Aftermath of the Trump Administration, May 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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Saturday, 1 May 2021:

 

Republicans Seek to Empower Poll Watchers, Raising Intimidation Worries, The New York Times, Nick Corasaniti, Saturday, 1 May 2021: “As Republican lawmakers in major battleground states seek to make voting harder and more confusing through a web of new election laws, they are simultaneously making a concerted legislative push to grant more autonomy and access to partisan poll watchers — citizens trained by a campaign or a party and authorized by local election officials to observe the electoral process. This effort has alarmed election officials and voting rights activists alike: There is a long history of poll watchers being used to intimidate voters and harass election workers, often in ways that target Democratic-leaning communities of color and stoke fears that have the overall effect of voter suppression. During the 2020 election, President Donald J. Trump’s campaign repeatedly promoted its ‘army’ of poll watchers as he publicly implored supporters to venture into heavily Black and Latino cities and hunt for voter fraud.”

Trump’s Secret Rules for Drone Strikes Outside War Zones Are Disclosed. The release of the 2017 policy — with redactions — stemmed from open-records lawsuits by The Times and the A.C.L.U. The New York Times, Charlie Savage, Saturday, 1 May 2021: “The Biden administration has disclosed a set of rules secretly issued by President Donald J. Trump in 2017 for counterterrorism ‘direct action’ operations — like drone strikes and commando raids outside conventional war zones — which the White House has suspended as it weighs whether and how to tighten the guidelines. While the Biden administration censored some passages, the visible portions show that in the Trump era, commanders in the field were given latitude to make decisions about attacks so long as they fit within broad sets of ‘operating principles,’ including that there should be ‘near certainty’ that civilians ‘will not be injured or killed in the course of operations.’ At the same time, however, the Trump-era rules were flexible about permitting exceptions to that and other standards, saying that ‘variations’ could be made ‘where necessary’ so long as certain bureaucratic procedures were followed in approving them.”

 

Sunday, 2 May 2021:

 

The Republican politicians who tried to overturn an election–and the local news team that won’t let anyone forget it, The Washington Post, Margaret Sullivan, Sunday, 2 May 2021: “The journalists at WITF, an all-news public radio station in Harrisburg, Pa., made a perfectly reasonable decision a few months ago. They decided they wouldn’t shrug off the damaging lies of election denialism. They wouldn’t do what too many in Big Journalism have done in recent months: shove into the memory hole the undemocratic efforts by some Republican elected officials to delegitimize or overturn the 2020 presidential election. Too many Sunday news shows repeatedly book the likes of Kevin McCarthy, Ted Cruz and Ron Johnson without reminding viewers how these members of Congress tried to undo the results of the election — and encouraged the Trumpian lies about election fraud that led to the violent assault on the U.S. Capitol less than four months ago. A rare exception is CNN’s ‘State of the Union,’ which hasn’t booked a single member of the so-called Sedition Caucus since January.”

 

Monday, 3 May 2021:

 

In Reversal, Biden Raises the Refugee Admission Cap to 62,500. The shift eliminates sharp limits set by former President Donald J. Trump. The New York Times, Monday, 3 May 2021:

  • Schumer mulls a pathway for immigration changes if bipartisan talks stall.

  • The F.D.A. is set to authorize the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for those 12-15 years old by early next week.

  • An armed man was wounded in an exchange with an F.B.I. agent outside the C.I.A.’s headquarters in Virginia.

  • The E.P.A. moves to set the first national limit on hydroflurocarbons, or HFCs, a class of man-made chemicals that are thousands of times more potent than carbon dioxide at warming the planet.

  • Liz Cheney takes on Trump anew, saying his false claims are ‘poisoning our democratic system.’

  • Richaed Cordray, a close ally of Senator Elizabeth Warren who served as the first director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, has been selected as the new head of federal student aid in the Biden administration, a post that will put him at the center of the debate over student debt forgiveness.

  • The long-suffering A.T.F. (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives) slashed inspections of gun dealers in 2020. The A.T.F. is struggling to overcome attacks from the gun lobby.

  • Biden slowly begins to reunite migrant children with their parents.
  • Here’s why Biden’s plan to raise taxes for rich investors isn’t hurting stocks.
  • Pressure mounts on Biden to lift patent protections on coronavirus vaccines.

Biden defends proposed tax increases as he pitches education and family safety-net plans, The Washington Post, Felicia Sonmez, Colby Itkowitz, Eugene Scott, and John Wagner, Monday, 3 May 2021: “President Biden on Monday defended his proposals to raise taxes on corporations and high-income earners to pay for his sweeping spending plans, casting his initiatives as a matter of fairness as he spoke at a community college in Portsmouth, Va. Earlier, Biden visited an elementary school in Yorktown, Va., as part of an ongoing pitch for plans that would cost roughly $4 trillion and focus on bolstering the nation’s infrastructure and expanding access to education and safety-net programs for families.

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

  • A small number of immigrant families separated at the U.S.-Mexico border under the Trump administration will be reunited this week, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said.
  • Biden on Monday announced that he will raise the cap on refugees who can be admitted into the United States from 15,000 to 62,500 after blowback from immigrant rights groups and Democrats for extending Trump-era levels.
  • Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) pushed back against former president Donald Trump’s attempt to commandeer the label ‘Big Lie,’ commonly used to refer to the false claims that the 2020 election was stolen from Trump.
  • A growing number of House Democrats from competitive districts are headed for the exits, adding yet another concern for a party facing an uphill fight to maintain control of Congress after next year’s midterm elections.

Republican House Representative Liz Cheney: What Trump did ‘is a line that cannot be crossed,’ CNN Politics, Jamie Gangel and Michael Warren, Monday, 3 May 2021: “Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney, the No. 3 House Republican, said on Monday her party cannot accept the ‘poison’ of the idea that the 2020 election was stolen and should not ‘whitewash’ the January 6 Capitol riot — and Donald Trump’s role in fomenting it. ‘We can’t embrace the notion the election is stolen. It’s a poison in the bloodstream of our democracy,’ Cheney said, speaking behind closed doors at a conference in Sea Island, Georgia. ‘We can’t whitewash what happened on January 6 or perpetuate Trump’s big lie. It is a threat to democracy. What he did on January 6 is a line that cannot be crossed.’ Cheney made her comments, confirmed to CNN by two people in the room, during an off-the-record interview with former House Speaker Paul Ryan before a crowd of donors and scholars at the annual retreat for the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank.”

 

Tuesday, 4 May 2021:

 

Tensions Among House Republican Leaders Rise as a Possible Cheney Ouster Looms. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy Encourages the Ouster of Liz Cheney. The New York Times, Tuesday, 4 May 2021:

  • Tensions among House G.O.P. leaders rise as a possible Cheney ouster looms.

  • Garland asks lawmakers for more funding to fight domestic terrorism and inequality.

  • Charlie Crist, a Florida Democrat, will run against DeSantis for governor.

  • A man shot by federal agents outside C.I.A. headquarters on Monday has died.

  • The Biden administration warns big landlords to comply with the freeze on evictions.

  • Companies including HP, Microsoft and Unilever call for expanded voting access in Texas.

Biden outlines administration steps to make it easier for more Americans to get vaccinated, The Washington Post, Felicia Sonmez, Colby Itkowitz, Eugene Scott, and John Wagner, Tuesday, 4 May 2021: “President Biden on Tuesday provided an update from the White House on goals for returning to pre-pandemic life, including a target of 70 percent of adults in the country having at least one vaccine shot by July Fourth. ‘Go get the shot as soon as you can,’ the president said after outlining various administration steps to make it easier for more Americans to get vaccinated. Earlier Tuesday, the White House told states that vaccine supply they leave unordered will become available to other states — the most significant shift in domestic distribution since Biden took office.

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

  • Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen clarified that she is not concerned about the risks of economic overheating hours after her earlier comments about inflation caused a brief panic on Wall Street and invited fresh scrutiny about the White House’s position.
  • House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said during a television interview Tuesday that he has heard concerns from fellow House Republicans about the ability of Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) to perform her leadership role.
  • Rep. Charlie Crist (D-Fla.) announced that he is running for governor, saying in a video that he wants ‘a Florida for all.’
  • Vice President Harris decried corruption in the Northern Triangle as she delivered a speech committing the United States to do more to help address the root causes of a surge in migrants coming to the U.S.-Mexico border in recent months.

