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 749: "It’s going to be bumpy."

1/ A federal judge suggested that the federal right to abortion might be protected by the Constitution’s 13th Amendment, which abolished slavery. U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly said while the Supreme Court concluded that the 14th Amendment included no right to abortion, the question of whether the 13th Amendment provided a textual basis for the right to abortion went unexplored. In a pending criminal case against several anti-abortion activists, Kollar-Kotelly asked prosecutors and defense lawyers to address “whether the scope of Dobbs is in fact confined to the Fourteenth Amendment” and “whether, if so, any other provision of the Constitution could confer a right to abortion as an original matter […] such that Dobbs may or may not be the final pronouncement on the issue, leaving an open question.” (Politico / CNBC / The Hill)

2/ More than 3 million people in the U.S. were forced to evacuate their homes in the past year because of natural disasters worsened by a changing climate – about 1.4% of the U.S. adult population. While most displacements were short term, census figures show that roughly 16% of displaced adults never returned home, and 12% were displaced for more than six months. (E&E News / Politico)

3/ Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said “the process of getting inflation down has begun,” but is going to take time and interest rates may need to keep rising. Powell’s remarks followed the government’s jobs report that employers added 517,000 jobs in January – nearly double December’s gain – while unemployment fell to 3.4%, the lowest rate since 1969. Powell said the U.S. labor market remains “extraordinarily strong,” but the process of bringing inflation down to the Fed’s goal of 2% “is likely to take quite a bit of time. It’s not going to be, we don’t think, smooth. It’s probably going to be bumpy.” (Associated Press / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal / CNBC / CNN / New York Times)

4/ Biden will deliver his second State of the Union address tonight. He’s expected to address the economy and infrastructure, including the 2021 bipartisan infrastructure act, and the 2022 Inflation Reduction Act. Biden is also expected to address raising the debt ceiling, which House Republicans have refused to raise without cuts to federal spending. Biden, who turned 80 in November, will be the oldest president to ever deliver a State of the Union address. (Associated Press / Politico / New York Times / Wall Street Journal / NPR)

  • How to watch Biden’s State of the Union address. Biden’s speech is scheduled for 9 p.m. EST and will be broadcast by the major television networks and cable news TV channels. (Associated Press)

Day 748: "Our plan is working."

1/ The FBI arrested two people and charged them with conspiracy to attack the electrical substations around Baltimore and “completely destroy” the city. Sarah Clendaniel and Brandon Russell planned to use firearms to “inflict maximum harm on the power grid,” according to the FBI. The plot was reportedly driven by ethnically or racially motivated extremist beliefs. Russell is the founder of the neo-Nazi group Atomwaffen. Clendaniel and Russell met while incarcerated at separate prisons: Russell for possessing bombmaking materials and Clendaniel for robbing convenience stores with a machete. If convicted, they each face a maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison. (NPR / CNN / Washington Post / New York Times)

2/ The U.S. shot down the Chinese surveillance balloon off the Carolina coast Saturday, about a week after it was spotted crossing the U.S. The Navy and Coast Guard are trying to recover the surveillance equipment the balloon was carrying. The Chinese foreign ministry declared its “strong discontent and protest” at Biden’s decision to shoot down the balloon, claiming that it was a civilian aircraft that had accidentally blown into the U.S. The chair of the House Intelligence Committee, meanwhile, criticized the Biden administration for lacking a sense of “urgency” and that the ballon “never should have been allowed to complete its mission.” During the Trump administration, however, at least three suspected Chinese spy balloons flew over the continental U.S. undetected, which weren’t discovered until after the Trump administration had already left. (NBC News / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / CNN / Politico / New York Times)

3/ Jim Jordan issued subpoenas to the heads of the Justice Department, FBI, and Department of Education seeking documents related to local school board meetings. The House Judiciary chairman said the request is part of the committee’s investigation into whether a 2021 Justice Department memo addressing threats against school officials was used to label parents as domestic terrorists. The FBI has never charged a single parent in connection with the memo. Nevertheless, Jordan requested that Attorney General Merrick Garland, FBI Director Christopher Wray, and Education Secretary Miguel Cardona to turn over all documents about how they “used federal counterterrorism resources against American parents” by March 1. (Politico / CNN / NBC News / The Hill)

4/ Some Supreme Court justices often use personal email accounts for work. Court employees reportedly said they were nervous about confronting the justices about using secure servers to transmit sensitive information. Despite the court calling the leak of a draft opinion reversing Roe v. Wade a “grave assault” on the court’s legitimacy, three former court employees said that “burn bags” meant to ensure the safe destruction of sensitive materials were often left open and unattended in hallways. (CNN)

5/ The U.S. unemployment rate fell to a 53-year low at 3.4%. Employers, meanwhile, added 517,000 jobs in January – far higher than the 187,000 estimated. Biden called the jobs report “strikingly good news,” adding: “our plan is working because of the grit and resolve of the American worker.” (Associated Press / New York Times / Bloomberg / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal)

poll/ 41% of Americans say they’re not as well off financially as they were when Biden took office – the most since 1986. (ABC News)

poll/ 33% of Americans rate the current economy as “good,” compared to 66% who rate it as “bad.” 62% expect the economy to be slowing or in a recession next year, while 38% say the economy will be growing or at least holding steady. (CBS News)

poll/ 67% of Americans expect inflation to rise over the next six months; 48% predict the market will fall; 41% expect unemployment will rise; and 43% say gross domestic product will fall. (Gallup)

poll/ 68% of Americans said they have little or no confidence in Biden, and 70% said the same for Democrats in Congress. 71%, however, said they lack confidence in Kevin McCarthy and 72% said they have little faith in Republicans in Congress. (ABC News)

poll/ 62% of Americans think Biden has accomplished “not very much” or “little or nothing” during his time in office, while 36% say he’s accomplished “a great deal” or “a good amount.” (Washington Post)

poll/ 58% of Democratic and Democratic-leaning independents said they would prefer someone other than Biden as their nominee in 2024. 49% of Republican and Republican-leaning independents say they’d prefer someone other than Trump as their nominee. (Washington Post)

Day 744: "An absolute fool."

1/ The FBI plans to search Pence‘s Indiana home for classified material in the coming days. Last month, Pence’s lawyers said they had found several classified documents at his home and turned them over to authorities. The investigation into classified documents that Trump took to Mar-a-Lago, meanwhile, has escalated for more than a year to include a criminal investigation into possible obstruction, among other potential crimes, which special counsel Jack Smith is overseeing. (Wall Street Journal)

2/ House Republicans removed Ilhan Omar from the Foreign Affairs Committee for making what Kevin McCarthy described as “repeated antisemitic and anti-American remarks.” After entering Congress in 2019, Omar angered both Democrats and Republicans for suggesting on Twitter that Israel’s political allies in the U.S. were motivated by money rather than principle, saying: “It’s all about the Benjamins baby.” In a party-line vote, the resolution condemns Omar for using an antisemitic trope connecting Jews to money and disapproved of Omar equating “atrocities” by the U.S. military to those committed by terrorist groups like the Taliban and Hamas. Omar, a refugee from Somalia and one of the first Muslim women to serve in the House, has apologized for her comments. Democrats, meanwhile, criticized the push to oust Omar, arguing it amounts to an act of political retribution after Democrats stripped Marjorie Taylor Greene and Paul Gosar of their assignments last term for violent rhetoric and posts. (Washington Post / CNN / Associated Press / New York Times / Wall Street Journal)

3/ Mitch McConnell removed Rick Scott from the Senate Commerce Committee as retribution for trying to replace him as leader of the GOP conference. McConnell also removed Mike Lee from the committee, who supported Scott’s effort to oust McConnell. (The Hill / CNN)

4/ Trump invoked the Fifth Amendment and declined to answer questions more than 400 times during an August deposition as part of New York Attorney General Letitia James’ civil investigation into the Trump Organization’s business practices. About a month later, James filed a lawsuit against Trump, three of his children, and executives of his business, accusing them of a long-running scheme to inflate the value of their properties. “This whole thing is very unfair,” Trump said in the deposition video. “Anyone in my position not taking the Fifth Amendment would be a fool, an absolute fool,” adding that on the advice of counsel, “I respectfully decline to answer the questions under the rights and privileges afforded to every citizen under the United States Constitution.” (CBS News / CNN / ABC News)

5/ Hunter Biden’s lawyers demanded that state and federal prosecutors open criminal investigations into who accessed and disseminated his personal data, and threatened Fox News’ Tucker Carlson with a defamation lawsuit for allegedly failing to correct false statements. Hunter’s lawyers allege that Trump’s allies broke the law in an effort to “weaponize” the personal data of Joe Biden‘s son during the 2020 election. It’s the first time Biden and his legal team have publicly addressed the reports that his personal data was found on a laptop left at a Delaware repair shop and shared by Republican operatives before the 2020 presidential election. A letter sent to the Justice Department’s National Security Division asked for an investigation into “individuals for whom there is considerable reason to believe violated various federal laws in accessing, copying, manipulating, and/or disseminating Mr. Biden’s personal computer data,” including Rudy Giuliani, who was Trump’s lawyer at the time, former computer repair shop owner John Paul Mac Isaac, Stephen Bannon, and their attorney Robert Costello. Biden’s lawyers wrote a similar letter to the Delaware attorney general’s office, requesting a probe into the same people, alleging they violated “various Delaware laws” in accessing Biden’s information from what Trump has called “the laptop from hell.” (Washington Post / NBC News / CBS News / Wall Street Journal / Axios)

6/ A federal judge ruled that a wrongful death lawsuit filed by the father of a man shot and killed by Kyle Rittenhouse can proceed. Rittenhouse was acquitted in 2021 of homicide charges after the then 17-year-old shot three men with an AR-style rifle at an August 2020 protest for racial justice in Kenosha, Wisconsin, killing two: Anthony Huber and Joseph Rosenbaum. Huber’s father, John Huber, filed a civil suit over his son’s death. Rittenhouse has maintained he acted in self-defense. (Associated Press / Washington Post / Rolling Stone)

Day 743: "A distraction."

1/ The FBI conducted a “planned search” of Biden’s beach house in Delaware, but found no documents with classified markings. Biden’s lawyer said the FBI did take some materials and handwritten notes that appeared to relate to his tenure as vice president. It’s the third known time that federal agents have searched properties associated with Biden for classified material. The FBI previously searched Biden’s home in Wilmington, Delaware, as well as his Washington office of the Penn Biden Center in mid-November after Biden’s attorneys first discovered classified material in a locked closet. (CNN / ABC News / Washington Post / Politico / NPR / Wall Street Journal / Associated Press / Bloomberg / NBC News)

2/ The College Board revised its framework for an Advanced Placement African American studies course following criticism from Gov. Ron DeSantis, who had threatened to ban the class in Florida. The College Board removed the names of several Black authors associated with critical race theory, and topics such as Black Lives Matter, slavery reparations, and queer theory from the formal curriculum. Instead, the topics are suggested for end-of-the-year student research projects that are “not a required part of the course framework that is formally adopted by states.” The College Board said the revisions were based on input from teachers running the pilot classes, as well as experts in the field, which includes 300 professors of African American studies across the U.S., and that “no states or districts have seen the official framework that is released, much less provided feedback on it.” Today is the start of Black History Month. (New York Times / NPR / NBC News)

3/ George Santos will temporarily step down from his two congressional committees amid multiple investigations into his campaign finances and other issues, including lying about his resume and family background. Santos told colleagues he will step down from the House Small Business Committee and the Science, Space and Technology Committee because “he’s a distraction.” The FBI, meanwhile, is investigating Santos’ role in an alleged GoFundMe scheme involving a disabled U.S. Navy veteran’s dying service dog. 78% of voters in Santos’s congressional district want him to resign, as well as 59% of New York voters. (Washington Post / NBC News / Associated Press)

4/ The Federal Reserve raised interest rates by a quarter-point, its eighth-consecutive hike, but the smallest since last March. “Inflation has eased somewhat but remains elevated,” the committee said in a statement, adding that rate hikes will be “ongoing” even at the risk of lost jobs. The Fed’s policy rate now sits between 4.5% and 4.75% – the highest since October 2007. (Wall Street Journal / Associated Press / Bloomberg / CNBC / CNN / New York Times / Washington Post / NPR / Politico)

5/ Biden will end the Covid-19 national and public health emergencies in May, formally restructuring the federal response to treat the coronavirus as an endemic. The public health emergency provided many Americans with free Covid-19 tests, treatments, and vaccines, as well as enhanced social safety net benefits. More than 500 on average people in the U.S. are dying from Covid-19 each day – about twice the number of deaths per day during a bad flu season. House Republicans, meanwhile, passed legislation to repeal vaccine mandates and declare the pandemic over. (Associated Press / New York Times / CNN)

Day 741: "Reasonable and responsible."

1/ A sixth Memphis police officer “has been relieved of duty” for his involvement in the beating and subsequent death of Tyre Nichols by police officers. Five Black officers have been fired by the department and charged with second-degree murder and kidnapping in connection with Nichols’s death. The sixth officer, Preston Hemphill, has been suspended from duty and has not been charged. Hemphill is white. Nichols, a 29-year-old Black man, was stopped by police on Jan. 7 for an alleged traffic violation. Videos show police officers kicking Nichols in the head, pepper-spraying him, hitting him repeatedly with a baton, and using a Taser on him after he was pulled over purportedly for reckless driving. Nichols appeared subdued and defenseless, and showed no signs of fighting back in the videos of the incident. He died three days later. (New York Times / Washington Post / Associated Press / NPR / CNBC / Wall Street Journal)

2/ Biden and Kevin McCarthy will meet Wednesday to discuss a “reasonable and responsible way” to lift the debt ceiling and avert a U.S. default. The Biden administration has argued that Congress has a “Constitutional obligation to prevent a national default” and should pass a debt limit increase without conditions attached – like Congress did three times during Trump’s tenure. McCarthy and Republicans, meanwhile, want to cut government spending, including to Social Security and Medicare benefits, in exchange for raising the borrowing cap. (Politico / CNN / Bloomberg / Associated Press)

3/ The Supreme Court didn’t disclose its longstanding financial ties with the person tasked with independently validating the investigation into the leaked draft opinion overturning Roe v. Wade. The court consulted with former Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff to assess the investigation, which failed to identify who was responsible for the unprecedented leak. Chertoff concluded that the probe was a thorough one and that he “cannot identify any additional useful investigative measures.” The court, however, has paid Chertoff’s consulting firm at least $1 million to improve the justices’ security. The exact amount couldn’t be determined because the Supreme Court isn’t covered by federal public disclosure rules. While all nine justices were interviewed as part of the court’s internal investigation into who leaked a draft of the opinion, the justices weren’t required to sign sworn affidavits attesting that they weren’t involved. (CNN)

4/ The Biden administration proposed ending a Trump-era exemption that allowed employer-provided health plans to exclude coverage of birth control on moral grounds. While the proposed rule would leave in place the existing religious exemption for employers with objections, it would create an independent pathway for individuals to access contraceptive services without charge. Doctors or facilities that provide contraception in this way would then be reimbursed by an insurer on the Affordable Care Act exchanges, which would then receive a credit on the user fee it pays the government. In 2018, the Trump administration allowed some employers to deny insurance coverage for contraception to their employees on religious or moral grounds. (CNN / Wall Street Journal)

5/ Trump, calling Ron DeSantis “very disloyal,” claimed that the Florida governor is “trying to rewrite history” about the state’s Covid-19 response. Trump said DeSantis had “changed his tune a lot” about vaccines and even “promoted the vaccine as much as anyone.” Trump added that “Florida was closed for a long period of time.” The WHO, meanwhile, said Covid-19 remains a global health emergency, though the crisis “may be approaching an inflection point.” (CNN / Politico / CNBC)

Day 737: "The fight of our lives."

1/ The U.S. economy expanded at a 2.9% annualized rate in the fourth quarter last year, beating expectations despite high interest rates and fears of a recession. For the year overall, GDP grew 2.1% after growing 5.7% in 2021. Most economists, however, think the slowing economy will slide into at least a mild recession by midyear, triggered in part by the highest borrowing costs in decades. (CNBC / New York Times / Wall Street Journal / Washington Post / Politico / Associated Press / Bloomberg / CBS News)

2/ Adam Schiff announced that he is running for U.S. Senate in 2024, seeking to replace Dianne Feinstein. Schiff has served in the House since 2001. “We’re in the fight of our lives for the future of our country,” Schiff said. “Our democracy is under assault from MAGA extremists, who care only about gaining power and keeping it. And our economy is simply not working for millions of Americans, who are working harder than ever just to get by.” The 89-year-old Feinstein, meanwhile, won’t announce her 2024 intentions until next year, saying “I need a little bit of time, so it’s not this year.” (Washington Post / Los Angeles times / KQED / NBC News / Politico / Raw Story New York Times)

3/ The Biden administration banned mining for 20 years in the watershed upstream from Minnesota’s Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. The plan closes over 350 square miles to mineral and geothermal leasing critical to a proposed copper and nickel mine the Trump administration had tried to greenlight. A 20-year moratorium is the longest amount of time the Interior Department can sequester the land without congressional approval. (Washington Post / New York Times / CBS News)

4/ The FBI seized the computer infrastructure used by a ransomware gang, which extorted more than $100 million from more than 1,500 victims worldwide, including hospitals, schools, and others. The Justice Department said it used a court order to seize two back-end servers belonging to the Hive ransomware group in Los Angeles, and took control of the group’s website. The FBI said it gained access to Hive’s computer networks in July and acquired decryption keys the bureau could pass to victims to decrypt their systems, which prevented more than $130 million in ransom payments. (Politico / CNN / NBC News)

5/ Florida students threatened to sue Gov. Ron DeSantis over his administration’s decision to reject an Advanced Placement African American studies course. Civil rights attorney Ben Crump, representing three Florida AP honors high school students, accused DeSantis of violating federal and state constitutions by refusing to permit the course, adding that DeSantis “cannot exterminate our culture.” Florida Education Department, meanwhile, contends that the class is “contrary to Florida law and significantly lacks educational value.” (Washington Post / Axios)

poll/ 73% of Americans say House Republican leaders haven’t paid enough attention to the country’s most important problems. 67% disapprove of Republican leadership in Congress. (CNN)

Day 736: "Integrity matters."

1/ Kevin McCarthy blocked Adam Schiff and Eric Swalwell from serving on the House Intelligence Committee in retribution for the Democratic-led House stripping Marjorie Taylor Greene and Paul Gosar of their committee assignments in 2021 for embracing violence against Democratic members of Congress. McCarthy accused Schiff of lying when he served as chairman of the panel and “severely undermined its primary national security and oversight missions – ultimately leaving our nation less safe.”McCarthy also argued that Swalwell was unfit to serve on the committee because he was targeted by a suspected Chinese spy as part of an influence campaign in 2014, before he served on the intelligence panel. There’s no evidence of wrongdoing in relation to the allegation against Swalwell. Nevertheless, McCarthy said he made the decision “because integrity matters to me.” (Bloomberg / Washington Post / New York Times / CNN / Wall Street Journal)

2/ A former senior FBI counterintelligence official in New York was arrested over his ties to a Russian oligarch. Federal prosecutors charged Charles McGonigal with violating U.S. sanctions, conspiracy, and money laundering for working in 2021 with Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, who was sanctioned for interfering in the 2016 presidential election. From August 2017 through his retirement in September 2018, McGonigal allegedly concealed his relationship with Deripaska from the FBI while secretly taking cash payments of more than $225,000 and trying to get Deripaska removed from a U.S. sanctions list. (Washington Post / New York Times / ABC News / NBC News / Associated Press / NPR / CNBC / CNN)

  • Perhaps related: On October 4, 2016, FBI Director James Comey named McGonigal as the special agent in charge of the Counterintelligence Division for the New York Field Office. Weeks later, on October 31, the FBI concluded that their investigation into Russian collusion, finding no link between Trump and the Russian government. This was 8 days before the Trump-Clinton election.

3/ About a dozen classified documents were found at Pence’s Indiana home. Like Biden, Pence turned them over to the FBI. While Pence has repeatedly said he didn’t have classified documents in his possession, his representative to the National Archives said a “small number of documents” with classified markings were “inadvertently boxed and transported” to Pence’s home at the end of Trump’s administration. FBI investigators, meanwhile, found six additional classified documents while conducting a search of Biden’s Delaware home. Those six items are in addition to materials previously found at Biden’s Wilmington residence and in his private office. (CNN / New York Times / CNN / Politico)

4/ The U.S. has seen at least 39 mass shootings so far this month and more than 60 people have been killed. In the deadliest shooting of 2023 so far, 11 people were killed and nine other injured when a gunman opened fire in a dance studio as people celebrated the Lunar New Year in Monterey Park, California. (NBC News / CBS News / New York Times)

5/ The Biden administration will send 31 M1 Abrams tanks to Ukraine, following agreement with Germany to deliver 14 of its Leopard 2 tanks. European allies will also send enough tanks to assemble two Leopard tank battalions — equivalent to at least 70 tanks. Biden said the tanks would “enhance the Ukrainians’ capacity to defend its territory, adding that “there is no offensive threat to Russia. If Russian troops return to Russia, where they belong, this war would be over today.” (Associated Press / Washington Post / New York Times / Wall Street Journal / CNN / Politico)

6/ The Doomsday Clock moved up to 90 seconds to midnight. The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists set the clock 10 seconds closer than last year due in part to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and threats of nuclear war, the threats of climate change, and concerns about more pandemics caused by humans. “We are sending a message that the situation is becoming more urgent,” Bulletin President Rachel Bronson said. “Crises are more likely to happen and have broader consequences and longer standing effects.” (USA Today / Associated Press)

7/ Facebook will reinstate Trump’s Facebook and Instagram accounts “in coming weeks” following a two-year suspension for inciting violence in the wake of the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection. “However, we are doing so with new guardrails in place to deter repeat offenses,” the company said. Nick Clegg, the company’s president, global affairs, added: “We’ve always believed that Americans should be able to hear from the people who want to lead the country. We don’t want to stand in the way of that.” (Axios / CNN / CNBC)

Day 730: "Breach of trust."

1/ The Supreme Court cannot identify the person who leaked a draft of the opinion overturning Roe v. Wade, which the court has called “one of the worst breaches of trust in its history.” Supreme Court Marshal Gail Curley conducted 126 formal interviews of 97 employees, but “was unable to identify a person responsible by a preponderance of the evidence.” Curley said 82 employees had access to copies of the draft opinion. The court also said it could not rule out that the opinion was inadvertently disclosed, “for example, by being left in a public space either inside or outside the building,” but also “the Court’s IT experts cannot absolutely rule out a hack.” (New York Times / Washington Post / NBC News / Politico / CNN / Associated Press / NPR)

2/ The U.S. reached its $31.4 trillion debt ceiling, forcing the Treasury Department to begin resorting to “extraordinary measures” to pay the bills. With no deal in sight to raise the artificial debt ceiling, the Treasury Department suspended certain federal investments to prevent a default that would cause “irreparable harm” to the economy. The accounting measures will preserve the nation’s ability to meet financial obligations until at least June 5. House Republicans have said they will not raise the borrowing limit unless Biden agrees to cuts in federal spending, including potentially to Social Security and Medicare. Biden and the Democrats, meanwhile, have said they will not negotiate and that it’s inappropriate to attach conditions to raising the limit. “I respectfully urge Congress to act promptly to protect the full faith and credit of the United States,” Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen wrote to Kevin McCarthy. (Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / New York Times / CNBC / Associated Press / NBC News)

3/ The State Department will allow private citizens to financially sponsor the resettlement of refugees in the U.S. The pilot program, called “Welcome Corps,” will initially enlist 10,000 Americans, who will be able to sponsor up to 5,000 refugees. Groups of at least five people will be required to raise an initial $2,275 per refugee to help support them during their first three months in the country. Since 1980, the refugee program has been managed by nine federally funded nonprofits, which resettled at least 65,000 refugees a year. Trump, however, set the admissions ceiling at 15,000 refugees in his final year and gutted the refugee admissions infrastructure both in the U.S. and abroad. (Associated Press / CBS News / Politico / New York Times / Wall Street Journal / NPR)

4/ A federal judge declined to dismiss the contempt of Congress charges against Peter Navarro for defying a subpoena from the Jan. 6 Committee. The former Trump White House adviser will now go to trial at the end of the month for refusing to testify and refusing to provide documents. He faces a maximum sentence of a year in prison on each contempt of Congress charge if convicted. (Politico / CNN)

Day 729: "Distorted."

1/ George Santos reportedly scammed a disabled veteran out of $3,000 by using a fake animal charity to raise money for the veteran’s service dog’s cancer treatment. In May 2016, a veterinary technician connected U.S. Navy veteran Richard Osthoff with someone named Anthony Devolder, who ran a pet charity called “Friends of Pets United,” to set up a GoFundMe for his service dog Sapphire. Anthony Devolder, however, is an alias that Santos used for years before entering politics in 2020. After raising $3,000 for Sapphire’s lifesaving surgery, Osthoff says “Devolder” made excuses and became uncooperative before disappearing with the funds. Sapphire died Jan. 15, 2017. When asked for a comment, Santos replied: “Fake. No clue who this is.” (Patch.com / Semafor / CNN)

2/ Immigration records contradict George Santos’s claim that his mother died on Sept. 11, 2001 in New York City. Fatima Devolder applied for a U.S. visa in February 2003. She had not been in the U.S. since 1999. She died Dec. 23, 2016, after which Santos solicited donations to pay for her funeral. Nevertheless, Santos’s campaign website claimed “George’s mother was in her office in the South Tower on Sept. 11, 2001 […] She survived the tragic events on September 11th, but she passed away a few years later when she lost her battle to cancer.” Kevin McCarthy, meanwhile, insisted that he “always had a few questions” about George Santos’s resume, but “the voters made the decision, and he has a right to serve here.” In early 2021 a Santos aide was caught impersonating McCarthy’s chief of staff while soliciting campaign contributions. (Forward / Washington Post / ABC News)

3/ Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis rejected an AP African-American Studies course on the grounds that it violates state laws against the teaching of critical race theory. On Jan. 12, Florida Department of Education’s Office of Articulation informed the College Board, which runs the SAT test and the Advanced Placement (AP) program, that “as presented, the content of this course is inexplicably contrary to Florida law and significantly lacks educational value,” adding: “in the future, should College Board be willing to come back to the table with lawful, historically accurate content, FDOE will always be willing to reopen the discussion.” Florida’s Stop WOKE Act was signed into law last April and set new rules banning critical race theory, an academic framework for examining systemic racism. (Daily Beast / National Review)

4/ Ron DeSantis called on the Republican-controlled Legislature to permanently ban Covid-19 health measures, like mask mandates and vaccine requirements. The proposal, dubbed “Prescribe Freedom,” would indefinitely extend existing bans DeSantis signed in 2021, which imposed fines on businesses requiring Covid-19 vaccinations, prohibited mask requirements in schools, and banned vaccine mandates as a condition to travel. The coronavirus has killed more than 84,000 people in Florida. (NBC News / Politico / CNN / The Hill / USA Today)

5/ Trump’s 2024 presidential campaign asked Facebook to reinstate his account, arguing that his ban has “dramatically distorted and inhibited the public discourse” and that a continued ban would be a “deliberate effort by a private company to silence Mr. Trump’s political voice.” Trump was initially banned indefinitely from Facebook on Jan. 7, 2021 after the attack on the Capitol by his supporters. The House impeached Trump on a charge of incitement of insurrection. Facebook later shortened the suspension to two years and said it would assess whether the risk to public safety had subsided enough to restore his account. (NBC News / Washington Post / Bloomberg)

6/ Parts of Greenland are now hotter than at any time in the past 1,000 years and that the decade between 2001 and 2011 was the warmest in the entire period. Scientists reported that through 2011, the ice sheet in central-north Greenland was on average 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) warmer than it was during the 20th century, and that the rate of melting has increased with these changes. Greenland’s melting ice sheet is “a massive contributor to global sea level rise” and if carbon emissions continue unmitigated, the ice sheet is projected to contribute up to 19 inches of global sea level rise by 2100. In total, Greenland holds enough ice that it could lift global sea levels by roughly 24 feet if it all melted. (Washington Post / Nature / CNN / USA Today)

Day 728: "Be prepared."

1/ Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen notified Congress that the U.S. will hit the debt ceiling Thursday. The debt limit is the maximum that the federal government is allowed to borrow to fulfill its financial obligations. Beginning Jan. 19, the Treasury Department will resort to “extraordinary measures” to avoid a potentially catastrophic default, which will enable “the government to meet its obligations for only a limited amount of time.” Those measures, however, will only delay a default until early June. Yellen urged lawmakers to “act in a timely matter” to increase or suspend the debt limit, saying the “failure to meet the government’s obligations would cause irreparable harm to the US economy, the livelihoods of all Americans, and global financial stability.” Kevin McCarthy called on Democrats to negotiate with Republicans over a fiscal plan that includes an increase in the federal debt limit. Biden and congressional Democrats, however, have said they will not offer any concessions or negotiate on raising the debt ceiling, saying it should be raised without conditions. (CNN / Associated Press / NBC News / New York Times / Bloomberg / NPR)

2/ Biden’s aides found five additional pages of classified material at his personal residence in Delaware. The discovery came hours after Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed a special counsel to investigate why classified documents from Biden’s time as vice president have been found at both his home and the office he used at a Washington think tank. Last week, the White House disclosed that classified Obama-era documents were found in Biden’s possession on four separate occasions. In total, around 20 documents have been and immediately turned over to the National Archives or Justice Department. (New York Times / Politico / CNN / Wall Street Journal / Associated Press / CNBC)

3/ House Republicans demanded two years of visitor logs from Biden’s Delaware home and all other information related to the recently discovered classified documents. “We have a lot of questions,” James Comer said, chairman of the House Oversight and Accountability Committee, calling the matter “troubling.” Comer, referring to Biden’s home as a “crime scene” even though he acknowledged that he doesn’t know whether any laws were actually broken, said the matter had raised questions about whether Biden had “jeopardized our national security.” Comer, however, refused to explain why he wants to investigate the 20-ish classified documents that Biden voluntarily turned over, but not the roughly 300 classified documents — including some at the top secret level – that were retrieved from Trump only after the FBI executed a search warrant at Mar-a-Lago. The White House and the Secret Service, meanwhile, said they do not maintain visitor logs for Biden’s personal home in Delaware, “like every President across decades of modern history.” (Associated Press / Washington Post / NBC News / Wall Street Journal / CNN)

4/ A failed Republican candidate for the New Mexico House was arrested for orchestrating a series of shootings targeting Democratic state officials. Albuquerque police arrested Solomon Peña, who paid four other men to shoot at the Albuquerque-area homes of two county commissioners and two state legislators. Investigators believe Peña was present for at least one of the shootings. Peña lost the November election to incumbent Miguel Garcia and has repeatedly claimed that the election was rigged. (Albuquerque Journal / New York Times / Washington Post / Associated Press / NBC News)

5/ Marjorie Taylor Greene and Paul Gosar received committee assignments after being removed from their committees in 2021 over violent social media posts. The House voted in February 2021 to remove Greene from her committee assignments for her embrace of conspiracy theories and past endorsement for executing Democratic politicians before being elected to Congress. Gosar was also removed from his two committees after he posted an animated video that depicted him killing Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and attacking Biden. Greene will now be seated on the Homeland Security Committee and Gosar will be seated on the House Natural Resources Committee. Greene, Gosar, and Lauren Boebert will also be seated on the House Oversight and Accountability Committee. “Joe Biden, be prepared,” Greene said in a statement. “We are going to uncover every corrupt business dealing, every foreign entanglement, every abuse of power.” Scandal-plagued George Santos also received a seat on the House Committee on Small Business, despite calls from his own party to resign. (NBC News / Washington Post / CNN)

Day 723: "Sensitive matters."

1/ Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed a special counsel to investigate the classified government records discovered at Biden’s private home and office. Biden said he was “cooperating fully and completely” with the Justice Department investigation into how classified information and government records from his time as vice president were stored. Federal law enforcement officials have interviewed multiple aides who worked for Biden in the final days of the Obama administration. Garland announced the appointment of former U.S. attorney Robert Hur after it was reported that a second batch of documents with classified markings were discovered in a space used by Biden since the Obama administration. “The extraordinary circumstances here require the appointment of a special counsel for this matter,” Garland said. “This appointment underscores for the public the department’s commitment to independence and accountability, and particularly sensitive matters and to making decisions indisputably guided only by the facts and the law.” Republicans on the House Oversight Committee, meanwhile, said that the appointment of a special counsel would not stop them from investigating Biden’s “mishandling of classified documents.” Biden said he was surprised to learn that classified documents were found at a private office he previously used, adding that his lawyers voluntarily and immediately contacted the National Archives to return the documents. Trump, meanwhile, intentionally didn’t return his documents after being repeatedly asked by the National Archives to do so, forcing a standoff for months that led to a subpoena and FBI search of Mar-a-Lago. (CNN / Associated Press / New York Times / Wall Street Journal / Washington Post / Politico / Bloomberg / CNBC)

2/ Kevin McCarthy suggested that the House would consider expunging one or both Trump impeachments. While McCarthy wasn’t explicit, he said “I would understand why members would want to bring that forward,” adding “and we’d look at it.” McCarthy also expressed sympathy for the things Trump “went through” as president. Trump was impeached twice: in 2019, for pressuring Ukraine to investigate his political rivals, and in 2021, for inciting the Jan. 6 insurrection. (Washington Post)

3/ Kevin McCarthy defended George Santos despite the freshman lawmaker admitting to lying about his background and multiple probes into his financial disclosures, campaign finances, and legal issues. “A lot of people here” have fabricated parts of their resumes, McCarthy claimed. Santos, meanwhile, has refused bipartisan calls for his resignation. “I wish well all of their opinions, but I was elected by 142,000 people,” Santos said. “Until those same 142,000 people tell me they don’t want me, uh, we’ll find out in two years.” (Axios / CNN / NBC News)

  • Efforts to elect George Santos may have run afoul of campaign finance rules. “The Federal Election Commission said it had no evidence that RedStone Strategies was registered as a political group, and there do not appear to be any records documenting its donors, contributions or spending.” (New York Times)

  • George Santos was paid for work at company accused of Ponzi scheme later than previously known. “Santos received payments as recently as April 2021 from a financial services company accused by the Securities and Exchange Commission of a “classic Ponzi scheme,” according to a court-appointed lawyer reviewing the firm’s assets.” (Washington Post)

4/ U.S. inflation fell to 6.5% in December compared with a year earlier – a sixth straight monthly decline. The annual inflation rate declined from 7.1% in November and a four-decade high of 9.1% in June. On a month-to-month basis, inflation fell by 0.1% in December. The Federal Reserve aims for 2% inflation on average. Cooling inflation puts the Fed on track to reduce the size of its interest-rate increases to a quarter-percentage-point starting in February. The central bank’s current benchmark rate is 4.3% after holding rates near zero for two years following the coronavirus pandemic. (Associated Press / CNN / Wall Street Journal / Bloomberg / CNBC / New York Times / NBC News)

5/ Alabama’s attorney general suggested that a pregnant person could be prosecuted for taking abortion pills despite the Biden administration expanding access to the drugs. Alabama’s near-total abortion ban, which took effect after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, exempts abortion seekers from prosecution and instead targets providers. Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall nevertheless suggested that the state could still prosecute pregnant people under a 2006 state chemical endangerment law used to protect children from exposure to illicit drugs. Chemical endangerment is a felony in Alabama. Prosecutors have since extended the law to apply to pregnant people who take any drugs while pregnant or exposed their fetuses to drugs, essentially treating a fetus as a distinct person, regardless of their level of development. (Washington Post / 1819 News / AL.com / The Hill / CBS News)

6/ Republican legislators in Virginia introduced a bill to count a pregnant person’s fetus as a passenger in the car pool lane on highways, advancing so-called personhood laws that seek to protect the rights of the unborn through unconventional means. The legislation would require a pregnant person to have their pregnancy “certified” with the state Transportation Department, which would then be “linked” to automated toll collection devices in vehicles. Republicans in Texas introduced a similar measure last year. (NBC News)

Day 722: "MAGA extremists have hijacked the Republican Party."

1/ House Republicans approved the formation of the Weaponization of the Federal Government select committee to investigate any federal agency for perceived wrongdoing against conservatives, including the FBI, IRS, and the intelligence community. The subcommittee, approved on a party-line 221-211 vote and chaired by Jim Jordan, pledged to probe “ongoing criminal investigations” at the Justice Department despite the department’s long-standing practice of not providing information about ongoing investigations. The panel also has authority to obtain highly classified information typically only shared with the House Intelligence Committee. Democrats, meanwhile, likened the panel to Joseph McCarthy’s House Un-American Activities Committee, which harassed Americans suspected of being sympathetic to communism or socialism, saying: “This committee is nothing more than a deranged ploy by the MAGA extremists who have hijacked the Republican Party and now want to use taxpayer money to push their far-right conspiracy nonsense.” (Washington Post / Politico / New York Times / ABC News)

2/ Republicans on the House Oversight Committee asked the Treasury Department for suspicious activity reports related to financial transactions by the Biden family. Committee Chair James Comer requested the bank activity reports for Hunter Biden, President Biden’s brother James Biden, and several other Biden family associates and their related companies. Comer is also seeking the public testimony from three former Twitter executives about the company’s 2020 decision to temporarily suppress a story about Hunter Biden and his laptop. “Now that Democrats no longer have one-party rule in Washington, oversight and accountability are coming,” Comer said, adding that “there’s a very good possibility” that Hunter Biden will eventually receive a subpoena. (Bloomberg / Associated Press / New York Times / Politico / CNN / Wall Street Journal)

3/ House Republicans filed articles of impeachment against Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas for his handling of immigration and the border. Pat Fallon, a Texas Republican, accused Mayorkas of “high crimes and misdemeanors” as homeland security secretary, claiming he failed to maintain “operational control over the border,” “willfully provided perjurious, false, and misleading testimony to Congress” and “knowingly slandered his own hardworking Border Patrol agents and mislead the general public.” As House minority leader, Kevin McCarthy called on Mayorkas to resign in November, saying he had failed to secure the southern border. The articles were referred to the Judiciary Committee, chaired by Jim Jordan. (NBC News / ABC News)

4/ George Santos refused to resign despite top New York Republican officials demanding he step down over the multiple inquiries into his finances, campaign spending, and fabrications about his background. Chairman Joseph Cairo Jr. of the Nassau County Republican Committee said Santos’s campaign was “a campaign of deceit, lies and fabrication,” adding that Santos “disgraced the House of Representatives, and we do not consider him one of our congresspeople.” Santos, meanwhile, said he has no plans to resign, saying he was elected to “serve the people […] not the party & politicians.” (Washington Post / New York Times / Politico / Wall Street Journal / CNBC / CNN)

5/ The Supreme Court allowed New York to enforce a gun control law that places restrictions on carrying a concealed gun while legal challenges play out. The law requires people seeking gun licenses to show that they have “good moral character,” provide a list of social media accounts from the past three years, and bans guns from “sensitive place,” like health care settings, churches, and parks. Nevertheless, six Gun Owners of America members challenged the law, claiming it violates their constitutional right to keep and bear arms and flouts the court’s decision in June to strike down a law that required people seeking a license to carry a concealed handgun in public to demonstrate that they had a “proper cause.” The Uvalde school police chief, meanwhile, told investigators that he didn’t try to stop the gunman, who killed 19 children and two teachers, because “there’s probably going to be some deceased in there, but we don’t need any more from out here.” Pete Arredondo’s decision to not confront the gunman effectively left everyone in Classrooms 111 and 112 for dead, and was one of many times he did not follow the protocol for an active shooter. (New York Times / CNN / Politico / Bloomberg / CNN)

Day 721: "Damage assessment."

1/ House Republicans pushed through a rules package for the new Congress over concerns about the concessions Kevin McCarthy made to 20 far-right conservatives in order to secure his job. The rules packages passed 220-213, with one Republican joining the Democrats in unified opposition. Aside from the standard rules on decorum, the package includes a provision allowing lawmakers to reduce or eliminate federal agency programs, and reduce the salaries of individual federal employees. Another rule, known as “cut-go,” would require any new spending to be offset by cuts elsewhere in the budget. While Democrats opposed the rules, they were more concerned about what other “back-room deals” McCarthy had agreed to in exchange for votes from the House Freedom Caucus. Meanwhile, a “secret three-page addendum” that only some House Republicans have see contains “the most controversial concessions” that McCarthy made to secure the speaker’s gavel. Anyway, after adopting rules, House Republicans used their first legislative vote on repealing more than $70 billion — or nearly 90% — in new funding for the IRS to customer service, taxpayer assistance, and criminal investigations. The bill, however, is unlikely to pass the Senate. (New York Times / Politico / Washington Post / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal / Axios)

2/ In effort to equate it to the 320 classified documents the FBI seized from Trump’s residence, House Republicans requested a national security “damage assessment” of the 10 potentially classified documents found in Biden’s private office from his time as vice president. The Biden documents, which included intelligence memos and briefing materials on Ukraine, Iran, and the UK, were found on Nov. 2, 2022, in a “locked closet” in his Washington office space. The National Archives took custody of the documents the next day, and Attorney General Merrick Garland assigned the U.S. attorney in Chicago to investigate the matter. In contrast, Trump refused to turn over hundreds of classified documents to the National Archives for months, which led to the Archives referring the matter to the Justice Department, which led to the FBI search of Mar-a-Lago, where 33 boxes and containers were removed that are now under investigation by the Justice Department. Some of the documents found at Mar-a-Lago had some of the country’s highest security classification markings. Nevertheless, incoming House Intelligence Chair Mike Turner sent a request to Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines, claiming that Biden’s retention of the documents, dated between 2013 and 2016, put him in “potential violation of laws protecting national security, including the Espionage Act and Presidential Records Act.” (Politico / Associated Press / CNN)

3/ Two House Democrats filed an official complaint with the House Committee on Ethics about George Santos, saying he misled voters about “his ethnicity, his religion, his education, and his employment and professional history, among other things.” Ritchie Torres and Daniel Goldman requested that the bipartisan committee investigate whether Santos, who admitted to lying about his background, broke the law when he filed “complete and accurate” financial disclosures. Separately, the nonpartisan Campaign Legal Center filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission alleging that Santos had run a “straw donor campaign” that helped him evade campaign finance limits. Republicans, meanwhile, have largely been silent on the matter, saying it was being addressed “internally.” (New York Times / Washington Post / Politico)

4/ Former Trump Organization finance chief Allen Weisselberg was sentenced to five months in jail for multiple tax crimes he committed at the company over more than 15 years. Weisselberg pleaded guilty last August to 15 felonies in a deal with prosecutors, which required him to testify truthfully at the trial of the Trump Organization, pay $2 million in back taxes, interest and penalties, and waive any right to appeal. Weisselberg will leave the firm after he completes his sentence. He will still receive his $500,000 annual bonus. (Bloomberg / New York Times / CNN / Wall Street Journal / CNBC)

5/ The Education Department proposed new federal student loan payment rules that would reduce the monthly bills for some borrowers and completely pause payments for others. Under the proposal, borrowers who make less than roughly $30,600 annually (or a family of four who makes less than about $62,400) wouldn’t have to make monthly payments on their federal student loans. The changes would also cut monthly payments in half for borrowers who make more than those annual amounts. The Biden administration estimates that the new income-driven repayment plan would save borrowers nearly $2,000 a year. (NPR / CNBC / Axios / Wall Street Journal)

6/ The last eight years were the eight warmest on record. The European Union’s Copernicus Climate Change Service reported that 2022 was the fifth-warmest year on record. Europe, meanwhile, had its hottest summer ever in 2022. The world is now 1.2 degrees Celsius (2.1 degrees Fahrenheit) hotter than pre-industrial levels. Under the 2015 Paris Agreement, most countries agreed to limit warming to well below 2 degrees above pre-industrial levels. (New York Times / CNN / Reuters)

Day 720: "A direct and foreseeable consequence."

1/ The Georgia special grand jury investigating “coordinated attempts to unlawfully alter the outcome of the 2020 elections” in the state by Trump and his allies has completed its work. After eight months of investigation, the special grand jury submitted its report on its findings to Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, who will decide whether to seek criminal indictments from a regular grand jury. While the grand jury’s recommendations were not made public, including whether criminal charges should be filed, the grand jury “voted to recommend that its report be published.” A hearing will be held on Jan. 24 to determine whether it will be made public. Willis has informed nearly 20 people that they may face criminal charges as a result of the investigation. Trump lost Georgia by less than 12,000 votes in 2020. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution / NBC News / CNN / Washington Post / New York Times / Politico / Associated Press / Bloomberg / CNBC)

2/ Trump and two Jan. 6 rioters were sued over the death of a U.S. Capitol Police officer. According to the lawsuit, Brian Sicknick, who was part of a police line guarding the Capitol on the day of the insurrection, was attacked with chemical spray. He suffered from two strokes and died the next day. The lawsuit claims that Trump instigated the attack by Julian Elie Khater and George Pierre Tanios, saying Sicknick’s death were “a direct and foreseeable consequence” of Trump’s “words and conduct” that day. In September, Khater and Tanios both pleaded guilty to assaulting law enforcement with pepper spray during the breach. The suit seeks at least $10 million in damages from each of the three defendants. (NPR)

3/ Kevin McCarthy was elected House speaker on the 15th round of voting, which followed four days of defeats, a series of concessions to ultraconservative Republicans, a confrontation with Matt Gaetz on the floor, the chairman of the Armed Services Committee being physically restrained from attacking Gaetz, and Trump calling two Republican lawmakers who refused to back McCarthy. To win the gavel, McCarthy agreed (among other things) to allow any one member to call a vote to remove him as speaker; gave the House Freedom Caucus three of the nine seats on the House Rules Committee; create a select committee on the “weaponization of the federal government”; require raising the debt ceiling to be accompanied with spending cuts; and vote individually on 12 appropriation bills, rather than one omnibus spending bill. The final tally was 216 for McCarthy and 212 for Democratic leader Hakeem Jeffries, and six Republicans voting “present.” Trump’s call into the chamber came on the two-year anniversary of the insurrection by his supporters to block congressional certification of Biden’s electoral win. (Politico / New York Times / CNN / Washington Post / USA Today / Axios)

4/ Newly sworn-in Congressman George Santos violated campaign finance law, according to a complaint filed with the Federal Election Commission. Santos, who has admitted to “embellishing” his biography, was accused of masking the source of his campaign’s funding, misrepresenting his campaign’s spending, and using campaign resources for personal expenses, including for an apartment rental. The nonpartisan Campaign Legal Center alleged that Santos “purported to loan his campaign $705,000 during the 2022 election. But it is far from clear how he could have done so with his own funds, because financial disclosure reports indicate that Santos had only $55,000 to his name in 2020.” Dozens of expenses on Santos’ campaign finance reports are listed as costing $199.99 – one penny below the $200 threshold for which receipts or itemized details are required by the FEC. (CBS News / Washington Post / Bloomberg)

5/ The Justice Department is reviewing roughly 10 classified documents found in the office space of Biden’s vice-presidential office in Washington. Attorney General Merrick Garland assigned the U.S. attorney in Chicago to review the classified documents, which were found on November 2 by Biden’s personal attorneys in a “locked closet” at the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement. Special counsel to the president Richard Sauber said the attorneys alerted the White House Counsel’s office, who notified the National Archives, which took custody of the documents the next day. Special counsel Jack Smith, meanwhile, is investigating Trump for potentially mishandling at least 325 classified documents at Mar-a-Lago. (CBS News / Associated Press / CNN / Reuters)

Day 716: "The Republicans haven't been serious about this."

1/ The Biden administration expanded its use of a Trump-era Covid-19 immigration policy to immediately turn away migrants from Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Venezuela crossing the border from Mexico illegally to claim asylum. As part of the new immigration rules, the Biden administration will allow up to 30,000 migrants from Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Venezuela to legally apply for entry each month, as long as a U.S. sponsor applies for them first. “The failure to pass and fund this comprehensive plan has increased the challenges that we’re seeing at the Southwest border,” Biden said. “The Republicans haven’t been serious about this at all.” Last month, the Supreme Court allowed Title 42 to remain in effect while a legal challenge by 19 Republican state attorneys general played out. In November, a federal judge ruled that Title 42 was unlawful, and scheduled the policy to expire on Dec. 21. (NBC News / New York Times / NPR / Washington Post / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal / CNN)

2/ The Federal Trade Commission proposed banning noncompete clauses in employment contracts, which limit workers from switching jobs or start competing businesses. Under the proposed rule, it would be illegal for companies to enter into or enforce noncompete contracts with employees or independent contractors. The rule would also require companies to rescind existing noncompete clauses and inform workers that they are void. Some 30 million people – about 1 in 5 workers – are bound by noncompete restrictions. If enacted, the FTC estimates that is would raise wages by $300 billion a year. “The freedom to change jobs is core to economic liberty and to a competitive, thriving economy,” said FTC Chair Lina Khan said. “Noncompetes block workers from freely switching jobs, depriving them of higher wages and better working conditions, and depriving businesses of a talent pool that they need to build and expand.” (Associated Press / New York Times / Wall Street Journal / Washington Post / NBC News / Politico / Axios / Bloomberg)

3/ Kevin McCarthy lost his 7th, 8th, 9th, and 10th bids for House speaker. In what has become the longest speaker contest in 164 years, McCarthy has started to make concessions he previously ruled out to a group of 20 Republicans lawmakers who have continued to block his bid for the speaker’s gavel. McCarthy agreed to allow for one member to force a vote to oust the speaker – down from a previous threshold of five and a change that the McCarthy had said he wouldn’t accept – and to put more members of the House Freedom Caucus on the House Rules Committee, which controls the legislation that reaches the floor. Until a speaker is chosen, the House cannot pass laws or swear in its members. (CNN / Politico / NBC News / Associated Press / New York Times / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / NPR / Bloomberg)

4/ About 204,000 people applied for first-time unemployment benefits last week – down from the previous week’s total by 19,000 and below the pre-pandemic weekly average of 218,000. Companies, meanwhile, added 235,000 jobs in December – well above economists’ expectations of 150,000 and the 127,000 reported for November. (CNN / CNBC / Wall Street Journal)

5/ The Federal Reserve said it expects interest rates to remain high for “some time” as it tries to bring down inflation.Officials warned of “an unwarranted easing in financial conditions, especially if driven by a misperception by the public of the committee’s reaction function, would complicate the committee’s effort to restore price stability” – meaning market rallies threaten to hinder their ability to bring inflation down to their 2% target. Starting from near zero in March, the Fed raised interest rates to a target range of 4.25% to 4.5%, its highest level in 15 years. Officials project that rates will rise to a level above 5% in 2023 and hold it there until some time in 2024. No officials said they expected to cut rates in 2023. (New York Times / CNBC / Wall Street Journal / Bloomberg)

6/ The U.S. and Germany will send Ukraine armored combat vehicles and an additional Patriot air defense system. The U.S. is sending about 50 Bradley Fighting Vehicles, a tracked armored combat vehicle that carries a turret-mounted machine gun, as well as a second missile defense system. Germany will provide 40 of its Marder Infantry Fighting Vehicle. (Politico / Washington Post / Bloomberg)

Day 715: "Not my problem."

