectively waived the presidential immunity defense by “failing to raise it” when Carroll first filed the defamation lawsuit four years ago. It’s the third time in recent weeks that federal courts have rejected Trump’s immunity arguments. (Politico / NBC News / Axios / New York Times / Associated Press / ABC News)

6/ The Federal Reserve held interest rates unchanged for a third meeting and signaled that they’ll likely cut borrowing costs three times in 2024. The Federal Open Market Committee voted unanimously to keep the benchmark federal funds rate in a targeted range between 5.25%-5.5% – the highest since 2001. Since March 2022, the Fed raised rates 11 times to combat high inflation, which had spiked to a 40-year high. While inflation – currently at 3% – remains above the Fed’s 2% target, “inflation has eased from its highs, and this has come without a significant increase in unemployment. That’s very good news,” Chair Jerome Powell said, adding: “No one is declaring victory. That would be premature.” Still, Fed officials expect to lower rates by 75 basis points next year, leaving rates around 4.6% by the end of 2024. (CNBC / CNN / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal / Washington Post / New York Times)

Day 1057: "Practically impossible."

1/ Biden warned Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that Israel was losing international support because of its “indiscriminate bombing” of Gaza and that “he has to change.” Biden added: “This is the most conservative government in Israel’s history,” and that Netanyahu’s government “doesn’t want a two-state solution […] You cannot say there’s no Palestinian state at all in the future.” Biden’s comments come hours after Netanyahu refused to endorse a two-state solution for Palestinians and rejected Biden’s proposal to put the Palestinian Authority in charge of Gaza once the fighting ends. Biden capped his criticism of Netanyahu by saying Israel must be “careful” because “the whole world’s public opinion can shift overnight.” (Associated Press / Reuters / New York Times / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal / CNN / Washington Post)

2/ The United Nations General Assembly voted to demand an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza, with 153 members in favor, 10 — including the U.S. and Israel — against, and 23 abstaining. The resolution is nonbinding and carries less weight than those made in the Security Council. Nevertheless, Israel’s representative to the United Nations called the resolution “hypocritical” and an “absurdity” that proved the “utter irrelevance” of the U.N. He added that the resolution “will not prevent Israel from defending itself.” (CNN / Washington Post / NBC News / ABC News)

3/ Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy met with Biden and lawmakers on Capitol Hill to make a personal appeal for more money and weapons to fight back invading Russian forces. The White House said it will run out of money to support Ukraine by the end of the month. And, Biden has asked Congress for more than $60 billion in aid for Ukraine as part of an aid package, which also includes funding for Israel and U.S. border operations. Republicans, however, have insisted that any money for Ukraine be linked to strict U.S.-Mexico border security reforms. Biden warned Congress that they need to pass “funding for Ukraine before they break for the holiday recess, before they give Putin the greatest Christmas gift they could possibly give him.” Mitch McConnell, however, declared that it is “practically impossible” for Congress to pass a deal this year. Meanwhile, a newly declassified U.S. intelligence assessment indicates that Russia has lost nearly 90% of its prewar army, and that two-thirds of its battle tanks have been destroyed. (NPR / Associated Press / Axios / Wall Street Journal / Washington Post / NBC News)

4/ The pace of inflation continued to slow from last year, with consumer prices rising 0.1% in November compared to October. Overall inflation increased 3.1% compared to a year earlier – down from 3.2% in October. While still higher than normal, it’s a marked improvement since the consumer price index peaked at 9.1% in June 2022. The national average for unleaded gas, meanwhile, is at the lowest it’s been in nearly a year – and 23 cents less than it was a month ago. (Axios / NPR / Politico / Washington Post / New York Times / NBC News / CNN / CNBC)

5/ New York’s highest court ordered the state to draw new congressional districts ahead of the 2024 elections. The decision gives the Democrat-controlled Legislature the opportunity to draw more favorable district lines that could shift anywhere from two to six Republican-held seats toward their party. In 2022, Republicans flipped four seats in New York, giving them a narrow majority in the House. In 2024, Democrats need to win a net of five seats to win back the House next year. (New York Times / Washington Post / Associated Press / CNN)

6/ Former Congressman George Santos is talking to federal prosecutors about a plea deal. Federal prosecutors have indicted Santos on 23 criminal counts, including wire fraud, money laundering, theft of public funds, identity theft, falsifying records submitted to obstruct the FEC, and making materially false statements to the House of Representatives. His trial date has been set for Sept. 9, but prosecutors had asked to advance the case to May or June. Santos was expelled from Congress on Dec. 1 after a House Ethics Committee report accused him of a “complex web of unlawful activity involving [his] campaign, personal, and business finances.” (Washington Post / ABC News)

Day 1056: "On the verge of complete failure."

1/ Special counsel Jack Smith urged the Supreme Court to immediately step in and decide whether Trump is immune from criminal prosecution for charges related to his efforts to subvert the 2020 election. In order to keep Trump’s trial on track, scheduled to begin March 4, Smith asked the Supreme Court take up the matter directly and skip over the appeals court process that could take months to resolve. “The United States recognizes that this is an extraordinary request,” Smith wrote. “This is an extraordinary case.” Smith added: “This case presents a fundamental question at the heart of our democracy: whether a former president is absolutely immune from federal prosecution for crimes committed while in office or is constitutionally protected from federal prosecution when he has been impeached but not convicted before the criminal proceedings begin.” Trump has argued that he is “absolutely immune” from the criminal charges and that his actions were “official acts” as president. Earlier this month, U.S. District Court Judge Tanya Chutkan denied Trump’s motion to dismiss his indictment on presidential immunity and constitutional grounds, prompting Trump to appeal and ask for the case to be put on hold. The Supreme Court is not required to take up the case. If it does, any decision would be the first time in American history that the Supreme Court will have ruled on whether a former president can be prosecuted for actions taken while in office. (New York Times / Washington Post / Associated Press / NBC News / CNN / Politico / Axios / CNBC / ABC News)

  • Jack Smith reveals sweeping scope of bid to debunk Trump election machine claims. “In a 45-page filing, Smith’s team describes interviewing more than a dozen of the top intelligence officials in Trump’s administration — from his director of national intelligence to the administrator of the NSA to Trump’s personal intelligence briefer — about any evidence that foreign governments had penetrated systems that counted votes in 2020.” (Politico)

  • Trump won’t testify as planned in the civil trial over allegations that he lied about his wealth. In a statement, New York Attorney General Letitia James said that regardless of whether Trump testifies again, “we have already proven that he committed years of financial fraud and unjustly enriched himself.” The $250 million case — which is in its final stages — is putting his net worth on trial and threatening to block him from doing business in his native state. (Axios / NPR / NBC News)

2/ The U.S. vetoed a U.N. Security Council resolution demanding an immediate ceasefire in Gaza. It’s the second time the U.S. was the only opposing vote on a ceasefire resolution. The vote in the 15-member council was 13-1, with the U.K. abstaining. “We do not support calls for an immediate cease-fire,” Deputy U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Robert Wood said. “This would only plant the seeds for the next war, because Hamas has no desire to see a durable peace, to see a two-state solution.” Wood added that the resolution was “imbalanced and detached from reality.” Instead, the Biden administration urged Israel to do more to limit civilian casualties and to allow humanitarian aid into Gaza. The Oct. 7 Hamas terror attack killed about 1,200 people in Israel. In response, Israel’s military campaign has since killed at least 17,000 people in Gaza — 70% of them women and children — wounded more than 46,000, and nearly 85% of the 2.3 million people living in Gaza have been displaced, with nowhere safe to go. (New York Times / Associated Press / Politico / Axios)

  • U.S. still unclear on what happens when the fighting between Israel and Hamas ends. “These are decisions for Israel to make,” Antony Blinken said. (Politico)

  • Former U.S. ambassador to Israel says Netanyahu is a “clear and present danger” to Israel. “Netanyahu and other Israeli officials allowed the money to flow into Gaza in the hope that it would help maintain peace and stability in the region, and in the belief that Hamas had neither the desire nor the capacity to launch a large-scale attack.” (Politico)

  • Israel used U.S.-supplied white phosphorus in Lebanon attack. “Lot production codes found on the shells match the nomenclature used by the U.S. military to categorize domestically produced munitions, which show they were made by ammunition depots in Louisiana and Arkansas in 1989 and 1992. The light green color and other markings — like ‘WP’ printed on one of the remnants — are consistent with white phosphorous rounds, according to arms experts.” (Washington Post)

3/ The Texas Supreme Court temporarily blocked a pregnant woman from obtaining an emergency abortion. The court froze a lower court’s ruling that would have allowed Kate Cox, who is 20 weeks pregnant, to obtain the procedure despite the state’s strict abortion ban. Her unborn baby was diagnosed with a fatal genetic condition and carrying the pregnancy to term could jeopardize her health and future fertility (her fetus had Trisomy 18, also called Edwards syndrome, and almost all such pregnancies end in miscarriage or stillbirth). As a result, a district court judge granted a temporary restraining order last week allowing Cox to terminate her nonviable pregnancy under the narrow exceptions to the state’s ban. But Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton petitioned the court and urged it to block Cox from obtaining an abortion, saying that if an abortion was allowed, “Nothing can restore the unborn child’s life that will be lost as a result.” Paxton also threatened prosecution against anyone, including hospital and doctors, who help facilitate the abortion. The Center for Reproductive Rights called Paxton’s court filing “stunning in its disregard for Ms. Cox’s life, fertility, and the rule of law.” The Texas Supreme Court, which is comprised of all Republicans, said that “without regard to the merits” of the arguments on either side, it had issued an administrative stay to give itself time to issue a final ruling. The case is the first to seek a court-ordered exception since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade las year. Cox, meanwhile, left the state for the procedure instead of waiting for the court to issue a ruling. (Texas Tribune / Washington Post / New York Times / CNN / NBC News / Associated Press)

  • Supreme Courts in 3 states will hear cases about abortion access this week. “Supreme court justices in Arizona, New Mexico, and Wyoming will hear arguments in cases that will impact abortion access across the Mountain West.” (NPR)

4/ The Supreme Court declined to hear a case challenging a ban on “conversion therapy” designed to protect LGBTQ youths. The court’s decision leaves Washington state’s law intact, as well as similar restrictions in 20 other states, which have banned the practice of attempting to change an LGBTQ child’s sexual orientation or gender identity through mental health counseling. A Christian marriage and family counselor, and advocate for conversion therapy, had challenged the law, claiming it violates his First Amendment right to free speech by censoring his conversations with clients. The 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the ban, arguing the state has the power to regulate the safety of medical treatments. (Washington Post / NPR / Associated Press / Bloomberg)