Federal Judge Amy Berman Jackson of the United States District Court in Washington Says Former Attorney General William Barr Misled Her and Congress on How His Justice Department Viewed Trump’s Actions, The New York Times, Michael S. Schmidt, Tuesday, 4 May 2021: “A federal judge in Washington accused the Justice Department under Attorney General William P. Barr of misleading her and Congress about advice he had received from top department officials on whether President Donald J. Trump should have been charged with obstructing the Russia investigation and ordered that a related memo be released. Judge Amy Berman Jackson of the United States District Court in Washington said in a ruling late Monday that the Justice Department’s obfuscation appeared to be part of a pattern in which top officials like Mr. Barr were untruthful to Congress and the public about the investigation. The department had argued that the memo was exempt from public records laws because it consisted of private advice from lawyers whom Mr. Barr had relied on to make the call on prosecuting Mr. Trump. But Judge Jackson, who was appointed by President Barack Obama in 2011, ruled that the memo contained strategic advice, and that Mr. Barr and his aides already understood what his decision would be.” See also, Federal Judge Amy Berman Jackson says secret William Barr memo saying not to charge Trump with obstruction must be released, CNN Politics, Katelyn Polantz, Tuesday, 4 May 2021: “A federal judge this week rejected the Justice Department’s attempts to keep secret a departmental opinion to not charge former President Donald Trump with obstruction at the end of the Mueller investigation, calling the administration’s lawyers ‘disingenuous.’ The department had argued in court that the largely redacted March 2019 memo was legal reasoning that helped then-Attorney General William Barr make a decision about Trump. But federal Judge Amy Berman Jackson said she believed Barr and his advisers had already decided they wouldn’t charge the President with a crime before he got the written advice, and the memo was partly strategic planning instead of legal reasoning — and therefore could be made public. The decision adds to the criticism federal judges and others have had about Barr and his handling of the end of the Mueller investigation. Jackson and others have repeatedly questioned Barr’s motives to keep documents related to the investigation — including Mueller’s findings and Barr’s reactions to them — secret or by delaying their release.” See also, Federal Judge Amy Berman Jackson orders release of Department of Justice memo justifying not prosecuting Trump. Jackson blasts former Attorney General William Barr’s spin on the Mueller report as ‘disingenuous.’ Politico, Josh Gerstein, Tuesday, 4 May 2021: “A federal judge has ordered the release of a key Justice Department memo supporting former Attorney William Barr’s conclusion that former President Donald Trump should not be prosecuted for obstruction of justice over episodes investigated by special counsel Robert Mueller. U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson issued that ruling in a withering opinion that accused Barr of being ‘disingenuous’ when describing Mueller’s findings and found that the Justice Department was not candid with the court about the purpose and role of the 2019 memo prepared by Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel.”

Business Coalitions Speak Out Against Voting Restrictions in Texas. Companies including HP, Microsoft, and Unilever are calling for expanded voting access in the state after weeks of silence from national businesses on Republicans’ voting bills there. The New York Times, Nick Corasaniti and David Gelles, Tuesday, 4 May 2021: “Two broad coalitions of companies and executives released letters on Tuesday calling for expanded voting access in Texas, wading into the contentious debate over Republican legislators’ proposed new restrictions on balloting after weeks of relative silence from the business community in the state. One letter comes from a group of large corporations, including HP, Microsoft, Unilever, Salesforce, Patagonia and Sodexo, as well as local companies and chambers of commerce, and represents the first major coordinated effort among businesses in Texas to take action against the voting proposals. The letter, under the banner of a new group called Fair Elections Texas, stops short of criticizing the two voting bills that are now advancing through the state’s Republican-controlled Legislature, but opposes ‘any changes that would restrict eligible voters’ access to the ballot.’ A separate letter, also released on Tuesday and signed by more than 100 Houston executives, goes further. It directly criticizes the proposed legislation and equates the efforts with ‘voter suppression.’ That letter was organized by a breakaway faction of the Greater Houston Partnership, the equivalent of a citywide chamber of commerce in the country’s fourth-largest city, and came after a month of intense debate within the organization over how to respond to the voting proposals.” See also, Texas leaders and corporations form coalitions to fight voting restrictions, NBC News, Jane C. Timm, Tuesday, 4 May 2021: “More than 180 local business and community leaders and 50 corporations have come out against voting restrictions in Texas in a coordinated dual effort aimed at rallying against voting restrictions and pending legislation. The first letter, a copy of which was shared with NBC News by signatories and is dated Monday, is signed by business and community leaders. It criticizes specific elements of two major pieces of legislation currently under consideration in Texas, including the reallocation of polling machines, limiting early voting options and adding criminal penalties to various parts of the election process.”

Scoop: House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy trashes Representative Liz Cheney on hot mic, Axios, Kadia Goba, Tuesday, 4 May 2021: “House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said Tuesday he’s “lost confidence” in Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) during a moment of candor caught on a hot mic, a tape reviewed by Axios shows. ‘I think she’s got real problems,’ McCarthy told Steve Doocy off-air ahead of a live ‘Fox and Friends’ interview. ‘I’ve had it with … I’ve had it with her. You know, I’ve lost confidence. … Well, someone just has to bring a motion, but I assume that will probably take place.'” See also, House Republicans Have Had Enough of Liz Cheney’s Truth-Telling, The New York Times, Nicholas Fandos and Catie Edmondson, Tuesday, 4 May 2021: “The first time defenders of Donald J. Trump came for Representative Liz Cheney, for the offense of having voted to impeach him, fellow Republicans closed ranks to save her leadership post, with Representative Kevin McCarthy boasting that their ‘big tent’ party had enough room for both the former president and a stalwart critic. Evidently, not anymore. Just three months after she beat back a no-confidence vote by lopsided margins, Ms. Cheney of Wyoming, the No. 3 House Republican, is facing a far more potent challenge that appears increasingly likely to end in her ouster from leadership. This time, Mr. McCarthy, the minority leader, is encouraging the effort to replace her. Her transgression, colleagues say: Ms. Cheney’s continued public criticism of Mr. Trump, her denunciation of his lies about a stolen election and her demands that the G.O.P. tell the truth about how his supporters assaulted democracy during the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol. The turnabout reflects anew the passion with which Republicans have embraced Mr. Trump and the voters who revere him, and how willing many in the party are to perpetuate — or at least tolerate — falsehoods about the 2020 election that he has continued to spread.”

Justice Department says Giuliani evidence should be reviewed by an outside lawyer, The Washington Post, Devlin Barrett, Tuesday, 4 May 2021: “Federal prosecutors have asked a judge to appoint an outside lawyer to review the records seized from Rudolph W. Giuliani — echoing the Justice Department’s pursuit of a criminal case against a previous attorney for former president Donald Trump, Michael Cohen. In a letter unsealed Tuesday, federal prosecutors in Manhattan asked U.S. District Judge J. Paul Oetken to appoint what’s known as a special master to examine evidence taken late last month from the former New York mayor’s home and office. They cited the Cohen case as a past example when such an appointment helped to show that Trump’s lawyer was treated fairly.”

 

Wednesday, 5 May 2021:

 

Representative Liz Cheney Strikes Back as Republican Leaders Move to Oust Her From House Leadership, The New York Times, Wednesday, 5 May 2021:

  • Cheney hit back at G.O.P. leaders amid mounting efforts to oust her.

  • ‘History Is Watching.’ Here are 5 key arguments from Liz Cheney’s opinion essay.

  • Biden leans into his plans to tax the rich, saying no one will lose ‘their second or third home.’

  • Banned from Facebook, Trump is missing a vital political weapon.

  • The Biden administration says it will support lifting patent protections to help produce more vaccines globally.

  • As departures and redistricting loom, the Democrats’ control of the House is in peril.

  • A closer look at Oval Office art reveals the subtle messages Biden is choosing to send compared to his predecessors.

  • More than 180,000 businesses applied to a new federal aid program in two days.
  • A U.S. federal judge vacates the national freeze on evictions.
  • U.S. shifts vaccination strategy in push to reopen by July 4.
  • A major voting rights bill has to overcome challenges in Congress. Then probably in the Supreme Court.