1/ House Republicans, despite being in the majority, were unable to elect a speaker – again – as Kevin McCarthy lost his 4th, 5th, and 6th bids for the gavel. A day after McCarthy lost his first three votes for speaker, Trump urged Republicans to vote for McCarthy, warning them to “NOT TURN A GREAT TRIUMPH INTO A GIANT & EMBARRASSING DEFEAT.” Biden, meanwhile, called the House Republicans’ inability to elect a speaker “embarrassing,” saying it’s “not a good look” for the country, but also “not my problem.” McCarthy received 201 votes in all three votes today, short of the 218 typically needed to win, as 20 conservative Republicans instead supported Byron Donalds. Yesterday, the group supported Jim Jordan. The Democrats, meanwhile, have remained united behind their leader, Hakeem Jeffries, who will make history as the first Black lawmaker to lead a party in Congress whenever the House elects a new speaker and 118th Congress convenes. The House adjourned until 8 p.m. Eastern to allow more time for Republicans to negotiate with the holdouts. A seventh vote could take place when lawmakers return tonight. The Speaker of the House is second in the U.S. presidential line of succession, after the vice president. (Associated Press / New York Times / Wall Street Journal / NPR / NBC News / Washington Post / Axios / CNN / CNBC / Bloomberg / Politico)

  • Behind the humiliation of Kevin McCarthy. “The GOP has gone from being a disciplined party of limited government to a party of anti-government protest to, now, a party of performative verbiage.” (New Yorker)

  • House shitshow has a message for America: GOP can’t govern and doesn’t want to. “As Kevin McCarthy reaps the whirlwind, let’s hope voters understand this chaos was never really about Donald Trump.” (Salon)

  • Kevin McCarthy’s loyalty to Trump got him nothing. “The once-presumptive House leader has been through three embarrassing rounds of voting, with more to come.” (The Atlantic)

  • “Circular firing squad” derails GOP in new Congress. “Senate Republicans see chaos across the Capitol as an ominous sign as the party tries to regroup for 2024.” (Politico)

2/ The FDA expanded access to the abortion pill mifepristone, allowing brick-and-mortar and mail-order pharmacies to stock and dispense the drug. For more than 20 years, mifepristone could only be dispensed by a few mail-order pharmacies or specialty offices and clinics. Under the new policy, patients will still need a prescription, but now any pharmacy that agrees to accept those prescriptions and become a certified provider can dispense the pills in its stores and by mail order, depending on their state’s laws. However, more than a dozen states have near-total abortion bans or restrictions that would make it illegal or difficult for pharmacies to provide abortion pills. During the Covid-19 pandemic, the FDA temporarily suspended its long-standing requirement that women pick up the medicine in person, and later permanently lifted the in-person requirement altogether. (New York Times / Politico / NPR / Wall Street Journal)

3/ The WHO warned that the coronavirus Omicron subvariant XBB.1.5 “is the most transmissible form of Omicron to date.” XBB.1.5 was first detected in the U.S. and went from being present in 4% of sequenced cases U.S. to 40% in just a few weeks – it’s most common variant circulating in the country. XBB.1.5 has since spread to at least 29 countries. (Politico / CNN / CNBC)

Day 714: "We better come together."

1/ The House adjourned without a speaker because Kevin McCarthy failed to win a majority in three rounds of voting and 20 Republicans rejected his candidacy. Until a speaker is elected, the 118th Congress can’t swear in members or perform actual work, like consider legislation or create committee assignments. A nominee needs a majority of the House to win the speakership – 218 votes with all members present and participating – and voting will continue until someone gets a majority. In the third round of voting, McCarthy received 202 votes and Jim Jordan received 20. Democratic leader Hakeem Jeffries received 212 Democratic votes. Before the third round of voting, Jordan called on Republicans to unite behind McCarthy, saying: “We better come together. I think Kevin McCarthy is the right guy to lead us. I really do.” McCarthy, however, lost support from one GOP lawmaker on the third ballot. McCarthy, meanwhile, acknowledged that voting “could” last for days and vowed to press ahead, saying: “we stay in until we win.” The speaker vote hasn’t gone to a second ballot since 1923, and of the 14 multiple ballot-elections for House speaker, 13 occurred before the Civil War. (Bloomberg / Washington Post / New York Times / Wall Street Journal / CNN / Politico / NPR / Associated Press / NBC News / ABC News)

2/ New York Republican George Santos – who admitted to making up his resume – is set to be sworn in as a member of the House as Brazilian authorities say they plan to reopen a 15-year-old fraud charge against Santos, now that they know where he is. The House, however, can’t swear in new members until a speaker is elected. Santos has admitted to what he calls “resume embellishment” about his education, work experience, and heritage, including a claim that his grandparents survived the Holocaust. The Rio de Janeiro prosecutor’s office, meanwhile, allege that Santos spent $700 at a clothing store in 2008 using a stolen checkbook and a false name. Although Santos admitted in a post on social media to stealing the checkbook of a man his mother was caring for, the Representative-elect now asserts that he is not a criminal “here or in Brazil.” While Democrats have demanded that Santos resign, Republican congressional leaders, including Kevin McCarthy, have been silent. (New York Times / Associated Press / Washington Post / Politico / CNN / Wall Street Journal / Bloomberg)

3/ House Republicans plan to limit the ethics office’s ability to investigate lawmakers. The Office of Congressional Ethics is a nonpartisan, independent body tasked with investigating complaints of misconduct about sitting members and staff. House Republicans, however, plan to place term limits on the eight-person OCE board, require the approval of four board members for new hires, and allow the House Ethics Committee to take complaints directly from the public. (Wall Street Journal / Washington Post)

4/ Six years of Trump’s federal tax returns were released last week. Trump received income from more than a dozen countries during his time in office and paid little in federal income taxes the first and last year of his presidency, claiming large losses that he carried forward to reduce or practically eliminate his tax burden. Trump paid $641,931 in federal income taxes in 2015 – the year he began his presidential campaign – he paid $750 in 2016 and 2017, and nearly $1 million in 2018. In 2019, Trump paid $133,445 and nothing in 2020. The documents also appear to show that Trump violated his campaign promise to donate his $400,000 salary for each year that he served as president. In 2020, Trump reported $0 in charitable giving. (CNN / Politico / New York Times / Washington Post / CNBC / Associated Press)

Day 708: "A cruel, dangerous, and shameful stunt."

1/ The Supreme Court temporarily blocked the Biden administration’s plans to end a Trump-era immigration policy used to quickly expel millions of asylum seekers at the southern border. In November, a federal judge ruled that Title 42 was unlawful, and scheduled the policy to expire on Dec. 21. The Supreme Court, however, paused that ruling, and said the policy would remain in place while a legal challenge by 19 Republican state attorneys general played out. Title 42 has been used to expel about 2.5 million migrants since being implemented in March 2020. (Washington Post / Politico / NPR / Associated Press / NBC News / New York Times / CNN)

2/ The Jan. 6 Committee released its final report and concluded that Trump criminally engaged in a “multi-part conspiracy” to overturn the 2020 presidential election, failed to act to stop his supporters from attacking the Capitol, and recommended that he be barred from holding office again. “The central cause of January 6th was one man, former President Donald Trump, who many others followed,” the 814-page report reads. “None of the events of January 6th would have happened without him.” The release of the full report comes three days after the committee referred Trump to the Justice Department for potential prosecution for inciting an insurrection, conspiracy to defraud the U.S., obstruction of an act of Congress, and another federal crime. Over the course of its 18-month investigation, the panel interviewed more than 1,000 witnesses and reviewed more than one million pages of documents, which were obtained after issuing more than 100 subpoenas. Trump, meanwhile, claimed that the committee “did not produce a single shred of evidence.” (New York Times / Associated Press / Washington Post / NPR / CNBC / CNN)

3/ The House passed a $1.7 trillion bill to fund the federal government through next fall and avert a shutdown. Overall, the legislation provides $772.5 billion for non-defense discretionary programs, $858 billion in defense funding, and nearly $45 billion in assistance to Ukraine. It also overhauls federal election law to try to prevent another Jan. 6. Biden is expected to sign the measure in the coming days. (New York Times / USA Today / Politico / CNBC / NBC News)

4/ Millions of Americans will lose Medicaid coverage starting in April after the omnibus spending bill changed the healthcare program’s enrollment rules. An estimated 1 in 5 people currently in the program will lose Medicaid coverage – about 15 million to 18 million people. When the Trump administration first declared the coronavirus pandemic a public health emergency, it barred states from kicking people off Medicaid, and states agreed to pause beneficiaries’ eligibility verifications under the 2020 Covid-19 relief bill. As a result, enrollment in Medicaid swelled by 20 million, to nearly 84 million people. The new spending bill would allow states to kick people off Medicaid starting April 1. The federal government will also wind down the enhanced funding given to states for the added enrollees over the next year. (CBS News / Wall Street Journal)

5/ Texas bused about 130 migrants to Harris’ residence in Washington on Christmas Eve in 18 degree weather – the coldest Christmas Eve on record for Washington. The three buses, which included babies and young children, were chartered by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott. Since April, Abbott’s office has bused more than 15,000 people to Washington, New York, Chicago, and Philadelphia. The White House accused Abbott of having “abandoned children on the side of the road in below freezing temperatures on Christmas Eve without coordinating with any Federal or local authorities,” calling it “a cruel, dangerous, and shameful stunt.” (NBC News / New York Times / Associated Press / CNN)

Day 701: "Asleep at the wheel."

1/ The Biden administration announced a new $1.85 billion military assistance package for Ukraine to counter the Russia’s invasion. The announcement came as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy arrived in Washington to meet with Biden – his first international trip since Russia invaded his country 10 months ago. The security package includes the Patriot air defense missile system – the most advanced air defense weapon in the U.S. arsenal. “We will support Ukraine pursuing a just peace,” Biden told Zelenskyy in the Oval Office, adding that Putin was trying to “use winter as a weapon” in the ongoing war. Zelensky is also scheduled to address a joint meeting of Congress as lawmakers work to pass a $1.7 trillion spending package, which includes $44.9 billion in assistance for Ukraine. Putin, meanwhile, said Russia has “no limitations” on military spending for the war in Ukraine. (New York Times / Politico / Washington Post / NPR / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal / Axios / CNN)

2/ The House Ways and Means Committee voted to make six years of Trump’s tax returns public. A 29-page summary report shows that Trump reported millions in earnings between 2015 and 2020, but paid little or nothing in federal income taxes. In 2016 and 2017, Trump paid $750 in federal income taxes. Trump paid a combined $1.1 million in 2018 and 2019. And, in 2020, he paid nothing. In April 2019, House Democrats formally requested six years of Trump’s personal and business tax returns from the IRS to review the effectiveness of the presidential audit program. (New York Times / NBC News / CNN / Politico / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal)

3/ The IRS failed to audit Trump during his first two years in office despite a “mandatory” program that requires annual audits of a president’s tax returns. During Trump’s time in office, the IRS opened one “mandatory” audit – for his 2016 tax return – which didn’t take place until 2019 and wasn’t completed while he was still in office. The House Ways and Means Committee said the IRS presidential audit program was “dormant, at best,” during Trump’s term. Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden, meanwhile, said the IRS “was asleep at the wheel.” (CNN / NPR / New York Times / CNBC)

4/ A former White House aide to Trump told the Jan. 6 Committee that he witnessed Trump “tearing” documents. According to audio from Nick Luna’s deposition, Trump would sometimes tear up notes when he was finished with them. Luna’s testimony follows previous reports that Trump ripped up documents and tried to flush them down the White House toilet. Federal law requires that presidential records are preserved and handed over to the National Archives. Luna also testified that Mark Meadows had instructed him to not enter the room during a meeting with state Republican legislators who wanted to overturn the 2020 presidential election. (CBS News)

5/ The Jan. 6 Committee said it has evidence that the top ethics attorney in the Trump White House advised Cassidy Hutchinson to give misleading testimony. Stefan Passantino, who represented Hutchinson, allegedly urged the former White House aide to pretend to not recall details that she did and to refrain from talking about issues that could cast Trump in a negative light. The committee also said someone had promised Hutchinson a job, which disappeared after she cooperated with the committee. Before her public testimony, Hutchinson replaced Passantino as her lawyer, who was being paid Trump’s Save America PAC. Passantino, meanwhile, took a leave of absence from his law firm Tuesday. (CNN / New York Times)

Day 700: "A new political weapon."

1/ The Jan. 6 Committee is cooperating with the Justice Department’s investigation into Trump. After Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed Jack Smith as special counsel last month, Smith requested the evidence that committee compiled over its 18-month investigation. The committee has nearly 1,200 witness interview transcripts, which it began sending to Smith’s team last week. The committee also sent the Justice Department all of Mark Meadows’ text messages and related evidence. (Punchbowl News)

2/ Congressional leaders reached an agreement on a $1.7 trillion spending package to fund the government through September. The so-called omnibus, which runs for 4,155 pages, would provide $858 billion in defense funding, $772.5 billion for non-defense discretionary programs, $44.9 billion in emergency assistance to Ukraine, and about $40 billion in emergency funds to help communities recover from hurricanes, wildfires, and droughts. The package increases the Justice Department budget by $212.1 million “to further support prosecutions related to the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol and domestic terrorism cases.” The legislation also includes an overhaul of the Electoral Count Act, which Trump tried to use to overturn the 2020 election. Congress needs to complete passage of the funding measure ahead of a midnight Friday deadline or face a partial government shutdown going into the Christmas holiday. Any senator, however, could hold up that deal in exchange for amendments or concessions. (Associated Press / Washington Post / New York Times / CNN / Politico / Axios)

3/ The U.S. Postal Service will buy at least 66,000 electric delivery trucks by 2028 as part of a push to transform its delivery fleet. The Postal Service will spend $9.6 billion on the vehicles, including $3 billion from the Inflation Reduction Act, and all new vehicles acquired from 2026 through 2028 are expected to be 100% electric. The USPS currently has more than 220,000 old vehicles in its fleet. (Washington Post / CBS News / CNN / CNBC)

4/ The Supreme Court blocked a pandemic-era border policy from ending this week. Chief Justice John Roberts put a lower court ruling to end the Trump-era policy on a temporary hold in response to an emergency request by 19 Republican-led states to keep the policy in place. Title 42 has been used more than 2 million times during the pandemic to expel asylum-seeking migrants. (NBC News / Politico)

Notably Next/ The House Ways and Means Committee is expected to vote this afternoon on whether to publicly release Trump’s tax returns. The committee tried to obtain six years’ worth of Trump’s tax returns in 2019, after Democrats retook the House majority. Unlike his predecessors, Trump never released his tax returns to the public, falsely claiming that he couldn’t release them while under “routine audit” by the IRS. In 2020, it was reported that Trump had paid $750 in federal income taxes in 2016, and another $750 in 2017. The tax data covered more than two decades and show that Trump had paid no income tax in 10 of the 15 years before he ran for president. Before the committee’s meeting, the committee’s top Republican called any release of Trump’s tax records a “dangerous new political weapon” that “even Democrats will come to regret.” (New York Times / CNN / Washington Post / Bloomberg / Associated Press)

Day 699: "This can never happen again."

1/ The Jan. 6 Committee formally accused Trump of inciting an insurrection, conspiracy to defraud the U.S., and obstructing Congress’ Jan. 6 joint session, and unanimously voted to refer the crimes to the Justice Department for prosecution. “That evidence has led to an overriding and straight-forward conclusion: the central cause of January 6th was one man, former President Donald Trump, who many others followed,” the committee wrote in its final report. “None of the events of January 6th would have happened without him.” It’s the first time in American history that Congress has referred a former president for criminal prosecution. Trump was also the first president in American history to be impeached twice. In addition to Trump’s criminal referrals, the panel referred Mark Meadows, Rudy Giuliani, John Eastman, Jeffrey Clark, and Kenneth Chesebro for prosecution. None of the committee’s referrals, however, compel the Justice Department to act. The panel also referred four Republicans – Kevin McCarthy, Jim Jordan, Scott Perry, and Andy Biggs – to the House Ethics Committee for ignoring the its subpoenas. “Faith in our system is the foundation of American democracy. If the faith is broken, so is our democracy,” Chairman Bennie Thompson said. “Donald Trump broke that faith. He lost the 2020 election and knew it, but he chose to try to stay in office through a multi-part scheme.” Thompson added: “This can never happen again.” (New York Times / Washington Post / Politico / Associated Press / Wall Street Journal / Bloomberg / NBC News / CNN / NPR)

  • ✏️ Trump faces a week of headaches on Jan. 6 and his taxes. “The House panel investigating the Capitol attack is set to release its report and may back criminal charges against the former president, while a separate committee could decide to release his tax returns. (New York Times)

  • ✏️ How Trump jettisoned restraints at Mar-a-Lago and prompted legal peril. “Trump transplanted the chaos and norm flouting of his White House into his post-presidential life, leading to a criminal investigation into his handling of classified documents that presents potential legal peril.” (Washington Post)

2/ The House Ways and Means Committee is expected to vote Tuesday on whether to make six years of Trump’s tax records public. Following a three-year court fight for the tax returns – which other presidents have routinely made public since the 1970s – the committee obtained Trump’s returns from the Treasury Department last month. The tax returns cover 2015 through 2020. The panel needs a simple majority vote to release Trump’s returns, and Democrats hold 25 of the committee’s 42 seats. (NBC News / New York Times / Politico / Wall Street Journal / CNN / Bloomberg)

3/ A federal appeals court rejected an effort by 19 Republican-led states to keep a Trump-era border policy in place, which allowed border agents to expel migrants for public health reasons during the coronavirus pandemic before they could go through the asylum application process. The states, however, filed an emergency appeal to the Supreme Court to keep Title 42 in place. More than 2.4 million people have been expelled since the policy’s implementation in 2020. The public health measure is set to expire on Wednesday after a federal judge ruled in November that the policy was illegal. (Washington Post / USA Today / CNN / Politico / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal)

4/ The Senate gave final approval to an $858 billion defense spending bill, which increases the Pentagon’s budget by 8%, authorizes a 4.6% pay raise for military service members, and repeals the coronavirus vaccine mandate for troops. The bill is about $45 billion more than Biden’s budget request, and roughly 10% more than last year’s National Defense Authorization Act. It now heads to Biden for his expected signature. (New York Times / USA Today / CBS News)

5/ The national average for gasoline dropped to $3.14 a gallon – the lowest since July 2021. In June, prices spiked to an all-time record of $5.02 a gallon. (CNN)

6/ Nearly half of 18-to-29-year-olds live at home with their parents – a rate not seen since the end of the Great Depression. According to a new report, the rising number of young adults living at home has been “driven by financial concerns (i.e. rental costs) as well as other sociological factors (e.g. higher penetration of higher education and increasingly delayed age for marriage).” The top reasons for living at home were a desire to save money (51%) and inability to afford rent (39%). Interest rates, meanwhile, are at a 15-year high, mortgage rates are at their highest levels since 2001, and interest rates on credit cards are at their highest level since 1985. (Quartz / Bloomberg)

poll/ 65% of Americans say the country is on the wrong track and not headed in the right direction. From a list of issues, 35% of respondents ranked inflation/the economy is their top priority. “Threats to democracy” ranked second, at 12%, and immigration third at 10%. (USA Today)

Day 695: "Clear and convincing."

1/ The Biden administration restarted its free Covid-19 test program as cases have increased roughly 55% since Thanksgiving. Households can order four free tests at covidtests.gov. The program was paused in September after distributing over 600 million tests, which put the administration on pace to deplete its stockpile before winter without new funding from Congress. (Politico / NPR / New York Times / Associated Press)

2/ Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis asked the state’s Supreme Court to convene a grand jury to “investigate crimes and wrongdoing committed against Floridians” related to Covid-19 vaccines. DeSantis provided no specifics about what wrongdoing a grand jury would investigate, but suggested that pharmaceutical companies needed to provide more data so independent researchers can study the side effects from vaccines. DeSantis also shared plans to establish Public Health Integrity Committee to counter CDC guidance, baselessly claiming that “anything they put out, you just assume, at this point, that it’s not worth the paper that it’s printed on.” Dr. Anthony Fauci, meanwhile, said he “doesn’t have a clue” what DeSantis hopes to accomplish. (CNN / The Hill / CNBC / Politico)

3/ An attorney disciplinary committee recommended that Rudy Giuliani be disbarred in Washington, DC. The three-person committee concluded that there was “clear and convincing evidence” that Giuliani acted unethically when he filed a lawsuit to block certification of the results in the 2020 presidential election. The committee’s findings, however, are “preliminary and nonbinding.” Giuliani’s law license has already been suspended in New York for making “demonstrably false and misleading statements” in his effort to reverse the 2020 election. (Wall Street Journal / Washington Post / Bloomberg / CNN)

4/ A campaign organized by oil and gas industry groups gathered enough signatures to overturn a California law that banned new oil and gas wells near homes, schools, and hospitals. More than 978,000 California residents have signed the Stop the Energy Shutdown petition – enough for a referendum aimed at stopping the new California law that set minimum distances between new oil wells and certain areas. Roughly 623,000 qualifying signatures are needed to put the measure on the 2024 ballot. Separately, California’s public utilities commission will vote on a proposal to reduce residential rooftop-solar incentives by about 75%. The proposal would change the existing “net metering” policy, which credits solar owners the full retail electricity price for excess power, to a lower rate for surplus power. (Associated Press / Bloomberg / NPR / Reuters)

poll/ 31% of voters hold a favorable view of Trump – his lowest favorability rating in more than seven years. 59%, meanwhile, have an unfavorable opinion of the twice-impeached former president. (Quinnipiac)

Day 694: "That time is now."

1/ The House is expected to pass a temporary spending measure tonight that would fund the government through through Dec. 23 and avert a shutdown. The weeklong stopgap bill will give Congress more time to finalize the full-year spending package, called an omnibus, which would fund the federal government through the 2023 fiscal year, ending Sept. 30. The omnibus measure is expected to total around $1.7 trillion. (Politico / Washington Post / New York Times / Wall Street Journal)

2/ The Federal Reserve raised interest rates by half a point – the highest level in 15 years – and signaled that rates still have a “ways to go.” The 50 basis points hike, which increases rates to a range of 4.25-4.5%, is smaller than the previous four 75 basis-point increases, and comes after the latest figures showed inflation running at its slowest annual rate in nearly a year. “We made less progress than expected on inflation,” Chair Jerome Powell said, adding “it’s good to see progress, but let’s just understand we have a long ways to go to get better price stability.” The Fed, however, now expects to raise rates as high as 5.1% next year before cutting rates to 4.1% in 2024 – a higher level than previously indicated. Inflation, meanwhile, is expected to end 2022 at 5.6% and fall to 3.1% next year. (Associated Press / NPR / Politico / Bloomberg / CNBC / CNN / New York Times / Washington Post)

3/ The Republican congressman who suggested that Trump declare martial law in a text message to Mark Meadows said his only regret is that he misspelled the word “martial.” On Jan. 17, 2021, Ralph Norman urged Meadows to have Trump declare “Marshall Law” to prevent Biden from taking office. When asked about his text message, Norman replied: “Well, I misspelled ‘martial’.” The White House, meanwhile, accused Norman of pushing “MAGA conspiracy theories” and “violent rhetoric.” (HuffPost / The Guardian / Mediaite)

4/ The Trump Organization was found to have been “willfully disobeying” four grand jury subpoenas and three court orders during a criminal contempt trial held in secret last year. In December 2021, a New York judge found the Trump Corporation and Trump Payroll Corp in criminal contempt for failing to respond to multiple grand jury subpoenas for documents in a timely fashion. “There comes a time when a court must enforce its authority,” New York State Supreme Court Justice Juan Merchan wrote. “In this matter, that time is now.” He imposed a $4,000 fine. (New York Times / Bloomberg / Associated Press / CNN)

5/ Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton asked the Department of Public Safety for a list of transgender individuals in the state. In June, Paxton’s office requested information on Texans who changed their gender on state documents within the past two years. The department concluded that the data could not be “accurately produced” and didn’t provide any information to Paxton’s office. (Washington Post)

Day 693: "Point of no return."

1/ Biden signed into law a bipartisan bill that codifies same-sex and interracial marriages. The landmark legislation replaces the Defense of Marriage Act – which defined marriage as between a man and a woman – with the Respect for Marriage Act, which prohibits states from denying the validity of out-of-state marriages based on sex, race or ethnicity. The legislation, however, doesn’t require states to issue marriage licenses for same-sex couples. “The road to this moment has been long, but those who believe in equality and justice, you never gave up,” Biden said, adding: “We got it done. We’re going to continue the work ahead. I promise you.” (NPR / New York Times / Wall Street Journal)

2/ Mark Meadows discussed plans for overturning the 2020 election with at least 34 Republican members of Congress. The exchanges took place over text message, which were turned over to the Jan. 6 committee. In total, Meadows received at least 364 messages from Republican members of Congress related to overturning the 2020 election. He sent at least 95 messages of his own. In one example, Ralph Norman texted Meadows three days before Biden was set to take office, urging him to have Trump declare martial law, saying “we are at a point of no return” and “Our LAST HOPE is invoking Marshall Law!! PLEASE URGE TO PRESIDENT TO DO SO!!” (Talking Points Memo)

3/ Special counsel Jack Smith subpoenaed election officials in Nevada, New Mexico, and Georgia for all communications involving Trump, his campaign, lawyers, aides or allies from June 1, 2020, through January 20, 2021. Smith subpoenaed Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger for his testimony before a grand jury on Dec. 29 or, alternatively, Raffensperger can turn over all of the subpoenaed records to the FBI. In a Jan. 2 phone call, Trump asked Raffensperger to “find” the votes needed to win Georgia. Smith also sent the subpoenas to the New Mexico secretary of state’s office, as well as the Clark County, Nevada, elections division. Similar requests were previously sent to officials in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Arizona. Smith was appointed last month to oversee both the Justice Department’s Jan. 6 investigation, as well as the Mar-a-Lago classified documents investigation. (Associated Press / CNN / Bloomberg)

4/ The Jan. 6 committee will hold its final public meeting on Monday and will vote on whether to refer any individuals to the Justice Department for prosecution. Bennie Thompson, the committee’s chairman, said the committee will consider referrals covering five or six “subject matter areas.” The panel’s full report will be released on December 21. The House Oversight Committee, meanwhile, asked the National Archives to determine whether Trump retained any additional presidential records at his storage facility in Florida. At least two classified items were recently found at the storage unit. (CNN / Bloomberg)

5/ Inflation rose less than expected in November, with the consumer price index increasing 7.1% from a year ago — the lowest reading since the end of 2021. Inflation peaked at 9.1% in June. On a month-to-month basis, prices rose 0.1% in November – down from 0.4% in October. Inflation, however, remains well-above the Federal Reserve’s 2% target despite the central bank raising interest rates from just above zero early this year to about 4%. The Fed is expected to raise rates by a half-point tomorrow, after four straight three-quarter-point increases. (Politico / CNBC / New York Times / Wall Street Journal / Axios)

Day 692: "Chaos."

1/ A federal judge declined to hold Trump or his office in contempt of court for failing to comply with a grand jury subpoena demanding he return all classified documents. The Justice Department had asked U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell to hold Trump’s office in contempt after his lawyers discovered at least two more classified documents in a storage unit in Florida. Judge Howell, however, left it to the Justice Department and Trump’s team to resolve the dispute themselves about whether Trump might have more classified documents at his properties after more than a year. (ABC News / CNN / Washington Post / NBC News / New York Times)

2/ The Republican candidate who lost Arizona’s governor race filed a lawsuit challenging the certification of the election and is asking the court to declare her the winner. While Arizona’s election results were certified last week, Kari Lake nevertheless asked the Maricopa County Superior Court to either declare her the winner or throw out the election results and require the county to conduct a new election. Lake claims that ballot printer and tabulator failures on Election Day were intentional by election officials, which “created chaos” with “oppressively long lines” that disproportionately depressed voter turnout for Republican voters. Lake claims that the alleged misconduct by election officials therefore “nullifies” the results and that their actions “wrongfully” led to the state naming Democratic Gov.-elect Katie Hobbs as the winner. Lake’s candidacy was centered on the false conspiratorial claims that the 2020 presidential election had been stolen from Trump. (New York Times / NBC News / Washington Post / CNN)

3/ Arizona’s conservative Democratic senator announced she will leave the Democratic Party and register as an independent. Kyrsten Sinema called the decision a “natural extension” to “reject party politics by declaring my independence from the broken partisan system in Washington.” Sinema’s announcement comes days after Democrats reached a 51-49 majority in the Senate. The Senate, however, will still functionally be a 51-49 chamber, meaning Democrats will have the votes to control Senate committees, retain subpoena power, and judicial and executive branch nominees. Sinema will also keep her committee assignments. (CNN / Politico / New York Times / NBC News)

4/ House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy could lose the election for the next speaker of the House, despite Republicans flipping the chamber in the midterms. McCarthy needs to earn 218 votes to become House speaker, and Republicans will start the 118th Congress with 222 seats. However, at least six Republicans have said they won’t vote for McCarthy, leaving him two shy of a majority. If McCarthy loses more than four GOP votes on Jan. 3, the House will keep voting until someone wins a majority of support from the lawmakers in attendance who are not voting “present.” The last time a vote for speaker had to go to multiple ballots was in 1923. (CNN / FiveThirtyEight / USA Today)

5/ Scientists successfully produced a fusion reaction for the first time that generated more energy than it consumed. While still at least a decade away from commercial use, the technology offers the promise of unlimited, cheap, and carbon-free electricity. The Department of Energy is expected to officially announce the “major scientific breakthrough” Tuesday. (CNN / Bloomberg / Washington Post / New York Times)

6/ The Keystone oil pipeline system was shut down after a pipe ruptured, spilling enough oil to become the largest onshore crude pipeline spill in nine years. An estimated 14,000 barrels of oil spilled into a creek in Kansas. Since 2010, the Keystone pipeline has leaked almost 26,000 barrels of crude on U.S. land. (Associated Press / Bloomberg / New York Times)

poll/ A majority of Americans don’t want either Biden or Trump to run for president in 2024. 70% of Americans say Biden should not run for a second term, while 19% support another run. 61%, meanwhile, say Trump should not seek the presidency, compared with 30% who believe he should. (CNBC)

Day 688: "Hope and dignity."

1/ The House passed legislation to enshrine federal protections for marriages of same-sex and interracial couples. The 258-169 vote sends the Respect for Marriage Act to Biden. The Senate passed the same bill last week by a vote of 61-36. The House initially took up the legislation after the Supreme Court’s decision in June that overturned the federal right to an abortion and Justice Clarence Thomas’ concurring opinion that the Court should reconsider some past rulings, including its decision on same-sex marriage. Following the vote, Biden called the legislation a “critical step to ensure that Americans have the right to marry the person they love,” adding that it provides “hope and dignity to millions of young people across this country who can grow up knowing that their government will recognize and respect the families they build.” (Associated press / NPR / New York Times / Washington Post / CNN / NBC News / Politico / Bloomberg)

2/ The Justice Department asked a federal judge to hold Trump and his team in contempt of court for failing to comply with a subpoena to return classified documents in his possession. The judge hasn’t held a hearing or ruled on the request, yet. The request came after months of frustration from the Justice Department, which first issued a subpoena in May for any classified documents. While Trump’s lawyers certified that all classified documents had been returned, the FBI seized more than 100 classified documents during its court-authorized search warrant of Mar-a-Lago in August. Trump’s lawyers, meanwhile, recently found at least two classified documents in a Florida storage unit. (Washington Post / CNN)

3/ The Jan. 6 committee is reportedly considering criminal referrals for Trump and at least four others. While the committee hasn’t officially decided who to refer to the Justice Department for prosecution, the panel is considering referrals for Mark Meadows, John Eastman, Jeffrey Clark, and Rudy Giuliani. The committee is expected to reach a decision on criminal referrals when members meet virtually on Sunday. (CNN / Politico)

4/ Michael Flynn appeared before an Atlanta-area special grand jury investigating efforts by Trump and his allies to overturn Georgia’s 2020 presidential election results. Flynn’s appearance came after a Florida judged ordered him to testify, calling him a “necessary and material witness” in the grand jury investigation. (Washington Post / CNN)

5/ The House passed an $858 billion bill to fund the Defense Department, which includes a provision that lifts the Pentagon’s Covid-19 vaccine requirement for active duty service members. The legislation increase the Pentagon’s budget by $45 billion over Biden’s request. The measure now heads to the Senate, where the support of at least 10 Republicans is needed. (CNN / Wall Street Journal / CNBC / New York Times)

6/ WNBA star Brittney Griner was released from Russian detention in a prisoner swap for international arms dealer Viktor Bout, who is known as the “Merchant of Death.” Nine months ago, Griner was detained at a Moscow airport after Russian authorities said they found vape cartridges with cannabis oil in her luggage, which is illegal in Russia. She was sentenced in August to 9.5 years in prison for drug smuggling and sent to a penal colony. (NBC News / Politico / CBS News)

poll/ 43% of Americans approve of the way Biden is handling his job as president, while 55% disapprove. (Associated Press)

Day 687: "Big consequences."

1/ The Supreme Court appeared split on whether state legislators can set voting rules for federal elections without oversight from state courts. The justices are considering a once-fringe legal idea being pressed by North Carolina’s Republican legislative leaders called the “independent state legislature” theory, which argues that an interpretation of the Constitution’s Elections Clause leaves no room for state courts to review election laws. If the justices were to side with the North Carolina Republicans, state lawmakers would have largely unchecked power to set election rules, including reshaping congressional districts through partisan gerrymandering, determining voter eligibility, and mail-in ballot requirements. Justice Elena Kagan called the independent state legislature argument “a theory with big consequences.” (New York Times / Washington Post / Bloomberg / Politico)

2/ Democrat Raphael Warnock defeated Republican Herschel Walker in Georgia’s Senate runoff election. Warnock’s victory gives Democrats a 51-49 Senate majority. Starting in January, Democrats will have full power to send legislation to the Senate floor, have subpoena power, and vote on Biden’s nominees to judicial and executive positions. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution / NPR / Associated Press / New York Times / Washington Post)

3/ Trump’s lawyers found at least two classified documents in a Florida storage unit where the General Services Administration had shipped Trump’s belongings after he left the White House. Trump hired a search team after a federal judge pressured Trump’s lawyers to search more carefully for any remaining documents. The team searched Trump Tower, the Bedminster golf club, an office in Florida, and the Florida storage unit. The documents were turned over to the FBI and no other documents with classified markings were found during the search of four of Trump’s properties. (Washington Post / New York Times / CNN / Associated Press)

Day 686: "A culture of fraud and deception."

1/ The Trump organization was found guilty on all 17 counts of criminal tax fraud, conspiracy, falsifying business records, and other financial crimes. The verdict is the culmination of a three-year investigation by the Manhattan district attorney’s office, and the two entities – the Trump Corporation and the Trump Payroll Corp. – face a total of more than $1.6 million in fines. The case was built around testimony from the Trump Organization’s former finance chief, Allen Weisselberg, who pleaded guilty in August to 15 counts including tax fraud, conspiracy and grand larceny. In his testimony, Weisselberg detailed how he and the company’s comptroller, Jeffrey McConney, cheated state and federal tax authorities over a 15-year period by paying executives with “off the books” compensation, such as apartments and luxury cars. Prosecutors described the Trump Organization as a “culture of fraud and deception,” saying Trump sanctioned the tax-free benefits and personally signed some checks for private-school tuition for Weisselberg’s grandchildren. Trump, however, wasn’t charged. Trump and his children and his company also face a civil suit filed by the New York attorney general accusing them of “staggering” fraud. (Washington Post / New York Times / Associated Press / Wall Street Journal / CNN / Bloomberg / Axios)

2/ The Jan. 6 committee will make criminal referrals to the Justice Department. Chairman Bennie Thompson told reporters that the committee has “made decisions on criminal referrals,” but did not disclose how many or who the targets will be, or whether Trump will be among them. “At this point, there’ll be a separate document coming from me to DOJ,” Thompson said. When asked whether the committee believes any witnesses had perjured themselves, Thompson replied: “That’s part of the discussion.” The Justice Department has been pursuing its own criminal investigation and could act regardless of what referrals the panel makes. (CNN / New York Times / Bloomberg / NBC News / Wall Street Journal / Associated Press)

3/ The Justice Department sent grand jury subpoenas to officials in Arizona, Michigan, and Wisconsin for all communications with Trump, his campaign, and his aides and allies. The requests are the first known subpoenas issued by special counsel Jack Smith, who Attorney General Merrick Garland tapped to oversee the Jan. 6 Capitol attack case and the criminal probe of Trump’s mishandling of classified documents. The three states were central to Trump’s failed plan to stay in power following the 2020 election. (Washington Post / Politico)

4/ Trump’s political action committee is paying the legal bills for key witnesses in the Justice Department’s investigation into classified documents found at Mar-a-Lago after Trump left office. Trump’s Save America PAC has paid Brand Woodward Law more than $120,000 to represent Kash Patel, who has testified in front of the grand jury, as well as Walt Nauta, a Trump valet who told FBI agents that Trump had instructed him to move boxes at Mar-a-Lago. Brand Woodward also represents Trump’s longtime adviser Dan Scavino and at least one other personal aide who has testified in front of the grand jury. (Washington Post)

5/ Trump failed to disclose a $19.8 million loan from a foreign creditor while running for president in 2016. Documents obtained by the New York attorney general’s office show that Trump had a previously unreported liability to South Korean company Daewoo when he took office in January 2017. Daewoo was the only South Korean company allowed to operate in North Korea during the 1990s. The loan was reported on the Trump Organization’s internal documents. The non-disclosure is not necessarily illegal because government disclosure laws require presidential candidates and presidents to list personal debts. The debt, however, still could have posed a conflict of interest given Trump’s frequent boasting about his close relationship with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un while president. (Forbes / The Guardian / The Independent)

Day 685: "Sensitive and high-profile."

1/ Early turnout in Georgia’s Senate runoff between Raphael Warnock and Herschel Walker has broke daily voting records three times since polls opened. Ahead of the Tuesday runoff, more than 1.85 million Georgians have voted early, including more than 76,000 who didn’t turn out in the general election. Although Democrats have already secured control of the Senate, the party is seeking an outright majority instead of a 50-50 split and power-sharing agreement that’s currently in place. Polls indicate that Warnock is leading Walker by a margin of 52% to 48%. (NBC News / ABC News / Politico / CNN / Bloomberg)

2/ The Supreme Court seemed sympathetic to an evangelical Christian graphic designer in Colorado who doesn’t want to create wedding websites for same-sex couples despite the state’s anti-discrimination law. The case concerns Lorie Smith, who wants to create customized wedding websites the tell the stories of heterosexual couples “through God’s lens.” Smith claims that the state’s law barring discrimination based on sexual orientation is a violation of her First Amendment right because it forces her to provide services to gay and lesbian couples and engage in speech she doesn’t agree with. The conservative justices have viewed the case through the lens of free speech and suggested that Smith, who sees themselves as artists, could not be forced to create speech that violates her religious belief that marriage is only between a man and a woman. (NPR / Politico / Washington Post / New York Times / CNN / Bloomberg)

3/ Chinese government-linked hackers stole at least $20 million in U.S. Covid relief benefits. The Secret Service accused the Chengdu-based hacking group known as APT41 of defrauding Covid-related unemployment insurance funds and Small Business Administration loan money in more than a dozen states. The theft of taxpayer funds by APT41 is the first time the Secret Service has publicly connected pandemic fraud tied to foreign, state-sponsored cybercriminals. The agency says it has seized over $1.4 billion in stolen funds since 2020. (NBC News / CNN)

4/ The Manhattan district attorney hired a former Justice Department official who led the New York attorney general’s civil inquiry into Trump and the Trump Organization. Alvin Bragg said that Matthew Colangelo will work on the office’s “most sensitive and high-profile white-collar investigations.” In addition to working on the New York attorney general’s investigation of the Trump Organization, Colangelo also served as acting associate attorney general at the Justice Department. Colangelo led dozens of lawsuits against the Trump administration, as well as oversaw an investigation into Trump’s charity, which caused the organization to dissolve. Bragg took office in January, and despite the departure of two of his most senior prosecutors in February, he’s said his office’s investigation of Trump is ongoing. (New York Times / Bloomberg)

5/ Trump, falsely citing “massive fraud” in his 2020 loss to Biden, called for the “termination” of the Constitution and “all rules” to declare himself the “RIGHTFUL WINNER.” Despite only a handful of Republican lawmakers condemning his assertions, the twice-impeached former president denied he actually wanted to “‘terminate’ the Constitution” two days later. Trump’s rant on his personal social network came after the release of internal Twitter emails showing deliberations over the company’s decision in 2020 to block links to a New York Post article that described emails found on Hunter Biden’s laptop. “Attacking the Constitution and all it stands for is anathema to the soul of our nation and should be universally condemned,” White House spokesman Andrew Bates said in a statement, adding: “You cannot only love America when you win.” (CNN / Politico / The Hill / Washington Post / Axios / New York Times)

Day 681: "A complete doomsday scenario."

1/ The Supreme Court agreed to an expedited review of the Biden administration’s plan to cancel student-loan debt, announcing that it will hear full oral arguments in February. A final ruling is expected by June. In the meantime, the court said the plan – which would cancel up to $20,000 in federal student loan debt for more than 40 million borrowers – remains blocked. The 8th Circuit Court of Appeals issued that injunction in November in response to a legal challenge by six Republican-led states, who claim that the program was an unlawful exercise of presidential authority and would affect state revenues and tax receipts. (Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / CNBC / Bloomberg / New York Times / NBC News / CNN)

2/ The Senate passed legislation that would force a labor agreement between freight railroad companies and their workers, averting a potential Dec. 9 national rail strike. In a separate vote the Senate rejected a proposal to add seven days of paid sick leave to the deal. Under the tentative agreement, which several unions had rejected it because it lacked paid leave time, rail workers will receive a roughly 24% pay increase by 2024, more schedule flexibility, and one paid personal day. The legislation now goes to Biden. It was the first time since the 1990s that Congress has used its power to regulate interstate commerce to intervene in a national rail labor dispute. (Washington Post / New York Times / Wall Street Journal / Axios / NBC News / Politico / CNBC)

3/ The latest projections from the Bureau of Reclamation show that by July water levels at Lake Powell, the nation’s second-largest reservoir, could fall to the point that the dam no longer has enough water to generate hydroelectricity for 4.5 million people. Lake Powell is currently a quarter of its original size with water levels having fallen 170 feet amid the warming climate and historic drought. If water levels drop another 38 feet, the surface would approach the tops of eight underwater openings, which allow the Colorado River water to pass through to the Glen Canyon Dam. This is known as “minimum power pool” status, and in addition to being unable to produce power, the dam would have limited ability to pass water downstream to the cities and farms in Arizona, Nevada, and California. The Glen Canyon Dam already generates about 40% less power than it originally did, and the Colorado River is the region’s most important waterway, serving roughly 1 in 10 Americans. “A complete doomsday scenario,” the deputy power manager at Glen Canyon Dam said. (Washington Post)

4/ The House Ways and Means Committee received six years of Trump’s returns from the Treasury. The committee first asked for Trump’s returns three years ago, but the Treasury Department, however, refused to comply with the request while Trump was in office. Trump then sued to block the release of the records. The committee declined to say if they would release any of the returns publicly. (CNN / CNBC / Bloomberg)

5/ A federal appeals court halted the special master review of thousands of documents seized from Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate. The decision allows the Justice Department to continue its investigation into the mishandling of classified government documents. (Washington Post / Axios / CNN / CNBC)

6/ Kevin McCarthy demanded that the Jan. 6 committee chairman preserve all records and transcripts from the investigation into the attack on the U.S. Capitol. McCarthy also vowed that Republicans would hold their own hearings into “why the Capitol complex was not secure” on the day a pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol seeking to stop the certification of Biden’s electoral win. (Washington Post / Politico)

Day 680: "Until the job is done."

1/ House Democrats elected Hakeem Jeffries to lead their caucus – the first Black person to lead a major political party in Congress. Jeffries succeeds Nancy Pelosi, who has led the Democrats for two decades and announced earlier this month that she would remain in Congress, but not run for the leadership post. Also elected to lead House Democrats in the next session of Congress include Katherine Clark as whip, and Pete Aguilar as the chairman of the party caucus, in charge of messaging. (NPR / Associated Press / New York Times)

2/ The House voted to force a labor contract between rail workers and rail companies, which tens of thousands of union workers had voted down because it didn’t include paid sick leave, which they currently don’t receive. In addition to the bill to codify the tentative contract agreement reached earlier this year, the House voted to add seven paid sick days to the contract. The Senate, however, still needs to consider both of the bills, making it possible that the labor contract could be imposed without the sick leave addition. Without congressional action or an agreement between unions and rail companies, a nationwide freight rail strike could begin as early as December 9, which would cost the U.S. an estimated $2 billion per day. (NPR / Associated Press / Politico / New York Times / CNBC / Wall Street Journal)

3/ Jerome Powell indicated that the Federal Reserve could begin to slow its interest rate increases, but will probably keep borrowing costs higher for longer than previously expected. The Fed has lifted interest rates from near-zero to a range of 3.75 to 4% since March. At each of its last four meetings alone, the central bank has increased rates by an unprecedented 0.75 basis-points aimed at combating high inflation – its the most aggressive action since the 1980s. The Fed is on track to raise interest rates by a half percentage point at its December meeting, and markets now expect rates to eclipse 5% next year. “It is likely that restoring price stability will require holding policy at a restrictive level for some time,” Powell said. “History cautions strongly against prematurely loosening policy. We will stay the course until the job is done.” (Washington Post / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal / CNBC / New York Times / CNN)

4/ The age of first-time homebuyers in the U.S. is getting older as prices rise, mortgage rates increase, and inventory decreases. First-time buyers made up 26% of the market from July 2021 to June 2022, down from 34% last year – the lowest share of first-time buyers since the data collection began. The median age of home buyers in the U.S. is now 53 – the highest on record. While millennials saw the largest increases in homeownership between 2019 and 2021 due to pandemic relief and historically low mortgage rates, 27% of millennials lived in a home they owned at age 25-34, compared with 40% or more for previous generations. The average rate for a 30-year fixed mortgage, meanwhile, has more than doubled in the past year. Mortgage rates, however, have dropped slightly for a third straight week after topping 7% last month. (Washington Post / The Hill / CNBC)

5/ NASA canceled a planned satellite to monitor greenhouse gas emissions in Earth’s atmosphere because the project got too costly. The Geostationary Carbon Observatory mission was supposed to be a low-cost satellite to monitor carbon dioxide and methane over North and South America with a price tag around $166 million. NASA, however, estimates that the mission will now cost more than $600 million, which would “have a detrimental impact on NASA’s Earth Science portfolio.” (Associated Press / NASA)

6/ Lawmakers plan to add $45 billion to the defense budget. The Senate and House Armed Services committees have reportedly come to a “compromise” to set the 2023 National Defense Authorization Act budget at $847 billion. Last year, Biden asked for $753 billion but was granted an NDAA worth about $778 billion. If Congress moves ahead with the increase, it would be the second year in a row that lawmakers have endorsed a national defense budget that is tens of billions more than Biden requested. Last year, Biden asked for about $744 billion but was given about $768 billion – $24 billion more than he had requested. (Politico)

Day 679: "Today is a very good day."

1/ The Senate passed the Respect for Marriage Act to codify federal protections for same-sex and interracial marriages. While the legislation doesn’t force states to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, it does require states to recognize all marriages that were legal where they were performed, and protect current same-sex unions. The bill also repeals the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, which defined marriage as between a man and a woman. “For millions and millions of Americans, today is a very good day,” Chuck Schumer said prior to the vote. “An important day. A day that’s been a long time coming.” The bill’s passage sends it back to the House for another vote and then to Biden for his signature. (Washington Post / New York Times / Associated Press / Politico / NPR / NBC News / CNN)

2/ Congressional leaders vowed to pass legislation “ASAP” to avert a nationwide rail strike, saying they agree with Biden that a railroad strike in the coming weeks would put the economy “at risk.” A rail strike could happen as early as December 9. “I am calling on Congress to pass legislation immediately to adopt the Tentative Agreement between railroad workers and operators – without any modifications or delay – to avert a potentially crippling national rail shutdown,” Biden said in a statement. In September, the White House helped broker a tentative deal, but members of the largest unions rejected the proposal because it didn’t address scheduling and paid time-off issues. (New York Times / Wall Street Journal / NPR / Politico / CNN)

3/ A federal jury convicted Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes of seditious conspiracy for plotting to forcefully disrupt the transfer of power after the 2020 election. Kelly Meggs, who ran the Florida chapter of the Oath Keepers at the time of the Jan. 6 attack, was also convicted of seditious conspiracy and other felonies. Seditious conspiracy carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison. (Washington Post / NBC News / Associated Press / New York Times / Axios / CNN)

4/ Mark Meadows was ordered to testify to the grand jury investigating Trump’s effort to overturn the election in Georgia. Meadows had asked the state supreme court to block a subpoena for testimony, arguing that his appearance before the grand jury was barred by executive privilege. “We have reviewed the arguments raised by [Meadows] and find them to be manifestly without merit,” the justices wrote in a brief opinion. (Politico / CNBC)

5/ Kevin McCarthy disavowed the white nationalist Nick Fuentes, but declined to criticize Trump for having dinner with him. “The president can have meetings with who he wants,” McCarthy said. “I don’t think anybody, though, should have a meeting with Nick Fuentes,” adding: “The president didn’t know who he was.” Mitch McConnell, meanwhile, suggested that Trump is “highly unlikely to ever be elected president of the United States” after dining with a white supremacist and Holocaust denier. (New York Times / Business Insider / CNBC / Bloomberg / NBC News / Axios)

Day 678: "Persistent and lethal."

1/ Biden renewed his call for a ban on assault weapons following mass shootings at a Walmart in Virginia and a LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado, saying: “The idea we still allow semiautomatic weapons to be purchased is sick. It’s just sick. It has no social redeeming values. Zero. None. Not a single, solitary rationale for it except profit for the gun manufacturer.” Democrats, however, don’t have the 60 votes in the Senate to overcome a filibuster to advance an assault weapons ban bill, which the House passed in July. The window to enact legislation is also closing, as Republicans are set to take a majority in the House in January. (ABC News / Washington Post / CNN / The Hill)

2/ The FBI and Homeland Security have failed to address domestic terrorism, according to a report by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. Since 2019, both Homeland Security and the FBI have repeatedly identified domestic terrorism – specifically white supremacist violence – as “the most persistent and lethal terrorist threat to the homeland.” The federal government, however, has continued to disproportionately allocate resources to international terrorist threats instead, according to the three-year investigation. “DHS and FBI’s inability to provide comprehensive data on the domestic terrorist threat creates serious concerns that they are not effectively prioritizing our counterterrorism resources to address the rising domestic terrorist threat,” the committee’s chairman said in a statement. (Salon / Yahoo News)

3/ Trump had dinner with white nationalist and antisemite Nick Fuentes at Mar-a-Lago last week. Fuentes is a far-right activist who frequently promotes racist and antisemitic conspiracy theories. Also at the dinner was Kanye West (who now goes by Ye), who recently lost endorsements deals after making a series of antisemitic remarks. Fuentes is reportedly helping Ye with his second presidential campaign. Following the dinner, Ye posted a video claiming that Trump “is really impressed with Fuentes.” In a statement, the White House said: “Bigotry, hate, and antisemitism have absolutely no place in America – including at Mar-A-Lago. Holocaust denial is repugnant and dangerous, and it must be forcefully condemned.” Democratic National Committee added: “If it was any other party, breaking bread with Nick Fuentes would be instantly disqualifying for Trump.” Republican lawmakers, meanwhile, have largely remained silent following Trump’s dinner with an antisemitic rapper and white nationalist activist. Trump has also repeatedly refused to disavow Fuentes. (Politico / ABC News / New York Times / NBC News / CNN / Axios / Bloomberg / The Guardian)

4/ The Justice Department is seeking to question Pence about Trump’s efforts to disrupt the transfer of power after the 2020 election. Pence is reportedly open to considering the request, but it’s unclear if Trump will attempt to assert executive privilege to block any potential testimony. Pence’s chief of staff and chief counsel have already testified to the grand jury investigating the matter. Separately, Kellyanne Conway voluntarily met with the Jan. 6 committee and spoke on the record. (New York Times / Politico / CNN / CNBC / NBC News)

5/ The Georgia Supreme Court reinstated the state’s six-week ban on abortions. A lower court ruling last week had put the ban on hold, calling it “unconstitutional.” In a one-page order, the justices put the lower court ruling on hold while they consider an appeal by the Georgia’s attorney general. (NPR / CNN)

6/ The Biden administration eased some oil sanctions against Venezuela and the Treasury Department granted Chevron a “limited” license to pump and export oil from the South American country. The six-month license stipulates that any oil produced can only be exported to the U.S., and that profits from the sale of energy would be directed to paying down debt owed to Chevron, rather than going to the state-run oil company, PDVSA. Chevron is the only remaining active U.S. oil company in Venezuela but has been barred by sanctions from operations there. A senior Biden official, meanwhile, claimed that easing sanctions – which began 15 years ago on grounds of drug trafficking, corruption, and human rights abuses – was not about adding supply to the global oil market to ease high energy prices exacerbated by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, but rather about restoring democracy to Venezuela. (Washington Post / New York Times / Associated Press / Politico / Bloomberg)

Day 672: "Quickly approaching the end."

