Aftermath of the Trump Administration, March 2021

 

Now that the Biden administration has settled into Washington, D.C., my daily chronicle (20 January 2017 – 20 January 2021) of news about the Trump administration, Republicans, Democrats, corporations, courts, resistance, and persistence is winding down. I will continue to post a few important articles, especially ones that reflect the differences between the Biden administration and the Trump administration.  I hope to devote more of my time to posting muckraking articles on my site and to working with my local activist group in pursuit of progressive change and a stronger democracy. Thanks for reading!

 

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Monday, 1 March 2021:

 

Biden’s Cabinet Picks Are Moving Toward Confirmation as Senate Gears Up for Stimulus Vote, The New York Times, Monday, 1 March 2021:

  • Miguel A. Cardona is confirmed as education secretary.

  • A key Senate panel voted to recommend Merrick Garland’s confirmation.

  • Trump and his wife received coronavirus vaccine before leaving the White House.

  • Elizabeth Warren introduces a wealth tax for individuals worth over $50 million.

  • Protests by Native Americans lead to a delay in Arizona copper mine project.

  • The Capitol Police union endorses recommendations for adding officers, fencing, and an urgent response force.
  • Biden expresses solidarity with Alabama workers attempting to unionize an Amazon warehouse.
  • The White House says it may allow families separated at the border to stay in the U.S.
  • The Washington Post’s publisher accuses Biden of giving the Saudis a ‘one free murder’ pass in the killing of Jamal Khashoggi.

Biden meets virtually with Mexico’s leader as Senate continues to scrutinize his Cabinet choices, The Washington Post, Felicia Sonmez, Colby Itkowitz, and John Wagner, Monday, 1 March 2021: “After returning to Washington from Delaware on Monday, President Biden met virtually with Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, with migration and the coronavirus pandemic among the topics on their agenda. ‘The United States and Mexico are stronger when we stand together,’ Biden said. ‘There’s a long and complicated history between our nations that haven’t always been perfect neighbors with one another. But we have seen over and over again the power and the purpose when we cooperate. And we’re safer when we work together.’ On Capitol Hill, the Senate voted Monday to confirm Miguel Cardona as Biden’s education secretary, while a committee is expected to advance the nomination of Merrick Garland as attorney general.

Here are a few of the significant developments included in this article.

  • Senate Democrats and the White House are retreating on efforts to include a $15 minimum wage increase in Biden’s $1.9 trillion relief bill as they aim to move the package forward this week in the Senate.
  • Former president Donald Trump declared that he is considering a presidential run in 2024, has ruled out forming a third party, and will devote himself to building up Republican efforts to take on Democrats and others he claimed have targeted his movement.
  • Facing fresh allegations of sexual harassment and mounting political pressure, New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo (D) apologized if anything he said may ‘have been misinterpreted as an unwanted flirtation,’ but denied he inappropriately touched or propositioned anyone in his office.

How Pro-Trump Forces Pushed a Lie About Antifa at the Capitol Riot. On social media, on cable networks and even in the halls of Congress, supporters of Donald J. Trump tried to rewrite history in real time, pushing the fiction that left-wing agitators were to blame for the violence on Jan. 6. The New York Times, Michael M. Grynbaum, Davey Alba, and Reid J. Epstein, Monday, 1 March 2021: “At 1:51 p.m. on Jan. 6, a right-wing radio host named Michael D. Brown wrote on Twitter that rioters had breached the United States Capitol — and immediately speculated about who was really to blame. ‘Antifa or BLM or other insurgents could be doing it disguised as Trump supporters,’ Mr. Brown wrote, using shorthand for Black Lives Matter. ‘Come on, man, have you never heard of psyops?’ Only 13,000 people follow Mr. Brown on Twitter, but his tweet caught the attention of another conservative pundit: Todd Herman, who was guest-hosting Rush Limbaugh’s national radio program. Minutes later, he repeated Mr. Brown’s baseless claim to Mr. Limbaugh’s throngs of listeners: ‘It’s probably not Trump supporters who would do that. Antifa, BLM, that’s what they do. Right?’ What happened over the next 12 hours illustrated the speed and the scale of a right-wing disinformation machine primed to seize on a lie that served its political interests and quickly spread it as truth to a receptive audience. The weekslong fiction about a stolen election that President Donald J. Trump pushed to his millions of supporters had set the stage for a new and equally false iteration: that left-wing agitators were responsible for the attack on the Capitol. In fact, the rioters breaking into the citadel of American democracy that day were acolytes of Mr. Trump, intent on stopping Congress from certifying his electoral defeat. Subsequent arrests and investigations have found no evidence that people who identify with antifa, a loose collective of antifascist activists, were involved in the insurrection. But even as Americans watched live images of rioters wearing MAGA hats and carrying Trump flags breach the Capitol — egged on only minutes earlier by a president who falsely denounced a rigged election and exhorted his followers to fight for justice — history was being rewritten in real time.” See also, Rewriting January 6th: Republicans push false and misleading accounts of Capitol riot, The Washington Post, Mike DeBonis and Jeremy Barr, Monday, 1 March 2021: “Instead of an attempt to overturn the election by radicalized Donald Trump supporters, it was a choreographed attack staged by antifa provocateurs. Rather than an armed insurrection, it was a good-natured protest spoiled by a few troublemakers. And instead of a deadly event that put the lives of hundreds of lawmakers, police officers and others at risk, the riot was no big deal at all. A legion of conservative activists, media personalities and elected officials are seeking to rewrite the story of what happened at the Capitol on Jan. 6, hoping to undermine the clear picture of the attack that has emerged from video and photo evidence, law enforcement officials, journalistic accounts and the testimonials of the rioters themselves: that a pro-Trump mob, mobilized by the former president’s false claims of a stolen election, stormed the seat of American government to keep Trump in power through violent means. Six weeks after the attack, some are taking advantage of fading memories and unanswered questions to portray the riot in a different, more benign light.”

Continue reading Aftermath of the Trump Administration, March & April 2021:  

Biden administration will let migrant families separated under Trump reunite inside U.S., NBC News, Jacob Soboroff, Julia Ainsley, and Geoff Bennett, Monday, 1 March 2021: “The Biden administration’s task force for reuniting migrant families separated by the Trump administration will give separated families the option to be reunified in the U.S. or their countries of origin, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said Monday…. ‘We are hoping to reunite the families either here or in their country of origin. We hope to be in a position to give them the election, and if, in fact, they seek to reunite here in the United States, we will explore lawful pathways for them to remain in the United States and to address the family needs,’ he said. Attorneys representing the families in a federal lawsuit had called on the Biden administration to allow parents who were separated from their children and then deported without them to come back to the U.S. to reunify.”

Opinion: Say it ain’t so, Joe, The Washington Post, Fred Ryan, Monday, 1 March 2021: “The world has waited for more than two years to see how the United States would ultimately respond to the brutal killing of Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the hands of a Saudi Arabian assassination team. Candidate Biden was firm and unequivocal in assuring American voters that, if elected president, he would make the regime ‘pay the price and make them, in fact, the pariah that they are.’ He also said, ‘Khashoggi was, in fact, murdered and dismembered, and I believe on the order of the crown prince.’… The long-awaited release of the Director of National Intelligence report confirmed what investigations by the U.N. special rapporteur, the Turkish government and others concluded long ago: Ultimate responsibility for the murder of Khashoggi rested with the crown prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman. With that essential fact established, the Biden administration now seems ready to move on while proposing some sanctions falling far short of honoring Biden’s campaign promise to hold Mohammed accountable. It appears as though under the Biden administration, despots who offer momentarily strategic value to the United States might be given a ‘one free murder’ pass.”

Prosecutors Investigating Trump Focus on Allen Weisselberg, the Chief Financial Officer at the Trump Organization, The New York Times, Ben Protess, William K. Rashbaum, and Maggie Haberman, Monday, 1 March 2021: “State prosecutors in Manhattan who are investigating former President Donald J. Trump and his family business are sharpening their focus on the company’s long-serving chief financial officer, asking witnesses questions about his dealings at the company, according to people with knowledge of the matter. The increased focus on the executive, Allen H. Weisselberg, could step up pressure on him to cooperate with the investigation if the prosecutors unearth evidence of wrongdoing on his part. He has served as the Trump Organization’s financial gatekeeper for more than two decades and could be a vital source of information for the government about the inner workings of the company.” See also, In Trump investigation, Manhattan district attorney puts pressure on his longtime chief financial officer, The Washington Post, David A. Fahrenthold, Jonathan O’Connell, Shayna Jacobs, and Tom Hamburger, Wednesday, 3 March 2021: “The Manhattan district attorney is delving deeply into the personal and financial affairs of the chief financial officer for former president Donald Trump’s company, probing the extent of Allen Weisselberg’s loyalty to Trump and scrutinizing a Trump-owned apartment once occupied by Weisselberg’s son, according to people familiar with the investigation. This questioning is now led by a former mob prosecutor, and one person familiar with the investigation said it is aimed at ‘flipping’ Weisselberg — attempting to turn one of Trump’s longest-serving and most important aides into a witness against him.”

 

Tuesday, 2 March 2021:

 

F.B.I. Director Christopher Wray Calls the January 6th Assault on the Capitol “Domestic Terrorism.” White House Abandons Push for Neera Tanden as Top Budget Official. The New York Times, Tuesday, 2 March 2021:

  • White House abandons push to install Neera Tanden as head of budget office.

  • The F.B.I. director calls the riot ‘domestic terrorism’ and defends the bureau’s handling of threats.

  • Senate confirms Cecilia Rouse as the first Black chair of White House economic council.

  • Biden urges Senate Democrats to reject G.O.P. efforts to sabotage stimulus bill with poison pill amendments.

  • Gina Raimondo is confirmed as commerce secretary.

  • Rep. Steven Palazzo of Mississippi is being investigated for using campaign funds on his waterfront house.

  • The Supreme Court signaled support for Arizona’s voting restrictions enacted by Republicans.

  • Under a White House-brokered deal, Merck will help boost supplies of its rival Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine.

  • Biden administration accuses Russian intelligence of poisoning opposition leader Aleksei Navalny and announces its first sanctions.

White House withdraws Neera Tanden nomination; Biden says U.S. will have enough vaccine doses for every adult by the end of May, The Washington Post, Felicia Sonmez, Colby Itkowitz, John Wagner, Seung Min Kim, and Tyler Pager, Tuesday, 2 March 2021: “The White House withdrew the nomination of Neera Tanden as director of the Office of Management and Budget on Tuesday evening, the first Cabinet-level defeat for the administration. In a statement, President Biden said Tanden, who faced bipartisan opposition from senators because of past comments she made on Twitter, requested that her name be withdrawn. Meanwhile, Biden said Tuesday that by the end of May, the United States will have enough coronavirus vaccine doses for ‘every adult in America’ who wants one, a goal that he previously projected would be achieved by July.

Here are a few of the significant developments included in this article.

  • Biden announced that pharmaceutical giant Merck will help make Johnson & Johnson’s single-shot coronavirus vaccine. The unusual pact between the fierce competitors could sharply boost the supply of the newly authorized vaccine, according to senior administration officials.
  • FBI Director Christopher A. Wray told a Senate panel that his agents are pursuing roughly 2,000 domestic terrorism cases — a huge spike as the bureau tries to show it is taking the threat of such attacks seriously in the wake of January’s pro-Trump riot at the U.S. Capitol.
  • Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo (D) won Senate confirmation as the next commerce secretary, a post that will thrust her into the middle of some of the most contentious economic and security issues confronting the Biden administration.
  • The administration announced it is imposing sanctions on Russia over the poisoning and jailing of opposition leader Alexei Navalny, a fierce critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
  • New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo (D) is facing growing calls to resign after a third woman accused him of unwanted advances. He has referred allegations of sexual harassment against him to the state’s attorney general.

Domestic Terrorism Threat Is ‘Metastasizing’ in U.S., F.B.I. Director Says, The New York Times, Adam Goldman, Tuesday, 2 March 2021: “The F.B.I. director warned senators on Tuesday that domestic terrorism was ‘metastasizing across the country,’ reaffirming the threat from racially motivated extremists while largely escaping any tough questions about the bureau’s actions before the siege of the Capitol. The director, Christopher A. Wray, who had largely remained out of public view since the riot on Jan. 6, condemned the supporters of former President Donald J. Trump who ransacked the Capitol, resulting in five deaths and scores of injuries to police officers. ‘That attack, that siege, was criminal behavior, plain and simple, and it was behavior that we, the F.B.I., view as domestic terrorism,’ Mr. Wray said. ‘It’s got no place in our democracy.’” See also, FBI Director Christopher Wray says the Capitol siege has been an ‘inspiration’ to terrorist extremists, Politico, Kyle Cheney, Tuesday, 2 March 2021: “FBI Director Christopher Wray said on Tuesday that the Jan. 6 insurrection has been ‘an inspiration to a number of terrorist extremists’ — foreign and domestic — and that the bureau is still eyeing whether any foreign actors might seek to infiltrate domestic groups to exploit vulnerabilities. Wray also said he considers the siege ‘domestic terrorism’ and is deploying intensive resources in every field office to pursue perpetrators.”

Stacey Abrams on Why Securing Voting Rights Is as Necessary Now as in the Past, NPR, Ailsa Chang, Tuesday, 2 March 2021: “For the first time in nearly three decades, the state of Georgia voted to put a Democrat in the White House. Then it added two U.S. senators from the Democratic Party. And one person central to turning Georgia blue is the voting rights activist and former state legislator Stacey Abrams. Abrams tells All Things Considered that the Democratic swing was ‘extraordinary,’ but ‘not wholly surprising,’ adding that the ‘numbers had been moving in our favor’ in recent years. The 2020 election had historic turnout, but for Abrams, the fight to secure voting rights is just beginning. On Monday, the Georgia House of Representatives passed legislation that would restrict early and absentee voting. And 42 other states are also considering bills that would make it harder to vote. Last year, Abrams helped to make a documentary about voter suppression, in the past and present. Now, All In: The Fight for Democracy has been shortlisted for an Oscar.”

Trump Administration Referred a Record Number of Leaks for Criminal Investigation, The Intercept, Ken Klippenstein, Tuesday, 2 March 2021: “The Trump administration referred a record number of classified leaks for criminal investigation, totaling at least 334, according to a Justice Department document obtained by The Intercept under the Freedom of Information Act. While leak investigations had already been on the rise under the Obama administration, which prosecuted more than twice as many leakers under the World War I-era Espionage Act as all previous administrations combined, that number still rose sharply under the Trump administration. In 2017, there were a staggering 120 referrals for leak investigations from government agencies to the Department of Justice — higher than any year since at least 2005. There were also 88 criminal referrals for leaking classified information in 2018, according to the document, 71 in 2019, and 55 for the first three quarters of 2020, according to the most recent data available. By comparison, during the Obama administration, there were 38 referrals in 2016, 18 in 2015, and 41 in 2014.”

 

Wednesday, 3 March 2021:

 

House of Representatives Passes a Landmark Voting Rights Bill, The New York Times, Wednesday, 3 March 2021:

  • Biden signs off on narrowing income limits for stimulus checks in a bid to win moderate support.

  • The House passes a landmark voting rights bill.

  • Biden calls states’ relaxing virus restrictions, including mask mandates, ‘Neanderthal thinking.’

  • Elaine Chao misused her office while serving as transportation secretary, an inspector general’s report says.

  • Watchdog finds G.O.P. congressman Ronny Jackson harassed staff and recklessly drank while serving as White House physician.

  • In first major speech, Blinken says U.S. priorities abroad directly affect Americans at home.

  • The D.C. National Guard commander detailed a 3-hour delay in mobilizing troops during the Capitol riot.

  • The House cancels its Thursday session amid warnings of a ‘possible’ assault on the Capitol.

House scraps plans for Thursday session after security officials warn of possible plot to breach Capitol, The Washington Post, Felicia Sonmez, Colby Itkowitz, and John Wagner, Wednesday, 3 March 2021: “The House scrapped plans for a Thursday session after security officials warned of a possible plot by an unnamed militant group to breach the Capitol. The decision to move up votes on legislation to Wednesday night came after officials warned of credible threats of violence circulated by right-wing extremists that March 4 is the ‘true Inauguration Day’ when former president Donald Trump will be sworn in for a second term. The Senate plans to be in session Thursday. President Biden on Wednesday criticized the governors of Texas and Mississippi for ending mask mandates and rolling back other coronavirus restrictions, saying ‘the last thing we need is Neanderthal thinking.’ His comments came during a bipartisan meeting at the White House on battling cancer that is a likely preview of what will be the centerpiece of Biden’s post-pandemic health agenda. Meanwhile, the commanding general of the D.C. National Guard told senators how restrictions placed on him by the Pentagon in the run-up to the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol in Washington prevented him from more quickly sending forces to quell the violence perpetrated by supporters of former president Donald Trump.

Here are a few of the significant developments included in this article.

  • New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo (D) said he will not resign, but he apologized and asked New Yorkers to await the state attorney general’s investigation before judging him on allegations from three women that he made inappropriate comments or engaged in unwanted touching.
  • Biden has agreed to narrow eligibility for a new round of $1,400 stimulus payments in his $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill, under pressure from moderate Senate Democrats who have pushed for more ‘targeted’ spending in the bill.
  • Rep. Ronny Jackson (R-Tex.), a former top White House physician to two presidents, bullied his staff, made inappropriate sexual comments about a female subordinate and exhibited other concerning behavior, according to a Defense Department inspector general report.
  • Internal reports and emails from the Homeland Security Department show that law enforcement authorities were alert to the potential for violence by extremist groups attending a pro-Trump rally in Washington on Jan. 6.

Targeting State Voting Restrictions, House Passes Landmark Voting Rights Expansion. The omnibus voting, ethics and campaign finance bill would roll back barriers to voting enacted by Republican statehouses, but it faces an uphill battle in the Senate. The New York Times, Nicholas Fandos, Wednesday, 3 March 2021: “House Democrats pushed through a sweeping expansion of federal voting rights on Wednesday over unified Republican opposition, opening a new front in a raging national debate about elections aimed at countering G.O.P. attempts to clamp down on ballot access. The bill, adopted 220 to 210 mostly along party lines, would constitute the most significant enhancement of federal voting protections since the 1960s if it became law. It aims to impose new national requirements weakening restrictive state voter ID laws, mandating automatic voter registration, expanding early and mail-in voting, making it harder to purge voter rolls, and restoring voting rights to former felons — changes that studies suggest would increase voter participation, especially by racial minorities. The vote was the latest bid by Democrats to beat back Republican efforts in statehouses across the country to enact new barriers to voting that would consolidate power for the Republican Party amid false claims of rampant election fraud heralded by former President Donald J. Trump and many of his allies in Congress. But the measure, which is supported by President Biden, appears to be doomed for now in the Senate, where Republican opposition would make it all but impossible to draw the 60 votes needed to advance. Democratic leaders have vowed to put it up for a vote anyway, and progressives were already plotting to use Republican obstruction of the bill to build their case for jettisoning the legislative filibuster in the months ahead.” See also, House Democrats pass sweeping elections bill as Republican legislatures push to restrict voting, The Washington Post, Mike DeBonis, Wednesday, 3 March 2021: “The House late Wednesday night passed expansive legislation to create uniform national voting standards, overhaul campaign finance laws and outlaw partisan redistricting, advancing a centerpiece of the Democratic voting rights agenda amid fierce Republican attacks that threaten to stop it cold in the Senate. The bill, titled the ‘For the People Act,’ was given the symbolic designation of H.R. 1 by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), and it largely mirrors a bill passed two years ago in the early weeks of the House Democratic majority. This year, however, the bill has taken on additional significance because of the new Democratic majority in the Senate and President Biden’s November win, as well as the efforts underway in dozens of Republican-controlled state legislatures to roll back voting access in reaction to former president Donald Trump’s loss and his subsequent campaign to question the election results.”

D.C. National Guard Commander William Walker Says Pentagon Officials Placed ‘Unusual’ Restrictions on D.C. National Guard Before Riot on January 6th, The New York Times, Luke Broadwater and Michael S. Schmidt, Wednesday, 3 March 2021: “Pentagon officials placed ‘unusual’ restrictions on the D.C. National Guard before the Capitol riot, its commander told senators on Wednesday, saying the military leaders’ fears of a repeat of aggressive tactics used during racial justice protests last year slowed decision-making and squandered time as the violence by a pro-Trump mob escalated. Military and federal security officials detailed in a joint Senate committee hearing the additional security breakdowns that led to the failure to quell the mob attack on Jan. 6. Maj. Gen. William J. Walker, the D.C. National Guard commander, said he did not receive approval to mobilize troops until more than three hours after he had requested it. The delay he outlined was longer than previously known and came to light in the latest hearing by lawmakers investigating the attack. Days before the riot, the Pentagon had removed General Walker’s authority to quickly deploy his troops, he testified. He said he was unable to move troops even from one traffic stop to another without permission from Ryan D. McCarthy, the Army secretary. Once General Walker had approval for deployment, the Guard arrived at the Capitol only minutes later, at 5:20 p.m., and helped re-establish the security perimeter on the east side of the building. General Walker said he could have had 150 troops to the complex hours earlier. The violent rampage that unfolded over nearly five hours caused injuries to nearly 140 police officers and left five people dead.” See also, Commander Walker Says the Department of Defense Took Hours to Approve National Guard Request During Capitol Riot on January 6th, NPR, Alana Wise, Wednesday, 3 March 2021: “It took more than three hours for former President Donald Trump’s Defense Department to approve a request for the D.C. National Guard to intervene in the deadly Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection, the commanding general of the outfit told senators on Wednesday. Maj. Gen. William Walker testified that he had National Guard troops at the ready and sitting idly for hours before he was finally given authorization to send them into the field. Walker said that the delay was caused at least in part over concerns of the optics of sending uniformed troops to the scene. His testimony to the Senate Homeland Security and Rules committees comes as Congress holds a series of hearings about security preparations for and the response to the violence at the Capitol this year.” See also, DC National Guard commander William Walker says ‘unusual’ Pentagon restrictions slowed response to Capitol riot, CNN Politics, Zachary Cohen, Ellie Kaufman, and Oren Liebermann, Wednesday, 3 March 2021: “The commanding general of the Washington, DC, National Guard testified Wednesday that he did not need authorization from Pentagon leaders before deploying troops in response to protests at the nation’s capital last summer but that changed in the days before the January 6 insurrection. The shift in guidance, according to DC National Guard Commanding Maj. Gen. William Walker, was communicated in a January 5 memo that stated he was required to seek approval from the Secretary of the Army and Defense before preparing troops to respond to a civil disturbance. ‘It required me to seek authorization from the Secretary of the Army and the Secretary of Defense to essentially protect my guardsmen,’ he told senators during a hearing on security failures related to the Capitol building attack.” See also, D.C. National Guard commander William Walker says ‘unusual’ restrictions slowed deployment of backup during Capitol riot, The Washington Post, Paul Sonne, Matt Zapotosky, and Devlin Barrett, Wednesday, 3 March 2021: “The commanding general of the D.C. National Guard told lawmakers Wednesday that restrictions the Pentagon placed on him in the run-up to the Capitol riot and lag time in decision-making by his chain of command prevented him from more quickly sending forces to help quell the violence. Maj. Gen. William J. Walker said his hands were tied by the Pentagon for more than three hours after he received a call from the Capitol Police chief saying a request for backup was imminent, delaying the arrival of military forces at the premises as lawmakers evacuated or barricaded themselves in offices during one of the biggest national security failures since the 9/11 attacks. Walker described how he had troops ready and waiting to be sent to the Capitol but did not have sign-off from the Pentagon, which in directives ahead of the events had restricted his leeway to respond to contingencies.”

House Approves Police Reform Bill Named After George Floyd, NPR, Chloee Weiner, Wednesday, 3 March 2021: “House lawmakers on Wednesday passed the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, a reform bill that would ban chokeholds and alter so-called qualified immunity for law enforcement, which would make it easier to pursue claims of police misconduct. The 220-212 vote, mostly along party lines, came nine months after Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man, was killed by Minneapolis police officers last spring. The wide-ranging legislation would also ban no-knock warrants in certain cases, mandate data collection on police encounters, prohibit racial and religious profiling and redirect funding to community-based policing programs.” See also, House passes expansive policing overhaul bill named in honor of George Floyd, The Washington Post, Felicia Sonmez and Colby Itkowitz, Wednesday, 3 March 2021: “The House on Wednesday passed the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, an expansive policing overhaul measure named for the 46-year-old Black man who died last Memorial Day after a Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee against his neck for over nine minutes. The bill passed 220 to 212 along mostly party lines, with two Democrats, Reps. Jared Golden (Maine) and Ron Kind (Wis.), voting against it, and one Republican, Rep. Lance Gooden (Tex.), accidentally voting for it.”

Inspector General’s Report Cites Former Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao for Using Her Office to Help Her Family Shipping Business. The Justice Department under the Trump administration declined to open a criminal investigation into the actions by Ms. Chao when she was transportation secretary. The New York Times, Eric Lipton and Michael Forsythe, Wednesday, 3 March 2021: “While serving as transportation secretary during the Trump administration, Elaine Chao repeatedly used her office staff to help family members who run a shipping business with extensive ties to China, a report released Wednesday by the Transportation Department’s inspector general concluded. The inspector general referred the matter to the Justice Department in December for possible criminal investigation. But in the weeks before the end of Trump administration, two Justice Department divisions declined to do so. Ms. Chao, the wife of Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader, announced her resignation on Jan. 7, the day after the Capitol riot. At the time of her departure, an aide to Ms. Chao said her resignation was unrelated to the inspector general’s investigation. The investigation of Ms. Chao came after a 2019 report in The New York Times that detailed her interactions with her family while serving as transportation secretary, including a trip she had planned to take to China in 2017 with her father and sister. The inspector general’s report confirmed that the planning for the trip, which was canceled, raised ethics concerns among other government officials.” See also, U.S. Department of Justice declined to investigate Trump Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao after inspector general review, Reuters, David Shepardson, Wednesday, 3 March 2021: “The U.S. Justice Department declined to investigate or prosecute then-Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao after the inspector general’s office referred allegations of potential misuse of office for review, a report made public on Wednesday said. The report included allegations that Chao directed staff to research or purchase personal items for her online using her personal credit card or performed other personal errands for her or her father. The report focused largely on Chao’s actions related to her family’s shipping business, the Foremost Group, which was founded by her father and whose current chief executive is her sister.”

 

Thursday, 4 March 2021:

 

Capitol Police Head Asks to Extend National Guard Deployment Amid Continued Threats. The acting chief of the Capitol Police elevated the request to congressional leaders after the board that oversees her department failed to grant her request. The New York Times, Thursday, 4 March 2021:

  • Head of Capitol Police formally asks to extend National Guard presence beyond next week.

  • Senate votes to begin debating stimulus bill, but Ron Johnson forces chamber to first read the entire bill aloud.

  • A midlevel member of the Trump State Department has been arrested on charges related to the Capitol attack.
  • The House passes a policing overhaul bill named for George Floyd, whose death spurred nationwide protests.

  • The Biden administration plans to reduce the amount of time migrant families are detained.

  • Voting rights emerged as the most important political issue of the post-Trump era this week.

  • Biden’s interior secretary pick, Deb Haaland, is headed to confirmation as two Republicans announce support.

  • The man who put his feet up on a desk in Pelosi’s office during the Capitol riot throws a tantrum in court.

  • Elaine Chao’s efforts to promote her family drew early scrutiny from ethics lawyers.

  • The Biden administration secretly imposed limits on drone strikes as it rethinks its counterterrorism policies.