Biden is open to compromise with Republicans on spending plans, but he stands by call for corporate tax increases, The Washington Post, John Wagner, Eugene Scott, Felicia Sonmez, and Colby Itkowitz, Wednesday, 5 May 2021: “President Biden on Wednesday said he is open to compromise with Republicans on his $2 trillion infrastructure and jobs plan, but stands by his proposal to finance the spending with tax increases on corporations and the wealthy. The president made the comments in response to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who earlier in the day said 100 percent of his focus is on stopping the Biden administration. Biden’s speech comes as drama continues to unfold over whether Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) will keep her No. 3 leadership post among House Republicans in the wake of her continued criticism of former president Donald Trump.”

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

  • Facebook’s Oversight Board upheld the social network’s decision to ban Trump in the aftermath of the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol by his supporters, but it also gave the company six months to review the decision.
  • Trump is supporting Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) in her bid to replace Cheney as chair of the House Republican Conference, according to a person familiar with the situation.
  • Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen insisted she is not concerned about the risks of economic overheating after her earlier comments about inflation caused a brief panic on Wall Street.

Taking ‘Extraordinary Measures,’ Biden Backs Suspending Patents on Vaccines. The Biden administration, siding with some world leaders over the U.S. pharmaceutical industry, came out in favor of waiving intellectual property protections for coronavirus vaccines. The New York Times, Thomas Kaplan, Sheryl Gay Stolberg, and Rebecca Robbins, Wednesday, 5 May 2021: “The Biden administration came out on Wednesday in support of waiving intellectual property protections for coronavirus vaccines, siding with international efforts to bolster production amid concerns about vaccine access in developing nations. The United States had been a major holdout at the World Trade Organization over a proposal to suspend some of the world economic body’s intellectual property protections, which could allow drugmakers across the globe access to the closely guarded trade secrets of how the viable vaccines have been made. But President Biden had come under increasing pressure to throw his support behind the proposal, drafted by India and South Africa and backed by many congressional Democrats.”

In Turning on Liz Cheney, Republicans Bow to Trump’s Election Lies, The New York Times, Nicholas Fandos and Catie Edmondson, Wednesday, 5 May 2021: “Top Republicans moved swiftly on Wednesday to purge Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming from their leadership ranks for vocally rejecting Donald J. Trump’s election lies, laying the groundwork to install a replacement who has embraced his false claims of voting fraud. The move to push out Ms. Cheney as the No. 3 House Republican in favor of Representative Elise Stefanik of New York, a Trump loyalist who voted to overturn President Biden’s victory in key states, reflected how thoroughly the party’s orthodoxy has come to be defined by fealty to the former president and a tolerance for misinformation, rather than policy principles. ‘The Republican Party is at a turning point, and Republicans must decide whether we are going to choose truth and fidelity to the Constitution,’ Ms. Cheney wrote in a searing opinion piece published in the Washington Post on Wednesday evening. She framed her fate as a referendum on the party’s future and warned that Republicans must ‘steer away from the dangerous and anti-democratic Trump cult of personality.'” See also, Opinion: Liz Cheney: The GOP is at a turning point. History is watching us. The Washington Post, Liz Cheney, Wednesday, 5 May 2021: “In public statements again this week, former president Donald Trump has repeated his claims that the 2020 election was a fraud and was stolen. His message: I am still the rightful president, and President Biden is illegitimate. Trump repeats these words now with full knowledge that exactly this type of language provoked violence on Jan. 6. And, as the Justice Department and multiple federal judges have suggested, there is good reason to believe that Trump’s language can provoke violence again. Trump is seeking to unravel critical elements of our constitutional structure that make democracy work — confidence in the result of elections and the rule of law. No other American president has ever done this.”

Facebook Oversight Board Upholds Social Network’s Ban of Trump, The New York Times, Mike Isaac, Wednesday, 5 May 2021: “A Facebook-appointed panel of journalists, activists and lawyers on Wednesday upheld the social network’s ban of former President Donald J. Trump, ending any immediate return by Mr. Trump to mainstream social media and renewing a debate about tech power over online speech. Facebook’s Oversight Board, which acts as a quasi-court over the company’s content decisions, ruled the social network was right to bar Mr. Trump after the insurrection in Washington in January, saying he ‘created an environment where a serious risk of violence was possible.’ The panel said that ongoing risk ‘justified’ the move. But the board also kicked the case back to Facebook and its top executives. It said that an indefinite suspension was ‘not appropriate’ because it was not a penalty defined in Facebook’s policies and that the company should apply a standard punishment, such as a time-bound suspension or a permanent ban. The board gave Facebook six months to make a final decision on Mr. Trump’s account status.” See also, Facebook’s Oversight Board upholds ban on Trump. At least for now. The panel faulted the social network for making a hasty decision without clear criteria and told the company to reevaluate the decision within six months. The Washington Post, Elizabeth Dwoskin and Cat Zakrzewski, Wednesday, 5 May 2021: “Facebook’s Oversight Board on Wednesday upheld the social network’s ban on former president Donald Trump but punted the ultimate decision back to the company, bringing into focus the regulatory vacuum around social media and galvanizing Facebook’s critics. The ruling opens a new chapter in the global debate over the largely unchecked power of social media giants, whose platforms have become the default political megaphone for many world leaders even as misinformation and hate have been fomented on the sites. Regulatory action is also on the horizon, with lawmakers promising that by the end of the year new legislation will hold companies to account for their failure to police disinformation during the pandemic and the 2020 presidential election.”

Observers report ballots and laptop computers have been left unattended in Arizona recount, according to Arizona secretary of state, The Washington Post, Rosalind S. Helderman, Wednesday, 5 May 2021: “Laptop computers sit abandoned, at times — open, unlocked and unmonitored. Procedures are constantly shifting, with untrained workers using different rules to count ballots. Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs (D) on Wednesday sent a letter outlining a string of problems that she said observers from her office have witnessed at a Republican-led recount of the 2020 presidential election results in Arizona’s largest county. In the six-page letter, Hobbs wrote that elections are ‘governed by a complex framework of laws and procedures designed to ensure accuracy, security, and transparency’ but that the procedures governing the ongoing recount in Phoenix ‘ensure none of those things.'”

Biden’s Labor Department rescinds Trump-era rule affecting gig workers. The rule, finalized in early January before Trump left office on January 20, would have hampered workers’ ability to earn a minimum wage and overtime compensation. NBC News/Reuters, Thursday, 5 May 2021: “President Joe Biden’s Labor Department on Wednesday rescinded a Trump-era rule that would have made it easier for businesses to classify workers as independent contractors instead of employees under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). ‘By withdrawing the independent contractor rule, we will help preserve essential worker rights and stop the erosion of worker protections that would have occurred had the rule gone into effect,’ Labor Secretary Marty Walsh said in a statement.”

 

Thursday, 6 May 2021:

 

Florida Enacts Voting Restrictions; Texas Moves to Follow. Gov. Ron DeSantis signs Florida’s measure into law, allowing only Fox News access to the signing. The Texas House is debating one of the nation’s most sweeping voter restriction bills. New York Times, Thursday, 6 May 2021:

  • The Texas House presses forward on a sweeping voting bill after DeSantis signs voting restrictions in Florida.

  • The review of Arizona’s 2020 vote is riddled with flaws, the state’s top election official says.

  • The U.S. could return to the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran in weeks, a senior official says.

  • Auditioning to replace Cheney, Stefanik calls Trump ‘the strongest supporter’ of the Constitution.

  • Biden sells his infrastructure plan in Louisiana, a state with a resonant history on the topic.

  • Biden aides quietly say his tax increases would encourage wealthy Americans to give more to charity.

  • Nearly one million people signed up for Obamacare coverage this spring.

  • During a visit to Ukraine, Blinken warns of threats from Russia — and from corruption.

  • Stalled by a partisan split, the F.E.C. [Federal Election Commission] drops its review of Trump’s hush-money payments to women.
  • The F.E.C. [Federal Election Commission] asks Congress to ban prechecked recurring donation boxes.

Biden appeals for bipartisan support for infrastructure plan in Louisiana, a state won by Trump, The Washington Post, John Wagner, Colby Itkowitz, Eugene Scott, Felicia Sonmez, and Amy B Wang, Thursday, 6 May 2021: “With a 70-year-old bridge as a backdrop, President Biden on Thursday made an appeal for bipartisan support for his infrastructure plan during an event in Lake Charles, La., where he was introduced by the city’s Republican mayor in a state handily won last year by Donald Trump. I’ve never seen a Republican or Democrat road. I just see roads,’ Biden said at the event, the first of two stops planned in the state. He later traveled to New Orleans to spotlight that city’s antiquated water system.