5/ A federal judge banned the federal government from separating families at the U.S. southern border for eight years, calling the separation of thousands of families “represents one of the most shameful chapters in the history of our country.” The decision came as part of a settlement between families who were separated under the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy and the Justice Department. From 2017 to 2018, the Trump administration separated more than 5,000 children from parents, with no plan for reuniting families. An estimated 1,000 children remain separated from their families. (NPR / Axios / Associated Press / CBS News)

6/ The head of the OPEC oil cartel directed the group’s members to “reject any text or formula that targets” the continued production and sales of oil, gas, and coal “rather than emissions.” The secretary general of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries warned members ahead of the United Nations climate summit, known as COP 28, that there are “politically motivated campaigns” against oil-rich nations that put “our people’s prosperity and future at risk,” and that “pressure against fossil fuels may reach a tipping point with irreversible consequences.” More than 100 countries came to COP 28 supporting a call to phase out fossil fuels. However, countries like Saudi Arabia, the world’s leading exporter of oil, have rejected any climate deal that even mentions fossil fuels. Any agreement accepted at the climate summit must be unanimously endorsed by the 198 governments participating. Meanwhile, Sultan Al Jaber, the CEO of the United Arab Emirates’s national oil company, who is also leading the COP28 negotiations, released the draft agreement. The proposal removed language to phase out fossil fuels, and instead used watered-down language that suggested countries “could” reduce their use of consumption and production of oil, coal, and gas – the main drivers of the climate crisis. Al Gore said the U.N. climate summit is “on the verge of complete failure,” adding “the world desperately needs to phase out fossil fuels as quickly as possible, but this obsequious draft reads as if OPEC dictated it word for word. It is even worse than many had feared.” (CNN / Politico / New York Times / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal / New York Times / Axios)

  • Rising sea levels threaten hazardous waste facilities along U.S. coast. “1.6 million tons of hazardous waste are stored at facilities that would be put at risk if sea levels rose by five or more feet compared to 2000 levels.” (Axios)

  • A group of California children sued the EPA, alleging it has harmed children’s health and welfare over decades. “The case, Genesis B. v. United States Environmental Protection Agency, alleges the EPA ‘intentionally allows’ planet warming pollution to come from the sources it regulates, such as vehicles and heavy-duty trucks, power plants, and oil and gas wells. It follows the first constitutional climate case in the US, which youth plaintiffs successfully tried in Montana earlier this year.” (CNN)

Day 1052: "We have a long road ahead."

1/ Prosecutors in the Georgia election fraud case signaled they’re seeking prison sentences for Trump and his top allies for allegedly violating racketeering laws as part of their efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election results in Georgia despite the fact that Biden won the state. “We have a long road ahead,” Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis wrote in an email to Trump’s lawyer Steve Sadow. “Long after these folks are in jail, we will still be practicing law.” Willis’s team has reached plea deals with several co-defendants in the case, including Jenna Ellis, Sidney Powell, Kenneth Chesebro, and Scott Hall. Prosecutors, however, are not expected to offer plea agreements to Trump, Mark Meadows, or Rudy Giuliani. Fulton County prosecutors, meanwhile, listed several senior Trump administration officials and Georgia’s top elected leaders, as possible witnesses during the election interference trial, including Pence, Bill Barr, Jeffrey Rosen, Richard Donoghue, Scott Perry, Steve Bannon, Gov. Brian Kemp, Attorney General Chris Carr, Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, and former Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan. (The Guardian / Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

  • 🤷‍♂️ Why should I care? This Georgia election fraud case is a direct challenge to the pillars of American democracy. It’s not just about Trump and his allies; it’s about preserving the sanctity of our elections and the rule of law. The case sends a clear message: no one is above the law – not even the highest officials. If we fail to hold them accountable, we risk normalizing election interference and undermining democracy as a whole. The implications are straightforward: If influential figures can overturn election results without consequence, it signals to future leaders that such actions are acceptable. As a result, the case is a litmus test for the resilience of our democratic institutions and their ability to withstand internal threats. It’s about setting a precedent that safeguards our democratic norms and ensures that future attempts to undermine the electoral process are deterred. We’re not just deciding the fate of a few individuals; we’re deciding the future of our democratic principles.
  • 💡 How Trump would build his loyalty-first Cabinet: Pre-vetted loyalty to him and a commitment to stretch legal and governance boundaries. (Axios)
  • 💡 Trump allies craft plans to give him unprecedented power if he wins the White House. “That includes more power to crack down on immigration and overhaul the Justice Department to punish opponents.” (NPR)

2/ Georgia’s Republican-controlled Legislature approved a new congressional map that likely violates a federal judge’s order requiring an additional majority-Black district. State lawmakers were ordered by District Judge Steve Jones to establish an additional Black-majority district to provide for fair representation of the state’s Black voters. Instead, the Republicans’ map dismantled one minority-majority district – by moving it farther into Republican territory – and then created a new court-ordered Black-majority district. Jones’ order stated that “the State cannot remedy the Section 2 violations described herein by eliminating minority opportunity districts elsewhere in the plans.” The map is expected to be signed by Gov. Brian Kemp, which would safeguard Republican control of Georgia’s General Assembly. Jones will determine whether the new maps comply with his order on Dec. 20. (NBC News / CNN / Associated Press / Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

3/ Trump appealed a judge’s ruling that he doesn’t have “absolute immunity” from prosecution in his federal election case and demanded that all proceedings be halted while a higher court considers his appeal to dismiss the criminal case. The back-to-back motions threaten to upend Trump’s March 4 trial date in the case. Prosecutors, meanwhile, have argued that Trump is just using every possible avenue to disrupt the case in the hopes of delaying the matter beyond the 2024 election. (The Hill / Washington Post / NBC News / Politico / Bloomberg / Associated Press)

4/ Kevin McCarthy will resign and leave Congress at the end of the year. Between the expulsion of George Santos last week and McCarthy’s departure, Republicans will have a three-vote majority in the House to pass key legislation, including two government funding deadlines. McCarthy was the first speaker in history to get ejected from the position. It took him 15 rounds of voting over four days to secure the job for just nine months. (NPR / Washington Post / Axios / Associated Press / Politico / New York Times)

5/ A Texas judge granted an emergency order to allow an abortion despite state law banning nearly all abortions with limited exceptions. Judge Maya Guerra Gamble granted permission for Kate Cox to have the abortion because the fetus has a genetic condition with very low chances of survival and her own health and fertility were at risk if she carried the pregnancy to term. The judge also issued a temporary restraining order blocking the enforcement of the state’s abortion ban and enforcement of S.B. 8, which allows civil lawsuits to be filed against those who help patients receive abortions. The case is believed to be the first of its kind since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade last year and allowed states to enact their own abortion restrictions. Since then, more than a dozen states have banned abortion or no longer have facilities where women can receive the procedure. Compared with a similar period in 2020, more than twice as many people traveled out of state for abortion care in the first half of 2023. (NPR / NBC News / Associated Press / New York Times / Axios)

6/ One of the world’s largest oil producers suggested that renewable energy is a threat to Earth’s climate. While at the 2023 COP28 U.N. Climate Change Conference, Saudi Arabia raised concerns about the “lifecycle” emissions produced by renewable energy sources, which are exponentially lower than that of the extraction and consumption of fossil fuels. Nevertheless, the Saudis emphasized that costly and novel methods of carbon removal from wind turbines, solar panels, and other renewable energy are needed to combat climate change. (Politico / Rolling Stone)

Day 1051: "After that, I'm not a dictator."

1/ Trump refused to rule out abusing power if re-elected president. In a Fox News town hall, Sean Hannity asked Trump to deny that he would abuse power to seek revenge on political opponents if he returns to the White House. Trump initially dodged the question. “You are promising America tonight you would never abuse power as retribution against anybody?” Hannity asked a second time. “Except for Day One,” Trump replied. Asked for clarification, Trump responded: “I want to close the border, and I want to drill, drill, drill.” Trump then doubled down on his comments: “I love this guy,” referring to Hannity. “He says, ‘You’re not going to be a dictator, are you?’ I said: ‘No, no, no. Other than Day One.’ We’re closing the border, and we’re drilling, drilling, drilling. After that, I’m not a dictator.” Biden’s campaign, meanwhile, warned Americans that Trump “has been telling us exactly what he will do if he’s re-elected, and tonight he said he will be a dictator on Day 1. Americans should believe him.” (Associated Press / NBC News / New York Times / ABC News / Washington Post / The Guardian / Rolling Stone / Daily Beast / Politico)

  • 🔎 What’s at stake? The potential of Trump’s to return to power with intentions of abusing it for personal retribution and autocratic governance puts American democratic values at risk. The idea of a former president abusing power threatens the principles of fairness and justice central to democracy, which could lead to an erosion of democratic norms, undermining fairness, justice, and the rule of law. It’s not just about one leader’s actions but about the broader implications for democratic governance, accountability, and the rule of law. This situation tests the resilience of American democratic institutions and the commitment of its citizens to uphold democratic norms.
  • Trump and his allies are preparing for an aggressive expansion of his powers should he take back the White House. “The fiery language is not new, but he and a group of Trump insiders are working behind the scenes on plans to amass his power so that he can carry out an unprecedented restructuring of the U.S. government.” (NPR)
  • A second Trump administration will take action “criminally or civilly” against people in the media. “We will go out and find the conspirators, not just in the government, but in the media, yes, we’re going to come after the people in the media, who lied about American citizens, who helped Joe Biden rig the elections, we’re going to come after you,” Kash Patel said on Steve Bannon’s podcast, referring to a potential second Trump leadership. “Whether it’s criminally or civilly, we’ll figure that out, but yeah, we’re putting you all on notice.” (CNBC)
  • 💡 Trump says he’ll be a dictator on “day one.” “This is a remarkable enough admission—practically every president abuses his power in some way, but few boast about it.” (The Atlantic)
  • 💡 Why Trump refuses to deny he plans to become a dictator. “It’s because he loves dictators.” (Intelligencer)