Biden hosts bipartisan meeting on infrastructure, and the Senate opens debate on coronavirus relief bill, The Washington Post, Colby Itkowitz, Felicia Sonmez, Amy B Wang, and John Wagner, Thursday, 4 March 2021: “President Biden hosted a bipartisan group of House members at the White House as he prepares to push a major infrastructure package, his next ambitious goal after the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief legislation. The Senate plans to begin voting Thursday on the relief package, a process that could stretch into the weekend. ‘I’ve been talking to a lot of my Republican friends in the House and the Senate and continue to do that,’ Biden told reporters when asked about the coronavirus relief package. He added that he is comfortable with having to narrow eligibility for a new round of stimulus payments, a concession to moderate Senate Democrats as party leaders move to lock down support. Meanwhile, the U.S. Capitol Police have requested a 60-day extension of the presence of some of the 5,200 National Guard members activated in Washington in response to security threats and the Jan. 6 assault on Congress, defense officials said.

Here are a few of the significant developments included in this article.

Trump State Department aide Federico Klein is arrested in connection with the Capitol riot on January 6th, Politico, Josh Gerstein, Thursday, 4 March 2021: “The FBI on Thursday arrested Federico Klein, a former State Department aide, on charges related to the storming of the Capitol on Jan. 6, marking the first known instance of an appointee of President Donald Trump facing criminal prosecution in connection with the attempt to block Congress from certifying President Joe Biden’s victory. Klein, 42, was taken into custody in Virginia, said Samantha Shero, a spokesperson for the FBI’s Washington Field Office.” See also, Federico Klein, a midlevel member of the Trump State Department, has been arrested on charges related to the Capitol attack, The New York Times, Katie Benner, Thursday, 4 March 2021: “The F.B.I. said on Thursday that it had arrested a former State Department aide on charges related to the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, including unlawful entry, violent and disorderly conduct, obstructing Congress and law enforcement, and assaulting an officer with a dangerous weapon. The former midlevel aide, Federico G. Klein, who federal investigators said in court documents was seen in videos of the riot resisting officers and assaulting them with a stolen riot shield, is the first member of the Trump administration to face criminal charges in connection with the storming of the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob. He worked on Donald J. Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and began working at the State Department just days after Mr. Trump’s inauguration in January 2017, according to a financial disclosure form he filed as an executive branch employee. Mr. Klein’s arrest was reported earlier by Politico.” See also, FBI says Federico Klein, a State Department aide appointed by Trump, stormed the Capitol and beat police with a riot shield, The Washington Post, Katie Shepherd and John Hudson, published on Friday, 5 March 2021: “The FBI said Thursday that it arrested a political appointee of President Donald Trump on charges that he stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 and assaulted an officer with a weapon, marking the first arrest of a Trump administration official in connection with the insurrection. Federico Guillermo Klein, a former State Department official, is expected to appear in court on Friday. The court papers obtained by The Washington Post detail Klein’s alleged conduct throughout the siege of the Capitol, tracing his apparent movements and actions from using a police shield to try to pry a door open, to calling for reinforcements from the crowd, to losing his red ‘Make America Great Again’ baseball cap, looking for it amid the chaos, and then grabbing another red hat on the ground that turned out to be the wrong one. Klein’s arrest is the most direct link yet between the Trump administration and the rioters, despite attempts by some conservatives to dissociate the insurrection from the former president. Many of the 300-plus people who have been charged in connection with the insurrection have described themselves as Trump supporters, while some have ties to extremist groups like the Proud Boys, which Canada has designated a terrorist group, and the Oath Keepers…. Klein had a top-secret security clearance that was renewed in 2019, the FBI said.”

Federal investigators are examining communications between US lawmakers and Capitol rioters, CNN Politics, Evan Perez, Thursday, 4 March 2021: “Federal investigators are examining records of communications between members of Congress and the pro-Trump mob that attacked the US Capitol, as the investigation moves closer to exploring whether lawmakers wittingly or unwittingly helped the insurrectionists, according to a US official briefed on the matter. The data gathered so far includes indications of contact with lawmakers in the days around January 6, as well as communications between alleged rioters discussing their associations with members of Congress, the official said. The existence of such communications doesn’t necessarily indicate wrongdoing by lawmakers and investigators aren’t yet targeting members of Congress in the investigation, the official noted. Should investigators find probable cause that lawmakers or their staffs possibly aided the insurrectionists, they could seek warrants to obtain the content of the communications. There’s no indication they’ve taken such a step at this point.”

F.B.I. Finds Contact Between Proud Boys Member and Trump Associate Before the Capitol Riot, The New York Times, Katie Benner, Alan Feuer, and Adam Goldman, Friday, 5 March 2021: “A member of the far-right nationalist Proud Boys was in communication with a person associated with the White House in the days just before the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol, according to a law enforcement official briefed on the investigation. Location, cellular and call record data revealed a call tying a Proud Boys member to the Trump White House, the official said. The F.B.I. has not determined what they discussed, and the official would not reveal the names of either party. The connection revealed by the communications data comes as the F.B.I. intensifies its investigation of contacts among far-right extremists, Trump White House associates and conservative members of Congress in the days before the attack.”

Trump election fraud investigation in Georgia enters new phase with grand jury set to be seated, CNN Politics, Sara Murray and Jason Morris, Thursday, 4 March 2021: “A criminal investigation into former President Donald Trump’s attempts to overturn the 2020 election results in Georgia is set to intensify this week, as a grand jury convenes, offering the local district attorney her first shot at seeking subpoenas for records and interviews. Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis made her investigative intentions clear with a round of letters to Georgia state officials in February, asking them to preserve documents relevant to election interference as she investigated potential state crimes including the solicitation of election fraud, conspiracy, and racketeering. According to the letters, none of the Georgia officials are targets of the investigation.”

Michael Pack, Trump Appointee at the U.S. Agency for Global Media, Paid Law Firm Millions to Investigate His Own Staff,  NPR, David Flokenflik, Thursday, 4 March 2021: “Last summer, an appointee of former President Donald Trump was irate because he could not simply fire top executives who had warned him that some of his plans might be illegal. Michael Pack, who was CEO of the U.S. Agency for Global Media that oversees Voice of America, in August suspended those top executives. He also immediately ordered up an investigation to determine what wrongdoing the executives might have committed. Instead of turning to inspectors general or civil servants to investigate, Pack personally signed a no-bid contract to hire a high-profile law firm with strong Republican ties. The bill — footed by taxpayers — exceeded $1 million in just the first few months of the contract. Government Accountability Project, a nonprofit that represents federal whistleblowers accusing Pack and some of his inner circle of breaking U.S. laws and regulations, shared an analysis it conducted of documents related to the contract between Pack and the law firm.”

 

Friday, 5 March 2021:

 

Minimum Wage Increase Fails in Senate. Seven Democrats voted against the proposal. Stimulus votes continued into the night after Democrats reached a compromise on jobless aid that would keep supplemental unemployment benefits at $300 per week through Sept. 6. The New York Times, Friday, 5 March 2021:

  • Minimum wage increase fails as 7 Democrats vote against the measure.

  • Democrats reach compromise with Manchin on jobless aid, allowing stimulus vote to continue.

  • The Senate appears to set a record for the longest open vote in modern history.

  • A Capitol security task force recommends mobile fencing and more police officers.

  • Biden says latest jobs report shows need for stimulus plan as the Senate plows ahead.

  • More Democrats join the effort to kill the filibuster as a way of saving Biden’s agenda.

  • Former impeachment manager sues Trump for ‘incitement to riot,’ terrorism and other charges related to the Capitol attack.

  • Chamber of Commerce won’t ban donations to lawmakers who voted to overturn Biden’s win.

Senate moves forward with Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus bill after 9-hour holdup, The Washington Post, Amy B Wang, Colby Itkowitz, and John Wagner, Friday, 5 March 2021: “President Biden made a public pitch for his $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package Friday, as the Senate stalled on the sprawling legislation over unemployment insurance. At the White House, Biden said Friday’s report showing that the economy added 379,000 jobs in February was likely due to December’s relief measure but that without his proposed aid package ‘these gains are going to slow.’ On Capitol Hill, Senate proceedings ground to a halt around noon as Democrats were trying to lock down support for keeping unemployment benefits at $300 per week but extending them through September. Nearly nine hours later, they reached a new compromise, with moderate Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin III (W.Va.) agreeing to extend the existing $300 weekly unemployment benefit through Sept. 6, as well as provide tax relief on benefits for households making under $150,000.

Here are a few of the significant developments included in this article.

  • The U.S. economy added 379,000 jobs in February, a level that surpassed analysts’ estimates but remains below the rate needed to regain the more than 9 million jobs lost since last year. The report, which covers the first full month of the Biden presidency, is a reflection of an economy that is still very much bogged down by the pandemic.
  • Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) filed a federal lawsuit against former president Donald Trump, Donald Trump Jr., Rudolph W. Giuliani and Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.), claiming they should be held liable for injuries and destruction caused by their incitement of the Jan. 6 mob assault on the U.S. Capitol.
  • Capitol Police have requested a 60-day extension of some of the 5,200 National Guard members activated in the District in response to security threats and the Jan. 6 assault on Congress, opening the door to a military presence in the nation’s capital into spring.
  • The Biden administration has imposed temporary limits on drone strikes targeting suspected terrorists outside the battlefields of Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq, tightening a Trump-era policy.

Representative Eric Swalwell sues Trump over January 6th riot, alleging he poses risk of ‘inciting future political violence,’ The Washington Post, Spencer S. Hsu, Friday, 5 March 2021: “A House impeachment manager and intelligence subcommittee chairman filed a federal lawsuit Friday against former president Donald Trump, Donald Trump Jr., Rudolph W. Giuliani and Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.), claiming they should be held liable for injuries and destruction caused by their incitement of the Jan. 6 mob assault on the Capitol. Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.), who also sits on the judiciary and homeland security committees, alleged the former president and his fellow speakers at a rally near the White House that day were directly responsible for mobilizing a crowd of tens of thousands of pro-Trump supporters to march on the Capitol and priming them for violence. His actions before and during the assault — in which at least 800 people broke into the Capitol, attacked police and delayed Congress’s confirmation of the presidential election results — ‘made clear he poses a risk of inciting future political violence,’ the complaint alleged.” See also, Representative Eric Swalwell, Former Impeachment Manager, Sues Trump Over Capitol Riot. The suit accuses Donald J. Trump of inciting the Jan. 6 attack and conspiring to prevent Congress from formalizing President Biden’s victory. The New York Times, Nicholas Fandos, Friday, 5 March 2021: “A House Democrat who unsuccessfully prosecuted Donald J. Trump at his impeachment trial sued him in federal court on Friday for acts of terrorism and incitement to riot, trying to use the justice system to punish the former president for his role in the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol. The suit brought by Representative Eric Swalwell, Democrat of California, accuses Mr. Trump and key allies of whipping up the deadly attack and conspiring with rioters to try to prevent Congress from formalizing President Biden’s election victory. Echoing the case laid out in the Senate, which acquitted him, it meticulously traces a monthslong campaign by Mr. Trump to undermine confidence in the 2020 election and then overturn its results, using his own words and those of his followers who ransacked the building to narrate it. ‘The horrific events of Jan. 6 were a direct and foreseeable consequence of the defendants’ unlawful actions,’ Mr. Swalwell asserts in the civil suit, filed in Federal District Court in Washington. ‘As such, the defendants are responsible for the injury and destruction that followed.’ Though not a criminal case, the suit charges Mr. Trump and his allies with several counts including conspiracy to violate civil rights, negligence, incitement to riot, disorderly conduct, terrorism and inflicting serious emotional distress. If found liable, Mr. Trump could be subject to compensatory and punitive damages; if the case proceeds, it might also lead to an open-ended discovery process that could turn up information about his conduct and communications that eluded impeachment prosecutors.” See also, Read the Suit: Swalwell v. Trump, The New York Times, Friday, 5 March 2021.

U.S. Chamber of Commerce decides against a ban on political donations to lawmakers who voted against certifying the presidential election results, Axios, Alayna Treene and Lachlan Markay, Friday, 5 March 2021: “The U.S. Chamber of Commerce revealed Friday it won’t withhold political donations from lawmakers who simply voted against certifying the presidential election results and instead decide on a case-by-case basis. The Chamber is the marquee entity representing businesses and their interests in Washington. Its memo, obtained exclusively by Axios, could set the tone for businesses debating how to handle their candidate and PAC spending following the Jan. 6 Capitol attack. The Chamber’s use of selective donations frees it to continue supporting some high-profile legislators who earned its endorsement and financial support in prior elections. ‘We do not believe it is appropriate to judge members of Congress solely based on their votes on the electoral certification,’ the Chamber’s Senior Political Strategist Ashlee Rich Stephenson wrote in the recent memo.”

Democratic Representative Zoe Lofgren quietly releases massive social media report on Republican colleagues who voted to overturn the election, CNN Politics, Lauren Fox, Friday, 5 March 2021: “Democratic Rep. Zoe Lofgren has quietly posted a nearly 2,000-page report documenting social media posts by her Republican colleagues who voted against certifying results of the presidential election on January 6. The information compiled isn’t secret, but the report is another sign of the deep distrust that has settled into the US Capitol in the weeks since the insurrection. The report chronicles the social media activity of members on public forums immediately before the November election and right after the January 6 riot. The report has been online for a week. CNN reported earlier Thursday that federal investigators are examining records of communications between members of Congress and the pro-Trump mob that attacked the Capitol, as the investigation moves closer to exploring whether lawmakers wittingly or unwittingly helped the insurrectionists. In a preamble to the report, Lofgren — the chair of the House Administration Committee — wrote that she had asked her staff to pull the relevant social media posts and compile them in an effort to gather facts.” See also, Members of Congress Left Behind a Massive Evidence Trail as They Pushed Trump’s Big Lie, Talking Points Memo, Matt Shuham and Cristina Cabrera, Friday, 5 March 2021: “Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) has published an absolutely massive report compiling the social media posts of every Republican who voted to object to the counting of certain states’ Electoral College votes on Jan. 6. Then-President Donald Trump had hyped that Jan. 6 congressional objection effort as his last real hope of stealing a second term, and on the morning of Jan. 6, he urged the thousands of supporters that he’d summoned to Washington, D.C. to march on the Capitol and provide some ‘courage’ to the members of Congress voting inside. Many of those members spent weeks spreading what Democrats have begun calling the ‘big lie’ — the false claim that the 2020 election was fraudulent, and that Joe Biden was not the rightfully elected president. Lofgren’s report, documenting over 1,900 pages of tweets, creates a detailed record of the effort to justify overturning an election.”

 

Saturday, 6 March 2021:

 

Divided Senate Passes Biden’s Pandemic Aid Plan, The New York Times, Emily Cochrane, Saturday, 6 March 2021: “President Biden’s sweeping $1.9 trillion stimulus bill passed a deeply divided Senate on Saturday, as Democrats pushed through a pandemic aid plan that includes an extraordinary increase in safety net spending in the largest antipoverty effort in a generation. The package, which still must pass the House before it heads to Mr. Biden’s desk to be signed into law, is the first major legislative initiative of his presidency. The measure seeks at once to curtail the coronavirus pandemic, bolster the sluggish economy and protect the neediest people within it. Republicans voted unanimously against it and assailed it as unnecessary and unaffordable. It would inject vast amounts of federal resources into the economy, including one-time direct payments of up to $1,400 for hundreds of millions of Americans, jobless aid of $300 a week to last through the summer, money for distributing coronavirus vaccines and relief for states, cities, schools and small businesses struggling during the pandemic. Beyond the immediate aid, the bill, titled the American Rescue Plan, is estimated to cut poverty by a third this year and would plant the seeds for what Democrats hope will become an income guarantee for children. It would potentially cut child poverty in half, through a generous expansion of tax credits for Americans with children — which Democrats hope to make permanent — increases in subsidies for child care, a broadening of eligibility under the Affordable Care Act, and an expansion of food stamps and rental assistance.” See also, Here’s How the Senate Pared Back Biden’s Stimulus Plan, The New York Times, Thomas Kaplan, Saturday, 6 March 2021: “The $1.9 trillion economic stimulus plan approved by the Senate on Saturday follows the outlines of the sweeping pandemic aid package that President Biden proposed, but senators made a series of notable changes that narrowed the bill. While the House passed a version of the bill that largely kept Mr. Biden’s proposals intact, the Senate omitted an increase in the minimum wage that he had included and limited how much Americans will receive in supplemental unemployment benefits in the coming months. It also pared back eligibility for the next round of stimulus checks compared with the House’s bill. The changes made by the Senate are likely to stick, as the version passed by the chamber is scheduled to go before the House for its final approval on Tuesday. The bill would then head to Mr. Biden for his signature.” See also, What 27 Special Interest Groups Said About the Stimulus Bill, The New York Times, Alicia Parlapiano, Saturday, 6 March 2021. See also, Biden stimulus showers money on Americans, sharply cutting poverty and favoring individuals over businesses, The Washington Post, Heather Long, Alyssa Fowers, and Andrew Van Dam, Saturday, 6 March 2021: “President Biden’s stimulus package, which passed the Senate on Saturday, represents one of the most generous expansions of aid to the poor in recent history, while also showering thousands or, in some cases, tens of thousands of dollars on American families navigating the coronavirus pandemic. The roughly $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, which only Democrats supported, spends most of the money on low-income and middle-class Americans and state and local governments, with very little funding going toward companies. The plan is one of the largest federal responses to a downturn Congress has enacted and economists estimate it will boost growth this year to the highest level in decades and reduce the number of Americans living in poverty by a third. This round of aid enjoys wide support across the country, polls show, and it is likely to be felt quickly by low- and moderate-income Americans who stand to receive not just larger checks than before, but money from expanded tax credits, particularly geared toward parents; enhanced unemployment; rental assistance; food aid and health insurance subsidies. But the ambitious legislation entails risks — both economic and political.”

Trump lawyers tell Republican fund raising groups to stop using his name and likeness for fundraising and merchandise, CNBC, Jessica Bursztynsky, Saturday, 6 March 2021: “Former President Donald Trump’s lawyers sent cease-and-desist letters to three of the largest GOP fundraising groups on Friday, a Trump advisor confirmed to NBC News. Trump’s lawyers asked the Republican National Committee, the National Republican Congressional Committee and the National Republican Senatorial Committee to stop using the ex president’s name and likeness in fundraising appeals and merchandise. Since Trump left office in January, the three fundraising groups have repeatedly referenced him in emails seeking donations. However, Trump was reportedly upset that his name was being used without his approval by groups that had helped Republicans who voted to impeach him.” See also, Scoop: Trump sends legal notice to Republican fund raising groups to stop using his name, Politico, Rachael Bade and Tara Palmeri, Saturday, 6 March 2021.

 

Sunday, 7 March 2021:

 

Biden signs executive order expanding voting access, CNN Politics, Donald Judd and Devan Cole, Sunday, 7 March 2021: “President Joe Biden signed an executive order Sunday expanding voting access in what the White House calls ‘an initial step’ in its efforts to ‘protect the right to vote and ensure all eligible citizens can freely participate in the electoral process.’ The move comes just three days after the House of Representatives passed HR1, a sweeping ethics and election package aimed at ensuring voting rights, with provisions expanding early and mail-in voting, restoring voting rights to former felons, and easing voter registration for eligible Americans. Sunday’s order directs the heads of all federal agencies to submit proposals for their respective agencies to promote voter registration and participation within 200 days, while assisting states in voter registration under the National Voter Registration Act. In addition, the order instructs the General Services Administration to modernize the federal government’s Vote.gov portal.”

 

Monday, 8 March 2021:

 

Number of Migrant Children Detained at Border Has Tripled in Two Weeks, The New York Times, Monday, 8 March 2021:

  • A surge in migrant children detained at the border is straining shelters.

  • Biden will begin undoing Trump’s changes to Title IX, including how colleges investigate sexual assault.

  • Georgia’s Senate passed a bill that would repeal no-excuse absentee voting.

  • Biden suspends deportation of Venezuelan immigrants for 18 months.

  • The pandemic relief bill will fulfill Biden’s promise to expand Obamacare — but only for two years.

  • Two female generals are nominated for top positions after delayed promotions under Trump.

  • Sanctions are reimposed on an Israeli billionaire for corrupt deals in Congo after being granted relief under Trump.
  • How the Lincoln Project fractured: Here are key takeaways from a Times investigation.
  • Tax credits for children, $1,400 direct payments and more. Here’s what’s included in the stimulus plan.
  • Biden cancels a visit to a vaccine manufacturer, Emergent BioSolutions, after a Times investigation into its federal contracts.
  • Senator Roy Blunt, the No. 4 Republican and a party institutionalist, announces plans to retire.
  • A man who provided security for Roger Stone on January 6th is arrested in connection with the Capitol assault.
  • Lindsey Graham, warning of Trump’s ‘dark side,’ makes the case for courting him.
  • Pence will make his first speech since leaving office.
  • The Supreme Court’s legal shield for law enforcement shows signs of cracking.

Biden to deliver prime-time address Thursday, marking first anniversary of virus restrictions, The Washington Post, Felicia Sonmez, Colby Itkowitz, John Wagner, and Paulina Firozi, Monday, 8 March 2021: “President Biden will deliver a prime-time address on Thursday to commemorate the first anniversary of the coronavirus ‘shutdown’ and to talk about the role ‘Americans will play in beating the virus,’ White House press secretary Jen Psaki announced Monday. The address is part of a busy week of events focused on the coronavirus as Congress nears final passage of a $1.9 trillion relief bill. On Monday, Biden visited a veterans’ medical center in Washington that is administering coronavirus vaccines. Meanwhile, Sen. Roy Blunt (Mo.) said Monday that he won’t seek reelection next year, becoming the fifth Republican senator to announce retirement plans.

Here are a few of the significant developments included in this article.

  • The Dow Jones industrial average soared nearly 600 points by midday Monday following news that the Senate had passed Biden’s relief package and that he is on track to sign it this week.
  • On International Women’s Day, Biden signed a pair of executive orders. One directs the Education Department to review a controversial regulation governing how colleges and universities handle allegations of sexual assault. The other establishes the White House Gender Policy Council.
  • Biden on Sunday signed an executive order aimed at promoting voting rights amid a push by Republican-led state legislatures to roll back voting access in the wake of former president Donald Trump’s 2020 loss and baseless effort to cast doubt on the integrity of U.S. elections.
  • Worried that Afghan peace talks are going nowhere, and facing a May 1 deadline for the possible withdrawal of all U.S. troops, the Biden administration has proposed sweeping plans for an interim power-sharing government between the Taliban and Afghan leaders.

Biden directs fresh review of Title IX rule on campus sexual assault, The Washington Post, Laura Meckler, Monday, 8 March 2021: “President Biden on Monday directed the Education Department to review a controversial regulation governing how colleges and universities handle allegations of sexual assault, with an eye toward unraveling a new system put into place by former education secretary Betsy DeVos. The DeVos regulation released in May spells out due process rights for those accused of harassment or assault, and the former secretary saw it as one of her most significant achievements. But it came under sharp attack from Democrats, women’s groups and others, and as a candidate, Biden signaled he would replace it.”

Supreme Court rejects final Trump election challenge. Trump had appealed lower court rulings that upheld Wisconsin’s handling of mail-in ballots. It was the last in a string of defeats before the court. NBC News, Pete Williams, Monday, 8 March 2021: “The Supreme Court disposed of the last of former President Donald Trump’s challenges to state election procedures Monday, rejecting his appeal of lower court rulings that upheld Wisconsin’s handling of mail-in ballots. The court announced the rejection without comment in a one-line order, which is its normal practice. Trump and his allies had a uniformly unsuccessful record before the Supreme Court in their effort to overturn the presidential election results in states won by Joe Biden.”

The Republican National Committee brushes back Trump team on cease-and-desist demand, Politico, Alex Isenstadt, Monday, 8 March 2021: “The Republican National Committee is denying a cease-and-desist demand from Donald Trump’s attorneys, who asked the party organization to stop using the former president’s name and likeness in fundraising appeals. In a letter sent Monday afternoon to Trump attorney Alex Cannon, RNC chief counsel Justin Riemer asserted that the committee ‘has every right to refer to public figures as it engages in core, First Amendment-protected political speech, and it will continue to do so in pursuit of these common goals.’ The letter is a brush-back to the Trump team, which sent a March 5 request that the RNC ‘immediately cease and desist the unauthorized use of President Donald J. Trump’s name, image, and/or likeness in all fundraising, persuasion, and/or issue speech.’”

 

Tuesday, 9 March 2021:

 

House Passes Sweeping Expansion of Labor Rights; Senate Prospects Are Dim, The New York Times, Tuesday, 9 March 2021:

  • The House passed a major expansion of labor rights, but it’s likely headed for G.O.P. obstacles in the Senate.

  • The defense secretary approves keeping 2,200 National Guard troops at the Capitol through late May.

  • White House says Biden’s name won’t appear on future stimulus checks.

  • In a big week for Biden, House to vote Wednesday on his $1.9 trillion stimulus plan.

  • ‘No more money for RINOS.’ Trump is trying to wrest control of the fund-raising juggernaut he helped create.

  • The House Democratic campaign arm lifts a rule that targeted progressive challenges.

  • Biden’s dogs were sent back to Delaware after a ‘biting incident.’ They will return to the White House ‘soon.’

  • The Republican National Committee says it ‘has every right’ to use Trump’s name to raise money but won’t do so without his OK.

Pentagon chief approves extension of National Guard deployment at the Capitol; Biden continues selling relief package to the public, The Washington Post, Felicia Sonmez, Colby Itkowitz, and John Wagner, Tuesday, 9 March 2021: “Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on Tuesday approved a request from the Capitol Police to extend the deployment of National Guard members to protect Congress into May, defense officials said, keeping a military presence around one of the nation’s major landmarks for two more months. Meanwhile, the Senate voted Tuesday to move forward on confirming two of President Biden’s Cabinet picks, Merrick Garland for attorney general and Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio) to lead the Department of Housing and Urban Development, setting up final confirmation for both on Wednesday afternoon. Biden and senior administration officials plan to continue trying to sell the public on the benefits of the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief plan after it passes, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Tuesday, adding that the effort will include some travel by the president. A planned final House vote slated for Wednesday would send the measure to Biden’s desk.

Here are a few of the significant developments included in this article.

  • Biden’s signature will not appear on coronavirus relief checks that will be distributed to millions of Americans, the White House said. ‘This is not about him,’ Psaki said. ‘This is about the American people getting relief.’
  • Biden took a jab at the Trump administration’s handling of a pandemic-era business loan program, saying a lot of money went to larger companies that ‘weren’t supposed to qualify.’ His comments came during a visit to W.S. Jenks & Son, a D.C. hardware store.
  • A review of security at the U.S. Capitol commissioned after the Jan. 6 riot found that Capitol Police are too ‘understaffed, insufficiently equipped, and inadequately trained’ — and woefully lacking in intelligence capabilities — to protect Congress from a future attack.
  • The Republican National Committee is moving part of its spring donor retreat next month to former president Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club from a nearby hotel. A dinner event at the Florida property will be headlined by the former president, according to Republicans involved in the planning.