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

  • Weekly jobless claims hit a pandemic-era low for the fourth consecutive week, the Labor Department reported.
  • Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) signed broad legislation that imposes new rules on voting and new penalties for those who do not follow them.
  • Deputy White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said that Florida’s new voting law is ‘built on a lie’ and that the state is moving ‘in the wrong direction.’
  • Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.), who is poised to replace Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) as the third-ranking House Republican, gave a full-throated defense of Trump’s ‘big lie’ about the 2020 election, throwing her support behind the audit of the election results in Arizona.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signs new voting restrictions into law as Republicans rush to align with Trump’s false claims of election fraud, The Washington Post, Amy Gardner and Lori Rozsa, Thursday, 6 May 2021: “Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Thursday enthusiastically embraced former president Donald Trump’s demand for tougher election laws, signing into law a slew of new voting restrictions in a staged live broadcast despite previously touting how smoothly his state’s elections ran last fall. DeSantis (R) hailed the measure as necessary to shore up public faith in elections, but critics accused him of trying to make it harder to vote, particularly for people of color. His signing of the bill, which he delivered live on the Fox News morning program ‘Fox & Friends,’ makes Florida the latest GOP-controlled state to impose new voting hurdles, following Georgia, Montana and Iowa. The Texas House took up a similar measure later Thursday, and other states including Arizona, Michigan and Ohio are considering their own bills.”

Representative Elise Stefanik of New York Whom Republican Leaders Have Anointed as a Replacement for Representative Liz Cheney Loudly Resurrected Former President Donald Trump’s Election Lies, The New York Times, Catie Edmondson and Luke Broadwater, Thursday, 6 May 2021: “As House Republicans have made the case for ousting Representative Liz Cheney, their No. 3, from their leadership ranks, they have insisted that it is not her repudiation of former President Donald J. Trump’s election lies that they find untenable, but her determination to be vocal about it. But on Thursday, Representative Elise Stefanik of New York, the Republican whom leaders have anointed as Ms. Cheney’s replacement in waiting, loudly resurrected his false narrative, citing ‘unprecedented, unconstitutional overreach’ by election officials in 2020 and endorsing an audit in Arizona that has become the latest avenue for conservatives to try to cast doubt on the results. ‘It is important to stand up for these constitutional issues, and these are questions that are going to have to be answered before we head into the 2022 midterms,’ Ms. Stefanik told Stephen K. Bannon, Mr. Trump’s former strategist, in the first of a pair of interviews on Thursday with hard-right acolytes of the former president. The comments, Ms. Stefanik’s first in public since she announced she was taking on Ms. Cheney, reflected how central the former president’s election lies have become to the Republican Party message, even as its leaders insist they are determined to move beyond them and focus on attacking Democrats as radical, big-spending socialists before the 2022 midterm elections. Far from staying quiet about the false election claims on Thursday, Ms. Stefanik effectively campaigned on them, describing Mr. Trump on Mr. Bannon’s show as the ‘strongest supporter of any president when it comes to standing up for the Constitution,’ and asserting that Republicans would work with him as ‘one team.'” See also, Stefanik emphasizes her support for former president Donald Trump’s false claims that the 2020 election was stolen through voter fraud, The Washington Post, Colby Itkowitz, Thursday, 6 May 2021: “Rep. Elise Stefanik on Thursday emphasized her support for former president Donald Trump’s false claims that the 2020 election was stolen through voter fraud as she seeks to lock down support to replace Rep. Liz Cheney as the third-ranking House Republican. Stefanik (N.Y.) appeared Thursday morning on the podcast of former Trump campaign and White House aide Stephen K. Bannon, where she sought to make the case that she is a reliable supporter of Trump and devoted to his brand of nationist populism, distancing herself from her ties to the old establishment wing of the party and her moderate voting record in Congress. Trump and many of his allies have rallied around Stefanik to succeed Cheney as chair of the House GOP Conference after the Wyoming Republican made clear she would continue to publicly challenge Trump’s false claims about the election and place blame on him for the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol by his supporters.” See also, Representative Elise Stefanik tried to get election overturned and promoted election lies, CNN Politics, Daniel Dale, Thursday, 6 May 2021: “House Republicans are moving to oust Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney from a party leadership position over her vocal repudiation of former President Donald Trump’s lies about the integrity of the 2020 election. The top candidate to replace Cheney is New York Rep. Elise Stefanik — who promoted some of those election lies and sought to get the outcome of the election overturned. Stefanik, whom Trump endorsed Wednesday for the job of House Republican conference chair, supported a lawsuit that tried to get the Supreme Court to invalidate Joe Biden’s victory. On January 6, after Trump supporters stormed the Capitol, she voted to reject some of President Joe Biden’s electoral votes. Both before the riot and immediately afterward, Stefanik made false claims about the conduct of the election in some of the states Biden won. And in previous remarks, she amplified baseless claims that there were major ‘irregularities’ with both voting and election software.”

Forced to Choose Between Trump’s ‘Big Lie’ and Liz Cheney, House Republicans Choose the ‘Big Lie,’ The New Yorker, Susan B. Glasser, Thursday, 6 May 2021: “On Monday, Trump sent out a short statement, the kind that he would have tweeted out before his falsehoods about the recent election got him banned from Twitter. In it, he said, ‘The Fraudulent Presidential Election of 2020 will be, from this day forth, known as the big lie!’ Soon after that, Liz Cheney, the No. 3 House Republican leader, sent out an actual tweet refusing to accept this Trumpian redefinition of truth. ‘The 2020 presidential election was not stolen,’ she wrote. ‘Anyone who claims it was is spreading the big lie.’ Anyone who has followed the past four years in the Republican Party, however, can tell you what happened next: the Party did not turn on Donald Trump for his outrageous inversion of truth but on Liz Cheney. Within a couple of days, it had become abundantly clear that House Republicans would soon throw Cheney out of her leadership position for refusing to go along with Trump’s big lie about the Big Lie. Trump has learned the lesson of previous demagogues: the bigger and more flagrant the untruth, the better to prove the fealty of his Party…. Cheney’s rupture with the House Republican Conference has become all but final in recent days, but it has been months in the making. Edelman revealed that Cheney herself secretly orchestrated an unprecedented op-ed in the Washington Post by all ten living former Defense Secretaries, including her father, warning against Trump’s efforts to politicize the military…. The Post op-ed appeared on January 3rd, just three days before the insurrection at the Capitol.”

FBI still after ‘worst of the worst’ in Capitol riot as new arrests come at steady pace. More than 440 people have been charged with taking part in the Capitol siege, coming from all but six states, with the most coming from Texas, Pennsylvania, and Florida. NBC News, Pete Williams, Thursday, 6 May 2021: “Four months after the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol, FBI agents maintain a steady pace of arresting people accused of taking part, as one of the largest criminal investigations in American history keeps growing. ‘We’re not done rounding up the worst of the worst,’ said one law enforcement official. ‘We’re not slowing down.’ More than 440 people have been charged with taking part in the Capitol siege, coming from all but six states — Mississippi, North and South Dakota, Rhode Island, Vermont and Wyoming. The largest number come from Texas, Pennsylvania, and Florida, in that order. Men outnumber women among those arrested by 7 to 1, with an average age of 39, according to figures compiled by the Program on Extremism at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. A total of 44 are military veterans. More than 60 of those arrested so far face some of the most serious charges, of assaulting officers with the U.S. Capitol Police and Washington’s Metropolitan Police departments. Officials said 140 officers were injured during the riot. The pace of arrests has remain steady, as the FBI sorts through hundreds of thousands of public tips. In nearly 90 percent of the cases, charges have been based at least in part on a person’s own social media accounts.”

The Secret Papers of Lee Atwater, Who Invented the Scurrilous Tactics That Trump Normalized. An infamous Republican political operative’s unpublished memoir shows how the Republican Party came to embrace lies, racial fearmongering, and winning at any cost. The New Yorker, Jane Mayer, Thursday, 6 May 2021: “Atwater died before he could finish his memoir. What remains of it are hunks of yellowing typewritten pages, held together by rusting staples and paper clips. But the seven surviving chapters suggest that, far from dying along with him, the nihilism, cynicism, and scurrilous tactics that Atwater brought into national politics live on. In many ways, his memoir suggests that Atwater’s tactics were a bridge between the old Republican Party of the Nixon era, when dirty tricks were considered a scandal, and the new Republican Party of Donald Trump, in which lies, racial fearmongering, and winning at any cost have become normalized. Chapter 5 of Atwater’s memoir in particular serves as a Trumpian precursor. In it, Atwater, who worked in the Office of Political Affairs in the Reagan White House, and managed George H. W. Bush’s 1988 Presidential campaign before becoming the Republican Party’s chairman at the age of thirty-seven, admits outright that he only cared about winning, not governing. ‘I’ve always thought running for office is a bunch of bullshit. Being in an office is even more bullshit. It really is bullshit,’ he wrote. ‘I’m proud of the fact that I understand how much BS it is.'”