2/ The Colorado Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case challenging Trump’s eligibility to appear on the state’s ballot in 2024. At issue is whether Trump is eligible to run for president under section 3 of the 14th Amendment, which states that anyone who “engaged in insurrection or rebellion” after taking an oath of office to support the Constitution is forbidden from holding any public office. Last month, Colorado District Court Judge Sarah Wallace found that although Trump’s actions met the definition of engaging in an insurrection by inciting a riot at the Capitol, he isn’t subject to Section 3 because he is not an “officer of the United States.” The provision explicitly bans insurrectionists from serving as U.S. senators, representatives, and presidential electors, but it doesn’t say anything about the presidency. (CNN / Politico / NBC News / Associated Press)

3/ The 10 Wisconsin Republicans who posed as fake electors for Trump admitted that Biden won the state in 2020. As part of a legal settlement, the group agreed to withdraw their inaccurate filings, acknowledge that Biden won the presidency, and to not serve as presidential electors in any election where Trump is on the ballot. The agreement also requires the 10 Republican activists to provide “full cooperation” with any “ongoing or future” Justice Department probes related to the 2020 presidential election and the deadly Jan. 6 riots at the Capitol. The settlement also marks the first time that any Trump electors have revoked their filings sent to Congress purporting that Trump had won in seven battleground states. (Washington Post / Associated Press / New York Times / CNN / Wall Street Journal)

4/ A Nevada grand jury charged six Republicans who acted as fake pro-Trump electors in the scheme to overturn Biden’s 2020 election win. Nevada joins Michigan and Georgia as the third state to charge pro-Trump activists who falsely asserted that Trump had won the election in their state. In announcing the indictments, Attorney General Aaron Ford said: “We cannot allow attacks on democracy to go unchallenged. Today’s indictments are the product of a long and thorough investigation, and as we pursue this prosecution, I am confident that our judicial system will see justice done.” At least five states, including Nevada, are investigating efforts by Trump electors to overturn the 2020 election, with criminal charges already filed in Michigan and Georgia. (Washington Post / CNN)

  • 🤷‍♂️ Why should I care? The indictment of fake electors in Nevada serves as a wake-up call to the vulnerability and fragility of democracy. At stake is the integrity of the electoral system – fundamental to American democracy – because any attempt to manipulate or subvert the process undermines public trust and the legitimacy of governance. This incident also illustrates that democracy is a delicate structure that requires constant vigilance and protection, especially from internal subversions. It’s a direct assault on the principles of fair elections and the peaceful transition of power – both central to American democratic values. Moreover, the actions in Nevada – and the legal response to them – offer a civic lesson on the consequences of undermining democratic processes and the importance of each citizen’s role in upholding the values that form the bedrock of democracy. This incident, therefore, is not just about legal retribution but also about reinforcing the foundational principles that support and sustain the American democratic experiment for current and future generations.

5/ Humanity is in danger of crossing the point of no return for five of Earth’s natural systems because of human-caused climate change, according to a new study from an international team of more than 200 researchers. The collapse of Greenland and West Antarctic ice sheets, widespread coral reef die-offs in warm water, disruption of the North Atlantic subpolar gyre circulation, and the abrupt thawing of permafrost regions are all in danger of being irreversibly crossed at 1.5 degrees Celsius of warming. Global temperatures have already risen between 1.1 and 1.3 degrees. “Tipping points in the Earth system pose threats of a magnitude never faced by humanity,” Tim Lenton said, lead author of the Global Tipping Points report. “They can trigger devastating domino effects, including the loss of whole ecosystems and capacity to grow staple crops, with societal impacts including mass displacement, political instability and financial collapse.” Lenton added that the report is a “tale of two future paths for humanity. We’ve basically left it too late for incremental action. Instead, we need to find and trigger what we’re calling some positive tipping points that accelerate action down an alternative pathway.” (Bloomberg / Politico / The Guardian / Associated Press)

Day 1050: "An even more hellish scenario is about to unfold."

1/ Special counsel Jack Smith accused Trump of a pattern of lying about electoral fraud since at least 2012 and “encouragement of violence,” saying Trump “sent” his supporters on Jan. 6 to criminally block the election results. In a new court filing, prosecutors said “evidence of [Trump’s] post-conspiracy embrace of particularly violent and notorious rioters is admissible to establish [Trump’s] motive and intent on January 6 — that he sent supporters, including groups like the Proud Boys, whom he knew were angry, and whom he now calls ‘patriots,’ to the Capitol to achieve the criminal objective of obstructing the congressional certification.” Prosecutors added that Trump’s lies about election fraud from the 2012 and 2016 elections show his “motive, intent, and plan to obstruct the certification of the 2020 election results and illegitimately retain power,” and that the baseless claims “demonstrate [Trump’s] common plan of falsely blaming fraud for election results he does not like.” Biden, meanwhile, said that “if Trump wasn’t running, I’m not sure I’d be running.” He added: “We cannot let him win for the sake of our country.” (Washington Post / Axios / CNN)

  • 💡 Defending his 2020 fraud claims, Trump turns to fringe Jan. 6 theories. “Ever since he was indicted on charges of interfering in the 2020 election results, Donald Trump has relished the chance to use the case in Washington as a venue to air his baseless claims of fraud. Now he is using it to circulate a new set of falsehoods: that the federal government staged or incited violence at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, to discredit Trump and his supporters.” (Washington Post)
  • 💡 The fear of a looming Trump dictatorship. “This isn’t mere hyperbole. As my colleagues have reported over the past year, Trump has made clear his stark, authoritarian vision for a potential second term. He would embark on a wholesale purge of the federal bureaucracy, weaponize the Justice Department to explicitly go after his political opponents (something he claims is being done to him), stack government agencies across the board with political appointees prescreened as ideological Trump loyalists, and dole out pardons to myriad officials and apparatchiks as incentives to do his bidding or stay loyal.” (Washington Post)
  • 💡 Americans are sleepwalking into a Trump dictatorship. “Trump’s devolution into an American dictator who believes that he is on a mission from God as some type of chosen one continues. This is mentally pathological behavior on a massive level. His Hitler-like behavior is only going to get worse as next year’s presidential election approaches and the pressure from his criminal and civil trials increases.” (Salon)
  • 💡 Trump poses the biggest danger to the world in 2024. “Because maga Republicans have been planning his second term for months, Trump 2 would be more organised than Trump 1. True believers would occupy the most important positions. Mr Trump would be unbound in his pursuit of retribution, economic protectionism and theatrically extravagant deals. No wonder the prospect of a second Trump term fills the world’s parliaments and boardrooms with despair. But despair is not a plan. It is past time to impose order on anxiety.” (The Economist)
  • 💡 A Trump dictatorship is increasingly inevitable. We should stop pretending. “If Trump does win the election, he will immediately become the most powerful person ever to hold that office. Not only will he wield the awesome powers of the American executive — powers that, as conservatives used to complain, have grown over the decades — but he will do so with the fewest constraints of any president, fewer even than in his own first term.” (Washington Post)

2/ House Republicans are blurring surveillance footage from the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol because they don’t want the rioters to be charged with crimes. Mike Johnson, who was involved in Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election based on false claims of mass election fraud, promised to release more than 44,000 hours of surveillance footage from Jan. 6 to the public after becoming speaker in October. “We have to blur some of the faces of persons who participated in events of that day because we don’t want them to be retaliated against and to be charged by the DOJ and to have other, you know, concerns and problems,” Johnson said. He added that House Republicans “want the American people to draw their own conclusions. I don’t think partisan elected officials in Washington should present a narrative and expect that it should be seen as the ultimate truth.” (NBC News / ABC News / CNN / The Hill)

3/ Tommy Tuberville dropped his one-man blockade of more than 450 military promotions, ending his nearly 10-month protest to an unrelated Pentagon policy that ensures abortion access for service members. Tuberville, however, said he will continue to block the promotion of all senior military positions that are four stars or higher. The reversal came amid mounting pressure from Tuberville’s fellow Republicans, who had criticized the blockade because it damaged military readiness and threatened national security, as well as Democrats threats to temporarily change Senate rules to bypass the hold and advance all the promotions in bulk. “We didnt get the win that we wanted,” Tuberville said. (NPR / New York Times / Washington Post / Axios / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal / NBC News)

4/ The Israel Defense Forces advanced deeper into Gaza in what the military called “the most intense day since the beginning of the ground operation.” IDF troops said they were “in the heart of” Khan Younis – Gaza’s second largest city – and that Israeli forces have “completed the encirclement” of the Jabalya refugee camp in the northern part of the enclave. Southern Gaza’s main hospital is “grossly overcrowded with patients and displaced people,” according to the World Health Organization, which described the situation at the Nasser Medical Complex in Khan Younis as “catastrophic.” A U.N. humanitarian coordinator warned that “an even more hellish scenario is about to unfold” in southern Gaza as Israel expands its evacuation orders ahead of an expected ground invasion in the south. As a result, Palestinians are now being warned to evacuate, but “there is nowhere safe to go and very little to survive on,” U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres said. The U.N.’s top emergency relief official, Martin Griffiths, added: “Every time we think things cannot get any more apocalyptic in Gaza, they do. People are being ordered to move again, with little to survive on, forced to make one impossible choice after another. Such blatant disregard for basic humanity must stop.” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, meanwhile, rejected the idea that an international force could be responsible for security in the Gaza Strip post-war. “Gaza must be demilitarized and the only country that can do this and ensure it lasts is Israel,” Netanyahu said. “I’m not ready to close my eyes and accept any other arrangement […] the only way for the war to end quickly is by applying sheer force.” (NBC News / CNN / ABC News / Washington Post / Associated Press / New York Times)

poll/ 49% of Americans between 18 and 29 years old “definitely” plan to vote in 2024 – down from 57% relative to this point in the 2020 election cycle. Among young Democrats, 66% plan to vote – nearly identical to four years ago – while 56% of young Republicans plan to vote – down 10 percentage points. And among young independents, 31% plan to vote – also a 10-point drop. (Harvard Youth Poll)

Day 1049: "One impossible choice after another."