1/ The Supreme Court rejected Trump’s legal effort to block the release of his tax returns to Congress. Republicans, however, are expected to end the committee’s investigation when they take control of the House on Jan. 3, 2023. The order comes after a federal appeals court ruled that the Ways and Means Committee had the right to obtain six years of Trump’s tax records, which Chief Justice John Roberts temporarily blocked. The chief lawyer for the House had urged the Supreme Court not to intervene, saying: “Delaying Treasury from providing the requested tax information would leave the Committee and Congress as a whole little or no time to complete their legislative work during this Congress, which is quickly approaching its end.” The committee first sought the tax returns from the IRS in 2019. (CNBC / New York Times / Washington Post / Bloomberg / NBC News / Axios / CNN / Wall Street Journal)

2/ The Biden administration will extend the pause on federal student loan payments through June 30, 2023. The extension, which began in March 2020 to help people who were struggling financially due to the Covid-19 pandemic, comes as the Biden administration’s student loan forgiveness plan remains blocked by federal courts. Federal student loan bills had been scheduled to resume in January. “We’re extending the payment pause because it would be deeply unfair to ask borrowers to pay a debt that they wouldn’t have to pay, were it not for the baseless lawsuits brought by Republican officials and special interests,” Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said in a statement. (CNBC / Axios / CNN / Bloomberg)

3/ Members of the largest railroad unions rejected a tentative labor contract brokered by the White House. Four of the 12 rail unions have now rejected the proposed contract, which the Biden administration had negotiated in September to avert a strike before the midterm elections. At issue are attendance policies that penalize workers for taking time off when they are sick or for personal time, as well as grueling, unpredictable schedules. Both sides have agreed to a cooling-off period until early December. Roughly 40% of freight moves by rail in the U.S. A national rail strike, which could happen as early as Dec. 5, could cost the economy more than $2 billion per day. (Washington Post / NPR / New York Times / CNN / Wall Street Journal / Associated Press)

4/ Lindsey Graham testified before the Fulton County special grand jury investigating efforts by Trump and his allies to overturn the 2020 election. Graham’s testimony came after a monthslong legal battle that went all the way to the Supreme Court, which declined to block the subpoena requiring him to appear. Prosecutors in Fulton County to question Graham about calls he made to Brad Raffensperger, the Georgia secretary of state, in the weeks after the 2020 election, as well as his interactions with the Trump campaign, and other issues related to the election. Graham reportedly testified for “just over two hours and answered all questions.” (Washington Post / Axios / CNN)

Day 671: "Bad things."

1/ A gunman killed five people and injured 18 others at an LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado Springs on the eve of Transgender Day of Remembrance, which occurs annually on Nov. 20 to honor victims of anti-trans violence. Anderson Lee Aldrich faces five murder charges and five charges of committing a bias-motivated crime causing bodily injury. Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers said the shooting has “the trappings” of a hate crime. A year and a half before he was arrested, Aldrich allegedly threatened his mother with a homemade bomb. Despite the incident forcing neighbors to evacuate while the bomb squad and crisis negotiators talked him into surrendering, there is no record of anyone trying to trigger Colorado’s “red flag” law, which would have allowed the seizure of Aldrich’s weapons and ammo. 57% of American, meanwhile, say they want stricter gun laws – down from 66% in June. (Associated Press / NPR / Washington Post / New York Times)

2/ Diplomats from nearly 200 countries failed to reach an agreement to phase out fossil fuels, but agreed to set up a “loss and damage” fund to help vulnerable countries cope with climate change disasters. The meeting, known as COP27, ended with an agreement that reaffirmed the goal of keeping global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, but didn’t address the root cause of the climate crisis: greenhouse gas emissions. More than 80 other countries wanted language that would have called for a “phase-down” of all fossil fuels, which would have gone beyond the deal in Glasgow that called for a “phase-down” of coal only. The effort to phase out all fossil fuels, however, was “stonewalled by a number of large emitters and oil producers,” including China, Saudi Arabia, and Canada. (CNN / Vox / New York Times / Washington Post / Bloomberg / Associated Press)

3/ Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed a special counsel to oversee two Justice Department criminal investigations into Trump: his handling of classified documents found at Mar-a-Lago and his efforts to overturn his 2020 election loss. Garland named Jack Smith as special counsel, saying Trump’s presidential candidacy and Biden’s intention to run for reelection were “extraordinary circumstances” that necessitated a “special prosecutor to independently manage an investigation and prosecution.” Smith was previously the chief of the Justice Department’s Public Integrity Section, overseeing public corruption and elections-related investigations. Trump, meanwhile, called Smith’s appointment “unfair,” claiming that the independent prosecutor “want[s] to do bad things to the greatest movement in the history of our country, but in particular, bad things to me.” (Wall Street Journal / Politico / Washington Post / New York Times / CNN / CNBC)

4/ The Jan. 6 committee plans to release “all the evidence” it has collected “within a month” – before the panel ends when Republicans take control of the House in January. Adam Schiff, the chair of the House Intelligence Committee, added “the evidence is there” to make a criminal referral against Trump. (CBS News / ABC News)

5/ The Manhattan district attorney’s office has restarted its long-running criminal investigation into Trump and the $130,000 hush money Michael Cohen paid to Stormy Daniels on the eve of the 2016 presidential election. District Attorney Alvin Bragg is reportedly revisiting whether Allen Weisselberg, the former chief financial officer of the Trump Organization, could be pressured into cooperating with the probe. Weisselberg recently pleaded guilty to unrelated tax fraud charges in a criminal case involving the Trump Organization. The potential charges are related to insurance fraud and unrelated to the hush money payment. (New York Times)

6/ Chief Twit reinstated Trump’s Twitter account after posting a poll asking the platform’s users, bots, and fake accounts if the former president’s permanent ban for inciting the Jan. 6 violence at the Capitol should be reversed. Elon Musk, who has spent months complaining about Twitter’s problem with bot and fake accounts, claimed “the people have spoken” after more than 15 million votes were logged. The “yes” vote won, with 51.8%. Trump, meanwhile, said he sees “a lot of problems at Twitter” and poured cold water on the idea of returning to the platform, saying, “I don’t see any reason for it.” (New York Times / Bloomberg / NPR / Reuters / Associated Press)

Day 667: "A new generation of leaders."

1/ Nancy Pelosi will not seek a Democratic leadership role in the next Congress after Republicans take control of the House. “For me the hour has come for a new generation to lead the Democratic caucus that I so deeply respect,” Pelosi said a day after Republicans officially won control of the House. “And I am grateful that so many are ready and willing to shoulder this awesome responsibility.” Pelosi is the first and only woman to hold the top position in the House and will continue to serve as a member of the House. “I have enjoyed working with three presidents,” Pelosi, who has served as House speaker under four different presidents, added. House Democrats are scheduled to vote on their leaders on Nov. 30. Hakeem Jeffries is considered Pelosi’s heir apparent. If elected, Jeffries would become the first Black lawmaker to lead a party in Congress. (Washington Post / New York Times / NPR / Politico / Associated Press / ABC News / Wall Street Journal / CNN / HuffPost)

2/ The Biden administration will ask the Supreme Court to revive its student loan debt relief program. Earlier this week, the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals issued a nationwide injunction temporarily barring the program. Separately, the Justice Department is asking the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals to stay a decision by a Texas judge that ruled Biden’s debt relief program was “an unconstitutional exercise of Congress’s legislative power and must be vacated.” The filing says the judge “lacked jurisdiction to enter an order.” (Politico / CNBC)

3/ The Jan. 6 committee interviewed the lead Secret Service agent in Trump’s motorcade on the day of the insurrection. Robert Engel was driving the car when Trump tried to grab the car’s steering wheel after being told he was headed back to the White House because it wasn’t safe to go to the Capitol, according to former White House staffer Cassidy Hutchinson, who testified before the committee in June. Hutchinson said Tony Ornato, then-White House deputy chief of staff, had told her this story of Trump being “irate.” Pence, meanwhile, said he would not testify before the committee, because Congress “has no right to my testimony.” Pence added that it would establish a “terrible precedent for the Congress to summon a vice president of the United States to speak about deliberations that took place at the White House.” (CNN / Reuters)

4/ Michael Flynn was ordered to testify before a special grand jury investigating whether Trump and his allies tried to overturn the 2020 election in Georgia. In mid-December 2020, Flynn suggested that Trump “could take military capabilities,” put them in swing states, and “basically re-run an election in each of those states.” Flynn, Trump, attorney Sidney Powell, and others met at the White House on Dec. 18, 2020, to discuss “invoking martial law, seizing voting machines, and appointing Powell as special counsel to investigate the 2020 election.” Flynn must testify before the panel on Nov. 22. (NBC News)

5/ The Trump Organization’s longtime chief financial officer testified that he committed tax crimes and that the company stopped several illegal tax practices after Trump became president. Allen Weisselberg testified that senior employees received their bonuses via 1099 income, a tax form intended for self-employed individuals, which allowed the company to avoid payroll taxes. Executives could then open tax-deferred retirement accounts that only self-employed people qualify for. In addition, the company is accused of giving executives off-the-books perks including apartments, luxury cars, and private school tuition. Weisselberg testified that he carried out the scheme for his own benefit and that the Trump family was not involved in the schemes. Weisselberg pleaded guilty to 15 criminal counts in August. Under the deal, he will serve five months in jail if he testifies truthfully. (Bloomberg / Politico / CNN / CBS News)

Day 666: "The gravest threat to our civilization."

1/ Trump — 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 multiple criminal investigations — filed to run for president for a third consecutive time. “In order to make America great and glorious again, I am tonight announcing my candidacy for president of the United States,” Trump said from Mar-a-Lago despite some Republicans blaming him for the party’s disappointing midterm election results. “We are a nation in decline. We are a failing nation for millions of Americans,” Trump said, adding that the “gravest threat to our civilization” was what he called the weaponization of the Justice Department and the FBI. Trump enters the race facing multiple ongoing civil and criminal investigations in multiple states related to tax fraud, his efforts to overturn the 2020 election, and the mishandling of classified documents stored at Mar-a-Lago. (Politico / Associated Press / NPR / Washington Post / New York Times / CNN / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal / CNBC)

2/ The Senate advanced bipartisan legislation to protect same-sex marriage. In a 62-37 vote, 12 Republicans voted with all Democrats to end debate on the bill and advance the Respect for Marriage Act, which would enshrine same-sex marriage protections into federal law. The bill also repeals the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, which defined marriage as one man and one woman and allowed states to decline to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states. In May, 71% of Americans said they supported legal same-sex marriage – up from 27% in 1996. A final Senate vote could happen this week, which would send the amended version to the House for another vote before it would head to Biden to be signed into law. (Washington Post / New York Times / Politico / Wall Street Journal)

3/ A judge overturned Georgia’s six-week abortion ban, ruling that key parts of the law “were plainly unconstitutional when drafted, voted upon, and enacted.” Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney noted that because the law was enacted before the U.S. Supreme Court overturned its 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade, the ban must be evaluated using a 2019 lens. As a result, abortions will — for the first time since July — be legal in Georgia, up to 22 weeks of pregnancy, effective immediately. The Georgia attorney general’s office immediately filed an appeal to the Georgia Supreme Court. (NPR / New York Times / Washington Post / Politico / CNN)

4/ A federal judge struck down a Trump-era policy used to expel more than 1 million migrants at the nation’s Southern border. The Trump administration first issued the Title 42 policy in 2020 at the outset of the coronavirus pandemic to stop the “introduction” of contagious diseases in the U.S. District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan said the order was “arbitrary and capricious in violation of the Administrative Procedure Act,” arguing that the policy had little proven benefit to public health and hasn’t been updated to align with the present state of the pandemic and availability of vaccines and treatment options. The order will go into effect on Dec. 21. (Politico / Washington Post / CBS News / CNN)

5/ The Biden administration warned of a “historically large increase” in federal student loan delinquency and defaults without its forgiveness plan. The Education Department stopped accepting applications for its student loan forgiveness plan last week after a judge in Texas called the policy “unconstitutional” and struck it down. Approximately 18 million borrowers are eligible to have their federal student loans discharged in their entirety under the program. These same borrowers are most in jeopardy of defaulting. About 60% of borrowers who qualified for forbearance haven’t made a single payment since August 2020. Payments, however, are set to resume Jan. 1, 2023, unless Biden extends the pause on repayments. (CNBC / Axios / Bloomberg)

Day 665: "Managing risk."

1/ Kevin McCarthy won the Republican nomination for speaker with 188 votes from the caucus in a secret-ballot vote. Assuming that Republicans take control of the chamber, McCarthy will need to win at least 218 votes on the House floor in January to earn the speaker’s gavel. Republicans are currently one seat short of the majority in the House with 13 races still uncalled, including four in which the Republican candidates lead. In the Senate, Rick Scott said he plans to challenge Mitch McConnell for minority leader. McConnell, however, is expected to retain support from the majority of his conference. Trump, meanwhile, is expected to announce a third consecutive presidential campaign tonight from Mar-a-Lago. (Wall Street Journal / New York Times / Bloomberg / Axios / Washington Post / Associated Press)

2/ The director of the CIA warned his Russian counterpart against the use of nuclear weapons in Ukraine. The National Security Council said Bill Burns’ meeting was part of an ongoing effort by the U.S. to “communicate with Russia on managing risk” and was not in any way to negotiate or to discuss any settlement of the war in Ukraine. National security adviser Jake Sullivan has also been in touch with his Russian counterparts about the consequences should Russia use a nuclear weapon in Ukraine. Russia, meanwhile, launched roughly 100 missiles aimed primarily at Ukraine’s electrical infrastructure. Two Russian missiles, however, missed Ukraine entirely and landed about four miles north in Poland. (New York Times / CNN / Associated Press / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal)

3/ The Customs and Border Protection commissioner resigned after a standoff with Biden’s Homeland Security secretary. Chris Magnus initially refused to step down after both Alejandro Mayorkas, the homeland security secretary, and the department’s deputy secretary asked him to resign. CBP staff reportedly had lost confidence in him. Magnus served in the job for less than a year. (New York Times / Politico / NPR / Washington Post)

4/ Federal prosecutors closed their investigation in whether Rudy Giuliani violated U.S. lobbying laws while doing business in Ukraine and no criminal charges will be brought. After more than two years, prosecutors wrote that “based on information currently available to the government, criminal charges are not forthcoming.” (New York Times / CNN / CNBC)

5/ U.S. intelligence reports that the United Arab Emirates attempted to steered U.S. foreign policy in its favor through a series of legal and illegal activities. The classified report reveals that the UAE spent more than $154 million on lobbyists since 2016 to exploit the vulnerabilities in American governance, as well as hundreds of millions of dollars on donations to American universities and think tanks. In one exploit, the UAE hired three former U.S. intelligence and military officials to surveil dissidents, politicians, journalists, and U.S. companies, as well as break into computers in the U.S. and other countries. (Washington Post)

Day 664: "Simply by saying so."

1/ Democrats won the Senate while Republicans appear on track for a narrow majority in the House. As of Monday morning, 20 House seats remain uncalled, with 212 seats projected for Republicans and 203 for Democrats. To retain the House majority, Democrats would have to win 15 of the last 20 seats. Biden told reporters: “I think we’re going to get very close in the House […] but I don’t think we’re going to make it.” Meanwhile, in the Senate, Democratic incumbents Mark Kelly and Catherine Cortez Masto won re-election in Arizona and Nevada, respectively. The two victories mean Democrats will not only be able to unilaterally confirm Biden’s judges and executive branch nominees for two more years, but they have the chance to expand their Senate majority with a win in Georgia’s Senate run-off election next month. Biden, however, said that Democrats still lack the votes needed to codify abortion rights into law. (Politico / NBC News / CNBC / New York Times / NPR)

2/ A federal appeals court blocked Biden’s student loan forgiveness program while it considers a lawsuit brought by six Republican states to end the policy, which argued they were harmed by a freeze on the collection of student loan payments and interest. The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals cited the potential “irreversible impact” of allowing debt forgiveness for about 40 million borrower to proceed “as compared to the lack of harm an injunction would presently impose.” The court had temporarily blocked the debt relief program in October. The appeals court decision comes days after a federal judge in Texas blocked the program and declared it “unlawful.” U.S. District Judge Mark Pittman, who was appointed by Trump, wrote: “In this country, we are not ruled by an all-powerful executive with a pen and a phone. Instead, we are ruled by a Constitution that provides for three distinct and independent branches of government.” About 26 million people had applied for debt relief and 16 million people had already had their relief approved. The government, however, is blocked from discharging any debt while the court considers the lawsuit to end the policy. The Education Department, meanwhile, is no longer accepting applications for debt relief because of the court orders. (Axios / Washington Post / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal / CBS News / NPR / Associated Press / NBC News / CNN / CNBC)

3/ Trump sued the Jan. 6 committee to avoid cooperating with its subpoena for documents and his testimony. Trump was subpoenaed by the committee in October and was scheduled to be deposed on Nov. 14 – a day before his “big announcement,” where he is widely expected to announce the launch of his 2024 presidential campaign. Trump is challenging the legitimacy of the committee and claims he should be immune from testimony about the time he was president. (CNN / CNBC)

  • The Supreme Court refused to block a Jan. 6 committee subpoena for the phone records of Kelli Ward, the chairwoman of the Arizona Republican Party and a Trump ally. The vote was 7-to-2, with Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito dissenting, without explanation. (New York Times / NPR / Politico / NBC News)

4/ Trump claimed in a court filing that the highly sensitive national security documents he took to Mar-a-Lago were his “personal” property because he said so. The Justice Department, however, said that Trump cannot deem the records personal “simply by saying so,” and accused him of engaging in a “shell game” to shield documents from criminal investigators. The DOJ added that if the records were “personal,” then there’s no basis to shield them from investigators. (Politico / CNN / New York Times / CNBC)

5/ Officials from six nations spent more than $750,000 at Trump’s hotel in Washington while they were trying to influence U.S. foreign policy in 2017 and 2018, according to a report by the House Committee on Oversight and Reform. The spending in the records included more than $250,000 by Malaysia, more than $280,000 by Qatar, more than $90,000 by Saudi Arabia, and more than $74,000 by the United Arab Emirates. The records also show a total of $65,139 in charges by the American Turkish Council, a nonprofit group with ties to the Turkish government, as well as $19,370 in spending by a delegation from the Embassy of China. (New York Times / NBC News / CNN / Axios)

Day 660: "Not at all angry."

1/ Control of Congress continues to hang in the balance two days after the 2022 midterm elections. Republicans are on track to take a narrow House majority, needing 9 more seats with 37 more races still up for grabs. Meanwhile, three Senate races remain uncalled: Arizona, Nevada and Georgia, which is headed for a Dec. 6 runoff. Democrats currently have a slight lead in Arizona, while Republicans maintain a slim advantage in Nevada. Some analysts say they expect the outstanding vote in both of those races to favor the Democratic candidates. Meanwhile, at a Democratic National Committee event, Biden said that, nationally, there were “a lot of concerns about whether democracy would meet the test.” He added: “It did.” Trump’s allies, meanwhile, are pushing him to delay his planned presidential announcement, while Paul Ryan called Trump “a drag on our ticket.” Trump, however, claims he’s “not at all angry” about the midterms. (New York Times / Associated Press / Wall Street Journal / Politico / NPR / Washington Post)

2/ The consumer price index increased 7.7% from a year ago – down from 8.2% in September and June’s 9.1% rate. While that’s the lowest rate of inflation since January, inflation remains near a 40-year high and well above the Fed’s 2% target. The inflation report leaves the Federal Reserve on track to raise rates by 0.50 percentage points in December after four consecutive hikes of 0.75 percentage points. (Wall Street Journal / Bloomberg / New York Times / Washington Post / CNBC / Politico / CBS News / ABC News)

3/ Home prices rose in 98% of metro markets from July through September despite mortgage rates rising to their highest level in 20 years. Nationwide, prices for an existing, median single-family home rose by 8.6% from last year to $398,500. Median prices were up 10% or more in 46% of cities. Home sales, however, have dropped for eight straight months through September. The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 7.08% last week. A year ago, the 30-year fixed rate stood at 2.98%. (National Association of Realtors / Wall Street Journal / CNN / The Hill)

4/ The IRS urged the Supreme Court to allow the release of Trump’s tax returns to a House committee. Nine days ago, Chief Justice John Roberts temporarily blocked the IRS from transferring six years of Trump’s returns to the House Ways and Means Committee while the court considered Trump’s request for a longer delay. In a legal brief, the IRS and Treasury said Trump’s request for the delay “cannot satisfy the demanding standard for that extraordinary relief.” The committee, which has been seeking the documents since 2019, told the court that further delays would leave the committee “little or no time to complete their legislative work during this Congress, which is quickly approaching its end.” (Bloomberg / CNBC)

Day 659: "A good day for democracy."

1/ Senate control hinges on three states, while Republicans have picked up fewer seats than predicted in the House. Republicans, however, are still poised to win a narrow majority in one if not both houses of Congress. In the Senate, Democrat John Fetterman flipped a key seat in Pennsylvania, while Republican Ron Johnson secured reelection in Wisconsin. Democrats currently control 48 seats to the Republicans 49, meaning whoever wins two of the three elections in Arizona, Georgia, and Nevada will control the Senate. In the House, Republicans are expected to win the five seats they needed to take control, but a large number of the most competitive races remain uncalled. In midterm elections since World War II, the president’s party has almost always lost seats, but Democrats seem to have avoided the so-called “red wave” that some strategists predicted was going to be fueled by record inflation and economic woes. Only three times since World War II has inflation been as high as it is today heading into the midterms, and in all three cases the president’s party lost between 15 and 48 seats in the House. “It was a good day for democracy,” Biden said. “And I think it was a good day for America.” (Politico / Bloomberg / New York Times / Washington Post / NPR / CNN / NBC News / CNBC / Wall Street Journal / MSNBC / ABC News)

  • Takeaways from the 2022 midterm elections: New York Times / NPR / CNN / NBC News / Politico

  • The candidates who made history in the midterms: the first female governors in Arkansas, Massachusetts, and New York; the first Black person to be elected governor of Maryland; the nation’s first openly lesbian governor in Massachusetts; the first openly LGBTQ person to represent Vermont in Congress; the first member of Gen Z to be elected to Congress. (Washington Post / NPR)

2/ Georgia’s Senate race is headed to a runoff after neither candidate cleared the 50% threshold needed to win outright. The runoff between Democrat Raphael Warnock and Republican Herschel Walker will take place on Dec. 6, with the Senate majority potentially at stake for a second straight election cycle. With more than 95% of ballots counted on Wednesday afternoon, Warnock had 49.4% of the vote to Walker’s 48.5%. About 35,000 votes separated the two candidates. Georgia law requires a runoff if no candidate clears 50%. (Politico / Axios / Bloomberg / New York Times / Washington Post / CNN / NPR)

3/ Voters in California, Michigan, and Vermont enshrined abortion rights in their state’s constitution in the first nationwide election since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June. Voters in Kentucky – where abortion is currently banned – rejected a proposed amendment to the state’s constitution to say that it does not “secure or protect a right” to abortion or the funding of abortion. Kentucky is the second state in the post-Roe era to reject an anti-abortion ballot measure. In August, Kansas voters rejected a proposed state constitutional amendment that would have allowed the legislature to ban abortions. (New York Times / Associated Press / Washington Post / Axios / CNN / CNBC)

4/ Democrats flipped governorships in two states, while Republican governors Ron DeSantis, Greg Abbott, and Brian Kemp all easily won reelection. As of Wednesday afternoon, gubernatorial contests in Nevada, Oregon, and Arizona remain uncalled. Thirty-six states states voted to elect governors last night. (Politico / Wall Street Journal / FiveThirtyEight)

5/ Trump was reportedly “fuming” at Mar-a-Lago last night after at least 14 of his endorsed candidates were projected to lose in their races. Trump was particularly upset as Senate candidate Dr. Mehmet Oz and gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano both lost their elections in Pennsylvania. Out of 39 competitive races in which Trump endorsed a candidate, his candidates won 12 races and lost 11, with 16 still undecided as of Wednesday afternoon. Prior to any races being called last night, Trump send an email blast boasting of “unprecedented successes.” Later, however, Trump acknowledged that the results were “somewhat disappointing.” (CNBC / Forbes / ABC News / Politico / Washington Post / New York Times / Axios)

Day 658: "The things Americans value most are at risk."

1/ Polls opened across the country today with control of Congress at stake in the first national election since the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol. Republicans are favored to regain control of the House, where all 435 House seats are up for grabs. Control of the Senate, which is currently split 50-50, will likely be decided a handful of races in Georgia, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Arizona, New Hampshire, and North Carolina despite 35 seats up for election this cycle. As of Tuesday afternoon, nearly 45 million ballots had been cast nationwide. While the earliest polls close at 6 p.m. Eastern today, we probably won’t know all the results of the midterm elections for days – or weeks – after voting concludes. (Washington Post / Associated Press / CNN / New York Times)

2/ Voting rights advocates monitoring polling sites across the country reported no major concerns with ballots, long lines, or voter intimidation so far. One early issue, however, occurred in Maricopa County – Arizona’s most populous county – where about 1 in 5 polling locations were experiencing a technical problem with their ballot tabulator machines in the first hours of voting. Despite election officials resolving the issue and assuring voters that their ballots would still be counted, Arizona Republicans nevertheless seized on the glitch and claimed it was evidence of widespread voter fraud. (Associated Press / Washington Post / CNN / NPR / NBC News / Bloomberg / New York Times)

3/ Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis refused to allow Justice Department election monitors to go inside polling locations, saying the government’s involvement would be “counterproductive” and “potentially undermine confidence in the election.” Brad McVay, the chief counsel for the Florida Department of State, said the federal officials were not included on a list of people allowed inside polling places under Florida law. On Monday, the Justice Department announced that it would send monitors to 64 jurisdictions nationwide. Federal monitors, however, need local permission to observe activity inside election sites. (Washington Post / CNN)

4/ The effects of climate change are already “far-reaching and worsening” throughout every region of the U.S., according to a draft of the National Climate Assessment. The U.S. has warmed 68% faster than Earth as a whole over the past 50 years, the report finds, noting “the things Americans value most are at risk.” While the U.S. cut greenhouse gas emissions by 12% from 2007- 2019, emissions need to drop by over 6% every year to meet the Biden administration’s climate goal of net-zero by 2050. (Washington Post / New York Times / Axios / CNBC)

Day 657: "Chronicle of chaos."

1/ Earth is on track to see its 5th or 6th warmest year on record in 2022, with global average temperatures currently running about 1.15°C above the preindustrial average. “We just had the 8 warmest years on record,” the World Meteorological Organization said, calling its latest State of the Global Climate report a “chronicle of climate chaos.” The agency noted that “the warming continues” with accelerating sea level rise, record-breaking glacier melting, and extreme weather. Temperatures in Europe have increased at an average rate of 0.5 degrees Celsius per decade over the past 30 years – more than twice the global average. (Bloomberg / Washington Post / Axios / CBS News)

2/ U.N. Secretary General António Guterres called for the creation of a “climate solidarity pact” between rich and poor nations to meet the Paris Agreement’s target and limit the severity of global warming. Earth is losing “the fight of our lives,” Guterres said in opening remarks at the annual U.N. climate conference, known as COP27. “We are on a highway to climate hell with our foot on the accelerator. Humanity has a choice: cooperate or perish.” The Guterres called for China and the U.S. – the world’s two biggest polluters – to cooperate, saying they have a “particular responsibility to join efforts to make this pact a reality. This is our only hope of meeting our climate goals.” (NPR / Axios / New York Times / Washington Post / CNN / Axios)

3/ More than 41 million pre-election ballots have been cast across 47 states, but Republicans in at least three battleground states have sued to disqualify thousands of mail ballots. In Pennsylvania, thousands of ballots have been set aside because the voter neglected to put a date on the outer envelope. While in Michigan, the Republican nominee for secretary of state filed a lawsuit seeking to toss absentee ballots not requested in person by Detroit voters. And in Wisconsin, some mail ballots won’t be counted if the required witness address is not complete. Pre-election voting, however, has been ahead of 2018 levels in states where data is available for the last three cycles. (CNN / Washington Post)

4/ A Russian oligarch known as “Vladimir Putin’s chef” admitted that Russia had interfered in U.S. elections and would continue to do so. “Gentlemen, we have interfered, are interfering and will interfere. Carefully, precisely, surgically and in our own way, as we know how to do,” Yevgeny Prigozhin said. In 2018, special counsel Robert Mueller charged Prigozhin with conspiracy to defraud the U.S. for his role in financing the Internet Research Agency, a “troll factory” in St. Petersburg that used social media to spread fake news during the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign. Researchers, meanwhile, have identified a series of new Russian information operations attempting to influence the U.S. election by criticizing Biden and other Democrats for supporting Ukraine’s resistance to the Russia. (Associated Press / New York Times / CNN)

5/ Trump is reportedly planning to announce his 2024 presidential campaign before Thanksgiving. Two people from Trump’s inner circle said he has specifically discussed a Nov. 14 announcement. The Justice Department, meanwhile, is weighing whether a Trump candidacy would create the need for a special counsel to oversee the investigation into Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election and his mishandling of national security documents he took to Mar-a-Lago. Some Republicans aides and strategists say they expect Attorney General Merrick Garland to indict Trump in the next 60 to 90 days. (Axios / CNN)

Day 653: "A defining moment."

1/ Biden called the midterms “a defining moment” for democracy as the “ultra MAGA” are trying to “succeed where they failed” in subverting the 2020 elections with threats of political violence and voter intimidation. “We can’t take democracy for granted any longer,” Biden said from Union Station in Washington, steps from the U.S. Capitol where a mob attempted to interrupt the certification of the 2020 election. Biden condemned Trump and other Republicans for encouraging political violence, voter intimidation, and “the Big Lie,” calling it “unprecedented,” “unlawful,” and “un-American” to “love your country only when you win.” Biden, arguing that Trump had undercut the rule of law, said: “American democracy is under attack because the defeated former president of the United States refuses to accept the results of the 2020 election.” Biden added that Trump “refuses to accept the will of the people. He refuses to accept the fact that he lost. He has abused his power and put the loyalty to himself before loyalty to the Constitution and he’s made a Big Lie an article of faith for the MAGA Republicans, a minority of that party.” (New York Times / Washington Post / Associated Press / NBC News / CNN)

2/ Obama warned that “democracy as we know it may not survive” if Republicans win in Arizona. “That’s not an exaggeration,” Obama added. “That is a fact.” In Arizona, all but one of the 13 GOP nominees for federal or state office have denied or questioned the results of the 2020 election. If the GOP ticket were to win in Arizona, it would mean “election deniers serving as your governor, as your senator, as your secretary of state, as your attorney general.” (Washington Post)

3/ Some House Republicans have embraced plans to reduce federal spending on Social Security and Medicare if they take control of the House and Senate. The Republican leaders claim that cutting benefits are necessary to rein in government spending. Their proposals include raising the retirement age for Social Security and Medicare to 70 from 67, and increasing the premiums for health coverage. “They’re coming after your Social Security and Medicare in a big way,” Biden said, holding up a Republican plan that would also require Congress to reauthorize safety net programs every five years. “It goes out of existence if Congress doesn’t vote to keep it,” said Biden, calling the proposal “so outrageous you might not even believe it.” (New York Times / Axios / CNBC)

4/ America’s billionaires have spent a record $880 million on the 2022 midterm elections so far – most of their spending has been in favor of Republicans, three to two. Spending on state and federal races during this cycle, meanwhile, have already passed the inflation-adjusted record of $7.1 billion in 2018 and are projected to exceed $16.7 billion in total. The top 1% of donors, measured by income, have contributed about 38% of the total spent. (OpenSecrets / New York Times / CNBC / Bloomberg)

5/ The Justice Department granted immunity to a Trump aide in exchange for his grand jury testimony in the Mar-a-Lago case. Kash Patel appeared before the grand jury last month and refused to answer questions from prosecutors by repeatedly invoking his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. A federal judge, however, granted Patel immunity from prosecution on any information he provides to the investigation and compelled him to testify. Prosecutors had argued that there was no reason that Patel would be prosecuted based on the kinds of questions they were asking. Patel’s grand jury appearance hasn’t yet been scheduled. (Wall Street Journal / New York Times / CNN / NBC News / ABC News)

poll/ 36% of Americans say inflation is the most urgent issue facing the country today – up 9 percentage points since late August. Abortion is the second most urgent issue at 10%, with no other issue reaching double digits. (Quinnipiac)

poll/ 84% of the Republican voters report a great deal of interest in the midterm elections. 68% of Democrats, meanwhile, say they’re interested in the elections. Overall, 82% of registered voters nationally say they definitely plan to vote this year. (NPR)

poll/ 53% of Republicans said they would “very likely” vote for a candidate who thought the 2020 election was stolen – which it was not. 39% of Republicans also said their preferred candidate should “definitely” concede if they were declared the loser in their race. (NPR)

poll/ 56% of Americans believe the Republican and Democratic parties do such a poor job that a third major party is needed. 61% of Americans have an unfavorable view of the Republican Party, while 57% have an unfavorable view of the Democratic Party. Overall, 27% of Americans say they have an unfavorable view of both both parties. In 1994, 6% of Americans felt that way. (CNBC)

Day 652: "The path to chaos."

1/ The Federal Reserve approved a fourth consecutive 0.75-point interest rate increase to combat inflation, despite concern about the risks of triggering a recession and putting millions out of work. The Fed has now raised rates six times this year, pushing its target range for the benchmark federal funds rate to between 3.75% and 4% – its highest level since Jan. 2008. Fed Chairman Jerome Powell added that the “ultimate level of interest rates will be higher than previously expected,” but that “at some point” it would be appropriate to slow the pace of increases. The Federal Open Market Committee said that “ongoing increases” will still be needed to bring rates to a level that are “sufficiently restrictive to return inflation to 2% over time.” (NBC News / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal / Washington Post / New York Times / CNN / CNBC / ABC News / Associated Press)

2/ The Biden administration will provide $13.5 billion in funds to help low- and moderate-income Americans lower their energy costs this winter. The Department of Health and Human Services will provide $4.5 billion through the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program to help cut heating costs, while the Energy Department will allocate $9 billion in Inflation Reduction Act funds for energy efficiency upgrades to 1.6 million low-income households. Last year, LIHEAP helped 5.3 million U.S. households with heating, cooling, and weatherization. (CNBC / ABC News / The Hill)

3/ A federal judge issued a restraining ordered against a group that’s been accused of “intimidation and harassment” of voters casting ballots at drop boxes in Arizona. U.S. District Court Judge Michael Liburdi said members of Clean Elections USA are barred from taking photos, filming, following, speaking to or yelling at anyone within 75 feet of a ballot drop box or the entrance to a building that houses one. The order also prohibits the group from “openly” carrying weapons or “visibly wear body armor” within 250 feet of drop boxes. Last week, the League of Women Voters sued the group, saying that its actions amounted to “time-tested methods of voter intimidation.” (NBC News / Associated Press / Washington Post / New York Times)

4/ Trump’s attorneys saw Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas as their “only chance” for overturning the results of the 2020 election, according to emails disclosed to congressional investigators. “We want to frame things so that Thomas could be the one to issue some sort of stay or other circuit justice opinion saying Georgia is in legitimate doubt,” Trump attorney Kenneth Chesebro wrote in a Dec. 31, 2020, email to Trump’s legal team. Chesebro argued that Thomas would “end up being key” to overturning then-President-elect Biden’s win, contending that Thomas would be “our only chance to get a favorable judicial opinion by Jan. 6, which might hold up the Georgia count in Congress.” Later that day, attorney John Eastman replied: “I think I agree with this.” The messages were part of a batch of eight emails that a federal judge in California ordered released to the Jan. 6 committee. (Politico / Washington Post / New York Times)

5/ The Jan. 6 committee is reportedly “in discussions” with Trump’s attorneys about him testifying under oath. Liz Cheney’s comments came after Trump’s team formally agreed to accept the committee’s subpoena seeking documents and testimony. The subpoena requires that Trump turn over documents by Friday, Nov. 4. He’s also required to appear for one or more days of deposition beginning around Nov. 14. Trump has reportedly told advisers he’d be open to a live appearance before the panel. Cheney, however, said “This is not a situation where the committee is going to put itself at the mercy of Donald Trump in terms of his efforts to create a circus.” (CNN / ABC News)

6/ Biden is set to deliver a speech tonight about the threats to American democracy by election deniers running for office “who seek to undermine faith in voting and democracy.” In prepared remarks, Biden plans to warn that candidates running for office who won’t commit to accepting the results of the elections are putting America on “the path to chaos.” The 7 p.m. ET speech comes six days before the Nov. 8 midterms – the first national election since the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. (Axios / CNN / New York Times / Bloomberg / ABC News)

Day 651: "Mega-MAGA."

1/ Chief Justice John Roberts temporarily blocked a House committee from accessing Trump’s tax records. On Monday, Trump asked the Supreme Court to intervene in the case, claiming the Ways and Means Committee doesn’t have a valid legislative purpose for obtaining his tax documents. Lower courts, however, have ruled that the committee has broad authority to obtain tax returns and rejected Trump’s claims that it was overstepping. Roberts said the case would remain on hold until the Supreme Court acts. He asked the committee to respond by noon on Nov. 10. (New York Times / Washington Post / NPR / CNN / Associated Press / NBC News)

2/ The Supreme Court refused to block a Georgia grand jury subpoena seeking Lindsey Graham’s testimony about efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election in the state. Graham had asked the Supreme Court to block the subpoena, claiming that his efforts in Georgia were part of his official legislative duties and therefore shielded from questioning. Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, however, wrote in a petition seeking to compel his testimony that Graham made two calls to Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger after the election and asked about “reexamining certain absentee ballots cast in Georgia in order to explore the possibility of a more favorable outcome for former President Donald Trump.” The court’s order was a paragraph long with no noted dissents. Graham’s testimony is currently scheduled for Nov. 17. (CNN / USA Today / CBS News / New York Times / NBC News / Washington Post / Politico)

  • A federal judge rejected Mark Meadows challenge to a subpoena from the Jan. 6 committee, concluding that the former White House chief of staff was constitutionally barred from bringing it in the first place. Meadows, however, will likely appeal the ruling, effectively putting his testimony out of reach for the committee, which is slated to dissolve at the end of the year. (Politico / USA Today)

3/ The Justice Department said “vigilante ballot security efforts” in Arizona “raise serious concerns of voter intimidation” and likely violate the federal Voting Rights Act. The statement from the Justice Department comes days after a federal judge refused to stop a group of activists from gathering at and around ballot drop boxes to monitor voters in Maricopa County. The League of Women Voters alleged that several organizations planned “widespread campaigns to surveil and intimidate Arizona voters at ballot drop boxes and baselessly accuse them” of voter fraud. The so-called activists claim they’re watching for purported voter fraud, but election officials have reported that people in tactical gear and masks, including some with guns, have been watching over the drop boxes, taking photos and videos, and intimidating voters. (Washington Post / Associated Press / Axios / CNN)

4/ Twitter limited employee access to content moderation tools used to enforce its misinformation and civic integrity policies ahead of the midterm elections. Most of the people who work in Twitter’s Trust and Safety organization are currently unable penalize accounts that break rules around misleading information, offensive posts, or hate speech – many of the same policies that Trump routinely violated during the 2020 elections. (Bloomberg / NBC News)

5/ Biden warned that Republicans will put entitlement programs, including Social Security and Medicare, at risk if they take control of Congress. With a week until Election Day, Biden used a speech in Florida to assail what he called “mega-MAGA” Republicans, who proposed legislation to sunset all federal programs after five years, which would require a vote to keep programs like Social Security and Medicare intact. Biden contrasted the parties’ visions for the country, noting “this ain’t your father’s Republican Party” and that no Republicans voted for the Inflation Reduction Act, which included provisions to lower health care premiums and prescription drug costs. About 21% of the people in Florida are over the age of 65 – the second highest of any state. (CNN / Washington Post / Politico / Wall Street Journal / Associated Press)

Day 650: "Hellscape."

1/ Federal prosecutors charged the man accused of breaking into Nancy Pelosi’s home with attempted kidnapping and assault. David DePape broke into the Pelosis’ San Francisco home through a glass door Friday morning, attacked her husband, Paul Pelosi, with a hammer, and shouted “Where’s Nancy?” DePape told police he was going to hold Nancy Pelosi hostage and wanted to “break her knee caps” to send a message to other Democrats. Nancy Pelosi was in Washington at the time. DePape brought with him a roll of tape, white rope, zip ties, two hammers, rubber gloves, and other items. He had posted memes and conspiracy theories on Facebook about Covid-19 vaccines, the 2020 election and the January 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol, as well as blogged about QAnon and other bigoted and fringe topics. DePape is also facing state charges of attempted murder and other felonies. The attempted kidnapping charge carries a maximum of 20 years in prison, and up to 30 years for assaulting an immediate member of a federal official’s family and inflicting a serious injury with a dangerous weapon. Paul underwent surgery for a fractured skull and serious injuries to his hands and right arm. (Washington Post / New York Times / Politico / CNN / Wall Street Journal / CNBC)

2/ Elon Musk tweeted and deleted a baseless anti-LGBTQ conspiracy theory about the attack on Nancy Pelosi’s husband. Three days after purchasing Twitter, Musk responded to a tweet by Hillary Clinton assailing the Republican Party for spreading “hate and deranged conspiracy theories” that she said encouraged the man who attacked Paul Pelosi. Musk replied that “There is a tiny possibility there might be more to this story than meets the eye” and then shared a link to an article from the Santa Monica Observer – an outlet that has repeatedly published fake stories, including that Clinton had died in the Sept. 11 attacks and that Democrats had been using a body double. The article alleges that Paul Pelosi was drunk and in a fight with a male prostitute. Musk’s tweet was later deleted after receiving immediate and widespread backlash. Days earlier, Musk pledged to advertisers that Twitter wouldn’t become a “free-for-all hellscape” under his leadership. Trump Jr., meanwhile, retweeted a proposed “Paul Pelosi” Halloween costume featuring men’s underwear and a hammer, saying “The Internet remains undefeated.” (New York Times / NBC News / Bloomberg / CNN / Axios)

3/ The Jan. 6 committee obtained eight emails from late 2020 that a judge described as evidence that Trump and his lawyer John Eastman “more likely than not” committed crimes. Last week, U.S. District Court Judge David Carter ordered Eastman, the architect of Trump’s effort to subvert the 2020 election, to deliver the emails to the committee. Eastman had argued that the emails should be shielded from the Jan. 6 committee, citing privileges for attorney-client communications or legal work product. Among the documents is an email that Carter said showed Trump signed legal documents attesting to voter fraud data that he knew was erroneous, communications between Trump attorneys that indicate they knew details they submitted to courts to challenge the election were false, as well as emails discussing filing lawsuits as a way to hold off congressional certification of Trump’s electoral loss. (Politico / CNN)

4/ Trump filed an emergency application asking the Supreme Court to temporary block Congress from obtaining his past tax returns. The tax records are set to be turned over to the House Ways and Means Committee this week if the court doesn’t act. In 2019, the House Ways and Means committee requested Trump’s tax returns, citing a federal law that gives the panel the authority to see any taxpayer’s documents. The Trump administration, however, refused to let the Treasury Department turn over the records. Since then, lower courts have ruled that the committee has broad authority to obtain tax returns, rejecting Trump’s claims that it was overstepping. (CNN / NBC News / Washington Post / New York Times / Wall Street Journal / Associated Press / CNBC)

poll/ 49% of voters say the economy is extremely important to their vote for Congress. 42% of voters say abortion is extremely important to them, followed by crime (40%), gun policy (38%), and immigration (37%). Climate change is the least important issue at 28%. (Gallup)

Day 646: "The great stagnation."

1/ The U.S. economy grew in the third quarter, marking its first increase in 2022 after two straight quarters of decline. GDP, a sum of all the goods and services produced from July through September, increased at a 2.6% annualized pace for the period. However, the inflation-adjusted GDP last quarter was about the same as where it was at the end of 2021. The Commerce Department also reported that consumer spending – which makes up more than two-thirds of the economy – grew but at a slower pace than in the prior quarter, and investments in residential housing fell at an annual rate of about 26%. The Federal Reserve, meanwhile, has raised interest rates five times this year and is set to do so again next week and in December as inflation remains near a 40-year high. (Politico / Wall Street Journal / Bloomberg / Washington Post / New York Times / CNBC / NPR / CNN)

2/ Mortgage rates topped 7% for the first time in 20 years and is “leading to greater stagnation in the housing market.” A year ago the rate on a 30-year fixed mortgage averaged just over 3%. Mortgage applications, meanwhile, fell 42% from a year earlier despite home prices falling at a record pace. The Case-Shiller home price index showed that single-family home prices decline 2.6 percentage points from July to August – the largest decline in the history of the index, which debuted in 1987. Prices, however, are still up 13% compared to a year ago. Sales of newly built homes dropped nearly 11% in September from August – the fourth time in 2022 that new-home sales fell by 10% or more from the prior month. “As inflation endures, consumers are seeing higher costs at every turn, causing further declines in consumer confidence this month,” Freddie Mac said. “In fact, many potential homebuyers are choosing to wait and see where the housing market will end up, pushing demand and home prices further downward.” (NBC News / NPR / Washington Post / New York Times / Bloomberg / CNN / Wall Street Journal)

3/ Americans die younger in conservative states, while states with more liberal policies are associated with lower mortality rates. Researchers analyzed mortality rates for all causes of death in all 50 states from 1999 to 2019 among adults aged 25 to 64. The study found that states with more liberal policies related to education, health care, gun safety, labor, economic taxes, and tobacco taxes were associated with lower mortality rates among people aged 25 to 64. The analysis simulated changing state policies to fully liberal could have saved more than 171,000 lives in 2019, while changing them to fully conservative may have cost over 217,000 lives. (USA Today / The Guardian / The Hill)

4/ More than 100 lawsuits have already been filed to challenge the Nov. 8 midterm elections that are still 12 days away. The legal challenges, reportedly largely organized by the Republican National Committee and its allies, have targeted mail-in voting rules, early voting, voter access, voting machines, voting registration, how mismarked absentee ballots are counted, and access for partisan poll watchers. The Democrats, meanwhile, have focused their legal efforts on voting access and helping those denied a chance to vote. Meanwhile in Arizona, two people armed with handguns and wearing tactical military gear and face masks showed up at a ballot drop box during early voting last week. (Associated Press / Bloomberg)

poll/ 40% of 18-to-29-year-olds said they will “definitely” vote in the Nov. 8 midterm elections – on pace to match or exceed the record-breaking 2018 youth turnout in a midterm election. Young voters also prefer Democratic control of Congress 57% to 31%, while 12% remain undecided. (Harvard Youth Poll)

Day 645: "More bad news for the planet."

1/ Earth’s on track to warm above 2 degrees Celsius and global reductions in greenhouse gas emissions are “nowhere near the scale” needed, according to a new report from the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Under the current, combined climate pledges from the 193 Parties under the Paris Agreement, global temperatures are on track to rise to 2.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial averages by the end of the century – a full degree higher than the goal set out in the climate pact, which aimed to limit warming by 1.5 degrees Celsius. The U.N. said that while countries are “bending the curve of global greenhouse gas emissions downward,” the efforts “remain insufficient” and “to keep this goal alive, national governments need to strengthen their climate action plans now and implement them in the next eight years.” (NBC News / New York Times / Bloomberg / CNBC)

2/ The World Meteorological Organization warned that atmospheric carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide levels are accelerating and that 2020 and 2021 were the largest increases since record keeping began in 1983. “More bad news for the planet,” the WMO said in a statement. (Washington Post / NPR)

3/ A South Carolina judge ordered Mark Meadows to testify before the Georgia grand jury investigating Trump and his allies efforts to reverse the results of the 2020 presidential election in the state. Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis said her inquiry is examining “the multistate, coordinated efforts to influence the results of the November 2020 election in Georgia and elsewhere.” Willis had to petition a judge in South Carolina to compel Meadows to comply with the subpoena because he doesn’t live in Georgia. Willis noted that Meadows traveled to Georgia where an audit of the state’s election was underway and participated in the telephone call Trump made on Jan. 2, 2021 to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger asking him to “find” 11,780 votes that would enable Trump to defeat Biden in the state. South Carolina Circuit Court Judge Edward Miller ruled that Meadows must comply with a subpoena as his testimony is “material and necessary to the investigation and that the state of Georgia is assuring not to cause undue hardship to him.” Meadows plans to appeal the ruling. (Washington Post / CNN / New York Times / Associated Press)

4/ Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito said the leak of his draft opinion eliminating the constitutional right to abortion after almost 50 years made some justices “targets for assassination,” complaining that the leak was a “grave betrayal of trust.” In his majority opinion to end Roe v. Wade, Alito wrote that the 1973 ruling was “egregiously wrong” and that there is no constitutional right to seek an abortion for any reason. When asked about criticism that the Supreme Court has strayed too far from public sentiment and become partisan when it overturns precedent, Alito pushed back, saying: “To say that the court is exhibiting a lack of integrity is something quite different. That goes to character, not to a disagreement with the result or the reasoning.” Alito also took issue with those who have questioned the legitimacy of the court, saying it “crosses an important line when they say that the court is acting in a way that is illegitimate. I don’t think anybody in a position of authority should make that claim lightly. That’s not just ordinary criticism. That’s something very different.” Alito’s remarks came during an event at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank. (Washington Post / CBS News / CNBC)

poll/ 65% of registered Republican voters don’t believe Biden was elected legitimately. 22% believe in the legitimacy of Biden’s election. Overall, 60% of registered voters believe Biden’s election was legitimate and 33% do not. (NBC News)

Day 644: "Serious mistake."