 

Friday, 7 May 2021:

 

Biden and Republicans Spar Over Economic Strategy as the Jobs Report Disappoints, The New York Times, Friday, 7 May 2021:

  • Biden and Republicans spar over unemployment as the jobs report disappoints.

  • Four former Minneapolis police officers are indicted on charges of violating George Floyd’s civil rights.

  • In a bid to regain power, Republicans focus on polarizing cultural issues ahead of the 2022 midterms.

  • Texas lawmakers press ahead with bill restricting voting rights hours after Florida measure becomes law.

  • The White House releases its first visitor logs since the Obama administration.

  • Ohio G.O.P. censures Representative Anthony Gonzalez for not supporting Trump.

  • Stefanik digs in on false election claims as she seeks to replace Cheney.

  • Washingtonian staff protests C.E.O.’s article on remote work by refusing to publish.

  • Florida passed a new voting law. Here’s what’s in it.
  • Prosecutors start to seek plea deals in Capitol riot cases.

Biden says jobs report shows ‘climb is steep’ in recovering from pandemic, The Washington Post, John Wagner, Colby Itkowitz, Eugene Scott, and Amy B Wang, Friday, 7 May 2021: “President Biden said Friday that a report showing slower-than-expected job growth in April underscores that ‘our efforts are starting to work, but the climb is steep, and we still have a long way to go’ to recover from the pandemic. Despite the disappointing numbers, Biden contended the economic recovery is proceeding more rapidly than he thought it would. He also pitched additional spending plans focused on jobs and infrastructure and expanding access to health care and family safety-net programs.

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

  • Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms (D), an early Biden supporter who was touted as a potential running mate, said she will not seek reelection this year because she no longer had the fight in her heart to continue in the job for another four years.
  • Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) and Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), two staunch allies of former president Donald Trump, plan to kick off an ‘America First’ rally tour at a well-known retirement community in central Florida.
  • Vice President Harris said that the U.S. and Mexican governments can work together to improve the quality of life in Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras to decrease emigration from those countries.

Trump’s out-of-power agenda: Retribution against foes, commanding the spotlight, and total domination of the Republican Party, The Washington Post, Ashley Parker and Josh Dawsey, Friday, 7 May 2021: “Former president Donald Trump is moving to handpick members of the House GOP leadership team — relentlessly attacking Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, the No. 3 House Republican, and endorsing Rep. Elise Stefanik of New York to replace her. He is plotting to take down Republican lawmakers who voted to impeach him for inciting the deadly Jan. 6 insurrection on the U.S. Capitol, while continuing to stoke the false claims of a stolen election that have become a dangerous rallying cry for the party. And he is playing host to a burbling stream of Republican well-wishers — including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (Calif). and Sen. Ted Cruz (Tex.) — who travel to his private Mar-a-Lago retreat in Florida to pay their respects, seek his support and post a photo of their ring-kissing on social media. Six months removed from his Election Day loss, Trump has emerged from his West Palm Beach hibernation — refashioning himself as the president of the Republican States of America and reshaping the party in ways both micro and macro.”

Justice Department Starts to Seek Plea Deals in Capitol Riot Cases, The New York Times, Alan Feuer, Friday, 7 May 2021: “The prosecutors overseeing the vast investigation into the riot at the Capitol this winter have started offering plea deals to defendants, several lawyers said, a significant step in advancing the inquiry into the attack. The plea negotiations, which have largely been informal, are in an early stage, and as of late last week, only one defendant among hundreds charged had pleaded guilty. But many lawyers have recently acknowledged having private conversations with the government and have sought to determine how much prison time their clients might be willing to accept.”

Justice Department Brings Federal Criminal Charges Against Derek Chauvin and 3 Others, NPR, Carrie Johnson, Friday, 7 May 2021: “The Justice Department has filed federal criminal charges against Derek Chauvin, accusing the former police officer of using excessive force and violating the civil rights of George Floyd. Floyd died after Chauvin pressed on his neck for more than nine minutes on the pavement outside a convenience store last year in Minneapolis. Three other former officers on the scene that day — Thomas Lane, J. Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao — have been charged federally in connection with Floyd’s death. Two of the men, Kueng and Thao, are accused of failing to intervene to stop Chauvin. All three face a charge of failing to provide medical care with ‘deliberate indifference’ to Floyd’s suffering. They already are preparing for a state trial in August…. Such federal charges are rare, in part because it is difficult to meet the high legal bar they require. To succeed, prosecutors must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Chauvin acted ‘willfully’ to deprive Floyd of his civil rights and used force that was ‘constitutionally unreasonable.’ In those cases, officers can argue in their defense that they acted out of fear, panic or even poor judgment, some of which featured in Chauvin’s defense to state charges in a trial that concluded with a conviction on all counts last month. Chauvin has moved for a new trial, citing alleged jury misconduct and pretrial publicity.” See also, Four Former Minneapolis Police Officers Indicted on Civil Rights Charges in George Floyd’s Death. The indictment was a rare instance of police officers facing accusations of federal civil rights violations. The New York Times, Katie Benner and Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs, Friday, 7 May 2021: “Four former Minneapolis police officers were indicted on federal charges unsealed on Friday of violating the civil rights of George Floyd, the Black man whose killing last year set off months of nationwide demonstrations against police violence. The indictment came weeks after one of the officers, Derek Chauvin, was convicted of second-degree murder in a state prosecution in Mr. Floyd’s death. The federal charges amount to another extraordinary censure of law enforcement officials, who have rarely faced criminal charges for using deadly force, particularly accusations of civil rights violations. They are also a rare instance of the Justice Department seeking charges after a local conviction but before the rest of the case had played out; the other three officers await a state trial in August. The department’s pursuit of a grand jury indictment even after Mr. Chauvin’s conviction also shows that officials believed that, regardless of how the other cases are resolved, the officers still needed to be held accountable for violating the Constitution, former federal prosecutors said.”

Despite Democrats’ late-night efforts, Texas House passes Republican bill aimed at tighter election restrictions, The Washington Post, Katie Shepherd and Hannah Knowles, Friday, 7 May 2021: “After a contentious debate that stretched into early Friday, Republicans in the Texas House advanced a bill to tighten voting restrictions, joining a number of GOP-controlled states that have moved to impose new obstacles to voting since the 2020 presidential election. The state Senate had already passed a similar bill and the two chambers now need to agree on a final version before the legislation can go to Republican Gov. Greg Abbott’s desk. The House bill takes aim at the sending out of unsolicited vote-by-mail applications and gives new access to partisan poll watchers, among other measures.” See also, Texas House passes election overhaul bill that adds new restrictions, CNN Politics, Dianne Gallagher and Veronica Stracqualursi, Friday, 7 May 2021. See also, After All-Night Session, Texas House Approves Republican-Backed Voting Restrictions Bill, NPR, Jaclyn Diaz, Friday, 7 May 2021: “Texas legislators approved new, more restrictive state election rules after a session that lasted from Thursday night into the early hours of Friday. The GOP-backed state Senate bill passed the House at 3 a.m. (4 a.m. ET) after hours of debate over amendments proposed by Democrats. The House version of the legislation, which differs significantly from what passed the state Senate, will now go to a conference committee to resolve the differences. The measure would make it a felony to provide voters with an application to vote by mail if they hadn’t requested one, or to use any public funds to facilitate the third-party distribution of mail-in voting applications. The ability for polling place ‘watchers’ to be present throughout the day of the election is also expanded under the bill. It sets a high bar for when such observers can be taken out of a polling place. The bill states they can be removed ‘only if the watcher engages in activity that would constitute an offense related to the conduct of the election.'”