1/ Trump does not have “absolute immunity” from lawsuits seeking to hold him accountable for the Jan. 6 Capitol violence. A three-judge panel concluded that Trump’s incendiary speech to supporters near the White House on Jan. 6 was “not an official presidential act” and not protected by “presidential immunity.” Chief Judge Sri Srinivasan added: “When [Trump] acts in an unofficial, private capacity, he is subject to civil suits like any private citizen.” The ruling allows a number of lawsuits to move forward, including several brought by members of Congress and injured police officers. The court, however, left open the possibility for Trump to try to prove that he was acting as president, rather than as a candidate for reelection, when he addressed the crowd at the Ellipse. Hours later, the judge overseeing Trump’s criminal election subversion case ruled that he had no protection from prosecution as a former president. “Whatever immunities a sitting President may enjoy, the United States has only one Chief Executive at a time, and that position does not confer a lifelong ‘get-out-of-jail-free’ pass,” Judge Tanya Chutkan wrote. Trump’s “four-year service as Commander in Chief did not bestow on him the divine right of kings to evade the criminal accountability that governs his fellow citizens.” (Associated Press / Washington Post / New York Times / Axios / NBC News / Politico / Wall Street Journal / CBS News / Bloomberg / USA Today / CNBC)

  • 💡 Why a Second Trump Presidency May Be More Radical Than His First. “Donald Trump has long exhibited authoritarian impulses, but his policy operation is now more sophisticated, and the buffers to check him are weaker.” (New York Times)

  • 💡 If Trump wins. If Donald Trump returns to the White House, he’d bring a better understanding of the system’s vulnerabilities, more willing enablers, and a more focused agenda of retaliation against his adversaries. (The Atlantic)

  • 💡 Democracy is at stake if Trump is reelected. “I look at it very much through the lens of stopping Donald Trump,” Liz Cheney said. “And so whatever it will take to do that is very much my focus. I think the danger is that great that that needs to be everybody’s top priority.” (NPR)

  • 💡 Trump is showing how a second term would rewrite the rules of presidential power. “Trump’s concept of the untamable presidency sheds light on how he would behave in a second term given his apparent belief that any action a president might take is, by definition, legal. He has already promised he’d use four more years in the White House to enact personal ‘retribution’ against his political foes. If the twice-impeached former president wins the Republican nomination and the presidency, it is already clear that a second term would risk destroying the principle that presidents do not hold monarchial power.” (CNN)

  • 💡 How Donald Trump uses dishonesty. “Some of the false statements Trump makes are unquestionably lies. Some are misinformation; some are exaggerations. Most are presumably intentional, but some may be mistakes or downstream from Trump’s consumption of misinformation. Since these lines are blurry, it’s more useful to speak broadly of falsehoods and false statements than to simply use the narrower term ‘lies.’ If the former is interpreted as offering moral leniency, that’s on the interpreter.” (Washington Post)

2/ Israel resumed its air raids and ground operation in the Gaza Strip after the temporary cease-fire between Hamas and Israel collapsed. During the seven-day cease-fire, Hamas freed more than 100 hostages, and Israel released more than 240 Palestinians from Israeli prisons. Following the collapse of a truce with Hamas, the Israel Defense Forces announced that it was expanding its operations to all of the Gaza Strip, and called for Gazans to evacuate to the south, which the United Nations’ humanitarian office said was “already overcrowded.” More than 80% of Gaza’s roughly 2.3 million people have now been displaced, with most of the population already relocated to the southern territory. The situation keeps getting “more apocalyptic,” the U.N.’s top humanitarian relief coordinator said. “People are being ordered to move again, with little to survive on, forced to make one impossible choice after another.” (Associated Press / Axios / Bloomberg / NBC News / CNN / New York Times / Washington Post / Politico / ABC News)

3/ Israel reportedly knew that Hamas was planning a major terror attack more than a year in advance. Israeli military and intelligence officials obtained a 40-page document last year, code-named “Jericho Wall,” which detailed the Oct. 7 attack, but officials dismissed the plan as beyond Hamas’s capabilities. And yet, the Hamas terror attack closely followed the outline in the document, which called for “a barrage of rockets at the outset of the attack, drones to knock out the security cameras and automated machine guns along the border, and gunmen to pour into Israel en masse in paragliders, on motorcycles and on foot — all of which happened on Oct. 7.” Three months before the attack, Israeli intelligence warned that Hamas had conducted a daylong training exercise that mirrored what was outlined in the blueprint. Israel, however, ignored the warnings. Since then, more than 1,200 people died and over 200 were abducted in the Oct. 7 attack, and at least 15,000 people in Gaza have been killed with about 1.8 million displaced since Israel’s invasion. The National Security Council, meanwhile, said that the U.S. intelligence community has indicated it was not aware of Hamas’ plan to attack Israel and “did not have access to this document.” (New York Times / NBC News / Politico / Axios)

4/ The White House warned it’ll be unable to continue providing weapons and assistance to Ukraine if Congress doesn’t approve additional funding by the end of the year. In letters to party leaders in the House and Senate, White House budget chief Shalanda Young said inaction threatens to “kneecap Ukraine on the battlefield” that will let “autocracy prevail.” She added: “We are out of money — and nearly out of time.” Republicans want to tie Ukraine aid to U.S.-Mexico border policy changes despite Congress failing to take meaningful action on immigration for decades. (Associated Press / Washington Post / Axios / Politico / Wall Street Journal / New York Times)

5/ The House voted to expel George Santos over his many fabrications on the 2022 campaign trail, 23 federal charges, and a recent House Ethics Committee report accusing him of a “complex web of unlawful activity involving [his] campaign, personal, and business finances.” The vote makes Santos the sixth lawmaker – and first Republican – ever to be expelled from the House. Meanwhile, Rep. Max Miller accused Santos of stealing his and his mother’s personal credit card information to make illegal campaign contributions. (Axios / CNN / New York Times / Bloomberg)

6/ The EPA issued new regulations to reduce methane emissions from oil and gas industry operations by nearly 80% over the next 15 years. The rule will prevent an estimated 58 million tons of methane from escaping into the atmosphere – the equivalent of nearly all the carbon dioxide emitted by the power sector in 2021. It is also equivalent to taking more than 300 million gas-powered cars off the road for a year. The amount of methane that would be captured from cutting down on leaks would be enough to heat nearly 8 million American homes for a winter. Meanwhile, many of the world’s biggest oil companies pledged slash methane emissions from their wells and drilling by more than 80% by 2030. (NPR / CNN / New York Times / NBC News / Washington Post / ABC News / Politico)

7/ The president of the global climate summit claimed there is “no science” that fossil fuels must be phased to avoid catastrophic warming and keep global temperatures from rising above 1.5 degrees Celsius over preindustrial levels. Sultan al-Jaber, who is the chief executive of the United Arab Emirates’ state-run oil company, made the comments little over a week before he officially began to preside over the annual U.N. climate negotiations, known as COP28. “There is no science out there, or no scenario out there, that says the phaseout of fossil fuel is what’s going to achieve 1.5,” al-Jaber said two weeks ago. The U.N., meanwhile, warned that nations must cut the emissions from fossil fuels by 43% by the end of this decade, compared to 2019 levels, if they hope to limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. “The 1.5-degree limit is only possible if we ultimately stop burning all fossil fuels,” António Guterres, the U.N. secretary general, said. “Not reduce. Not abate. Phase out. With a clear time frame aligned with 1.5 degrees.” (The Guardian / New York Times / NPR / Axios / Bloomberg)

  • Open secret at climate talks: The top temperature goal is mostly gone. Leading scientists worldwide delivered a striking dose of reality to the United Nations on Sunday: it’s “becoming inevitable” that countries will miss the ambitious target they set eight years ago for limiting the warming of the Earth. (Politico)

Day 1045: "Lead the way."

1/ The United Nations World Meteorological Organization declared 2023 the warmest year ever recorded. Data from January through October showed global temperatures were around 1.4C (2.5F) above the pre-industrial average from 1850 to 1990, according to the provisional findings in the 2023 State of the Global Climate Report. “Record global heating should send shivers down the spines of world leaders and it should trigger them to act,” U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres said. “We are living through climate collapse in real time, and the impact is devastating.” The nine years from 2015 to 2023 have been the warmest nine in 174 years of scientific recording, with 2023 breaking the previous single-year records set in 2020 and 2016. Petteri Taalas, the secretary general of the World Meteorological Organization, called it “a deafening cacophony of broken records.” July was Earth’s hottest month ever observed and may have been warmer than any time in the last 125,000 years. (New York Times / Washington Post / ABC News / Bloomberg / Associated Press)

  • Study warns about climate change misinformation during extreme weather. “A new study warns that some politicians and their followers have been using recent extreme weather events to spread misinformation about climate change.” (Axios)

2/ The annual United Nations climate summit convened with the goal of finding agreement on whether to phase out fossil fuels – the primary driver of global warming – or to scale up carbon capture technology to reduce emissions. The International Energy Agency, however, has called the idea of widespread carbon capture an “illusion.” The COP28 climate summit is hosted this year by the United Arab Emirates – an OPEC member – and the person responsible for brokering a global climate deal is Sultan al-Jaber – the CEO of one of the world’s largest oil producers. Days before COP28 began, it was reported that Sultan Al Jaber planned to use his role as COP president to promote Abu Dhabi National Oil Co. fossil fuel sales. In his opening address, Jaber told delegates they must “ensure the inclusion of the role of fossil fuels” in any climate agreement, and suggested that oil and gas companies “can lead the way.” [Editor’s note: Shocker.] (Washington Post / Bloomberg / Associated Press / NBC News / Politico / ABC News / CNN)

  • Nations at COP28 agreed to an unprecedented fund aimed at helping poor and vulnerable nations deal with the climate emergency. Diplomats from nearly 200 countries pledged about $549 million for the new fund, which “will pay for loss and damage, which occurs when rising seas, drought or other effects of climate change are so destructive that communities can no longer adapt.” Wall Street Journal / New York Times / Associated Press / The Guardian / Reuters

3/ The EPA proposed requiring water utilities nationwide to replace all of their lead pipes within 10 years in an effort to prevent another public health catastrophe like the one in Flint, Michigan, where approximately 99,000 residents were exposed to lead. Lead is a neurotoxin that can cause irreversible damage to the nervous system and the brain, and the EPA estimates that 9.2 million lead pipelines bring water to people across the U.S. If finalized, utilities for the first time would be required to dig up and replace their lead piping, even if their lead levels aren’t too high. The EPA has said it could cost $45 billion. (Axios / Associated Press / Washington Post / New York Times)

4/ The Senate Judiciary Committee authorized subpoenas for conservative billionaire Harlan Crow and judicial activist Leonard Leo about their close personal and financial relationships with some Supreme Court justices. The subpoenas were approved by 11 Democratic senators after Republicans members refused to vote and walked out of the committee room. Despite the successful vote, Senate would be forced to hold a vote to enforce the subpoenas – if Leo and Crow choose not to comply – which might not win the required 60 votes in the closely split chamber. The subpoenas are part of an ongoing investigation into Supreme Court ethics, and how undisclosed activists and donors have used gifts and luxury travel to gain access to the justices. (Axios / Politico / NBC News / Washington Post / CNN)

5/ An appeals court reinstated Trump’s gag order prohibiting him from attacking court staff in his ongoing $250 million civil fraud trial in New York. The gag order was first put in place by Judge Arthur Engoron in early October after Trump attacked his law clerk on social media. A New York appeals court earlier this month temporarily halted the gag order, which allowed Trump to again attack Engoron and the clerk. Engoron has said his chambers “have been inundated with hundreds of harassing and threatening phone calls, voicemails, emails, letters and packages,” and repeatedly warned about the possibility of violence stemming from Trump’s political rhetoric. After a panel of appeals court judges put the gag orders back in place, Engoron said he plans to enforce it “rigorously and vigorously.” Trump also faces a gag order in his federal 2020 election subversion case, which is currently on pause as a panel of federal judges weighs its merit. (New York Times / Associated Press / Axios / Politico / NPR / Washington Post / CNN / NBC News)

Day 1044: "Repeated attempts to undermine our democracy are unacceptable."