1/ Biden warned Russia against using nuclear or radioactive weapons in Ukraine after Moscow’s unfounded accusation that Kyiv was planning to use a “dirty bomb” on its own soil and blame Russia for it. Diplomats from the U.S., France, and Britain called the claim “transparently false” in a rare joint statement, suggesting that the Kremlin could be planning a so-called “false flag” operation. “Let me just say, Russia would be making an incredibly serious mistake were it to use a tactical nuclear weapon,” Biden said. Ukraine’s nuclear energy operator, meanwhile, said that Russian forces occupying the nation’s largest nuclear power plant were engaged in secret work at a site where spent fuel is stored, which suggests “they are preparing a terrorist act using nuclear materials and radioactive waste stored.” (New York Times / Washington Post / Bloomberg / CNN)

2/ Progressive House Democrats retracted a letter written four months ago but released Monday that urged Biden to directly negotiate with Putin to end the war in Ukraine. Representative Pramila Jayapal claimed the letter – which called on the Biden administration to “seek a realistic framework for a cease-fire,” and to “pursue every diplomatic avenue to support such a solution that is acceptable to the people of Ukraine” – was “released by staff without vetting.” It was originally drafted and signed in June. Congress has committed more than $60 billion in security and humanitarian aid for Ukraine since Russia invaded in February. (Politico / Washington Post / New York Times / Bloomberg / CNN)

3/ An estimated 4.6 million people in the U.S. will be ineligible to vote during this year’s midterm elections due to prior felony convictions – roughly 2% of the voting age population in the country. There are currently 11 states that deny voting rights to people even after they’ve completed their full sentences, including parole and probation. Further, “1 in 19 African-Americans of voting age is disenfranchised, a rate 3.5 times that of non-African Americans.” (NPR)

4/ Roughly 5% of all plastic products are recycled in America and the vast majority ends up in landfills, according to a report from Greenpeace. The report estimates that the U.S. reprocessed about 2.4 million tons of plastic waste in 2021 out 51 million tons produced, and that no plastic packaging in America meets the threshold to be called “recyclable” according to standards set by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation New Plastic Economy Initiative. Plastic must have a recycling rate of 30% to reach that standard. The rate of plastic recycling in the U.S. is also expected to drop further as “the industry plans to triple plastic production by 2050.” The report concludes that “plastic recycling is a failed concept.” (NPR / HuffPost)

5/ More than 80% of the continental U.S. is experiencing unusually dry conditions or drought – the largest proportion since NOAA began tracking 20 years ago. Record-low water levels on the Mississippi River are making it difficult to move cargo by barges, while the drought across the Mississippi Basin is allowing salt water to enter from the Gulf of Mexico, which could contaminate drinking water. In the West, the 22-year megadrought is now considered the driest in at least 1,200 years, and a recent study found that 42% of the drought is attributable to human-caused climate change. Last week, the National Weather Service projected another warm and dry winter for California, which follows the state’s three driest years on record. (Politico / Washington Post)

poll/ 62% of Americans say the federal government isn’t doing enough to fight climate change. While Congress approved in August the largest investment in climate spending in history, 49% of Americans say it won’t make much of a difference on climate change, 33% say it will help, and 14% think it will do more to hurt it. (Associated Press)

Day 643: "Appalling and unacceptable."

1/ Fourth- and eighth-graders in most states and across almost all demographic groups fell behind in reading and had the largest ever decline in math in the first National Assessment of Educational Progress since the pandemic began. The average math score for the fourth grade was 5 points lower than in 2019, and 8 points below the 2019 mark for the eighth grade. The share of eighth grade math students deemed proficient dropped from 34% to 26%, and 38% of eighth graders failed to grasp basic math concepts. No state or large urban district showed improvements in math. Reading scores, meanwhile, declined in more than half the states, dropping to 1992 levels. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona described the scores in both subjects as “appalling and unacceptable,” added “Let me be very clear: These results are not acceptable.” (Associated Press / Chalkbeat / CNN / New York Times / Wall Street Journal / Bloomberg)

2/ A federal appeals court temporarily blocked Biden’s student loan forgiveness plan. The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals issued the stay while it considers a motion from six Republican-led states to block the program. Last week, Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett rejected a similar effort from a Wisconsin taxpayer group. Nearly 22 million people — more than half of qualifying borrowers — have signed up since the application portal went live. (NPR / Associated Press / CNN)

3/ Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas temporarily blocked Lindsey Graham from having to testify before a Georgia grand jury investigating efforts to overturn Trump’s election loss. The order, which is an “administrative stay,” comes after the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously turned down Graham’s request to block the subpoena and affirmed the lower court’s decision that he must testify. Graham claims he is protected by the Constitution’s speech-or-debate clause, which shields legislators from certain law enforcement action for conduct connected to their legislative duties. Graham’s petition went to Thomas because he is the justice designated to hear emergency requests from the 11th Circuit. Democrats, meanwhile, have demanded that Thomas recuse himself from any cases related to the 2020 election because his wife had encouraged Trump White House officials and state legislators to overturn Biden’s victories in swing states. (CNBC / Washington Post / New York Times / Bloomberg / CNN / Axios)

4/ The Jan. 6 committee formally subpoenaed Trump, demanding his testimony before the panel dissolves at the end of the year. The subpoena requires Trump to turn over documents by Nov. 4 and to appear for one or several days of deposition under oath beginning on Nov. 14. Nancy Pelosi, meanwhile, suggested that Trump isn’t “man enough to show up” to testify, added: “I don’t think his lawyers will want him to show up because he has to testify under oath.” In a letter accompanying the subpoena, the committee wrote about its “overwhelming evidence” that shows Trump “personally orchestrated” the effort to overturn his defeat in the 2020 election, including false allegations of widespread voter fraud, “attempting to corrupt” the Justice Department, and pressuring state officials, members of Congress, and Pence to change the results. “In short, you were at the center of the first and only effort by any U.S. President to overturn an election and obstruct the peaceful transition of power, ultimately culminating in a bloody attack on our own Capitol and on the Congress itself,” they wrote said. It’s the second time in modern U.S. history that a president has been issued a congressional subpoena. (Associated Press / Politico / New York Times / ABC News / CBS News / CNN)

  • A judge has sentenced Steve Bannon to four months in prision and a $6,500 fine for criminal contempt of Congress. “U.S. District Court Judge Carl Nichols, a Trump appointee, said Bannon inappropriately defied the House’s select committee on a matter of significant national interest, and even after roadblocks to his testimony had been removed.” (Politico / NPR)

5/ Classified documents recovered by the FBI from Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home included U.S. secrets about Iran and China. At least one of the documents described Iran’s missile program. Other documents reportedly described highly sensitive intelligence work aimed at China. The documents about Iran and China are considered among the most sensitive the FBI has recovered to date. (Washington Post)

poll/ 80% of Americans believe that their opposing political party poses a threat that, if not stopped, will destroy America. Nevertheless, nearly two-thirds of Americans would still vote along party lines even if their candidate had a moral failing that wasn’t consistent with their own values. (NBC News)

Day 639: "Democracy is working well."

1/ Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett rejected a challenge to Biden’s student loan forgiveness program. The challenge came from the Brown County Taxpayers Association in Wisconsin. Barrett, however, dismissed the case for lack of standing, ruling that paying taxes didn’t give the group grounds to challenge the action taken by the federal government in this instance. (CNBC / Axios / CNN / New York Times)

2/ A federal appeals court ordered Lindsey Graham to appear before a Georgia grand jury investigating Trump for criminal interference in the state’s 2020 presidential election. Graham had asked the court to block a subpoena from Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, claiming that a sitting senator is shielded from such investigations. The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, however, denied Graham’s request and upheld a lower-court ruling that he may be questioned about certain topics, saying “Senator Graham has failed to demonstrate that he is likely to succeed on the merits of his appeal.” Graham is now expected to ask the Supreme Court to block the subpoena. Separately, former White House Counsel Pat Cipollone and former Senator Kelly Loeffler provided testimony to the grand jury in recent months. (Washington Post / CNBC / CNN)

poll/ 49% of Americans say they want Republicans in control of Congress, while 45% said they prefer Democrats in control. (Monmouth University Poll)

poll/ 60% of Americans say Trump should have to testify before the Jan. 6 committee. If Trump does testify, 77% said it should be done in public. (Washington Post)

poll/ 59% of voters say they believe outside politics influence the Justice Department’s decision to prosecute federal crimes, while 21% said little to no external politics influenced DOJ’s decisions, and 20% said they didn’t know or had no opinion at all. (Politico)

poll/ 9% of Americans think democracy is working “extremely” or “very well,” while 52% say it’s not working well and 37% say it’s working somewhat well. (Associated Press)

Day 638: "A conspiracy to defraud the United States."

1/ Putin declared martial law in the four Russian-occupied regions of Ukraine that it doesn’t entirely control. The move follows Moscow’s internationally condemned staged referendums and illegal annexation last month. Speaking to his Security Council by video feed, Putin said the martial law order was necessary because the Ukrainian government refused to accept the sham referendums, which he claimed was “the will of the people.” Russian forces, however, have repeatedly lost ground to the Ukrainian counteroffensive in the annexed territories. The head of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense council warned that Putin’s order was “preparation for the mass deportation of the Ukrainian population to depressed areas of [Russia] in order to change the ethnic composition of the occupied territory.” Biden added that Putin’s slowed military invasion has put the Russian leader in an “incredibly difficult position” that may lead him to “brutalize individual citizens in Ukraine, Ukrainian citizens, to try to intimidate them into capitulating.” (Associated Press / NPR / Washington Post / New York Times / Axios)

  • White House taking every step possible to avoid direct Biden-Putin encounter at next month’s G-20 summit in Indonesia. “U.S. officials have ruled out a formal meeting and are taking steps to ensure that the American president does not encounter his Russian counterpart in a hallway or even in a leaders’ group photo.” (Politico)

2/ Secretary of State Antony Blinken accused China of planning to seize Taiwan on a “much faster timeline” than previously thought. “There has been a change in the approach from Beijing toward Taiwan in recent years,” Blinken said, adding that China had made a “fundamental decision that the status quo was no longer acceptable, and that Beijing was determined to pursue reunification on a much faster timeline.” Chinese President Xi Jinping, meanwhile, used a widely-watched speech to say the “wheels of history are rolling on towards China’s reunification” with Taiwan. Xi added: “We reserve the option of taking all measures necessary.” China has refrained from publicly criticizing Russia’s war in Ukraine, and while China and Russia do not have a formal alliance, the two countries have a so-called “no limits” partnership. (Washington Post / Bloomberg)

3/ Mortgage applications dropped to a 25-year low as mortgage rates reached a 20-year high. New single-family home construction and permit applications for single-family dwellings fell last month. Homebuilder sentiment also fell to its lowest level since the early days of the pandemic. Meanwhile, 52% of Americans have considered holding second jobs to pay their living expenses as inflation hit a four-decade high in September. (CNBC / The Hill / CNN / Bloomberg)

4/ A Wisconsin taxpayers group asked the Supreme Court to block Biden’s student loan forgiveness plan. The Brown County Taxpayers Association filed the request for emergency relief, arguing that the Biden administration had overstepped its executive powers, circumvented Congress, and that the program would cost taxpayers more than the $400 billion that the Congressional Budget Office estimated. The request was filed to Justice Amy Coney Barrett, who is likely to refer the matter to the full court. The Biden administration has been sued by at least seven states and two organizations over the plan, which began accepting applications for debt relief on Monday. (CNN / NBC News / Axios)

5/ Trump appeared for a deposition as part of the defamation lawsuit brought by E. Jean Carroll, who Trump described as “not my type” when he denied her allegation that he had raped her in a dressing room at Bergdorf Goodman nearly three decades ago. Trump had tried for three years to delay the defamation case and avoid the deposition, but a federal judge ordered to appear under oath and answer questions, saying he “should not be able to run out the clock.” (CNN / ABC News / NBC News / New York Times)

6/ A federal judge ordered John Eastman to turn over four emails to the Jan. 6 committee because they are related to an attempted crime. Eastman the lawyer who promoted the legal theory that Pence could block or delay the Electoral College certification to overturn Biden’s victory. U.S. District Court Judge David Carter wrote in an 18-page opinion that Eastman’s emails “show that President Trump knew that the specific numbers of voter fraud were wrong but continued to tout those numbers, both in court and to the public.” Trump and his lawyers alleged in a Dec. 4 filing in Georgia that Fulton County had improperly counted more than 10,000 votes of dead people, felons, and unregistered voters. On Dec. 31, Eastman emailed the other Trump lawyers that the numbers filed in state court were not accurate. Trump, however, signed the legal documents knowing the evidence of election fraud was false. “The Court finds that these emails are sufficiently related to and in furtherance of a conspiracy to defraud the United States,” Carter wrote. (Politico / CNBC / CNN / The Hill)

Day 637: "Where's the beef?"

1/ Biden pledged to codify Roe v. Wade into law if Democrats retain control of Congress in the November midterm elections. In a speech at a Democratic National Committee, Biden promised that the first bill he sends to Congress next year would be legislation to restore abortion rights under Roe v. Wade, the landmark decision that the Supreme Court overruled in June. “If you care about the right to choose, you got to vote,” Biden said, adding: “If Republicans get their way with a national ban, it won’t matter where you live in America.” While Biden has repeatedly advocated for changing the Senate’s 60-vote filibuster requirement to protect a woman’s right to an abortion and a broader constitutional right to privacy, at least two Democrats — Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema — have said they oppose the move. Earlier this year, Biden promised to codify Roe v. Wade if voters elected two more Democrats to the Senate. (Politico / CNN / NBC News / New York Times / Washington Post / ABC News / Axios)

  • A covert abortion network rises after Roe. “Amid legal and medical risks, a growing army of activists is funneling pills from Mexico into states that have banned abortion.” (Washington Post)

2/ The Interior Department announced the first-ever lease sale for offshore wind development in the Pacific Ocean. The Dec. 6 sale will target five areas in the Pacific Ocean off central and northern California, which could produce over 4.5 gigawatts of energy when fully developed – enough to power more than 1.5 million homes. The Biden administration is aiming to develop 30 gigawatts of offshore wind by 2030 using traditional technology – enough to power 10 million homes – as well as an additional 15 gigawatts of floating offshore wind, which could power another 5 million homes. (Axios / CNN / Associated Press)

3/ The Biden administration plans to release 10 million to 15 million barrels of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve in an effort to keep gasoline prices from climbing. In March, the White House said it planned to release 180 million barrels of crude oil into the market throughout the year. There are about 15 million barrels remaining since the program was put into effect. The national average price was $3.87 a gallon. (Blomberg / Politico)

4/ The primary source for the Trump-Russia dossier was acquitted of four counts of lying to the FBI about where he got his information for the 2016 “Steele dossier.” In 2019, Attorney General William Barr asked John Durham to review the FBI’s investigation of the Trump campaign in 2016. Since then, Durham has lost both cases that have gone to trial as part of his investigation. The trial against Igor Danchenko, the analyst who was a primary source for the Steele dossier, is expected to be the special counsel’s last prosecution. (Washington Post / CNN / New York Times / Wall Street Journal)

5/ The special master reviewing documents seized from Mar-a-Lago warned Trump’s lawyers that there was a “certain incongruity” to their executive privilege claims that at least one document was both Trump’s personal property and government property. “It’s a little perplexing as I go through the log,” Judge Raymond Dearie said of the documents over which Trump is seeking to claim privilege. “What’s the expression — ‘Where’s the beef?’ I need some beef.” Dearie, who is reviewing the documents to determine which ones the Justice Department can use in its criminal investigation, said that neither side has provided him with enough facts to make recommendations about Trump’s claims that certain documents were protected by either attorney-client privilege or executive privilege. “I don’t want to be dealing with nonsense objections, nonsense assertions,” Dearie said. (Bloomberg / CNN)

poll/ 19% of voters said recent disagreements with family or friends over political issues have hurt their relationship, and 48% of voters said a person’s political views reflect whether they are a good person. (New York Times)

poll/ 64% of voters say the country is moving in the wrong direction, naming the economy (26%) and inflation (18%) as the most important problem facing the country today. 24% see the U.S. as on the right track. (New York Times)

poll/ 65% of voters say the economy is getting worse, and 68% say the Biden administration could be doing more to combat inflation. (CBS News)

poll/ 70% of voters say they are dissatisfied with the way things are going in the U.S. today, and 64% are pessimistic about the state of politics in the country. (AP-NORC)

Day 636: "A game changer."

1/ The Biden administration launched the online application for student loan forgiveness. The plan is expected to provide debt relief to as many as 43 million borrowers. “This is a game changer for millions of Americans,” Biden said. The application can be found at studentaid.gov, and qualifying borrowers have until Dec. 31. to fill out the online form to receive up to $20,000 in federal student debt cancelation. During a test of the Education Department’s student debt relief portal this weekend, more than 8 million Americans signed up to have some of their student loans forgiven. The Education Department holds $1.6 trillion in student loan debt. (CNN / NBC News / Wall Street Journal / Washington Post / CNBC / New York Times)

2/ The U.S. is forecast to “100%” enter a recession in the coming 12 months, according to a new economics model projections. The Federal Reserve has raised interest rates five times so far this year in an effort to bring down persistently high inflation, and is expected to again next month. While the chances of a recession within 12 months have reached 100% under the model, the odds of a recession within 11 months have also increased to 73% – up from 30%. The 10-month probability rose to 25% from 0%. In a separate survey, economists put the probability of a recession over the next 12 months at 63% – up from 49% in July’s survey. It’s the first time the probability has been above 50% since July 2020. The Biden administration, meanwhile, suggested that the U.S. is “better positioned than most other countries” to mitigate inflation, which rose 8.2% year-over-year in September. Bernie Sanders, however, accused the Fed of “hurting” the U.S., saying it’s “wrong” to deal with inflation by “lowering wages and increasing unemployment.” Regardless, Biden has repeatedly said the U.S. will avoid a recession, but any downturn would be “very slight.” [Editor’s note: Hey there, this is a friendly reminder that WTFJHT is free, but supported entirely by your financial contributions. So, if you find yourself relying on WTFJHT, please consider investing in the continued production of this newsletter/blog/podcast. Become a member today.] (Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal / CNN / Politico / ABC News)

3/ The Trump Organization charged the Secret Service more than five times the recommended government rate for hotel stays at Trump properties while protecting the Trump family, according to the House Oversight Committee. The committee found that Trump’s company charged the Secret Service “exorbitant” and “excessive nightly rates on dozens of trips” – as high as $1,185 per night – despite claims by Eric Trump and the Trump Organization that federal employees traveling with him would stay at the properties “for free” or “at cost.” In total, U.S. taxpayers paid Trump’s company at least $1.4 million for Secret Service agents’ stays. (Washington Post / CNN / Politico / NBC News)

4/ The Justice Department asked a federal appeals court to end the special master review of documents seized during an FBI search of Trump’s Florida estate. In a filing to the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, lawyers for the DOJ argued that the case didn’t present the “exceptional circumstances” necessary for a judge to interfere with a criminal investigation, and that Judge Aileen Cannon had “erred in ordering a special-master review” in the case. The appeals court ruled in Justice Department’s favor on a narrower issue in the case last month, allowing the department to resume using about 100 documents marked classified as part of its criminal investigation. (New York Times / Politico / NBC News / Bloomberg / CNN / Associated Press)

5/ The Jan. 6 committee asked the Secret Service for records of all contacts between its agents and members of the far-right Oath Keepers group prior to and on the day of the attack. During court testimony, members of the group, including leader Stewart Rhodes, claimed to be in contact with Secret Service agents prior to rallies for Trump after the 2020 election. Additionally, a Secret Service official confirmed that the agency’s protective intelligence division had reached out to the Oath Keepers in advance of protests in D.C. in November and December, as well as the Jan. 6 “Stop the Steal” rally. Members of the Oath Keepers are currently on trial for charges relating to the Capitol attack, including seditious conspiracy. (Washington Post / NBC News / CNN)

6/ The Justice Department recommended that Steve Bannon be sentenced to six months in jail and a $200,000 fine after he defied a subpoena to testify before the Jan. 6 committee. A jury found Bannon guilty in July on two misdemeanor counts of contempt of Congress for refusing to testify and provide documents to the committee. Bannon “has pursued a bad-faith strategy of defiance and contempt” from “the moment” he was served the subpoena, the Justice Department wrote in a sentencing memorandum. He is set to be sentenced Friday. He would be the first person to be incarcerated for contempt of Congress in more than a half-century. Trump, meanwhile, won’t say whether he’ll comply with the committee’s subpoena for testimony. (Politico / Washington Post / NPR / CNN / CNBC)

poll/ 49% of likely voters said they plan to vote a Republican in this year’s election for Congress. 45% said they planned to vote for a Democrat. The margin of error in this survey is plus or minus 4.1 percentage points. (New York Times)

Day 632: "A question about accountability."

1/ The Jan. 6 committee voted unanimously to subpoena Trump, demanding documents and his testimony under oath. “This is a question about accountability to the American people,” the panel’s chair, Bennie Thompson, said ahead of the vote. “He must be accountable. He is required to answer for his actions.” In the committee’s ninth public hearing, the panel focused on Trump’s “staggering betrayal” of his oath of office and his efforts to reverse the 2020 election, including his role in events that led to the violence at the Capitol. Before voting to subpoena Trump, the committee revealed new evidence that Secret Service agents in charge of assessing the risks of the Jan. 6, 2021, protest had expressed concerns about the rally more than a week before, were aware that many in the crowd would have weapons, and that Trump’s supporters planned to go to the Capitol threatening violence, including that Pence would be “‘a dead man walking if he doesn’t do the right thing.’” One agent described the morning of Jan. 6 as the “calm before the storm.” The panel also disclosed an email that Trump’s election night speech to falsely declare victory was part of a “premeditated plan.” The committee also revealed that Trump secretly ordered all U.S. troops withdrawn from Afghanistan and Somalia days after losing reelection to leave the problem to “the next guy.” The order was signed but was never carried out, which the committee says is evidence that Trump knew he had lost the election. The panel’s vice chairwoman, Liz Cheney, added that the committee “may ultimately decide” to make a series of criminal referrals to the Justice Department. The subpoena will expire at the end of this congressional term, which is Jan. 3, 2023. If Trump refuses to comply with the subpoena, the committee could vote to hold him in criminal contempt of Congress. If they do, it will then go to the full House for a vote. (Politico / NBC News / New York Times / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / Associated Press / NPR / CNN / Bloomberg / ABC News)

2/ The Supreme Court rejected Trump’s request to intervene in the Justice Department’s investigation of classified documents seized from Mar-a-Lago. The one-sentence order turned aside an emergency request from Trump, who had asked the Supreme Court to allow special master Raymond Dearie to review the classified documents taken during the FBI search of Mar-a-Lago. In response, the Justice Department told the court that allowing Dearie to review the classified documents would “irreparably injure” government, arguing that Trump legally had “no plausible claims” to ownership of the classified government material. The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals earlier ruled that 103 of the seized documents, which were marked as classified, should be exempt from Dearie’s review. (CNBC / Washington Post / New York Times / Bloomberg / Axios)

3/ Security camera footage shows a Trump aide moving boxes out of a storage room at Mar-a-Lago before and after the Justice Department issued a subpoena in May demanding the return of classified documents. The Justice Department has interviewed Walt Nauta several times but is not formally cooperating with the investigation. Separately, but perhaps related, a Trump employee told the FBI about moving boxes – at the specific direction of Trump – out of a basement storage room at Mar-a-Lago after Trump received a subpoena for classified documents. It’s not clear whether that employee was Nauta. It’s also unclear if the boxes that were moved were among the material later retrieved by the FBI. (New York Times / Washington Post / CNN)

4/ New York Attorney General Letitia James asked a judge to stop Trump from transferring his business assets to a new holding company amid a pending civil lawsuit accusing him, Trump Jr., Ivanka Trump, Eric Trump, and the Trump Organization of widespread fraud. On Sept. 21, the same day that James sued Trump and the other defendants, Trump’s lawyers registered a new company in Delaware, called “Trump Organization II LLC.” James asked the court to freeze the Trump Organization’s New York assets and install an independent monitor over concerns that Trump “may be seeking to move assets out of state” to avoid accountability. (Politico / NBC News / New York Times / Bloomberg / CNBC / Axios)

5/ The Consumer Price Index, a measure of what consumers pay for goods and services, increased 8.2% from a year ago. While the reading was down from 8.3% in August and 9.1% in June – which was the highest inflation rate in four decades – prices still climbed 0.4% in September compared to August’s 0.1%. Economists had forecast a 0.2% gain. The core inflation, which excludes food and energy, increased 6.6% from a year ago – the highest level since 1982. From a month earlier, the measure is up 0.6%. Economists had expected a 0.4% monthly rise. The inflation report puts pressure on the Federal Reserve to increase interest rates by another 0.75 percentage point at its November meeting. The Fed has hiked interest rates 3 full percentage points since March. (Wall Street Journal / Bloomberg / CNBC / ABC News / NBC News / New York Times / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / Axios)

6/ Mortgage rates jumped to their highest level in more than 20 years. The average 30-year fixed mortgage rate hit 6.92% this week. The last time the 30-year rate was this high was in April 2002. A year ago, the average rate was 3.05%. (CNN / Wall Street Journal / Money)

Day 631: "Inexcusable."

1/ The FDA authorized updated coronavirus booster shots for children as young as 5. The CDC, which recommends how vaccines are used, signed off hours later. The reformulated boosters are bivalent, meaning they contain a combination of components that target the original coronavirus strain and the Omicron subvariants BA.4 and BA.5, which make up about 80% of the virus circulating in the U.S. (New York Times / CNBC / Associated Press / Washington Post)

  • “We are in trouble”: Study raises alarm about impacts of long covid. (Washington Post)

2/ Biden said the prospect of a “slight recession” is possible but that he doesn’t “anticipate it” despite inflation expected to return to a 40-year high and the Federal Reserve promising to continue raising interest rates until inflation cools. The core consumer price index, which excludes food and energy, is projected to rise 0.4% in September from August and 6.5% from a year earlier – matching the rate seen in March that was the highest since 1982. In response, the Fed has raised its benchmark rate five times this year to a range between 3% and 3.25% today from near zero. It’s the most rapid pace of rate increases since the early 1980s to fight inflation running near 40-year highs. (CNN / Wall Street Journal / Bloomberg / CNBC / Bloomberg)

3/ More than 2,600 federal officials reported stock investments in companies while those companies lobbied their agencies for favorable policies. During both Republican and Democratic administrations from 2016 through 2021, more than one in five senior federal employees across 50 federal agencies reported owning or trading stocks that stood to rise or fall with decisions their agencies made. Further, more than 60 officials at five agencies, including the FTC and the Justice Department, reported trading stock in companies shortly before their departments announced regulatory enforcement actions against those companies. (Wall Street Journal)

4/ The Jan. 6 committee will share new video footage and internal Secret Service emails that show Trump ratcheted up the conflict at the Capitol, despite being warned of escalating violence. The committee’s hearing on Thursday is expected to corroborate its key findings about Trump and the Jan. 6 insurrection: that Trump sought to rile up his supporters to block the certification of Biden’s electoral victory; used his speech near the Ellipse to encourage his supporters to “fight like hell” knowing some were armed; directed them to march on the Capitol; and then refused to call off the take. Since its last hearing in July, the committee has interviewed more members of Trump’s cabinet, received Secret Service communications, and interviewed Ginni Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. The committee’s final report is likely in December. (Washington Post / CNN / Associated Press)

5/ A federal judge rejected Trump’s attempt to delay his deposition in a defamation suit by a woman who claims he raped her in the 1990s. Trump’s deposition is now scheduled for Oct. 19. Judge Lewis Kaplan also denied Trump’s request to substitute the U.S. government into the case as a defendant – replacing him – on the grounds that the alleged defamation of New York columnist E. Jean Carroll occurred while he was president. Carroll brought the libel case three years ago, after Trump repeatedly denied her rape allegations and described her as “not my type.” Kaplan also noted that Trump’s efforts to delay the lawsuit and his production of “virtually” no documents was “inexcusable.” (CNBC / Politico / CNN / Washington Post / Associated Press)

6/ Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones was ordered to pay nearly $1 billion in damages to the families of eight victims of the Sandy Hook shooting, where 20 children and six educators were killed. Within hours of the shooting, Jones called it a hoax staged by “crisis actors” following a script written by the government to build support for gun control. During his testimony, Jones acknowledged he had been wrong about Sandy Hook and admitted that the shooting was “100 percent real.” In August, a jury ordered Jones to pay nearly $50 million to the parents of a first grader killed at Sandy Hook. Jones also faces a third trial, in a lawsuit filed by the parents of another child killed in the shooting. Infowars and its parent company Free Speech Systems, however, have filed for bankruptcy protection. (Washington Post / Politico / CNN / ABC News / New York Times)

poll/ 50% of voters say the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade has made them more motivated to vote – up 13 percentage points from May. (KFF Health Tracking Poll)

poll/ 46% of Americans call their personal financial situation poor – up from 37% in March. (Associated Press)

poll/ 22% of Americans rate the country’s current economic conditions as good, with 41% calling conditions somewhat poor, and 37% saying they’re very poor. (CNN)

Day 630: "The worst is yet to come."

1/ The International Monetary Fund warned that the world economy was headed for “stormy waters” and “the worst is yet to come.” The IMF’s World Economic Outlook report forecasts that global growth will slow to 2.7% in 2023, compared with projected growth of 3.2% this year. Aside from the global financial crisis and the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic, this is “the weakest growth profile since 2001.” The report added that “for many people 2023 will feel like a recession.” (New York Times / Wall Street Journal / CNN / CNBC)

2/ The Biden administration suggested that the U.S. needs to “re-evaluate” its relationship with Saudi Arabia following the decision by the OPEC+ oil cartel to cut oil production by 2 million barrels. Days before the decision, U.S. officials urged their counterparts in Saudi Arabia and other big Gulf producers to delay the decision for another month, warning that cutting production would be viewed as siding with Russia in the Ukraine war. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee, meanwhile, called on the Biden administration to “immediately freeze” U.S. cooperation with Saudi Arabia. And, National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said Biden would “work with Congress to think through what that relationship ought to look like going forward.” Chuck Schumer added that several legislative responses are under consideration, including a halt to arms sales and a new antitrust measure. (New York Times / Politico / NBC News / CNN / ABC News / Bloomberg / Washington Post)

3/ Biden pledged to “continue providing Ukraine with the support needed to defend itself, including advanced air defense systems.” The commitment follows Russia’s decision to launch 84 cruise missiles against targets across Ukraine on Monday, which G-7 leaders have called “indiscriminate attacks” against civilians that amount to “war crimes.” Putin claimed the strikes were in response to what he described as acts of “terrorism” and other alleged “crimes” by Kyiv. (CNN / Washington Post / Bloomberg)

4/ The Justice Department asked the Supreme Court to reject Trump’s appeal over classified documents seized from Mar-a-Lago. Trump had asked the Supreme Court to allow the special master reviewing the seized documents access to those marked as classified. The Justice Department, however, called the records “extraordinarily sensitive” and that Trump has no “plausible” claims of ownership over these sensitive government materials. They added that allowing the special master access to those records “would jeopardize national security ‘even by the judge alone, in chambers’” and “irreparably injure” the government. Separately, the Justice Department told Trump’s lawyers recently that they believe Trump still has government documents he took when he left the White House. (CNN / NBC News / New York Times / Washington Post / Axios)

  • A lawyer for former president Donald Trump who signed a letter stating that a “diligent search” for classified records had been conducted and that all such documents had been given back to the government has spoken with the FBI. Christina Bobb signed a letter in June certifying that “based upon the information that has been provided to me,” Trump had returned all classified records sought by the government. The Aug. 8 search of Trump’s home turned up additional records. (NBC News / Associated Press)

5/ Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ decision to fly migrants from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard may have violated the state’s program for transporting undocumented individuals. The program was launched in July to “facilitate the transport of unauthorized aliens from this state,” and documents released by DeSantis’ office show that the transportation department sought a vendor to “implement and manage a program to relocate out of the State of Florida foreign nationals who are not lawfully present in the United States.” On Sept. 14, however, two planes picked up 48 migrants in San Antonio – not Florida. The planes made a brief stop in Crestview, Fla. and then proceeded to Martha’s Vineyard later that day. (CNN / Washington Post / Politico)

poll/ 51% of voters say climate change is important in their vote in the midterms. Among Democrats, 79% say climate change will be important in their vote, compared with 46% of independents and 27% of Republicans. (Washington Post)

Day 625: "Historic fragility."

1/ Biden pardoned anyone convicted of marijuana possession under federal law and urged governors to do the same. Biden also said his administration would review whether marijuana should continue to be listed as a Schedule 1 drug like heroin and LSD, saying that “makes no sense.” The pardons will clear about 6,500 people who were convicted on federal charges of simple possession from 1992 to 2021, as well as thousands more who were convicted under a Washington, D.C. code. (CNBC / New York Times / CNN / NBC News / Washington Post)

2/ A federal judge temporarily blocked enforcement of large parts of New York’s gun law. In a 53-page order, Judge Glenn Suddaby ruled that multiple provisions in the state’s new law are unconstitutional, including the restrictions on the ability to carry a gun in “sensitive places,” such as Times Square, the subway, libraries, public playgrounds, and zoos. State Attorney General Letitia James said her office would appeal the decision, adding that “common-sense gun control regulations help save lives.” (Associated Press / New York Times / CNN / NBC News / Politico)

3/ Biden said the U.S. is eyeing “alternatives” to oil from OPEC Plus countries as gasoline prices begin the climb again. After a roughly 100-day decline, gas prices in the U.S. rose nearly 3 cents a gallon to $3.83 a gallon – the biggest one-day hike in nearly four months. OPEC Plus announced yesterday that it would reduce its production by two million barrels a day to raise oil prices. The Biden administration, meanwhile, has reportedly discussed easing sanctions on Venezuela to allow Chevron to resume pumping oil there. The National Security Council, however, said there are no plans to change its sanctions policy toward Venezuela unless President Nicolas Maduro’s government “restores democracy” in the country. Venezuela has been under economic and oil sanctions since 2019, when the U.S. and dozens of its allies declared that opposition leader Juan Guaidó was Venezuela’s legitimate president. (New York Times / CNN / Wall Street Journal)

4/ The Federal Reserve said inflation has remained “stubbornly persistent” and that its benchmark interest rate will probably be at 4.5% to 4.75% by next spring or “until we are confident that inflation is firmly on the path toward our 2% goal.” The Fed raised its benchmark rate by three-quarters of a percentage point in September for a third time in a row, bringing it to 3% to 3.25%. The International Monetary Fund, meanwhile, warned that the “risks of recession are rising” globally and that “things are more likely to get worse before it gets better.” Kristalina Georgieva, managing director of the IMF, said “multiple shocks, among them a senseless war, changed the economic picture completely,” calling the current economic environment a “period of historic fragility.” (Wall Street Journal / Bloomberg / New York Times / Associated Press)

5/ Initial unemployment claims increased by 29,000 to 219,000 last week – inline with the 2019 prepandemic average of 218,000. The Labor Department will release its latest employment report Friday, and economists estimate that payrolls increased by about 275,000 in September. The unemployment rate is expected to hold steady at 3.7%. (Wall Street Journal / Bloomberg / CNN / CNBC)

6/ Covid-19 boosters could prevent about 90,000 U.S. deaths this winter if more people would get their booster by the end of the year. A new analysis suggests that if booster vaccinations continue at their current pace, the nation could see a peak of more than 1,000 Covid-19 deaths per day this winter. The researchers found, however, that if 80% of eligible people receive their booster, it would prevent about 90,000 deaths and more than 936,000 hospitalizations. There are currently more than 400 daily Covid-19 deaths, on average, in the U.S. Meanwhile, nearly 24 million adults in the U.S. currently have long Covid, and more than 80% have reported having significant limitations in their day-to-day activities. As many as 4 million people are estimated to be out of work because of long Covid symptoms. (CNN / Axios)

poll/ 44% of Americans approve of the job Biden is doing as president – up for the third straight month. 49% of Americans, meanwhile, disapprove of Biden’s job performance, down from 54% last month. (Marist)

Day 624: "Shortsighted."

1/ The World Trade Organization warned that the outlook for global trade next year has “darkened considerably” with “multiple shocks” – from higher energy and food prices to rising interest rates – curbing import demand. World trade is now expected grow 1.0% in 2023, compared with a previous forecast of 3.4%. (Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal / Reuters)

2/ A coalition of oil-producing nations led by Russia and Saudi Arabia agreed to cut oil production by 2 million barrels per day. It’s the biggest production cut in more than two years and represents about 2% of global oil production. The White House called the decision by OPEC+ “shortsighted” and “unnecessary.” In response, the U.S. said it would release 10 million barrels of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. Biden and European leaders had urged more oil production to ease gasoline prices caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Oil prices have fallen to roughly $80 a barrel from more than $120 in early June. The group, however, wants to keep crude above $90 a barrel. (New York Times / Washington Post / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal / CNBC)

3/ U.S. mortgage rates jumped to a 16-year high. Mortgage rates have increased 1.30 percentage points in the past seven weeks, with average 30-year fixed mortgage now at 6.75% – the highest since 2007. Mortgage applications, meanwhile, fell 14.2%. (Bloomberg / CNBC)

4/ A federal appeals court granted the Justice Department’s request to expedite its challenge of the appointment of a special master to review the documents recovered by the FBI from Mar-a-Lago. Last week the Justice Department asked the Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit to fast-track its appeal, saying its inability to access the non-classified documents was impeding their investigation. Trump, meanwhile, has publicly claimed that one reason that the FBI found boxes of classified documents at Mar-a-Lago was because federal workers were responsible for packing up the White House. A Freedom of Information Act request, however, revealed that Trump’s “transition team was responsible for putting the boxes on pallets and shrink-wrapping each pallet.” The General Services Administration was only involved in facilitating the shipping of the items. (Bloomberg / Reuters / CNN / Axios)

5/ The Republican nominee for a Georgia Senate seat – who has called for a total ban on abortion – paid for a girlfriend’s abortion in 2009. Herschel Walker wrote the woman a check for $700 and mailed it inside a “get well” card that read: “Rest, Relax […] Recover.” While Walker has denied the report, his team and top Republicans in the state knew of the allegation months before it surfaced, did nothing, and hoped it wouldn’t come out before the election. Top Republican leaders, the Republican National Committee, and Trump, meanwhile, reaffirmed their support of Walker. (Daily Beast / Politico / NPR)

6/ Dr. Mehmet Oz, the Republican nominee for Senate in Pennsylvania, killed over 320 dogs, 31 pigs, and 661 rabbits and other rodents between 1989 and 2010. Jezebel reviewed 75 studies published in academic journals by Dr. Oz, who was the “principal investigator” at the Columbia University Institute of Comparative Medicine labs at the time, and found that experiments had been conducted on at least 1,027 live animals. When Newsweek asked the Oz campaign for a comment, spokesperson Barney Keller replied: “Only the idiots at Newsweek believe what they read at Jezebel.” (Jezebel / Newsweek)

Day 623: "We must change course."

1/ The United Nations warned that the world is “on the edge of a recession.” In a new report, the United Nations Conference on Trade Development said that tightening monetary policy meant to fight inflation by central banks in the U.S., Europe, and the U.K. risks “pushing the world towards global recession and prolonged stagnation, inflicting worse damage than the financial crisis in 2008” and the Covid-19 contraction in economic activity. “Today we need to warn that we may be on the edge of a policy-induced global recession,” Secretary-General of UNCTAD Rebeca Grynspan said in a statement. “We still have time to step back from the edge of recession. Nothing is inevitable. We must change course.” The Federal Reserve, meanwhile, reaffirmed that bringing inflation down from its 40-year high will require a slowdown in economic growth and reduced demand for workers by employers. Interest rates are currently set in a range between 3 and 3.25%, and the Fed’s most recent projections suggest they’ll climb to 4.6% by the end of 2023. On the other hand, U.S. national debt exceeded $31 trillion for the first time, and the higher rates could add an additional $1 trillion to federal government interest payments this decade. (CNBC / CNN / Wall Street Journal / Yahoo News)

2/ Job openings dropped 10% in August to 10.01 million from 11.2 million in July. The 1.1 million drop in available positions is the largest decline since April 2020, and job openings are at their lowest level in a year. There are about 1.7 jobs for every unemployed person – down from about 2 in July. (Wall Street Journal / Bloomberg / CNBC / New York Times)

3/ Home prices in the U.S. posted their largest monthly declines since 2009. Median home prices fell by 0.98% from July to August, while mortgage rates have more than doubled – from less than 3% to nearly 7% – since 2021. Wall Street, meanwhile, has forecasted a 5% to 10% decline in U.S. home prices by the end of 2023, which would be the second-biggest home price decline since the Great Depression (Bloomberg / Fortune)

4/ Trump asked the Supreme Court to intervene in the dispute over classified government documents the FBI seized from Mar-a-Lago, saying the special master should be allowed to review the classified documents. Last month the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit granted the Justice Department’s request to keep about 100 classified documents separate from the special master’s review. Trump’s legal team, however, claims that the 11th Circuit lacked the judicial authority to stay the special master order “authorizing the review of seized documents bearing classification markings.” The petition was filed with Justice Clarence Thomas, who oversees emergency requests from the 11th Circuit and is likely to refer Trump’s request to the full court to consider. In January, the Supreme Court rejected Trump’s request to block the release of more than 750 pages of his White House records related to the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. Only Justice Clarence Thomas noted a dissent. (CNN / Washington Post / New York Times / Bloomberg / Politico / Axios)

5/ In early 2022 Trump’s lawyer refused his instructions to tell the National Archives that all the records had been returned, because he wasn’t sure the statement was true. Alex Cannon had facilitated the January transfer of 15 boxes of presidential records from Mar-a-Lago to the National Archives, and in February, Trump told Cannon to tell the archives he had returned “everything” they had requested. Cannon, however, told Trump he was uncomfortable making such a definitive statement. Separately, the archives notified Trump’s lawyers in May 2021 that it was missing the original correspondence between Trump and Kim Jong Un, as well as the letter that Obama left for Trump. (Washington Post / New York Times / CNN)

  • Trump’s White House aides weren’t surprised that the FBI found highly classified material in boxes at Mar-a-Lago. “During his four years in office, Trump never strictly followed the rules and customs for handling sensitive government documents, according to 14 officials from his administration.” White House Chief of Staff John Kelly added that Trump “rejected the Presidential Records Act entirely.” (Washington Post)

6/ Trump sued CNN for alleged defamation and is seeking at least $475 million in damages. Trump claims that CNN harmed his reputation with “false, defamatory, and inflammatory mischaracterizations of him” and that CNN “intended to interfere with [his] political career” as part of a “concerted effort to tilt the political balance to the Left.” For his part, Trump has repeatedly attacked that news organizations as “fake news” and “enemy of the people.” Less than 24 hours after filing suit against CNN, Trump encouraged his supporters to contribute $5 or more to his cause. (CBS News / Axios / Bloomberg)

Day 622: "By whatever means necessary."

1/ The National Archives told the House Oversight Committee that it hasn’t recovered all the presidential records from Trump administration officials that should have been transferred under the Presidential Records Act. The Archives will consult with the Justice Department “on whether ‘to initiate an action for the recovery of records unlawfully removed,’ as established under the Federal Records Act,” acting archivist Debra Steidel Wall said in a letter to Carolyn Maloney, the committee’s chairwoman. Wall added that the archives was working to retrieve electronic messages from certain unnamed White House officials who had used personal email and messaging accounts to conduct official business. (Washington Post / New York Times / ABC News / CNN / Wall Street Journal)

  • A majority of House Republicans last year voted to challenge the Electoral College and upend the presidential election. “On the day the Capitol was attacked, 139 Republicans in the House voted to dispute the Electoral College count.” (New York Times)

2/ Five members of the Oath Keepers militia planned an “armed rebellion” to keep Trump in power “by whatever means necessary,” the Justice Department said during its opening statements in the first seditious conspiracy trial to stem from the Jan. 6 Capitol riot. Using text messages, video, and recorded calls, federal prosecutors said the group intended to “take matters into their own hands” to overturn the results of the 2020 election and “concocted a plan for an armed rebellion to shatter a bedrock of American democracy.” Prosecutors played a recording of Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes saying that his group “should have brought rifles” to the Capitol. The charge of seditious conspiracy calls for up to 20 years in prison. (Politico / Associated Press / Washington Post / Bloomberg / New York Times / NPR / NBC News / Wall Street Journal / USA Today)

3/ The Supreme Court rejected MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell’s appeal in a defamation lawsuit from Dominion Voting Systems. Dominion sued Lindell and MyPillow in February 2021 for $1.3 billion in damages for pushing the “big lie” that Trump won the 2020 election and knowingly made baseless claims that Dominion’s machines manipulated vote counts to ensure that Biden defeated Trump. Dominion has also accused Trump allies Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani of defamation for falsely claiming that the election was “stolen.” (Bloomberg / NBC News / CBS News)

4/ The Supreme Court began its new term, which will include major cases on voting rights, clean water regulations, affirmative action, and discrimination against gay couples. During the court’s last term, which ended in June, the justices overturned of a half century of precedents that had guaranteed women the right to terminate most pregnancies, established a right to carry guns outside the home, and limited the government’s ability to address climate change. The court’s first case of the new term involves a dispute over the EPA’s power to regulate wetlands under the Clean Water Act and what counts as “waters of the United States.” If the court limits the EPA’s authority to protect wetlands from pollution, environmental advocates say about half of all wetlands and roughly 60% of streams would no longer be federally protected. (NPR / Associated Press / New York Times / Politico / FiveThirtyEight / The Hill)

poll/ 47% of voters said they want Republicans to control Congress while 44% said they’d prefer Democrats in control. 82% of Americans ranked inflation their top issue, compared with 56% who ranked abortion as a top concern, and 32% who said the coronavirus pandemic was very important. (Monmouth University Poll / CNBC)

Day 618: "A work in progress."

1/ The Education Department scaled back eligibility for its student loan forgiveness plan after six Republican-led states sued to stop Biden from canceling up to $20,000 in student debt for millions of borrowers. The lawsuit filed in a federal court in Missouri by state attorneys general from Missouri, Arkansas, Kansas, Nebraska, and South Carolina, as well as legal representatives from Iowa argue that student loan servicers would see a drop in revenue because borrowers are likely to consolidate their loans under the Federal Family Education Loan program – FFEL are loans that were originally made by private lenders but are guaranteed by the federal government. In response, the Biden administration said it would exclude FFEL from the loan forgiveness program. The move disqualifies roughly 2 million of the 44 million otherwise eligible borrowers. (Politico / Washington Post / Associated Press / NPR / CNN)

2/ The Senate approved a temporary spending package to avert a partial government shutdown. The stopgap funding bill extends government funding through Dec. 16. The House is expected to quickly pass the measure and send it to Biden for his signature before funding lapses Friday night. The legislation includes $12.4 billion in assistance for Ukraine, but does not include money for coronavirus or monkeypox vaccines, testing, and treatment. (Associated Press / Politico / Washington Post / New York Times / Bloomberg)

3/ Mortgage rates surged to the highest level since 2007 with the average rate on a 30-year fixed mortgage climbing to 6.7%. It was the sixth week in a row of rising rates. A year ago, rates were 3.01%. Applications to refinance a home loan, meanwhile, have declined to a 22-year low. (Wall Street Journal / Bloomberg / CNBC)

4/ Biden warned that Hurricane Ian may have been responsible for “substantial loss of life” and approved a major disaster declaration for Florida in what could be the deadliest storm in the state’s history. “We’ve never seen a flood event like this,” Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said, calling it a one-in-500-year flood event that has brought “historic” damage to the state. The National Hurricane Center said Ian brought “catastrophic flooding” over Florida’s east and central regions. More than 2.5 million customers across Florida were without power Thursday morning. Although Ian was downgraded to a tropical storm after making landfall in Florida’s southwest coast as a Category 4 hurricane, the National Hurricane Center said Ian has intensified into a hurricane again after moving over the Atlantic Ocean. It projected to make a new landfall in South Carolina on Friday. Ian is “taking aim at the Carolinas and Georgia with life-threatening flooding, storm surge and strong winds,” the center said. (NBC News / New York Times / Washington Post / NPR / CNN / Axios)

5/ Ginni Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, testified before the Jan. 6 committee for about four and a half hours. Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson said Thomas answered “some questions” in her interview, including reiterating her belief that the 2020 presidential election was stolen. “It’s a work in progress,” Thompson said. “At this point, we’re glad she came.” Thomas repeatedly pressed White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows to find ways to overturn the election, attended the rally that preceded the attack on the Capitol, and emailed with John Eastman, the architect of the campaign to push Pence to reject the 2020 election results during the counting of Electoral College votes. Thomas has also repeatedly claimed her political activities posed no conflict of interest with the work of her husband, who was the lone justice to dissent when the Supreme Court rejected Trump’s effort to block the release of his White House records to the Jan. 6 committee. (NBC News / NPR / CNN / Associated Press)

poll/ 47% of Americans say they trust the Supreme Court and the judicial branch – a 20-percentage-point drop from two years ago. 40% of Americans approve of the way the Supreme Court is handling its job – a record-tying-low. (Gallup)

Day 617: "Obscene."

1/ Biden promised to end hunger in the U.S. by the end of the decade, unveiling $8 billion in public- and private-sector commitments to make food healthier, more affordable, and accessible. It was the first White House summit dedicated to combating hunger in nearly a half-century. “I know we can do this,” Biden said. “This goal is within our reach.” Most of the policy proposals – like permanently extending the child tax credit, raising the minimum wage, and expanding nutrition assistance programs – will require congressional approval. (Washington Post / New York Times / Associated Press / NPR / Politico)

2/ The Congressional Budget Office reported that the poorest half of Americans – about 150 million people – hold 2% of the nation’s wealth. The top 10% of American families, meanwhile, account for 72% of the nation’s wealth. In 1989, the bottom half of the population held 4% of total wealth while the top 10 held 64%. “This report confirms what we already know: The very rich are getting much, much richer while the middle class is falling further and further behind, and being forced to take on outrageous levels of debt,” Bernie Sanders said. “The obscene level of income and wealth inequality in America is a profoundly moral issue that we cannot continue to ignore or sweep under the rug.” (Washington Post / Common Dreams)

3/ Biden warned that Social Security and Medicare are “on the chopping block” if Republicans regained control of Congress. Some Republicans have called for restructuring or scaling back entitlement programs with Rick Scott going so far as to draft a plan that would “sunset” Social Security and Medicare if Congress doesn’t act. Social Security’s combined reserves, meanwhile, are projected to be depleted in 2035. After that, the program will be able to pay about 77% of the scheduled benefits unless Congress steps in. Roughly 56 million people received retirement and survivors benefits in 2021. (New York Times)

4/ The European Union proposed new sanctions in response to Russia escalating its war in Ukraine by drafting at least 300,000 men into its army, threatening the use of nuclear weapons, and holding “sham” referendums. European leaders also vowed a “robust and united response” to the “sabotage” of the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines. The White House, meanwhile, said that Russia’s attempts to annex four Ukrainian regions under its control were “illegitimate” and “outrageous.” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said, “The Russian government falsified the results to advance the lie that the Ukrainian people want to be part of Russia.” The Biden administration also announced $1.1 billion in additional security assistance for Ukraine, bringing the total U.S. commitment to more than $16.2 billion. (New York Times / Washington Post / Associated Press / CNBC)

5/ Mitch McConnell endorsed a bipartisan electoral count reform bill in the Senate, which now has the public support from 11 Republican senators – enough to overcome the chamber’s 60-vote filibuster threshold. The legislation aims to stop future presidents from trying to overturn election results through Congress by raising the threshold for lawmakers to object to the electoral count and reaffirm that the vice president only has a ministerial role in the count of electoral votes. The House passed its own version last week. Prior to McConnell’s endorsement, the Senate Rules Committee voted to advance the bill. Ted Cruz was the lone senator to vote against the bill. (Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / Texas Tribune)

poll/ 52% of voters said they support Congress reforming the electoral vote count law, and 53% said it should be more difficult for state governments to override presidential election results. (Politico)

poll/ 5% of Americans – roughly 13 million adults – agree that the use of force is justified to restore Trump as president. About 3.32% of Americans – 8.5 million adults – said they would participate in the use of force to restore the Trump presidency. (CBS News)

poll/ 42% of Republicans identify as “MAGA” Republicans, while 58% disavow the term. (NBC News)

Day 616: "Unprecedented."