Trump, Hungry for Power, Tries to Wrestle Away Republican Fund-Raising. Angry at his critics in the party and seeking to keep his options for raising money open, the former president is trying to take charge of the online fund-raising juggernaut he helped create. The New York Times, Annie Karni and Maggie Haberman, Tuesday, 9 March 2021: “It was a familiar play by Donald J. Trump: lashing out at his enemies and trying to raise money from it. The former president this week escalated a standoff over the Republican Party’s financial future, blasting party leaders and urging his backers to send donations to his new political action committee — not to the institutional groups that traditionally control the G.O.P.’s coffers. ‘No more money for RINOS,’ he said in a statement released on Monday by his bare-bones post-presidential office, referring to Republicans In Name Only. He directed donors to his own website instead. The aggressive move against his own party is the latest sign that Mr. Trump is trying to wrest control of the low-dollar online fund-raising juggernaut he helped create, diverting it from Republican fund-raising groups toward his own committee, which has virtually no restrictions on how the money can be spent. Last week, Mr. Trump sent cease-and-desist letters — which appear to have little legal standing — to the Republican National Committee, the National Republican Congressional Committee and the National Republican Senatorial Committee, warning them not to appeal to donors using his name and image. The jockeying comes as the party struggles to chart its path forward after losing the House, the Senate and the White House during Mr. Trump’s tenure, with moderate party leaders pushing the party to move beyond the divisive former president while much of the G.O.P. base remains firmly behind him. Who controls a majority of donors’ cash is set to be a fiercely contested point of dispute as Republicans try to regroup and take back power in the 2022 midterm elections.”

Biden administration ditches Trump plan to limit immigration for those financially dependent on government programs, NBC News, Pete Williams, Tuesday, 9 March 2021: “The Biden administration notified the Supreme Court on Tuesday that it will no longer defend a government policy seeking to impose new limits on the admission of immigrants considered likely to become overly dependent on government benefits. The Department of Homeland Security announced in 2019 that it would expand the definition of ‘public charge’ to be applied to people who could be denied immigration because of a concern that they would primarily depend on the government for their income. In the past, the designation was largely based on an assessment that an immigrant would be dependent upon cash benefits. But the Trump administration proposed to broaden the definition to include noncash benefits, such as Medicaid, supplemental nutrition and federal housing assistance. Anyone likely to require that broader range of help for more than 12 months in any three-year period would be swept into the expanded definition.”

Republican Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds signs controversial law shortening hours for early and Election Day voting, CNN Politics, Paul LeBlanc, Tuesday, 9 March 2021: “Republican Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds on Monday signed into law a controversial bill aimed at limiting voting and making it harder for voters to return absentee ballots, her office announced Monday. The legislation, which passed both Republican-controlled chambers of the state legislature last month, will reduce the number of early voting days from 29 days to 20 days. It will also close polling places an hour earlier on Election Day (at 8 p.m. instead of 9 p.m.). The bill additionally places new restrictions on absentee voting including banning officials from sending applications without a voter first requesting one and requiring ballots be received by the county before polls close on Election Day.”

Court Dismisses Trump Campaign’s Defamation Suit Against New York Times, The New York Times, Marc Tracy, Tuesday, 9 March 2021: “A New York State court on Tuesday dismissed a defamation lawsuit filed by the re-election campaign of Donald J. Trump against The New York Times Company, ruling that an opinion essay that argued there had been a ‘quid pro quo’ between the candidate and Russian officials before the 2016 presidential election was protected speech. The Times published the Op-Ed, written by Max Frankel, a former executive editor of The Times who was not named as a defendant in the suit, in March 2019 under the headline ‘The Real Trump-Russia Quid Pro Quo.’ Mr. Frankel made the case that in “an overarching deal” before the 2016 election, Russian officials would help Mr. Trump defeat Hillary Clinton in exchange for his taking U.S. foreign policy in a pro-Russia direction. Mr. Trump’s re-election campaign, Donald J. Trump for President Inc., filed the suit in New York State Supreme Court in February 2020, alleging defamation and accusing The Times of ‘extreme bias against and animosity toward’ the campaign. In his decision on Tuesday, Judge James E. d’Auguste noted three reasons for dismissal. He wrote that Mr. Frankel’s commentary was ‘nonactionable opinion,’ meaning it was constitutionally protected speech; that the Trump campaign did not have standing to sue for defamation; and that the campaign had failed to show that The Times had published the essay with ‘actual malice.’ ‘The court made clear today a fundamental point about press freedom: We should not tolerate libel suits that are brought by people in power intending to silence and intimidate those who scrutinize them,’ David McCraw, The Times’s deputy general counsel, said in a statement.”

 

Wednesday, 10 March 2021:

 

House Gives Final Approval to Biden’s $1.9 Trillion Pandemic Relief Bill, The New York Times, Wednesday, 10 March 2021:

  • With House passage, Congress clears the nearly $1.9 trillion stimulus plan for President Biden’s signature.

  • Merrick Garland is confirmed as attorney general.

  • McConnell, amid Trump’s threats, tells G.O.P. senators their political operation has out-raised the former president’s.

  • The Senate has confirmed Michael Regan to lead the E.P.A.

  • Marcia Fudge, Biden’s pick to head HUD, is confirmed by the Senate.

  • Two whistle-blowers claim a Justice Department official improperly promoted an employee in the final days of Trump’s term.

  • Blinken will meet China’s foreign minister in Alaska next week.

  • Scrambling to address a surge of migrant children at the border, the U.S. turns to an Obama-era program.

  • The founder of the Oath Keepers militia Stewart Rhodes is said to be under investigation in connection with the Capitol siege.

Biden hails House passage of coronavirus relief package and says bill will give the working class a ‘fighting chance,’ The Washington Post, John Wagner, Felicia Sonmez, and Colby Itkowitz, Wednesday, 10 March 2021: “The White House announced that President Biden would sign a $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill Friday, shortly before the House gave approval to the sweeping package on a 220-to-211 vote, handing Biden a major legislative victory just shy of his 50th day in office. Biden hosted the chief executives of pharmaceutical companies Merck and Johnson & Johnson at the White House on Wednesday to celebrate their pact to boost the supply of the coronavirus vaccine. Biden announced that his administration is seeking to secure an additional 100 million doses of the single-shot vaccine developed by Johnson & Johnson.

Here are a few of the significant developments included in this article.

  • The Senate confirmed Rep. Marcia L. Fudge (D-Ohio) as secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development and Merrick Garland as attorney general. Later, the Senate voted to confirm Michael Regan to be administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency.
  • Biden has picked 58 nominees to fill key roles in his administration so far. We are tracking 790 government positions that require Senate confirmation.
  • Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has approved a request from the Capitol Police to extend the deployment of National Guard members to protect Congress into May.
  • Biden’s orders to rein in U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement led to a sharp drop in arrests by the agency last month, even though a federal judge in Texas has blocked the new administration’s 100-day ‘pause’ on deportations.

Congress Clears $1.9 Trillion Aid Bill, Sending It to Biden. The sweeping legislation had no support from Republican lawmakers. It will deliver emergency aid and broader assistance to low- and middle-income Americans. New York Times, Emily Cochrane, Wednesday, 10 March 2021: “Congress gave final approval on Wednesday to President Biden’s sweeping, nearly $1.9 trillion stimulus package, as Democrats acted over unified Republican opposition to push through an emergency pandemic aid plan that carries out a vast expansion of the country’s social safety net. By a vote of 220 to 211, the House sent the measure to Mr. Biden for his signature, cementing one of the largest injections of federal aid since the Great Depression. It would provide another round of direct payments for Americans, an extension of federal jobless benefits and billions of dollars to distribute coronavirus vaccines and provide relief for schools, states, tribal governments and small businesses struggling during the pandemic. ‘This legislation is about giving the backbone of this nation — the essential workers, the working people who built this country, the people who keep this country going — a fighting chance,’ Mr. Biden said in a statement. He said he looked forward to signing what he called a ‘historic piece of legislation’ on Friday at the White House. The vote capped off a swift push by Mr. Biden and Democrats, newly in control of both chambers of Congress and the White House, to address the toll of the coronavirus pandemic and begin putting in place their broader economic agenda. The bill is estimated to slash poverty by a third this year and potentially cut child poverty in half, with expansions of tax credits, food aid and rental and mortgage assistance.” See also, Here’s what’s in the Covid relief package, CNN Politics, Tami Luhby and Katie Lobosco, Wednesday, 10 March 2021.

Trump requests a mail-in ballot after months of falsely crying ‘fraud’ on mail-in ballots, The Washington Post, Timothy Bella, Wednesday, 10 March 2021: “Former president Donald Trump recently requested a mail-in ballot for a municipal election in South Florida, according to Palm Beach County records, voting again by mail despite months of repeatedly promoting false claims of election fraud without evidence.”

 

Thursday, 11 March 2021:

 

Presidential Speech Highlights: Biden Calls For U.S. to ‘Mark Our Independence From This Virus’ by the 4th of July. The president delivered his first prime-time White House address, hours after signing into law a $1.9 trillion stimulus package. The New York Times, Thursday, 11 March 2021:

  • Biden directs states to make all adult Americans eligible for vaccine by May 1.

  • Looking to rapidly boost the U.S. economy, Biden highlights ‘massive effort to reopen our schools safely.’

  • Biden’s hopes for ‘unity’ may only apply outside of Washington.

  • Biden condemns ‘vicious’ hate crimes against Asian-Americans.

  • How can you get a vaccine? Biden expands ways to find the shots and the army of people to administer them.

  • Here’s a fact-check of Biden’s first prime-time White House address.

  • A weekslong campaign to sell the stimulus bill to the American public begins tonight.

  • The House passes two gun safety bills to expand and strengthen background checks.
  • The Pentagon condemns Tucker Carlson’s sexist remarks about women in the military.
  • In his first speech as attorney general, Merrick Garland promises to restore the independence of the Justice Department.

Biden vows ‘America is coming back’ after year of collective suffering due to pandemic, The Washington Post, Amy B Wang, Felicia Sonmez, John Wagner, Hannah Knowles, and Reis Thebault, Thursday, 11 March 2021: “President Biden, in his first prime-time address, mourned a year of Americans’ ‘collective suffering, a collective sacrifice’ because of the coronavirus pandemic that has claimed the lives of nearly 530,000 and vowed that the nation will recover. ‘America is coming back,’ the president said in his 24-minute address in which he said he would direct states to make all U.S. adults eligible for the coronavirus vaccine no later than May 1, aimed for small-group celebrations by July 4 and urged millions to get vaccinated. The address was delivered hours after Biden signed into law a $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill during a brief Oval Office event.

Here are a few of the significant developments included in this article.

  • The Senate voted to allow floor debate on the nomination of Xavier Becerra to lead the Department of Health and Human Services after the Finance Committee deadlocked last week on advancing it. The tied committee vote prompted Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) to offer a motion to force the nomination of Becerra, California’s attorney general, to the full Senate.
  • The House passed a pair of bills largely along partisan lines to strengthen background checks on firearm purchases, sending them to the Senate, where the legislation faces longer odds.
  • The GOP’s national push to enact hundreds of new election restrictions could strain every available method of voting for tens of millions of Americans, potentially amounting to the most significant contraction of ballot access in the United States since the end of Reconstruction, a Post analysis has found.

How Republican-backed voting measures could create hurdles for tens of millions of voters. At least 250 new laws have been proposed in 43 states to limit mail, early in-person, and Election Day voting. The Washington Post, Amy Gardner, Kate Rabinowitz, and Harry Stevens, Thursday, 11 March 2021: “The GOP’s national push to enact hundreds of new election restrictions could strain every available method of voting for tens of millions of Americans, potentially amounting to the most sweeping contraction of ballot access in the United States since the end of Reconstruction, when Southern states curtailed the voting rights of formerly enslaved Black men, a Washington Post analysis has found. In 43 states across the country, Republican lawmakers have proposed at least 250 laws that would limit mail, early in-person and Election Day voting with such constraints as stricter ID requirements, limited hours or narrower eligibility to vote absentee, according to data compiled as of Feb. 19 by the nonpartisan Brennan Center for Justice. Even more proposals have been introduced since then.”

House Passes Gun Safety Bills to Strengthen Background Checks. The legislation has broad support among voters, but is expected to join a growing list of progressive priorities languishing in the Senate amid Republican opposition. The New York Times, Catie Edmondson, Thursday, 11 March 2021: “The House approved a pair of bills on Thursday aimed at expanding and strengthening background checks for gun buyers, as Democrats pushed past Republican opposition to advance major gun safety measures after decades of congressional inaction. In two votes that fell largely along party lines, the House passed legislation that would require background checks for all gun buyers, and extend the time the F.B.I. has to vet those flagged by the national instant check system. Despite being widely popular with voters, the measures face what is expected to be insurmountable opposition in the Senate, where Republicans have resisted imposing any limits on guns, including stricter background check requirements.”

Trump Call to the Lead Investigator of the Georgia Secretary of State’s Office Reveals New Details. Then-president says ‘Something bad happened’ and presses for investigation into Fulton County votes. The Wall Street Journal, Cameron McWhirter, Thursday, 11 March 2021: “Then-President Donald Trump urged the chief investigator of the Georgia Secretary of State’s office to look for fraud during an audit of mail-in ballots in a suburban Atlanta county, on a phone call he made to her in late December. During the six-minute call, which was reviewed by The Wall Street Journal, Mr. Trump repeatedly said that he won Georgia. ‘Something bad happened,’ he said. ‘When the right answer comes out, you’ll be praised,’ Mr. Trump told the chief investigator, Frances Watson. She responded: ‘I can assure you that our team and the [Georgia Bureau of Investigation], that we are only interested in the truth and finding the information that is based on the facts.’ The Washington Post reported on the call in January, but this is the first time the recording has been released. In early January, media outlets, including the Journal, published news of a recording of a telephone conversation between Mr. Trump and several supporters and Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and his staff. During that Jan. 2 call, Mr. Trump urged Mr. Raffensperger to ‘find’ votes to change the election outcome. He berated Mr. Raffensperger for not doing more to overturn the election.” See also, Recording reveals details of Trump call to Georgia’s chief elections investigator, The Washington Post, Amy Gardner, Thursday, 11 March 2021: “President Donald Trump encouraged Georgia’s chief elections investigator in a December phone call to uncover ‘dishonesty’ in her investigation of absentee ballot signatures in an effort to reverse his defeat against Joe Biden in the state, according to a recording of the call released this week by the Georgia secretary of state’s office. ‘The people of Georgia are so angry at what happened to me,’ Trump told Frances Watson, the chief investigator for Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, according to the recording. ‘They know I won, won by hundreds of thousands of votes. It wasn’t close.’ He added, ‘When the right answer comes out, you’ll be praised.’ Later on the call, he said, ‘You have the most important job in the country right now.’”

Even Trump’s Acting Defense Secretary During the Capitol Riot on January 6th Blames Trump for Inciting It, Vice, Seb Walker, Thursday, 11 March 2021: “One of the most senior Cabinet officials in the Trump administration, Acting Secretary of Defense Chris Miller, has told VICE on Showtime that he believes the speech made by former President Donald Trump on the morning of January 6 was responsible for causing the mob to violently attack the Capitol later that day. Trump installed Miller after firing his predecessor Mark Esper in the days after the election. Speaking exclusively to VICE on Showtime, Miller said, ‘Would anybody have marched on the Capitol, and tried to overrun the Capitol, without the president’s speech? I think it’s pretty much definitive that wouldn’t have happened.’”

Arizona Republican lawmakers join Republican efforts to target voting, with nearly two dozen restrictive voting measures, CNN Politics, Eric Bradner and Kianne Gallagher, Thursday, 11 March 2021: “Months after former President Donald Trump and his allies in Congress attempted to overturn Arizona’s election results, Republicans in the state’s legislature are trying to make it harder for some residents to vote, targeting different elements of the system with almost two dozen separate measures. A handful of the bills — including two that would impose new restrictions on Arizona’s popular vote-by-mail system and one that would limit its narrow voting window — have gained momentum and could pass. They are part of a push by Republican-controlled legislatures in several states to advocate for strict new voting laws in response to Trump’s false claims of widespread fraud in the 2020 election. There are more than 250 bills in circulation nationwide, according to the most recent tally by the Brennan Center, an unprecedented nationwide effort to roll back voter access. The list of states includes Georgia and Texas, two other states with increasingly diverse electorates where Democrats have made recent gains, and Iowa, where Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds signed a new law that makes it harder to vote early…. Rep. John Kavanagh … [is an Arizona] Republican who chairs the Government and Elections Committee…. ‘There’s a fundamental difference between Democrats and Republicans,’ Kavanagh said. ‘Democrats value as many people as possible voting, and they’re willing to risk fraud. Republicans are more concerned about fraud, so we don’t mind putting security measures in that won’t let everybody vote — but everybody shouldn’t be voting.'” See also, ‘Everybody Shouldn’t Be Voting,’ Arizona Republican Representative John Kavanagh Blurts Out, New York Magazine, Jonathan Chait, Thursday, 11 March 2021: “Representative John Kavanagh, a Republican legislator who chairs Arizona’s Government and Elections Committee and is shepherding through a bill to make voting more cumbersome and therefore rare, described his party’s motives with blundering candor. ‘There’s a fundamental difference between Democrats and Republicans,’ he told CNN. ‘Democrats value as many people as possible voting, and they’re willing to risk fraud. Republicans are more concerned about fraud, so we don’t mind putting security measures in that won’t let everybody vote — but everybody shouldn’t be voting … Not everybody wants to vote, and if somebody is uninterested in voting, that probably means that they’re totally uninformed on the issues. Quantity is important, but we have to look at the quality of votes, as well.’ Kavanagh’s error was to articulate in public beliefs that conservatives prefer to leave to members of their movement who aren’t accountable to the electorate. If I had to guess, his argument is something he’s picked up from reading conservative media, and he never realized his role as elected official makes it unwise to repeat — especially on-camera.” See also, Arizona Republican lawmaker John Kavanagh says the ‘quality’ of a vote matters. Critics say that’s ‘straight out of Jim Crow.’ The Washington Post, Timothy Bella, published on Saturday, 13 March 2021: “Amid a contentious hearing over proposed restrictions on Arizona’s vote-by-mail system, a Republican state lawmaker argued that voters who hadn’t participated in recent elections should no longer automatically have absentee ballots mailed to them. The reasoning, said state Rep. John Kavanagh (R), is that Republicans care more about alleged voter fraud than Democrats — and that ‘everybody shouldn’t be voting.’… His comments have drawn the ire of voting rights experts and critics who accused the Republican of using rhetoric ‘straight out of Jim Crow,’ as author Ari Berman said, at a time when GOP-controlled legislatures are advocating stricter voting measures across the United States. The push from Republicans comes on the heels of former president Donald Trump promoting baseless claims of voter fraud without evidence for months.”

For Democracy to Stay, the Filibuster Must Go, The New York Times, The Editorial Board, Thursday, 11 March 2021: “It is hard to imagine a more fitting job for Congress than for members to join together to pass a broadly popular law that makes democracy safer, stronger and more accessible to all Americans. Last week, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 1. The bill, a similar version of which the House passed in 2019, is a comprehensive and desperately needed set of reforms that would strengthen voting rights and election security, ban partisan gerrymandering, reduce big money in politics and establish ethics codes for Supreme Court justices, the president and other executive branch officials. The legislation has the support of at least 50 senators, plus the tiebreaking vote of Vice President Kamala Harris. President Biden is on board and ready to sign it. So what’s the problem? Majority support in the Senate isn’t enough. In the upper chamber, a supermajority of 60 votes is required to pass even the most middling piece of legislation. That requirement is not found in the Constitution; it’s because of the filibuster, a centuries-old parliamentary tool that has been transformed into a weapon for strangling functional government. This is a singular moment for American democracy, if Democrats are willing to seize it. Whatever grand principles have been used to sustain the filibuster over the years, it is clear as a matter of history, theory and practice that it vindicates none of them. If America is to be governed competently and fairly — if it is to be governed at all — the filibuster must go.”

 

Friday, 12 March 2021:

 

Celebrating Passage of the Stimulus Bill with Democrats, Biden Says It ‘Changes the Paradigm,’ The New York Times, Friday, 12 March 2021:

  • With a Rose Garden celebration, Biden takes a victory lap.

  • A survey of Republicans shows 5 factions have emerged after Trump’s presidency.

  • After making big promises in his prime-time address, Biden faces pressure to follow through.

  • Japan, India, Australia and the U.S. agree to work together to combat cyberattacks and the coronavirus.

  • Now that Biden has signed the relief bill, Democrats and Republicans are racing to define it.

  • Refusing to resign, Cuomo echoes past governors faced with scandals.

  • More than 1,000 congressional aides have joined forces to push for change after the Capitol riot.
  • Biden condemns ‘vicious’ hate crimes against Asian-Americans.

Democrats celebrate passage of coronavirus relief package with Biden at a Rose Garden event, The Washington Post, Felicia Sonmez, Colby Itkowitz, John Wagner, Amy B Wang, and Anne Gearan, Friday, 12 March 2021: “President Biden celebrated passage of his $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package Friday with a Rose Garden event as he prepared to embark on a cross-country tour to promote the sweeping new law to Americans. Friday’s event followed a prime-time address from the White House in which Biden ticked through actions he intends to take to combat the virus in the spring and summer. Meanwhile, multiple House Democrats in the New York delegation called on Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo (D) to resign, citing sexual harassment allegations. Late Friday afternoon, both of New York’s senators — Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand — joined the growing number of Democrats who have said Cuomo should step down, saying in a joint statement that Cuomo has ‘lost the confidence of his governing partners and the people of New York.’ A defiant Cuomo said it was ‘dangerous and reckless’ to reach that conclusion before an investigation is complete and again rejected calls to resign.

Here are a few of the significant developments included in this article.

  • Biden asserted full command of the nation’s vaccination campaign in his prime-time address Thursday, framing his first 100 days around new promises that build on the program’s momentum and appear within reach.
  • White House press secretary Jen Psaki cautioned Friday that people should not misinterpret Biden’s goal of July Fourth backyard gatherings as a pledge for a full return to ‘total normalcy’ by then.
  • In a December phone call, President Donald Trump encouraged Georgia’s chief elections investigator to uncover ‘dishonesty’ in her investigation of absentee-ballot signatures as he tried to reverse his election loss to Biden in the state.

Justice Department calls January 6th ‘Capitol Attack’ investigation one of the largest in U.S. history and expects at least 400 to be charged, The Washington Post, Spencer S. Hsu, Friday, 12 March 2021: “U.S. prosecutors on Friday sketched out the gargantuan scope of the investigation in the Jan. 6 Capitol breach, asking for courts to delay most cases by at least two months after being pressed by a handful of defendants and some judges to speed up trials and plea offers. ‘The investigation and prosecution of the Capitol Attack will likely be one of the largest in American history, both in terms of the number of defendants prosecuted and the nature and volume of the evidence,’ the U.S. attorney’s office in D.C. wrote in morning court filings in seeking a delay before turning over evidence to defendants.” See also, Prosecutors seek a slowdown in Capitol attack cases, calling the investigation the ‘most complex’ in history, Politico, Kyle Cheney and Josh Gerstein, Friday, 12 March 2021: “Federal prosecutors have begun seeking 60-day delays across a series of Capitol riot cases, calling the probe ‘likely the most complex investigation ever prosecuted by the Department of Justice.’ In a nine-page filing lodged in multiple cases Friday morning, U.S. attorneys handling cases stemming from the Jan. 6 insurrection cited the rapidly growing roster of defendants and the enormous cache of evidence they must sift through to get a complete picture of the crimes committed that day.”

Can Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Nail Trump? The New Yorker, Jane Mayer, Friday, 12 March 2021: “On February 22nd, in an office in White Plains, two lawyers handed over a hard drive to a Manhattan Assistant District Attorney, who, along with two investigators, had driven up from New York City in a heavy snowstorm. Although the exchange didn’t look momentous, it set in motion the next phase of one of the most significant legal showdowns in American history. Hours earlier, the Supreme Court had ordered former President Donald Trump to comply with a subpoena for nearly a decade’s worth of private financial records, including his tax returns. The subpoena had been issued by Cyrus Vance, Jr., the Manhattan District Attorney, who is leading the first, and larger, of two known probes into potential criminal misconduct by Trump. The second was opened, last month, by a county prosecutor in Georgia, who is investigating Trump’s efforts to undermine that state’s election results.” See also, Trump reportedly showed people at a shivah photos of naked women with him on a yacht and called his CFO’s Long Island house ’embarrassing,’ Business Insider, Jacob Shamsian, published on Saturday, 13 March 2021: “Donald Trump showed people at a shivah photos of naked women, according to an attendee of the Jewish mourning event. Jennifer Weisselberg, the former daughter-in-law of the Trump Organization’s chief financial officer, Allen Weisselberg, recounted the event in a New Yorker article published Friday. She said that it was the first time she met Trump, before she married Barry Weisselberg in October 2004, and that it took place at the shivah at Allen Weisselberg’s house in Wantagh, a town on Long Island. ‘Trump showed up in a limousine and blurted out, This is where my C.F.O. lives? It’s embarrassing!’ The New Yorker’s Jane Mayer wrote. ‘Then, Jennifer recalled, Trump showed various shivah attendees photographs of naked women with him on a yacht.’ The shivah period lasts seven days and follows the burial of a close family member. It does not involve nude photographs.” See also, New Adversary Looms for Trump as Cyrus Vance Exits Manhattan District Attorney Race, The New York Times, Jonah E. Bromwich, Friday, 12 March 2021: “Cyrus R. Vance Jr., the Manhattan district attorney, announced on Friday he would not run for re-election, setting off a wide-open race to lead one of the most important crime-fighting offices in the country and making it highly likely that any potential case against President Donald J. Trump will be left in a newcomer’s hands. Mr. Vance made the long-expected announcement in a memo to his staff early Friday morning, just weeks before the filing deadline for the race. The many candidates clamoring to replace him are, with few exceptions, seeking to fundamentally reshape the office…. But at times, Mr. Vance, 66, seemed to be swimming against the current of public opinion in his liberal district, as the Black Lives Matter and Me Too movements raised awareness of ingrained biases in the criminal justice system and led to calls for wholesale reform. The eight-way race to succeed Mr. Vance reflects those newer political currents…. Mr. Vance’s announcement, first reported in The New Yorker, was widely expected. He had not been actively raising money or campaigning.”

Biden administration to end Trump policy that let the Department of Homeland Security deport caregivers for migrant children, NBC News, Julia Ainsley, Friday, 12 March 2021: “The Biden administration said Friday it will end a Trump-era policy that let U.S. border agents collect information about the immigration status of people who came forward to care for unaccompanied migrant children so it could potentially deport them. The policy, which began in 2018, allowed the Department of Homeland Security to identify and deport those would-be caregivers who were in the country illegally. It meant that immigrant parents who came to the U.S. and then later sent for their children to cross the border faced possible deportation when they tried to pick up their children from Health and Human Services custody.”

Army is reviewing the Defense Department’s internal investigation into Michael Flynn’s dealings with Russia and Turkey, The Washington Post, Dan Lamothe, Friday, 12 March 2021: “The Defense Department’s internal watchdog has concluded a long-delayed investigation into Michael Flynn, defense officials said Friday, sending its findings to the Army in a case that could bring tens of thousands of dollars in financial penalties for President Donald Trump’s first national security adviser. The investigation focuses on Flynn’s acceptance of money from Russian and Turkish interests before joining the Trump administration, a potential violation of the Constitution’s emoluments clause. With few exceptions, U.S. officials, including retired service members like Flynn, are prohibited from accepting money or gifts from foreign governments. Flynn retired from the Army as a three-star general in 2014.”