1/ About 90 House Republicans plan to support the vote to expel George Santos from Congress following the release of a House Ethics Committee report, which found “substantial evidence” that he knowingly filed false campaign finance statements and used campaign funds to pay for personal expenses including rent, trips, luxury items, cosmetic treatments like Botox, and a subscription to the adult-content site OnlyFans. Speaker Mike Johnson, meanwhile, said he has “real reservations” about the motion to expel embattled the New York Republican. Santos, meanwhile, has repeatedly vowed to not resign, reiterating his belief that the bipartisan Ethics report was “littered with hyperbole and littered with biased opinions.” A vote is expected as soon as Thursday. (Politico / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / CBS News)

2/ A grand jury indicted two Republican county supervisors in Arizona for delaying the certification of 2022 election results. The state attorney general charged Tom Crosby and Peggy Judd with two felonies for conspiring to delay the certification of election results and interfering with the secretary of state’s statewide canvas. Both are Class 5 felonies, and each crime carries a maximum punishment of 2.5 years in prison and a $150,000 fine. “The repeated attempts to undermine our democracy are unacceptable,” Arizona Attorney General Kris Mayes said. “I took an oath to uphold the rule of law, and my office will continue to enforce Arizona’s elections laws and support our election officials as they carry out the duties and responsibilities of their offices.” (NPR / NBC News / Washington Post / New York Times)

  • Trump embraces the Jan. 6 rioters on the trail. In court, his lawyers hope to distance him from them. “While Trump’s glorification of Jan. 6 defendants may boost him politically as he vies to retake the White House in 2024, his lawyers’ approach lays bare a concern that arguments linking him to the rioters could harm him in front of a jury.” (Associated Press)

3/ Trump doubled down on his calls to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act if he’s elected president again. Without offering any details about what his alternative health care plan might be, Trump promised “much better Healthcare than Obamacare for the American people,” adding: “Obamacare Sucks!!!” Republicans in Congress, however, have abandoned plans to repeal the ACA since failing to undo the health care law in 2017. Trump’s comments have also caught lawmakers off guard because there’s no consensus within the Republican Party on how to replace it. (NBC News / The Hill / Politico)

4/ Biden criticized Lauren Boebert in her own district as “one of the leaders of this extreme MAGA movement.” Following a tour of a wind tower manufacturer in Pueblo, Colo., Biden mocked Boebert for voting against the Inflation Reduction Act, saying: “She along with every single Republican colleague voted against the law that made these investments and jobs possible, and that’s not hyperbole, that’s a fact.” Boebert has repeatedly claimed the Inflation Reduction Act is “dangerous for America” and that Biden’s climate policies are “a massive failure.” CS Wind, however, is currently undergoing a $200 million expansion that is expected to create 850 jobs by 2026 with help from the tax benefits in Biden’s inflation reduction law. The factory is the largest of its kind in the world. “Did you all know that you’re part of a massive failure?” Biden said to the workers and local officials at CS Wind. “None of that sounds like a massive failure to me. How about you?” Biden added: “It all sounds like a massive failure in thinking by the congresswoman and her colleagues.” (NBC News / Washington Post / Associated Press)

5/ A co-founder of Students for Trump was arrested and charged with assault. Ryan Fournier is accused of grabbing his girlfriend’s arm and “striking her in the forehead with a firearm.” He faces two misdemeanor charges: assault on a female and assault with a deadly weapon. (Axios / NBC News / NPR)

Day 1043: "The situation remains catastrophic."

1/ The truce between Israel and Hamas entered its fifth day after 12 more hostages held in the Gaza Strip were released in exchange for 30 Palestinians detained in Israeli prisons. Under the current truce, Hamas has released 81 hostages, while Israel has freed 180 Palestinians from prison – many of whom were detained but never charged. The U.S., meanwhile, urged Israel that any offensive in southern Gaza after the truce must be designed to avoid “significant further displacement” of Palestinian civilians. More than 1.7 million people have been displaced in Gaza, where health officials say the death toll has surpassed 14,500 since the start of the conflict. The World Health Organization also warned that disease may kill more Gazans than Israel’s bombardment if the enclave’s health system is not repaired. The United Nations added: “The humanitarian situation in Gaza remains catastrophic.” (NBC News / CNN / Washington Post / New York Times / Associated Press / ABC News)

  • Biden Navigates Divisions Over Gaza Inside the White House and Beyond. “Biden is facing deep anger over his solidarity with Israel among supporters and even from some staff members who have said they feel disenchanted with the president.” (New York Times)

2/ Hunter Biden offered to testify publicly before the House Oversight Committee in response to a Republican subpoena. Hunter Biden’s lawyer accused Republican lawmakers on the committee of selectively leaking information from closed-door depositions with other witnesses in his ongoing impeachment inquiry into Joe Biden, saying: “We have seen you use closed-door sessions to manipulate, even distort the facts and misinform the public. We therefore propose opening the door.” House Oversight Chairman James Comer, however, rejected the idea of a public hearing, saying: “Hunter Biden is trying to play by his own rules instead of following the rules required of everyone else. That won’t stand with House Republicans.” Comer added: “We expect full cooperation with our subpoena for a deposition but also agree that Hunter Biden should have the opportunity to testify in a public setting at a future date.” The House Republican inquiry has not provided any direct evidence that Joe Biden has committed any wrongdoing. The White House also accused House Republicans of abusing their power and “throwing spaghetti” at the wall after failing to produce evidence to support their allegations. (Associated Press / Politico / New York Times / Axios / ABC News / Washington Post / CNN)

3/ The political arm of the Koch network endorsed Nikki Haley for the 2024 Republican nomination. Americans for Prosperity Action said it believes that nearly 75% of Republican voters are ready to move on from Trump, despite the twice-impeached former president – who tried to overturn the 2020 presidential election, encouraged a deadly insurrection at the Capitol, and is the subject of four felony indictments – having a commanding lead in the race for the GOP nomination in virtually every poll with less than two months until the Iowa caucuses. AFP said the Republican party has been choosing “bad candidates who are going against America’s core principles,” suggesting that Haley “offers America the opportunity to turn the page on the current political era.” (Axios / Associated Press / NPR / New York Times / Washington Post / ABC News)

💩 Dept. of This Guy Shouldn’t Be President Again.

  1. Fulton county prosecutors do not intend to offer plea deals for Trump, Mark Meadows, or Rudy Giuliani. “Prosecutors reached plea deals in quick succession with the former Trump lawyers Sidney Powell, Jenna Ellis and Kenneth Chesebro – who all gave ‘proffer’ statements that were damaging to Trump to some degree – as well as the local bail bondsman Scott Hall.” (The Guardian)

  2. Ex-Trump attorney John Eastman urged the court to set an earlier final plea date, calling the “Fulton County District Attorney’s Office proposal of June 21 ‘arbitrary and capricious.’ In the filing, Eastman attorney Wilmer Parker III said that the final plea date should be set earlier in the year ‘so that Defendants who do not have lifetime United States Secret Service protection and who are not running for election to an office can exercise and have their right to a jury trial completed within 2024.’” (NBC News)

  3. Trump Seeks to Use Trial to Challenge Findings That 2020 Election Was Fair. “The federal judge overseeing Donald Trump’s upcoming election interference trial said in a ruling Monday that the former president’s attempt to subpoena what his legal team dubbed ‘missing’ records from the House Jan. 6 committee appeared to be a ‘fishing expedition’ that was not in good faith.” (NBC News / New York Times)

  4. Bid to hold Trump accountable for Jan. 6 violence stalls at appeals court. “A three-judge panel of the appeals court is mulling a thorny constitutional question that hangs over each of the cases: whether Trump can be sued over his speech to an angry crowd on Jan. 6, 2021, just before the deadly riot at the Capitol. Since the panel considered whether Trump has immunity, Trump has surged to the front of the GOP presidential primary pack and been charged criminally twice for his efforts to subvert the 2020 election.” (Politico)

  5. Pence told investigators he originally planned to skip the electoral certification on Jan. 6. “Speaking with special counsel Jack Smith’s team earlier this year, former Vice President Mike Pence offered harrowing details about how, in the wake of the 2020 presidential election, then-President Donald Trump surrounded himself with ‘crank’ attorneys, espoused ‘un-American’ legal theories, and almost pushed the country toward a ‘constitutional crisis,’ according to sources familiar with what Pence told investigators.” (ABC News)

Day 1042: "Looking at alternatives."