1/ The Senate is set to vote on a short-term spending bill to keep the federal government running past Friday. In addition to maintaining current funding levels through Dec. 16, the bill also provides more than $12 billion to Ukraine, $1 billion to help families with heating and cooling costs, $2.5 billion to help New Mexico recover from wildfires, and $20 million in emergency funding for water and wastewater infrastructure improvements in Jackson, Mississippi. Prior to voting, Joe Manchin asked Chuck Schumer to remove his energy permitting package from the short-term government funding bill. The permitting proposal was a key part of Schumer’s deal with Manchin to pass the Inflation Reduction Act this summer on a party-line vote. Manchin conceded only after several Democrats and Republicans – including Mitch McConnell – threatened to vote against the spending measure and risk a government shutdown. (Politico / Washington Post / CBS News / New York Times / CNN / Wall Street Journal)

2/ Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton fled his home in a truck driven by his wife to avoid being served a subpoena in a lawsuit over funding for abortions. Several abortion rights organizations filed a lawsuit seeking a court order barring state officials from pursuing criminal charges against their employees for providing financial and other aid to Texans seeking abortion services out of state. In a sworn affidavit, the process server said that Paxton refused to accept the subpoena and instead ran from his garage into a truck driven by his wife, state Sen. Angela Paxton. (Texas Tribune / NBC News / Bloomberg)

3/ More than 1,000 students walked out of Virginia public schools in protest of the state’s reversal of transgender protections. Earlier this month, Gov. Glenn Youngkin rewrote Virginia’s model policies for the treatment of transgender students, mandating that all students use school bathrooms and locker rooms according to the “biological sex” they were assigned at birth. The new policy also requires parental approval for staff members to refer to students by a different name or pronoun at school. “These revised guidelines will only hurt students in a time when students are facing unparalleled mental health challenges, and are a cruel attempt to politicize the existence of LGBTQIA+ students for political gain,” the Pride Liberation Project, a statewide LGBTQ youth advocacy group, said in a statement. (Washington Post / NBC News / USA Today)

4/ Hurricane Ian made landfall as a Category 3 storm over Cuba and is expected to strengthen into a Category 4 storm as it approaches Florida’s southwest coast. More than 2.5 million Florida residents are already under evacuation orders. The storm is expected to pass west of the Florida Keys Tuesday and come ashore just south of Sarasota on Florida’s Gulf Coast by Wednesday night. (Washington Post / NPR / New York Times / Associated Press)

5/ The Jan. 6 committee postponed its next hearing because of Hurricane Ian. It’s unclear when the panel’s ninth and final public hearing will be rescheduled. (Washington Post / New York Times)

6/ European leaders blamed the Kremlin for explosions that damaged three natural gas pipelines running under the Baltic Sea from Russia to Germany. “The damage that occurred in one day simultaneously at three lines of offshore pipelines of the Nord Stream system is unprecedented,” the operating company, Nord Stream AG, said in a statement. The Danish prime minister said she “cannot rule out” sabotage, saying “these are deliberate actions, not an accident. The situation is as serious as it gets.” The Polish prime minister added that “we can clearly see that it is an act of sabotage,” and “probably marks the next stage in the escalation of this situation in Ukraine.” It’s not clear what impact the damage will have on Europe’s energy supplies, but western officials have warned that the Kremlin is weaponizing its gas deliveries to Europe to punish governments for supporting Ukraine. (Associated Press / Washington Post / New York Times / Wall Street Journal / Politico / CBS News / The Guardian)

poll/ 41% of Americans favor charging Trump with crimes related to the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, while 34% are against charging Trump and another 25% are unsure. (Bloomberg)

Day 615: "We've made that very clear."

1/ An Arizona judge ruled that a 1864 ban on nearly all abortions in that state can be enforced, lifting a 1973 injunction that had barred enforcement of Arizona’s pre-statehood ban. The 1864 law mandates a two- to five-year prison sentence for anyone who helps a woman obtain an abortion and makes no exception for victims of rape or incest. The law was updated and codified in 1901. Judge Kellie Johnson cited the Supreme Court’s decision in June to overturn Roe v. Wade, which established a constitutional right to abortion as rationale for lifting the injunction. Johnson’s ruling came a day before Arizona’s 15-week ban on abortion was slated to go into effect. Biden, meanwhile, vowed to codify the right to an abortion into law if voters “give me two more senators in the United States Senate.” (Washington Post / New York Times / CNN / CNBC / The Guardian)

2/ Trump’s attorneys are attempting to assert attorney-client and executive privilege over grand jury testimony to prevent witnesses from sharing information in the Justice Department’s Jan. 6 criminal investigation. Earlier this month, the federal grand jury issued more than 40 subpoenas to former Trump aides seeking information about the role Trump played in the attempt to overturn the 2020 election, including the plan to create fake slates of pro-Trump electors in swing states that were won by Biden. The legal dispute, which is under seal, will determine how much evidence prosecutors can use from Trump’s conversations in the West Wing and with attorneys as he tried to overturn the 2020 election. (CNN / New York Times)

3/ Mark Meadows texted with an election denier in late December 2020 about attempts to gain access to voting systems in Arizona and Georgia. Phil Waldron, a retired Army colonel with ties to Michael Flynn, helped draft language for an executive order directing the Pentagon and Homeland Security to seize voting machines, as well as sending Meadows an “Options for 6 Jan” PowerPoint presentation that outlined a plan for overturning the election. Meadows recently complied with a Justice Department subpoena for information about the 2020 election, including these text messages. (CNN)

  • The White House switchboard dialed a cell phone registered to a Capitol rioter who had stormed the building on Jan. 6. The call was placed at 4:34 pm – shortly after Trump posted a video message on social media telling the rioters at the Capitol, “go home, we love you, you’re very special.” It lasted for nine seconds. (CNN / CBS News / The Guardian)

4/ The Biden administration announced $1.5 billion in grants to fight the opioid crisis. Last year, more than 107,000 people died after overdosing in the U.S. – a 15% increase from 2020. The grants will be used to expand access to treatment and recovery services, invest in better overdose education, and increase the accessibility of naloxone products. (CNBC)

5/ Biden’s plan to cancel student loan debt for millions of American borrowers will cost roughly $400 billion over the next decade, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. The CBO expects 90% of the 37 million borrowers with loans from the federal government would take advantage of the plan to cancel up to $20,000 in student debt for lower- and middle-class borrowers. (Washington Post / New York Times)

6/ The U.S. warned Russia of “catastrophic” consequences if Putin uses nuclear weapons in Ukraine. “It’s very important that Moscow hear from us and know from us that the consequences would be horrific,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said. “And we’ve made that very clear.” National security adviser Jake Sullivan added that “In private channels we have spelled out in greater detail exactly what that would mean.” The comments by Blinken and Sullivan come after Putin addressed Russia last week, saying that if Russia’s “territorial integrity” was threatened, “we will certainly use all the means at our disposal” to retaliate and that “it’s not a bluff.” (Axios / NBC News / New York Times / CNN)

poll/ 23% of Americans approve of the way Congress is handling its job – its highest rating in 2022. 75%, however, disapprove. (Gallup)

poll/ 66% of voters say the November election is more important than past midterm campaigns. 68% of voters feel that their rights and freedoms are at stake in the midterm election. (Washington Post / CBS News)

poll/ 56% of Democrats say the party should replace Biden as its nominee for president in 2024, while 35% favor Biden for the nomination. 47% of Republicans, meanwhile, think Trump should be their 2024 nominee – a 20-point drop compared with his 2020 nomination. (ABC News)

Notable: Pollsters fear they’re blowing it again in 2022. Democrats seem to be doing better than expected with voters. But if the polls are wrong, they could be disappointed in November — again. [Editor’s note: ¯_(ツ)_/¯ ] (Politico)

Day 611: "Thinking about it."

1/ A federal appeals court ruled that the Justice Department could use the classified documents that were seized from Mar-a-Lago in its ongoing criminal investigation, blocking a lower court’s order that had limited the investigation into Trump’s handling of government materials. The three-judge panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals – two of whom were nominated by Trump – disagreed with Trump’s rationale that the classified documents were his property, rather than the government’s, writing that Trump “has not even attempted to show that he has a need to know the information contained in the classified documents.” The court also disagreed with the rationale used by U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon to order a special master to review the classified documents and deny the DOJ’s request that they be exempted from it. Trump, meanwhile, told Fox News host Sean Hannity that “there doesn’t have to be a process [to declassify documents], as I understand it,” claiming that a president can declassify “even by thinking about it.” (CNN / New York Times / Washington Post / Politico / Wall Street Journal / Associated Press / CNBC)

2/ The special master overseeing the Mar-a-Lago documents investigation ordered Trump’s lawyers to submit a sworn declaration saying if they believe the Justice Department lied about the documents seized. While Trump has repeatedly claimed that the FBI planted evidence when they searched Mar-A-Lago, his lawyers have not made similar assertions in court. Judge Raymond Dearie set a Sept. 30 deadline for Trump’s lawyers to state in a court filing if the Justice Department included any items on their “inventory” of materials taken from Mar-a-Lago that were not actually seized during the search. (Washington Post / CNN)

3/ Virginia Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, agreed to participate in a voluntary interview with the Jan. 6 committee. Thomas repeatedly pressed White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows to find ways to overturn the election and attended the rally that preceded the attack on the Capitol. The committee has also obtained email correspondence between Thomas and John Eastman, the architect of the campaign to push Pence to reject the 2020 election results during the counting of Electoral College votes. The committee will hold its next public hearing next Wednesday, Sept. 28 – likely the last in a series of hearings that began this summer. (CNN / New York Times / Washington Post / Politico / NPR / Associated Press)

4/ The House passed an electoral reform bill to prevent future presidents from trying to steal an election through Congress. The Presidential Election Reform Act amends the 135-year-old Electoral Count Act – the law that Trump and his allies tried to exploit in their efforts to overturn the 2020 election – by clarifying the vice president’s role in counting electoral votes as strictly ministerial. It also would raise the threshold for Congress to object to a state’s results. The bill passed 229-203, with nine Republicans joining Democrats in supporting the measure. None of those nine Republican lawmakers will be members of Congress next year. The legislation now goes to the Senate, where a bipartisan group has been working on a similar bill. (NBC News / NPR / New York Times / Washington Post)

5/ Senate Republicans blocked an effort to require the disclosure of large campaign donations to so-called dark money groups. The Disclose Act, which failed on a 49-49 vote along party lines, would have required super PACs to disclose donors who give $10,000 or more during an election cycle. (Washington Post / Bloomberg)

6/ The Senate ratified a global treaty to phase down the use and production of hydrofluorocarbons – its first international climate treaty in three decades. The planet-warming industrial chemicals, commonly found in refrigerators and air-conditioners, are thousands of times more potent than carbon dioxide at heating up the Earth. (Politico / CNBC / Washington Post / New York Times)

7/ An Indiana judge temporarily blocked enforcement of the state’s near-total ban on abortion a week after it took effect. The decision came as part of a lawsuit brought by abortion providers challenging the state ban, which prohibits most abortion except to save the woman’s life. The judge wrote that “there is reasonable likelihood that this significant restriction of personal autonomy offends the liberty guarantees of the Indiana Constitution” and that the clinics will prevail in the lawsuit. (NPR / CNN / New York Times / Wall Street Journal)

Day 610: "Numerous acts of fraud."

1/ New York Attorney General Letitia James sued Trump, Trump Jr., Ivanka Trump, Eric Trump, and executives at the Trump Organization. In the more than 200-page lawsuit, James alleges that the Trumps enriched themselves through “numerous acts of fraud and misrepresentations” for more than a decade by “grossly” inflating Trump’s net worth by billions of dollars and deceiving lenders, insurers, and tax authorities with false and misleading financial statements. “For too long, powerful, wealthy people in this country have operated as if the rules do not apply to them,” James said in a statement. “Donald Trump stands out as among the most egregious examples of this misconduct. With the help of his children and senior executives at the Trump Organization, Donald Trump falsely inflated his net worth by billions of dollars to unjustly enrich himself and cheat the system.” The civil lawsuit seeks to permanently bar the Trumps from ever running a business in the state again and about $250 million in penalties. In addition, James said she believes Trump and his family business violated several state criminal laws and “plausibly” broke federal criminal laws as well. Her office has referred the matter to federal prosecutors in Manhattan and the IRS. “The pattern of fraud that was used by Mr. Trump and the Trump organization was astounding,” James added. (New York Times/ CNN / Politico / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / NBC News / NPR / Axios / Bloomberg / ABC News)

2/ The special master tasked with reviewing documents seized from Mar-a-Lago repeatedly challenged Trump’s lawyers refusal to offer proof that Trump had declassified any of the 100 documents that the FBI recovered from his estate. At the first hearing in the matter, U.S. District Judge Raymond Dearie said the Justice Department had presented evidence that several of the documents were classified – noting they are marked as such – and asked James Trusty, one of Trump’s attorneys, to explain why he should question the government’s determination. Trusty, however, repeatedly refused to disclose whether Trump had declassified any of the documents he brought to Mar-a-Lago. At one point, Dearie said that if Trump’s attorneys didn’t directly dispute the government’s argument that the documents are classified, “As far as I’m concerned, that’s the end of it.” Trusty then called it “premature” for Dearie to consider that issue right now, to which Dearie responded: “You can’t have your cake and eat it too.” Trump has implied that the 11,000 documents taken from Mar-a-Lago by the FBI were declassified, including the 100 bearing classification markings that suggest they contain highly sensitive national security-related intelligence. (Politico / New York Times / Bloomberg / Washington Post / Axios / Wall Street Journal / CNN / NPR)

3/ Biden condemned Russia’s efforts to “erase” Ukraine from the map after Putin threatened to use nuclear weapons if Kyiv continues its efforts to reclaim occupied territory. Putin also declared a “partial mobilization” to call up as many as 300,000 reservists to reverse setbacks in his war. At the United Nations, Biden said Putin’s war “shamelessly violated” U.N. principles by “extinguishing Ukraine’s right to exist as a state […] and Ukraine’s right to exist as a people,” while calling out Putin for making “irresponsible nuclear threats.” The world’s “blood should run cold” over the invasion, Biden added. On Wednesday, Putin threatened to use nuclear weapons, saying, “If the territorial integrity of our country is threatened, we will use all available means to protect our people — this is not a bluff.” Putin’s reference to his nuclear arsenal came a day after four Russian-controlled areas announced “referendums” on the annexation of nearly 15% of Ukraine into the Russian Federation – a plan Kyiv and its Western allies dismissed as a “sham” aimed at deterring a successful counteroffensive by Ukrainian troops. Russian airlines, meanwhile, were reportedly ordered to stop selling tickets to Russian men aged 18 to 65. (Washington Post / NBC News / Politico / New York Times / Bloomberg / Axios / CNBC / Wall Street Journal)

4/ The Federal Reserve approved its third consecutive 75-basis-point interest-rate hike as inflation remains near a 40-year high. The decision lifts the benchmark federal funds rate to a range between 3% and 3.25% – the highest level since early 2008 – and officials expect to raise interest rates to a range between 4.75% and 5% next year. Officials expect inflation to decline from 6.3% in August to 5.4% by the end of this year before eventually falling back to the Fed’s 2% goal by 2025. The U.S. unemployment rate, meanwhile, is projected to climb from 3.7% to 4.4% by next year, and GDP growth is forecasted to slump to 0.2% for 2022. (Bloomberg / CNBC / Wall Street Journal / CNN / NBC News / New York Times / Washington Post)

5/ Sales of existing U.S. homes fell for the seventh straight month in August as mortgage rates climbed toward their highest level in 14 years. The string of monthly sales declines is the longest stretch since the housing market crashed in 2007. The average rate on a 30-year fixed mortgage, meanwhile, hit 6.25% last week. (Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal)

Day 609: "A brazen scheme of staggering proportions."

1/ A Texas sheriff opened a criminal investigation into Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ decision to fly 48 Venezuelan migrants to Martha’s Vineyard. Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar said the migrants appeared to have been “lured under false pretenses” into staying at a hotel before they were flown to Florida and later Martha’s Vineyard, where they were “left to fend for themselves.” DeSantis, meanwhile, defended his decision, saying outrage over the flights was misplaced because everyone had “signed consent forms.” (CNN / Politico / NBC News / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal)

2/ The U.S. arrested more than 2 million undocumented immigrants along the southwestern border in the past 11 months. It’s the first time that immigration arrests have topped 2 million, exceeding last year’s record of more than 1.7 million. In August, the number of undocumented immigrants from Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras dropped 43% from last August, while the number of Cubans, Nicaraguans, and Venezuelans rose 175%. Many of the migrants are seeking asylum, which was significantly restricted during the Trump administration. (New York Times / Washington Post)

3/ The Justice Department charged 47 defendants with stealing $240 million from a federal program that provided food for needy children during the pandemic – the largest Covid-19-related fraud to date. “This was a brazen scheme of staggering proportions,” U.S. Attorney Andrew Luger said in a statement. Federal prosecutors said a network of individuals and organizations tied to Feeding Our Future, a Minnesota-based nonprofit, “exploited a program” designed to provide meals for underserved children and that the defendants “prioritized their own greed” by purchasing “luxury cars, houses, jewelry, and coastal resort property abroad.” More than 125 million fake meals are at issue. (New York Times / NBC News / CNN / Washington Post)

4/ Newly obtained surveillance video shows Trump allies and contractors working on his behalf copying sensitive software and data from voting equipment in a Georgia county elections office on Jan. 7, 2021. The group of forensics experts from SullivanStrickler spent eight hours inside the Coffee County elections office examining electronic “poll pads,” which contain voter data and are used to check in voters at polling locations. SullivanStrickler was hired by Sidney Powell, a conspiracy theorist and Trump’s former lawyer. Among those seen in the footage is former Georgia Republican Party official Cathy Latham, who is under criminal investigation for posing as a fake elector in 2020. In sworn testimony last month, Latham said she briefly stopped by the office in Coffee County, but stayed in the foyer and spoke with an official about an unrelated matter at the front desk. The surveillance video footage, however, shows that Latham visited the elections office twice that day and stay for more than four hours in total. She also took a selfie with one of the forensics experts before leaving at 6:19 p.m. (CNN / Washington Post / New York Times)

5/ Trump’s lawyers acknowledged that the criminal investigation into his handling of sensitive government documents could lead to an indictment. In a letter to Judge Raymond Dearie – the newly appointed special master – Trump’s lawyers objected to Dearie’s request to “disclose specific information regarding declassification to the Court and to the Government.” Trump’s lawyers argued that forcing Trump to specify which documents he purportedly declassified would “fully and specifically disclose a defense to the merits of any subsequent indictment” and leave him at a legal disadvantage. Trump’s attorneys instead argued that the Justice Department hasn’t proven that the documents with classification markings are actually classified. Dearie has until Nov. 30 to complete his work but has reportedly set a timetable for the 11,000 documents seized at Mar-a-Lago to be inspected and labeled by Oct. 7. (Washington Post / CNN / New York Times / CNBC / NBC News / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal)

  • Trump was warned last year by a former White House lawyer that he could face legal liability if he did not return government documents he had taken with him to Mar-a-Lago. Shortly after the discussion with Eric Herschmann, Trump turned over 15 boxes of material to the National Archives, which contained 184 classified documents. (New York Times)

6/ Adults under 65 should be screened for anxiety and all adults should be checked for depression, according an influential group of medical experts. The draft guidance marks the first time that the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force has recommended anxiety screening in primary care for adults without symptoms. The task force previously issued similar draft guidance for children and adolescents. Anxiety disorders affect about 40% of U.S. women and more than 1 in 4 men. This summer, more than 30% of U.S. adults reported symptoms of anxiety or depression. And, the CDC reports that the percentage of U.S. adults who received mental-health treatment within the past 12 months increased to 22% in 2021 – up from 19% in 2019. Globally, anxiety and depression increased by 25% during the first year of the pandemic. (Wall Street Journal / NBC News / Washington Post)

Day 608: "The pandemic is over?"

1/ Biden said he believes “the pandemic is over” despite the U.S. recording more than 2 million Covid-19 cases and more than 12,000 deaths in the last 28 days. The declaration was an apparent off-the-cuff remark and not part of Biden’s planned remarks, and come as his administration seeks an additional $22.4 billion from Congress for coronavirus vaccines, tests, and treatments. Biden, however, acknowledged that the U.S. still has a “problem” with the coronavirus that has killed more than 1 million Americans. Further, the federal government still designates Covid-19 a Public Health Emergency, and the WHO says it remains a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. “We are not there yet but the end is in sight,” said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director general of the WHO. “We can see the finish line, but now is the worst time to stop running.” (Politico / Washington Post / CNN / NBC News / NPR / Wall Street Journal)

2/ Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin restricted the rights of transgender students in the state’s schools, issuing new “Model Policies” that roll back the work of Youngkin’s predecessor, Democrat Ralph Northam. The new guidelines will require transgender students to access school facilities and programs matching the sex they were assigned at birth and mandates that students who are minors must be referred to by the name and pronouns in their official records, unless a parent approves the use of something else. Further, school personnel won’t be required to refer to a student “in any manner” that would run counter to their personal or religious beliefs. The new rules will effect more than 1 million children enrolled in the state’s 133 school districts. (NPR / NBC News / New York Times / Washington Post)

3/ The Justice Department asked an appeals court to let the FBI regain access to about 100 classified documents taken from Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home, but didn’t try to block Judge Aileen Cannon’s appointment of Raymond Dearie to serve as special master. Last week, Judge Cannon’s granted a special master to review thousands of documents seized from Mar-a-Lago. She also blocked law enforcement agencies from using any of the documents for investigative purposes until the review is done. Lawyers with the Justice Department’s national security division wrote: “Although the government believes the district court fundamentally erred in appointing a special master and granting injunctive relief, the government seeks to stay only the portions of the order causing the most serious and immediate harm to the government and the public.” The Justice Department previously argued that delaying its investigation into Trump’s handling of classified government records could result in “irreparable harm.” Separately, months before the National Archives retrieved 15 boxes containing hundreds of classified documents from Mar-a-Lago, Trump’s team claimed that none of the material was sensitive or classified and that Trump had only 12 boxes of “news clippings.” Since the September 2021 call, the Archives and Justice Department have recovered 42 boxes of records from Trump’s estate, including 15 boxes handed over last January and an additional 27 boxes retrieved by the FBI during a court-authorized search of Mar-a-Lago last month. (New York Times / NBC News / CNN / NPR)

4/ Trump’s longtime accounting firm started turning over documents to the House Oversight Committee as part of its investigation into his potential conflicts of interest and foreign financial ties. The committee first subpoenaed Mazars USA for Trump’s financial records in April 2019 for information about his dealings from 2014 to 2018. Trump and Mazars USA recently agreed to turn over some “key financial documents” to the committee after the accounting firm said it could no longer stand behind the statements it had prepared for the Trump Organization over a decade. (New York Times / CNN)

5/ At least a dozen Republican candidates for governor and Senate wouldn’t commit to accepting the results of their contests. On the Democratic side, however, all 19 nominees said they would accept the outcome of the November results. Biden, meanwhile, said that it’s “much too early” to make the decision on whether he will run again for president in 2024. “Look, my intention, as I said to begin with, is that I would run again. But it’s just an intention. But is it a firm decision that I run again? That remains to be seen,” Biden said when asked whether he would run. (Washington Post / New York Times)

Day 604: "Big problems."

1/ Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis shipped about 50 migrants to Martha’s Vineyard without warning to make a political point about the record number of apprehensions at the southern border. While the two flights were paid for by Florida taxpayers under a state program to transport undocumented immigrants to so-called sanctuary destinations, they originated in San Antonio, Texas. The group of migrants, which included children, were told that they were being transported to Boston. Separately, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott used a state-funded program to send two buses of migrants – between 75 and 100 people – to Harris’s home in DC. The White House, meanwhile, called the actions by the two Republican governors “cruel” and “shameful” political stunts. And, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre accused Abbott of alerting Fox News to the bus’s arrivals instead of the Department of Homeland Security or the city of Washington. (New York Times / NPR / Washington Post / Texas Tribune / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal)

2/ The Senate delayed a vote to protect same-sex marriage until after the midterm elections. A bipartisan group of senators have been working to alleviate the concerns of Republicans in an attempt to persuade at least 10 of them to support the bill and overcome a filibuster. Despite the efforts, Republicans complained that their 50-member conference would view a vote as politically motivated if Chuck Schumer forced a vote before the midterms. The Respect for Marriage Act would enshrine federal protections for same-sex and interracial marriages, as well as repeal the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, which recognized marriages in the U.S. as between one man and one woman. (Politico / Washington Post / NBC News / Bloomberg)

3/ The White House announced a “tentative” agreement between rail carriers and union leaders to avert a nationwide strike that threatened to cripple U.S. supply chains. After 20 straight hours of negotiations – which included Biden and other administration officials – workers won several of the concessions they were seeking, including better pay and more flexible schedules, like time off for doctors appointments. The parties had been negotiating a new contract for several years and were facing a 12:01 am Friday deadline – the end of a “cooling off period.” Union members, however, still have to vote to ratify the agreement, which is not expected for at least a couple of weeks. Biden called the deal to avoid what would have been an economically damaging strike “a big win for America.” (NPR / Politico / CNN / New York Times / Washington Post / Bloomberg)

4/ Mortgage rates topped 6% for the first time in 14 years and more than double their level a year ago. In an effort to tamp down inflation, the Federal Reserve has raised the federal funds rate by 2 full percentage points over four meetings this year. As a result, mortgage rates have gone up, and with inflation still high in August, the Fed is expected to raise the federal funds rate again when it meets next week. Rates, however, are still below the historical average of 7.8%. (Washington Post / New York Times / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal)

5/ Mark Meadows complied with a subpoena from the Justice Department’s investigation into Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. The former White House chief of staff, who turned over the same materials he gave the House committee investigating the attack, is the highest-ranking Trump official known to have responded to a subpoena in the federal investigation. (CNN)

6/ The New York attorney general’s office rejected an offer from Trump’s lawyers to settle the civil investigation into the Trump Organization. Attorney General Letitia James is reportedly also considering suing at least one of Trump’s adult children as part of her inquiry that’s focused on whether Trump fraudulently inflated the value of his assets. Separately, the Trump Organization is going to trial next month for criminal tax charges in Manhattan. (New York Times)

7/ Trump – threatening the Justice Department – warned that there would be “big problems” if he’s indicted over the mishandling classified documents after leaving the White House. Trump, speaking to conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt, said an indictment would result in “problems in this country the likes of which perhaps we’ve never seen before” and that Americans “would not stand” for his prosecution. Trump added that an indictment wouldn’t stop him from running for president again. (Politico / Washington Post)

poll/ 45% of Americans approve of the job Biden is doing as president – up from 36% in July. (Associated Press)

poll/ 70% of Americans don’t think politicians “are informed enough” about abortion to “create fair policies.” 44% believe abortion will become less accessible in their lifetime. (Politico)

Day 603: "It's all changing."

1/ Biden approved the first $900 million in U.S. funding to build EV charging stations in 35 states. The bipartisan infrastructure bill, which Congress approved in November, allocated $7.5 billion to build a national EV charging network. By 2030, Biden wants 50% of all new vehicles sold in the U.S. to be electric or plug-in hybrid electric models and 500,000 new EV charging stations. “America is confronting the climate crisis with American workers leading the way,” Biden said. “It used to be to buy an electric vehicle you had to make all sorts of compromises. Not now […] It’s all changing. Today, if you want an electric vehicle with a long range, you can buy one made in America.” (CNBC / CBS News / Reuters / Washington Post)

2/ Amtrak will shut down all long distance passenger trains starting Thursday because of the possible freight rail strike. The majority of Amtrak routes operate on tracks owned by freight railroads. Amtrak trains that operate between Washington, D.C. and Boston, however, would not be affected because Amtrak owns most of those tracks. Two unions representing the engineers and conductors who make up the two-person crews on each freight train are demanding changes to the scheduling rules that keep them “on call” every day they’re not at work and penalizes them for going to routine doctor visits or responding to family medical emergencies. Negotiators face a deadline of 12:01 a.m. Eastern on Friday to avert the freight shutdown. (CNN / Washington Post / Politico)

3/ The EPA’s inspector general office is investigating the water crisis in Jackson, Mississippi where roughly 150,000 residents have been under a boil-water advisory for seven weeks. The city issued a boil-water advisory after finding cloudiness in the water that could cause illness. The office issued a memo saying it will look into the federal response, as well as city and state officials. The current crisis began when heavy rains caused the Pearl River to flood and overwhelmed the water treatment plant, which was already using backup pumps because the pumps at the main water treatment facility were already damaged. (CNN / Politico / ABC News)

4/ Marco Rubio will co-sponsor Lindsey Graham’s bill to ban abortions nationwide after 15 weeks, which has received a tepid response from Republicans who say they “prefer this be dealt with at the state level.” In Indiana, the first new abortion ban passed by a state legislature since the overturning of Roe v. Wade in June will take effect on Thursday. The West Virginia Republican-majority Legislature, meanwhile, passed a near-total abortion ban. Under the new measure, rape and incest victims could obtain abortions at up to eight weeks of pregnancy, but only if they report to law enforcement first. And in Texas, the state delayed publication of its study on pregnancy-related deaths until after the midterms and the state’s upcoming legislative session. The delay means lawmakers likely won’t be able to use the data until 2025. The most recent state-level data available is nine years old. (Miami Herald / NPR / CNBC / NBC News / Houston Chronicle)

5/ The special counsel appointed by the Trump administration to examine the origins of the Russia investigation appears to be winding down after three years. The federal grand jury John Durham used to hear evidence for his investigation has expired, and there are no plans to revive it. Durham and his team are working to complete a final report by the end of the year, which will be up to Attorney General Merrick Garland to decide whether to make its findings public. In 2019, then-Attorney General William Barr tapped Durham to review the FBI’s Russia probe and Barr later upgraded Durham to “special counsel” status shortly before the 2020 election, ensuring that Durham’s work would continue after Trump left office. (New York Times / CNN)

6/ House lawmakers proposed bipartisan legislation to reform the Electoral Count Act of 1887 – the first major legislative response to the Jan. 6 Capitol attack. The bill, called the Electoral Count Reform and Presidential Transition Improvement Act, is similar to the bipartisan effort in the Senate to clarify the limited role of the vice president in certifying election result, raising the threshold for members of Congress to object to states’ presidential electors, and promoting an orderly presidential transition. (NBC News / Axios)

Day 602: "Out of step."

1/ Lindsey Graham introduced a bill that would ban abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy nationwide. While Graham’s measure stands no chance of enactment, it comes less than two months before the midterm elections when some Republican candidates are walking back their support for a total ban. 56% of voters say abortion will be very important to their midterm votes. Additionally, Mitch McConnell all but rejected the measure, saying that questions about the bill should be directed to Graham and that most Republican senators “prefer this be handled at the state level.” John Cornyn added: “That wasn’t a conference decision. It was an individual senator’s decision.” The White House, meanwhile, criticized the bill as “wildly out of step with what Americans believe.” (Washington Post / Politico / Axios / NBC News / New York Times / NPR / CNN)

2/ Inflation rose 8.3% in August compared with a year earlier. While inflation is down from an 8.5% jump in July and a four-decade high of 9.1% in June, it’s at a slower pace than anticipated given decreases in gasoline prices and other forms of energy fell. Economists expected consumer prices to rise about 8% annually in August. In response, stock markets posted their worst one-day performance since June 2020. The Federal Reserve, meanwhile, is expected to raise interest rates another 0.75 percentage point next week to slow economy further. The Census Bureau reported that from 2019 to 2021, real median household income decreased 2.8%. (Wall Street Journal / CNBC / Washington Post / Politico / New York Times / Axios / NBC News / Bloomberg)

3/ At least 97 current members of Congress reported trades by themselves or family in stocks or other financial assets that intersected with the work of congressional committees on which they serve. Over a three-year span, more than 3,700 trades were reported by lawmakers from both parties that posed potential conflicts between their public responsibilities and private finances. More than half of them sat on committees that potentially gave them insight into the companies they reported buying or selling. (New York Times)

4/ A potential national railroad strike threatens to further disrupt supply chains and cause billions of dollars in economic damage, forcing the Biden administration to develop contingency plans to keep critical supply chains operational as labor talks continue. Railroads and unions have until Friday to resolve a labor dispute when a federally mandated 30-day “cooling off” period ends. The White House is also considering the use of emergency powers to ensure essential supplies like food, energy, health-related products to consumers, and chlorine for wastewater treatment plants, can be delivered in the event of a strike. At issue is a dispute over wage increases and better health coverage between railway carriers and two unions, which represent 57,000 conductors and engineers. The railroads account for about 28% of U.S. freight. (Washington Post / CNN / New York Times / Bloomberg / Politico)

5/ More than 15,000 nurses in Minnesota went on strike after months of contract negotiations failed to produce a new deal that addresses understaffing and overwork. The strike against 16 hospital systems is the largest strike of private-sector nurses in U.S. history. (Bloomberg / CNN / Washington Post)

6/ The National Archives is not certain whether all of Trump’s presidential records are in its possession even after the FBI search of his Mar-a-Lago club, the House Oversight Committee said. In a letter to the acting archivist, Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney asked the Archives to “seek a personal certification from Donald Trump that he has surrendered all presidential records that he illegally removed from the White House after leaving office.” Maloney added: “I also ask that the agency conduct an urgent review of presidential records recovered from the Trump White House to assess whether presidential records remain unaccounted for and potentially in the possession of the former president,” she adds. On August 24, the Archives informed the committee that the agency didn’t know whether all of Trump’s White House records were accounted for. (CNN / Associated Press / Washington Post)

poll/ 47% of Americans could name all three branches of government while 25% couldn’t name a single branch. (The Hill)

Day 601: "The burden."

1/ Trump asked a federal judge to deny the Justice Department’s request to limit the role of a special master in its review of classified documents seized from Mar-a-Lago as part of its criminal investigation. Last week, federal prosecutors – citing the risk of “irreparable harm” to national security – requested that District Judge Aileen Cannon stay the portion of her ruling blocking the government from reviewing about 100 documents with classification markings that were taken during the Aug. 8 FBI search of Mar-a-Lago. In a 21-page filing, Trump’s lawyers called the Justice Department’s investigation into Trump “unprecedented and misguided,” and referring to the seized documents as “purported ‘classified records,’” they claimed that the government “has not proven” that the materials marked classified are actually still classified. Instead, they argued, Trump might actually have the right to keep the materials in his possession. (Washington Post / New York Times / Politico / Associated Press / Wall Street Journal / CNN / NBC News / ABC News)

  • Trump told aides after his 2020 defeat that he would not depart the White House, insisting: “I’m just not going to leave.” To another aide Trump said: “We’re never leaving. How can you leave when you won an election?” (CNN / Vanity Fair)

2/ The Justice Department issued about 40 subpoenas seeking information about Trump and his associates related to the 2020 election and the Jan. 6 attack. According to one subpoena, the department requested information about any members of the executive and legislative branches who may have taken part in planning or executing the rally, or tried to “obstruct, influence, impede or delay” the certification of the presidential election. The department also seized the phones of two top Trump advisers, Boris Epshteyn and Mike Roman. At least 20 subpoenas sent out were seeking information about several lawyers involved in the fake elector scheme, including Rudy Giuliani and John Eastman. Last week, Stephen Miller, Trump’s White House political director, and more than a dozen other people received subpoenas from a federal grand jury seeking information related to the Save America PAC and the alleged “fake electors” plot. (New York Times / New York Times / CNN / CBS News / Politico)

  • The Jan. 6 committee will resume televised hearings later this month. The committee held eight hearings in June and July. (Wall Street Journal)

3/ Child poverty in the U.S. fell by 59% from 1993 to 2019 with the number of children protected by the social safety net tripling from 2 million in 1993 to 6.5 million in 2019. More than one in four children in the U.S. in 1993 lived in families below the federal government’s poverty threshold. Today, roughly one in 10 children live in families below the threshold. The decline of child poverty coincides with the expansion of safety net programs, namely the earned-income credit and the child tax credit. The earned-income credit alone reduced child poverty by 22%. (New York Times)

4/ Biden issued an executive order to encourage biomedical innovation in the U.S. as part of a “moonshot” effort aimed at “ending cancer as we know it.” The order will establish a biotechnology and biomanufacturing initiative to solidify supply chains and center drug manufacturing in the country. Biden also selected Dr. Renee Wegrzyn as the director of the new biomedical research agency, known as the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health. (The Hill / Associated Press / New York Times)

5/ A group of 22 Republican governors urged Biden to withdraw his student loan forgiveness plan, claiming it will “shift the burden of debt from the wealthy” to lower-income families. The Department of Education, however, estimates that nearly 90% of those benefiting from the student loan relief earn less than $75,000 a year, and that no individual making more than $125,000 or household making more than $250,000 will receive relief. According to the Census Bureau, the median income in the U.S. was $65,000 in 2020. (Axios)

poll/ 12% of Americans say the U.S. health care system is handled extremely or very well. 56% said health care in the U.S. is not handled well at all while 32% said it was handled somewhat well. (Associated Press)

poll/ 33% of Americans said they prefer strong, unelected leaders to weak elected ones. 38% agree that the government should act in the interests of the majority even if it conflicts with ethnic and religious minority groups’ civil rights. (Axios)

poll/ 49% of Americans approve of Biden’s job performance – his highest rating since April. Among young adults, 51% support Biden’s handling of the presidency following the Inflation Reduction Act and his decision to forgive up to $20,000 in college loans. In August, 40% approved of Biden’s job performance. (IBD/TIPP Poll)

Day 597: "Until the job is done."

1/ The Justice Department appealed a federal judge’s decision to grant a special master to review documents seized from Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home. Earlier this week, U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon ordered the appointment of an independent attorney “to review the seized property for personal items and documents and potentially privileged material subject to claims of attorney-client and/or executive privilege.” Prosecutors asked Cannon to exclude all documents with classification markings from any special master review and to put on hold her directive blocking the Justice Department from using the seized records for investigative purposes while they appeal her decision to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals. In the filing, prosecutors wrote that allowing a special master to review the classified material would “cause the most immediate and serious harms to the government and the public.” (Washington Post / Axios / Wall Street Journal / Bloomberg / Politico / New York Times / Associated Press)

2/ A federal grand jury issued subpoenas seeking information about Trump’s Save America PAC, which was formed after his 2020 election loss. The Justice Department is investigating the activities leading up the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol and efforts by Trump and his allies to overturn the election. Trump’s Save America PAC raised more than $135 million after the election by baselessly asserting claims of voter fraud they knew were false while consistently pushing supporters to donate. (ABC News / New York Times)

3/ Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell reiterated that he is “strongly committed” to fighting inflation “until the job is done.” The central bank has raised interest rates four times this year from near zero in March to a range between 2.25% and 2.5% in July. Fed officials next meets Sept. 20-21, and Powell has kept the option open for a third consecutive 0.75-percentage-point rate rise. The average 30-year mortgage rate, meanwhile, climbed to 5.89% – the highest level since 2008. Last year at this time, the average mortgage rate was 2.88%. (CNBC / Bloomberg / New York Times / NBC News / CNN / Wall Street Journal)

4/ Congress must pass a funding bill before Sept. 30 to avoid a government shutdown. Bernie Sanders, however said he’d vote against the stopgap funding bill if Chuck Schumer follows through with a side deal he made with Joe Manchin to fast-track federal approvals of energy projects. Sanders said the permitting reform bill is “a huge giveaway to the fossil fuel industry” and that the legislation would make it easier for the fossil fuel industry to receive permits and complete “some of the dirtiest and most polluting oil and gas projects in America.” In order to secure Manchin’s support for the Inflation Reduction Act, Schumer promised to pass the permitting reform bill. (Bloomberg / The Hill)

5/ The White House warned that the environmental impact of producing cryptocurrencies could threaten the nation’s climate goals. A new report on the climate and energy implications of the crypto industry by the Office of Science and Technology Policy estimates that the industry is responsible for at least 25 million metric tons of carbon dioxide per year – similar to the annual emissions of the entire U.S. railroad industry. The U.S. is responsible for 38% of the world’s Bitcoin mining, compared with 3.5% in 2020. While stopping short of prescribing specific regulations, the report urged federal agencies to work with states, communities, and industry to develop voluntary environmental performance standards. (Bloomberg / E&E News)

6/ Nearly 650,000 parcels of land in the U.S. are projected to be at least partially under water by 2050, according to a new report by the nonprofit Climate Central. As much as 4.4 million acres could fall below tidal boundaries that mark the line between private property and public land by 2050, which could double by 2100. Louisiana, in particular, is expected to see roughly 8.7% of its total land area – nearly 2.5 million acres – fall wholly below tidal boundary lines by 2050. (Washington Post / Phys.org)

7/ The Middle East and the eastern Mediterranean are warming nearly twice as fast as the global average. Temperatures in the region are projected to rise up to 5 degrees Celsius (9 degrees Fahrenheit) by the end of the century. Europe, meanwhile, recorded its hottest summer in history – its second historic summer in a row. (Associated Press / Washington Post)

poll/ 58% of Americans said Trump’s “Make America Great Again” movement is threatening America’s democratic foundations. 60% of Republicans said they don’t think the MAGA movement represents the majority of the party. (Reuters)

poll/ 73% of Americans favor maximum age limits for elected officials. About a third of current U.S. senators are 70 years of age or older. (CBS News)

Day 596: "Dignity."

1/ Chuck Schumer promised a Senate vote on protecting same-sex marriage in the coming weeks whether or not there are 10 Republicans votes to pass it. Several GOP senators have already publicly expressed support, including Susan Collins, Rob Portman, and Thom Tillis, while Lisa Murkowski hasn’t committed either way. Ron Johnson, meanwhile, said he wouldn’t support the bill, despite saying earlier this year he saw “no reason to oppose” it. Johnson added that he believes the Supreme Court case giving same-sex couples the right to marry was “wrongly decided.” And, Ted Cruz said he’d vote against the bill to codify same-sex marriage protections into federal law. The House passed legislation to protect same-sex marriage in July, with support from 47 House Republicans. (Politico / Bloomberg)

2/ A Michigan judge permanently blocked enforcement of the state’s 91-year-old abortion ban. The 1931 law criminalizing most abortions in Michigan, which was dormant until the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June, violated the tenets of the state Constitution, Court of Claims Judge Elizabeth Gleicher ruled. “A law denying safe, routine medical care not only denies women of their ability to control their bodies and their lives — it denies them of their dignity,” Gleicher wrote. “Michigan’s Constitution forbids this violation of due process.” She added: “Issuing a permanent injunction will cause no damage to the defendant attorney general or the intervenors. The harm to women, on the other hand, is a wholesale denial of their fundamental right to an abortion, necessitating permanent injunctive relief.” The Republican-controlled House and Senate could appeal the ruling. Meanwhile, the Michigan Supreme Court is considering a proposed amendment to the Nov. 8 ballot that would add abortion rights to the state constitution. (Detroit Free Press / Bloomberg / NPR)

3/ Steve Bannon is expected to surrender to New York prosecutors to face a new criminal indictment. Prosecutors alleged that Bannon and others defrauded donors to a private, $25 million fundraising effort, called “We Build the Wall,” to construct a wall on the U.S.-Mexican border. The case is expected to mirror aspects of the federal case in which Bannon was indicted but never tried because Trump pardoned him before that could happen. (Washington Post / New York Times / Politico / NPR)

4/ The FBI found information about a foreign government’s nuclear-defense readiness at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence. Some of the seized documents were so closely held that many senior national security officials aren’t authorized to review them. Only the president and some Cabinet-level or a near-Cabinet-level official could authorize other government officials to review these special-access programs. The documents, however, were stored at Mar-a-Lago, with uncertain security, for more than 18 months after Trump left the White House. (Washington Post)

poll/ 67% of independents said they don’t want Trump to run for president in 2024, while 28% said they want him to give it another go. Overall, 61% said they don’t want Trump to run again. Meanwhile, 27% want Trump to run for president even if he is charged with a crime, including 61% of Republicans. (NPR)

Day 595: "The appearance of fairness and integrity."

1/ The FBI found 48 empty folders that contained classified information at Mar-a-Lago. Agents also found 42 empty folders of sensitive documents labeled with instructions to return to the staff secretary or a military aide. In all, the Justice Department’s search inventory list said the FBI seized 18 documents marked as top secret, 54 marked as secret, 31 marked as confidential, and 11,179 government documents without classification markings. The Justice Department did not say whether all the contents of the folders had been recovered. (New York Times / CNN / Associated Press)

2/ A federal judge granted Trump’s request for a special master to review the documents seized by the FBI from Mar-a-Lago, temporarily halting the Justice Department’s review of the documents in its criminal investigation. U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon — a Trump appointee — authorized an independent third party to review the nearly 13,000 records taken during the Aug. 8 search for anything that may be protected by attorney-client privilege, or executive privilege as Trump is claiming. Cannon wrote that she had made her decisions “to ensure at least the appearance of fairness and integrity under the extraordinary circumstances.” While Cannon ordered the Justice Department to cease using the records for any “investigative purpose” until the review is complete, the special master appointment will not impede the ongoing national security assessments being conducted by the intelligence community. (NBC News / Politico / New York Times / Washington Post / Associated Press / NPR / CNN / ABC News)

3/ Trump’s attorney general said there is no “legitimate reason” for classified documents to have been at Mar-a-Lago. “No, I can’t think of a legitimate reason why they could be taken out of government, away from the government, if they are classified,” William Barr said on Fox News. “People say this [search] was unprecedented, but it’s also unprecedented for a president to take all this classified information and put them in a country club, okay?” Barr added that he was “skeptical” Trump’s claim that he declassified everything. Trump, meanwhile, posted a deluge of poppycock not worth repeating about Barr in response on his personal social network. (Washington Post / CNN)

4/ Surveillance video shows a Republican county official in Georgia escorting consultants working with Trump lawyer Sidney Powell into the county’s election offices on the same day the voting system was breached. The footage shows that Cathy Latham, a former GOP chairwoman of Coffee County who is under criminal investigation for posing as a fake elector in 2020, escorting a group of pro-Trump data forensics experts into the elections office shortly before noon on Jan. 7, 2021. Two of the men seen in the video with Latham, Scott Hall and Paul Maggio, have previously said that at the behest of Powell they gained access to and copied software and data from the Dominion Voting Systems machines used by Coffee County. Surveillance footage also shows that 11 days later Doug Logan and Jeffrey Lenberg visited the elections office, seeking evidence that Trump’s 2020 defeat was fraudulent. They’re under investigation for separate alleged breaches of voting machines in Michigan. Latham previously claimed in sworn testimony that she taught a full day of school that day and visited the elections office briefly after classes ended. (CNN / Washington Post)

5/ A judge removed a New Mexico county commissioner from office for his role in the Jan. 6 attack. Couy Griffin is the first public official in more than a century to be disqualified from office for violating the 14th Amendment. It also the first time a judge has formally ruled that the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol was an “insurrection.” Griffin was convicted earlier this year of trespassing when he breached barricades outside the Capitol. (New York Times / CNN)

poll/ 195 Republicans nominees running for office fully deny the legitimacy of the 2020 election, and an additional 61 candidates have raised questions around the results. There are 529 total Republicans running for office. (FiveThirtyEight)

poll/ 60% of voters said abortion should be legal in all or most cases - up from 55% in March. (Wall Street Journal)

poll/ 80% of Americans believe the U.S. is more divided now than it was during their parents’ generation. 64% of Americans said they think the potential for political violence will increase in the coming years. (CBS News)

Day 590: "Sufficient basis."

1/ The wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas pressed lawmakers to overturn Biden’s 2020 victory in both Arizona and Wisconsin. It was previously reported that Virginia “Ginni” Thomas emailed 29 Arizona state lawmakers in November and December 2020, urging them to ignore Biden’s popular-vote victory and instead “choose” their own presidential electors. New emails, however, show that Thomas also urged at least two Republican lawmakers in Wisconsin, including the chair of the Senate elections committee, to overturn Biden’s win. The Jan. 6 committee asked Thomas to sit for a voluntary interview in June. At the time, Thomas said she “can’t wait” to talk to the committee, but later said she didn’t believe there was “sufficient basis” for her to sit for an interview. (Washington Post / Associated Press)

2/ A federal judge ordered Lindsey Graham to testify before a grand jury investigating efforts to overturn Trump’s election loss in Georgia. The judge, however, limited the scope of questions that Graham could be asked “about investigatory fact-finding” he conducted in phone calls made to state elections officials. It’s the second time that Judge Leigh Martin ruled that Graham must testify in the probe by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, who intends to question Graham about two phone calls he made to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger in the aftermath of the 2020 election. (Washington Post / Politico / Bloomberg / Associated Press)

3/ Trump and the Mazars USA accounting firm agreed to turn over some “key financial documents” to the House Oversight and Reform Committee as part of its investigation into his potential conflicts of interest and foreign financial ties. The deal ends Trump’s yearslong effort to prevent Congress from obtaining his private financial records from Mazars USA. In April 2019, the committee subpoenaed Mazars USA for financial information from Trump dating back 10 years. (Associated Press / Axios / CNBC)

4/ 2021 was one of the hottest years on record as the world saw record-high greenhouse gas concentrations, ocean heat, and sea level rise, according to the annual State of the Climate report. Depending on the dataset referenced, 2021 was either the fifth- or sixth-warmest on record, making the last seven years, from 2015-2021, the seven warmest years on record. The global average sea level rose to a record-high for the 10th consecutive year, and global ocean heat content saw record levels in 2021. (CBS News / ABC News / Axios)

5/ Republicans are exploring potential lawsuits to block Biden’s plan to cancel some student debt for tens of millions of Americans. Although no lawsuit has been filed yet, Republican attorneys general in Arizona, Missouri, and Texas, as well as Ted Cruz and allies of the Heritage Foundation, have discussed a strategy that could see multiple cases filed in different courts around the country. Republicans have called debt forgiveness illegal, fiscally irresponsible, and unfair to Americans who never attended college or already paid off their education loans. (Washington Post)

6/ Math and reading scores for elementary school students fell to their lowest levels in two decades during the pandemic. Math scores dropped seven points during the pandemic – a first-ever decline – while reading scores fell five points – the largest drop in 30 years of National Assessment of Educational Progress testing. (Washington Post / Politico / New York Times / Axios)

7/ The average 30-year mortgage rate rose to 5.66% – the highest level since June. The 30-year fixed-rate was 2.87% a year ago. The 15-year fixed-rate average jumped to 4.98% from 2.18% a year ago. In August, new listings dropped 15% from the same period a year ago – the biggest annual decline since the start of the pandemic. Goldman Sachs, meanwhile, estimates that the U.S. housing market will end 2022 with an overall 22% decline in new home sales and a 17% decline in existing home sales. Declines are expected to extend into 2023, with new home sales and existing home sales dropping 8% and 14%, respectively. (Washington Post / Bloomberg / Fortune)

poll/ 60% of Texas voters said they support abortion being “available in all or most cases,” while 29% said abortion should not be available in most cases, and 11% said abortion shouldn’t be available at all. One year ago, Texas implemented what was then the most restrictive abortion law in the country. (NPR)

poll/ 52% of voters agree that the FBI search of Mar-a-Lago “was part of a legal and proper investigation to determine” whether Trump was involved in any wrongdoing, while 41% view it as “just another example of the endless witch hunt and harassment the Democrats and Biden administration continue to pursue against former President Trump.” (Wall Street Journal)

Day 589: "Very disturbing."