Pentagon and senior members of the military call out Fox News host Tucker Carlson for mocking women serving in the armed forces: His words ‘don’t reflect our values,’ CNN Business, Oliver Darcy and Barbara Starr, Friday, 12 March 2021: “In an extraordinary rebuke, the Pentagon and several senior members of the US military called out Fox News host Tucker Carlson on Thursday for a sexist segment in which he mocked women serving in the armed forces. Carlson, who is effectively the face of Fox and hosts the top show on the right-wing channel, ridiculed President Joe Biden Tuesday for saying that the US military had created uniforms to fit women properly, created maternity flight suits for those who are pregnant, and updated requirements for hairstyles. ‘So we’ve got new hairstyles and maternity flight suits,’ Carlson snarked. ‘Pregnant women are going to fight our wars. It’s a mockery of the US military.’ Carlson’s comments have prompted severe backlash from some of the most senior members of the US military who took to Twitter on Wednesday and Thursday to call Carlson out for what they described as harmful and divisive rhetoric.”

 

Saturday, 13 March 2021:

 

How Shifting Politics Re-energized the Fight Against Poverty. The pandemic and a set of other economic and social forces changed the calculation for Democrats when it comes to government aid. The question now is how long the moment will last. The New York Times, Jim Tankersley and Jason DeParle, Saturday, 13 March 2021: “A quarter-century ago, a Democratic president celebrated ‘the end of welfare as we know it,’ challenging the poor to exercise ‘independence’ and espousing balanced budgets and smaller government. The Democratic Party capped a march in the opposite direction this week. Its first major legislative act under President Biden was a deficit-financed, $1.9 trillion ‘American Rescue Plan;’ filled with programs as broad as expanded aid to nearly every family with children and as targeted as payments to Black farmers. While providing an array of benefits to the middle class, it is also a poverty-fighting initiative of potentially historic proportions, delivering more immediate cash assistance to families at the bottom of the income scale than any federal legislation since at least the New Deal. Behind that shift is a realignment of economic, political and social forces, some decades in the making and others accelerated by the pandemic, that enabled a rapid advance in progressive priorities. Rising inequality and stagnant incomes over much of the past two decades left a growing share of Americans — of all races, in conservative states and liberal ones, in inner cities and small towns — concerned about making ends meet. New research documented the long-term damage from child poverty. An energized progressive vanguard pulled the Democrats leftward, not least Mr. Biden, who had campaigned as a moderating force.”

 

Sunday, 14 March 2021:

 

Police Shrugged Off the Proud Boys, Until They Attacked the Capitol. Two Proud Boys accused of leading a mob to Congress followed a bloody path to get there. Law enforcement did little to stop them. The New York Times, David D. Kirkpatrick and Alan Feuer, Sunday, 14 March 2021: “A protester was burning an American flag outside the 2016 Republican convention in Cleveland when Joseph Biggs rushed to attack. Jumping a police line, he ripped the man’s shirt off and ‘started pounding,’ he boasted that night in an online video. But the local police charged the flag burner with assaulting Mr. Biggs. The city later paid $225,000 to settle accusations that the police had falsified their reports out of sympathy with Mr. Biggs, who went on to become a leader of the far-right Proud Boys. Two years later, in Portland, Ore., something similar occurred. A Proud Boy named Ethan Nordean was caught on video pushing his way through a crowd of counterprotesters, punching one of them, then slamming him to the ground, unconscious. Once again, the police charged only the other man in the skirmish, accusing him of swinging a baton at Mr. Nordean. Now, Mr. Biggs, 37, and Mr. Nordean, 30, are major targets in a federal investigation that prosecutors on Thursday said could be ‘one of the largest in American history.’ They face some of the most serious charges stemming from the attack on the U.S. Capitol in January: leading a mob of about 100 Proud Boys in a coordinated plan to disrupt the certification of President Donald J. Trump’s electoral defeat.”

Wisconsin Republican Senator Ron Johnson says Capitol rioters didn’t scare him. Then he goes on to say that he might have been scared if they had been Black Lives Matter protesters, The Washington Post, Amy B Wang, Sunday, 14 March 2021: Several Democrats have called on Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) to step down after he said he didn’t feel threatened in the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol — but would have been concerned if the mob had been made up of Black Lives Matter or antifa protesters. In an interview Thursday on ‘The Joe Pags Show,’ a conservative news radio show, Johnson said he ‘never felt threatened’ by the pro-Trump mob that stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6 hoping to overturn the results of the election. The siege left five people dead, including a police officer; two other officers who were on duty that day later died by suicide. More than 100 officers were injured and at least 40 rioters have been charged with assaulting law enforcement officers, who were shown being harassed, beaten and sprayed with gas substances by members of the mob. Johnson, however, said he saw only law-abiding citizens. ‘I knew those are people that love this country, that truly respect law enforcement, would never do anything to break the law, so I wasn’t concerned,’ Johnson told ‘The Joe Pags Show,’ according to a clip of the interview posted Friday by American Bridge 21st Century, a Democratic group, which blasted Johnson for his ‘blatant racism.’ In the interview clip, Johnson went on to add that he would have been frightened had Black Lives Matter or antifa protesters overrun the Capitol instead.”

 

Monday, 15 March 2021:

 

Two Charged in Assault on Police Officer Who Died After Capitol Riot. The Justice Department has charged two men in the assault on Brian D. Sicknick, a Capitol Police officer who died the day after he fought back rioters. The New York Times, Monday, 15 March 2021:

  • Two are charged in the assault of a Capitol Police officer who died after the Jan. 6 riot.

  • Biden heralds the deployment of 100 million shots and 100 million stimulus checks.

  • The House tackles Biden’s immigration plans amid an influx of migrants.

  • Biden administration officials have tried to restart talks with North Korea.

  • Biden chooses a longtime public servant for the Justice Department’s top environmental leadership post.

  • Voting groups, mounting an effort to kill the filibuster, push Biden to act on voting rights.

  • Deb Haaland is confirmed to lead the Interior Department, making her the first Native American cabinet secretary.
  • The A.F.L.-C.I.O. urges President Biden to ban solar products from Xinjiang.
  • The Capitol Police will begin scaling back the fencing erected after the January 6th riot.
  • Gavin Newsom, California’s governor, enlists progressive stars to fight an effort to recall him.
  • The Biden administration has directed FEMA to help shelter children at the border.
  • Alex Padilla, California’s first Latino senator, delves into his family’s story in a Times interview.
  • The White House is weighing a new approach to cybersecurity after failures to detect attacks.

Biden touts ‘shots in arms and money in pockets’ that coronavirus relief package will provide, The Washington Post, Felicia Sonmez, Colby Itkowitz, John Wagner, and Paulina Firozi, Monday, 15 March 2021: “President Biden on Monday touted the ‘shots in arms and money in pockets’ that his $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package will provide as he spoke at the White House, kicking off a week in which he and other key administration officials will crisscross the country promoting the new law. As the ‘Help Is Here’ tour unfolds, the Senate is moving ahead on confirming more of Biden’s nominees for key administration posts. The Senate on Monday confirmed Rep. Deb Haaland (D-N.M.) as interior secretary, the first Native American to hold a Cabinet-level post and only the third woman to lead the Interior Department.

Here are a few of the significant developments included in this article.

  • Biden has tapped Gene Sperling, a longtime Democratic economic policy expert, to oversee the implementation of his stimulus package, the White House announced Monday.
  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo should seriously consider whether he can continue to govern effectively as he faces multiple sexual harassment allegations. Pelosi stopped short of saying that Cuomo (D) should resign.
  • Several Democrats have called on Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) to step down after he said he didn’t feel threatened during the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol — but would have been concerned had the mob been made up of Black Lives Matter or antifa protesters. Johnson defended his comments Monday, saying he didn’t believe they were racist.

Two Are Charged With Assault on Officer Brian Sicknick Who Died After Capitol Riot, The New York Times, Katie Benner and Adam Goldman, Monday, 15 March 2021: “Two men were charged with assaulting Officer Brian D. Sicknick of the Capitol Police and other officers with a chemical spray during the Jan. 6 riot, the Justice Department said on Monday, but prosecutors stopped short of linking the attack to Officer Sicknick’s death the next day. The F.B.I. arrested George Pierre Tanios, 39, of Morgantown, W.Va., and Julian Elie Khater, 32, of State College, Pa., on Sunday. Mr. Tanios was arrested at home and Mr. Khater as he stepped off a plane in Newark, the department said. They were charged with conspiracy to injure an officer, assaulting an officer with a dangerous weapon, civil disorder, obstruction of an official proceeding and other crimes related to violent conduct on the grounds of the Capitol, the Justice Department said.” See also, Two are arrested in assault on police officer Brian D. Sicknick, who died after January 6th Capitol riot, The Washington Post, Spencer S. Hsu and Peter Hermann, Monday, 15 March 2021: “U.S. authorities have arrested and charged two men with assaulting U.S. Capitol Police officer Brian D. Sicknick with bear spray during the Jan. 6 Capitol riot but have not determined whether the exposure caused his death. Julian Elie Khater, 32, of Pennsylvania, and George Pierre Tanios, 39 of Morgantown, W.Va., were arrested Sunday and are expected to appear in federal court Monday.”

Agency review finds some Trump administration CDC guidance was not grounded in science or free from undue influence, CNN Politics, John Bonifield, Jacqueline Howard, and Caroline Kelly, Monday, 15 March 2021: “A review of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Covid-19 guidance has found that some of the agency’s guidance during the Trump administration was not grounded in science or free from undue influence, according to a statement from a CDC spokesperson. The review found that some guidance ‘used less direct language than available evidence supported,’ ‘needed to be updated to reflect the latest scientific evidence,’ and ‘presented the underlying science base for guidance inconsistently,’ according to the spokesperson. Additionally, the review identified three documents that were not primarily authored by the CDC and yet were presented as CDC documents, according to the spokesperson. The agency has removed two of the documents from its website, and updated and replaced the third. The review was ordered by President Joe Biden’s CDC director, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, in response to concerns about some of the agency’s guidance during the first year of the pandemic under the Trump administration.”

‘Most influential voice’: Warren’s network spreads throughout Biden administration. The growing roster of Warren protégés in the government illustrates the leftward shift underway in the Democratic Party’s approach to policymaking. Politico, Zachary Warmbrodt, Monday, 15 March 2021: “Wall Street was relieved when Sen. Elizabeth Warren was passed over for the leadership of the Treasury Department. But now the financial industry faces another threat: President Joe Biden is enlisting a small army of her former aides and allies to run his government. Warren’s expanding network in the upper echelons of the administration includes protégés who helped execute her aggressive oversight of big banks and other corporations as well as friends who share her views of the risks looming on Wall Street. But it goes beyond finance, covering pivotal posts at the Department of Education and even the National Security Council. The Warren recruits mark a victory for the progressive movement, which has supported her yearslong ‘personnel is policy’ campaign to chip away at the dominance of corporate insiders in setting policy for Democrats. Those who took on the fight with Warren say they’re pleasantly surprised it has produced so many results under Biden, reflecting a new emphasis on inequality and challenging corporate power. Industry lobbyists, in turn, warn that banks, private equity firms and consumer lenders should pay close attention. The appointments ‘confirm that Sen. Warren will be the most influential voice in the financial policy debate under the new administration,’ said Karolina Arias, a former Democratic Senate aide who is now a partner at Federal Hall Policy Advisors. The growing list of Biden personnel backed by Warren and other progressives illustrates the leftward shift underway in the Democratic Party’s approach to policymaking, which was also seen in the $1.9 trillion aid package that Biden signed into law Thursday.”

America should listen to Stacey Abrams’ warning about racist election laws, CNN Politics, Stephen Collinson, Monday, 15 March 2021: “Stacey Abrams’ stark warning about Georgia’s new election bill being racist is shining a spotlight on a nationwide battle over whose voices will be heard at the ballot box, as Republicans around the country try to suppress voting rights. The Georgia Democrat’s comments on CNN Sunday come amid a building showdown over GOP efforts to make voting harder in multiple states following former President Donald Trump’s loss and his lies about ballot fraud, and Washington Democrats’ vast federal election and civil rights bill that would counter such efforts. Flurries of bills have been introduced in the key battleground states that decided the 2020 election and were the focus of Trump’s attempts to undermine it, but Republicans are also ramping up in Texas and other strongholds that Democrats have lately tried to challenge. Abrams, the 2018 Democratic gubernatorial nominee in Georgia and a voting rights activist who helped President Joe Biden become the first Democrat in nearly three decades to carry the state, has been in the trenches, getting people out to exercise a right that is again under threat.”

As Biden Confronts Vaccine Hesitancy, Republicans Are a Particular Challenge, The New York Times, Annie Karni and Zolan Kanno-Youngs, Monday, 15 March 2021: “As President Biden pushes to vaccinate as many Americans as possible, he faces deep skepticism among many Republicans, a group especially challenging for him to persuade. While there are degrees of opposition to vaccination for the coronavirus among a number of groups, including African-Americans and antivaccine activists, polling suggests that opinions in this case are breaking substantially along partisan lines. A third of Republicans said in a CBS News poll that they would not be vaccinated — compared with 10 percent of Democrats — and another 20 percent of Republicans said they were unsure. Other polls have found similar trends.”

 

 

Tuesday, 16 March 2021:

 

Intelligence Report Says Russia and Iran Tried to Influence 2020 Presidential Election, But China Did Not, The New York Times, Tuesday, 16 March 2021:

  • Putin authorized extensive election influence campaign, intelligence report says.

  • Biden endorses modifying filibuster rule, as McConnell warns of ‘scorched earth Senate’ if it’s changed.

  • Mayorkas expects border agents to confront more migrants at the U.S. border with Mexico than in the last 20 years.

  • Biden administration planning review of White House residence personnel as it searches for a new chief usher.

  • A potential overseas posting for Dianne Feinstein’s husband renews questions about her future in the Senate.

  • President Biden visits Pennsylvania to promote the stimulus bill and focus on small businesses.

  • Congress will get thousands more vaccine doses to inoculate more Capitol personnel.

  • Biden will hold a news conference, the first of his presidency, next Thursday.

  • The White House must decide by month’s end what to do about Trump’s incomplete border wall.
  • Virginia’s governor has signed an order automatically restoring voting rights to former inmates.
  • Peter Thiel, a top Trump donor, gave $10 million for ‘Hillbilly Elegy’ author J.S. Vance to explore an Ohio Senate bid.
  • Yevgeny Vindman, an Army officer who raised concerns about the Trump administration, is being promoted.
  • On the vaccine, Trump tells his hesitant supporters: ‘I would recommend it.’

Biden highlights impact of relief package on small businesses at Pennsylvania stop, The Washington Post, John Wagner, Colby Itkowitz, and Felicia Sonmez, Tuesday, 16 March 2021: “President Biden traveled to Pennsylvania on Tuesday to visit a small business in Chester that the White House says will be helped by the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package signed into law last week. The trip is part of a ‘Help is Here’ tour being orchestrated to sell Americans on the new law. Meanwhile, a surge of migrants trying to enter the United States, including unaccompanied minors, continues to pose a daunting challenge to the fledging administration, whose handling of the situation is drawing criticism from across the political spectrum.

Here are a few of the significant developments included in this article.

  • Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said the situation at the southern border is ‘difficult’ but contended that the Biden administration is ‘making progress’ in managing it.
  • Biden’s tour will take him, Vice President Harris and their spouses to seven states that Biden won in 2020, including two he flipped and four that have competitive Senate races next year.
  • Congressional efforts to swiftly investigate the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol are losing momentum, threatened by logistical delays and deepening partisan disagreement about the scope of an independent inquiry advocated by Democrats.
  • Federal authorities have arrested and charged two men with assaulting U.S. Capitol Police officer Brian D. Sicknick with an unknown chemical spray during the Jan. 6 Capitol riot but have not determined whether the exposure caused his death.

Intelligence Report Says Russian Interference in 2020 Included Influencing Trump Associates, The New York Times, Julian E. Barnes, Tuesday, 16 March 2021: “President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia authorized extensive efforts to hurt the candidacy of Joseph R. Biden Jr. during the election last year, including by mounting covert operations to influence people close to President Donald J. Trump, according to a declassified intelligence report released on Tuesday. The report did not name those people but seemed to refer to the work of Mr. Trump’s former personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani, who relentlessly pushed accusations of corruption about Mr. Biden and his family involving Ukraine…. The declassified report represented the most comprehensive intelligence assessment of foreign efforts to influence the 2020 vote. Besides Russia, Iran and other countries also sought to sway the election, the report said. China considered its own efforts but ultimately concluded that they would fail and most likely backfire, intelligence officials concluded. A companion report by the Justice and Homeland Security Departments also rejected false accusations promoted by Mr. Trump’s allies in the weeks after the vote that Venezuela or other countries had defrauded the election. The reports, compiled by career officials, amounted to a repudiation of Mr. Trump, his allies and some of his top administration officials. They reaffirmed the intelligence agencies’ conclusions about Russia’s interference in 2016 on behalf of Mr. Trump and said that the Kremlin favored his re-election. And they categorically dismissed allegations of foreign-fed voter fraud, cast doubt on Republican accusations of Chinese intervention on behalf of Democrats and undermined claims that Mr. Trump and his allies had spread about the Biden family’s work in Ukraine.” See also, U.S. intelligence community says Putin targeted people close to Trump in bid to influence 2020 election, The Washington Post, Ellen Nakashima, Tuesday, 16 March 2021: “Russian President Vladimir Putin and other senior officials in Moscow sought to influence the 2020 election by spreading misleading information about Joe Biden through prominent individuals, some of whom were close to former president Donald Trump, the U.S. intelligence community said in a report Tuesday. The report does not identify those individuals by name, but it appears to reference Trump’s onetime personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani, whose repeated meetings with a suspected Russian agent came under scrutiny by U.S. officials. Both Russia and Iran sought to influence the election, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence said in its report. But a third major adversary, China, did not try, it says, contradicting the Trump administration’s assertions about Beijing’s activity last year.”

Biden says he supports reforming Senate filibuster in ABC News exclusive interview, ABC News, Benjamin Siegel, Tuesday, 16 March 2021: “President Joe Biden on Tuesday said he supports changing the Senate’s filibuster rule back to requiring senators talk on the floor to hold up a bill, the first time he has endorsed reforming the procedure the White House has for weeks insisted the president is opposed to eliminating. The comments, made in an exclusive interview with ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos, could galvanize reform advocates who argue that the legislative filibuster is stymying Biden’s agenda in the narrowly divided Senate.” See also, Biden, for the first time, says he wants to overhaul the filibuster, The Washington Post, Annie Linskey and Donna Cassata, Tuesday, 16 March 2021: “President Biden said Tuesday he wants the Senate to overhaul the filibuster, embracing for the first time a major change to the chamber’s rules that could make it easier for him to enact a far-reaching agenda that is blocked by Republicans. ‘I don’t think that you have to eliminate the filibuster. You have to do what it used to be when I first got to the Senate back in the old days,’ Biden told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos in an interview to be aired Wednesday. ‘You had to stand up and command the floor, you had to keep talking . . . so you’ve got to work for the filibuster.’ ‘So you’re for that reform? You’re for bringing back the talking filibuster?’  Stephanopoulos said. ‘I am. That’s what it was supposed to be,’ Biden replied. ‘It’s almost getting to the point where democracy is having a hard time functioning.'” See also, Biden Endorses Filibuster Rule Changes, The New York Times, Carl Hulse, Tuesday, 16 March 2021: “The fight over the Senate filibuster escalated sharply on Tuesday, as President Biden for the first time threw his weight behind changing the rules even as Senator Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader, threatened harsh reprisals if Democrats moved to weaken the procedural tactic. In an interview with ABC News, Mr. Biden gave his most direct endorsement yet of overhauling the filibuster, saying that he favored a return to what is called the talking filibuster: the requirement that opponents of legislation occupy the floor and make their case against it.”

FBI facing allegation that its 2018 background check of Brett Kavanaugh was ‘fake.’ Democratic senator Sheldon Whitehouse has asked attorney general Merrick Garland to facilitate ‘proper oversight’ into concerns about the investigation. The Guardian, Stephanie Kirchgaessner, Tuesday, 16 March 2021: “The FBI is facing new scrutiny for its 2018 background check of Brett Kavanaugh, the supreme court justice, after a lawmaker suggested that the investigation may have been ‘fake.’ Sheldon Whitehouse, a Democratic senator and former prosecutor who serves on the judiciary committee, is calling on the newly-confirmed attorney general, Merrick Garland, to help facilitate ‘proper oversight’ by the Senate into questions about how thoroughly the FBI investigated Kavanaugh during his confirmation hearing. The supreme court justice was accused of sexual assault by Christine Blasey Ford and faced several other allegations of misconduct following Ford’s harrowing testimony of an alleged assault when she and Kavanaugh were in high school.”

Mitch McConnell warns Democrats that overhauling filibuster rules will lead to ‘completely scorched earth Senate,’ CNN Politics, Ali Zaslav and Ted Barrett, Tuesday, 16 March 2021: “Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell gave a stark warning Tuesday about how Republicans would grind the chamber to a halt if Democrats changed the filibuster rules, leading to a ‘completely scorched earth Senate.’ The Kentucky Republican defended the 60-vote threshold on the legislative filibuster in a floor speech, cautioning Democrats that if they moved to change the rules of the filibuster, it would not open up an express lane for the Biden administration to push through their agenda. Instead, Republicans would use every rule and option at their disposal to halt the chamber, making the Senate ‘more like a 100-car pileup, nothing moving.’ Majority Whip Dick Durbin told reporters he’s not concerned about McConnell’s threats to slow the Senate if Democrats change the filibuster because ‘he has already done that.’ McConnell also laid out the conservative agenda Republicans would swiftly move on the next time they take control of Congress and White House, most of which Democrats would vehemently oppose — like defunding Planned Parenthood.”

 

Wednesday, 17 March 2021:

 

House Votes to Renew Violence Against Women Act, but Senate Prospects Are Unclear. The New York Times, Wednesday, 17 March 2021:

  • The House votes to renew a landmark domestic violence law, but obstacles wait in the Senate.

  • Biden says withdrawing all remaining U.S. troops from Afghanistan by the May 1 deadline is ‘tough.’

  • I.R.S. Pushes Tax Deadline Back One Month

  • President Biden: ‘I know Asian-Americans are very concerned.’

  • Biden administration defends restrictions on states using relief money for tax cuts.

  • Man arrested near future residence of Kamala Harris had a rifle and ammunition, the police say.

  • The House votes to remove the ratification deadline for the Equal Rights Amendment.

  • Mayorkas defends his handling of ‘undoubtedly difficult’ situation at the border against Republican criticism.

  • Katherine Tai is confirmed as U.S. trade representative.
  • Biden says Putin ‘will pay a price’ for meddling in U.S. elections.
  • Biden officials warn of the rising threat from domestic extremism.
  • Prosecutors accuse prominent members of the Proud Boys of conspiring in connection with the January 6th Capitol assault.

Republican lawmakers are unable to get Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas to say the Biden administration is facing a ‘crisis’ at the border, The Washington Post, John Wagner and Colby Itkowitz, Wednesday, 17 March 2021: “Republican lawmakers were unable Wednesday to get Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas to say the Biden administration is facing a ‘crisis’ at the border as he testified before a House panel on the record influx of unaccompanied teenagers and children crossing the Mexico border. The hearing came as President Biden marked St. Patrick’s Day by attending Mass and hosting a virtual meeting with Irish Prime Minister Micheál Martin. In an interview on ABC, Biden said Russian President Vladimir Putin would ‘pay a price’ for seeking to influence the 2020 election, and that New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo (D) should resign if an investigation confirms allegations of sexual harassment.

Here are a few of the significant developments included in this article.

  • Katherine Tai, a longtime congressional staff lawyer, won Senate confirmation as the first woman of color to serve as the top U.S. trade negotiator.
  • The Senate voted 50 to 49 to limit debate on the nomination of Xavier Becerra to lead the Department of Health and Human Services, a procedural move that could lead to his confirmation as early as Thursday.
  • Anthony S. Fauci, Biden’s chief medical adviser, and Rochelle P. Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, testified on the administration’s efforts to increase coronavirus vaccinations before the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
  • Biden said that he was ‘very concerned’ about the Atlanta-area spa shootings that left eight people dead, including six Asian women, noting the sharp uptick in violence in the United States targeting people of Asian descent.
  • Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost (R) sued the Biden administration over its $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package, alleging the federal government sought to impose ‘unconstitutional’ limits on states’ ability to access some of the aid.

House Renews Landmark Domestic Violence Bill, but Obstacles Wait in Senate. The House vote was bipartisan, but many Republicans object to new gun restrictions on domestic abusers that could complicate Senate passage. The New York Times, Nicholas Fandos, Wednesday, 17 March 2021: “The House moved on Wednesday to renew the Violence Against Women Act, adding firearm restrictions for convicted domestic abusers and other new provisions to a landmark law that has helped combat domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking but expired in 2019. President Biden, who wrote the law into existence as a senator in 1994, has made strengthening it one of his top domestic priorities during his time in office, and Wednesday’s vote was the first significant step toward putting it back into effect after lapsing under President Donald J. Trump. The law’s renewal has taken on added urgency amid alarming increases in domestic violence during the coronavirus pandemic. The House’s 244-to-172 vote was bipartisan, with 29 Republicans joining united Democrats to approve the bill. But substantial conservative opposition to a measure that has enjoyed broad backing from both parties in the past foreshadowed a more difficult path ahead in the Senate, where Democrats control just 50 of the 60 votes necessary for passage.”

It’s time to make an exception to the filibuster rule, CNN Opinion, Stacey Abrams, Wednesday, 17 March 2021: “The elections of Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock in Georgia on January 5 allowed Democrats to take control of the US Senate and made the passage of the ambitious, transformational American Rescue Plan possible. Yet while the rescue plan did not receive the support of a single Republican in the US Senate or US House of Representatives, according to a recent CNN poll, 61% of Americans supported the bill — with several key provisions garnering even greater support, including the $1,400 stimulus checks and larger tax credits for families. This disparity between who is heard and who speaks matters. The 50 senators who moved this bill forward represent 41.5 million more Americans than the 50 senators who opposed it (one Republican senator missed the vote but still acknowledged his opposition to it). Further, were it not for a budget bill loophole of the Senate’s historically racist and indisputably undemocratic filibuster rule, a bill that will slash poverty, save businesses and deploy vaccines nationwide would have failed…. [I]f Republican senators, representing a minority of Americans, attempt to thwart much-needed legislation to protect voting rights for all, Democrats should take bold action to protect our democracy. Exempting legislation from a Senate filibuster is not unprecedented.”

Georgia police officer Jay Baker is condemned for saying the Atlanta shooter was ‘having a bad day.’ Captain Jay Baker also reportedly posted images on Facebook of T-shirts with a racist slogan on China and coronavirus. The Guardian, Guardian staff, Wednesday, 17 March 2021: “A Georgia sheriff’s captain has faced widespread criticism for appearing to characterise the actions of Robert Aaron Long, the 21-year-old charged with killing eight people in Atlanta, six of them women of Asian descent, as ‘having a really bad day.’ Speaking at a news conference on Wednesday, Capt Jay Baker of the Cherokee county sheriff’s office said investigators had interviewed Long that morning. ‘They got that impression that yes, he understood the gravity of it. He was pretty much fed up, and kind of at [the] end of his rope, and yesterday was a really bad day for him and this is what he did,’ Baker said. His remarks with were met with swift condemnation on Twitter from many users who saw them as minimizing Long’s brutal attacks. The backlash against Baker compounded on Wednesday evening, when several news outlets reported that he had previously shared images on Facebook of T-shirts that contained a racist slogan about China and the coronavirus. BuzzFeed News reported that in 2020, Baker shared an image of a T-shirt with a logo that parodied Corona beer and read ‘Covid 19: imported virus from Chy-na.'”