Trump Justice Department secretly obtained the phone records of Washington Post reporters, The Washington Post, Devlin Barrett, Friday, 7 May 2021: “The Trump Justice Department secretly obtained Washington Post journalists’ phone records and tried to obtain their email records over reporting they did in the early months of the Trump administration on Russia’s role in the 2016 election, according to government letters and officials. In three separate letters dated May 3 and addressed to Post reporters Ellen Nakashima and Greg Miller, and former Post reporter Adam Entous, the Justice Department wrote they were ‘hereby notified that pursuant to legal process the United States Department of Justice received toll records associated with the following telephone numbers for the period from April 15, 2017 to July 31, 2017.’ The letters listed work, home or cellphone numbers covering that three-and-a-half-month period. Cameron Barr, The Post’s acting executive editor, said: ‘We are deeply troubled by this use of government power to seek access to the communications of journalists. The Department of Justice should immediately make clear its reasons for this intrusion into the activities of reporters doing their jobs, an activity protected under the First Amendment.'”

Biden Administration Moves to Speed Financial Aid to Renters, The New York Times, Jason DeParle, Friday, 7 May 2021: “Two days after a federal judge struck down a national moratorium on evictions, the Biden administration said on Friday that it would accelerate the distribution of vast sums of rental aid that state and local governments have been slow to spend. The Treasury Department issued new rules meant to make it easier for tenants to gain access to the $46.5 billion in aid. They simplify applications, cover an expanded list of costs like moving expenses and hotel stays, and require programs to help tenants even if their landlords refuse to participate. Housing advocates praised the changes, which include an expansion of legal aid to tenants and a promise of advice to localities struggling to create the programs, which are intended to avert evictions caused by the economic shocks from the pandemic.”

 

Sunday, 9 May 2021:

 

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy backs ousting Liz Cheney from Republican leadership, paving the way for removal vote this week, The Washington Post, Sunday, Amy B Wang and Karoun Demirjian, Sunday, 9 May 2021: “The top Republican in the House on Sunday publicly endorsed the ouster of Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) from the party’s leadership team, paving the way for Cheney’s removal as early as this week and sending a clear message that allegiance to former president Donald Trump is a requirement to hold power in the GOP. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (Calif.) threw his support behind Rep. Elise Stefanik (N.Y.) to become the new Republican conference chair, the No. 3 job in GOP leadership, backing a onetime centrist who emerged over the past year as a staunch defender of Trump who helped spread his false claims of election fraud.”

How an obscure Texas security company helped convince Americans the 2020 election was stolen from Trump, The Washington Post, Emma Brown, Aaron C. Davis, Jon Swaine, and Josh Dawsey, Sunday, 9 May 2021: “Key elements of the baseless claim that the 2020 election was stolen from President Donald Trump took shape in an airplane hangar [in Addison, Texas] two years earlier, promoted by a Republican businessman who has sold everything from Tex-Mex food in London to a wellness technology that beams light into the human bloodstream. At meetings beginning late in 2018, as Republicans were smarting from midterm losses in Texas and across the country, Russell J. Ramsland Jr. and his associates delivered alarming presentations on electronic voting to a procession of conservative lawmakers, activists and donors…. The enduring myth that the 2020 election was rigged was not one claim by one person. It was many claims stacked one atop the other, repeated by a phalanx of Trump allies. This is the previously unreported origin story of a core set of those claims, ideas that were advanced not by renowned experts or by insiders who had knowledge of flawed voting systems but by Ramsland and fellow conservative activists as they pushed a fledgling company, Allied Security Operations Group, into a quixotic attempt to find evidence of widespread fraud where none existed. To assemble a picture of the company’s role, The Washington Post obtained emails and company documents and interviewed 12 people with direct knowledge of ASOG’s efforts, as well as former federal officials and aides from the Trump White House. Many spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private matters or out of fear of retribution. Three individuals who were present in the hangar for those 2018 meetings spoke about the gatherings publicly for the first time.”

 

Monday, 10 May 2021:

 

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy Sets Wednesday Vote on Ouster of Liz Cheney as the Republican Party’s Number 3 Leader, The New York Times, Monday, 10 May 2021:

  • As McCarthy sets Wednesday vote to oust Cheney, he insists Republicans are ‘a big tent party.’

  • Biden vows to ‘disrupt and prosecute’ DarkSide hackers as the F.B.I. puts the U.S. energy sector on alert.

  • Newsom, facing a $75.5 billion budget surplus and a recall vote, plans a tax rebate for Californians.

  • Biden defends federal unemployment benefits, provided that workers accept job offers.

  • Reversing a Trump-era policy, H.H.S. prohibits health care discrimination against transgender people.

  • The Biden administration defends the continued detention of an Afghan militia member at Guantánamo.

  • Lafayette Park, which was closed amid protests at the White House last year, partially reopens.

  • The F.D.A. authorizes the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for children 12 to 15.
  • Most Americans say things are going right in the country, an A.P./NORC poll finds.

Biden calls on employers to help get more workers vaccinated, saying it will boost the economy, The Washington Post, Felicia Sonmez, Colby Itkowitz, Eugene Scott, and John Wagner, Monday, 10 May 2021: “President Biden on Monday urged employers to help get more of their workers vaccinated, saying it would provide a boost to the economy, and touted a coming infusion of $350 billion in federal aid to state and local governments, saying that will help more parents get child care and return to work. Ahead of his wide-ranging remarks on the economy, Biden called the ransomware attack that led to the shutdown of the Colonial Pipeline ‘a criminal act’ and vowed that ‘my administration takes this very seriously.’

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

  • The Biden administration said it would provide protections against discrimination in health care based on gender identity and sexual orientation, reversing a policy of its predecessor.
  • The Colonial Pipeline cyberattack — believed to be the biggest on American oil infrastructure — prompted the White House to pull together a task force.
  • Rep. Adam Kinzinger (Ill.), one of the earliest congressional Republican critics of President Donald Trump’s election conspiracy theories, said he warned Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) a few days before the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol that adopting Trump’s rhetoric would lead to violence.
  • White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Biden would still like to see an infrastructure bill on his desk by summer.

Biden Administration Reverses Trump Administration Policy and Restores Rights for Transgender Patients, Prohibiting Discrimination on the Basis of Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity by Health Care Organizations That Receive Federal Funding, The New York Times, Michael D. Shear and Margot Sanger-Katz, Monday, 10 May 2021: “The Biden administration announced on Monday that health care providers cannot discriminate against gay and transgender individuals, the latest step in President Biden’s efforts to restore civil rights protections for L.G.B.T.Q. people that were eliminated by his predecessor. Under the new policy, the Department of Health and Human Services will once again prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity by health care organizations that receive federal funding. The move will begin to reverse a policy adopted by the department under President Donald J. Trump that said anti-discrimination provisions of the Affordable Care Act of 2010 did not apply to transgender people. That change had been hailed by social conservatives and harshly criticized by gay rights supporters. ‘Fear of discrimination can lead individuals to forgo care, which can have serious negative health consequences,’ Xavier Becerra, Mr. Biden’s health secretary, said in a statement. ‘It is the position of the Department of Health and Human Services that everyone — including L.G.B.T.Q. people — should be able to access health care, free from discrimination or interference, period.'” See also, Biden administration reverses Trump administration policy and restores anti-bias protections in health care for transgender people, The Washington Post, Amy Goldstein, Monday, 10 May 2021: “The Biden administration said Monday it will provide protections against discrimination in health care based on gender identity and sexual orientation, reversing a policy of its predecessor’s that had been a priority for social conservatives and had infuriated civil liberties advocates. The reversal is a victory for transgender people and undoes what had been a significant setback in the movement for LGBTQ rights. The shift pertains to health-care providers and other organizations that receive funding from the Department of Health and Human Services. Civil rights groups had said the Trump administration policy would allow health-care workers and institutions, as well as insurers, to deny services to transgender individuals. The reversal is the latest step Biden officials are taking to reorient the federal government’s posture on health care, the environment and other policy areas away from the conservative cast of the Trump era, replacing it with a more liberal stance.”

After a Raid by the Israeli Police on the Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, Rockets From Gaza and Israeli Airstrikes, The New York Times, Patrick Kingsley and Isabel Kershner, Monday, 10 May 2021: “Weeks of simmering tensions in Jerusalem between Palestinian protesters, the police and right-wing Israelis suddenly veered into military conflict on Monday, as a local skirmish in the decades-long battle for control of the city escalated into rocket fire and airstrikes in Gaza. After a raid by the Israeli police on the Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem left hundreds of Palestinians and a score of police officers wounded, militants in Gaza responded by firing a barrage of rockets at Jerusalem, drawing Israeli airstrikes in return. The catalyst for the escalation was the conflict over recent Israeli efforts to remove Palestinians from strategic parts of the city. The issue became a rallying cry for Palestinians, who saw the moves as ethnic cleansing and illegal, and right-wing Israeli Jews, who said they were fighting for their property as landowners while also attempting to ensure Jewish control over East Jerusalem.”