1/ The Justice Department obtained the search warrant for Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate after receiving evidence that highly classified government documents were “likely concealed and removed” from a storage room as part of an effort to “obstruct” the FBI’s investigation. In a 36-page court filing, federal prosecutors said Trump’s representatives falsely claimed that a “diligent search” had been conducted and all sensitive material had been returned. “The government also developed evidence that government records were likely concealed and removed from the Storage Room and that efforts were likely taken to obstruct the government’s investigation,” Justice Department counterintelligence chief Jay Bratt wrote. More than 100 additional classified items were found during the Aug. 8 search, including three classified documents in desks inside Trump’s office and material so sensitive that “even the FBI counterintelligence personnel and DOJ attorneys conducting the review required additional clearances before they were permitted to review certain documents.” In total, more than 320 classified documents have now been recovered from Mar-a-Lago. Trump’s team has a deadline of 8 p.m. ET on Wednesday to respond to the government’s filing. (New York Times / Washington Post / Politico / NPR / CNN / Wall Street Journal)

  • Days before Mar-a-Lago subpoena, Trump lawyer claimed she scoured Trump’s office, closets and drawers. “A filing by Alina Habba in the case over Trump’s business empire could create exposure in the matter of classified information being stored at the ex-president’s home.” (Politico)

  • The Justice Department will likely to wait until after the November election to announce any charges against Trump, if any, according people familiar with the matter. “The unprecedented prospect of bringing charges against a former US president is creating intense scrutiny of the Justice Department in the aftermath of its search of his home at Mar-a-Lago. A separate DOJ probe is focused on his effort to overturn the 2020 election, which he lost to President Joe Biden.” (Bloomberg)

2/ The FDA authorized updated versions of Pfizer’s and Moderna’s Covid-19 boosters that target the BA.4 and BA.5 Omicron subvariants. The CDC’s vaccine advisory group is set to meet Thursday to vote on whether to recommend the boosters, which means the Biden administration could begin offering boosters just after Labor Day. (NBC News / Politico / Washington Post / New York Times)

3/ About 3.8 million renters say they’re likely to be evicted in the next two months, according to the Census Bureau. In total, 8.5 million people are behind on their rent, and nearly half of all renters — more than 30 million people — have seen rent hikes in the past 12 months. The median rent in the U.S. topped $2,000 a month – up nearly 25% since before the pandemic. (MoneyWise)

4/ Life expectancy in the U.S. fell in 2021 for the second year in a row – the biggest two-year decline in almost 100 years. In 2019, someone born in the U.S. had an average life expectancy of 79 years, which dropped to 77 years in 2020, and to 76.1 years in 2021. Americans can now expect to live as long as they did in 1996, which Dr. Steven Woolf, a professor of population health and health equity at Virginia Commonwealth University, called “very disturbing” and a “historic” setback. (NPR / New York Times / Washington Post)

poll/ 14% of Americans view Covid-19 as a “severe” health risk in their community – down from 33% in January – and 28% of adults said they are “very” concerned about a coronavirus outbreak – down from 46% in January. 34% of “very liberal” Americans, meanwhile, say Covid-19 presents a “great risk” to their personal health and well-being – down from 47% in March. (Morning Consult / New York Times)

poll/ 76% young female voters in key battleground states oppose the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down the constitutional right to abortion, while 18% support it. Among young Republican women, 57% oppose the Dobbs decision, while 36% support it. 47% of voters aged 18-35 said they were very motivated to vote in November following the Dobbs decision – up from 38% in March. (Politico)

Day 588: "The minimal solution."

1/ Weather models are warning of a “very dangerous” and “prolonged heat wave” over western states this week and into the Labor Day weekend. More than 55 million people are currently under heat alerts in the west, including 20 of the most populated cities. More than 100 records could be broken. “We will very likely be in the midst of a full-fledged and potentially dangerous heat wave by midweek,” the National Weather Service in Los Angeles said. “Record breaking or not, this prolonged heat wave is going to be very dangerous.” (Washington Post / CNN)

2/ The Education Department will discharge another $1.5 billion in student debt for students who enrolled in Westwood College. The Education Department found that 79,000 borrowers who attended Westwood College, a private, for-profit institution that closed in 2016, were “routinely misled” about their job prospects and expected earnings after graduation. The forgiveness will happen automatically, regardless of whether former students have applied for a borrower defense discharge, the Education Department said. (The Hill / CNBC / CBS News)

3/ The Labor Department reported that there were 11.2 million job openings in July – up from the previous month’s 11 million and in excess of the 10.3 million estimated. Job openings outnumber available workers by about a 2-to-1 margin and have remained above 10 million since the summer of 2021. (CNBC / Wall Street Journal)

4/ Lindsey Graham warned that there would be “riots in the street” if Trump is prosecuted for taking highly classified government documents to Mar-a-Lago after leaving the White House. White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre criticized the “dangerous” comments about violence from “extreme Republicans.” (Washington Post / New York Times)

5/ Trump demanded that the 2020 presidential election be declared “irreparably compromised” and that a new one be held “immediately!” after news that Facebook temporarily limited a controversial story about Hunter Biden’s laptop in users’ news feeds before the 2020 election. Trump was responding to comments from Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerburg made on the Joe Rogan Experience podcast that the FBI had warned Facebook to be on the lookout for potential Russian misinformation on the platform. Nevertheless, the twice-impeached ex-president posted to his social media app, which is currently banned from the Google Play Store because of insufficient content moderation, that he should be declared the winner of the election that was decided two years ago, saying “this would be the minimal solution, declare the 2020 Election irreparably compromised and have a new Election, immediately!” Trump, meanwhile, spent Tuesday morning posting more than 60 inflammatory messages on social media, including many from QAnon accounts and 4chan. (Rolling Stone / Daily Beast / NBC News / Business Insider)

poll/ 43% of Americans believe a civil war is somewhat likely in the next 10 years. 54% of Americans who identify as “strong Republicans” say a civil war is likely in the next decade. (YouGov)

poll/ 71% of Americans approve of labor unions – the highest since 1965. 16% of Americans live in a household where at least one resident is a union member. (Gallup)

Day 587: "A lot of classified records."

1/ The Justice Department identified “a limited set” of documents seized from Mar-a-Lago that are potentially covered by attorney-client privilege. The disclosure that a Justice Department “filter team” had completed its review of documents taken from Mar-a-Lago came as Trump’s lawyers pressed a federal judge two weeks after the Aug. 8 search to appoint a special master to review the documents. The filter team is separate from the team involved in the criminal investigation and “is in the process of following the procedures” spelled out in the search warrant to handle any privilege disputes. (New York Times / Washington Post / ABC News / Bloomberg / CNN / NPR / Associated Press)

2/ A heavily redacted copy of the FBI affidavit used to justify the search of Mar-a-Lago revealed that 14 of the 15 boxes Trump returned in January contained 184 documents with classification markings, including 25 marked “top secret,” 92 marked “secret,” and 67 marked “confidential.” Several of the documents contained Trump’s “handwritten notes,” some were related to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court and not meant to be shared with foreign nations, and others refer to the systems used to protect intelligence gathered from secret human sources. The National Archives referred the matter to the Justice Department on Feb. 9 after finding what they described as “a lot of classified records.” The Justice Department wrote in its request for the search that there is “probable cause to believe that evidence of obstruction will be found” at Trump’s house. (Washington Post / Politico / NBC News / Associated Press / Axios / New York Times)

3/ The U.S. intelligence community will conduct a damage assessment of the possible risks to national security stemming from Trump’s handling of the top-secret documents stored at Mar-a-Lago. In the letter to the House Intelligence and Oversight Committees, Avril Haines, the director of national intelligence, informed the lawmakers that her office would lead an “assessment of the potential risk to national security that would result from the disclosure of the relevant documents.” Haines added that the DNI and Justice Department are “working together to facilitate a classification review of relevant materials, including those recovered during the search.” (Politico / New York Times / NBC News / CNN)

4/ A judge ruled that Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp must testify in the grand jury investigating Trump’s effort to overturn the 2020 election. Judge Robert McBurney, however, agreed to delay that testimony until after the Nov. 8 election. Kemp is running for reelection against Democrat Stacey Abrams. (NBC News / Politico / Axios / New York Times / Washington Post / Associated Press)

5/ The Biden administration will end its free at-home Covid-19 test program this week due to a lack of funding. Officials said they want to preserve supply ahead of an anticipated fall surge in cases. (NPR / NBC News / CNN)

poll/ 55% of voters approve of the Inflation Reduction Act, while 45% disapprove. 54% approve of student loan debt relief, while 46% disapprove. (CBS News)

poll/ Democrats have a 67% chance to win the Senate – up from 40% on June 1. Republicans, meanwhile, have an 77% chance to win the House in the midterm elections – down from 86% on June 1. (FiveThirtyEight)

  • Democrats see a narrow path to keeping the House. “While Democrats acknowledge they still face major hurdles, there has been an unmistakable mood shift, according to interviews with candidates, strategists and officials.” (Washington Post)

poll/ 44% of Americans approve of the job Biden is doing – up six percentage points since July. (Gallup)

Day 583: "Obstructive acts."

1/ A federal magistrate judge ordered the Justice Department to release a redacted version of the affidavit used to justified the FBI’s search of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home. Judge Bruce Reinhart accepted the Justice Department’s redactions to keep secret the identities of witnesses, law enforcement agents, people who haven’t been charged, grand jury information, as well as details about “the investigation’s strategy, direction, scope, sources, and methods.” Reinhart ordered the government to release the redacted version by noon Friday. (Washington Post / Bloomberg / New York Times / Politico / Wall Street Journal)

2/ Trump’s lawyers had concerns about the two dozen boxes of presidential records that Trump took to Mar-a-Lago and agreed that the documents should be returned, according National Archive officials. In a May 2021 email to Trump’s lawyers, the National Archives chief counsel wrote: “It is also our understanding that roughly two dozen boxes of original presidential records were kept in the Residence of the White House over the course of President Trump’s last year in office and have not been transferred to NARA, despite a determination by Pat Cipollone in the final days of the administration that they need to be.” Trump eventually returned 15 boxes of documents to the Archives in early 2022 after Gary Stern, the Archives chief counsel, told Trump officials that he would have to notify Congress. After realizing there were hundreds of pages of classified material in the returned boxes, National Archives officials referred the matter to the Justice Department. (Washington Post)

  • The FBI search of Mar-a-Lago took place after Trump tried to delay the FBI from reviewing the classified material he took when he left office for months. “Trump ignored multiple opportunities to quietly resolve the FBI concerns by handing over all classified material in his possession — including a grand jury subpoena that Trump’s team accepted May 11.” (Washington Post)

  • Trump ordered his lawyers to get “my documents” back from federal law enforcement. Trump “has been demanding that his team find a way to recover ‘all’ of the official documents that Trump has long referred to as ‘mine’ — including the highly sensitive and top secret ones.” (Rolling Stone)

  • Trump claimed he needs his White House records back so he can add them to his presidential library. While the National Archives set up a website after he left office for his presidential library, the plans for the library are unclear. (Business Insider)

  • Trump is serving as his own communications director and strategic adviser, seeking tactical political and in-the-moment public relations victories, sometimes at the risk of stumbling into substantive legal missteps. “Facing serious legal peril in the documents investigation, the former president has turned to his old playbook of painting himself as persecuted amid legal and political stumbles.” (New York Times)

3/ The Justice Department released the unredacted memo justifying former Attorney General William Barr’s decision not to prosecute Trump for obstructing Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation. The nine-page memo advised Barr that Mueller’s report “identifies no actions that, in our judgment, constituted obstructive acts, done with a nexus to a pending proceeding, with the corrupt intent necessary to warrant prosecution under obstruction-of-justice statutes.” The Mueller report, however, laid out 10 possible instances of obstruction of justice, including Trump directing his White House counsel to fire Mueller, pressuring then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions to narrow Mueller’s investigation, and the firing of the FBI Director James Comey. The D.C. Circuit ordered the release of the full memo, affirming two federal courts decisions that found Barr didn’t rely on the memo and had already made up his mind to not charge Trump before he commissioned the memo. A heavily redacted version of the memo was previously released in 2021. (Politico / Washington Post / New York Times / ABC News / CNN)

4/ The Trump administration pressured the FDA to accelerate the authorization of vaccines and unproven treatments for Covid-19 before Election Day, according to a report released by the House subcommittee on the coronavirus crisis. Senior Trump administration officials also pressed the health agency to reauthorize the use of hydroxychloroquine after the FDA revoked emergency clearance of the drug because data showed it was ineffective against Covid-19 and could cause potentially dangerous heart complications. The report concluded the “crusade” against the FDA “resulted in damaging consequences for the coronavirus response.” (Politico / CNN / Washington Post / Associated Press)

5/ Former interior secretary Ryan Zinke lied to investigators several times about whether he wrongly blocked two native tribes from opening a casino in Connecticut in 2017. Investigators found that Zinke and his chief of staff made statements to inspector general’s office “with the overall intent to mislead them.” Zinke is favored to win a House seat in Montana this fall. (Politico / Washington Post)

6/ A federal judge in Idaho blocked part of the state’s abortion ban that criminalizes performing an abortion on a woman to protect her health. Earlier this month the Justice Department sued Idaho, arguing that the law would prevent emergency room doctors from performing abortions necessary to protect the health of a pregnant patient. The preliminary injunction left intact most of the bill’s other provisions, which constitute a near-total ban on the procedure. (New York Times / Washington Post)

7/ Texans who perform abortions now face up to life in prison after the state’s trigger law went into effect. The law criminalizes performing an abortion from the moment of fertilization unless the patient is facing “a life-threatening physical condition aggravated by, caused by, or arising from a pregnancy.” The statute also directs that the attorney general to seek a civil penalty of not less than $100,000, plus attorney’s fees. (Texas Tribune)

Day 582: "A tsunami."

1/ Biden canceled up to $20,000 in student debt for Pell Grant recipients, and up to $10,000 for individual borrowers who make under $125,000 per year. Biden will also extended the federal student loan payment pause for what he called the “final time” through Dec. 31. About 43 million borrowers will benefit, and 20 million will have their debt completely canceled. The White House estimates that nearly 90% of relief will go to people earning less than $75,000. Student loan debt in the U.S. totals nearly $1.75 trillion. (Associated Press / NPR / Axios / CNBC / NBC News / USA Today / New York Times / Washington Post)

2/ Voters in rural western Michigan defunded their town’s only public library over books with LGBTQ content, accusing the librarians “grooming” children and promoting an “LGBTQ ideology.” The Patmos Library was stripped of 85% of its funding for next year and is in danger of closing. Meanwhile, in Idaho, a group of conservative Christians want to ban more than 400 books with LGBTQ characters, scenes describing sexual activity, or invoking the occult from a public library in Bonners Ferry. None of the books, however, are in the library’s collection. (Washington Post / NBC News / Wall Street Journal)

3/ Roughly 20 million U.S. homes are behind on their utility bills – about 1 in 6 American homes. The National Energy Assistance Directors Association said it’s the worst-ever crisis the group has documented as the average price consumers pay for electricity surged 15% in July from a year earlier – the biggest 12-month increase since 2006. Since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, electric utilities have shut off power to more than 3.6 million households, according to the Center for Biological Diversity. “I expect a tsunami of shutoffs.” (Bloomberg / Center for Biological Diversity)

4/ As many as 1 in 6 trees native to the contiguous U.S. are in danger of going extinct due to climate change. A new study assessing the health of all 881 tree species native to the Lower 48 found that extreme weather and prolonged droughts make trees vulnerable to invasive insects and pathogens – the predominant drivers of extinction risk. Biden’s plan to halve emissions in the U.S. by the end of the decade depends on forests to offset about 12% of its pollution. Meanwhile, a 2019 report from the United Nations estimated that 1 million species are in danger of dying out. (Washington Post)

5/ The U.S. has experienced five separate 1-in-1,000 year rain events in the past five weeks. A 1,000-year rain event has an 0.1% chance of happening in any given year. Since late July, St. Louis experienced its wettest day on record, Kentucky received more than 14 inches of rain over five days, eastern Illinois saw more than 8 inches of rain over a 12-hour period, Death Valley – the driest place in North America – came 0.01 inches shy of its all-time daily record, and Dallas recorded both its wettest day and wettest hour on record. (Washington Post)

6/ California plans to ban the sale of new gasoline-powered cars by 2035. The rule will require that all new cars sold in the state by 2035 to have zero emissions – up from 12% today. The ban will also require that 35% of all new passenger cars sold by 2026 have no emissions, which would climb to 68% by 2030. About 16% of new cars sold in California this year have zero emissions. The national average is 6%. The California Air Resources Board will vote on the measure Thursday. (New York Times / Politico / CNN)

poll/ 71% of Americans say they want to see gun laws made stricter, including about half of Republicans. 59% favor a ban on the sale of AR-15 rifles and other semiautomatic weapons and 88% say preventing mass shootings is extremely or very important. 60%, however, also say it’s very important to ensure that people can own guns for personal protection. (Associated Press)

Day 581: "Mine."

1/ The National Archives said it found more than 700 pages of classified material – including some labeled “Special Access Program” – in the 15 boxes recovered from Trump in January. The National Archives informed Trump’s lawyers about the discovery in a May 10 letter, and said it would provide the FBI with access to the documents in order to investigate “whether those records were handled in an unlawful manner” and “conduct an assessment of the potential damage resulting from the apparent manner in which these materials were stored and transported and take any necessary remedial steps.” National Archives officials spent most of 2021 trying to get the material back from Trump. His lawyers tried to argue that some of the documents were protected by executive privilege despite Biden deferring all decisions regarding executive privilege assertions to top DOJ lawyers. Two officials tasked with representing Trump to the National Archives received calls trying to facilitate the documents’ return. Trump, however, rejected their efforts, calling the boxes of classified documents “mine.” The Justice Department, meanwhile, said it has recovered more than 300 documents with classified markings from Mar-a-Lago, with each document potentially comprising multiple pages. The first set in January, a second batch was delivered in June, and the FBI seized additional material during its August search. (Politico / New York Times / NBC News / Washington Post / ABC News / Wall Street Journal / Bloomberg / CNN)

2/ The Justice Department issued a new grand jury subpoena to the National Archives for more documents as part of its investigation into the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. Earlier this year, the Justice Department requested the same documents and information that had previously been shared with the Jan. 6 committee. (CNN)

3/ Elections systems data obtained by Trump’s campaign and Sidney Powell was copied and shared with election deniers, conspiracy theorists, and right-wing commentators. SullivanStrickler was hired in Nov. 2020 to access county election systems in at least three battleground states and copy software and other data. The files were put on a server and downloaded dozens of times by “accounts associated with a Texas meteorologist who has appeared on Sean Hannity’s radio show; a podcaster who suggested political enemies should be executed; a former pro surfer who pushed disproven theories that the 2020 election was manipulated; and a self-described former ‘seduction and pickup coach’ who claims to also have been a hacker.” (Washington Post)

4/ A jury convicted two men of conspiring to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in 2020 over her Covid-19 policies. Prosecutors described the plot as a rallying cry for a civil war by anti-government extremists. Barry Croft and Adam Fox face up to life in prison. (New York Times / NBC News / Wall Street Journal)

5/ Biden is expected to announce Wednesday that he will cancel $10,000 of federal student loans per borrower making $125,000 a year or less, as well as extend the pause on student loan repayment for at least four additional months through December 2022. Roughly 45 million Americans have student debt and owe more than $1.7 trillion collectively. Borrowers are expected to resume loan payments Sept. 1. (Bloomberg / Washington Post / NBC News / Wall Street Journal)

6/ Voters in New York and Florida head to the polls tonight. Democrats in Florida will pick their nominee to face Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis this fall. Manhattan Democrats will decide between House Judiciary Committee Chair Jerry Nadler and House Oversight Committee Chair Carolyn Maloney. After their districts were merged, only one can advance. Pat Ryan, a Democrat who serves as the executive of Ulster County, has put abortion rights at the center of his campaign in the special election in New York’s 19th District. Republican Marc Molinaro, the Republican executive of Dutchess County who ran for governor in 2018, has focused more on themes of public safety and inflation. (NBC News / Politico / New York Times)

Day 580: "Reliable."

1/ Dr. Anthony Fauci will leave the federal government in December to “pursue the next chapter” of his career. The nation’s top infectious disease expert has advised seven presidents in more than five decades of public service. (Associated Press / New York Times / Washington Post)

2/ Texas, Tennessee, and Idaho will enact abortion trigger laws this week. Starting Aug. 25, nearly all abortions in Tennessee will be outlawed, except in cases related to preventing the death or serious injury of a pregnant woman. The law makes no exceptions for rape or incest. Similar to Tennessee, Idaho will impose a near-total abortion ban, but with the exception of rape, incest or medical emergency. And in Texas, doctors can now be sued by almost anyone for performing an abortion, facing life in prison and fines of more than $100,000. (NPR)

3/ Louisiana state officials denied funding a New Orleans flood control project because of the city’s opposition to the state’s near-total abortion ban. It’s the second time that the Louisiana State Bond Commission voted to delay approval of the $39 million infrastructure project that would power the drainage pumps that protect the city’s 384,000 residents from flooding. The New Orleans City Council passed a resolution this summer asking police, sheriff’s deputies, and prosecutors not to enforce the ban, which doesn’t include exemptions for rape or incest. (Politico / CNN)

4/ A federal appeals court temporarily paused an order requiring Lindsey Graham to testify before a Georgia grand jury investigating efforts to reverse the 2020 election. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit asked a lower court to consider whether it would be appropriate for a sitting U.S. senator to testify before the grand jury. Graham formally appealed a judge’s order last week that he testify, saying doing so would cause “irreparable harm” that would be “in contravention of his constitutional immunity.” (Washington Post / NPR)

5/ The federal magistrate judge who authorized the warrant to search Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate suggested that the redacted version of the affidavit could make for “a meaningless disclosure.” U.S. Magistrate Judge Bruce Reinhart said that the FBI’s affidavit justifying the warrant was “reliable,” citing the “intense public and historical interest in an unprecedented search of a former President’s residence” justifies making an effort to unseal portions of it. Reinhart, however, said he agrees with the Justice Department that the “redactions will be so extensive that they will result in a meaningless disclosure.” Reinhart ordered Justice Department officials to submit proposed redactions by Thursday at noon Eastern time. Trump, meanwhile, filed a lawsuit asking a federal judge to appoint a third-party attorney, known as a special master, to review the documents seized from Mar-a-Lago. (Politico/ Washington Post / NBC News / New York Times / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal)

  • Trump’s haphazard handling of government documents — a chronic problem — contributed to the chaos he created after he refused to accept his loss in November 2020. “His unwillingness to let go of power, including refusing to return government documents collected while he was in office, has led to a potentially damaging, and entirely avoidable, legal battle that threatens to engulf the former president and some of his aides.” (New York Times)

6/ The congressional intelligence oversight committees asked the Biden administration for the documents seized from the search of Mar-a-Lago. The inquiry from the so-called Gang of Eight follows a similar request from Senate Intelligence Committee for an assessment of possible national security risks related to Trump’s handling of the sensitive documents. The Gang of Eight includes the top two congressional leaders in each chamber, as well as the top Democrat and Republican on the House and Senate intelligence committees. White House officials, meanwhile, have privately expressed concern over the classified material that Trump took to Florida. (Politico / CNN)

7/ A federal appeals court ordered the release of then-Attorney General William Barr’s secret 2019 Justice Department memo discussing whether Trump obstructed Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals said the Justice Department failed to show that the memo from the department’s Office of Legal Counsel was part of a deliberative process advising Barr about the issue, finding that Barr never seriously considered charging Trump with obstructing the Mueller investigation. Barr told Congress in March 2019 that after “consulting” with top DOJ officials he concluded that there wasn’t enough evidence to charge Trump with obstruction. After Mueller’s full report was released, however, his office said there was “substantial evidence” of obstruction. Mueller also wrote a letter to Barr saying the attorney general had mischaracterized his team’s work. (Politico / CNN / Washington Post / NPR)

poll/ 57% of voters said the various investigations into alleged wrongdoing by Trump should continue, while 40% say they should stop. 58%, meanwhile, said America’s best years are behind it and 61% said they’re willing to carry a protest sign for a day because they’re so upset. (NBC News)

poll/ 59% of Americans said they are concerned that student loan forgiveness will make inflation worse. Among Republicans, 81% say student loan forgiveness will make inflation worse, while 41% Democrats say the same. About 44 million borrowers owe a collective $1.7 trillion in federal student loan debt. (CNBC)

poll/ 5.6% of Americans described their current life situation as “suffering” in July – the highest level on record and translates to an estimated 14 million American adults. (Gallup)

Day 576: "Brain fog."

1/ A federal judge ordered the Justice Department to redact the probable cause affidavit used to justify the FBI search of Trump’s Florida estate. Magistrate Judge Bruce Reinhart said it’s “very important” that the public have as “much information” about the search of Mar-a-Lago and that he was “inclined” to unseal some of the affidavit. The Justice Department argued that unsealing the document could jeopardize the investigation and put witnesses at risk because the investigation into Trump’s handling of classified records is still “in its early stages” and “would provide a roadmap and suggest next investigative steps we are about to take.” A coalition of news organizations argued that the affidavit should be made public given the “historically significant, unprecedented execution of a search warrant in the residence of a former president.” Reinhart said he would give the Justice Department seven days to redact the document in a way that would not undermine its ongoing investigation before making a determination about whether to unseal the affidavit. (New York Times / NBC News / Washington Post / Politico / Wall Street Journal / CNN)

2/ The Justice Department subpoenaed the National Archives in May for all the documents that were given to the Jan. 6 committee. The subpoena asked for “all materials, in whatever form,” including the more than 770 pages of documents that Trump unsuccessfully tried to claim executive privilege over. The subpoena is not related to the FBI search of Mar-a-Lago. (New York Times)

3/ The Trump Organization’s former chief financial officer pleaded guilty to 15 tax fraud charges. Allen Weisselberg’s plea bargain requires him to testify truthfully as a prosecution witness when the Trump Organization goes on trial in October on related charges, as well as admit his role in conspiring with the company to carry out the scheme to evade taxes. Trump himself is not charged in the case and Weisselberg’s plea deal doesn’t require him to cooperate in the district attorney’s broader criminal investigation against Trump. (NBC News / New York Times / Politico / Associated Press / Washington Post)

4/ New coronavirus cases reported globally dropped 24% in the last week, according to the WHO. While global Covid-19 deaths fell 6% last week, they rose in the Western Pacific and Southeast Asia by 31% and 12% respectively. The Biden administration, meanwhile, is planning to end the underwriting for Covid-19 shots and treatments, shifting more control of pricing and coverage to the healthcare industry. (Associated Press / Wall Street Journal)

5/ People who’ve had Covid-19 face an increased risk of psychotic disorders like “brain fog,” psychosis, seizures, and dementia for at least two years, according to a large-scale University of Oxford study. The findings, based on the records of more than 1.25 million patients, show increased rates of neurological and psychological problems higher than after other types of respiratory infections. Last year, researchers reported that 1 in 3 patients experienced mood disorders, strokes, or dementia six months after Covid-19 infection. (Politico / Axios / STAT News / Bloomberg)

6/ The Biden administration will make an additional 1.8 million doses of the monkeypox vaccine available, allowing states and localities to start ordering more vaccine doses sooner than originally planned. The Department of Health and Human Services is also preparing an additional 50,000 doses of the antiviral treatment to help those who have already tested positive for monkeypox. More than 13,500 cases of monkeypox have been confirmed in the U.S. (CNN / Axios / USA Today)

7/ A Florida appeals court upheld a ruling that denied a 16-year-old an abortion because she was not “sufficiently mature” enough. Jane Doe 22-B is parentless and a ward of the state until she turns 18. Under Florida law, an abortion cannot be performed on a minor without the consent of a parent or guardian. (NBC News / Washington Post)

poll/ 54% of Americans – including 76% of Republicans – think there’s an “invasion” at the southern border. 56% of Americans believe immigrants are an important part of our American identity – down from 75% in January 2018. Border Patrol has apprehended migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border more than 1.8 million times since October – a record. (NPR / Ipsos)

Day 575: "Now the real work begins."

1/ The director of the CDC announced a restructuring of the agency to “transform” it to better respond to public health emergencies. CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said the agency had failed to effectively respond to the coronavirus pandemic, saying “in our big moment, our performance did not reliably meet expectations.” Walensky’s plan calls for less emphasis on the publication of scientific papers about rare diseases and more focus on efforts that prioritize public health needs by more rapidly turning research into health recommendations. The restructuring follows two reviews conducted in recent months into the CDC’s pandemic response and operations. (New York Times / Washington Post / NBC News / Politico / Wall Street Journal / Bloomberg)

  • Monkeypox cases jumped 20% in the last week to 35,000 across 92 countries. Nearly all reported cases are in Europe and the Americas. (CNBC)

  • Inside America’s monkeypox crisis. “100 days after the outbreak was first detected in Europe, no country has more cases than the United States — with public health experts warning the virus is on the verge of becoming permanently entrenched here.” (Washington Post)

2/ Federal Reserve officials indicated that they likely need to continue raising interest rates until inflation comes down substantially. Last month, officials voted to raise their benchmark rate by 0.75 percentage point in July, following June’s increase of the same size – the largest rate increases since 1994. Overall retail sales, meanwhile, were unchanged in July, slowed by the falling price of gasoline. Excluding the sale of gas and cars, retail sales rose 0.7% last month. (Wall Street Journal / Bloomberg / CNBC / New York Times / Reuters)

3/ Pence said he would “consider” to testifying before the Jan. 6 committee “if there was an invitation.” “I would have to reflect on the unique role that I was serving as vice president,” Pence continued. “It would be unprecedented in history for the vice president to be summoned to testify on Capitol Hill. But, as I said, I don’t want to prejudge ever any formal invitation rendered to us.” During the same event, Pence also called on Republicans to stop attacking the FBI over the search of Mar-a-Lago. (Politico / New York Times / Bloomberg / USA Today / ABC News)

4/ Liz Cheney lost her Republican primary for Wyoming’s House seat by more than 35 points to a candidate endorsed by Trump. “This primary election is over, but now the real work begins,” Cheney said in her concession speech, noting that she had called opponent Harriet Hageman to congratulate her. Cheney, however, said she plans to be part of a bipartisan coalition that will do “whatever it takes” to keep Trump from holding office again, saying “I believe that Donald Trump continues to pose a very grave threat and risk to our republic.” Cheney also acknowledged that she was “thinking” about running for president in 2024. Cheney is now the eighth of the 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump to leave the House. Four others have opted against reelection, and four more lost GOP primaries. (NBC News / New York Times / NPR / Washington Post)

  • Six takeaways from the primaries in Wyoming and Alaska. (CNN)

  • Sarah Palin advanced to the general election for Alaska’s House seat. In the Senate all-party primary, Lisa Murkowski and Kelly Tshibaka will advance to the general election alongside Democrat Patricia Chesbro. (NBC News / New York Times)

5/ The Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general refused congressional requests for documents and staff testimony about the deleted Secret Service text messages that agents exchanged during the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. Joseph Cuffari told Congress last month that Secret Service text messages from Jan. 5 and 6, 2021, had been erased. Cuffari’s office, however, had delayed telling Congress about the missing messages for months. The House committees on Homeland Security and Oversight and Reform accused Cuffari of intentionally delaying their investigation into the Capitol attack, saying his “justifications for this noncompliance appear to reflect a fundamental misunderstanding of Congress’s authority and your duties as an inspector general.” The lawmakers also called on Cuffari to recuse himself from the investigation, a demand he refused along with blocking the release some records and interviews with staff members. (Washington Post / New York Times)

Day 574: "Never had a doubt."

1/ The Lower Colorado River Basin crossed an unprecedented water shortage threshold that will require mandatory water cuts. The Bureau of Reclamation declared a “Tier 2” water shortage, which will reduce the amount of water that Arizona, Nevada, and Mexico can draw from the Colorado River starting in 2023 by 21%, 8%, and 7%, respectively. It’s the second year in a row that Arizona, Nevada, and Mexico will face water cuts and the bureau called for water conservation measures through 2026 in all seven states in the Colorado River Basin. The historic drought has drained about three-quarters of the water from lakes Powell and Mead, threatening their ability to generate hydropower. (Washington Post / CNN / Wall Street Journal / Bloomberg / Associated Press)

2/ Biden signed the Democrats’ landmark climate change, health care, and tax bill into law. The Inflation Reduction Act will invest $370 billion into combating climate change and bolstering low-emission forms of energy, while raising about $700 billion through corporate tax increases, prescription drug savings, and stepped up tax evasion enforcement. “This bill is the biggest step forward on climate, ever,” Biden said. The bill, which represents America’s largest investment in fighting climate change, will help the U.S. cut greenhouse gas emissions by an estimated 40% below 2005 levels by 2030. The package, however, falls far short of the $3.5 trillion package Biden initially laid out, with safety net items stripped out by Joe Manchin and tax increases blocked by Kyrsten Sinema. At one point during the signing ceremony, Biden glanced at Joe Manchin and quipped: “Joe, I never had a doubt.” (New York Times / Washington Post / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal / NBC News / CNN / ABC News / Associated Press)

3/ The Biden administration will cancel all remaining federal student loan debt for 208,000 students who attended the now-defunct for-profit ITT Technical Institute. The $3.9 billion in relief brings the total amount of loan discharges approved under Biden to nearly $32 billion. The Education Department found that ITT Tech engaged in widespread and pervasive misrepresentations, recruitment tactics, lending practices, and job placement figures. (CNN / CNBC)

4/ Jill Biden tested positive for Covid-19. She is experiencing “mild symptoms” but was prescribed a course of Paxlovid. (Politico / CNN / Associated Press)

5/ The Justice Department objected to releasing the affidavit used to justify the FBI search of Trump’s home, saying its release “would serve as a roadmap to the government’s ongoing investigation,” “compromise future investigative steps,” and “likely chill” cooperation with witnesses. “The fact that this investigation implicates highly classified materials further underscores the need to protect the integrity of the investigation and exacerbates the potential for harm if information is disclosed to the public prematurely or improperly,” DOJ officials wrote in response to a request by media organizations to unseal the supporting affidavit. The Justice Department, however, said it intends to unseal less sensitive information associated with the warrant. A federal judge in Florida will hear arguments Thursday over whether to make the affidavit public. (New York Times / Politico / Wall Street Journal / Washington Post / Associated Press / ABC News / CNBC / Bloomberg)

6/ The FBI interviewed Trump’s White House counsel and his deputy counsel about the classified documents stored at Mar-a-Lago. Pat Cipollone and Patrick Philbin are the most senior former Trump officials interviewed in the criminal investigation of possible mishandling of classified information and obstruction. The two were designated as Trump’s representatives to handle material requested by the National Archives under the Presidential Records Act. (New York Times / CNN / ABC News)

7/ The Trump Organization’s longtime chief financial officer is in talks with Manhattan prosecutors to plead guilty to more than a dozen tax-fraud counts. Allen Weisselberg, however, will not cooperate with the district attorney’s investigation into Trump. Weisselberg and the Trump Organization were charged as part of an “off the books” scheme over 15 years to help top officials in the Trump Organization avoid paying taxes. Weisselberg is expected to be sentenced to 5 months in jail as part of the plea. He faced up to 15 years in prison if convicted at trial. (New York Times / NBC News / Bloomberg / NPR)

Day 573: "Extraordinary impacts."

1/ The House passed the Inflation Reduction Act over unanimous Republican opposition, sending the multibillion-dollar climate, health, and tax bill to Biden’s desk to be signed into law. The legislation marks the single largest federal investment in addressing climate change and the most substantial change to national health care policy since the Affordable Care Act. In total, more than $370 billion will be dedicated to climate and energy programs aimed at reducing U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by 40% below 2005 levels by the end of the decade. (Washington Post / New York Times / ABC News / NBC News / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal)

2/ More than 107 million Americans will live in an “extreme heat belt” by 2053 and experience heat index temperatures over 125 degrees at least one day a year – the extreme danger level on the National Weather Service’s heat index. A new report using hyperlocal data and climate projections finds that the future heat belt will stretch from Texas, Louisiana, and the Southeast through Missouri and Iowa to the Wisconsin border. Texas and Florida will bear the brunt of climate change, with the number of extreme heat days nearly doubling in the next thirty years. The model also finds that next year more than 8 million American are expected to experience heat index temperatures above 125 degrees. The heat index is what it feels like when humidity and air temperature are combined. It is commonly referred to as the “feels like” temperature. (NBC News / Bloomberg / CNBC)

3/ A new study finds that California is overdue for a once-a-century “megaflood” that could drop up to 100 inches of rain and 34 feet of snow. California last experienced a month-long, atmospheric river superstorm in 1862. The paper warns of “extraordinary impacts” and reports that such an event could transform “the interior Sacramento and San Joaquin valleys into a temporary but vast inland sea nearly 300 miles in length and [inundate] much of the now densely populated coastal plain in present-day Los Angeles and Orange Counties.” Most of California’s major highways would also be washed out or become inaccessible. A separate study concluded that human-caused climate change will intensify atmospheric rivers and could double or triple their economic damage in the western U.S. by the 2090s. Government agencies last studied a hypothetical California megaflood more than a decade ago and estimated that it could cause $725 billion in damages – three times the projected fallout from a severe San Andreas Fault earthquake, and five times the economic damage from Hurricane Katrina. While researchers can’t say when the next megaflood will strike, forecasters say there’s a 0.5 to 1.0% chance of it happening in any given year. (Washington Post / New York Times)

4/ The Justice Department is investigating Trump for violations of the Espionage Act. A federal magistrate judge unsealed the warrant authorizing the search of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort on Friday, which shows that agents were seeking all “physical documents and records constituting evidence, contraband, fruits of crime, or other items illegally possessed in violation of three potential crimes,” including a part of the Espionage Act, which outlaws unauthorized retention of national security information that could harm the U.S. or aid a foreign adversary. The warrant also cited obstruction of justice as one of the potential crimes justifying the search, as well as the possible destruction of government records as another potential charge. Trump, meanwhile, argued that he used his authority to declassify the material before he left office. The three laws cited in the search warrant, however, don’t depend on whether the documents were classified or not. The FBI recovered 11 sets of classified documents from Mar-a-Lago, including some marked as top secret and meant to be only available in special government facilities. Federal agents were reportedly looking for classified documents related to nuclear weapons in particular, which Trump called a “hoax” before accusing the FBI of planting evidence. In total, agents took around 20 boxes from the property. In June, at least one Trump lawyer certified that all documents marked as classified and held in boxes in storage at Mar-a-Lago had been returned to the government. Leaders of the House Intelligence committee and House Oversight committee asked the Director of National Intelligence to initiate a review of Trump’s handling of the documents and potential harm to national security. (New York Times / Wall Street Journal / Washington Post / Politico / NBC News / Bloomberg)

  • Intelligence officials sometimes purposely withheld sensitive information from Trump during classified briefings for fear of the “damage” he’d do if he knew. While in office, Trump shared classified information with the public multiple times, including revealing that he shared classified information with Russian diplomats, tweeting a classified satellite photo of an Iranian space facility, and disclosing that he ended a covert CIA program to arm anti-Assad rebels in Syria. (New York Times / Business Insider)

  • Rand Paul called for the repeal of the Espionage Act, claiming the FBI’s search of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home was an “egregious affront to the 1st Amendment.” The Espionage Act made it illegal for people to obtain or disclose information relating to national defense that could harm the U.S. or benefit another country. (NPR / Axios)

  • The National Archives shot down Trump’s baseless claim that Obama “kept 33 million pages of documents, much of them classified.” In its statement, the National Archives and Records Administration said that it obtained “exclusive legal and physical custody” of Obama’s records when he left office in 2017, and that about 30 million pages of unclassified records were transferred to a NARA facility in the Chicago area and that they continue to be maintained “exclusively by NARA.” (Washington Post)

  • Trump frantically packed up documents to take with him in the last days of his presidency after accepting he was leaving the White House. “West Wing aides and government movers frantically tossed documents and other items into banker boxes that were shipped to a storage room at his Mar-a-Lago club in Florida along with other, previously packed records set aside by Trump, sometimes erratically so, according to two sources with knowledge of Trump’s move and records issues.” (NBC News / Wall Street Journal / Business Insider)

  • Trump claimed that he “will do whatever” he can “to help the country” after the FBI’s search of Mar-a-Lago. Trump, however, added: “The people of this country are not going to stand for another scam.” (Fox News)

5/ The FBI seized Scott Perry’s phone a day after agents searched Mar-a-Lago. While Perry hasn’t said why his phone was seized, the Justice Department’s inspector general has been investigating former Justice Department official Jeffrey Clark and others as it examines the department’s role in seeking to assist Trump to block certification of the 2020 election results. Separately, the Jan. 6 committee previously subpoenaed Perry for information about his effort to help install Clark as acting attorney general. Perry has has refused to appear. (Politico / CNN / New York Times / Washington Post / Associated Press)

6/ Rudy Giuliani is a “target” in Georgia’s criminal investigation into efforts to overturn the 2020 election. Giuliani is set to testify before the Fulton Country special grand jury investigating the case on Wednesday after trying to delay or avoid travel to Atlanta to testify, citing recent surgery to have a heart stent implanted. Meanwhile, a federal judge rejected Lindsey Graham’s request to throw out a subpoena compelling him to testify before the same grand jury. (New York Times / Politico / Washington Post / CNN / ABC News / NBC News)

7/ A federal grand jury investigating the Jan. 6 attack subpoenaed Trump’s White House lawyer for documents and testimony. Eric Herschmann represented Trump during the first impeachment trial. Pat Cipollone, who served as White House counsel, and Patrick Philbin, who served as deputy counsel, have also been subpoenaed. (Politico)

8/ Lawyers associated with Trump organized a multistate effort to access voting equipment and sensitive voting data in at least three battleground states as part of the effort to overturn the 2020 election. Under subpoena, a forensic data firm turned over documents showing that Sidney Powell and an attorney for the Trump campaign directed and paid for the firm to copy election data in Georgia, Michigan, and Nevada. (Washington Post)

Day 569: "Deplorable and dangerous."

1/ A group of historians warned Biden that the current moment in America is among the most dangerous to democracy in modern history, comparing the threat to democracy to the pre-Civil War era and to pro-fascist movements before World War II. The group of scholars focused on the rise of totalitarianism around the world and the threat to American democracy. (Washington Post)

2/ Attorney General Merrick Garland “personally approved the decision to seek a search warrant” for Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence and asked a Florida judge to unseal the warrant. Garland said he filed the motion to unseal both the warrant and the receipt that lists the items seized, citing the “substantial public interest” in the matter. Garland said the Justice Department “does not take such actions lightly” and first pursues “less intrusive” means to retrieve material, referring to the grand jury subpoena Trump received this spring for classified documents he improperly took to Mar-a-Lago when he left the White House. Investigators reportedly believed that the classified documents at Mar-a-Lago were so sensitive and related to national security that the Justice Department had to act. (New York Times / Washington Post / NBC News / CNN / Wall Street Journal / Bloomberg / ABC News)

  • FBI Quest for Trump Documents Started With Breezy Chats, Tour of a Crowded Closet. (Wall Street Journal)

3/ A man wearing body armor and carrying an AR-15 style rifle fired a nail gun into the FBI’s Cincinnati office. The man exchanged gunfire with law enforcement officers after fleeing the area. The attack came days after FBI agents executed a search warrant at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home, and a day after FBI Director Christopher Wray called the violent threats circulating online against federal agents and the Justice Department “deplorable and dangerous.” (Washington Post / New York Times / Associated Press / Politico / NPR)

4/ The Arctic has warmed nearly four times faster than the global average over the past 40 years. Scientists previously estimated that the Arctic is heating up about twice as fast as the rest of the planet, yet a new study finds that the region has warmed 3.8 times faster than the globe overall. (New York Times / NPR / Washington Post / CNN)

5/ Gas prices dropped below $4 a gallon for the first time in more than five months. The national average price has fallen for 58 consecutive days. (Associated Press / Washington Post / New York Times / CNBC)

6/ The number of Americans filing new unemployment claims reached its highest level this year. Initial jobless claims rose 14,000 to a seasonally adjusted 262,000 for the week ended Aug. 6 – slightly above July’s peak of 261,000 and above the 2019 weekly average of 218,000. (Wall Street Journal / Reuters)

7/ Rental costs in the U.S. are rising at their fastest pace in more than three decades, with the median rent surpassing $2,000 a month for the first time ever. Over the past year, rent was up 6.3%. In the years before the pandemic, the cost of rent typically climbed 3.5% a year. Mortgage rates, meanwhile, jumped back above 5%, after briefly dipping below that level for the first time in months a week earlier. Last year, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 2.87%. About 40% of households – roughly 5.4 million households – that are not current on their rent or mortgage payments said they could face eviction or foreclosure in the next two months. (Bloomberg / New York Times / CNN / Yahoo News / Washington Post)

8/ The U.S. murder rate climbed 6% in 2021, a modest increase compared to 2020, when the U.S. murder rate climbed nearly 30%. There were roughly 21 million guns sold in the U.S. in 2020, while in 2021 fewer than 19 million guns were sold. (CNBC)

poll/ 49% of voters approve of the FBI search of Mar-a-Lago. 42% said Trump either “definitely” or “probably” broke the law while he was president. (Politico)

Day 568: "Absolutely no choice."

1/ Trump invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination during a deposition with the New York attorney general’s office. Since March 2019, Letitia James’s office has been investigating whether the Trump Organization manipulated asset values to secure more favorable loans and tax benefits. Attorneys for James’ office have said in court that their investigation has collected evidence that Trump and his company have repeatedly used “fraudulent and misleading financial statements,” and that many of those statements were “generally inflated as part of a pattern to suggest that Mr. Trump’s net worth was higher than it otherwise would have appeared.” Trump nevertheless said he had “absolutely no choice” but to take the Fifth during his under-oath interview. Trump, Trump Jr., and Ivanka Trump all agreed to each sit for sworn testimony after losing a court battle to quash the subpoenas. While it’s unclear whether Ivanka or Trump Jr. invoked the Fifth, Eric Trump did so more than 500 times during a deposition in the same investigation in 2020. At a campaign stop in Iowa in 2016, Trump suggested that people who cite the Fifth were guilty, saying: “If you’re innocent, why are you taking the Fifth Amendment?” (New York Times / Washington Post / Bloomberg / CNN / Politico / Associated Press / NPR / CNBC / CBS News)

2/ The FBI search of Mar-a-Lago was reportedly focused on whether Trump and his aides had returned all the documents and other material that were government property. Following a Justice Department investigation into Trump’s handling of classified and other material, officials became suspicious that Trump had not fully complied with requests to return material taken from the White House. While Trump returned 15 boxes of material to the National Archives in January, FBI agents removed another 12 boxes from Mar-a-Lago on Tuesday that had been in the resort’s basement. The warrant authorizing the search was reportedly based on information from an FBI confidential human source, who identified what classified documents Trump was still had and the location of those documents. (Washington Post / New York Times / Wall Street Journal / Politico / Newsweek

3/ U.S. inflation rose 8.5% in July from a year ago, a slight deceleration from 9.1% in June. The slower pace reflects lower energy costs and a drop in the price of gasoline, which has have fallen for 57 consecutive days since reaching a high of more than $5 a gallon in June. (Wall Street Journal / Bloomberg / CNBC / Washington Post / New York Times)

4/ Biden signed legislation expanding health care benefits to millions of veterans who were exposed to toxic burn pits during their military service. The bipartisan bill, known as the PACT Act, is the most significant expansion of veterans’ health care and benefits in more than 30 years. (NBC News / ABC News / Washington Post)

5/ The Justice Department charged a member of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps with plotting the assassination of John Bolton, who served in senior national security positions during the Trump and Bush administrations. Prosecutors said Shahram Poursafi had offered $300,000 to hire someone to kill Bolton at his office in D.C. or his home in Maryland. The Justice Department said the plot was likely in retaliation for the U.S. killing of top Iranian commander Qassem Soleimani in January 2020. (Washington Post / NPR / Wall Street Journal / Politico / New York Times / CNN)

poll/ 63% of Americans support using the popular vote to select a president, compared to 35% who would rather use the electoral college system. (NPR)

poll/ 70% of Americans say support using a ballot measure to decide abortion rights in their state. 54% said they would vote in favor of making abortion legal if there were a ballot measure. (USA Today)

poll/ 40% of Americans approve of the job Biden is doing as president – his highest approval rating in two months. 55%, meanwhile, disapprove. (Reuters)

Day 567: "Another day in paradise."