House approves awarding Congressional Gold Medal to Capitol Police for January 6th response, Politico, Benjamin Din and Nick Niedzwiadek, Wednesday, 17 March 2021: “The House of Representatives on Wednesday passed legislation to award the U.S. Capitol Police with Congress’ highest honor for its service during the Jan. 6 riot, despite Republican jockeying to soften the language in the bill. The bill passed by the House, on a vote of 413 to 12, would authorize creation of three medals — one each for display at Capitol Police headquarters, the capital city’s Metropolitan Police Department headquarters and by the Smithsonian — as well as duplicates of the award. It now heads to the Senate, where it is expected to pass. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced plans in early February to bestow the Congressional Gold Medal to Capitol Police and other law enforcement officers who responded to the insurrection, which resulted in a pro-Trump mob overtaking the complex and grinding Congress to a halt as members and their staff sequestered themselves for safety. Earlier Wednesday, some Republicans expressed unhappiness over the bill’s language, which described the Capitol as ‘the temple of our American Democracy’ and labeled the attackers as ‘a mob of insurrectionists.’ A competing bill circulated by Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) named the fallen officers but made no mention of Jan. 6 or the Capitol attack, according to a copy obtained by POLITICO.” See also, 12 Republicans opposed Congressional Gold Medals for police who protected them on January 6th, The Washington Post, Colby Itkowitz and Meagan Flynn, Wednesday, 17 March 2021: “A dozen House Republicans voted against a resolution to award three Congressional Gold Medals to the Capitol Police, the D.C. police and the Smithsonian Institution in recognition of those who protected the U.S. Capitol when it was attacked by a pro-Trump mob on Jan. 6. The GOP lawmakers, many who said they objected to the use of the term ‘insurrectionists’ in the resolution, are: Andy Biggs (Ariz.), Thomas Massie (Ky.), Andy Harris (Md.), Lance Gooden (Tex.), Matt Gaetz (Fla.), Marjorie Taylor Greene (Ga.), Louie Gohmert (Tex.), Michael Cloud (Tex.), Andrew S. Clyde (Ga.), Greg Steube (Fla.), Bob Good (Va.) and John Rose (Tenn.).”

Biden says Putin ‘will pay a price’ for Russian efforts to undermine the 2020 US election, CNN Politics, Maegan Vazquez, Wednesday, 17 March 2021: “President Joe Biden said Vladimir Putin ‘will pay a price’ for his efforts to undermine the 2020 US election following a landmark American intelligence assessment which found that the Russian government meddled in the 2020 election with the aim of ‘denigrating’ Biden’s candidacy. ‘He will pay a price,’ Biden said of Putin in an interview that aired Wednesday on ABC’s ‘Good Morning America’.

New Report Warns of Rising Threat of Domestic Terrorism, The New York Times, Adam Goldman, Wednesday, 17 March 2021: “A new intelligence report delivered to Congress on Wednesday by the Biden administration warned about the rising threat of militias and white supremacists, adding urgency to calls for more resources to fight the growing problem of homegrown extremism in the United States. In particular, the intelligence assessment highlighted the threat from militias, predicting that it would be elevated in the coming months because of ‘contentious sociopolitical factors,’ likely a reference to the fallout from the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob and the increasingly partisan political climate. Racially motivated violent extremists, such as white supremacists, were most likely to conduct mass casualty attacks against civilians while militias typically targeted law enforcement and government personnel and facilities, the report said. Lone offenders or small cells of extremists were more likely than organizations to carry out attacks, it said.”

Proud Boys Leaders in Four States Are Charged in Capitol Riot, The New York Times, Adam Goldman and Alan Feuer, Wednesday, 17 March 2021: “F.B.I. agents have arrested two organizers for the Proud Boys in Philadelphia and North Carolina, and prosecutors filed new charges against two other prominent members of the far-right group in Florida and Washington State as federal authorities continued their crackdown on its leadership ranks, three law enforcement officials said on Wednesday. With the new conspiracy indictment, prosecutors have now brought charges against a total of 13 people identified in court papers as members of the Proud Boys. Federal investigators have described the group, which appeared in force in Washington on Jan. 6, as one of the chief instigators of the riot at the Capitol that left five people dead, including a Capitol Police officer.”

Postal Service finds no evidence of mail ballot fraud in Pennsylvania case cited by top Republicans. Letter carrier Richard Hopkins told federal agents he ‘assumed’ supervisors discussed backdating ballots and then recanted his claim, inspector general’s report says. The Washington Post, Jacob Bogage and Shawn Boburg, Wednesday, 17 March 2021: “U.S. Postal Service investigators found no evidence to support a Pennsylvania postal worker’s claim that his supervisors had tampered with mail-in ballots, according to an inspector general’s report — allegations cited by top Republicans to press baseless claims of fraud in the presidential election. Richard Hopkins, a mail carrier in Erie, alleged in November that he overheard the local postmaster discussing plans to backdate ballots received after the Nov. 3 vote and pass them off to election officials as legitimate. Working with Project Veritas, a nonprofit entity that seeks to expose what it says is bias in the mainstream news media, Hopkins publicly released a sworn affidavit recounting those allegations…. But Hopkins soon recanted, officials from the Postal Service’s Office of Inspector General told members of Congress on Nov. 10, and the new investigation confirmed. In an interview with federal agents, Hopkins ‘revised his initial claims, eventually stating that he had not heard a conversation about ballots at all — rather he saw the Postmaster and Supervisor having a discussion and assumed it was about fraudulent ballot backdating,’ the report states.”

 

Thursday, 18 March 2021:

 

House Passes Bills to Create Path to Citizenship for Some Undocumented Immigrants, The New York Times, Thursday, 18 March 2021:

  • The House passes bills to give millions of Dreamers and farmworkers a path to citizenship.

  • The first face-to-face meeting between top Biden officials and their Chinese counterparts was a tense confrontation.

  • Democrats, facing steep odds on repealing the filibuster, consider an exemption for voting rights bills.

  • William J. Burns is confirmed as C.I.A. director.

  • The U.S. plans to send vaccine doses to Mexico and Canada, just as Biden aims to stem migration with Mexico’s help.

  • Senate confirms Xavier Becerra as the secretary of health and human services.

  • House Democrats hold a rare congressional hearing on anti-Asian discrimination.

  • In the Biden era, a new kind of political spouse has arrived in Washington.

  • ‘I was sick to my stomach’: George W. Bush denounces the Capitol riot in a new interview.
  • Joe Biden and Kamala Harris plan to visit with Asian-American leaders in Atlanta.
  • Russia recalls its ambassador to the U.S. as Putin likens Biden spat to a schoolyard tiff.
  • An appeals panel reinstated the conviction of Michael Flynn’s former business partner.

House passes bills to open path to citizenship for young undocumented immigrants and to give undocumented agricultural workers a chance to earn legal status, The Washington Post, John Wagner, Colby Itkowitz, and Amy B Wang, Thursday, 18 March 2021: “The House passed two immigration bills Thursday, one to open a path to citizenship for young undocumented immigrants and the other to give undocumented agricultural workers a chance to earn legal status. The votes came as the fate of President Biden’s immigration plan remains unclear and the measures face an uncertain future in the evenly divided Senate. The Senate earlier Thursday confirmed William J. Burns as CIA director, placing one of the country’s most experienced diplomats in charge of the agency, and narrowly confirmed Xavier Becerra to lead the Department of Health and Human Services.

Here are a few of the significant developments included in this article.

  • Biden ordered flags at the White House and on federal property to be flown at half-staff ‘as a mark of respect for the victims of the senseless acts of violence’ from the Atlanta-area spa killings. Biden and Vice President Harris will meet with Asian American leaders in the city on Friday.
  • The Biden administration has agreed to supply Mexico with excess doses of the coronavirus vaccine, and Mexico is moving to help the United States contain a migration surge along its southern border, according to senior officials from both countries involved in the conversations.
  • Biden is expected to nominate former senator Bill Nelson to be the next administrator of NASA, according to multiple people with knowledge of the matter.

Trump faces an onslaught of legal problems as investigations and dozens of lawsuits trail him from Washington to Florida, The Washington Post, David A. Fahrenthold, Amy Gardner, Shayna Jacobs, and Spencer S. Hsu, Thursday, 18 March 2021: “The district attorney is sifting through millions of pages of his tax records. The state attorney general has subpoenaed his lawyers, his bankers, his chief financial officer — even one of his sons. And that’s just in New York. Former president Donald Trump is also facing criminal investigations in Georgia and the District of Columbia related to his efforts to overturn the 2020 election. And Trump must defend himself against a growing raft of lawsuits: 29 are pending at last count, including some seeking damages from Trump’s actions on Jan. 6, when he encouraged a march to the Capitol that ended in a mob storming the building. No charges have been filed against Trump in any of these investigations. The outcome of these lawsuits is uncertain. Trump has raised more than $31 million for his post-presidential political action committee, which he could tap to pay legal fees.”

Senate narrowly confirms Xavier Becerra as Health and Human Services secretary, CNN Politics, Alex Rogers, Thursday, 18 March 2021: “The Senate narrowly confirmed Xavier Becerra to be the Health and Human Services secretary on Thursday, giving the former California attorney general a crucial role in fighting the pandemic. Becerra, the son of Mexican immigrants, is the first Latino HHS secretary. The vote was 50 to 49. Maine GOP Sen. Susan Collins joined Senate Democrats in favor of the nomination. Hawaii Democratic Sen. Mazie Hirono did not vote.”

Manhattan district attorney Cyrus Vance to release years of racial data as part of nationwide accountability push, The Washington Post, Shayna Jacobs, Thursday, 18 March 2021: “The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office on Thursday will grant the public access to more than seven years worth of racial data that the top prosecutor here says has informed his approach to criminal justice reform. The database will include race and gender information related to charging decisions, plea-deal offers, bail amounts and sentencing. It will be updated weekly moving forward and is expected to become the most comprehensive effort among a small number of similar moves by law enforcement officials around the country, although experts say the disclosure of such information in response to growing calls for greater accountability is part of a rising trend. Cyrus R. Vance Jr., the Manhattan district attorney, said in an interview that he has overseen a 60 percent reduction in the number of cases pursued by his staff from 2009 to 2019 while focusing on alternatives to incarceration for relatively minor crimes. His critics have accused the office of administering justice unfairly — giving passes to the wealthy and influential, while coming down hard on defendants of color from the city’s troubled communities. Vance (D), who has said he will not seek reelection this year after three terms in office, has gained national prominence for having pursued an ongoing criminal investigation of former president Donald Trump and his business activities.”

 

Friday, 19 March 2021:

 

Tense U.S.-China Talks End With No Breakthroughs. The negotiations, held in Alaska, featured rocky exchanges between Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken and his Chinese counterpart. A former Green Beret was charged with attacking multiple officers during the Capitol riot. The New York Times, Friday, 19 March 2021:

  • Tense talks with Chinese diplomats end with Biden administration officials saying they are ‘cleareyed’ about Beijing’s global intentions.

  • Biden condemns violence against Asian-Americans: ‘We have to speak out. We have to act.’

  • A former Green Beret used a flagpole to attack an officer in the Capitol riot, authorities say.
  • White House employees resign after past marijuana use, despite the administration’s more permissive stance.

  • Representative Tom Reed, New York Republican, disputes groping account by a former lobbyist.

  • Suspensions of security clearances at a foreign aid agency rose under Trump, a G.O.P. senator says.

  • Biden is ‘doing 100 percent fine’ after tripping while boarding Air Force One.

  • Marjorie Taylor Greene’s procedural disruptions and trolling reflect a new wave of Republican lawmakers.
  • In restricting early voting, the right sees a new ‘center of gravity.’

  • Some Republicans reject vaccines, complicating a return to normalcy on Capitol Hill.
  • Inside Biden’s relief package, millions are set aside for domestic abuse victims.

Biden and Harris meet with Asian American leaders in Atlanta and denounce attacks, The Washington Post, John Wagner, Colby Itkowitz, and Amy B Wang, Friday, 19 March 2021: “President Biden and Vice President Harris met Friday with Asian American leaders in Atlanta in the wake of the spa shootings in Georgia that left eight people dead, including six Asian women. ‘Hate and violence often hide in plain sight and are so often met with silence. That’s been true throughout history,’ Biden said after the meeting. ‘But that has to change because our silence is complicity. We cannot be complicit. We have to speak out. We have to act.’ Biden and Harris also visited the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to discuss the effort to combat the coronavirus pandemic. In Washington, meanwhile, top labor union officials and liberal leaders in the House are applying fresh pressure Friday on Biden and Democratic congressional leaders to pass legislation increasing the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour, demanding that it happen this year.

Here are a few of the significant developments included in this article.

  • Biden confirmed his plans to nominate former senator Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) to lead NASA. Nelson flew in the space shuttle in 1986 and oversaw NASA’s space programs while in Congress.
  • Amid growing political fallout from a migration surge along the U.S. southern border, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas is traveling Friday to El Paso with a bipartisan group of senators.
  • The Senate confirmed William J. Burns as the next director of the CIA, placing one of the country’s most experienced career diplomats in charge of the spy agency.
  • Xavier Becerra narrowly won Senate confirmation to lead the Department of Health and Human Services, the agency pivotal to Biden’s urgent goal of defeating the coronavirus pandemic and expanding access to health care.

In Atlanta, Biden Condemns Attacks on Asian-Americans, The New York Times, Friday, 19 March 2021:

  • Biden condemns violence against Asian-Americans: ‘We have to speak out. We have to act.’

  • Outside an attacked spa, Asian-Americans share their growing sense of fear.

  • The suspect’s church blames his ‘sinful heart and depraved mind.’

  • Four more victims of the shootings in Atlanta have been identified.

  • The police made prostitution arrests at one of the spas in the attacks several years ago.

  • The suspect asked if he was going to jail for ‘the rest of his life,’ police say.

  • Mass shootings in public spaces had become less frequent during the pandemic.

  • Racism and sexism intertwine to torment Asian-American women.
  • An officer criticized for his remark that the suspect in the Atlanta-area spa shootings had ‘a really bad day’ before the shootings is no longer a spokesman on the case.
  • Violent attacks against Asian-Americans persist in the Bay Area.
  • The Atlanta shooting scenes draw anguished visitors.

Stay Scattered and Avoid Police, Proud Boys Were Told Before Capitol Riot, The New York Times, Alan Feuer, Friday, 19 March 2021: “On the night before the riot at the Capitol, prosecutors say, a group chat among the Proud Boys was abuzz with orders from a leader: Be decentralized. Use good judgment. Avoid the police. And then, in a nod to the group’s hard-drinking habits, ‘Don’t get drunk until off the street.’ The account of these communications on an unidentified encrypted app was contained in an indictment unsealed on Friday that accused four leaders of the far-right nationalist group of conspiring to resist law enforcement officers at the Capitol and storm the building on Jan. 6 in a plot to disrupt the final certification of the presidential election. The indictment, filed in federal court in Washington, provides perhaps the most thorough look to date at how the Proud Boys planned and participated in the assault.”

Defrauded students by for-profit colleges to receive loan forgiveness, Axios, Oriana Gonzalez and Maria Arias, Friday, 19 March 2021: “Students who were defrauded by for-profit colleges will have their federal school loans eliminated, the Education Department announced on Thursday. The change will eliminate approximately $1 billion in student loan debt for 72,000 borrowers who filed claims, AP reports…. Former Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos revised the program to tighten debt forgiveness during the Trump administration. Congress tried to overturn the changes last March, but former President Trump vetoed the measure.”

 

Saturday, 20 March 2021:

 

‘It’s not a local issue anymore’: D.C. statehood moves from political fringe to the center of the national Democratic agenda, The Washington Post, Mike DeBonis and Meagan Flynn, Saturday, 20 March 2021: “[A] fast-evolving political landscape has propelled D.C. statehood up the Democratic priority list after it passed the House for the first time last year. The issue, once a fanciful dream of local activists, now enjoys near-unanimity inside the Democratic Party. Many congressional Democrats mention it in the same company as the party’s other top voting rights priorities, putting it at the center of the internal battle over whether to change Senate rules to allow for major legislation to pass with a simple majority. The jolt of momentum stems in part from an increasingly urgent desire among Democrats to act while they have power to erode what they see as Republican structural advantages in the nation’s democracy — including the Senate. D.C. statehood would likely result in two additional Democratic senators, shifting the dynamic in a chamber where members from conservative, rural states wield disproportionate influence over legislation, federal courts and presidential nominations. Statehood supporters have also presented statehood for the District, a city with a Black plurality, as a crucial element of the broader racial justice movement that has energized liberal activists across the country.”

 

Sunday, 21 March 2021:

 

Access, Influence, and Pardons: How a Set of Allies Shaped Trump’s Choices. A loose collection of well-connected groups and individuals led by a pair of Orthodox Jewish organizations had striking success in winning clemency for white-collar criminals during the Trump presidency. The New York Times, Kenneth P. Vogel and Nicholas Confessore, Sunday, 21 March 2021: “One hacked the computers of business rivals. One bribed doctors to win referrals for his nursing homes. Another fled the country while he was on trial for his role in a fraud that siphoned $450 million from an insurance company, leading to its collapse. Still another ran a Ponzi scheme that plunged a synagogue into foreclosure. Each won clemency from President Donald J. Trump. They also had something else in common, an investigation by The New York Times found. The efforts to seek clemency for these wealthy or well-connected people benefited from their social, political, or financial ties to a loose collection of lawyers, lobbyists, activists and Orthodox Jewish leaders who had worked with Trump administration officials on criminal justice legislation championed by Jared Kushner. That network revolved around a pair of influential Jewish organizations that focus on criminal justice issues — the Aleph Institute and Tzedek Association — and well-wired people working with them, including the lawyer Alan M. Dershowitz, Brett Tolman, a former U.S. attorney for Utah, and Nick Muzin, a Republican operative. The combination of access, influence and substantive expertise they brought to bear produced striking results.”

Prosecutor Michael Sherwin Says Evidence in the Attack on the Capitol Most Likely Supports Sedition Charges, The New York Times, Katie Benner, Sunday, 21 March 2021: “Evidence the government obtained in the investigation into the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol most likely meets the bar necessary to charge some of the suspects with sedition, Michael R. Sherwin, the federal prosecutor who had been leading the Justice Department’s inquiry, said in an interview that aired on Sunday. The department has rarely brought charges of sedition, the crime of conspiring to overthrow the government. But in an interview with ’60 Minutes,’ Mr. Sherwin said prosecutors had evidence that most likely proved such a charge.” See also, Former interim U.S. attorney Michael R. Sherwin says evidence in Capitol attack investigation is trending toward sedition charges, The Washington Post, Spencer S. Hsu, Sunday, 21 March 2021: “Former interim U.S. attorney Michael R. Sherwin, of Washington, reiterated Sunday that he thinks charges of seditious conspiracy could be brought against certain defendants in the Jan. 6 Capitol breach, a rarely invoked charge for those who use violence to hinder the execution of federal law. In a ’60 Minutes’ interview aired on CBS two days after he stepped down from supervising the investigation, Sherwin said, ‘I personally believe the evidence is trending toward that, and probably meets those elements. I believe the facts do support those charges. And I think that, as we go forward, more facts will support that,’ he said.”

 

Monday, 22 March 2021:

 

Obamacare Draws 200,000 New Enrollments as Deep-Red States Eye Medicaid Expansion, The New York Times, Monday, 22 March 2021:

  • Eleven years after its signing, the Affordable Care Act is drawing hundreds of thousands of enrollments.

  • The Justice Department is said to be weighing sedition charges against members of the Oath Keepers militia who attacked the Capitol on Jan 6.

  • The Senate taps an intelligence official, Lt. Gen. Karen Gibson, to lead security following the Capitol riot.

  • The Senate confirms Martin Walsh, Boston’s mayor, as Biden’s labor secretary.

  • The U.S. joins its allies to punish Chinese officials for human rights abuses.

  • Harris visits Florida to promote the stimulus package as fears rise about a new surge in cases.

  • Biden’s advisers are preparing up to $3 trillion in new spending for the economy, including a big infrastructure plan.

  • Jerome Powell to tell lawmakers ‘the worst was avoided’ in pandemic economic fallout.

  • Two hard-right Republicans announce Senate bids, Eric Greitens in Missouri and Mo Brooks in Alabama.
  • House Democrats make the case for D.C. statehood, reflecting new momentum behind the movement.
  • Trump endorses Jody Hice, a congressman, to run against Georgia’s secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger.
  • Governor Kristi Noem of South Dakota, an enthusiastic backer of former President Donald Trump, is facing fire from all sides after refusing to sign South Dakota’s transgender sports ban without changes.
  • A year after her presidential bid, Elizabeth Warren wields soft power in Washington.

White House dispatches national security aides to Mexico and Guatemala in response to border surge, The Washington Post, John Wagner, Colby Itkowitz, Felicia Sonmez, and Paulina Firozi, Monday, 22 March 2021: “The White House dispatched National Security Council officials to Mexico and Guatemala on Monday and detailed efforts to deter migrants through social media, radio ads and other means as it continued to face intense scrutiny over its handling of a surge in unaccompanied minors at the U.S.-Mexico border. Meanwhile, President Biden and Vice President Harris are resuming their ‘Help is Here’ tour this week as they seek to maintain a focus on the recently enacted $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief plan and urge Americans to get vaccinated. Harris is visiting Florida on Monday, and Biden will head to Ohio on Tuesday.

Here are a few of the significant developments included in this article.

  • Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Tex.) released photos from inside a temporary overflow border tent in Donna, Tex., where unaccompanied migrant children are being held as longer-term shelters reach capacity.
  • D.C. statehood advocates, including Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D), sought support for the District to become the 51st state at a critical House hearing, as Democrats pledged to bring a statehood bill to the House floor for a vote before summer.
  • White House officials are preparing to present Biden with a $3 trillion infrastructure and jobs package that includes numerous sweeping domestic policy priorities, according to three people familiar with internal discussions.
  • Two months into one of the biggest criminal investigations in U.S. history, prosecutors are preparing to start plea discussions as early as this week with many of the more than 300 suspects charged in the U.S. Capitol riot.

The Justice Department Is Said to Be Weighing Sedition Charges Against the Oath Keepers. Investigators have for weeks focused on the role of the militia in the attack on the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob. The New York Times, Katie Benner, Monday, 22 March 2021: “Justice Department officials have reviewed potential sedition charges against members of the Oath Keepers militia group who attacked the Capitol on Jan. 6, and they have been weighing whether to file them for weeks, according to law enforcement officials briefed on the deliberations. The group members, including Thomas E. Caldwell, Jessica M. Watkins and Donovan Crowl, were indicted last month on charges of conspiring to obstruct Congress’s ability to certify the Electoral College victory of Joseph R. Biden Jr., then the president-elect. The Justice Department has rarely brought charges of sedition, the crime of conspiring to overthrow the government, and has not successfully prosecuted such a case in more than 20 years.”

Biden Team Prepares $3 Trillion in New Spending for the Economy. A pair of proposals would invest in infrastructure, education, work force development and fighting climate change, with the aim of making the economy more productive. The New York Times, Jim Tankersley, Monday, 22 March 2021: “President Biden’s economic advisers are pulling together a sweeping $3 trillion package to boost the economy, reduce carbon emissions and narrow economic inequality, beginning with a giant infrastructure plan that may be financed in part through tax increases on corporations and the rich. After months of internal debate, Mr. Biden’s advisers are expected to present the spending proposal to the president and congressional leaders this week, as well as begin outreach to industry and labor groups. On Monday, Mr. Biden’s national climate adviser, Gina McCarthy, discussed his infrastructure plans — and their role in combating climate change — in a meeting with oil and gas industry executives. Administration officials caution that details remain in flux. But the enormous scope of the proposal highlights the aggressive approach the Biden administration wants to take as it tries to harness the power of the federal government to make the economy more equitable, address climate change, and improve American manufacturing and high-technology industries in an escalating battle with China. The $1.9 trillion economic aid package that Mr. Biden signed into law this month includes money to help vulnerable people and businesses survive the pandemic downturn. But it does little to advance the longer-term economic agenda that Mr. Biden campaigned on, including transitioning to renewable energy and improving America’s ability to compete in emerging industries, like electric vehicles. Administration officials essentially see those goals — building out the nation’s infrastructure and shifting to a low-carbon future — as inseparable. The package under consideration would begin that effort in earnest.” See also, White House prepares massive infrastructure bill with universal pre-K, free community college, and climate measures, The Washington Post, Jeff Stein and Tyler Pager, Monday, 22 March 2021: “White House officials are preparing to present President Biden with a roughly $3 trillion infrastructure and jobs package that includes high-profile domestic policy priorities such as free community college and universal prekindergarten, according to three people familiar with internal discussions. After completing the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package this month, Biden administration officials are piecing together the next major legislative priority. Although no final announcement has been made, the White House is expected to push a multitrillion-dollar jobs and infrastructure plan as the centerpiece of the president’s ‘Build Back Better” agenda.’

Democrats Press for D.C. Statehood as Part of Voting Rights Agenda. Proponents of granting statehood pointed to the riot on Jan. 6, when a botched federal response contributed to disastrous results, as the latest proof that the District of Columbia should be a state. The New York Times, Emily Cochrane, Monday, 22 March 2021: “House Democrats put new weight on Monday behind their push to grant statehood to Washington, D.C., convening a key House panel to make the case in the latest sign that the long-suffering movement has shifted from the political fringe to the center of the party’s voting rights agenda. At a hearing before the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, local officials argued that the deadly Capitol riot — during which the mayor was powerless to quickly call in the National Guard, as a governor would have been able to do — provided new evidence that the District of Columbia and its more than 700,000 taxpaying residents needed federal representation. The panel was considering a bill that the House passed last summer to establish for the first time a 51st state — called Washington, Douglass Commonwealth, in honor of Frederick Douglass — with two senators and a voting representative in the House. The legislation would leave the National Mall, the White House, Capitol Hill and some other federal properties under congressional jurisdiction.” See also, Democrats and Republicans clash over D.C. statehood effort. Lawmakers on the House Oversight and Reform Committee debated legislation Monday that would make Washington the 51st state. NBC News, Rebecca Shabad, Monday, 22 March 2021: “Democrats and Republicans clashed Monday over the effort to make Washington, D.C., the 51st state, a proposal that has been gaining popularity among Democrats and the public. Lawmakers on the House Oversight and Reform Committee debated the statehood campaign during a hearing that examined legislation dubbed ‘the Washington, D.C. Admission Act,’ which was introduced in late January in the House by Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, a Democrat who represents D.C., and in the Senate by Democrat Tom Carper of Delaware. Democrats argued Monday that Washingtonians are treated as second-class citizens, performing the responsibilities of citizens but not receiving representation in Congress in return. Republicans, by contrast, voiced their staunch opposition to the effort, claiming that the legislation violates the Constitution.”

Evanston, Illinois, leads the country with the first reparations program for Black residents, The Washington Post, Mark Guarino, Monday, 22 March 2021: “The nation’s first government reparations program for African Americans was approved Monday night in the Chicago suburb of Evanston, action that advocates say represents a critical step in rectifying wrongs caused by slavery, segregation and housing discrimination and in pushing forward on similar compensation efforts across the country. ‘Right now the whole world is looking at Evanston, Illinois. This is a moment like none other that we’ve ever seen, and it’s a good moment,’ said Ron Daniels, president of the National African American Reparations Commission, which wants redress at local and federal levels. The Evanston City Council approved the first phase of reparations to acknowledge the harm caused by discriminatory housing policies, practices and inaction going back more than a century. The 8-to-1 vote will initially make $400,000 available in $25,000 homeownership and improvement grants, as well as in mortgage assistance for Black residents, primarily those can show they are direct descendants of individuals who lived in the city between 1919 and 1969 and suffered from such discrimination.”