1/ Biden won’t attend the United Nations climate summit in Dubai, which draws leaders from nearly 200 countries. The White House said it would send a climate envoy, including John Kerry, Ali Zaidi, and John Podesta. While Biden has called climate change “the ultimate threat to humanity,” it’s unclear why he will skip the annual COP28 after attending the previous two summits. Meanwhile, the United Arab Emirates – the world’s fifth-largest oil producer – is hosting the climate talks this year. Leaked document show that the UAE plans to use its position as host country to discuss oil and gas deals with more than a dozen countries. (Associated Press / Politico / New York Times / CNN / Bloomberg / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal)

  • Why an oil kingdom is hosting the COP28 climate summit. “The United Nations rotates the location of COPs each year through Africa, Asia-Pacific, Eastern Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean, and Western Europe. This year, it was the Asia-Pacific group’s turn to host, and the United Arab Emirates made an unopposed bid in May 2021.” (Washington Post)

  • Former Coal Towns Get Money for Clean-Energy Factories. “An Energy Department program designed to create jobs and manufacturing in communities reliant on fossil fuels is backing projects in West Virginia, Colorado and elsewhere.” (New York Times)

  • Huge Turbines Will Soon Bring First Offshore Wind Power to New Yorkers. “New York’s best bet for entering the era of offshore wind power is stacked up at the water’s edge in Connecticut.” (New York Times)

  • Sodium in Batteries: Shift May Herald Another Shakeup. “Sodium — found in rock salts and brines around the globe — has the potential to make inroads into energy storage and electric vehicles because it’s cheaper and far more abundant than lithium, which currently dominates batteries. But while chemically and structurally similar, sodium has yet to be used on a large scale, partly due to the better range and performance of similarly sized lithium cells.” (Bloomberg)

  • Costs for renewables have plummeted and growth is exceeding expectations. “In 2009, the International Energy Agency predicted that solar power would remain too expensive to compete on the grid. It continued to underestimate the growth of renewable energy and EVs. Last year, more than four-fifths of the world’s new power capacity was renewables, according to the International Renewable Energy Agency.” (Wall Street Journal)

2/ Israel and Hamas agreed to extend their humanitarian pause in fighting for two more days. So far, Hamas has released 69 hostages in exchange for 150 Palestinian women and children in Israeli detention. Under the terms of the agreement, the pause could be extended by a day for every additional 10 hostages released by Hamas. Around 170 hostages abducted in the Hamas-led attacks on Oct. 7 remain in captivity in Gaza. The Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip, meanwhile, has killed at least 13,000 people and created a humanitarian disaster for its 2.2 million residents. (New York Times / Associated Press / Washington Post / NBC News / CNN / Wall Street Journal)

  • White House grapples with internal divisions on Israel-Gaza. “The Hamas attacks and Israeli reaction have roiled the Biden team like no other issue during his presidency.” (Washington Post)

  • Gaza Civilians, Under Israeli Barrage, Are Being Killed at Historic Pace. “Even a conservative assessment of the reported Gaza casualty figures shows that the rate of death during Israel’s assault has few precedents in this century, experts say.” (New York Times)

3/ Trump revived his threat to roll back the Affordable Care Act if he returns to the White House, saying he’s “seriously looking at alternatives.” After trying and failing to repeal the ACA, Republicans have effectively given up on their calls to kill the ACA. According to a recent poll, 45% of voters say they trust Democrats when it comes to health care, while 22% said they trust Republicans. In 2017, a poll showed 22% of Americans supported the Republican effort to repeal and replace the ACA, which ultimately failed, while 55% opposed them. Nevertheless, Trump criticized Republicans who voted not to “terminate it” in 2017 and vowed not to “give up.” (NBC News / Washington Post / Axios)

  • Trump hints at expanded role for the military within the U.S. “Calling New York City and Chicago ‘crime dens,’ the front-runner for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination told his audience, ‘The next time, I’m not waiting. One of the things I did was let them run it and we’re going to show how bad a job they do,’ he said. ‘Well, we did that. We don’t have to wait any longer.’” (Associated Press)

  • “Openly authoritarian campaign”: Trump’s threats of revenge fuel alarm. “Trump’s talk of seeking to ‘weaponize’ the DoJ and ‘retribution’ for opponents poses a direct threat to the rule of law and democracy in the US should he win a second term, experts say.” (The Guardian)

4/ George Santos expects to be expelled from Congress as early as this week following the release of a House Ethics Committee report, which found “substantial evidence” that he knowingly filed false campaign finance statements and used campaign funds to pay for personal expenses including rent, trips, luxury items, cosmetic treatments like Botox, and a subscription to the adult-content site OnlyFans. In a three-hour-long livestream, Santos described the report as “slanderous” and accused Ethics Committee Chairman Michael Guest of “weaponizing” his position and publishing a “hit-piece” against him. Santos currently faces 23 federal charges in an ongoing criminal case, including fraud, money laundering, falsifying records and aggravated identity theft. (Washington Post / NBC News)

Day 1036: "Such absurd results."

1/ A Colorado judge ruled that Trump “engaged in an insurrection,” but said the 14th Amendment doesn’t apply to the presidency. Colorado District Court Judge Sarah Wallace found Trump “engaged in an insurrection” on Jan. 6, 2021, but concluded that it doesn’t apply to presidents because the provision explicitly bans insurrectionists from serving as senators, representatives, and presidential electors – but it doesn’t say anything about the presidency. Meaning, Trump can still appear on that state’s presidential primary ballot next year. However, the group that filed the lawsuit appealed the ruling, saying: “No court should adopt an interpretation of the Constitution that has such absurd results.” Trump, meanwhile, also has appealed the decision, taking issue with the judge’s finding that he “engaged” in the Jan. 6 insurrection. The case is expected to eventually reach the U.S. Supreme Court. (CNN / USA Today / Politico / The Guardian / Washington Post)

  • 🤔 The Bizarre Reason a Colorado Judge Didn’t Disqualify Trump From Running in 2024. “Judge Sarah Wallace found the case that the former president violated the Fourteenth Amendment compelling. Then she found a way to ignore her own judgment.” (The New Republic)
  • 🤔 Republican Who Voted To Impeach Trump Says He Would Still Vote For Trump. “Former Representative Peter Meijer described Trump’s actions on January 6 as ‘disqualifying.’ Now, as he mounts a run for Senate, the Michigan Republican is backtracking: ‘My overarching goal is to make Joe Biden a one-term president.’” (Vanity Fair)

2/ Israel and Hamas are near a “truce deal” to release some hostages seized by Hamas in Israel in exchange for a pause in fighting in Gaza. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called for the Israeli government to back the proposed deal that could include around 50 women and children being exchanged for around 150 Israeli-held Palestinian prisoners, and lead to a 4-to-5-day pause in fighting. As part of the deal, Israel would also allow around 300 aid trucks per day to enter Gaza from Egypt. The numbers are subject to change and the deal could still fall apart. As Netanyahu convened his Cabinet for a vote, he emphasized that a pause in fighting to get hostages out wouldn’t lead to a cease-fire, saying: “There is nonsense out there as if after the pause in fighting, we will stop the war. We are at war and we will continue it until we achieve all the objectives. We will eliminate Hamas, return all the hostages and guarantee that there will be no element in Gaza that threatens Israel.” (New York Times / Washington Post / ABC News / CNN / NBC News / Axios / Associated Press / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal / Vox)

3/ The owner of the social media company formerly known as Twitter sued a nonprofit organization for defamation after it published research highlighting antisemitic and pro-Nazi content on the social media platform. Last week, Media Matters reported that X/Twitter “has been placing ads for major brands” like Apple, Amazon, and IBM “next to content that touts Adolf Hitler and his Nazi Party.” Multiple businesses, including IBM, Apple, Warner Bros. Discovery, Sony, Comcast, and Disney, subsequently suspended their advertising on the platform. Elon Musk, meanwhile, endorsed an antisemitic conspiracy theory last week, which has been widely criticized, including by the White House. Shortly after Musk filed his “thermonuclear lawsuit,” Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton opened an investigation into Media Matters for “potential fraudulent activity.” Media Matters called the lawsuits “frivolous,” and said the organization “stands behind its reporting and looks forward to winning in court.” Separately, more than two dozen House Democrats accused Musk of “profiting off violent content by a terrorist organization” and demanded that he address Hamas-related content on the social media platform that “has become a hotbed of misinformation and terrorist propaganda.” (The Verge / CNN / Washington Post / New York Times / Axios / Associated Press / Texas Tribune)

  • 🤔 Does Elon Musk’s Media Matters Lawsuit Have a Chance? ‌”“It’s one of those lawsuits that’s filed more for symbolism than for substance — as reflected in just how empty the allegations really are.” (Intelligencer)
  • 🤔 “PR stunt masquerading as a lawsuit”: Experts slam Elon Musk’s attack on Media Matters’ reporting. (Salon.com)
  • 🤔 Ron DeSantis Says He’s Never Personally Witnessed Elon Musk Attacking Jews When Asked About X Post Attacking Jews. (Vanity Fair)

Day 1035: "Not enough action."

1/ A federal appeals court ruled that only the federal government — not private citizens or civil rights groups — can sue to enforce the Voting Rights Act. In a 2-to-1 ruling, the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that private entities cannot bring lawsuits under Section 2, a provision of the 1965 Voting Rights Act that prohibits discriminatory voting practices. The ruling runs counter to decades of legal practice and the vast majority of Voting Rights Act claims are brought by private entities. The decision will almost certainly be appealed and is likely headed to the Supreme Court. (CNN / Wall Street Journal / New York Times / NPR / Politico / NBC News)

  • 🔎 What’s at Stake? This federal appeals court ruling represents a shift in the enforcement of voting rights in America. By potentially limiting the ability to challenge discriminatory voting practices to the federal government, it risks undermining the effectiveness of the Voting Rights Act. This is especially concerning as it could lead to reduced oversight and increased voter disenfranchisement, disproportionately affecting minority groups and threatening the integrity and fairness of the democratic process. The decision is at odds with the foundational American values of equal representation and participation in democracy. Vigilant protection of voting rights is essential for maintaining a robust and inclusive democratic system. Failure to address this issue risks long-term damage to the legitimacy of elections and the democratic principles upon which the United States is built. Addressing this ruling is crucial not only for the current generation but for safeguarding the democratic rights of future generations as well. It’s also a stark reminder that protecting voting rights is a continuous battle, requiring vigilance and active participation from all sectors of society.