1/ The FBI executed a federal search warrant at Mar-a-Lago connected to the 15 boxes of presidential documents that Trump improperly took from the White House. The National Archives previously confirmed that it found many pages of classified information in the boxes, which it retrieved in January. The same month, the National Archives asked the Justice Department to examine whether Trump’s handling of White House records violated federal law. To get a search warrant – done under FBI Director Christopher Wray, who was appointed to the role by Trump after he fired the previous FBI director, James Comey – the FBI would have needed to convince a federal judge that it had probable cause that a crime had been committed, and that agents might find evidence at Mar-a-Lago. Trump was in New York City at the time of the search, but released a statement saying his “beautiful home […] is currently under siege, raided, and occupied by a large group of FBI agents,” adding: “They even broke into my safe!” In June, federal agents – including a Justice Department counterintelligence official – visited Mar-a-Lago seeking more information about potentially classified material that Trump had taken to Florida from the White House. The FBI’s search of Trump’s home is separate from the Justice Department’s investigation into the Jan. 6 attack. Trump is also facing four more potential criminal investigations for fraudulent asset valuations at the Trump Organization by New York State, tax avoidance schemes by the Manhattan District Attorney, election interference in Georgia, and efforts to create fake electors and pressure Pence into overturning the 2020 election. Kevin McCarthy, meanwhile, suggested that he’ll investigate Attorney General Merrick Garland if Republicans took control of the House in November. Hours after the search, Trump addressed the FBI activity during a tele-rally for Sarah Palin, calling it “Another day in paradise. This is a strange day.” (New York Times / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / Politico / CNN / NBC News / New York Times / NPR)

  • Trump argued that he was too busy during his single term in office to sue Hillary Clinton before the four-year statute of limitations expired. Trump claims that Clinton, the Democratic Party, and several others, conspired to falsely accuse him and his 2016 campaign of colluding with Russia. (Bloomberg)

2/ Newly revealed photos show two occasions that Trump apparently tried to flush documents down the toilet. The photos were given to Maggie Haberman, a New York Times reporter, by a Trump White House source, and appear to be written in Trump’s handwriting in black marker. One image is from a White House toilet and the other one is from an overseas trip. White House staff previously reported finding Trump’s toilet periodically clogged with paper. (Axios / CNN)

3/ A federal appeals court ruled that the House can obtain Trump’s tax returns from the IRS. In April 2019, the House Ways and Means Committee requested six years of Trump’s tax returns under a law that allows the disclosure of an individual’s returns to the committee. The Trump Treasury Department, however, refused to comply with the request and the House filed a lawsuit seeking to enforce it in early July 2019. The ruling will likely be appealed to the Supreme Court. (CNN / New York Times / Politico / USA Today)

4/ Trump’s legal team is in direct communication with Justice Department officials about executive privilege issues related to its criminal probe into the Jan. 6 attack. The conversations are focused on whether Trump would be able to shield conversations he had with witnesses while he was president from a federal criminal grand jury. John Rowley, a former federal prosecutor, is representing Trump in talks with the DOJ. Rowley also represents Peter Navarro, who was charged with contempt of Congress for his refusal to cooperate with the Jan. 6 committee. The committee, meanwhile, is scheduled to speak with former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo today. Pompeo and then-Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin were among Trump’s cabinet members who discussed the possibility of invoking the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office after the events of Jan. 6, 2021. (CNN / Politico / New York Times / Bloomberg)

  • The Atlanta-area district attorney investigating Trump’s effort to overturn the 2020 election rejected Rudy Giuliani’s request to postpone his grand jury appearance. Giuliani was ordered by a New York state judge to appear for an Aug. 9 grand jury interview after he failed to appear at a hearing to challenge a subpoena from District Attorney Fani Willis. Giuliani claimed that a recent medical procedure prevented him from flying for several weeks (Politico)

5/ Biden signed legislation providing $52 billion in subsidies to the semiconductor industry. The CHIPS and Science Act provides $10 billion for regional technology hubs, a 25% investment tax credit for the manufacturing of semiconductors and related equipment, and authorizes roughly $100 billion in spending over five years on scientific research, including more than $80 billion for the National Science Foundation. (NPR / Washington Post)

6/ Biden signed ratification documents for Finland and Sweden to join the NATO alliance. In May, both nations formally applied to NATO following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. NATO ambassadors ratified the accession protocols in July, and member states are currently in the process of doing the same. Putin, meanwhile, is adamantly opposed to any NATO expansion, calling it an imperialistic threat. (Politico / CNBC / Associated Press)

Day 566: "The Senate is making history."

1/ The Senate passed the largest investment in U.S. history to counter climate change, putting the nation on a path to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 40% below their 2005 levels by 2030. The Inflation Reduction Act would also lower health-care costs, reduce the federal deficit, and be paid for through new taxes – including a 15% minimum tax on large corporations and a 1% tax on stock buybacks – and funding to boost IRS tax law enforcement. “After more than a year of hard work, the Senate is making history,” Chuck Schumer said shortly before final passage. “This bill will kickstart the era of affordable clean energy in America, it’s a game changer, it’s a turning point and it’s been a long time coming.” Senate Democrats passed the $740 billion packaged on a 51-50 vote – with all Republicans voting no – after Harris cast the tie-breaking vote. Republican lawmakers, however, successfully stripped a $35 price cap on the cost of insulin for private insurers from the package. More than 1 in 5 insulin users on private medical insurance pay more than $35 per month for the medicine. The bill now heads to the House, which is expected to pass it later this week, and send it to Biden for his signature. (New York Times / Washington Post / Politico / NBC News / CNN / Wall Street Journal / USA Today / Reuters / Associated Press / NPR)

2/ Climate change could exacerbate 58% of known human infectious diseases. Researchers found that 218 out of the known 375 human infectious diseases were made worse by one of 10 types of extreme weather connected to climate change, such as warming, floods or drought. Flooding, for example, can spread hepatitis, while rising temperatures can expand the life of mosquitoes carrying malaria, and droughts can bring rodents infected with hantavirus into communities as they search for food. Nine pathogens were “exclusively diminished” by climatic hazards. (Ars Technica / ABC News / PBS NewsHour)

3/ Indiana is the first state to pass a near-total ban on abortion since the Supreme Court struck down Roe v. Wade. The law’s passage came three days after voters in Kansas rejected an amendment that would have stripped abortion rights protections from their State Constitution. The bill, which will go into effect Sept. 15, allows abortion only in cases of rape, incest, and lethal fetal anomalies. Doctors in the state who perform illegal abortions will lose their medical licenses. (NPR / New York Times / Washington Post)

4/ The Biden administration authorized a $1 billion package of ammunition, weapons, and equipment for Ukraine – the largest delivery of military aid yet. In total, the U.S. has committed $9.8 billion in security assistance to Ukraine since Russia’s invasion began in late February. (Associated Press / Politico / CNBC)

5/ The Jan. 6 committee received about two years’ worth of Alex Jones’ text messages. The messages were handed over to the committee by Mark Bankston, the attorney who represented Sandy Hook parents who successfully sued Jones and won $45.2 million in a civil trial. The committee subpoenaed Jones in November, demanding a deposition and information related to his efforts to spread misinformation about the 2020 election and a rally on the day of the attack. (CNN)

6/ The FBI confirmed that it sent tips the agency had collected about Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh to the Trump White House without investigation. FBI Director Christopher Wray also confirmed that the Trump White House directed which witnesses the FBI was permitted to interview. In total, the FBI collected more than 4,500 tips during its investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct by Kavanaugh. (Vanity Fair / Esquire / Daily Beast)

poll/ 69% of Americans think the nation’s economy is getting worse – the highest level since 2008. 12% think the economy is getting better, while 18% think it is staying the same. (ABC News / Bloomberg)

Day 562: "Breonna Taylor should be alive today."

1/ The Justice Department charged four current and former Louisville police officers with violating Breonna Taylor’s civil rights, who was shot and killed by police in 2020 while she was sleeping. The charges against Joshua Jaynes, Kyle Meany, Kelly Goodlett, and Brett Hankison include conspiracy, use of force, obstruction of justice, as well as various civil rights violations. They are the first federal charges in connection with Taylor’s killing. “Breonna Taylor should be alive today,” Attorney General Merrick Garland said, adding that the falsification of the affidavit used to obtain the search warrant needed to authorize the raid had “violated federal civil rights laws, and that those violations resulted in Ms. Taylor’s death.” (CBS News / Associated Press / New York Times / Washington Post / NBC News)

2/ The Biden administration declared monkeypox a public health emergency, a designation that will free up emergency funds and speed distribution of the vaccine. The declaration comes more than a week after the WHO declared the outbreak a global health emergency. The U.S. has confirmed more than 6,600 cases of monkeypox – about 25% of confirmed infections worldwide. Health officials estimate that the government needs about 3.5 million doses to fight the outbreak. The U.S is currently distributing about 1.1 million doses due in part to the Department of Health and Human Services failing to ask the manufacturer early on to process bulk stock of the vaccine it already owned into vials for distribution. The U.S. owns the equivalent of about 16.5 million doses of the vaccine in bulk storage. The next delivery of half a million doses isn’t expected until October. Further, roughly 5 million more doses won’t be delivered until next year. The last time the U.S. declared a public health emergency was in response to Covid-19 in January 2020. (Politico / Axios / New York Times / Washington Post / CNN / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal / New York Times / CNBC)

3/ Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis suspended Tampa’s elected prosecutor for pledging not to prosecute abortions and gender-affirming care, accusing Andrew Warren of “incompetence and willful defiance of his duties.” After the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, Warren and 90 other elected prosecutors across the country signed a joint statement saying that “enforcing abortion bans runs counter to the obligations and interests we are sworn to uphold.” Warren also signed a statement in June 2021, along more than 70 state prosecutors and attorneys generals, vowing not to prosecute crimes related to gender-affirming care. DeSantis, nonetheless, said Warren had “put himself publicly above the law” by signing the letters, adding: “Our government is a government of laws, not a government of men.” FBI Director Christopher Wray, meanwhile, told senators that the bureau has opened “a number” of investigations into abortion-related violent crime incidents. (Tampa Bay Times / New York Times / Wall Street Journal / CNN / The Hill)

4/ Alex Jones conceded that the 20 first graders and six educators killed at Sandy Hook Elementary in 2012 – the deadliest school shooting in U.S. history – was “100 percent real” and not a hoax staged by crisis actors. Under oath and facing $150 million or more in damages for his false claims, the Infowars conspiracy theorist admitted that it was irresponsible of him to declare the school shooting a “false flag” by the government intended to force gun control on Americans. At one point, Jones was told that his legal team had inadvertently sent the contents of his cellphone – including the last two years’ worth of texts – to the lawyers for the Sandy Hook families, which showed that Jones had failed to produce court-ordered documents and contradicted claims that he had made under oath about his finances. Mark Bankston, a lawyer for the parents, asked Jones, “Do you know what perjury is?” Jones replied: “I’m not a tech guy.” (New York Times / Associated Press / NBC News / Washington Post)

5/ The Jan. 6 committee requested two years’ worth of records from Alex Jones’ phone as part of its investigation into the Capitol riot.The committee had previously requested records and a deposition from Jones regarding his role in the pro-Trump rally that preceded the riot. (Associated Press / New York Times / Axios / Rolling Stone)

Day 561: "America can breathe a sigh of relief."

1/ Kansas voters rejected a proposed state constitutional amendment that would have allowed the legislature to ban abortions. About 60% of voters wanted to maintain abortion protections compared with roughly 40% who wanted to strip them from the state constitution. Kansas was the first state to vote on abortion rights since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. “This vote makes clear what we know: the majority of Americans agree that women should have access to abortion and should have the right to make their own health care decisions,” Biden said in a statement. (Washington Post / NPR / Politico / New York Times / Bloomberg)

2/ Biden plans to sign a second executive order to support individuals traveling out state for an abortion. Both orders direct Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra to consider “all appropriate actions to ensure health care providers comply with federal non-discrimination laws so that women receive medically necessary care without delay.” It also calls for Becerra to “consider action to advance access” to abortion, including through Medicaid, for those who travel out of state. (New York Times / CNN / USA Today)

3/ The Senate passed legislation that expands medical care to an estimated 3.5 million veterans who may have been exposed to toxic burn pits on U.S. military bases. It’s the largest expansion of care in VA history, and is expected to cost $280 billion over a decade. While the House and Senate already passed the measure, a technical error required another Senate vote last week. However, 41 Republican senators voted against advancing the bill after Joe Manchin announced a deal with Chuck Schumer on a separate, unrelated tax and spending bill. The PACT Act was ultimately approved 86 to 11 several days later, and now heads to Biden for his signature. “Our veterans across America can breathe a sigh of relief,” Schumer said. “This is good news.” (Politico / NPR / NBC News / New York Times / Bloomberg)

4/ The Justice Department subpoenaed Trump’s White House counsel as part of its investigation into the Jan. 6 insurrection. Pat Cipollone is the highest-ranking White House official known to be called to testify by federal investigators. Cipollone witnessed Trump’s efforts to overturn the election, “including discussions about seizing voting machines, meddling in the Justice Department, and sending false letters to state officials about election fraud.” Last month, Cipollone spoke to the House Jan. 6 committee behind closed doors for more than seven hours. (ABC News / New York Times / NBC News / CNN)

5/ The Pentagon erased the phones of Trump’s departing senior defense officials, including text messages related to the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. Court records indicate that the Pentagon “wiped” the government-issued phones of officials in charge of mobilizing the National Guard to respond to the Capitol attack, including then-acting defense secretary Chris Miller and then-Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy. Separately, the inspector general at Homeland Security notified Congress last month that Secret Service text messages from Jan. 5 and Jan. 6 were “erased” as part of a device replacement program. (CNN / Washington Post / Bloomberg / The Hill / CNBC)

6/ Two Arizona Republicans who participated in efforts to submit fake slates of electors claiming Trump won the state told a Trump lawyer they were concerned that the plan “could appear treasonous.” Kelli Ward, the chairwoman of the Arizona Republican Party, and Kelly Townsend, a state senator, raised concerns to Kenneth Chesebro, a lawyer working for Trump’s campaign, about the alternate slate of electors plan because there were no legal challenges that could flip the results of Arizona’s election. Chesebro shared their concerns in a Dec. 11, 2020, email to other members of the legal team, which included Rudy Giuliani. Despite the concern, Ward joined the effort and signed a “certificate of the votes of the 2020 electors from Arizona” and claimed that Trump had won the state’s 11 Electoral College votes. Townsend, however, did not serve as one of the electors. Both have since received subpoenas from the Justice Department asking about the fake electors plan. (New York Times)

7/ A Trump-endorsed election denier won the Republican nomination to oversee voting in Arizona. Mark Finchem will appear on the November general election ballot for secretary of state. Finchem was at the Capitol on Jan. 6, and introduced several resolutions this year seeking to decertify the 2020 election in three Arizona counties based on false allegations of fraud. (NPR / Politico / New York Times / Washington Post / NBC News)

Day 560: "Morale, welfare, and recreation."

1/ The U.S. killed al Qaeda leader Ayman Al-Zawahri in a drone strike. Zawahiri oversaw the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, alongside the group’s founder, Osama bin Laden. The attack against Zawahiri is the first known counterterrorism strike there since U.S. forces withdrew from Afghanistan last August. (New York Times / Washington Post / Politico / NBC News)

2/ The Justice Department sued Idaho over its near-total ban on abortion – the first challenge since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. Idaho’s trigger law, passed in 2020, would make providing abortions a felony punishable by up to five years in prison, with exceptions for rape or incest if reported to law enforcement, or to prevent the death of the pregnant person. Attorney General Merrick Garland said the ban violates federal law that “requires hospitals to provide stabilizing care for a patient who comes in with a medical emergency that seriously jeopardizes their life or their health.” He added: “And where that stabilizing treatment is abortion, they must provide the abortion. They must do so notwithstanding a state law that is so narrow that it doesn’t even protect a woman’s life or health.” (NBC News / Wall Street Journal / CNN)

3/ Kansas is voting on whether to add an anti-abortion amendment to the state’s Constitution. If passed, the measure would add language to the constitution saying the state doesn’t grant a right to abortion and allow lawmakers to regulate it as they see fit. Kentucky will vote in November on adding similar language to its constitution. (Associated Press)

4/ Georgia taxpayers can list embryos as dependents on their tax returns. Georgia’s department of revenue said it would “recognize any unborn child with a detectable human heartbeat […] as eligible for [an] individual income tax dependent exemption” up to $3,000. (The Guardian)

5/ Florida ordered its schools to ignore federal guidelines aimed at protecting LGBTQ students and teachers from discrimination. Florida education commissioner Manny Diaz said the Biden administration’s proposed anti-discrimination changes to Title IX is not binding law and that following the guidelines could violate the state’s Parental Rights in Education law. That law, otherwise known as “Don’t Say Gay,” prohibits classroom instructions on gender identity and sexual identity for kids in kindergarten through third grade. Teachers and schools could face lawsuits for violations. (Axios / Politico)

6/ Trump endorsed “Eric” in Missouri’s Republican Senate primary. There are three Erics in the race. When asked to clarify which Eric – Former Gov. Eric Greitens, State Attorney General Eric Schmitt, or Eric McElroy – Trump’s team didn’t provide any clarity, saying only that the “endorsement speaks for itself.” (NBC News / The Guardian)

7/ A music festival in Atlanta was canceled because Georgia’s gun laws limited organizers ability to ban firearms in the public park. A 2014 state law passed by the Republican-controlled Legislature and signed by then-Gov. Nathan Deal allowed Georgians to legally carry firearms on public land. While there was no legal consensus on whether the law applied to private events on public property, a recent appeals court ruling made it harder for private groups to restrict guns at “short-term events” on public land. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution / NPR)

8/ The U.S. military runs more than 3,000 slot machines on American military bases overseas that earn more than $100 million each year from service members. The slot machines are operated by the Department of Defense in the name of “morale, welfare, and recreation.” (NPR)

poll/ 13% of Democrats approve of the way the Supreme Court is handling its job, while 74% of Republicans and 40% of independents approve. Overall, 43% of Americans approve of how the Supreme Court is handling its job. (Gallup)

Day 559: "Playing with fire."

1/ A Trump-endorsed conspiracy theorist is the leading Republican candidate to be Arizona’s next secretary of state. Mark Finchem is an outspoken supporter of Trump’s lie that the 2020 election was stolen, signed onto a resolution urging Congress to accept Trump’s fake electors in Arizona, attended the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol, and previously identified himself as a member of the Oath Keepers, and embraced the QAnon conspiracy theories. If Finchem wins on Tuesday, he would be a general election win away from running the 2024 presidential vote in the swing state. “Ain’t gonna be no concession speech coming from this guy,” Finchem said. “I’m going to demand a 100 percent hand count if there’s the slightest hint that there’s an impropriety.” (Politico / FiveThirtyEight / New York Times / The Guardian)

2/ A Texas militia member was sentenced to more than seven years in prison for storming the Capitol on Jan. 6 – the longest punishment handed down to any participant in the attack on the Capitol so far. Guy Reffitt was convicted in March on five felony charges, including obstruction of Congress as it met to certify the 2020 election result, interfering with police during civil disorder, carrying a firearm to a riot, and threatening his teenage son, who turned him in to the FBI. The Justice Department asked for a 15-year sentence and requested that Reffitt’s crimes be treated as acts of domestic terrorism. The judge, however, declined prosecutors’ request to treat Reffitt as a terrorist under sentencing guidelines. (Politico / NBC News / Washington Post / Associated Press)

3/ Matt Gaetz repeatedly assured Roger Stone that “the boss” – Trump – would offer him a pardon if he was convicted of lying to Congress about his communications related to WikiLeaks’ release of emails from the Democratic National Committee and Clinton campaign. “The boss still has a very favorable view of you,” Gaetz told Stone, before stating that Trump had “said it directly” that Stone would not “do a day” in prison. Gaetz added: “I don’t think the big guy can let you go down for this.” The revelation comes from a hot microphone moment recorded by Danish filmmakers in 2019. Stone was convicted on seven felony counts for lying to Congress, witness tampering, and obstructing the House investigation into whether Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia to win the 2016 election and sentenced to 40 months in prison. Trump, however, commuted his prison sentence and eventually pardoned him. (Washington Post / Daily Beast)

4/ Susan Collins – who supports same-sex marriage – said the Democrats’ unrelated agreement with Joe Manchin on tax and climate change may jeopardize Republican support for the bipartisan Respect for Marriage Act. “I just think the timing could not have been worse and it came totally out of the blue,” Collins said, adding that Manchin and Chuck Schumer’s agreement “destroys the many bipartisan efforts that are under way.” While Republicans were expected to filibuster the bill in the Senate, five GOP Senators — including Collins — had announced their support. (HuffPost)

5/ Nancy Pelosi is scheduled to visit Taiwan this week – the highest-ranking U.S. official to visit the self-governing island in 25 years – despite China’s warnings that a visit would provoke an unspecified response. China warned against the “egregious political impact” of Pelosi’s visit, which is still officially unconfirmed, to the island that China claims as a part of its territory, saying its military “won’t sit by idly” if Beijing feels its “sovereignty and territorial integrity” is being threatened. Chinese President Xi Jinping warned Biden last week against “playing with fire” on Taiwan. (Politico / CNN / New York Times / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal)

6/ Biden tested positive for the coronavirus again Saturday after experiencing a Paxlovid “rebound.” About 5% of people who take the antiviral medication Paxlovid experience “rebound” infections days after testing negative. Biden has experienced “no reemergence of symptoms, and continues to feel quite well” and will, as a result, not resume treatment, the White House said. (New York Times / NBC News / CNN)

7/ The Biden administration plans to offer reformulated Covid-19 booster shots in September. The updated versions are expected to perform better against Omicron subvariant BA.5. (New York Times)

Day 555: "Get it done."

1/ Biden hailed the Inflation Reduction Act as “a historic agreement to fight inflation” and “the most significant legislation in history to tackle the climate crisis.” Biden’s remarks came a day after Joe Manchin blessed the package that would raise $739 billion over the decade in new revenue, including $313 billion from a 15% corporate minimum tax, spend $369 billion on energy and climate change initiatives, allow Medicare to negotiate the cost of some prescription drugs, provide three years of Affordable Care Act subsidies, and make changes to the tax code. Climate and energy provisions in the legislation are sufficient to cut U.S. carbon dioxide emissions 40% by 2030. Kyrsten Sinema, however, hasn’t publicly backed it or commented, and did not attend the caucus meeting. Senate Democrats want to get the bill passed before the chamber’s August recess, which is scheduled to begin August 6. To do that, the bill will first need to comply with the parliamentarian’s strict budget rules, then Democrats will need to have all 50 members to be present and vote for the package – as well as the tie-breaking vote from Harris – for it to pass the Senate with a simple majority. “My plea is: Put politics aside. Get it done,” Biden said. “We should pass this.” (Politico / The Guardian / Associated Press / Politico / Washington Post / New York Times / Bloomberg / NBC News)

  • What’s in the “game changer” climate bill nobody saw coming. “The bill would use tax credits to incentivize consumers to buy electric cars, electric HVAC systems, and other forms of cleaner technology that would lead to less emissions from cars and electricity generation, and includes incentives for companies to manufacture that technology in the United States. It also includes money for a host of other climate priorities, like investing in forest and coastal restoration and in resilient agriculture.” (Vox)

  • Surprise Deal Would Be Most Ambitious Climate Action Undertaken by U.S. “The bill aims to tackle global warming by using billions of dollars in tax incentives to ramp up wind, solar, geothermal, battery and other clean energy industries over the next decade. Companies would receive financial incentives to keep open nuclear plants that might have closed, or to capture emissions from industrial facilities and bury them underground before they can warm the planet. Car buyers with incomes below a certain level would receive a $7,500 tax credit to purchase a new electric vehicle and $4,000 for a used one. Americans would receive rebates to install heat pumps and make their homes more energy-efficient.” (New York Times)

  • Senate deal could be most significant climate bill yet. “The climate and tax package would bolster American energy production and combat climate change through tax incentives for the renewable-energy sector, increasing wind, solar, battery and geothermal construction. Tens of millions of drivers would qualify for new tax credits to buy electric vehicles. Homeowners across the country would get financial help to pay for heat pumps and insulate their properties.” (Washington Post)

2/ The economy contracted for the second straight quarter, hitting a commonly accepted rule of thumb for a recession. The official arbiter of recessions in the U.S., however, is the National Bureau of Economic Research, which usually doesn’t make a recession determination until long after the fact. Gross domestic product fell at an annual rate of 0.9% from April to June – following a 1.6% annual drop from January to March. Most economists, meanwhile, expect the economy to grow in the third quarter and in 2022 as a whole. (CNBC / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / Bloomberg / Associated Press)

3/ Biden and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen rejected claims that the U.S. is in a recession, pointing to the strong labor market, a rebound in manufacturing, and other metrics as signs of its health. Biden said that while “it’s no surprise that the economy is slowing down as the Federal Reserve acts to bring down inflation,” he pointed to strong job growth, unemployment at near record lows, and business investments. “That doesn’t sound like recession to me.” Yellen, meanwhile, noted that recessions are usually marked by substantial job losses, family budgets under strain, and a “broad-based weakening of the economy.” Yellen added: “That is not what we’re seeing right now.” (New York Times / Politico / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / Bloomberg)

4/ The House passed a $280 billion bill aimed at making the U.S. more competitive in the semiconductor industry. Chips and Science Act would subsidize domestic semiconductor manufacturing and expansion, as well as invest billions in science and technology innovation. Republican leaders urged their members to vote against the legislation after Chuck Schumer and Joe Manchin announced a deal on a separate climate, health care, and tax bill. (CNBC / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / Bloomberg)

5/ The Jan. 6 committee interviewed Trump’s former Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who reportedly discussed possibly invoking the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office with then-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. The committee will also interview Pompeo as soon as this week and is speaking with former acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney today. Mulvaney resigned a day after the January 2021 riot. The committee is also negotiating terms for a potential interview with former Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe. (ABC News / CNN / CNBC)

poll/ 71% of Americans say political division and polarization is a key problem in the nation’s civil discourse. 47% said they’re “optimistic about the future because young people are committed to making this country a better place to live for everyone.” (Georgetown Institute of Politics and Public Service)

poll/ 54% of Georgia voters oppose the Supreme Court decision that overturned Roe v. Wade, with 49% saying they were “strongly opposed.” 42% of likely Georgia voters said they’re more likely to vote for a candidate who wants to protect abortion rights, while 26% said they’re motivated to vote for someone who want to limit access to the procedure. 55% of voters disagree with Georgia’s new abortion law, which outlaws the procedure as early as six weeks into a pregnancy. About 36% of Georgians support the measure. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

poll/ 60% of voters do not want Biden to run in the 2024 presidential election. 57% said Trump should not run again. (The Guardian)

poll/ 31% of Democrats would most prefer Harris as the 2024 Democratic presidential nominee if Biden doesn’t run, followed by 17% who chose California Gov. Gavin Newsom. (The Hill)

Day 554: "Deceitful."

1/ The Justice Department is investigating Trump’s actions leading up to the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol as part of its criminal probe into efforts to overturn the 2020 election results. Prosecutors are questioning witnesses before a grand jury about Trump’s conversations and meetings in December 2020 and January 2021 about his involvement in efforts to reverse his election loss, his campaign to pressure Pence into overturning the election, and what instructions he gave his lawyers and advisers about the fake electors scheme. Investigators have also received phone records of key officials and aides in the Trump administration, including Mark Meadows, and recently seized phone records of top aides, including John Eastman, the lawyer who helped develop the fake electors scheme, and Jeffrey Clark, a former Justice Department official who supported Trump’s efforts to stop Biden from becoming president. Attorney General Merrick Garland, meanwhile, said the department will pursue justice “without fear or favor. We intend to hold everyone, anyone, who was criminally responsible for the events surrounding January 6th, for any attempt to interfere with the lawful transfer of power from one administration to another, accountable — that’s what we do. We don’t pay any attention to other issues with respect to that.” (Washington Post / New York Times / CNBC)

  • The Justice Department has reached out to more Trump White House officials. “The Justice Department has already brought two top aides to Pence in front of a federal grand jury, a move that signals its probe has reached inside former President Donald Trump’s White House and that investigators are looking at conduct directly related to Trump and his closest allies’ efforts to overturn the 2020 election.” (CNN)

  • Cassidy Hutchinson has recently cooperated with the Department of Justice investigation into the events of Jan. 6. “Hutchinson publicly testified before the Jan. 6 committee earlier this month, spending some two hours recounting details about what she said went on behind the scenes at the White House leading up to, during, and after the Jan. 6 attack.” (ABC News / CNN)

2/ The Jan. 6 committee and the House Oversight Committee called for a new inspector general to lead the investigation into erased Secret Service text messages related to the Capitol attack. In a letter sent to the Department of Homeland Security Inspector General and the head of the Council of Inspectors General, Bennie Thompson and Carolyn Maloney raised concerns about Inspector General Joseph Cuffari’s “failure to inform Congress of deleted Secret Service text messages in a timely manner despite being required by law to ‘immediately’ report problems or abuses that are ‘particularly serious or flagrant.’” The lawmakers added: “We do not have confidence that Inspector General Cuffari can achieve those standards.” (Washington Post / NPR / CNN)

3/ The Federal Reserve raised interest rates by 75 basis points for the second straight month to cool inflation that is running at a 40-year high. The rate increase is the Fed’s fourth hike this year – the most aggressive pace since the 1980s – lifting their benchmark rate to a range between 2.25% and 2.5%. Officials said they likely needed to raise rates to about 3.4% this year and 3.8% in 2023 to slow economic growth, which could send the unemployment rate up. While Chair Jerome Powell said “another unusually large increase could be appropriate at our next meeting,” he rejected speculation that the U.S. economy is in recession, saying “There’s just too many areas of the economy that are performing too well.” The Fed aims for inflation around 2%. The latest inflation data, however, showed prices increased 9.1% in June from a year earlier. (Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal / New York Times / Washington Post / Axios / CNBC)

4/ Joe Manchin – in a sudden reversal – reached a deal with Democrats on legislation to reform the tax code, combat climate change, and lower health care costs. Manchin agreed to support roughly $370 billion in energy and climate spending, $300 billion in deficit reduction, three years of subsidies for Affordable Care Act premiums, prescription drug reform, impose a 15% corporate minimum tax, and increase investments in IRS tax enforcement. The Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 would “fight inflation, invest in domestic energy production and manufacturing, and reduce carbon emissions by roughly 40% by 2030.” Lawmakers could advance the measure as soon as next week if it meets the Senate Parliamentarian’s budget reconciliation rules, which would allow Democrats to pass it without any GOP votes. The reconciliation package was revealed hours after the Senate passed a $280 billion bipartisan bill aimed at boosting U.S. competitiveness with China by subsidizing the domestic production of semiconductors. Two weeks ago Manchin abandoned negotiations with Democrats, telling party leaders that he would not support any legislation dealing with climate or tax programs, citing inflation concerns. It’s not clear what changed Manchin’s mind about the plan, but some Republicans accused Manchin of being “deceitful” about his intentions on the reconciliation bill in order to get Mitch McConnell to stop blocking the semiconductor bill. Biden said the deal was “the action the American people have been waiting for.” (Washington Post / CNBC / New York Times / Politico / Wall Street Journal / Axios / CNN)

poll/ Democrats have a 52% chance to win the Senate – up from 40% on June 1. Republicans, meanwhile, have an 83% chance to win the House in the midterm elections. (FiveThirtyEight)

poll/ 75% of Democratic voters want the party to nominate someone other than Biden in the 2024 election. (CNN)

poll/ 79% of Americans feel that Trump acted either unethically or illegally in his efforts to overturn the 2020 election, including 45% who believe his actions were illegal. 66% of Republicans, meanwhile, still believe Biden’s win was not legitimate. (CNN)

Day 553: "Kind of wild."

1/ The Senate advanced a bill that would provide $52 billion in subsidies to domestic semiconductor manufacturers to boost U.S. competitiveness with China. The package, known as “CHIPS-plus,” would also invest billions in science and technology innovation, and provide grants, incentives and tax breaks to the sector. If the Senate passes the bill, as expected, it would then move to the House, where it also has the support needed for passage. (Washington Post / Bloomberg / CNBC)

2/ Biden is reportedly considering another extension to the student loan repayment pause, as well as forgiving $10,000 in student loan debt per borrower. The current moratorium on student loan payments expires Aug. 31, but the federal government’s student loan servicing contractors have been instructed to hold off on contacting borrowers about resuming payments. If the administration pushes back the pause on payments, it would be the seventh time the date has been rescheduled since March 2020. (Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal / NBC News / CNN)

3/ The U.S. leads in the most known monkeypox infections globally, reporting more than 3,400 confirmed or suspected cases. The Biden administration, meanwhile, is weighing whether to declare a public health emergency, and plans to name a White House coordinator to oversee the response. Almost 18,000 cases have been confirmed in nearly 70 countries, leading the WHO to declare monkeypox a global health emergency. (Wall Street Journal / Washington Post)

4/ Two top aides to Pence testified to a federal grand jury investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. Pence’s chief of staff, Marc Short, and legal counsel Greg Jacob were subpoenaed in the Justice Department’s criminal investigation. Short is the highest-ranking White House official to testify for the panel. Mike Pompeo, separately, is tentatively scheduled to speak with the Jan. 6 committee in the coming days behind closed doors. (Wall Street Journal / New York Times / NBC News / CNN)

5/ Previously undisclosed emails show how the Trump campaign worked with outside lawyers and advisers to organize the fake elector plan to reverse Trump’s election defeat. Dozens of emails show the lawyers involved repeatedly used the word “fake” to refer to the alternative slates of electors and that the group even appointed a “point person” in seven states to help organize the fake electors. “Kind of wild/creative […] We would just be sending in ‘fake’ electoral votes to Pence so that ‘someone’ in Congress can make an objection when they start counting votes, and start arguing that the ‘fake’ votes should be counted,” Jack Wilenchik, a lawyer who helped organize the pro-Trump electors in Arizona, wrote in a Dec. 8, 2020, email to Boris Epshteyn, an adviser for the Trump campaign. In a follow-up email, Wilenchik added that “‘alternative’ votes is probably a better term than ‘fake’ votes.” The group also initially hoped to get Republican state legislatures or governors to join their scheme before Trump’s lawyers turned to pressuring Pence. (New York Times)

6/ A judge barred Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis from investigating one of 16 “fake” Trump electors, because she hosted a campaign fundraiser for Burt Jones’ political opponent. Jones is the Republican nominee for lieutenant governor. A different prosecutor’s office, as selected by the state’s attorney general, will be responsible for investigating Jones, if one is warranted. (CNBC)

7/ The Justice Department urged a federal judge to reject efforts by leaders of the Oath Keepers to delay their September trial. Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes and several other members of the group are facing seditious conspiracy charges for their roles in the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. They asked a judge to postpone their trial, citing the publicity caused by the Jan. 6 committee’s recent hearings. (Politico)

8/ Attorney General Merrick Garland did not rule out prosecuting Trump. “We intend to hold everyone, anyone who was criminally responsible for the events surrounding Jan. 6, for any attempt to interfere with the lawful transfer of power from one administration to another, accountable,” Garland said. “That’s what we do.” (NBC News)

poll/ 22% of New Hampshire residents have a favorable opinion of Biden – an all-time low. Biden also trails potential 2024 candidates in favorability, including Pete Buttigieg, Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, and Cory Booker. (Politico)

Day 552: "Moment of truth."

1/ Biden continues to “improve significantly” from his coronavirus infection. “The president is responding to therapy as expected,” Dr. Kevin O’Connor wrote, adding that Biden still has a sore throat, though his cough, runny nose, and body aches “have diminished considerably.” Biden has been taking Paxlovid, an antiviral drug that helps reduce the chance of severe illness. (Associated Press / NPR)

2/ Joe Manchin tested positive for Covid-19. “It’s unclear what effect, if any, Manchin’s isolation will have on Democrats’ efforts to make progress on their legislative agenda. The Senate has a little under two weeks before it’s scheduled to start its August recess, and Democrats have indicated hopes in passing bills – from protecting same-sex marriage to increasing funding for semiconductor production in the US and changing laws surrounding prescription drug prices among other issues – before leaving town for about a month.” (CNN)

3/ The first two U.S. cases of monkeypox in children have been confirmed as part of an outbreak of more than 2,800 infections nationwide. “CDC and public health authorities are still investigating how the children became infected. The two cases are unrelated and in different jurisdictions.” (Washington Post)

4/ World Health Organization declared monkeypox a global health emergency. “The last time the WHO made a similar declaration was during the early stages of the Covid-19 outbreak in January 2020.” (Bloomberg)

5/ The dystopian American reality one month after the Roe v. Wade reversal. “Bans at six weeks gestation or earlier, before most women know they are pregnant, are in force in 12 states as of Thursday. The bans have forced patients seeking abortions, and who have the time and money, to travel hundreds of miles from home. At times, that travel has also placed friends, family and abortion rights organizations in legal jeopardy, as states have criminalized helping people obtain abortions. Other patients have seen routine care for miscarriages and ectopic pregnancies delayed, as doctors fear criminal sanctions should they accidentally violate bans.” (The Guardian)

6/ Biden faces a moment of truth on the economy this week. His advisers are downplaying recession fears ahead of data that could show the economy contracted for a second straight quarter – one common definition of a recession. The White House, however, preemptively “issued a document stating that two straight quarters of negative GDP ‘is neither the official definition nor the way economists evaluate the state of the business cycle.’ Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen went so far as to say she would be ‘amazed’ if the National Bureau of Economic Research — which determines whether we are officially in a recession — were to declare that. She also stated flatly that we’re not in a recession.” The administration’s message is that a “technical recession” isn’t necessarily a real one. The Federal Reserve, meanwhile, is expected to raise interest rates another 0.75 percentage point in an effort to tame inflation running at a four-decade high. After raising rates in June by the most since 1994, Fed Chairman Jerome Powell and his colleagues left the door open to a larger, full-percentage-point increase at the July 26-27 gathering. (CNN / Washington Post / Bloomberg / CNN / Wall Street Journal / Bloomberg)

7/ The criminal case against Trump is getting stronger and “federal and state prosecutors may soon need to decide whether to bring charges against a former president and current front-runner for the Republican nomination.” (The Atlantic)

8/ Through subpoenas and search warrants, the Justice Department has made clear that it’s pursuing at least two related lines of inquiry that could lead to Trump. “One centers on the so-called fake electors. In that line of inquiry, prosecutors have issued subpoenas to some people who had signed up to be on the list of those purporting to be electors that pro-Trump forces wanted to use to help block certification of the Electoral College results by Congress on Jan. 6, 2021. The other line of Justice Department inquiry centers on the effort by a Trump-era Justice Department official, Jeffrey Clark, to pressure Georgia officials not to certify the state’s election results by sending a letter falsely suggesting that the department had found evidence of election fraud there.” (New York Times)

9/ Georgia Governor Brian Kemp will testify before before the grand jury investigating Trump’s efforts to overturn his election loss in the state. “Fani Willis, the district attorney in Fulton County, has also issued subpoenas in recent days seeking testimony from some of Trump’s closest confidantes and allies – including Rudy Giuliani and US Senator Lindsey Graham – and sent letters to 16 Georgia Republican leaders warning them that they are targets in a criminal probe.” (Bloomberg)

10/ Atlanta v. Trumpworld. Eighteen months into a criminal investigation of election interference by Trump and his allies, Fani Willis is “building the framework for a broad case that could target multiple defendants with charges of conspiracy to commit election fraud, or racketeering-related charges for engaging in a coordinated scheme to undermine the election.” (New York Times)

11/ Steve Bannon was found guilty of criminal contempt of Congress for refusing to comply with a subpoena for documents and testimony issued by the Jan. 6 committee. “Bannon did not testify in his own defense and faces a maximum of one year in prison for each of the two counts. He will not be detained pending sentencing, which is scheduled for Oct. 21.” (CBC News)

12/ The Jan. 6 committee said it’s prepared to consider subpoenaing Virginia Thomas, wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, if she does not appear voluntarily. “The committee requested testimony from Thomas in June, around the same time as news reports of her communications with White House officials and informal advisers, namely Trump attorney John Eastman, about efforts to overturn the election began to proliferate.” (Politico)

13/ Trump’s top allies are preparing to radically reshape the federal government if he is re-elected. “Trump, in theory, could fire tens of thousands of career government officials with no recourse for appeals. He could replace them with people he believes are more loyal to him and to his ‘America First’ agenda. An initial estimate by the Trump official who came up with Schedule F found it could apply to as many as 50,000 federal workers — a fraction of a workforce of more than 2 million, but a segment with a profound role in shaping American life. The impact could go well beyond typical conservative targets such as the Environmental Protection Agency and the Internal Revenue Service. Trump allies are working on plans that would potentially strip layers at the Justice Department — including the FBI, and reaching into national security, intelligence, the State Department and the Pentagon.” (Axios – Part 1 / Axios – Part 2 / Government Executive)

poll/ 67% of Americans favor term limits for Supreme Court justices instead of life terms, including 82% of Democrats and 57% of Republicans. (Associated Press)

Day 548: "Folks, I'm doing great."

1/ Biden tested positive for Covid-19. The White House said Biden, who is vaccinated and received a second booster shot in March, has “very mild symptoms” and will “carry out all of his duties fully” while isolating and working remotely. Biden is receiving Paxlovid, an antiviral drug used to minimize the severity of Covid-19, for his fatigue, runny nose, and occasional dry cough. His physician, Kevin O’Connor, said he anticipates that Biden will “respond favorably, as most maximally protected patients do,” to the treatment. Jill Biden and Kamala Harris both tested negative. Biden, meanwhile, tweeted: “Folks, I’m doing great. Thanks for your concern.” (Axios / New York Times / Associated Press / CNBC / ABC News)

2/ The Jan. 6 committee will hold the eighth and final hearing tonight at 8 p.m. Eastern. The prime-time hearing will focus on the 187 minutes that Trump failed to act on Jan. 6, 2021, but instead “gleefully” watched TV news coverage at the White House despite pleas from aides, allies, and family to call off the attack. The committee plans to argue that Trump was derelict in his duties for “refusing to act to defend the Capitol as a violent mob stormed the Capitol.” The panel will hear testimony from two Trump White House advisers — former deputy national security adviser Matthew Pottinger and former deputy press secretary Sarah Matthews – about what went on in the West Wing on Jan. 6, as well as recorded testimony from Pat Cipollone, the former White House counsel. (New York Times / Associated Press / Wall Street Journal / CNN / Washington Post)

3/ Trump had “extreme difficulty” with his taped speech the day after Jan. 6, refusing to say the election was over and attempted to call the rioters patriots. In a three-minute speech on Jan. 7, Trump reluctantly condemned the violence and went to great lengths to not accuse the rioters of any wrongdoing. Adam Schiff said Jan. 6 committee will share some of the outtakes during the hearing, saying the recording show “all of those who are urging [Trump] to say something to do something to stop the violence. You’ll hear the terrible lack of a response from the President, and you’ll hear more about how he was ultimately prevailed upon to say something and what he was willing to say and what he wasn’t.” (Washington Post / CNN)

4/ The Homeland Security inspector general knew in Feb. 2021, that the Secret Service had deleted text messages related to the Jan. 6 attack, but chose not to tell Congress. Starting Jan. 27 2021, the Secret Service began resetting phones used by agents as part of a preplanned, agency-wide device-replacement program – shortly after text messages from Jan. 5 and 6 were requested by the Jan. 6 committee and the House and Senate Homeland Security Committees investigating the agency’s response to the Capitol riot. According to the Secret Service, the Homeland Security Inspector General Joseph Cuffari first requested the text messages on Feb. 26, 2021, and was informed that they had been erased. Cuffari, however, claimed the messages were erased after asking for the records. Regardless, Cuffari didn’t notify the Jan. 6 committee until July 2022 that the messages had been erased. Cuffari, meanwhile, directed the Secret Service to stop its internal investigations into what happened to the deleted text messages, saying it could interfere with his own criminal investigation into the agency’s destruction of text messages. The months-long delay in disclosing that Secret Service records had been deleted was flagged by two whistleblowers who worked with Cuffari. [Editor’s note: This is such a sad clusterfuck.] (Washington Post / CNN / NBC News)

5/ New unemployment claims rose to the highest level in more than eight months as more companies announced job cuts over fears of a recession amid high inflation and rising interest rates. Jobless claims, however, are still close to their levels before the coronavirus pandemic. Home prices, meanwhile, hit an all-time high in June as the median sales price climbed to $416,000 – up 13.4% on the year and the highest since records began in 1999. Mortgage applications, however, fell for the third week in a row and are at their lowest level in 22 years. The average 30-year fixed-rate mortgage hit 5.51% this week – up from 2.88% from a year earlier. And the European Central Bank raised interest rates by half a percentage point – its first increase in more than a decade and a bigger jump than expected – as it attempts to tame record high inflation. (Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal / ABC News / The Hill)

6/ The House passed legislation to codify access to contraception nationwide with all but eight Republicans voting in opposition. The Right To Contraception Act would establish a federal right to purchase and use contraception without government restriction. The measure, however, is expected to fail in the evenly divided Senate, where the measure will need 60 votes to break a likely Republican filibuster. A federal appeals court panel, meanwhile, allowed a Georgia law banning abortions after about six weeks to go into effect. In the ruling, the panel wrote that the Supreme Court case that overturned Roe v. Wade “makes clear that no right to abortion exists under the Constitution, so Georgia may prohibit them.” The court’s opinion also referred to the health care providers who filed the lawsuit as “abortionists,” rather than “plaintiffs.” (NBC News / New York Times / Axios / Wall Street Journal)

poll/ 53% of Americans said they disapprove of the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, while 30% approve. 60% want Congress to pass a law guaranteeing access to abortion nationwide. (Associated Press)

poll/ 57% of Americans blame Trump for the Jan. 6 Capitol riot. While 50% think Trump should be charged with crimes based on the evidence presented at the Jan. 6 committee hearings, 61% said they don’t think Trump will face any charges. (NPR)

poll/ 31% of American approve of the way Biden is handling his job, while 60% disapproved. 71% said they didn’t want Biden to seek a second term, while 64% said they didn’t want Trump run for president in 2024. (Quinnipiac)

Day 547: "An emergency."

1/ A bipartisan group of senators reached a deal to reform the 135-year-old Electoral Count Act that Trump and his allies tried to exploit as part of their attempt to overturn the 2020 election results. The legislation would clearly define the role of states, presidential electors, and the vice president in a presidential election to prevent the events of Jan. 6, 2021, from happening again. A second bill would increase penalties for threatening or intimidating election officials, as well as clarify how the Post Service should handle mail-in ballots. The proposal, however, still needs to be approved by both chambers and will need at least 10 Republican senators to break a filibuster. (Washington Post / Politico / NBC News / New York Times / NPR / CNN)

2/ Trump called Wisconsin’s Republican house speaker “within the last week” and urged him to decertify Biden’s 2020 election win in that state. Robin Vos said he received a call from Trump after the state Supreme Court ruled that most absentee ballot drop boxes in Wisconsin are illegal. “He would like us to do something different in Wisconsin,” Vos said. “I explained it’s not allowed under the Constitution. He has a different opinion.” (CNBC / CNN / Washington Post)

3/ The Trump administration tried to add a citizenship question to the census to help Republicans win elections, not to protect people’s voting rights, according to a report issued by the House Committee on Oversight and Reform. The documents, which include drafts of internal memos and secret email communications between political appointees at the Commerce Department, contradict statements made under oath by then-Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross, who claimed that the Trump administration wanted to add the question to enforce the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and that the citizenship question was unrelated to congressional apportionment. The Supreme Court in June 2019, however, ruled that the rationale “appears to have been contrived,” and a week later Trump abandoned his effort to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census. (Washington Post / NPR / New York Times)

4/ Rudy Giuliani was ordered to testify before a special grand jury in Georgia investigating efforts to overturn Trump’s 2020 electoral loss in the state. Giuliani was subpoenaed earlier this month as a “material witness” by the grand jury called to investigate any “coordinated attempts to unlawfully alter the outcome of the 2020 elections.” The subpoena said Giuliani falsely claimed that there had been “widespread voter fraud” in the state. A New York judge ordered Giuliani to testify Aug. 9 after he failed to appear at a July 13 hearing to challenge the subpoena. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution / New York Times / NBC News / CNBC)

5/ Biden called climate change an “emergency,” a “clear and present danger,” and an “existential threat” but stopped short of a formal climate emergency declaration, which would unlock federal resources to address climate change. Instead, Biden announced a set of executive actions to expand off-shore wind power generation and provide $2.3 billion in funding for climate disaster preparedness and projects like cooling stations in places facing extreme heat. Biden said he’ll announce additional executive actions in the coming weeks if Congress doesn’t act. (Bloomberg / CNBC / Reuters / Politico / NBC News / USA Today / Washington Post / ABC News)

6/ About 105 million people in 28 states – nearly a third of America – are currently living under heat advisories and excessive heat warnings. More than 200 million people in the U.S. will experience highs exceeding 90 degrees for the next three days. (Washington Post / New York Times / Wall Street Journal)

poll/ 36% of Americans approve of the job Biden is doing as president – his lowest approval rating since taking office. Last month, Biden’s job approval stood at 40%. The 4 percentage-point drop from June to July is attributable to a 9-point decline among Democrats. In June, 84% of Democrats said they approved of the job Biden was doing compared to 75% in July. Meanwhile, 5% of Republicans and 28% of independents approve of the job Biden is doing – unchanged from a month ago. (NPR)

Day 546: "Climate crisis."

1/ Biden is reportedly planning to declare a national climate emergency in an effort to advance his environmental agenda that Joe Manchin has twice sabotaged. After Manchin torpedoed Democratic efforts to pass robust climate change legislation last week, Biden said he would take “strong executive action” on climate, but didn’t provide details. White House officials, however, said Biden will announce new steps to combat climate change on Wednesday, but will stop short of declaring a national emergency. The White House said Biden’s address will focus on “tackling the climate crisis and seizing the opportunity of a clean energy future to create jobs and lower costs for families.” An emergency declaration would unlock billions of federal dollars and give Biden broad executive powers to spend federal funds on clean energy projects, restrict oil drilling, and curb fossil fuel use. More than 100 million Americans are currently under heat advisories or warnings. The U.K., meanwhile, recorded its highest ever temperature for the second day in a row, prompting British officials to declare the first-ever “red” warning for extreme heat in England. (Washington Post / New York Times / Bloomberg / Associated Press / CNN / Politico)

2/ The House passed legislation to codify federal protections for same-sex marriage, including a requirement that states recognize valid marriages performed in other states. 47 Republicans joined all House Democrats in passing the Respect for Marriage Act, which would repeal the Defense of Marriage Act and enshrine marriage equality into federal law. The bill also codifies the right to interracial marriage. Democratic leaders moved forward with the bill after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade and suggested that the justices might revisit cases that legalized gay marriage and contraceptive rights. The legislation, however faces an uncertain future in the evenly divided Senate where it’ll need 10 Republican Senate votes to overcome the filibuster. (New York Times / Axios / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal)

3/ The Secret Service said it could not recover the deleted text messages related to the Jan. 6 attack. Homeland Security Inspector General Joseph Cuffari told the Jan. 6 committee last week that after requesting records of texts related to the Capitol attack he learned “many of these texts were erased as part of a device-replacement program.” Agents were instructed to upload any old text messages involving government business to an internal agency drive before the reset. Many agents, apparently, failed to do so. The National Archives, meanwhile, asked the Secret Service to investigate the “potential unauthorized deletion” of agency text messages. (Washington Post / NPR / NBC News)

4/ Trump’s former deputy national security adviser will testify publicly at Thursday’s Jan. 6 committee hearing. Matthew Pottinger was in the White House during the Capitol riot and resigned shortly after Trump tweeted that Pence should have had more courage. Trump White House deputy press secretary Sarah Matthews will also testify. Matthews also resigned on Jan. 6, 2021. Meanwhile, Bennie Thompson, the chairman of the committee, has Covid-19 and will miss Thursday’s prime-time hearing. (CNN / New York Times / ABC News)

5/ The Justice Department said its investigation into Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election results will continue even if he runs for president again. Recent reports indicate that Trump might declare that he’s running again in the near future in an apparent attempt to shield himself from potential prosecution. Trump wouldn’t legally enjoy any special protections as a candidate for president. The Justice Department has also added prosecutors and resources to its investigation in recent weeks. (Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal)

poll/ 78% of Americans believe we will never be rid of Covid-19 in our lifetime. 29% of Americans, meanwhile, say the pandemic is over and 36% feel like most people around them have moved on from the pandemic, but they haven’t. (Ipsos)

poll/ 61% of Americans think Congress should do more to address global warming, while 52% think the president should do more, and 57% think their governor should do more. (New York Times)

poll/ 67% of voters say that Democratic candidates for Congress in their area aren’t paying enough attention to the country’s most important problems, while 31% say the candidates have the right priorities. Similarly, 65% of voters say that Republican candidates in their area aren’t paying enough attention to important national problems, with 33% saying that GOP candidates have the right priorities. (CNN)

Day 545: "We're all going to die."