 

Tuesday, 23 March 2021:

 

Biden Urges Action on Gun Control After 2 Mass Shootings in Less Than a Week. The president called for a ban on assault rifles and high-capacity ammunition magazines before flying to Ohio, where he had planned to promote the stimulus package. The New York Times, Tuesday, 23 March 2021:

  • A ‘devastated’ Biden addressed the Boulder shooting before leaving for Ohio.

  • Biden has a long, frustrating history of pushing for gun control.

  • ‘What are we doing?’ Democrats in Congress demand action on gun control as Republicans push back.

  • The White House agrees to focus on Asian-American representation after Democrats threaten nominees.

  • Shalanda Young is confirmed as the Office of Management and Budget’s deputy director.

  • The Senate confirms Dr. Vivek Murthy to be the surgeon general — again.

  • Biden has extended the Affordable Care Act enrollment period until August.

  • Republicans and conservative groups are guiding states on voter access laws.
  • The Justice Department says it will open an internal inquiry into a prosecutor’s comments on the January 6th riot.

Biden marks anniversary of Affordable Care Act with extension of enrollment period to August, The Washington Post, Felicia Sonmez, Colby Itkowitz, and John Wagner, Tuesday, 23 March 2021: “President Biden marked the 11th anniversary of the Affordable Care Act on Tuesday with the announcement that he is extending to Aug. 15 the deadline for Americans to sign up for coverage. Speaking at a hospital in Columbus, Ohio, he said the law not only must be protected but improved, and ‘our government can fulfill its most essential purpose to care for and protect the American people.’ Before he left the White House, Biden lamented the mass shooting at a Boulder, Colo., grocery store that left 10 people dead, saying that ‘another American city has been scarred by gun violence and the resulting trauma.’ He called on the Senate to pass two gun sale background-check bills already approved by the House and for Congress to reenact an assault-weapons ban.

Here are a few of the significant developments included in this article.

  • The Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on reducing gun violence that was scheduled before the latest deadly attack. Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) said Democrats will meet this week on next steps in gun-control legislation.
  • The Senate confirmed Shalanda Young to be deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget and Vivek H. Murthy as United States surgeon general, ensuring that a top ally of Biden will play a visible role in responding to the coronavirus pandemic.
  • The Biden administration is searching for new ways to stem the surge of migrants at the southern border, dispatching officials to Mexico and Guatemala, sending sterner warnings not to come, and devising alternative pathways to apply for legal entry.
  • White House officials are exploring tax increases on businesses, investors and rich Americans to fund the president’s multitrillion-dollar infrastructure and jobs package.

Biden Seeks Assault Weapons Ban and Background Checks. After the second mass shooting in a week, the president said tighter gun laws should not be a partisan issue, but Republicans in Congress showed little interest in Democratic proposals. The New York Times, Annie Karni and Catie Edmondson, Tuesday, 23 March 2021: “Faced with the second mass shooting in a week, President Biden and Democrats on Capitol Hill called on Tuesday for fast action to enact stricter gun laws, a plea that was immediately met with a blockade of opposition by Republicans. In brief, somber remarks from the White House, Mr. Biden called on the Senate to pass a ban on assault weapons and to close background check loopholes, saying that doing so would be ‘common sense steps that will save lives in the future.’ His demand for action was the latest in what has become a doleful ritual in Washington: making a renewed call for gun safety legislation after a deadly shooting, this one at a Colorado grocery store where 10 people, including a police officer, were killed on Monday. ‘This is not and should not be a partisan issue — it is an American issue,’ Mr. Biden said. ‘We have to act.'” See also, Biden calls on Congress to tighten gun laws in wake of Colorado shooting that killed 10, NBC News, Rebecca Shabad, Tuesday, 23 March 2021: “President Joe Biden on Tuesday called for tightening gun control laws in the wake of a mass shooting Monday at a grocery store in Boulder, Colorado, less than a week after eight people were killed during a shooting spree in Atlanta. Speaking at the White House before leaving for Columbus, Ohio, Biden suggested that he may take executive action on gun violence. ‘As president I’m going to use all the resources at my disposal to keep people safe,’ he said. Biden called for a ban of assault-style weapons and high-capacity magazines…. During a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing Tuesday, Democrats called for expanding background checks and more restrictive gun laws and Republicans immediately voiced opposition. The hearing, about measures to address gun violence, was scheduled before Monday’s shooting.”

Postal Service Plans Price Increases and Service Cuts to Shore Up Finances. The 10-year plan, which would lengthen promised delivery times and reduce post office hours, among other provisions, drew immediate condemnation from Democrats in Congress. The New York Times, Hailey Fuchs, Tuesday, 23 March 2021: “The Postal Service unveiled a 10-year strategic plan on Tuesday that would raise prices and lengthen promised delivery times, among other measures, in an effort to recoup $160 billion in projected losses over the next decade. The announcement, which comes as the beleaguered agency is already reeling under nationwide delivery delays and falling use of traditional mail, drew immediate condemnation from Democrats in Congress, who would have to pass legislation to carry out some parts of the proposal. Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California instead vowed to advance an infrastructure bill ‘to ensure that the Postal Service has the resources needed to serve the American people in a timely and effective manner.'” See also, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy cuts post office hours and lengthens delivery times in new 10-year plan, The Washington Post, Jacob Bogage, Tuesday, 23 March 2021: “Postmaster General Louis DeJoy on Tuesday unveiled the largest rollback of consumer mail services in a generation, part of a 10-year plan that includes longer first-class delivery windows, reduced post office hours and higher postage prices. DeJoy presented his long-awaited strategic vision for the U.S. Postal Service during a Tuesday webinar. Portions of the initiative already made public have raised alarms from postal advocates, who say they could further erode agency performance. Mailing industry officials warn that substantial service cuts could drive away business and worsen its already battered finances…. DeJoy rolled out his plan as Democrats have renewed calls for his ouster and the removal of the agency’s governing board, which backs him and the proposals. More than 50 House Democrats last week asked Biden to fire the board’s six sitting members for cause — citing ‘gross mismanagement,’ ‘self-inflicted’ nationwide mail delays and ‘rampant conflicts of interest’ — and to allow a new slate of nominees to consider DeJoy’s fitness for office. Biden already has nominated two Democrats and a voting rights advocate to fill three of four vacancies (Bloom, the board chairman and a Democrat, is serving in a one-year holdover term) on the board. If confirmed by the Senate, Democrats and Biden appointees would hold a 5-to-4 majority with the votes to remove DeJoy, if desired. Biden cannot fire DeJoy; postal operations are purposefully insulated from the presidency and Congress to prevent politicians from tinkering with the mail system for political gain. The postmaster general answers only to the board of governors.”

Pro-Trump lawyer Sidney Powell says ‘no reasonable person’ would believe her election lies, The Guardian, Tom McCarthy, Tuesday, 23 March 2021: “A key member of the legal team that sought to steal the 2020 election for Donald Trump is defending herself against a billion-dollar defamation lawsuit by arguing that ‘no reasonable person’ could have mistaken her wild claims about election fraud last November as statements of fact. In a motion to dismiss a complaint by the large US and Canadian voting machine company Dominion, lawyers for Sidney Powell argued that elaborate conspiracies she laid out on television and radio last November while simultaneously suing to overturn election results in four states constituted legally protected first amendment speech. ‘No reasonable person would conclude that the statements were truly statements of fact,’ argued lawyers for Powell, a former federal prosecutor from Texas who caught Trump’s attention through her involvement in the defense of his former national security adviser Michael Flynn. Powell falsely stated on television and in legal briefs that Dominion machines ran on technology that could switch votes away from Trump, technology she said had been invented in Venezuela to help steal elections for the late Hugo Chávez.”

Trump officials hindered at least nine key oversight probes, watchdogs said. Some may finally be released in coming months. The Washington Post, Lisa Rein, Tom Hamburger, Michael Laris, and John Hudson, Tuesday, 23 March 2021: “Across the government, at least nine key oversight investigations were impeded by clashes with the White House or political appointees, people familiar with inspector general offices say and public documents show. Long-anticipated reports were released only this month on two senior Trump officials. One found evidence that Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao may have misused her position by repeatedly deploying her staff on personal business. A second concluded that former White House physician Ronny Jackson bullied his staff and drank on the job.”

 

Wednesday, 24 March 2021:

 

‘Shame!’ Schumer and McConnell Clash in Voting Rights Hearing. The Senate Rules Committee held a hearing on a sweeping bill that would overhaul federal elections and expand voting rights. The New York Times, Wednesday, 24 March 2021:

  • Democrats take their first steps in what they hope will be big changes to election law.

  • Harris will work with Central American countries to reduce migration.

  • Biden may issue some executive orders on gun control after two recent mass shootings left 18 people dead.

  • Rachel Levine, Biden’s pick for health post, is first openly transgender official to be confirmed by Senate.

  • Oath Keepers and Proud Boys coordinated before the Capitol attack, prosecutors say.

  • Senate Democrats plan to employ an obscure legislative tool to reinstate an Obama-era climate change rule.

  • Pentagon unveils task force that will recommend ways to address sexual assault in the military.

  • Harris slams Republicans for ‘false’ claim that all gun control bills threaten the right to bear arms.

  • The White House agrees to focus on Asian-American representation after Democrats threaten nominees.
  • Minute-by-minute videos detail the attack on a Capitol Police officer who died after the January 6th riot.
  • Virginia becomes the first southern state to abolish the death penalty.

Vice President Kamala Harris to be the point person for Biden administration in stemming flow of migrants at the border, The Washington Post, John Wagner, Felicia Sonmez, and Colby Itkowitz, Wednesday, 24 March 2021: “President Biden announced Wednesday that Vice President Harris will become the point person for the administration in seeking to stem the flow of migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border. As part of that role, she will work with El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras as the administration grapples with an influx of asylum seekers. Later Wednesday, Biden marked Equal Pay Day with Megan Rapinoe, Margaret Purce and other U.S. soccer stars in which he credited them for leading the fight to erase the gender pay gap. Meanwhile, the Senate confirmed Rachel Levine as assistant secretary of health, making her the first openly transgender, Senate-confirmed federal official in U.S. history.

Here are a few of the significant developments included in this article.

Democrats Begin Push for Biggest Expansion of Voting Since the 1960s. Democrats characterized the far-reaching elections overhaul as the civil rights battle of modern times. The New York Times, Nicholas Fandos, Wednesday, 24 March 2021: “Democrats began pushing on Wednesday for the most substantial expansion of voting rights in a half-century, laying the groundwork in the Senate for what would be a fundamental change to the ways voters get to the polls and elections are run. At a contentious hearing on Capitol Hill, Democratic leaders made a passionate case for a bill that would mandate automatic voter registration nationwide, expand early and mail-in voting, end gerrymandering that skews congressional districts for maximum partisan advantage and curb the influence of money in politics. The effort is taking shape as Republicans have introduced more than 250 bills to restrict voting in 43 states and have continued to spread false accusations of fraud and impropriety in the 2020 election. It comes just months after those claims, spread by President Donald J. Trump as he sought to cling to power, fueled a deadly riot at the Capitol on Jan. 6 that showed how deeply his party had come to believe in the myth of a stolen election. Republicans were unapologetic in their opposition to the measure, with some openly arguing that if Democrats succeeded in making it easier for Americans to vote and in enacting the other changes in the bill, it would most likely place their party permanently in the minority.”

Officer Brian Sicknick Died After the Capitol Riot. New Videos Show How He Was Attacked. The New York Times, Evan Hill, David Botti, Dmitriy Khavin, Drew Jordan, and Malachy Browne, Wednesday, 24 March 2021: “New videos obtained by The New York Times show publicly for the first time how the U.S. Capitol Police officer who died after facing off with rioters on Jan. 6 was attacked with chemical spray. The officer, Brian D. Sicknick, who had been guarding the west side of the Capitol, collapsed later that day and died the next night. Little had been known about what happened to Officer Sicknick during the assault, and the previously unpublished videos provide new details about when, where and how he was attacked, as well as about the events leading up to the encounter.”

Stacey Abrams on Republican voter suppression: ‘They are doing what the insurrectionists sought.’ Abrams says the ‘coordinated onslaught’ of bills touts the big lie of voter fraud that fueled the 6 January insurrection. The Guardian, Sam Levine, Wednesday, 24 March 2021: “There may be no politician better suited for a moment when democracy is under attack than Stacey Abrams. A decade ago, when few saw any chance of Georgia becoming a Democratic state, Abrams pushed to invest in turning out Black, Latino and Asian American voters, who had long been overlooked by politicians campaigning in the state. And when she ran for governor in 2018, Abrams made voter suppression a centerpiece of her campaign, underscoring the way that America fails to live up to the promise of its democracy by denying the right to vote to so many eligible citizens. Now many of the issues Abrams has been raising for years have exploded and are at the center of American politics. The Guardian spoke to Abrams, who is widely expected to run again for governor next year, about this uniquely dangerous moment in American democracy.”

New evidence suggests ‘alliance’ between Oath Keepers and the Proud Boys ahead of January 6th. The evidence is the first to suggest coordination among the various extremist groups as they prepared to descend on Washington. Politico, Kyle Cheney, Wednesday, 24 March 2021: “A key member of the Oath Keepers militia told associates he had coordinated alliances with the Proud Boys and other paramilitary groups in advance of Donald Trump’s Jan. 6 rally, according to new evidence filed by the Justice Department. Kelly Meggs, the Florida leader of the Oath Keepers, said in private messages obtained by prosecutors that he’d been in touch repeatedly with Proud Boys leadership in particular. He said he had worked out a strategy to confront potential violence from antifa, a loosely organized collection of left-wing extremists. Meggs has been charged along with nine others with conspiring to stop Congress from certifying the 2020 election.” See also, Justice Department Links Oath Keepers and Proud Boys Ahead of Capitol Riot. A member of the Oath Keepers militia said he was communicating with the far-right Proud Boys, prosecutors said, making their first link between the groups. The New York Times, Alan Feuer, Wednesday, 24 March 2021: “Leaders of the Oath Keepers militia and the far-right group the Proud Boys were in communication in the weeks before the Capitol riot and appear to have coordinated some plans for the day of the attack, prosecutors said in court papers. The evidence presented in the papers effectively connects the two most prominent targets of the federal government’s vast investigation into the storming of the Capitol on Jan. 6. The new disclosure about the links between two extremist groups was contained in a motion filed late Thursday night by prosecutors seeking to keep Kelly Meggs, the leader of the Florida chapter of the Oath Keepers, in jail before his trial. Prosecutors cited several of Mr. Meggs’s private Facebook messages in which he told others that as many as 100 Oath Keepers planned to be in Washington for a rally in January answering a call by President Donald J. Trump.”

Environmental Protection Agency to Review Attacks on Science Under Trump. The agency said it would carry out an accounting of political interference in science, an unusually public act that Biden administration officials said was needed to restore trust in the agency’s decisions. The New York Times, Lisa Friedman, Wednesday, 24 March 2021: “The Biden administration is taking the unusual step of making a public accounting of the Trump administration’s political interference in science, drawing up a list of dozens of regulatory decisions that may have been warped by political interference in objective research. The effort could buttress efforts to unwind pro-business regulations of the past four years, while uplifting science staff battered by four years of disregard. It is particularly explicit at the Environmental Protection Agency, where President Biden’s political appointees said they felt that an honest accounting of past problems was necessary to assure career scientists that their findings would no longer be buried or manipulated. In a blunt memo this month, one senior Biden appointee said political tampering under the Trump administration had ‘compromised the integrity’ of some agency science. She cited specific examples, such as political leaders discounting studies that showed the harm of dicamba, a popular weedkiller that has been linked to cancer and subsequently ruling that its effectiveness outweighed its risks. The broader list of decisions where staff say scientific integrity was violated is expected to reach about 90 items, according to one person involved in the process. It currently includes well-known controversies like the ricochet of decisions around Pebble Mine, a proposed copper and gold mine in Alaska’s Bristol Bay region, as well as rulings around relatively obscure toxic chemicals.”

 

Thursday, 25 March 2021:

 

Biden Addresses Immigration, Voting Rights and More in His First Formal News Conference, The New York Times, Thursday, 25 March 2021:

  • Biden calls Republican efforts to limit voting ‘sick’ and ‘un-American.’

  • U.S. troops to withdraw from Afghanistan within a year, Biden suggests.

  • Biden expects to run for re-election in 2024, and says he has ‘no idea’ whether there will be a Republican Party then.

  • Here’s a fact check of Biden’s first news conference.

  • Georgia Republicans enact a major law to restrict voting, part of a nationwide push.

  • Parler says it sent the F.B.I. posts about threats to the Capitol ahead of Jan. 6.

  • President Biden rejects idea that more migrants are arriving at the border because he is a ‘nice guy.’

  • Responding to questions on gun control legislation, Biden makes clear it’s not his top priority.

  • Lawmakers grill tech executives on misinformation and social media’s role in the Capitol riot.
  • Senator Joe Manchin pumps the brakes on Democrats’ elections overhaul.
  • ‘This makes Jim Crow look like Jim Eagle,’ Biden says of Republican efforts to curtail voting.
  • A Bloomberg group will spend at least $1 million pushing Republican senators to pass a gun control bill.
  • Interior Secretary Deb Haaland calls for rethinking Trump’s oil and gas leases.

In his first formal news conference, Biden says he plans to seek reelection in 2024, and he faces questions on the filibuster, immigration, and Afghanistan, The Washington Post, John Wagner, Colby Itkowitz, Felicia Sonmez, Amy B Wang, and Cleve R. Wootson Jr., Thursday, 25 March 2021: “President Biden said Thursday that he plans to seek reelection in 2024 with Vice President Harris as his running mate; indicated that he was open to revamping the filibuster to get his policy priorities, including voting rights, passed; and said that he does not picture U.S. forces in Afghanistan next year, though meeting a May 1 deadline for withdrawal would be tough. He answered reporters’ questions for a little over an hour at his first formal news conference. Later Thursday, Biden met virtually with European Union leaders about his desire to revitalize U.S.-E.U. relations that were strained during the tenure of President Donald Trump.

Here are a few of the significant developments included in this article.

  • New jobless claims fell to the lowest levels of the pandemic era, federal data shows, with 684,000 filed last week.
  • Georgia lawmakers approved a sweeping voting measure that proponents said is necessary to shore up confidence in the state’s elections but that critics countered will lead to longer lines, partisan control of elections and more difficult procedures for voters trying to cast their ballots by mail.
  • More than 60 House Democrats pressed Biden to take ‘lifesaving action’ and sign an executive order that would ban the importation of assault weapons after back-to-back mass shootings about a week apart killed 18 people in the United States.
  • North Korea fired two more missiles, Japanese, South Korean and American officials said, in a sign of growing tension between Washington and Pyongyang over military exercises the United States carried out with South Korea earlier this month.
  • The Senate Judiciary Committee deadlocked over the nomination of Vanita Gupta for associate attorney general, the No. 3 position at the Justice Department, after advancing the nomination of Lisa Monaco as deputy attorney general, the department’s No. 2 position.

Georgia Republicans Pass Major Law to Limit Voting Amid Nationwide Push to Contract Ballot Access. The law, which has been denounced by Democrats and voting rights groups, comes as Republican-controlled legislatures across the country mount the most extensive contraction of ballot access in generations. The New York Times, Nick Corasaniti, Thursday, 25 March 2021: “Georgia Republicans on Thursday passed a sweeping law to restrict voting access in the state, introducing more rigid voter identification requirements for absentee balloting, limiting drop boxes and expanding the Legislature’s power over elections. The new measures make Georgia the first major battleground to overhaul its election system since the turmoil of last year’s presidential contest. The legislation, which followed Democratic victories that flipped the state at the presidential and Senate levels, comes amid a national movement among Republican-controlled state legislatures to mount the most extensive contraction of voting access in generations. Seeking to appease a conservative base that remains incensed about the results of the 2020 election, Republicans have already passed a similar law in Iowa, and are moving forward with efforts to restrict voting in states including Arizona, Florida and Texas. Democrats and voting rights groups have condemned such efforts, arguing that they unfairly target voters of color. They say the new law in Georgia particularly seeks to make voting harder for the state’s large Black population, which was crucial to President Biden’s triumph in Georgia in November and the success of Senators Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff in the January runoff elections. Mr. Biden joined Georgia Democrats on Thursday in denouncing efforts to limit voting, calling Republicans’ push around the country the most pernicious thing. ‘This makes Jim Crow look like Jim Eagle,’ he said at his first formal news conference since taking office.” See also, Republican Georgia Governor Brian Kemp signs into law sweeping voting bill that curtails the use of drop boxes and imposes new ID requirements for mail voting, The Washington Post, Amy Gardner, Thursday, 25 March 2021: “Republican Gov. Brian Kemp on Thursday signed into law a sweeping voting measure that proponents said is necessary to shore up confidence in the state’s elections but that critics countered will lead to longer lines, partisan control of elections and more difficult procedures for voters trying to cast their ballots by mail. The measure is one of the first major voting bills to pass as dozens of state legislatures consider restrictions on how ballots are cast and counted in the aftermath of the 2020 presidential election, when President Donald Trump attacked without evidence the integrity of election results in six states he lost, including Georgia. The new law imposes new identification requirements for those casting ballots by mail; curtails the use of drop boxes for absentee ballots; allows electors to challenge the eligibility of an unlimited number of voters and requires counties to hold hearings on such challenges within 10 days; makes it a crime for third-party groups to hand out food and water to voters standing in line; blocks the use of mobile voting vans, as Fulton County did last year after purchasing two vehicles at a cost of more than $700,000; and prevents local governments from directly accepting grants from the private sector. The 95-page law also strips authority from the secretary of state, making him a nonvoting member of the State Election Board, and allows lawmakers to initiate takeovers of local election boards — measures that critics said could allow partisan appointees to slow down or block election certification or target heavily Democratic jurisdictions, many of which are in the Atlanta area and are home to the state’s highest concentrations of Black and Brown voters.” See also, Republican Georgia Governor Brian Kemp Signed Voting Restrictions Into Law in Front of a Slave Plantation Picture, BuzzFeed News, Tasneem Nashrulla, Thursday, 25 March 2021: “Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp on Thursday signed into law a series of controversial voting restrictions decried by Democrats as ‘Jim Crow 2.0’ — and he did so alongside a group of white men and in front of a painting of a plantation where Black people were once enslaved. In a Twitter thread Friday, Philadelphia Inquirer columnist Will Bunch pointed out that Kemp signed the bill under the image ‘of a notorious slave plantation in Wilkes County, GA.’ The painting appears to depict a brick house on the Callaway Plantation in Washington, Georgia, which was once a 3,000-acre plantation owned by a family of enslavers and is now open for public tours. ‘In 2021, the irony of Kemp signing this bill — that makes it illegal to give water to voters waiting on the sometimes 10-hour lines that state policies create in mostly Black precincts — under the image of a brutal slave plantation is almost too much to bear,’ Bunch tweeted.” See also, Georgia’s restrictive new voting law, explained. The very worst provisions enable partisan Republicans to seize control of election boards in Democratic counties. Vox, Zack Beauchamp, published on Friday, 26 March 2021: “Georgia’s new voting law, signed by Republican Gov. Brian Kemp on Thursday night, is a small-d democrat’s nightmare. The bill, known as SB 202, gives state-level officials the authority to usurp the powers of county election boards — allowing the Republican-dominated state government to potentially disqualify voters in Democratic-leaning areas. It criminalizes the provision of food and water to voters waiting in line, in a state where lines are notoriously long in heavily nonwhite precincts. It requires ID for absentee ballots and limits the placement of ballot drop boxes. Coming on the heels of President Trump’s potentially illegal campaign to pressure Georgia’s election officials into flipping the state into his column, the intent of the bill is clear: to wrest a state that’s increasingly trending blue back toward Republicans. ‘This is anti-democratic,’ says Cas Mudde, a political scientist at the University of Georgia. ‘It literally tries to undermine the one-person, one-vote principle that is at the core of democracy.'”

Georgia State Representative Park Cannon was arrested by state troopers and pulled out of the state Capitol as Republican Governor Brian Kemp signed law restricting voting rights, NBC News, Dartunorro Clark, Thursday, 25 March 2021: “Georgia state troopers arrested Democratic state Rep. Park Cannon on Thursday after she knocked on Republican Gov. Brian Kemp’s statehouse office door as he signed a controversial elections bill into law in a closed-door ceremony. Video of the incident shows Cannon, who as a lawmaker also works at the statehouse, being handcuffed after she knocked on Kemp’s door, arguing for transparency of the bill signing. She was then forcibly removed from the state Capitol by two officers and surrounded by more while repeatedly identifying herself as a legislator, and was placed into a police car. A flurry of bills have been introduced and passed by Republican-controlled state legislatures to tighten voting laws after former President Donald Trump lost the election and baselessly challenged the outcome. Cannon, who is Black, was charged with two misdemeanors under state law: obstruction of law enforcement and preventing or disrupting the General Assembly, according to police. She was taken to the Fulton County Jail. Sen. Raphael Warnock, D-Ga., arrived there a short time later to support the state lawmaker and was greeted by a small cheering crowd.” See also, Senator Raphael Warnock visits Georgia state Representative Park Cannon at Fulton County Jail after she was arrested for attempting to witness Governor Brian Kemp’s signing of the state’s new restrictive voting bill, The Giro, Biba Adams, published on Friday, 26 March 2021: “Cannon was detained by police after repeatedly knocking on Kemp’s office door demanding to witness the signing of the controversial bill which, in part, prohibits people from giving food or water to people waiting in line to vote. ‘She did not deserve this,’ Warnock said. He compared Cannon’s treatment to the lack of arrests that took place on the day of the Capitol Insurrection on Jan. 6. ‘Today is a very sad day for the state of Georgia,’ the freshman Senator told reporters outside of the jail. ‘What we have witnessed today is a very desperate attempt to lock out and squeeze the people out of their own democracy.'”

Biden says Senate filibuster is being ‘abused’ and must be changed. The president again championed a talking filibuster and expressed willingness to go further if other options fail. NBC News, Sahil Kapur, Thursday, 25 March 2021: “President Joe Biden again championed a ‘talking filibuster’ Thursday to make it harder for a minority party to block bills, and for the first time expressed willingness to go further in overhauling the rule. At his first press conference as president, Biden received numerous questions about the 60-vote threshold, and said it is ‘being abused in a gigantic way.'”

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says only 0.1 percent of the Trump administration’s covid farm relief went to Black farmers, The Washington Post, Laura Reiley, Thursday, 25 March 2021: “A tiny fraction of the Trump administration’s coronavirus relief for American farmers — just 0.1 percent of the overall package — went to Black farmers, according to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, who was confirmed in February with strong bipartisan support for a second stint in the role. In an interview with The Washington Post, Vilsack for the first time noted the extent to which the Trump administration’s response to the coronavirus pandemic exacerbated existing disparities across the American economy. The distribution of coronavirus relief increased those gaps, he said…. ‘We saw 99 percent of the money going to White farmers and 1 percent going to socially disadvantaged farmers and if you break that down to how much went to Black farmers, it’s 0.1 percent,’ he said. ‘Look at it another way: The top 10 percent of farmers in the country received 60 percent of the value of the covid payments. And the bottom 10 percent received 0.26 percent.’ Of the 3.4 million farmers in the United States today, only 45,000 — 1.3 percent — are Black, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. That’s down from 1 million a century ago, because of widespread land loss.”