2/ Earth briefly exceeded more than 2 degrees Celsius above the pre-industrial benchmark this weekend, preliminary data showed. When compared with the 1991-2020 average, the global mean on Friday was 2.07 degrees Celsius (2.1 degrees Fahrenheit) above average preindustrial levels, and 2.06C (3.7F) above preindustrial on Saturday. This year is on track to be the hottest on record globally, with temperature records set in July, August, September, and October. November is on track to be the hottest such month on record. (Washington Post / Axios)

3/ The world has a 14% chance of keeping global warming below 1.5C even if all net-zero pledges are met, according to the United Nations’ 2023 “Emissions Gap Report.” To keep warming to the 2015 Paris climate agreement limit of 1.5C, countries need to cut their emissions by 42% by the end of the decade. Carbon emissions from the burning of coal, oil, and gas, however, rose 1.2% last year. Meanwhile, if every single country were to follow through on its stated net-zero plans, Earth would still be on track to heat up roughly 2.5 to 2.9C over preindustrial levels by the century’s end. “There is no person or economy left on the planet untouched by climate change, so we need to stop setting unwanted records on greenhouse gas emissions, global temperature highs and extreme weather,” Inger Andersen said, executive director of the U.N. Environmental Programme. “We must instead lift the needle out of the same old groove of insufficient ambition and not enough action, and start setting other records: on cutting emissions, on green and just transitions and on climate finance.” (Associated Press / Bloomberg / New York Times / Politico / Axios / NPR)

  • The world’s richest 1% generated as much carbon emissions as the poorest 66% in 2019. “Carbon emissions of the world’s richest 1% surpassed the amount generated by all car and road transport globally in 2019, while the richest 10% accounted for half of global carbon emissions that year. Meanwhile, emissions from the richest 1% are enough to cancel out the work of nearly 1 million wind turbines each year, Oxfam said.” (Washington Post)

4/ The U.S., Israel, and Hamas are reportedly close to an agreement to release some of the 240 hostages taken during the Oct. 7 terrorist attack in exchange for a five-day pause in fighting. Biden’s deputy national security adviser said while Israel and Hamas were close to a deal, “nothing is agreed until everything is agreed,” and that negotiations could still fall apart. National Security Council spokesman John Kirby echoed the statement, saying: “We believe we’re closer than we’ve ever been, so we’re hopeful. But there’s still work to be done, and nothing is done until it’s all done, so we’re gonna keep working on this.” Negotiations have centered around a brief pause in fighting where Hamas releases 50 women and children held hostage in exchange for roughly the same number of Palestinian women and teenagers held in Israeli prisons. Any deal would require a vote by the Israeli government, and some right-wing Israeli politicians have suggested they’ll oppose any agreement with Hamas. Meanwhile, Israel’s military released footage of what it said showed Hamas “forcibly transporting hostages” through al-Shifa hospital on Oct. 7, claiming the video was proof that Hamas used the hospital “as terrorist infrastructure.” The Hamas-run Palestinian Health Ministry suggested that the videos are just doctors treating patients regardless of who they are. Israel’s military also released video of what it said was a 55-meter section of a fortified tunnel running 10 meters beneath the al-Shifa hospital. News outlets have been unable to verify either side’s claims, when the videos were taken, or who the people in them were. (New York Times / Washington Post / NBC News / Associated Press / ABC News)

5/ Americans can order another round of four free Covid-19 tests for home delivery. Get yours at COVIDtests.gov. The U.S. Postal Service will deliver them for free. (Associated Press)

Day 1031: "Cannot be trusted."

1/ The Senate approved a temporary funding measure to avert a government shutdown, sending the measure to Biden for his signature before the Friday night deadline. The bill sets up two funding deadlines in early 2024, with roughly 20% percent of the federal government running out of money on Jan. 19 and the remaining 80% on Feb. 2. The legislation finances the government at current spending levels and contains no policy conditions – aspects that have enraged far-right Republicans. The “laddered” deadlines are designed to allow the House and Senate to negotiate and pass the 12 full-year spending measures. (Bloomberg / Axios / Politico / Washington Post / New York Times)

2/ George Santos will not seek reelection after the House Ethics Committee found “substantial evidence” that he violated federal criminal laws. The bipartisan report found that Santos engaged in a “complex web” of illegal activity, “blatantly stole” from his campaign, and sought to “fraudulently exploit every aspect of his House candidacy” for personal financial gain. The report concluded that Santos “cannot be trusted.” The Ethics Committee unanimously voted to refer the evidence to the Justice Department. Santos, meanwhile, has rejected calls for his resignation. (CNN / New York Times / Associated Press / Politico / Bloomberg / ABC News / NBC News / Washington Post / CNBC / CBS News)

3/ Israel Defense Forces raided Gaza’s Al-Shifa hospital for the second time in 24 hours, searching for evidence that the hospital was used by Hamas as a command center. Israel is facing growing international pressure to provide concrete evidence of extensive Hamas infrastructure at the facility to justify sending troops into a hospital, which has special protections under international humanitarian law. So far, the IDF has released photos and videos of AK-47s, hand grenades, military uniforms, and laptops identified as Hamas material found inside the hospital. The body of an Israeli hostage who was kidnapped on Oct. 7, was also found near the complex. The IDF, however, has not yet provided evidence of tunnels or a Hamas command center it claims exists under the hospital – a claim that Hamas and hospital staff have denied. News outlets and other third-party and international organizations have been unable to verify either side’s claims. Prior to the raids, Israel and the U.S. said they had intelligence that Hamas was using the hospital as a command center. That information has not been shared publicly. Humanitarian groups, meanwhile, condemned the raids on the hospital and said Israel’s actions highlighted the need for an immediate humanitarian cease-fire – calls that Israel and the U.S. have rejected. (Wall Street Journal / Washington Post / Bloomberg / New York Times / ABC News / CNN / CNBC / NBC News / Axios)

4/ An appeals court judge temporarily lifted Trump’s gag order in the ongoing New York civil fraud trial, clearing the way for Trump resume attacking the judge and court staff. Judge Arthur Engoron had initially imposed the gag order on Trump to prevent him from making statements about court staff, citing security risks. Since then, Trump has been fined twice for a total of $15,000 for violating the gag order, which was imposed after attacking court staff on social media. The appeals judge, however, raised concerns over restricting Trump’s free speech. The pause will remain in place until at least Nov. 27, when a full panel of appeals court judges will consider the matter. (CNN / Axios / Associated Press / NBC News)

Day 1030: "None of this is inevitable."

1/ Israel Defense Forces raided and seized the largest hospital in Gaza in what they called a “precise and targeted operation against Hamas.” Israel and the U.S. have asserted that Hamas is using the hospital as cover for its military operations – an allegation that both Hamas and Al-Shifa hospital staff have denied. While the IDF reported they found “military equipment used by Hamas” at Al-Shifa, they offered no evidence of a vast tunnel network or military command center beneath the hospital. Prior to the raid, the White House warned Israel that “hospitals and patients must be protected,” saying “to be clear, we do not support striking a hospital from the air, and we do not want to see a firefight in the hospital.” The Biden administration has also reportedly grown frustrated that Israel isn’t doing enough to protect civilians, and that conversations with Israeli officials have largely been ignored. The U.S., however, is still fulfilling Israel’s weapons requests, and so far hasn’t threatened any consequences. The U.N. Security Council, meanwhile, condemned Israel’s raid on the hospital and adopted a resolution calling for “urgent and extended humanitarian pauses and corridors” in the Gaza Strip. The resolution also urged the “immediate and unconditional release of all hostages held by Hamas and other groups, especially children.” The U.S., Russia, and the UK abstained from the vote. Israel says 1,200 people were killed in the Hamas terrorist attack Oct. 7, with 239 people still held hostage in Gaza. More than 11,200 Palestinians — two-thirds of them women and children — have been killed since the war began, and more than 1.6 million people have been displaced. The United Nations’s humanitarian agency chief demanded that the “carnage” in Gaza “cannot be allowed to continue.” (CNN / New York Times / Washington Post / Associated Press / Bloomberg / NBC News / ABC News / NPR)

  • [Poll]: 32% of Americans said “the U.S. should support Israel” – down from 41% from a month ago. 39% said the U.S. “should be a neutral mediator,” 15% said the U.S. shouldn’t be involved at all, and 15% said the U.S. should support Palestinians. (Reuters)

2/ The world’s two largest climate polluters agreed to work together to speed their transition away from fossil fuels and to renewable energy. The U.S. and China agreed to “pursue efforts to triple renewable energy capacity globally by 2030” and to make “meaningful absolute power sector emission reduction.” The agreement comes two weeks before the annual U.N. Climate Change Conference, known as COP28. (New York Times / Washington Post / Axios / Politico)

3/ Climate change is “already far-reaching and worsening across every region of the United States,” according to the Fifth National Climate Assessment, a congressionally mandated study compiled every four years by 13 federal agencies. The report warns that climate change will bring “substantial and increasing economic costs” to the U.S. that will most directly affect the elderly, children, and low-income populations. Overall, the report warns that the U.S. is warming about 60% faster than the world. Biden called climate change “the ultimate threat to humanity” and that “anyone who willfully denies the impact of climate change is condemning the American people to a very dangerous future.” Biden added that the report “shows us in clear scientific terms that […] more action is still badly needed. We can’t be complacent. […] None of this is inevitable.” In a separate study, the annual Lancet Countdown on Health and Climate Change, heat-related deaths globally are projected to increase by 370% by mid-century, with an additional 524.9 million people expected to experience food insecurity if action is not taken to limit the effects of global warming. (New York Times / NBC News / Politico / Associated Press / Axios / Axios / ABC News / CNN / Washington Post / Vox / Wall Street Journal / NPR)

  • 🔍 What’s at stake? Climate change is not abstract or distant; it is immediate and personal. The findings highlight the urgent threat climate change poses to humans, especially for vulnerable groups like the elderly, children, and low-income populations. Rising temperatures threaten food security, disproportionately intensify existing inequalities, strain healthcare systems, and economically burden individuals and nations. Climate change is not just an environmental issue but a moral imperative: the decisions and actions taken today shape the world for future generations. If left unchecked, climate change will lead to global resource scarcity, population displacement, and increased conflicts.

  • Nations made bold climate pledges. They aren’t close to meeting them. “Today, countries are still far from meeting these much-hyped promises, even as the impacts of climate change intensify across the globe. Deforestation remains rampant, pushing the Amazon rainforest toward a tipping point. Levels of methane in the atmosphere continue to climb to new records. The planet just endured its hottest 12 months in the modern era — and probably the hottest in 125,000 years.” (Washington Post)

  • The Solar-Panel Backlash Is Here. “The growing backlash against net metering isn’t just a response to wasted solar power—it’s also about for-profit power companies wary of rooftop solar panels that don’t make them money.” (The Atlantic)

4/ Fulton County prosecutors asked a judge to jail one of Trump’s co-defendants charged in the 2020 election subversion case for his alleged “effort to intimidate codefendants and witnesses,” according to court filings. District Attorney Fani Willis said Harrison Floyd had “engaged in numerous intentional and flagrant violations” of his bond agreement, citing recent comments Floyd made on a conservative podcasts and posts on the social media that tag Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, former Fulton County poll worker Ruby Freeman, and others. Meanwhile, an attorney for another one of Trump’s co-defendants in the election interference case admitted to leaking witness proffer videos, saying “I believe they help my client and the public needs to know that.” Jonathan Miller, an attorney for Misty Hampton, made the confession during an emergency hearing for a protective order following the leak of depositions by Sidney Powell, Jenna Ellis, Kenneth Chesebro, and Scott Hall. The judge said he would issue a protective order barring the disclosure of certain discovery information by Thursday morning. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution / CNN / NBC News)

5/ Trump asked for a mistrial in his $250 million New York civil fraud case, claiming that the judge and his clerk are biased against him. In the filing for a mistrial, Trump’s attorneys argued that Judge Arthur Engoron unfairly ruled against him, made comments during the trial that allegedly show bias, and accused Engoron’s law clerk of bias and “co-judging” the case. Engoron, who already issued a partial gag order prohibiting Trump from making disparaging remarks about his law clerk, has already signaled that he will deny Trump’s motion. (NBC News / CNN / CBS News)

Day 1029: "All in."