1/ Joe Manchin abandoned negotiations with Democrats on an economic package that contained incentives to combat climate change and new taxes on the wealthy and corporations because he’s concerned about inflation. Instead, Manchin said he’s only willing to support legislation to lower prescription drugs costs and extend enhanced Affordable Care Act subsidies, suggesting that Democrats wait until September to pursue a party-line climate and tax policy. Manchin killed Biden’s Build Back Better Act seven months ago, where Democrats in the evenly divided Senate needed all 50 members to pass the economic package by simple majority under budget reconciliation rules. Manchin’s latest de facto veto of Biden’s economic agenda follows the June inflation report, which showed annual inflation running at 9.1% – the worst in more than 40 years. Manchin claimed that he’s still open to a deal, but and wants to see July’s inflation numbers before deciding, saying he “believes it’s time for leaders to put political agendas aside, reevaluate and adjust to the economic realities the country faces to avoid taking steps that add fuel to the inflation fire.” Bernie Sanders, however, accused Manchin of “intentionally sabotaging” Biden’s agenda, saying the “problem was that we continued to talk to Manchin like he was serious. He was not.” Sanders added that Manchin is a “major recipient” of fossil fuel money and that he’s received campaign donations from “25 Republican billionaires.” With climate legislation tabled, the Biden administration’s goal to cut U.S. emissions by about 50% by the end of 2030 — 101 months from this August – is now in jeopardy. The climate package’s tax credits for wind and solar power, nuclear plants, biofuels, advanced energy manufacturing, and electric vehicles, would have cut global warming causing emissions by nearly 40% by 2030. When asked about the consequences of Congress failing to act on climate change, House Budget Committee Chairman John Yarmuth replied: “We’re all going to die.” (New York Times / Washington Post / Bloomberg / Politico / NBC News / Axios / NBC News / CNN / Talking Points Memo / Washington Post)

  • How One Senator Doomed the Democrats’ Climate Plan. “Senator Joe Manchin III of West Virginia led his party and his president through months of tortured talks, with nothing to show for it as the planet dangerously heats up.” (New York Times)

  • The hidden absurdities behind Joe Manchin’s ugly new reversal. “The West Virginia Democrat reportedly told party leaders late Thursday that he won’t support any new incentives to combat climate change or any new tax hikes on corporations or the wealthy. The Post reports that in private talks, Manchin appeared close to a deal, only to renege at the last minute.” (Washington Post)

  • Mother Nature Dissents. “From Texas to California, voters are enduring rude wake-up calls about the future of our country.” (The Atlantic)

2/ The Jan. 6 committee subpoenaed the Secret Service for text messages from Jan. 5 and Jan. 6, 2021, after the Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general told lawmakers that messages sent by agents on the day of the Capitol attack had been erased. The subpoena demands the production of records by July 19 – tomorrow. Adam Kinzinger, one of two Republicans sitting on the committee, said it was “quite crazy” if the Secret Service deleted the messages. On Thursday, the committee will hold a prime-time hearing that will detail how Trump did “nothing” to stop the riot at the Capitol as it was unfolding, but instead “gleefully watch television during this time frame.” Kinzinger said the session “is going to open people’s eyes in a big way.” (CBS News / Politico / Washington Post / USA Today / The Hill)

  • December 2020: Trump entertained fringe legal advice from a lawyer suggesting that he could declare “martial law” to overturn the election. William Olson’s plan included tampering with the Justice Department and firing the acting attorney general, according to the Dec. 28 memo he wrote, titled “Preserving Constitutional Order.” According to his memo, Olson urged Trump to force the Justice Department to intercede with the Supreme Court to reverse his electoral defeat. (New York Times / CNN)

  • Trump Tells Team He Needs to Be President Again to Save Himself from Criminal Probes. Trump has “spoken about how when you are the president of the United States, it is tough for politically motivated prosecutors to ‘get to you,” says one of the sources, who has discussed the issue with Trump this summer. “He says when [not if] he is president again, a new Republican administration will put a stop to the [Justice Department] investigation that he views as the Biden administration working to hit him with criminal charges — or even put him and his people in prison.” (Rolling Stone)

  • A criminal probe of Trump could complicate Jan. 6 cases. “But if the Department of Justice starts assertively mounting a criminal investigation of Trump, it could create delays in other Jan. 6-related trials because defense attorneys for hundreds of defendants could demand access to much of the evidence against Trump as part of the discovery process.” (Politico)

  • John Eastman loses emergency request to protect his phone data from DOJ investigators. “US District Judge Robert Brack rejected Eastman’s arguments for emergency help from the court in an opinion Friday. Eastman had asked the court to block federal investigators from using the contents of his phone in their probe.” (CNN)

3/ Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis sent target letters to several prominent Georgia Republicans warning them they could be indicted as part of her criminal investigation into Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election in Georgia. State Senators Burt Jones and Brandon Beach, and David Shafer, the chairman of the Georgia Republican Party, all received letters. Jones and Shafer participated in a meeting at the state Capitol on Dec. 14, 2020, in which 16 pro-Trump Georgia Republicans selected themselves as the electors for the state despite having no legal basis for doing so. Willis also subpoenaed Georgia Republican Rep. Jody Hice to appear before the grand jury. (Yahoo News / New York Times / CNN / Newsweek)

4/ The White House abandoned plans to nominate an anti-abortion Republican to a lifetime appointment as a federal judge after Rand Paul scuttled Biden’s deal with Mitch McConnell to nominate Chad Meredith. Biden had planned to nominate Meredith in a purported deal with McConnell to stop obstructing other judicial nominees in the Senate. “In considering potential District Court nominees, the White House learned that Senator Rand Paul will not return a ‘blue slip’ on Chad Meredith,” White House spokesman Andrew Bates said. “Therefore, the White House will not nominate Mr. Meredith.” (New York Times / CNN / Associated Press)

5/ Ted Cruz claimed the Supreme Court was “clearly wrong” and “overreaching” when it legalized same-sex marriage nationwide. Cruz’s remarks come weeks after Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas argued in his concurring Roe v. Wade opinion that the court “should reconsider” past rulings, including Obergefell v. Hodges, as well as opinions that protected the right to same-sex intimacy and contraception. The House is expected to vote this week on a measure to codify marriage equality into federal law and repeal the Defense of Marriage Act. On Friday, the House passed the Women’s Health Protection Act and the Ensuring Access to Abortion Act to codify Roe v. Wade into law and protect people who are forced to travel out of state to receive care. All three measures are expected to die by a Republican filibuster in the Senate. (NBC News / USA Today / Washington Post / CNN)

6/ All 208 House Republicans voted against investigating white supremacist and neo-Nazi activity in the military and federal law enforcement. Despite unanimous Republicans opposition, the amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act was passed in a 218-208 party-line vote. The “Schneider Amendment” orders the FBI, Homeland Security, and the Secretary of Defense to publish a report that sets out ways to combat white supremacist and neo-Nazi activity in the uniformed services and law enforcement agencies. Once the House passes the $840 billion military spending bill, it will head to the Senate where it will need some Republican support to muster the 60 votes necessary to move the measure through the evenly divided chamber. (New York Times / Vice News / The Hill / Newsweek / Common Dreams)

poll/ 38% of Americans approve of the job Biden is doing as president, with 62% disapproving. 12% strongly approve of the way Biden is handling the presidency compared with 43% who say they strongly disapprove of his work. (CNN)

Day 541: "We're gathering evidence."

1/ Texas sued the Biden administration over federal rules requiring physicians and hospitals to provide abortions in medical emergencies, even in states with near-total bans. In its lawsuit, Texas claimed that the new guidance “forces hospitals and doctors to commit crimes and risk their licensure under Texas law.” Earlier this week, the Biden administration said the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act pre-empts state laws that restrict abortion access in emergency situations. Attorney General Ken Paxton accused Biden of trying “to use federal law to transform every emergency room in the country into a walk-in abortion clinic.” (Politico / CNBC / Washington Post / New York Times)

2/ Indiana’s Republican attorney general is investigating the doctor who treated a 10-year-old rape victim from Ohio. Ohio bans abortions after about six weeks of pregnancy, with no exceptions for rape or incest. The child was six weeks and three days into her pregnancy. Abortion in Indiana is banned after 22 weeks of pregnancy, with some exceptions for medical emergencies. Nevertheless, Attorney General Todd Rokita said “we’re gathering evidence” on Dr. Caitlin Bernard, who he called an “abortion activist acting as a doctor.” Meanwhile, a Republican Senator blocked a Democratic request to unanimously pass a bill seeking to protect interstate travel for abortion. The Freedom to Travel for Health Care Act of 2022 would also protect health care providers who provide abortions to out-of-state patients. James Lankford objected to the request, claiming that the conversation is “not just about the right to travel and the right to health care it’s deeper than that, it’s the right to live.” (Politico / NBC News / The Hill / CNN)

3/ Trump tried to call a member of the White House support staff involved in the Jan. 6 committee investigation of the Capitol insurrection. Trump allegedly made the call after former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson testified about his conduct leading up to Jan. 6. The staffer that Trump tried to contact was in a position to corroborate part of what Hutchinson had said under oath. The Jan. 6 committee, meanwhile, is reportedly discussing whether to seek an interview with Pence and Trump. (CNN / NBC News / Wall Street Journal)

4/ The Secret Service erased text messages from Jan. 5 and 6, 2021, shortly after oversight officials investigating the agency’s response requested the electronic communications. The Secret Service said the text messages were erased as a result of a “device-replacement program.” (The Intercept / CNN)

5/ Steve Bannon – again – lost his bid to delay his trial on criminal contempt of Congress charges. A federal judge said Bannon’s trial can start as scheduled next week. Bannon’s attorneys had argued that the publicity ahead of the trial raised the risk of prejudice against him among the jurors to be selected to hear his case. Judge Carl Nichols, however, rejected the arguments, saying the court would question potential jurors to determine whether a fair jury could be seated. (Wall Street Journal / Associated Press / CNBC)

poll/ 1% of 18-to-29-year-olds strongly approve of the job Biden is doing as president. 94% of Democrats under 30 said they wanted someone other than Biden to run for president in 2024. 46% of young voters favored Democratic control of Congress, while 28% wanted Republicans to take charge. (New York Times)

Day 540: "Everything is in play."

1/ Inflation climbed to 9.1% in June compared with a year earlier – the biggest 12-month increase in 40 years. On a monthly basis, the consumer price index jumped 1.3% from May to June, after prices had jumped 1% from April to May. While average wages in June were 5.1% higher than a year ago, energy prices rose by 41.6%, groceries were up 12.2%, and shelter costs were up 5.6% over the year. Further, average inflation-adjusted incomes fell 1% for the month and were down 3.6% from June 2021 to June 2022. The Federal Reserve’s beige book, a summary of the commentary on current economic conditions, reported that businesses “noted concerns over an increased risk of a recession” and that discretionary spending is showing signs of slowing due to higher gasoline and food prices. The Federal Reserve raised interest rates by 0.75 percentage points last month – the largest increase since 1994. Accelerated inflation, however, may require the Fed to consider a historic one percentage point rate hike later this month to slow the economy and restrain inflation. “Everything is in play,” Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta President Raphael Bostic said. (Politico / NPR / NBC News / Wall Street Journal / CNBC / Bloomberg / New York Times / Washington Post / CNN / Associated Press)

  • The inflation numbers are bad, but how bad are they? “Although many economists say inflation will stay at high levels at least through the end of the year, there are some signs that prices could be moderating.” (Vox)

  • Just how high is the risk of another recession? “Inflation is at a 40-year high. Stock prices are sinking. The Federal Reserve has just made borrowing even costlier. And the economy actually shrank in the first three months of this year.” (Associated Press)

  • Five charts explaining why inflation is at a 40-year high. “Persistent supply chain backlogs and high consumer demand for goods have kept prices elevated. More recently, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has strained global energy markets and sent the national average for a gallon of gas above $5 last month.” (Washington Post)

  • 7 takeaways from a hot inflation number. (New York Times)

  • Inflation surge challenges Democrats’ economic plans. “The party is running out of time on prescription-drug, climate and tax proposals.” (Wall Street Journal)

2/ The FDA authorized the use of Novavax’s Covid-19 vaccine for adults. The Novavax protein-based Covid vaccine is given in two doses, administered 21 days apart. The Biden administration has secured an initial 3.2 million doses, enough to fully vaccinate 1.6 million people in the U.S. (NBC News / New York Times / Wall Street Journal)

3/ The Senate approved Biden’s nominee to lead the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. Steven Dettelbach is only the second Senate-confirmed director in the agency’s history. (Politico)

4/ Lindsey Graham asked a federal judge to revoke a subpoena issued by a Georgia grand jury investigating criminal interference in the 2020 election by Trump. The subpoena for Graham’s testimony says that he made at least two calls to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger about “reexamining certain absentee ballots cast in Georgia in order to explore the possibility of a more favorable outcome for former President Donald Trump.” Graham’s lawyers argued that “no extraordinary circumstances exist for compelling his testimony” and “sovereign immunity prohibits enforcement of the state court process on him as a federal officer.” (CNBC)

poll/ 18% of Americans say Biden should run for reelection in 2024, while 64% say he should not run. Among Democrats 41% say Biden should pass on a second term while 35% say he should pursue one. (Yahoo News)

poll/ 41% of voters want Democrats to control Congress following the 2022 midterms, compared with 40% who would prefer Republicans control Congress. (New York Times)

poll/ 53% of voters say America’s political system is too divided politically to solve the nation’s problems, while 41% believe the current system can still work. 58% say American democracy needs major reforms or a complete overhaul. (New York Times)

Day 539: "In no uncertain terms."

1/ In its seventh public hearing, the Jan. 6 committee detailed how divisions between White House lawyers and outside advisers pressing Trump to pursue election fraud conspiracy claims exploded into an “unhinged” meeting that featured screaming, personal insults, accusations of disloyalty, and a challenge to physically fight. Rep. Jamie Raskin said “the meeting has been called, quote, ‘unhinged,’ ‘not normal,’ and the ‘craziest meeting of the Trump presidency.’” Arguments during the Dec. 18, 2020, meeting broke out over Rudy Giuliani, Michael Flynn, Sidney Powell, and former Overstock CEO Patrick Byrne urging Trump to declare a national emergency, take voting machines from states, and name Powell as a special counsel to pursue baseless claims of fraud – all in an effort to remain in office. Former White House Counsel Pat Cipollone recalled “pushing back” on the group by asking them to provide evidence that the election was fraudulent, but they showed a “general disregard for the importance of actually backing up what you say.” Former White House lawyer Eric Herschmann added that at one point he challenged Flynn to a fight as Flynn berating the White House attorneys for being “quitters” and not fighting hard enough for Trump. Herschmann said the group had suggested that Venezuela had meddled with the election and that internet-connected thermostats were changing votes. Cipollone added that he “was not happy to see the people in the Oval Office […] I don’t think any of these people were providing the president with good advice and I didn’t understand how they had gotten in.” The meeting lasted over six hours, beginning in the Oval Office and ending in Trump’s private residence. Hours later, Trump turned to riling up his supporters, tweeting for them to come to Washington and protest the Jan. 6 electoral vote count. “Be there, will be wild!” (Bloomberg / NPR / New York Times / Washington Post / NBC News / Wall Street Journal / Politico / CNBC / CNN)

2/ The Jan. 6 committee notified the Justice Department that Trump contacted one of its witnesses who hasn’t publicly testified yet. “After our last hearing, President Trump tried to call a witness in our investigation, a witness you have not yet seen in these hearings,” Liz Cheney said. “That person declined to answer or respond to President Trump’s call and instead alerted their lawyer to the call. Their lawyer alerted us.” It’s not the first time the panel has warned of potential attempts at tampering. In one phone call, according to the committee, a witness was told to be a “team player” and would remain in “good graces in Trump world” if they demonstrate that they were “protecting who I need to protect.” The Justice Department has the power to prosecute Trump if it determines he tampered with a congressional witness. “President Trump is a 76-year-old man, he is not an impressionable child,” Cheney said. “Just like everyone else in our country, he is responsible for his own actions and his own choices.” (Axios / New York Times / CNBC / Associated Press / Washington Post)

3/ The Biden administration told hospitals that they “must” provide women access to abortions in emergencies, even in states that have banned the procedure following the Supreme Court’s decision to end a constitutional right to abortion. The Department of Health and Human Services cited federal law that health emergencies take priority over state laws banning abortion. “Under the law, no matter where you live, women have the right to emergency care — including abortion care,” Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra said. “Today, in no uncertain terms, we are reinforcing that we expect providers to continue offering these services, and that federal law preempts state abortion bans when needed for emergency care.” The Justice Department also announced that it’s launching a “reproductive rights task force” to prevent overreach from state and local governments seeking to impose new bans on access. Democrats in Congress, meanwhile, plan to vote this week on legislation that would protect the right to travel for abortion services and explicitly give health care providers the right to provide abortion services and patients the right to obtain them. The bills, however, are all but certain to fail in the Senate where Democrats lack the 60 votes required to break a Republican filibuster. (NBC News / Washington Post / New York Times / Associated Press)

  • Voters in Michigan will have the opportunity to vote on the Reproductive Freedom for All amendment this November. The initiative, if certified and passed, could enshrine permanent protections into the state’s constitution for abortion and other reproductive health services including miscarriage management, birth control, prenatal care, and in-vitro fertilization. (Politico)
  • A judge in Minnesota struck down several state laws restricting access to abortions. State District Judge Thomas Gilligan said the “laws violate the right to privacy because they infringe upon the fundamental right under the Minnesota Constitution to access abortion care and do not withstand strict scrutiny,” adding: “The parental notification law violates the guarantee of equal protection for the same reasons. The informed consent law also violates the right to free speech under the Minnesota Constitution, because it is misleading and confusing, and does not withstand intermediate scrutiny. Accordingly, this court is declaring those laws unconstitutional.” (NBC News)

4/ Biden still plans to nominate an anti-abortion Republican to a lifetime appointment as a federal judge in Kentucky despite several Senate Democrats promising to vote against Chad Meredith’s confirmation. While Biden has not formally nominated Meredith, the White House informed Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear’s office in a June 23 email. Biden’s plan to nominate Meredith is purported to be part of a deal with Mitch McConnell to stop obstructing other judicial nominees in the deadlocked Senate. (HuffPost / USA Today)

5/ The Biden administration is working on a plan to allow a second Covid-19 booster shot to all adults, pending federal agency approval. Currently, a second booster shot is available only to those 50 and older or those 12 and older who are immunocompromised. BA.5 Omicron subvariant has recently become dominant the variant in the U.S., accounting for more than 60% of all new infections. Antibodies from vaccines and previous coronavirus infections offer limited protection against BA.5. (Washington Post / CNN / New York Times)

6/ Jill Biden apologized for comparing the Latino community to breakfast tacos. “The diversity of this community – distinct as the bodegas of the Bronx, as beautiful as the blossoms of Miami, and as unique as the breakfast tacos here in San Antonio – is your strength,” Biden said in a speech. “And yet, it’s when you speak with one voice – unidos – that you find your power.” Biden also mispronounced the Spanish word “bodegas” in that line of the speech. The National Association of Hispanic Journalists, meanwhile, responded: “We are not tacos […] Do not reduce us to stereotypes.” (Dallas Morning News / Business Insider / ABC News / Politico)

poll/ 49% of Republican voters said they would support Trump in the 2024 election, while 25% said they would vote for Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. (New York Times)

Day 538: "Out of control."

1/ A federal judge refused to delay Stephen Bannon’s trial on charges of criminal contempt of Congress. After refusing to cooperate with a congressional subpoena from the Jan. 6 committee for nearly nine months, Bannon informed the panel over the weekend that he was willing to testify. Bannon’s reversal came after he suggested that Trump had “waived” his claim of executive privilege and permitted him to testify. Prosecutors, however, disclosed Monday that Trump’s attorney Justin Clark told them Trump “never invoked executive privilege over any particular information or materials” and that Bannon’s lawyer “misrepresented to the committee what the former president’s counsel had told the defendant’s attorney.” The Justice Department told the federal judge that Bannon’s last-minute offer to testify was a “last-ditch attempt to avoid accountability” and “irrelevant” to whether he will be prosecuted for contempt. Bannon’s trial is set to begin July 18 on two counts of criminal contempt. (Washington Post / Bloomberg / CNN / Politico / The Guardian / New York Times / NBC News / Associated Press / Wall Street Journal)

  • Former Attorney General William Barr was subpoenaed in a $1.6 billion defamation suit brought against Fox News by the voting-machine company falsely accused of rigging the 2020 election. “Dominion Voting Systems Inc. is seeking sworn testimony from Barr, who served as former President Donald Trump’s attorney general, court filings show. Barr contradicted Trump about a month after the election by telling the Associated Press that the Justice Department had found no evidence of widespread voter fraud that would have changed the result.” (Bloomberg)

2/ A Fulton County judge ordered Lindsey Graham to testify before the special grand jury in Georgia that’s investigating Trump’s attempts to overturn the 2020 election. Judge Robert McBurney described Graham as a “necessary and material witness” to the grand jury and ordered him to testify on Aug. 2. The grand jury wants to hear about two phone calls allegedly made by Graham to Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger asking him to begin “reexamining certain absentee ballots cast in Georgia in order to explore the possibility of a more favorable outcome for former President Donald Trump.” (WSB-TV Atlanta / Reuters)

3/ The FDA is reviewing its first-ever application for an over-the-counter birth control pill – more than 60 years after the hormone-based pills were approved by the FDA. They have always required a prescription. HRA Pharma officials said they expect an FDA decision in about 10 months – typical for over-the-counter applications – meaning it could take until mid-2023 for Opill to be on shelves. Meanwhile, Biden called the Supreme Court “out of control” and its decision to overturn the constitutional right to abortion “an exercise in raw political power.” He then signed an executive order that aims to ensure the safety of abortion patients and providers, as well as access to the procedure through mobile clinics near the borders of states that restrict access. (Politico / New York Times / NBC News / CNBC / Associated Press)

4/ The Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled that most ballot drop boxes aren’t allowed in the state – one month before the state’s primary elections. The court also ruled that voters are required to physically return their own absentee ballots – meaning, a voter can’t have someone else return their completed absentee ballot on their behalf. (NPR)

5/ The latest Omicron subvariant has quickly become dominant in the U.S., according to the CDC. In the U.S., BA.5 now accounts for about 54% of all Covid-19 infections. BA.5 is highly transmissible and manages to at least partially skip past some of the immune defenses acquired through prior infections and vaccinations. (NPR / The Atlantic / Washington Post)

poll/ 64% of Democratic voters want someone other than Biden to run for president in 2024, while 26% say they’d prefer Biden to be their party’s candidate. Of the 64% of respondents who want a different Democratic candidate, 33% cited Biden’s age as the reason. At 79, Biden is the oldest president in U.S. history. In hypothetical matchup, however, Biden beats Trump 44% to 41%. (New York Times / Bloomberg)

poll/ 33% of voters say Biden deserves reelection, while 67% say Biden doesn’t deserve a second term. (Gallup)

Day 534: "Entrenched."

1/ Federal Reserve officials expressed concern that elevated inflation posed a “significant risk” of becoming “entrenched” in the economy. According to minutes from the Federal Open Market Committee’s June meeting, officials said inflation had become “more persistent than they had previously anticipated,” emphasizing the need to raise interest rates faster and to levels high enough to slow economic growth and control cost-of-living increases running at their highest levels since 1981 – even if it meant causing a recession. In June, officials voted to raise their benchmark rate 0.75 percentage point, the largest increase since 1994. Members said the July meeting would likely result in another .50 or .75 percentage point increase, and warned “that an even more restrictive stance could be appropriate if elevated inflation pressures were to persist.” (Bloomberg / NBC News / Wall Street Journal / New York Times / CNBC)

2/ The number of open U.S. jobs fell to 11.3 million in May – down from 11.6 million in April. While it was the second straight monthly decline in open positions, there were 5.95 million people unemployed in May – meaning there were nearly two available jobs for every unemployed person in the U.S. The unemployment rate in May was 3.6%, slightly above where it was before the pandemic. New applications for unemployment benefits, however, rose to 235,000 last week from 231,000 the week before. (New York Times / Wall Street Journal / CNBC)

3/ Senate Democrats reached an agreement with Joe Manchin to raise taxes on some high earners to keep Medicare from going bankrupt. The plan – effectively a slimmed-down version of the Build Back Better Act that Manchin scuttled last year over fears of rising inflation – would impose taxes on certain income from pass-through businesses. The tax is expected to raise about $203 billion over a decade, which would be used to sustain Medicare’s key trust fund until 2031. The fund is currently projected to start running out of money in 2028. Democrats expect to submit the text of the legislation to the Senate’s parliamentarian in the next few days. If it complies with the chamber’s budget rules, Democrats could avoid a Republican filibuster and pass the provision with just 50 votes. (NBC News / Bloomberg / Washington Post / ABC News / Associated Press)

4/ The IRS audited former FBI Director James Comey and former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe. Trump fired Comey in 2017 while he oversaw the FBI’s investigation into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia. Less than a year later, McCabe was similarly terminated after investigating Trump over the Comey firing. Out of about 153 million individual tax returns filed in 2017, about 5,000 people were selected for this type of audit – or about 1 in 30,600. The IRS, meanwhile, asked the Treasury Department’s inspector general for tax administration to look into how two perceived enemies of Trump came to be faced with rare, exhaustive audits that the agency says are supposed to be random. (New York Times / NBC News / Washington Post)

  • 📌 [Day 110]: Trump fired James Comey on the recommendation of Jeff Sessions. In a letter dated Tuesday to Comey, Trump concurred “with the judgment of the Department of Justice that [Comey is not] able to effectively lead the bureau.” Earlier today, the FBI notified Congress that Comey misstated key findings involving the Clinton email investigation during testimony, saying that only a “small number” of emails had been forwarded to disgraced congressman Anthony Weiner, not the “hundreds and thousands” he’d claimed in his testimony. The move sweeps away the man who is responsible for the investigation into whether members of Trump’s campaign team colluded with Russia in its interference in last year’s election. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein laid out the reasons for Comey’s firing, arguing that the handling of his investigation into Clinton’s private server, his decision not to recommend charges be filed, and the news conference he held to explain his reasoning were the cause of his dismissal. Democrats reacted with shock and alarm, accusing Trump of ousting the FBI director to escape scrutiny over his campaign’s Russia ties. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer urged deputy Rosenstein to appoint a special prosecutor for the federal probe into the Trump campaign’s ties with Russian officials — warning that failing to do so will lead the public to “rightly suspect” that Comey’s surprise firing “was part of a cover-up.”

  • 📌 [Day 670]: Trump wanted to order the Justice Department in April to prosecute Hillary Clinton and James Comey. The White House counsel at the time, Don McGahn, pushed back, saying Trump had no authority to order a prosecution, and that while he could request an investigation, that could prompt accusations of abuse of power.

Day 533: "Broken."

1/ Trump White House counsel Pat Cipollone agreed to testify after receiving a subpoena from the Jan. 6 committee. Cipollone will sit for a videotaped, transcribed interview behind closed doors on Friday. He is not expected to testify publicly. Former Trump White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson’s testified last month that Cipollone repeatedly tried to prevent Trump from encouraging his supporters to march to the Capitol on Jan. 6. Hutchinson also testified that Cipollone had warned in the days leading up to the attack that Trump and his aides could be charged with “every crime imaginable” if Trump joined protesters at the Capitol. The committee scheduled its seventh hearing for July 12 at 10 a.m. ET. House Republicans, meanwhile, threatened to subpoena unspecified records of the Jan. 6 committee in retaliation if the GOP retakes the majority next year. (New York Times / Wall Street Journal / Washington Post / ABC News / Axios / Bloomberg / CNN)

2/ Lindsey Graham will challenge the subpoena from a special grand jury in Georgia investigating Trump’s attempts to overturn the 2020 election in the state. In a statement, Graham’s attorneys said the subpoena for his testimony is “all politics” and that Graham “plans to go to court, challenge the subpoena, and expects to prevail.” Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis’ special grand jury wants to hear from Graham because he allegedly made two calls to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and his staff following the election “about reexamining certain absentee ballots cast in Georgia in order to explore the possibility of a more favorable outcome for former President Donald Trump.” (NBC News / CNN)

3/ Biden planned to nominate an anti-abortion Republican to a lifetime appointment as a federal judge in Kentucky the day before the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. In an email dated June 23, the White House informed Kentucky Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear’s office that Chad Meredith was “to be nominated tomorrow” to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky. The next day the Supreme Court overturned Roe, effectively banning abortion in Kentucky because of its trigger law. While Meredith’s nomination was never announced or submitted by the White House, there has been no indication it has been rescinded either. The nomination was reportedly part of a deal with Mitch McConnell to stop holding up Biden’s other judicial nominations. (Courier Journal / CNN / Wall Street Journal / The Guardian)

4/ The seven states that make up the Colorado River Basin have less than 60 days to come up with a plan to significantly reduce their collective water consumption in the next 18 months or risk a potential collapse of the Colorado River system. Climate change and a two-decade-long drought have diminished river flows and reservoir water levels by about 20%. Scientists estimate that one-third of that loss can be attributed to warmer temperatures. As a result, the Bureau of Reclamation ordered Colorado, Utah, New Mexico, Wyoming, Nevada, California, and Arizona to cut their water usage by 2 to 4 million acre-feet in 2023 — which amounts to more than Arizona’s entire annual usage. Under the terms of the 1922 Colorado River Compact, the Upper Basin is made up of Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming, while the Lower Basin consists of Arizona, California, and Nevada and Mexico. Each basin has rights to 7.5 million acre-feet of water, with an additional 1.5 million acre-feet of water for Mexico. While the upper basin has never come close to using its full share of the water over the past century – using roughly 3.5 million acre-feet annually – the lower basin by some estimates uses more than 8.5 million acre-feet annually. Associated laws and agreements predetermine what happens at various stages of water shortages, and under a 2007 agreement, any shortages in supply would be borne by Arizona and Nevada first. The Bureau of Reclamation gave the states until Aug. 16 to figure out a path to conservation before the Bureau would take unilateral action to protect the system. (Politico / Water Desk)

5/ The Biden administration announced plans to “fix” the “broken” federal student loan system. The proposal would update protections for students defrauded by for-profit schools, overhaul of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program, changes how interest accrues on some loans. The public has 30 days to comment on the Education Department’s proposals, and the final rules will go into effect no later than July 1, 2023. As many as 40 million Americans could be impacted by the changes. (CNBC / Wall Street Journal)

6/ Covid-19 was the third leading cause of death in the U.S. in 2020 and 2021, trailing heart disease and cancer. Between March 2020 and October 2021, Covid-19 accounted for one in every eight deaths and ranked in the top five causes of death for every age group of people older than 15 years. (JAMA Internal Medicine / Axios / Ars Technica)

poll/ 54% of Americans feel their lives are somewhat the same as it was before the pandemic, while 34% think their lives are not the same. (New York Times)

poll/ 54% of Texas voters oppose the state’s trigger law automatically banning abortions, while 37% support the trigger law. 15% of Texas voters said “abortion should never be permitted.” (University of Texas/Texas Politics Project Poll)

poll/ 57% of Americans disapprove of the Supreme Court’s decisions to overturn Roe v. Wade, while 41% approve. 52% of adults in states that have new restrictions on abortion or where prohibitions are set to soon take effect disapprove of the court’s decision, while 47% approve. 62% of Americans say abortion should be legal in all or most cases – largely unchanged since before the court’s decision. (Pew Research Center)

Day 532: "People are gonna be shocked."

1/ At least seven people were killed in a shooting in Highland Park, Illinois, during a Fourth of July parade, and more than 30 people were injured. The suspected gunman, Robert “Bobby” Crimo III, had “preplanned this attack for several weeks” and disguised himself as a woman in an attempt to conceal his identity after firing more than 70 bullets from a rooftop using a “high-powered” rifle similar to an AR-15, officials said. Deputy Chief Christopher Covelli said that after Crimo fired into the crowd, he dropped his rifle and escaped with the crowd “almost as if he was an innocent spectator,” before walking to his mother’s home and borrowing a vehicle. Police discovered a second rifle inside the car. Both rifles had been legally purchased in the Chicago area. The shooting came a week and a half after Biden signed the most significant gun measure to pass Congress in nearly three decades. (NPR / CNN / New York Times / NBC News / Washington Post / Associated Press / Wall Street Journal)

2/ The New York State Legislature passed a measure to enshrine the right to an abortion and access to contraception in the State Constitution. If fully enacted, the Equal Rights Amendment would explicitly add protections for New Yorkers to access abortion care. Amending the State Constitution requires passage by two separately elected Legislatures, and then approval by voters in a referendum. Florida’s ban on abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, meanwhile, is back in effect after a state court judge blocked it earlier today. And in Ohio, a 10-year-old rape victim was denied an abortion. With the state’s trigger law banning abortions after six weeks in effect, the girl – who was six weeks and three days pregnant – had to travel to Indiana for the medical procedure. Biden, meanwhile, predicted that some states will try to arrest women for crossing state lines to get an abortion. “People are gonna be shocked when the first state […] tries to arrest a woman for crossing a state line to get health services,” Biden said. He added: “And I don’t think people believe that’s gonna happen. But it’s gonna happen, and it’s gonna telegraph to the whole country that this is a gigantic deal that goes beyond; I mean, it affects all your basic rights”. (New York Times / Bloomberg / Indianapolis Star / The Guardian / Reuters / The Hill / Business Insider / Politico)

  • A new Supreme Court case is the biggest threat to US democracy since January 6. “Moore v. Harper is a grave threat to US democracy, and the fate of that democracy probably comes down to Amy Coney Barrett.” (Vox)
  • The Supreme Court’s next target is the executive branch. “There are many ways for the conservative court to rein in federal agencies, and while there may not be a clear consensus on precisely which of those avenues to take at any given moment, one way or another, federal agencies exerting broad-based powers are already losing — and are almost certainly going to keep losing.” (Axios)

3/ Liz Cheney, the Jan. 6 committee’s vice chair, suggested that the panel could make “more than one criminal referral” to the Justice Department over Trump’s role in the attack on the Capitol. While bringing charges against a former president would be unprecedented and “difficult” for the country, not doing so would support a “much graver constitutional threat,” Cheney said. Adam Kinzinger, meanwhile, said that new witnesses have come forward since Cassidy Hutchinson testified. (Washington Post / ABC News / Associated Press)

4/ A Georgia grand jury subpoenaed Rudy Giuliani, Lindsey Graham, and five others as part of an investigation into Trump’s potential criminal interference in the 2020 presidential election. In addition to Giuliani and Graham, those being summoned to provide testimony include John Eastman, Cleta Mitchell, Kenneth Chesebro, and Jenna Ellis, who all advised Trump on ways to overturn Biden’s wins in Georgia and several other swing states. The special grand jury also issued a subpoena to Jacki Pick Deason, a podcaster who also supported Trump’s efforts to overturn the election. The grand jury, citing Giuliani’s December 2020 testimony claiming to have evidence of widespread voter fraud, believes Giuliani “possesses unique knowledge concerning communications between himself, former President Trump, the Trump Campaign, and other known and unknown individuals involved in the multi-state, coordinated efforts to influence the results of the November 2020 election in Georgia and elsewhere.” (Atlanta Journal-Constitution / Washington Post / Bloomberg / New York Times / CNBC / CNN)

poll/ 71% of voters say Biden should not run for a second term. 45% said Biden is a bad president, while 30% said he’s too old, and 26% said it’s time for change. (Harvard Center for American Political Studies and Harris)

poll/ 61% of voters don’t want Trump to run in 2024. 36% called Trump too erratic, 33% said he will divide America, and 30% said Trump is responsible for Jan. 6, 2021. (Harvard Center for American Political Studies and Harris)

poll/ 27% of Americans express “a great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence in U.S. institutions – an all-time low. (Gallup)

poll/ 42% of Americans say they are struggling financially – up 18 points since last year. (Monmouth University)

Day 527: "Running out of options."

1/ The Supreme Court restricted the EPA’s ability to limit greenhouse gas emissions from existing power plants, dealing a major blow to Biden’s efforts to fight climate change and shift the nation’s energy production toward renewable sources. In its 6-3 ruling, the Supreme Court said the Clean Air Act doesn’t give EPA the authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from power plants that contribute to global warming, writing that “a decision of such magnitude and consequence rests with Congress itself, or an agency acting pursuant to a clear delegation from that representative body.” In dissent, the court’s three liberal justices wrote that the majority had stripped the EPA of “the power to respond to the most pressing environmental challenge of our time.” Congress, meanwhile, hasn’t passed major climate legislation since the cap-and-trade bill, which died in the Senate in 2010. Biden called the ruling “another devastating decision that aims to take our country backwards,” accusing the court’s conservative majority of siding “with special interests that have waged a long-term campaign to strip away our right to breathe clean air.” Biden came into office with the most ambitious climate agenda of any president, pledging to cut the country’s pollution in half by 2030 and to have an emissions-free power sector by 2035. The Supreme Court decision, however, will likely limit Biden’s ability to use other departments and regulators to address climate change. The U.S. is the world’s largest historic emitter of greenhouse gases, and fossil fuel-fired power plants are the second-largest source of pollution in the U.S. behind transportation. Richard Lazarus, a professor of environmental law at Harvard, said “the court’s ruling is a major setback for EPA’s ability to address climate change, and it could hardly have come at a worse time,” and that the Biden administration is “running out of options right now.” (New York Times / Washington Post / NPR / Politico / Wall Street Journal / Bloomberg / Associated Press / NBC News / CBS News / CNN / CNBC)

2/ Biden called for eliminating the Senate filibuster to codify Roe v. Wade into law and federally protect access to abortion. “We have to codify Roe v. Wade in the law, and the way to do that is to make sure the Congress votes to do that,” Biden said. “And if the filibuster gets in the way, it’s like voting rights, we provide an exception for this, or an exception to the filibuster for this action.” Biden condemned the “outrageous behavior” of the Supreme Court, which overturned Roe v. Wade and revoked the constitutional right to abortion last week, saying the decision is “destabilizing” the country. The filibuster rule could be changed with a simple majority vote, but two Democrats – Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema – remain opposed to eliminating or making an exception to the Senate’s rule. Mitch McConnell, meanwhile, publicly praised his decision to block Obama from filling a Supreme Court vacancy after conservative Justice Antonin Scalia died in 2016, calling it his “single-most consequential decision.” McConnell’s refusal to consider Merrick Garland’s nomination 11 months before Trump took office cleared the way for Trump put Justice Neil Gorsuch on the bench – his first of three conservative appointees to the Supreme Court. (Washington Post / New York Times / Bloomberg / Politico / CNN / Wall Street Journal / Axios)

3/ Clarence Thomas cited a debunked claim that all Covid-19 vaccines are derived from the cells of “aborted children.” To be clear, none of the Covid-19 vaccines in the U.S. contain the cells of aborted fetuses. Thomas nevertheless made the baseless assertion in a dissenting opinion in a case that the Supreme Court declined to hear regarding New York’s coronavirus vaccine requirement for health care workers that doesn’t include a religious exemption. (Politico / NBC News)

4/ The Supreme Court agreed to hear a case promoting a controversial legal theory that state legislatures – not state courts – have the authority to decide how federal elections are conducted. Republican legislators in North Carolina are challenging a state Supreme Court ruling that threw out a voting map drawn by the GOP-controlled legislature that would give Republicans 10 safe seats out of 14 total. The court said the map was excessively partisan and violated the state constitution. At issue is a legal theory, known as the “independent state legislature theory,” that would give state legislatures sole authority to set the rules for federal elections – even if their actions violated state constitutions. Under the strongest form of this doctrine, state constitutions would cease to provide any constraint on state lawmakers, state courts would lose their power to strike down anti-democratic laws, and state governors would lose the power to veto new state election laws. The outcome could fundamentally change the way federal elections are conducted and have enormous impact on the 2024 election. (NPR / Washington Post / Politico / Vox / NBC News / CNN / Wall Street Journal)

5/ The Jan. 6 committee issued a subpoena to former White House Counsel Pat Cipollone to testify. Cipollone has been mentioned in each of the Jan. 6 committee’s six hearings often at key moments before, during, and after the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. Earlier this week, former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson testified about efforts to stop Trump from making a planned trip to the Capitol on Jan. 6. “Mr. Cipollone said something to the effect of ‘Please make sure we don’t go up to the Capitol, Cassidy. Keep in touch with me. We’re going to get charged with every crime imaginable if we make that movement happen.’” (New York Times / NPR / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal)

poll/ 66% of Americans believe Trump tried to overturn the 2020 election results and he should be prosecuted for it. (The Hill / Associated Press)

Day 526: "A better justification."

1/ Virginia Thomas – the conservative activist and wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas – told the Jan. 6 committee she saw no reason testify. In an eight-page letter to the committee, her attorney said he wants “a better justification for why Mrs. Thomas’s testimony is relevant” before she’ll comply with the request to talk about her role in seeking to reverse Trump’s 2020 election loss. “Mrs. Thomas is eager to clear her name and is willing to appear before the Committee to do so,” her lawyer, Mark Paoletta, wrote. “However, […] I am asking the Committee to provide a better justification for why Mrs. Thomas’s testimony is relevant to the Committee’s legislative purpose.” Paoletta noted that it’s “been a particularly stressful time” amid the Supreme Court rulings to eliminate the constitutional right to an abortion and expand gun rights. Thomas exchanged text messages with Mark Meadows, the White House chief of staff at the time, urging him to challenge Biden’s victory. The committee also obtained emails between Thomas and John Eastman, the lawyer who promoted the legal strategy that Pence could block or delay the Electoral College certification on Jan. 6, 2021. (Daily Caller / New York Times / NBC News / Politico / Washington Post)

  • John Eastman dropped his lawsuit that tried to block the Jan. 6 committee from getting his call logs after the committee made clear “that they were not seeking the content” of Eastman’s communications – only the call logs from his carrier, Verizon. (NBC News)

2/ Harris called for abortion-rights supporters “to stand together” and “win the midterms,” but declined to support the idea of term limits for Supreme Court justices. “We cannot underestimate the significance of the upcoming elections and the need for all people who care about this issue to understand that we have to have a pro-choice Congress” to pass a law codifying abortion rights, Harris said, mentioning Senate races in Georgia, North Carolina, and Colorado. Republicans, however, are expected to take control of the House, and possibly the Senate, in the 2022 midterms. Nancy Pelosi, meanwhile, met with Pope Francis and received Communion despite the church’s strong opposition to abortion. (NPR / Associated Press)

3/ Consumer spending was weaker in early 2022 than previously reported, suggesting that the economy is on weaker footing than previously thought. According to new Commerce Department data, spending, adjusted for inflation, increased 0.5% in the first three months of the year – down from the government’s earlier estimate of 0.8% growth. In the final quarter of 2021, spending grew 0.6%. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell, meanwhile, said he was more concerned about stamping out high inflation than about the possibility of raising interest rates too high and pushing the economy into a recession. “There’s no guarantee” the Fed can bring down inflation without causing a recession, Powell said, adding that “the process is highly likely to involve some pain.” (New York Times / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal / NBC News)

4/ Justice Stephen Breyer will retire from the Supreme Court tomorrow, ending a nearly three-decade tenure and clearing the way for Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to be sworn in. Jackson – the court’s first Black female justice – will be sworn in immediately after Breyer’s official retirement. (Politico / Washington Post)

poll/ 85% of Americans say the country is on the wrong track, and 79% describe the economy as poor. 39% of Americans approve of the job Biden is doing as president, while 60% disapprove. (Associated Press)

Day 525: "Real, real bad."

1/ Trump knew some of his supporters were armed when he directed them to march on the Capitol on Jan. 6, according to Cassidy Hutchinson, a former top aide to then-White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows. Hutchinson, testifying before the Jan. 6 committee, said that both Trump and Meadows ignored warnings about potential violence on Jan. 6, that they both wanted Trump to join the march to the Capitol, and days before the insurrection Meadows told her “things might get real, real bad” at the Capitol. Hutchinson also detailed how, minutes before he took the stage at the Ellipse on Jan. 6, Trump insisted that Secret Service remove the metal detectors to allow his supporters armed with rifles, pistols, knives, brass knuckles, and other weapons into the rally, saying “‘I don’t f-ing care that they have weapons. They’re not here to hurt me […] Let my people in. They can march to the Capitol from here.’” Hutchinson said that Trump wanted to create a photo op of a very large crowd gathered to hear him speak. Trump then urged his supporters, knowing some of them were armed, to march to the Capitol. Hutchinson testified that after his speech, Trump demanded to be driven to the Capitol. His Secret Service detail, however, refused due to concerns of safety. When Trump was informed he would be returning to the White House instead, Hutchinson said, he became so “irate” that he “said something to the effect of, ‘I’m the f’ing president. Take me up to the Capitol now.’” Trump then tried to forcibly steer his limousine to the Capitol from the back seat and lunged for the throat of his bodyguard while wrestling for control of the vehicle. Later, as Trump’s supporters stormed the Capitol – some chanting “Hang Mike Pence” – Hutchinson said that Meadows told her Trump “doesn’t want to do anything. He thinks Mike deserves it. He doesn’t think they’re doing anything wrong.” And, in his one-minute video calling for rioters to leave the Capitol and go home – posted to Twitter more than two hours after the mob overtook the Capitol – Trump reportedly wanted to include language about pardoning the rioters. His legal counsel, however, advised against it. Hutchinson also said that on Dec. 1, after Attorney General William Barr said there was no evidence of fraud in the 2020 election, Trump threw his lunch at a White House wall, splattering ketchup on the wall. And, lastly, Meadows and Rudy Giuliani later sought pardons as a result of the events of Jan. 6. Trump never pardoned either adviser before leaving office. (New York Times / Washington Post / NBC News / Politico / Wall Street Journal / Bloomberg / CNBC / NPR)

  • ✏️ Cassidy Hutchinson just changed everything. The January 6 hearings have been damning. Hutchinson’s testimony took them to a new level. (Vox)

  • ✏️ 1/6 Takeaways: Angry Trump, dire legal warnings and ketchup. “Hutchinson testified that a defiant Trump was told there were guns and other weapons in the rally crowd at the White House, but sent his supporters to the Capitol anyway and even sought to physically pry the steering wheel from his presidential motorcade driver so he could join them.” (Associated Press)

2/ The FBI seized the phone of the attorney who developed Trump’s strategy to stop Congress from certifying the 2020 presidential election results on Jan. 6. Federal agents stopped John Eastman and took his iPhone as he was leaving a restaurant last week, according to a lawsuit he filed in New Mexico to recover his property from the government. According to the filing, the seizure of Eastman’s phone came on the same day that federal agents searched the home of Jeffrey Clark, a former Justice Department official who promised to help Trump reverse his election loss by pressuring the agency to promote his false claims of election fraud. Trump briefly considered appointing Clark to run the department because he was willing to declare the election results invalid in some key states. (Washington Post / CNN / New York Times / Politico / Wall Street Journal)

3/ The White House signaled that Biden will not pursue Senate Democratic proposals to build abortion clinics on federal land, fund people seeking abortions out of state, expanding the Supreme Court, or end the filibuster after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. Progressive Democratic lawmakers, including Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, have called on Biden to declare a national medical emergency to acknowledge “the emergency situation and the urgency of getting help out.” So far, Biden’s response has consisted of urging voters to elect more Democrats and the launch of a website by the Department of Health and Human Services to help people find contraceptives and abortion services. Asked by recently if he thinks the Supreme Court is “broken,” Biden replied: “I think the Supreme Court has made some terrible decisions.” (Washington Post / New York Times / Politico / NBC News)

4/ Global methane emissions “appear to be going in the wrong direction” despite a coalition of more than 100 nations voluntarily pledging to cut methane emissions by 30% by 2030. Kayrros, a firm that analyzes satellite data, said methane emissions rose 20% since the easing of the coronavirus pandemic, a development the French methane tracking firm called “worrisome.” (Washington Post / Axios)

Day 524: "Bedrock constitutional principles."

1/ A Louisiana judge temporarily blocked enforcement of a statewide “trigger law” ban on abortion, allowing the state’s three remaining abortion clinics to continue operating. Louisiana is one of 13 states that had trigger laws on the books in anticipation of the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade. In several states, including Louisiana, those laws took effect immediately, halting abortion care across the state. The order followed a lawsuit by abortion providers alleging that the state’s “trigger” bans are “vague” because they don’t have a “clear and unambiguous effective date” and “lack adequate standing for enforceability.” A hearing is pending next week. (Axios / CBS News / New York Times / Washington Post / The Hill)

  • 📌 Day 521: In a historic reversal, the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade and eliminated the constitutional right to an abortion after 49 years. The 6-to-3 decision to uphold a Mississippi abortion ban follows the leak of a draft opinion in May indicating that the court was poised to overturn Roe, which first declared a constitutional right to abortion, as well as Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which re-affirmed that right in 1992. The ruling leaves states free to restrict or ban abortions. At least 26 states – where roughly 33 million women of child-bearing age live – are expected to ban or restrict abortions, including battleground states like Arizona, Wisconsin, and Michigan, which have pre-Roe bans on abortion on the books. Georgia has a six-week ban in place. More than a quarter of the country’s 790 abortion clinics are estimated to close, and women in those states will have to travel an average of 552 miles to access the medical procedure.

2/ Attorney General Merrick Garland indicated that the Justice Department will protect the right to seek abortions across state lines, calling the Supreme Court decision to reverse Roe v. Wade “a devastating blow to reproductive freedom.” Garland said “bedrock constitutional principles” protect a women’s rights to seek reproductive care, and that the “Constitution continues to restrict states’ authority to ban reproductive services provided outside their borders.” Both Texas and Oklahoma recently passed abortion bans that allow private citizens to sue people who perform abortions or who otherwise help someone get one. In Texas, lawmakers have signaled that they want to make it illegal for people to travel out of state to get the procedure. In his concurring opinion, however, Justice Brett Kavanaugh suggested that women who travel to another state to receive an abortion would be protected by the constitutional right to interstate travel. Garland also said the department is “ready to work with other arms of the federal government that seek to use their lawful authorities to protect and preserve access to reproductive care,” noting that the FDA has approved the use of Mifepristone and that states cannot ban the medication based on disagreement with the FDA’s judgment. (Bloomberg / New York Times / NBC News / Washington Post)

3/ A coalition of 22 state attorneys general reaffirmed their commitment to defending abortion rights and expanding access to reproductive care in their states. “If you seek access to abortion and reproductive health care, we’re committed to using the full force of the law to support you,” the attorneys general wrote. “We will continue to use all legal tools at our disposal to fight for your rights and stand up for our laws,” they wrote. The coalition is comprised of the attorneys general of New York, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington. “When it comes to abortion care,” they wrote, “it’s your body and your right to choose.” (CNN / New York Times)

4/ Justice Clarence Thomas indicated that he believes the Supreme Court should reconsider defamation laws as the court declined to revisit the First Amendment decision in New York Times v. Sullivan – a landmark 1964 ruling that set a high bar for public figures to sue news organizations for libel. The Coral Ridge Ministries Media unsuccessfully sued the Southern Poverty Law Center for labeling it as a “hate group” for broadcasting a television program that describes homosexuality as “lawless,” “an abomination,” “vile,” “against nature,” “profane,” and “shameful.” Thomas was the only justice to say he would have heard the case, saying the “actual malice” standard established by Sullivan has “allowed media organizations and interest groups to cast false aspersions on public figures with near impunity.” (Axios /