Studies claim US could have avoided almost 400,000 Covid deaths with better response, Independent, Gino Spocchia, Thursday, 25 March 2021: “As many as 400,000 deaths could have been avoided with a better response to Covid-19 by the United States, a study has claimed. Although the nation’s death toll stands at 540,000 and counting, as many as 400,000 of those could have been avoided, according to a group of research papers released at a Brookings Institution conference. Andrew Atkeson, an economics professor at the University of California, said 400,000 deaths were avoidable through the widespread use of face coverings, social distancing, and testing in the run-up to a vaccine rollout, which began in December. Former president Donald Trump was widely criticised for his response to the virus throughout 2020 by opponents and officials.”

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton refuses to release his messages about attendance at pro-Trump rally before the January 6th insurrection, The Texas Tribune, John Tedesco and Jay Root (Houston Chronicle) and Lauren McGaughy and Allie Morris (The Dallas Morning News), Thursday, 25 March 2021: “The Texas attorney general’s office is attempting to withhold all messages Ken Paxton sent or received while in Washington for the pro-Donald Trump rally that devolved into a riot at the U.S. Capitol. Several news organizations in Texas have requested copies of the attorney general’s work-related communications. The Texas Public Information Act guarantees the public’s right to government records — even if those records are stored on personal devices or online accounts of public officials. After Paxton’s office refused to release copies of his emails and text messages, The Texas Tribune and ProPublica, The Austin American-Statesman, The Dallas Morning News, The Houston Chronicle, and The San Antonio Express-News are working together in an effort to obtain the documents and review Paxton’s open-records practices.”

 

Friday, 26 March 2021:

 

Biden Calls Georgia’s Restrictive Voter Law ‘an Atrocity.’ Georgia’s new law limits voting access. President Biden’s lack of action on gun control angers activists. He also invited world leaders, including from China and Russia, to a climate summit. The New York Times, Friday, 26 March 2021:

  • Biden condemns Georgia’s crackdown on voting access as ‘Jim Crow in the 21st century.’

  • Biden’s focus on infrastructure after two mass shootings angers gun control advocates.

  • Intelligence officials try to sway Biden with warnings of a potential Taliban takeover of Afghanistan.

  • Biden invites world leaders, including Putin and Xi, to a climate summit.

  • Pelosi appoints the commander of the D.C. National Guard to lead House security.

  • The pro-Trump ‘Stop the Steal’ movement spawns a new wave of anti-vaccine activism.

  • Pompeo meets with Iowa voters, laying the groundwork for a possible presidential campaign.

  • A vaccine glut is looming, and Washington is scrambling to recalibrate.
  • Dominion has filed a second defamation suit against Fox News over conspiracy theories about its voting machines.
  • A climate scientist’s new job at NASA shows how the Biden administration is elevating climate issues.
  • Advocates are pushing for D.C. statehood to be included in a broader voting rights bill.
  • Ron Weiser, Michigan’s Republican Party chairman, calls top Democratic officials in his state ‘witches’ and refers to assassination while discussing two Republican congressmen who voted to impeach former President Donald Trump.

Biden assails new Georgia voting law: ‘This is Jim Crow in the 21st Century,’ The Washington Post, John Wagner, Colby Itkowitz, and Amy B Wang, Friday, 26 March 2021: “President Biden on Friday criticized a Georgia law imposing restrictions on voting and urged Congress to act on sweeping voting rights legislation. ‘This is Jim Crow in the 21st Century. It must end. We have a moral and constitutional obligation to act,’ the president said in a statement. The newly signed law, among other restrictions, imposes identification requirements for mail ballots and makes it a crime for third-party groups to hand out food and water to voters standing in line.

Here are a few of the significant developments included in this article.

  • Dominion Voting Systems filed a $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit against Fox News, arguing that the cable news outlet ‘recklessly disregarded the truth’ in a bid to boost ratings by promoting claims that the voting company rigged the 2020 election.
  • Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has tapped the commander of the D.C. National Guard to become the next House sergeant-at-arms, selecting the first African American for the post that is responsible for the chamber’s safety, as Congress overhauls its security arrangements in the wake of the Capitol riot.
  • In a show of bipartisan solidarity, 26 governors and dozens of Asian Americans who have served in top roles across six presidential administrations issued a pair of statements that forcefully condemned the spike in anti-Asian harassment over the past year.

Dominion Voting Systems filed a $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit against Fox News, Associated Press, Colleen Long, Friday, 26 March 2021: “Dominion Voting Systems filed a $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit against Fox News on Friday, arguing the cable news giant, in an effort to boost faltering ratings, falsely claimed that the voting company had rigged the 2020 election. The lawsuit is part of a growing body of legal action filed by the voting company and other targets of misleading, false and bizarre claims spread by President Donald Trump and his allies in the aftermath of Trump’s election loss to Joe Biden. Those claims helped spur on rioters who stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 in a violent siege that left five people dead, including a police officer. The siege led to Trump’s historic second impeachment. Dominion argues that Fox News, which amplified inaccurate assertions that Dominion altered votes, ‘sold a false story of election fraud in order to serve its own commercial purposes, severely injuring Dominion in the process,’ according to a copy of the lawsuit obtained by The Associated Press.” See also, Fox News sued by Dominion in $1.6 billion defamation case that could set new guardrails for broadcasters. It’s the second voting-systems company to file suit against Fox over the bogus allegations aired by Trump’s allies after the 2020 election. The Washington Post, Elahe Izadi and Paul Farhi, Friday, 26 March 2021: “Dominion Voting Systems on Friday filed a $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit against Fox News, alleging that the network purposely aired false claims about the company’s role in the 2020 presidential election in order to boost ratings. It’s the latest in a series of legal actions that experts say could force broadcasters to exert more caution in an era when prominent newsmakers — in this case, a cast of characters that included some of former president Donald Trump’s top allies — have been increasingly willing to spread disinformation. In the lawsuit, Dominion argued that Fox and several of its on-air personalities elevated baseless claims about the voting company rigging the 2020 election and allowed falsehoods by their guests to go unchecked, including a wild claim that the company’s machines were manufactured in ‘Venezuela to rig elections for the dictator Hugo Chávez’ and that Dominion’s algorithm manipulated votes so that then-President Trump would lose.” See also, Fox News Faces Second Defamation Suit Over Election Coverage. Dominion Voting Systems, an election technology company, accused the channel of advancing lies that devastated its reputation and business. The New York Times, Michael Grynbaum and Jonah E. Bromwich, Friday, 26 March 2021: “Fox News and its powerful owner, Rupert Murdoch, are facing a second major defamation suit over the network’s coverage of the 2020 presidential election, a new front in the growing legal battle over media disinformation and its consequences. In the latest aftershock of Donald J. Trump’s attempt to undermine President Biden’s victory, Dominion Voting Systems, an election technology company that was at the center of a baseless pro-Trump conspiracy theory about rigged voting machines, filed a lawsuit on Friday accusing Fox News of advancing lies that devastated its reputation and business. Dominion, which has requested a jury trial, is seeking at least $1.6 billion in damages. Less than two months ago, Smartmatic, another election tech company, filed a $2.7 billion lawsuit against Mr. Murdoch’s Fox Corporation and named the Fox anchors Maria Bartiromo, Lou Dobbs and Jeanine Pirro as defendants. In a 139-page complaint filed in Delaware Superior Court, Dominion portrayed Fox as an active player in spreading false claims that the company had altered vote counts and manipulated its machines to benefit Mr. Biden in the election. Those falsehoods were relentlessly pushed by Mr. Trump’s lawyers, Rudolph Giuliani and Sidney Powell, in public forums, including appearances on Fox programs.”

House Democrats introduce ‘DeJoy Act’ in opening salvo against US Postal Service leader’s mail-slowing plan, The Washington Post, Jacob Bogage, Friday, 26 March 2021: “Democrats are swarming to block a key piece of Postmaster General Louis DeJoy’s 10-year restructuring plan for the U.S. Postal Service, casting doubt on the feasibility of his proposals for achieving financial stability for the agency. A group of House Democrats on Friday introduced legislation to prohibit the Postal Service from lengthening mail-delivery windows and require it to adhere to present service expectations. They named the bill the Delivering Envelopes Judiciously On-time Year-round Act, or DEJOY Act.”

A Biden Administration Strategy: Send In the Scientists. Gavin Schmidt, a leading climate scientist, will fill a newly created job of climate adviser to NASA, in a prominent example of Biden’s pledge to focus on climate policy. The New York Times, John Schwartz, Friday, 26 March 2021: “Dr. Schmidt is one of the most prominent scientists warning the world about the risks of a warming world. Recently he was named to a newly created position as senior climate adviser to NASA, a job that comes with the challenge of bringing NASA’s climate science to the public and helping figure out how to apply it to saving the planet. Dr. Schmidt, who since 2014 had headed NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, will be working with an administration that is making the fight against climate change one of its priorities. The Biden team is adding positions throughout the government for policymakers and experts like Dr. Schmidt who understand the threats facing our planet. ‘Climate change is not only an environmental issue that belongs to the E.P.A., it’s not only a science issue that belongs to NASA and NOAA,’ said Katharine Hayhoe, a climate scientist at Texas Tech University. ‘Climate change is an everything issue,’ she said, and ‘it needs to be considered by every single federal agency.’ President Biden returned the United States to the Paris climate accord on his first day in office, and has signed stacks of executive orders to begin undoing Trump administration rollbacks of more than 100 environmental rules.”

Far-Right Extremists Move From ‘Stop the Steal’ to Stop the Vaccine. Extremist organizations are now bashing the safety and efficacy of coronavirus vaccines in an effort to try to undermine the government. The New York Times, Neil MacFarquhar, Friday, 26 March 2021: “Adherents of far-right groups who cluster online have turned repeatedly to one particular website in recent weeks — the federal database showing deaths and adverse reactions nationwide among people who have received Covid-19 vaccinations. Although negative reactions have been relatively rare, the numbers are used by many extremist groups to try to bolster a rash of false and alarmist disinformation in articles and videos with titles like ‘Covid-19 Vaccines Are Weapons of Mass Destruction — and Could Wipe out the Human Race’ or ‘Doctors and Nurses Giving the Covid-19 Vaccine Will be Tried as War Criminals.’ If the so-called Stop the Steal movement appeared to be chasing a lost cause once President Biden was inaugurated, its supporters among extremist organizations are now adopting a new agenda from the anti-vaccination campaign to try to undermine the government. Bashing of the safety and efficacy of vaccines is occurring in chatrooms frequented by all manner of right-wing groups including the Proud Boys; the Boogaloo movement, a loose affiliation known for wanting to spark a second Civil War; and various paramilitary organizations. These groups tend to portray vaccines as a symbol of excessive government control.”

California Supreme Court rules it’s unconstitutional to detain people in jail because they cannot afford bail, Business Insider, Julie Gerstein, Friday, 26 March 2021: “California’s Supreme Court ruled on Thursday that it is unconstitutional to keep people behind bars simply because they cannot afford bail. The unanimous decision signals that going forward, California judges will be required to assess a defendant’s ability to pay bail when they set it. ‘What we hold is that where a financial condition is nonetheless necessary, the court must consider the arrestee’s ability to pay the stated amount of bail — and may not effectively detain the arrestee solely because the arrestee lacked the resources to post bail,’ Justice Mariano-Florentino Cuéllar wrote in the decision. The justices concurred that there may be circumstances where the ‘need to protect community safety may conflict with the arrestee’s fundamental right to pretrial liberty,’ but said that, ‘in order to detain an arrestee under those circumstances, a court must first find by clear convincing evidence that no condition short of detention could suffice and then ensure the detention otherwise complies with statutory and constitutional requirements.'”

 

Saturday, 27 March 2021:

 

Deborah Birx tells CNN most U.S. covid deaths ‘could have been mitigated’ after first 100,000, The Washington Post, Amy B Wang, Saturday, 27 March 2021: “Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator under President Donald Trump, said most coronavirus deaths in the United States could have been prevented if the Trump administration had acted earlier and more decisively. Birx made her comments in the CNN documentary ‘Covid War: The Pandemic Doctors Speak Out,’ a clip from which the network released Saturday. The full documentary will air 9 p.m. Sunday. In it, CNN chief medical correspondent Sanjay Gupta asked Birx how much of a difference she thinks it would have made had the United States ‘mitigated earlier, … paused earlier and actually done it,’ referring to extending shutdowns, urging people to wear masks and implementing other steps to slow the spread of the virus. ‘I look at it this way: The first time, we have an excuse. There were about 100,000 deaths that came from that original surge,’ Birx told Gupta. All of the rest of them, in my mind, could have been mitigated or decreased substantially.'”

Former Trump chief of staff Mick Mulvaney calls Trump’s Capitol riot claims ‘manifestly false,’ CNN Politics, Kelly Mena, Saturday, 27 March 2021: “The former chief of staff to ex-President Donald Trump on Saturday pushed back against his former boss’ recent attempt to whitewash the history of the January 6 Capitol riot. Mick Mulvaney, who stepped down as Trump’s special envoy to Northern Ireland after the insurrection, called Trump’s comments that his supporters were ‘hugging and kissing’ police officers and posed ‘zero threat,’ despite widespread violence, ‘manifestly false. I was surprised to hear the President say that. Clearly there were people who were behaving themselves, and then there were people who absolutely were not, but to come out and say that everyone was fine and there was no risk, that’s just manifestly false — people died, other people were severely injured,’ Mulvaney told CNN’s Pamela Brown on ‘Newsroom.’ ‘It’s not right to say there was no risk, I don’t know how you can say that when people were killed,’ he added.”

 

Sunday, 28 March 2021:

 

Dr. Deborah Birx recalls ‘very difficult’ phone call from Trump following her Covid-19 warnings in August, CNN Politics, Jacqueline Howard and Caroline Kelly, Sunday, 28 March 2021: “Dr. Deborah Birx revealed in a CNN documentary clip released Sunday that she received a ‘very uncomfortable’ and ‘very difficult’ phone call from Donald Trump after speaking publicly about the spread of Covid-19 while serving in the former President’s administration. Birx, who had served as the Trump White House’s coronavirus response coordinator, said the phone call followed her appearance on CNN in August. ‘It was a CNN report in August that got horrible pushback. That was a very difficult time, because everybody in the White House was upset with that interview and the clarity that I brought about the epidemic,’ Birx told CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta in the documentary ‘COVID WAR: The Pandemic Doctors Speak Out.’ ‘I got called by the President,’ Birx continued. ‘It was very uncomfortable, very direct and very difficult to hear.'”

 

Monday, 29 March 2021:

 

Democrats Weigh Strategy to Force Through Biden’s Infrastructure Plan, The New York Times, Monday, 29 March 2021:

  • Democrats start preparing a path for Biden’s spending plans, but it will be a bumpy one.

  • The Biden administration makes a swath of ocean between New York and New Jersey an offshore wind zone.

  • Mike Pompeo grows more combative as he eyes 2024.

  • The Supreme Court faces an odd quandary in a lawsuit that pension funds brought against Goldman Sachs.

  • After promising a reset during the campaign, Biden faces calls to restore warmer relations with Cuba.

  • U.S. trade with Myanmar is suspended over killings by the military.

  • Biden pushes governors to reinstate mask mandates, as the C.D.C. director warns of ‘impending doom.’

  • The Biden administration will investigate Trump-era attacks on science.

  • Biden’s lesson from the 2009 stimulus bill? Go bigger, and go greener.
  • New Jersey expands voting rights as some Republican-led states seek to limit them.
  • Transgender girls’ participation in school sports emerges as the next front in the culture wars.

‘This is deadly serious,’ Biden warns about increase in coronavirus cases even amid progress on vaccines, The Washington Post, John Wagner, Paulina Firozi, and Reis Thebault, Monday, 29 March 2021: “President Biden on Monday warned about a rising number of coronavirus cases even amid progress on vaccinating Americans, calling on governors and other officials to reinstate mask mandates. ‘This is deadly serious. … If we let our guard down now we could see the virus getting worse not better,’ the president said at the White House. He announced an acceleration in the availability of coronavirus vaccines, as well as an increase in the number of local pharmacies providing vaccinations and additional mass vaccination sites. He said 90 percent of adults will be eligible for vaccination by April 19 and that 90 percent of them will have access to a vaccination site within five miles of their home. Biden is also preparing to push his next major legislative package, with a trip planned Wednesday to Pittsburgh to tout a plan to improve the country’s roads, bridges and water systems.

Here are a few of the significant developments included in this article.

  • The White House announced an ambitious plan to expand wind farms along the East Coast and jump-start the country’s nascent offshore wind industry.
  • The Biden administration announced it is extending a federal policy that prohibits landlords from evicting tenants who are behind on their rent.
  • Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) is exploring additional use of the budget reconciliation process to pass parts of Biden’s costly ‘Build Back Better’ agenda.

Emotional first day at Derek Chauvin murder trial includes blunt witness testimony and new video footage, The Washington Post, Holly Bailey, Kim Bellware, Mark Berman, and Paulina Villegas, Monday, 29 March 2021: “The emotional first day of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin’s murder trial included blunt witness testimony and video footage from George Floyd’s arrest last year, laying the groundwork for court proceedings that will center on precisely what happened that day. Prosecutors played the bystander video clip of Floyd, pinned down on the street, gasping for air, which some jurors had not seen in full. Chauvin’s defense team highlighted the crowd police had to confront. And witnesses relayed what they saw, including a 911 operator who said she was ‘concerned that something might be wrong’ at the scene.

Here are a few of the significant developments included in this article.

  • Prosecutor Jerry W. Blackwell began his opening statement by drawing a line from the actions prosecutors say Chauvin intentionally took when detaining Floyd to his death. He also showed the jury the video and said bystanders and police officers would be put on the stand to support the case. The defense argued that it was not Chauvin’s knee but drugs and a host of surrounding conditions that were responsible for Floyd’s death.
  • After a lunch break, prosecutors called Jena Scurry to the stand to help establish how other trained first responders saw Chauvin’s actions against Floyd — kneeling on his neck for more than nine minutes — as alarming and unusual, seeking to undercut the defense’s opening remarks that characterized them as consistent with Chauvin’s police training.
  • Floyd’s family members gathered outside the courthouse shortly before opening statements to demand accountability. Floyd’s nephew Brandon Williams told the crowd that either Chauvin and the other officers were not ‘trained and qualified to do their job, or they intended to take his life.’
  • A judge allowed details of a 2019 traffic stop of Floyd to be brought up during trial, a victory for the defense.
  • The 12 jurors and two alternates are a mix of men and women and Black, multiracial and White people. Seven are under 40 years old. A third alternate was sent home Monday morning.
  • Here are answers to frequently asked questions about the circumstance around Floyd’s killing and the trial.

The Trial of Derek Chauvin: First Witnesses in Derek Chauvin Trial Testify About George Floyd’s Death, The New York Times, Monday, 29 March 2021: “One of the most closely watched court cases in decades got underway on Monday as the murder trial began for Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer who is being charged with murder in the death of George Floyd. A long day in court began with the prosecution’s opening remarks, focusing the jury’s attention on the bystander video of Mr. Floyd’s death — all nine minutes and 29 seconds of it — and ended with the testimony of a mixed martial arts fighter who was on the scene and said he believed Mr. Chauvin was killing Mr. Floyd. In between, the defense laid out its theory of the case, vowing to prove over the course of the trial that Mr. Floyd died of a drug overdose and heart condition.

  • A reporter in Minneapolis breaks down Day 1 of the trial.
  • On the first day of the trial, Americans remembered George Floyd.
  • Given power of video, legal experts say Chauvin should consider testifying.
  • Cause of death will be a major issue for both sides.
  • Takeaways from the first day of the Derek Chauvin trial.
  • A ‘major technical glitch’ brings an abrupt end to the first day in court.
  • Masks, hand sanitizer, and a limited audience: how the court is handling a pandemic trial.
  • ‘A referendum on how far America has come’: Voices outside the courthouse.
  • Here’s what you need to know about where the trial is taking place.
  • Trial draws protests, TV coverage, and a bonfire at George Floyd Square.
  • What we know about the judge in the Derek Chauvin trial.
  • A 911 dispatcher said officers pinned down George Floyd for so long she thought the camera feed ‘had frozen.’
  • A veteran of the O.J. Simpson legal drama has one eye on the set this time.
  • Demonstrators gathered outside the courthouse as the trial began.
  • Sharpton and crump warn that the ‘world is watching’ as witnesses begin to testify.
  • The first witness is a 911 dispatcher who ‘called the police on the police’ as George Floyd was arrested.
  • What we learned from the opening statements.
  • The case against Derek Chauvin will center on proving George Floyd’s cause of death.
  • What we know about Eric J. Nelson, the lawyer presenting opening arguments for Derek Chauvin.
  • The video of Derek Chauvin kneeling on George Floyd’s neck was shown to the jury.
  • A multiracial jury will decide Derek Chauvin’s fate.
  • What to know about Jerry W. Blackwell, the prosecutor making opening arguments.
  • George Floyd’s family, the news media, and protesters gather outside the courthouse.
  • The trial opens as the judge outlines the daily schedule.
  • Who is Derek Chauvin?
  • ‘We need a conviction,’ Floyd’s brother says ahead of the trial.
  • Listen as ‘The Daily’ examines the trial of Derek Chauvin.
  • Here’s how George Floyd was killed in police custody.
  • How to watch the Derek Chauvin trial.
  • What to expect as the murder trial of Derek Chauvin begins.

Biden Administration Announces a Major Offshore Wind Plan. The White House said the program could create tens of thousands of new jobs while moving the country toward clean energy. The New York Times, Lisa Friedman and Brad Plumer, Monday, 29 March 2021: “The Biden administration on Monday announced a plan to vastly expand the use of offshore wind power along the East Coast, aiming to tap a potentially huge new source of renewable energy that has so far struggled to gain acceptance in the United States. The plan sets a goal of deploying 30,000 megawatts of offshore wind turbines in coastal waters nationwide by 2030, enough to power 10 million homes. To help meet that target, the administration said it would accelerate permitting of projects off the Atlantic Coast and prepare to open up waters near New York and New Jersey for development. The administration also plans to offer $3 billion in federal loan guarantees for offshore wind projects and invest in upgrading the nation’s ports to support wind construction.”

Feuds, fibs, and finger-pointing: Trump officials say coronavirus response was worse than known, The Washington Post, Dan Diamond, Monday, 29 March 2021: “Several top doctors in the Trump administration offered their most pointed and direct criticism of the government response to the coronavirus last year, with one of them arguing that hundreds of thousands of covid-19 deaths could have been prevented. They also admitted their own missteps as part of a CNN special that aired Sunday night, saying that some Trump administration statements the White House fiercely defended last year were misleading or outright falsehoods. ‘When we said there were millions of tests available, there weren’t, right?’ said Brett Giroir, who served as the nation’s coronavirus testing czar, referencing the administration’s repeated claims in March 2020 that anyone who sought a coronavirus test could get one. ‘There were components of the test available, but not the full meal deal.’ ‘People really believed in the White House that testing was driving cases, rather than testing was a way for us to stop cases,’ said Deborah Birx, who served as White House coronavirus coordinator. Birx also said that most of the virus-related deaths in the United States after the first 100,000 in the spring surge could have been prevented with a more robust response. ‘That’s what bothers me every day,’ she said.”

Biden administration launches task force to ensure scientific decisions are free from political influence, as several former Trump health officials admit they faced political pressure while doing their jobs, CNN Politics, Kaitlan Collins and Devan Cole, Monday, 29 March 2021: “The Biden administration is creating a task force to review the federal government’s scientific policies to ensure they are free from inappropriate political influence, as several top health officials under former President Donald Trump publicly admit they faced political pressure while doing their jobs amid the coronavirus pandemic. The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy said in a letter to agencies on Monday that it will form an interagency task force to review federal government policies and make sure they ‘prevent improper political interference’ from affecting research or data. The letter also says the task force aims to prevent ‘the suppression or distortion of scientific or technological findings.’ The letter says that President Joe Biden prioritizes supporting scientists and researchers as they do their work.” See also, Biden task force to probe science manipulation under Trump. In a letter to federal agencies, the panel aims to ‘prevent improper political interference in the conduct of scientific research.’ NBC News, Josh Lederman, Monday, 29 March 2021: “A new White House task force will examine instances where the Trump administration may have distorted or suppressed science in critical government decisions, with an eye toward creating fail-safes to prevent it from happening again, the White House said Monday. In a letter to federal agencies, obtained by NBC News, the White House said the task force’s mandate would include identifying whether current policies effectively ‘prevent improper political interference in the conduct of scientific research’ and ‘prevent the suppression or distortion of scientific or technological findings.'”

Inside the Koch-Backed Effort to Block the Largest Election-Reform Bill in Half a Century. On a leaked conference call, leaders of dark-money groups and an aide to Mitch McConnell expressed frustration with the popularity of the legislation–even among Republican voters. The New Yorker, Jane Mayer, Monday, 29 March 2021: “In public, Republicans have denounced Democrats’ ambitious electoral-reform bill, the For the People Act, as an unpopular partisan ploy. In a contentious Senate committee hearing last week, Senator Ted Cruz, of Texas, slammed the proposal, which aims to expand voting rights and curb the influence of money in politics, as ‘a brazen and shameless power grab by Democrats.’ But behind closed doors Republicans speak differently about the legislation, which is also known as House Resolution 1 and Senate Bill 1. They admit the lesser-known provisions in the bill that limit secret campaign spending are overwhelmingly popular across the political spectrum. In private, they concede their own polling shows that no message they can devise effectively counters the argument that billionaires should be prevented from buying elections. A recording obtained by The New Yorker of a private conference call on January 8th, between a policy adviser to Senator Mitch McConnell and the leaders of several prominent conservative groups—including one run by the Koch brothers’ network—reveals the participants’ worry that the proposed election reforms garner wide support not just from liberals but from conservative voters, too. The speakers on the call expressed alarm at the broad popularity of the bill’s provision calling for more public disclosure about secret political donors. The participants conceded that the bill, which would stem the flow of dark money from such political donors as the billionaire oil magnate Charles Koch, was so popular that it wasn’t worth trying to mount a public-advocacy campaign to shift opinion. Instead, a senior Koch operative said that opponents would be better off ignoring the will of American voters and trying to kill the bill in Congress.”

 

Tuesday, 30 March 2021:

 

Biden to Fund Infrastructure Plan With Increase in Corporate Taxes. The president is set to travel to Pittsburgh on Wednesday to roll out his $2 trillion plan. Representative Matt Gaetz is said to face a Justice Department inquiry over sex with an underage girl. The New York Times, Tuesday, 30 March 2021:

  • Biden to call for increase in corporate taxes to pay for $2 trillion infrastructure plan.

  • Matt Gaetz is said to face Justice Dept. inquiry over sex with an underage girl.

  • Biden administration announces plans to combat anti-Asian attacks.

  • State Dept. reverses Trump policies on reproductive and religious freedoms.

  • Biden signs an extension of the Paycheck Protection Program, calling it a ‘bipartisan accomplishment.’

  • A federal judge threw out a confidentiality agreement signed by a Trump campaign aide.

  • The N.A.A.C.P. and other civil rights groups sue Georgia to overturn a new law that limits voting.
  • Major, one of the Bidens’ German shepherds, ‘nipped someone’ on Monday, a spokesman said.

  • G. Gordon Liddy, the mastermind behind the Watergate burglary, dies at 90.