 

Tuesday, 11 May 2021:

 

Senate Rules Committee Deadlocks on Democrats’ Election Overhaul, Signaling a Murky Path Ahead. The 9-9 party-line vote sets the stage for a showdown on the Senate floor over the bill, which could determine the future of voting rights and campaign rules across the country. The New York Times, Tuesday, 11 May 2021:

  • A key Senate panel deadlocked on Democrats’ election overhaul, signaling a murky path ahead.

  • Detentions at southwestern border rose in April to highest in at least 20 years.

  • A conservative Republican accuses House leaders of ‘rushing to coronate’ Stefanik, calling her insufficiently conservative.

  • Amid panic buying of gas, the Biden administration tries to reassure drivers more supply is coming.

  • Over 100 Republicans, including former officials, threaten to split from G.O.P.

  • Violence in Israel challenges Biden’s ‘stand back’ approach.

  • Homeland Security announces new efforts to combat violent extremism in the U.S.

  • LIz Cheney delivers defiant speech on House floor ahead of vote to oust her from Republican leadership.
  • Governor Doug Ducey of Arizona signs a Republican bill to limit the distribution of mail ballots.
  • Trump’s acting attorney general Jeffrey A. Rosen to affirm there was no evidence of widespread voter fraud in 2020.
  • The White House will allow undocumented college students access to emergency pandemic aid.
  • Hispanic Democrats run ads targeting four House Republicans over their January 6 votes.

Biden thanks governors for ‘American progress’ as he holds meeting on vaccinations, The Washington Post, Felicia Sonmez, Colby Itkowitz, Eugene Scott, and John Wagner, Tuesday, 11 May 2021: “President Biden on Tuesday thanked a bipartisan group of six governors for their efforts as he convened a virtual meeting from the White House on ‘best practices’ in vaccinating citizens from the coronavirus. Biden also announced some new federal steps to encourage vaccinations, including free rides to vaccination sites from Lyft and Uber. ‘It isn’t Democratic progress and Republican progress. It’s American progress. And now we’ve got to take the next step together,’ Biden said, as he emphasized his goal of getting at least 70 percent of U.S. adults at least partially vaccinated by July 4.

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

  • Lines of panicked drivers overwhelmed gas stations in the Southeast, as rising prices fed fears of shortages in the aftermath of a ransomware attack that forced the nation’s largest fuel pipeline offline. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said that the region can expect a ‘crunch’ that will take several days to alleviate.
  • House Republicans will hold a vote Wednesday on whether to oust Rep. Liz Cheney (Wyo.) from her position as the third-ranking Republican leader in the House.
  • The White House said it is directing the Labor Department to work with states on reimposing work-search requirements for Americans collecting unemployment benefits.
  • More than 1 million Americans have signed up for Affordable Care Act health plans during a special pandemic-era enrollment period that began Feb. 15, Biden said in a statement.
  • In defiant floor speech, Representative Liz Cheney declares, ‘Our election was not stolen, and America has not failed.’

Biden Administration Approves Nation’s First Major Offshore Wind Farm. The Vineyard Wind project, off the coast of Massachusetts, would generate enough electricity to power 400,000 homes. The New York Times, Lisa Friedman and Coral Davenport, Tuesday, 11 May 2021: “The Biden administration on Tuesday announced its final approval of the nation’s first commercial-scale offshore wind farm, a major step toward President Biden’s goal of expanding renewable energy production across the United States. The Vineyard Wind project calls for up to 84 turbines to be installed in the Atlantic Ocean about 12 nautical miles off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard, Mass. Together, they could generate about 800 megawatts of electricity, enough to power about 400,000 homes. The administration estimates that the project will create about 3,600 jobs. The idea of a wind farm off the Massachusetts coast was conceived two decades ago but ran into repeated setbacks, delays and well-funded opposition from waterfront property owners before the Trump administration moved to cancel the project’s permitting process. The Biden administration jump-started progress on Vineyard Wind in March as part of its larger push to tackle climate change.” See also, Interior Department approves first large-scale offshore wind farm in the U.S., The Washington Post, Joshua Partlow, Tuesday, 11 May 2021: “The Biden administration on Tuesday approved the first large-scale offshore wind farm in the United States, a project that envisions building 62 turbines off Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts and creating enough electricity to power 400,000 homes. Vineyard Wind is the first of several massive offshore wind-farm proposals that could put more than 3,000 wind turbines in the Atlantic Ocean from Maine to North Carolina. The Biden administration has committed to processing the other 13 projects under federal review by 2025 in an attempt to meet the administration’s ambitious goal of producing 30,000 megawatts of electricity from offshore wind by 2030, powering some 10 million homes. The goal is part of the Biden administration’s effort to fight climate change by shifting away from fossil fuels.”

White House Says Undocumented Students Can Receive Pandemic Aid. The rule reverses a Trump-era policy that barred the students from obtaining emergency aid to cover food, housing and school supplies. The New York Times, Katie Rogers, Tuesday, 11 May 2021: “The Biden administration said on Tuesday that undocumented students could receive some of the $36 billion in emergency stimulus aid flowing to colleges, reversing a Trump-era policy that barred them from earlier rounds of funding that could help cover necessities. Miguel Cardona, the education secretary, told reporters during a phone call on Monday that a final rule issued through the Education Department would not require colleges to consider students’ immigration status when determining their need for federal grants that could pay for basics like food and housing. According to the rule, the Biden administration determined that doing so would create ‘significant additional roadblocks and delays’ in issuing the grants.”

Federal judge denies National Rifle Association attempt to declare bankruptcy in win for New York state attorney general Letitia James, who filed a far-reaching civil suit against the NRA last August accusing top officials of fraud and self-dealing, The Washington Post, Tom Hamburger, Tuesday, 11 May 2021: “A federal judge Tuesday denied an effort by the National Rifle Association to file for bankruptcy protection, ruling that the gun rights group had filed the case in a bad-faith attempt to fend off a lawsuit by the New York attorney general. ‘The Court finds, based on the totality of the circumstances, that the NRA’s bankruptcy petition was not filed in good faith but instead was filed as an effort to gain an unfair litigation advantage in the NYAG Enforcement Action and as an effort to avoid a regulatory scheme,’ Judge Harlin Hale wrote in a 37-page decision. The decision was a victory for New York Attorney General Letitia James, who filed a far-reaching civil suit against the group last August accusing top officials of fraud and self-dealing. NRA chief Wayne LaPierre and his legal team had contended that the lawsuit was a political act intended to destroy the organization.” See also, In Rebuke to N.R.A., Federal Judge Dismisses Bankruptcy Case. The N.R.A. filed for bankruptcy this year as it sought to end run regulatory action in New York, but a judge rejected the strategy. The New York Times, Danny Hakim, Tuesday, 11 May 2021: “The National Rifle Association’s attempt to evade a legal challenge from New York regulators was tossed out by a federal bankruptcy judge on Tuesday, in a ruling that cast further doubt on whether the group’s embattled chief executive, Wayne LaPierre, would remain at the helm after three decades in power. The ruling was a victory for Letitia James, the New York attorney general, whose office is seeking to remove Mr. LaPierre and shut down the gun rights group amid a long-running corruption investigation. Mr. LaPierre, the face of the American gun lobby, now battered by the N.R.A.’s internecine warfare and revelations of extravagant personal spending, had sought to end-run Ms. James by relocating to Texas and filing for bankruptcy there. But the gambit instead proved a strategic blunder: The testimony over a 12-day trial only buttressed Ms. James’s contentions of corruption, and led the judge, Harlin D. Hale, to declare, ‘The N.R.A. is using this bankruptcy case to address a regulatory enforcement problem, not a financial one.'”