1/ The House passed a short-term funding bill to keep the government open after Democrats stepped in to rescue Speaker Mike Johnson and his spending plan that many Republicans opposed. The bill would fund some government departments until mid-January and the rest through early February, but it does not include spending cuts or policy changes that the House Freedom Caucus had demanded. Democrats, meanwhile, are dissatisfied that the measure doesn’t include emergency aid for Israel or Ukraine, and it also threatens a two-step shutdown next year. The bill still needs to pass the Senate and be signed into law by Biden before midnight on Friday to avert a shutdown. (CNN / NBC News / Washington Post / New York Times / Politico / NPR / ABC News / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal)

2/ A former Trump attorney told Georgia prosecutors that in December 2020 Trump’s deputy chief of staff told her “the boss” didn’t plan to leave the White House “under any circumstances” – despite the fact that Trump had already lost the election and most of his subsequent challenges. “And [Dan Scavino] said to me, you know, in a kind of excited tone, ‘Well, we don’t care, and we’re not going to leave,’” Jenna Ellis said in a leaked deposition video. Ellis provided the testimony as part of a plea deal with prosecutors in which she pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting false statements and writings. Portions of recorded depositions with three other Trump co-defendants, who have accepted plea deals in the case, also leaked: Sidney Powell, Kenneth Chesebro, and Scott Hall. When prosecutors asked Powell why Trump ignored the White House attorneys and instead listened to her for legal advice, Powell replied: “Because we were the only ones willing to support his effort to sustain the White House. I mean, everybody else was telling him to pack up and go.” (Washington Post / ABC News)

3/ Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis asked for an emergency protective order after portions of videos from key witnesses in her election interference case against Trump leaked. “The release of these confidential video recordings is clearly intended to intimidate witnesses in this case, subjecting them to harassment and threats prior to trial,” Willis’ office said in a court filing. The prosecution’s filing included an apparent admission from an email chain with one of Trump’s co-defendants. An attorney for Harrison Floyd, a Trump ally charged for his alleged role in the harassment of election worker Ruby Freeman, initially said “It was Harrison Floyd’s team” who leaked the videos. In a subsequent email, Todd Harding, Floyd’s attorney, called the prior email admission “a typo.” Willis, meanwhile, said she expects the trial to conclude by early 2025, with proceedings likely underway during the final stretch of the 2024 presidential election. (CNN / NBC News / Washington Post)

4/ Trump’s allies are reportedly pre-screening up to 54,000 pro-Trump loyalists as a type of government-in-waiting if Trump wins the 2024 election. The headhunting operation aims to recruit 20,000 people to serve in the next administration and fill 4,000 presidential appointments as part of an effort to replace as many as 50,000 federal workers who are considered “policy-adjacent.” The project is being orchestrated by the Heritage Foundation’s Project 2025. (Axios)

  • How Trump could reimpose “Schedule F” in 2025. “Trump say he would immediately reimpose his “Schedule F” executive order if he takes back the White House in the 2024 presidential elections.” (Axios

  • A radical plan for Trump’s second term. “Trump’s top allies are preparing to radically reshape the federal government if he is re-elected, purging potentially thousands of civil servants and filling career posts with loyalists to him and his “America First” ideology.” (Axios)

5/ Mike Johnson endorsed Trump’s 2024 presidential bid, saying he’s “all in” on the twice-impeached former president, who is facing 91 felony charges stemming from four indictments. Johnson, the second person in line to the presidency and the country’s highest-ranking Republican, played a key role in Trump’s efforts to overturn the election and objected to certifying Biden’s electoral win. In 2015, however, Johnson posted on Facebook that Trump “lacks the character and the moral center we desperately need again in the White House.” In a subsequent comment, Johnson said: “I am afraid [Trump] would break more things than he fixes. He is a hot head by nature, and that is a dangerous trait to have in a Commander in Chief.” (Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / CNBC / Politico)

Day 1028: "Dire and perilous."

1/ With four days until a government shutdown, House Republicans, Democrats, and the White House have all panned House Speaker Mike Johnson’s complex two-tiered plan to temporarily fund the government. At least a half-dozen Republican members oppose the funding measure – enough to sink the bill without Democratic support – that would extend funding for some parts of the government through Jan. 19 and other parts through Feb. 2. They’ve demanded immediate spending cuts or changes to immigration law as a condition for their support. Democrats, meanwhile, dislike the two separate deadlines and would prefer the funding measure include aid for Israel and Ukraine. The White House called the proposal “a recipe for more Republican chaos and more shutdowns – full stop” and Biden is expected to threaten to veto the measure. The federal government will run out of money by the end of the day on Friday if no new deal is reached. (Politico / NPR / Washington Post / ABC News / CNN / Bloomberg)

2/ The Supreme Court issued its first-ever code of conduct following months of ethical controversies, which have diminished the public standing of the nine justices. The justices said they adopted the code of conduct to “dispel” the “misunderstanding” that the court’s nine justices “regard themselves as unrestricted by any ethics rules.” The court, however, failed to explain how the code will work and who would enforce it. (Axios / New York Times / Wall Street Journal / NBC News / Washington Post / CNN / CNBC / Bloomberg)

3/ Biden urged Israel to take “less intrusive action” at the Al-Shifa hospital in Gaza, saying hospitals “must be protected.” Israeli forces and tanks currently surround Gaza’s largest hospital, which has been without electricity and water for three days. Israeli authorities claim a Hamas command hub operates beneath the hospital, a claim Hamas and hospital doctors refute. Despite the White House’s calls to protect civilians around Gaza’s hospitals, U.S. intelligence asserts that it’s “confident” Hamas maintains a command post under Al-Shifa. The World Health Organization characterized the situation at the hospital as “dire and perilous,” stating that continuous gunfire, shelling, and airstrikes means it “is not functioning as a hospital anymore.” Gaza’s health officials have called Al-Shifa a “circle of death,” with over 100 decomposing bodies with no way to preserve or remove them. Several newborns have also died, and at least 35 babies born prematurely face possible “death at any moment.” Roughly 8,000 displaced people are currently sheltering at the hospital complex. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, nevertheless, suggested that patients can still be evacuated from the hospital, saying: “There’s no reason why we just can’t take the patients out of there, instead of letting Hamas use it as a command center for terrorism, for the rockets that they fire against Israel, for the terror tunnels that they use to kill Israeli civilians.” Netanyahu also doubled down on Israel’s war against Hamas, vowing that Israel will see the “war to the end.” The enclave’s second-largest hospital, Al-Quds in Gaza City, has also been encircled by Israeli forces and unable to evacuate its 300 remaining patients and medical employees because of bombardments and gunfire. More than two-thirds of Gaza’s population of 2.3 million have been displaced since the war began. More than 11,000 Palestinians – two-thirds of them women and minors – have been killed since the war began. At least 1,200 people were killed in Israel in the Oct. 7 Hamas attack. About 240 hostages were taken from Israel into Gaza by Hamas. (Associated Press / New York Times / Washington Post / NBC News / CNN / ABC News / Bloomberg)

4/ Trump Jr. returned to the witness stand in the $250 million civil fraud trial, calling his father a “genius,” a “visionary,” and “an artist with real estate” who “creates things that other people would never envision.” New York Attorney General Letitia James sued Trump, Trump Jr. Eric Trump, and the Trump Organization last year, alleging “numerous acts of fraud and misrepresentation” to inflate the value of assets to obtain favorable loans from banks. Further, New York Supreme Court Judge Arthur Engoron has already concluded that the Trump Organization’s financial statements were fraudulent and ordered that all of Trump’s “business certificates” be canceled. The trial is largely intended to determine the punishment that Engoron will impose. (New York Times / Washington Post / ABC News / NBC News / CNN / CNBC)

⚡️ Weekend Notables.

  1. Trump – echoing fascist dictators like Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini – “pledged” to “root out” his political opponents, which he called “vermin” and claimed they “lie, steal and cheat on elections.” In a Veterans Day post, Trump suggested that his political opponents pose a greater “threat from within” to the U.S. than “outside forces” like Russia, China, or North Korea. (Washington Post / New York Times / ABC News)

  2. Trump is planning mass deportations, a new Muslim ban, a limit on asylum claims, adding tariffs to all imported goods, and building “freedom cities” on federal land if he returns to power in 2025. To speed mass deportations, Trump said he plans to follow “the Eisenhower model” – a reference was to a 1954 campaign to round up and expel Mexican immigrants that was named for an ethnic slur — “Operation Wetback.” (New York Times / Associated Press)

  3. The Biden campaign criticized Trump’s threats, calling it a “horrifying reality that awaits the American people if Donald Trump is allowed anywhere near the Oval Office again. These extreme, racist, cruel policies dreamed up by him and his henchman Stephen Miller are meant to stoke fear and divide us, betting a scared and divided nation is how he wins this election.” The Trump campaign, meanwhile, defended the use of the word “vermin” to describe his political enemies, calling critics “snowflakes” whose “entire existence will be crushed” if Trump wins. (Politico / Axios)

Day 1024: "Playing games."

1/ With eight days until a government shutdown, House Republicans canceled votes on two spending bills and adjourned for Veterans Day. Republicans have only approved seven of the 12 full-year spending measures individually, which were due Oct. 1. Speaker Mike Johnson, however, has been forced to cancel votes on three of the five remaining spending bills in the past two weeks after facing the same internal Republican divisions that led to the ousting of Kevin McCarthy as speaker. Biden, meanwhile, told reporters: “I wish the House would just get to work. The idea we’re playing games with a shutdown at this moment is just bizarre.” (Politico / NBC News / Axios / Bloomberg / Punchbowl)

2/ With eight