Biden signs legislation extending pandemic-era loan program for small businesses, The Washington Post, John Wagner and Amy B Wang, Tuesday, 30 March 2021: “President Biden on Tuesday signed into law an extension of a pandemic-era loan program designed to help small businesses stay afloat, hailing the legislation as a ‘bipartisan accomplishment’ and crediting lawmakers from both parties during an event at the Oval Office of the White House. Biden’s focus on the coronavirus comes a day ahead of his planned unveiling of a $2.25 trillion jobs and infrastructure package that could form a cornerstone of his economic agenda.

Here are a few of the significant developments included in this article.

Teen who recorded viral video and other young witnesses dominate second day of Derek Chauvin trial, The Washington Post, Holly Bailey, Timothy Bella, Kim Bellware, Lateshia Beachum, Hannah Knowles, and Paulina Villegas, Tuesday, 30 March 2021: “Distressing and at times tearful testimony by young eyewitnesses dominated the murder trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin on Tuesday, including that of the teen girl whose video of George Floyd’s arrest set off nationwide protests. Witnesses spoke about Floyd’s apparent inability to breathe, and several said that police did not check for his pulse. Chauvin’s defense attorney, Eric Nelson, did not cross-examine all the young witnesses, but did focus on one of the teenagers as he tried to raise what he called inconsistencies in her courtroom testimony and statements made to investigators last year. Perhaps the most powerful testimony of the day came from Darnella Frazier, who was 17 when she filmed the cellphone video of Floyd’s arrest that ultimately went viral and prompted a tidal wave of public outrage. She testified that the video changed her life and said she regrets not physically intervening to help Floyd.

Here are a few of the significant developments included in this article.

  • Genevieve Hansen, an off-duty firefighter with emergency medical training, said she quickly recognized Floyd was in serious condition and placed a concerned 911 call. Her exchanges with defense lawyer Nelson grew tense at times, leading the judge to reprimand her.
  • In a protective move by Judge Peter A. Cahill, four of the six witnesses from Tuesday were not shown on camera in court, though audio of their testimony was broadcast. Cahill noted the four young witnesses were minors at the time of the incident and two still are.
  • The youngest witness, a 9-year-old girl, testified that paramedics ‘nicely’ asked Chauvin to get off Floyd when they arrived to the scene. ‘They asked him nicely to get off of him,’ the witness said. ‘He still stayed on him.’
  • Tuesday’s eyewitness accounts helped prosecutors establish the traumatizing effect witnessing Floyd’s killing had on the bystanders. Prosecutors are seeking a harsher sentence for Chauvin if convicted because Floyd was killed in front of children.
  • The morning began with more recollections from Donald Williams, who can be heard on the video encouraging the officer to get off George Floyd. Williams testified that he could see Floyd ‘going through tremendous pain.’ During cross-examination, Chauvin’s defense team attempted to paint Williams as angry enough that he could have been a danger to the officers, a characterization Williams balked at.
  • Here are answers to frequently asked questions about the trial.

The Trial of Derek Chauvin: Witnesses Describe Frustration and Fear as They Watched George Floyd Struggle, The New York Times, Tuesday, 30 March 2021: Bystanders, including an emergency medical technician and several teenagers, testified on Day 2 of the murder trial of Derek Chauvin. ‘There was nothing that we could do,’ one said.

  • Scenes from outside the Derek Chauvin trial.
  • After a day of emotional testimony, here’s what experts expect next.
  • An outspoken off-duty firefighter testified: ‘There was a man being killed.’
  • Takeaways from the second day of the Derek Chauvin trial.
  • Outside the trial, a protester has been chained to a fence since Monday night.
  • In their own words: ‘I should have called 911 immediately.’
  • Here’s some noteworthy news coverage since George Floyd’s death.
  • On a visit to the barber, remembering a friendly encounter with George Floyd.
  • In their own words: ‘There was nothing that we could do as bystanders.’
  • Around Minneapolis, signs and memorials honor George Floyd.
  • Derek Chauvin’s lawyers want to humanize him. Some witnesses described him as cold and heartless.
  • In their own words: ‘When I look at George Floyd, I look at my dad.’
  • Here’s what we’ve learned so far from Day 2 of the Derek Chauvin trial.
  • A closer look at the 12-person jury in the Derek Chauvin trial.
  • Outside the courthouse, people gather under the watch of the police.
  • In their own words: ‘You can see that he’s trying to, you know, gasp for air.’
  • In the first signs of tension, Chauvin’s defense takes aim at a mixed martial artist who witnessed Floyd’s death.
  • Darnella Frazier, the teenager who filmed George Floyd’s arrest, testifies at the trial.
  • What are the charges against Derek Chauvin?
  • Here are the questions asked of potential jurors ahead of the trial.
  • Prosecutors say Derek Chauvin knelt on George Floyd for 9 minutes 29 seconds, longer than initially reported.
  • Derek Chauvin’s lawyer wants jurors to look beyond the video of him kneeling on George Floyd.
  • Ten months after George Floyd’s death, Minneapolis residents are at war over policing.

‘It Wasn’t Right’: Young Witnesses Offer Emotional Testimony in Chauvin Trial. On the second day of Derek Chauvin’s trial, eyewitnesses painted a harrowing and consistent picture of what they saw during the fatal arrest of George Floyd. The New York Times, John Eligon, Tim Arango, and Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs, Tuesday, 30 March 2021: “She was the teenager whose video of George Floyd’s final moments rippled across the globe. And in a courtroom on Tuesday, Darnella Frazier, now 18, shared her story publicly for the first time, testifying that she remained haunted by Mr. Floyd’s cries for help as she watched a police officer kneel on his neck. Ms. Frazier, at times crying, spoke softly during emotional testimony on the second day of the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former officer facing murder charges. As her voice cracked, Ms. Frazier described how what she witnessed that day last May had changed her life. She sometimes lies awake at night, she said, ‘apologizing to George Floyd for not doing more and not physically interacting and not saving his life. When I look at George Floyd, I look at my dad,’ she added. ‘I look at my brothers. I look at my cousins, my uncles because they are all Black. I have a Black father. I have a Black brother. I have Black friends. And I look at that, and I look at how that could have been one of them.’ Ms. Frazier was among a diverse group of bystanders who by accident became eyewitnesses to one of the most high-profile police brutality cases of recent decades. They were Black and white. There was a firefighter, high school students and a mixed martial artist. Their stories were an expression of the trauma of a city that is still struggling to rebuild physically and emotionally from last summer’s unrest. Most of Tuesday’s witnesses were children and teenagers at the time of the fatal arrest, and they painted a harrowing, consistent picture of what transpired at the intersection of 38th Street and Chicago Avenue in South Minneapolis. They all said they have struggled with what they saw.”

Republican Representative Matt Gaetz from Florida Is Said to Face Justice Department Inquiry Over Sex With an Underage Girl. An inquiry into the Florida congressman was opened in the final months of the Trump administration, people briefed on it said. New York Times, Michael S. Schmidt, Katie Benner, and Nicholas Fandos, Tuesday, 30 March 2021: “Representative Matt Gaetz, Republican of Florida and a close ally of former President Donald J. Trump, is being investigated by the Justice Department over whether he had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old and paid for her to travel with him, according to three people briefed on the matter. Investigators are examining whether Mr. Gaetz violated federal sex trafficking laws, the people said. A variety of federal statutes make it illegal to induce someone under 18 to travel over state lines to engage in sex in exchange for money or something of value. The Justice Department regularly prosecutes such cases, and offenders often receive severe sentences. It was not clear how Mr. Gaetz met the girl, believed to be 17 at the time of encounters about two years ago that investigators are scrutinizing, according to two of the people. The investigation was opened in the final months of the Trump administration under Attorney General William P. Barr, the two people said. Given Mr. Gaetz’s national profile, senior Justice Department officials in Washington — including some appointed by Mr. Trump — were notified of the investigation, the people said. The three people said that the examination of Mr. Gaetz, 38, is part of a broader investigation into a political ally of his, a local official in Florida named Joel Greenberg, who was indicted last summer on an array of chargesincluding sex trafficking of a child and financially supporting people in exchange for sex, at least one of whom was an underage girl. Mr. Greenberg, who has since resigned his post as tax collector in Seminole County, north of Orlando, visited the White House with Mr. Gaetz in 2019, according to a photograph that Mr. Greenberg posted on Twitter.”

Biden Names Diverse Nominees for the Federal Bench, The New York Times, Carl Hulse and Michael D. Shear, Tuesday, 30 March 2021: “President Biden began a drive on Tuesday to reshape the federal courts with a burst of judicial nominations that emphasized diversity and drew from a broad range of backgrounds, including public defenders. The effort is motivated in part by a desire to offset the conservative mark stamped on the federal judiciary by former President Donald J. Trump, who won confirmation of more than 220 judges, mostly white men. But Mr. Biden’s first round of nominations also sought to make good on his campaign promise to draw from a more diverse pool than either party has in the past and to redefine what it means to be qualified for the federal bench.” See also, Biden names diverse slate of nominees in first effort to reshape federal courts, NBC News, Rebecca Shabad and Sahil Kapur, Tuesday, 30 March 2021: “President Joe Biden on Tuesday announced his first slate of judicial nominees, including three Black women for important circuit court vacancies. The White House said his 11 nominees ‘reflect the full diversity of the American people — both in background and in professional experience.’ The group includes the first Asian American woman for the district court in Washington, D.C., and the first woman of color for the district court in Maryland. The pick that quickly garnered the most attention was Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. Biden has been planning for weeks to nominate her. She is widely seen as a future Supreme Court prospect, after the president promised to choose a Black woman if a seat becomes vacant while he’s in office.”

Judge allows Summer Zervos’ defamation lawsuit against Trump to proceed now that he’s out of office, CNN Politics, Kara Scannell, Tuesday, 30 March 2021: “A New York appeals court on Tuesday paved the way for a defamation lawsuit against former President Donald Trump to move forward. In a one-sentence order, the appeals court granted the request from Summer Zervos, a former contestant on ‘The Apprentice,’ to dismiss Trump’s appeal now that he is no longer in office. The lawsuit is one of several legal issues facing the former President now that he’s left the White House. He is facing multiple criminal investigations, civil state inquiries and defamation lawsuits by two women accusing him of sexual assault.”

 

Wednesday, 31 March 2021:

 

Biden, in Pennsylvania, Details $2 Trillion Infrastructure Plan. “It is not a plan that tinkers around the edges,” President Biden said of his proposal to fix aging bridges, roads, rail lines and utilities. He wants to pay for it by raising the corporate tax rate to 28 percent, from 21 percent. The New York Times, Wednesday, 31 March 2021:

  • Biden introduces his infrastructure plan, calling it ‘a once-in-a-generation investment in America.’

  • House Democrats want to pass the infrastructure bill by July 4. Republicans are lining up to oppose it.

  • Democrat Rita Hart ends election appeal in Iowa, sparing her party a politically awkward fight.

  • Ray LaHood, Obama’s transportation secretary, failed to disclose a $50,000 check from an associate of a Lebanese-Nigerian billionaire.

  • Pentagon issues new rules overturning Trump’s ban on transgender troops.

  • Investigators say Trump aide Peter Navarro took it upon himself to award hefty pandemic contracts.

  • Jill Biden visits a pop-up vaccination site for farmworkers on trip to California for César Chávez Day.

  • Some major companies are denouncing Georgia’s new voting law after prominent Black executives spoke out about it.

  • The E.P.A. administrator purges its scientific advisory boards, which included many Trump appointees.
  • Biden bets that tackling climate change will create jobs, not kill them.
  • As Biden wavers on weed, states speed ahead with marijuana legalization.
  • The Biden administration lets a Trump-era ban on some foreign work visas expire.
  • Virginia’s governor Ralph Northam announces his support for a sweeping voting rights bill.
  • Hunter Biden’s new memoir comes out next week. Here are some key takeaways.
  • Matt Gaetz is said to face Justice Department inquiry over sex with an underage girl.
  • 2 Capitol Police officers sue Donald Trump over the January 6th riot.
  • Analysis: Biden is using his ‘infrastructure week’ to argue that government can do big things that the private sector cannot.
  • That spotty Wi-Fi? Biden’s infrastructure plan includes $100 billion to fix it.

Biden pitches $2 trillion infrastructure plan as a chance to ‘rebuild the backbone of America,’ The Washington Post, John Wagner and Reis Thebault, Wednesday, 31 March 2021: “President Biden pitched his $2 trillion jobs plan focused on infrastructure and the climate Wednesday in Pittsburgh as a chance to ‘rebuild the backbone of America.’ The plan, which would be financed by raising taxes on corporations, faces challenges in Congress where Republicans have expressed opposition and liberals are pressing for more spending. As Biden prepares to tout the American Jobs Plan, Vice President Harris was in Washington leading an event at the White House on the importance of coronavirus vaccinations.

Here are a few of the significant developments included in this article.

  • Biden’s jobs plan includes raising the corporate tax rate from 21 percent to 28 percent, increasing the global minimum tax paid from about 13 percent to 21 percent, and ending federal tax breaks for fossil fuel companies.
  • The Justice Department is investigating Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) over an alleged sexual relationship with an underage girl, according to people familiar with the matter.
  • Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael Regan will purge more than 40 outside experts appointed by former president Donald Trump from two key advisory panels.
  • The government made $6.2 billion in overpayments across two unemployment insurance programs during the first year of the pandemic, according to a watchdog report.

The Trial of Derek Chauvin: Chilling New Video Takes Jurors to the Scene of George Floyd’s Arrest, The New York Times, Wednesday, 31 March 2021: “On the third day of the Derek Chauvin trial, the jury learned more about what had happened inside Cup Foods before the police were called, and body camera footage from the officers was presented.

  • As devastating video played in court, George Floyd’s brother was there to watch.
  • Scenes from outside the Chauvin trial.
  • Takeaways from the third day of the Derek Chauvin trial.
  • ‘He’s traumatized. We all are.’ At Cup Foods, a father worries about his son.
  • ‘Don’t shoot me.’ Body camera video shows the fatal encounter between police officers and George Floyd.’
  • In their own words: ‘I couldn’t help but feel helpless.’
  • Charles McMillian, who saw the police pin George Floyd, breaks down on the stand.
  • Scenes from Day 3 of the trial.
  • Just tuning in to Day 3 of the Derek Chauvin trial? Here’s what we learned this morning.
  • A juror briefly halted today’s trial, suffering a ‘stress-related reaction.’
  • Inside Cup Foods, customers stay glued to the trial.
  • In their own words: ‘This could have been avoided.’
  • A cousin of George Floyd weighs in on the trial from inside the courtroom.
  • Inside the courtroom, a rotating pool of journalists is monitoring the action.
  • Prosecutors show surveillance footage of George Floyd in Cup Foods for the first time.
  • A firefighter who pleaded with officers to let her help George Floyd is the first witness on Day 3.
  • The Derek Chauvin trial enters a third day after a series of emotional testimonies.
  • Efforts to reform the police after George Floyd’s death have faced obstacles.

Derek Chauvin body-camera footage shown for first time after witnesses speak of guilt and helplessness, The Washington Post, Holly Bailey, Hannah Knowles, Timothy Bella, Lateshia Beachum, and Paulina Villegas, Wednesday, 31 March 2021: “Prosecutors on Wednesday showed footage from Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin’s body camera publicly for the first time as the third day of testimony in Chauvin’s murder trial brought more anguish from witnesses, who said they wished they could have saved George Floyd. The new body-camera footage showed Chauvin briefly putting his black-gloved hands around Floyd’s neck in May as he and another officer tried to force the man inside a vehicle. ‘We’ve got to control this guy because he is a sizable guy,’ Chauvin told an upset witness later. Earlier Wednesday, a teenage store clerk testified that ‘this could have been avoided’ if he had not taken a counterfeit $20 bill from Floyd. A neighborhood resident started sobbing while re-watching Floyd’s cries for his mother, telling the court: ‘I feel helpless. I understand him.’

Here are a few of the significant developments included in this article.

  • Charles McMillian, the witness who started crying while video footage played, said he had spoken with Chauvin five days before Floyd’s killing. “I told him, like I tell all, ‘Officer, at the end of the day, you go home to your family safe and let the next person go home to their family safe,’” McMillian said.
  • There was a brief recess in the trial after a juror stood up and waved her hand in the middle of witness testimony, possibly signaling an illness.
  • The store clerk, Chris Martin, also told Chauvin attorney Eric Nelson, ‘I thought that George didn’t really know that it was a fake bill.’ The Cup Foods employee said he thought he was doing Floyd ‘a favor’ by accepting the $20.

Biden Details $2 Trillion Plan to Rebuild Infrastructure and Reshape the Economy. The president began selling his proposal on Wednesday, saying it would fix 20,000 miles of roads and 10,000 bridges, while also addressing climate change and racial inequities and raising corporate taxes. The New York Times, Jim Tankersley, Wednesday, 31 March 2021: “President Biden introduced a $2 trillion plan on Wednesday to overhaul and upgrade the nation’s infrastructure, calling it a transformational effort that could create the ‘most resilient, innovative economy in the world.’ It is not a plan that tinkers around the edges,’ Mr. Biden said in a speech outside Pittsburgh. ‘It is a once-in-a-generation investment in America.’ White House officials said the proposal’s combination of spending and tax credits would translate into 20,000 miles of rebuilt roads, repairs to the 10 most economically important bridges in the country, the elimination of lead pipes from the nation’s water supplies and a long list of other projects intended to create millions of jobs in the short run and strengthen American competitiveness in the long run. They said the plan would also accelerate the fight against climate change by hastening the shift to new, cleaner energy sources, and would help promote racial equality in the economy. The provisions would improve wages, internet service, drinking water and commute times, Mr. Biden said. The costs would be offset by increased corporate tax revenues raised over 15 years, particularly from multinationals that earn and book profits overseas. The president cast those increases as a means to prod companies into investing and producing more in the United States.” See also, White House unveils $2 trillion infrastructure and climate plan, setting up giant battle over size and cost of government, The Washington Post, Jeff Stein, Juliet Eilperin, Michael Laris, and Tony Romm, published on Thursday, 1 April 2021: “The White House’s unveiling of a $2 trillion jobs, infrastructure and green energy proposal to reshape the U.S. economy met a chorus of opposition late Wednesday, with Republicans panning it as a partisan wish-list, some liberals challenging it as not sufficient to combat climate change and business groups rejecting its proposed tax hikes. Under what the administration calls the American Jobs Plan, President Biden aims to tackle some of the nation’s most pressing problems — from climate change to decaying water systems to the nation’s crumbling infrastructure.” See also, Biden’s $2.3 Trillion Infrastructure Plan Takes Broad Aim. The plan increases corporate taxes to pay for fixing roads and bridges, boosting research, and tackling climate change. The Wall Street Journal, Andrew Restuccia and Tarini Parti, Wednesday, 31 March 2021: “President Biden unveiled a $2.3 trillion infrastructure plan centered on fixing roads and bridges, expanding broadband internet access and boosting funding for research and development, plus higher corporate taxes to pay for the package…. The Democratic president cast his plan as a fundamental shift in economic thought away from the small-government, tax-cutting approach embraced decades ago under Ronald Reagan, a Republican.”

Black Executives Call on Corporations to Fight Restrictive Voting Laws. Dozens responded after companies in Georgia said little against state legislation that put strict rules in place. The New York Times, Andrew Ross Sorkin and David Gelles, Wednesday, 31 March 2021: “Dozens of the most prominent Black business leaders in America are banding together to call on companies to fight a wave of restrictive voting bills being advanced by Republicans in at least 43 states. The campaign appears to be the first time that so many powerful Black executives have organized to directly call out their peers for failing to stand up for racial justice. The effort, led by Kenneth Chenault, a former chief executive of American Express, and Kenneth Frazier, the chief executive of Merck, is a response to the swift passage of a Georgia law that they contend makes it harder for Black people to vote. As the debate about that bill raged in recent weeks, most major corporations — including those with headquarters in Atlanta — did not take a position on the legislation. ‘There is no middle ground here,’ Mr. Chenault said. ‘You either are for more people voting, or you want to suppress the vote.'” See also, Delta and Coca-Cola Reverse Course on Georgia Voting Law, Stating ‘Crystal Clear’ Opposition. Prominent Black executives had called on companies to publicly oppose a wave of similarly restrictive voting bills that Republicans are advancing in almost every state. The New York Times, David Gelles, Wednesday, 31 March 2021: “Companies that remained silent last week as Georgia Republicans rushed to pass a law to restrict voting access reversed course on Wednesday in the face of mounting outrage from activists, customers and a coalition of powerful Black executives. Delta Air Lines, Georgia’s largest employer, had made only general statements in support of voting rights last week and had declined to take a position on the legislation. That muted response drew fierce criticism, as well as protests at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and calls for a boycott. But on Wednesday, Ed Bastian, Delta’s chief executive, made a stark reversal. ‘I need to make it crystal clear that the final bill is unacceptable and does not match Delta’s values,’ he wrote in an internal memo that was reviewed by The New York Times. Coca-Cola, another of Georgia’s largest companies, which had also declined to take a position on the legislation before it passed, made a similarly worded statement. ‘I want to be crystal clear,’ said James Quincey, Coca-Cola’s chief executive. ‘The Coca-Cola Company does not support this legislation, as it makes it harder for people to vote, not easier.’ Less than a day before the abrupt reversals, a group of prominent Black executives called on companies to publicly oppose a wave of similarly restrictive voting bills that Republicans are advancing in almost every state. But the statements won’t change the outcome in Georgia, where the new law introduced stricter voter identification requirements for absentee balloting, limited drop boxes in predominantly Black neighborhoods and expanded the legislature’s power over elections.” See also, Black Executives Press Companies to Battle Republican State Voting Laws. Delta CEO also takes tougher position on new Georgia law, drawing retort from state’s governor. The Wall Street Journal, Te-Ping Chen and Cameron McWhirter, Wednesday, 31 March 2021: “Dozens of prominent Black executives called on corporations to fight Republican-led legislation they say would limit voting access for Black voters in numerous states, and Delta Air Lines Inc.’s CEO publicly clashed with Georgia’s governor over a similar law passed there last week. The efforts by Black business leaders, as well as new statements from Delta, Coca-Cola Co. and other companies on Wednesday, come after civil-rights advocates had for days said Georgia-based corporations hadn’t done enough to push back against that new state voting law…. Though Delta, Coca-Cola and other corporations with headquarters in Atlanta said they had worked behind the scenes to lobby Georgia lawmakers to make changes to the legislation, they had largely refrained from publicly criticizing it—prompting boycott calls from some voting-rights activists.”

Pentagon Issues New Rules Overturning Trump’s Ban on Transgender Troops. The guidelines, which follow an executive order from President Biden, allow transgender people to enlist and serve openly as the gender they identify with and receive medically necessary care. The New York Times, Helene Cooper, Wednesday, 31 March 2021: “The Pentagon on Wednesday erased a Trump-era ban on transgender people serving in the military, issuing new rules that would offer them access to gender transition care and medical services denied under the Trump administration. The sweeping guidelines allow transgender people to enlist and serve openly as the gender they identify with and receive medically necessary care authorized by law. They also prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender identity. The change follows an executive order signed by President Biden in January that restored protections put in place during the Obama administration that had opened the ranks of the armed services to transgender people. The order gave the Defense Department 60 days to evaluate the guidelines. The Pentagon announced the shift on the same day that Mr. Biden proclaimed a transgender ‘day of visibility.’ The president and top administration officials posted on Twitter that ‘transgender rights are human rights’ and called for Americans to stamp out discrimination against transgender people.”

House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis says new documents show Trump officials’ ‘haphazard and ineffective’ approach to procuring PPE (personal protective equipment) at the start of the pandemic, CNN Politics, Veronica Stracqualursi, Wednesday, 31 March 2021: “The Democratic-led House select committee reviewing the federal response to Covid-19 says it obtained documents that show the Trump administration at the start of the pandemic crisis ‘pursued a haphazard and ineffective approach to procurement’ of personal protective equipment and medical supplies. In letters to three government agencies dated Tuesday, the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis said the new evidence shows that senior Trump White House officials ‘steered contracts to particular companies without adequate diligence or competition,’ and raises further questions about whether officials, including former Trump White House official Peter Navarro, inappropriately influenced the federal government to award contracts to companies to procure PPE.”

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael Regan dismisses dozens of key science advisers picked under Trump, The Washington Post, Dino Grandoni, Wednesday, 31 March 2021: “Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael Regan will purge more than 40 outside experts appointed under President Donald Trump from two key advisory panels, a move he says will help restore the role of science at the agency and reduce the heavy influence of industry over environmental regulations. The unusual decision, announced Wednesday, will sweep away outside researchers picked under the previous administration whose expert advice helped the agency craft regulations related to air pollution, the oil-and-gas extraction method known as fracking and other issues. Critics say that, under Trump, membership of the two panels — the EPA’s Science Advisory Board (SAB) and Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee (CASAC) — tilted too heavily in favor of regulated industries and that their positions sometimes contradicted scientific consensus.”

Two Capitol Police Officers Sue Trump Over January Riot. Former President Donald J. Trump “inflamed, encouraged, incited, directed, and aided and abetted” the Capitol riot on Jan. 6, the officers’ lawsuit said. The New York Times, Mike Ives, Wednesday, 31 March 2021: “Two Capitol Police officers who were on duty during the deadly Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol sued former President Donald J. Trump on Tuesday, saying he was responsible for the physical and emotional injuries they had suffered as a result of the day’s events. Supporters of Mr. Trump overran the Capitol as Congress was certifying Joe Biden’s victory over Mr. Trump in the November presidential election. Before the incursion, Mr. Trump spoke at a nearby rally, where he urged his supporters to ‘show strength’ and ‘fight like hell.’ Five people, including a Capitol Police officer, died in the mayhem. Mr. Trump was later impeached by the House of Representatives on a single charge of ‘incitement of insurrection,’ but was acquitted in February after a brief Senate trial in which few Republicans broke ranks to vote guilty. The Capitol Police officers who sued Mr. Trump, James Blassingame and Sidney Hemby, filed their complaint in the Federal District Court in the District of Columbia, and are each seeking compensatory damages in excess of $75,000, plus punitive damages. The lawsuit is the first to be brought against the former president by Capitol Police officers. The force has more than 2,000 officers.”

New York State Prosecutors in Manhattan Subpoenaed the Personal Bank Records of the Trump Organization’s Longtime C.F.O. Allen Weisselberg and Are Scrutinizing Gifts He Received from Trump in an Apparent Bid to Gain Cooperation, The New York Times, Ben Protess, William K. Rashbaum, Jonah E. Bromwich, and Maggie Haberman, Wednesday, 31 March 2021: “State prosecutors in Manhattan investigating former President Donald J. Trump and the Trump Organization have subpoenaed the personal bank records of the company’s chief financial officer and are questioning gifts he and his family received from Mr. Trump, according to people with knowledge of the matter. In recent weeks, the prosecutors have trained their focus on the executive, Allen H. Weisselberg, in what appears to be a determined effort to gain his cooperation. Mr. Weisselberg, who has not been accused of wrongdoing, has overseen the Trump Organization’s finances for decades and may hold the key to any possible criminal case in New York against the former president and his family business.”

 

 

 

 

Now that the Trump administration is no longer in power and the impeachment trial is over, I plan to post summaries of the daily political news and major stories relating to this tragic and dangerous period of US history. I will try to focus on the differences between the Trump administration and the new Biden administration and on the ongoing toxic residual effects of the Trump administration and Republicans. I usually post throughout the day and let the news settle for a day or so before posting.

I created Muckraker Farm in 2014 as a place to post investigative/muckraking journalism going back to the 19th century, and I hope to return to this activity in the near future. Thanks for reading!