Arizona Republicans Pass Law to Limit Distribution of Mail Ballots, The New York Times, Jennifer Medina, Tuesday, 11 May 2021: “Arizona Republicans passed a law on Tuesday that will sharply limit the distribution of mail ballots through a widely popular early voting list, the latest measure in a conservative push to restrict voting across the country. The legislation will remove voters from the state’s Permanent Early Voting List, which automatically sends some people ballots for each election, if they do not cast a ballot at least once every two years. The vote-by-mail system is widely popular in Arizona, used by Republicans, Democrats and independents. The overwhelming majority of voters in the state cast their ballots by mail, with nearly 90 percent doing so last year amid the coronavirus pandemic, and nearly 75 percent of all voters are on the early voting list. Under the new law, the list will be called the Active Early Voting List. The State Senate voted along party lines to approve the bill, and Gov. Doug Ducey, a Republican, surprised many observers by signing the legislation just hours later. The bill may be only the first in a series of voting restrictions to be enacted in Arizona; another making its way through the Legislature would require voters on the early voting list to verify their signatures with an additional form of identification.”

Obamacare sign-ups reach 1 million during special enrollment window. The window to sign up for Affordable Care Act plans was extended earlier this year because of the pandemic. NBC News, Phil Helsel, Tuesday, 11 May 2021: “One million people have signed up for health coverage under an Affordable Care Act special enrollment period announced earlier this year, officials said Tuesday. ‘That’s one million more Americans who now have the peace of mind that comes from having health insurance,’ President Joe Biden said in a statement. He called coverage through the law, sometimes called Obamacare, a lifeline for millions. Biden issued an executive order in late January to open a special enrollment period from Feb. 15 to May 15. The White House cited the pandemic in announcing the move. In March, Biden said that period would be extended through Aug. 15.”

Over 100 Republicans, including former officials, threaten to split from the Republican Party, The New York Times, Zadh Montague, Tuesday, 11 May 2021: “More than 100 Republicans, including some former elected officials, are preparing to release a letter this week threatening to form a third party if the Republican Party does not make certain changes, according to an organizer of the effort. The statement is expected to take aim at former President Donald J. Trump’s stranglehold on Republicans, which signatories to the document have deemed unconscionable. ‘When in our democratic republic, forces of conspiracy, division, and despotism arise, it is the patriotic duty of citizens to act collectively in defense of liberty and justice,’ reads the preamble to the full statement, which is expected to be released on Thursday. The effort comes as House Republican leaders are expected on Wednesday to oust Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming from their ranks because of her outspoken criticism of Mr. Trump’s election lies. ‘This is a first step,’ said Miles Taylor, an organizer of the effort and a former Trump-era Department of Homeland Security official who anonymously wrote a book condemning the Trump administration. In October, Mr. Taylor acknowledged he was the author of both the book and a 2018 New York Times Op-Ed article.” See also, More than 100 Republican former officials seek reforms and threaten to form a new party. NBC News, Hallie Jackson and Dartunorro Clark, Tuesday, 11 May 2021: “More than 100 influential Republicans plan to release a call for reforms within the GOP alongside a threat to form a new party if change isn’t forthcoming, a person familiar with the effort said. The statement, set to be released Thursday, involves a ‘Call for American Renewal,’ a credo that declares that it is imperative to ‘either reimagine a party dedicated to our founding ideals or else hasten the creation of such an alternative.’ The push will include 13 yet-to-be-revealed principles that the signatories want the GOP to embrace. This is not the first group to form as the pro-Trump and traditional conservative factions of the Republican Party remain at loggerheads.”

Liz Cheney Embraces Her Downfall, Warning Republicans of Trump and Saying That Trump ‘Provoked a Violent Attack’ on His Own Capitol ‘In an Effort to Steal the Election’ and Then Continued to Spread His Election Lies The New York Times, Catie Edmondson, Tuesday, 11 May 2021: “In the hours before facing a vote that will almost certainly purge her from House Republican leadership, Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming remained unrepentant on Tuesday, framing her expulsion as a turning point for her party and declaring in an extraordinary speech that she would not sit quietly by as Republicans abandoned the rule of law. Delivering the broadside from the House floor on Tuesday night, Ms. Cheney took a fiery last stand, warning that former President Donald J. Trump had created a threat that the nation had never seen before: a president who had ‘provoked a violent attack’ on his own Capitol ‘in an effort to steal the election,’ and then continued to spread his election lies. ‘Remaining silent and ignoring the lie emboldens the liar,’ Ms. Cheney said. ‘I will not participate in that. I will not sit back and watch in silence while others lead our party down a path that abandons the rule of law and joins the former president’s crusade to undermine our democracy.'”

 

Wednesday, 12 May 2021:

 

Little Progress in Biden Meeting With Republicans on Infrastructure. G.O.P. leaders said that they remained at odds with the president about how to define infrastructure spending. House Republicans voted to remove Representative Liz Cheney from a leadership post for her continued repudiation of former President Donald J. Trump’s election lies. The New York Times, Wednesday, 12 May 2021:

  • Biden holds his first meeting with the top four congressional leaders to discuss infrastructure.

  • House Republicans oust a defiant Liz Cheney for her repudiation of Trump’s election lies.

  • Biden signs executive order on cybersecurity after a pipeline shutdown.

  • Kevin McCarthy says no one is ‘questioning the legitimacy’ of the 2020 election. That’s not true.

  • Biden, speaking with Netanyahu, asserts Israel’s ‘right to defend itself.’

  • New reports of brain injuries among American spies, diplomats and officials overseas spur concern.

  • New E.P.A. data shows how climate change is making life harder for Americans in myriad ways.

  • Top law enforcement officials say the biggest domestic terror threat comes from white supremacists.
  • A U.S. envoy is heading to the Middle East to urge calm between Israel and Palestinians.
  • Former Pentagon chief Christopher Miller tells lawmakers he feared ‘coup’ accusations if he sent troops to the Capitol.
  • The Biden administration and House Democrats reach a deal to allow Trump’s former White House counsel, Donald McGahn II, to testify before Congress about Trump’s efforts to obstruct the Russia inquiry.

Biden expresses optimism about infrastructure deal after meeting with congressional leaders, The Washington Post, John Wagner, Felicia Sonmez, Eugene Scott, and Colby Itkowitz, Wednesday, 12 May 2021: “President Biden expressed optimism Wednesday about a compromise on infrastructure spending as he held the first meeting of his presidency with the top congressional leaders from both chambers and both parties. ‘I’m encouraged that there is room to have a compromise on a bipartisan bill that’s solid and significant,’ he told reporters after remarks at the White House on the rate of vaccinations nationwide. On Capitol Hill, House Republicans ousted Rep. Liz Cheney (Wyo.) as their conference chairwoman, the No. 3 leadership position in the GOP caucus, after her continued criticism of former president Donald Trump. Afterward, Cheney vowed to do all she can to keep Trump from returning to office.

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

Attorney General Merrick Garland and Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas say the biggest domestic terror threat comes from white supremacists, The New York Times, Wednesday, 12 May 2021: “Attorney General Merrick B. Garland and Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro N. Mayorkas told senators on Wednesday that the greatest domestic threat facing the United States came from what they both called ‘racially or ethnically motivated violent extremists. Specifically those who advocate for the superiority of the white race,’ Mr. Garland told the Senate Appropriations Committee. The cabinet secretaries’ comments reflected a dramatic shift in tone from the Trump administration, which deliberately downplayed the threat from white supremacists and similar groups, in part to elevate the profile of what former President Donald J. Trump described as violent threats from radical left-wing groups.”

Republicans Oust a Defiant Liz Cheney, Confirming Trump’s Grasp on the Party. The Wyoming Republican gave an unrepentant final speech warning her colleagues that Donald J. Trump was leading them toward ‘destruction.’ They booed and kicked her out. The New York Times, Catie Edmondson and Nicholas Fandos, Wednesday, 12 May 2021: “In a remarkable display of loyalty to Donald J. Trump, Republicans moved quickly to purge Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming from House leadership on Wednesday, voting to oust their No. 3 for repudiating the former president’s election lies and holding him responsible for the deadly Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol. The action, orchestrated by party leaders, came by voice vote during a raucous closed-door meeting on Capitol Hill that lasted just 15 minutes. With the votes stacked against her, Ms. Cheney made a defiant final speech rather than fight the ouster, warning that Republicans would follow Mr. Trump to their ‘destruction’ by silencing dissent and refusing to reject the myth of a stolen election. She drew boos from her colleagues. After months of infighting that erupted after the violent end to his presidency, Republicans’ unceremonious ouster of Ms. Cheney, the scion of one of the nation’s most powerful conservative families, reflected how far the party has strayed from the policy principles and ideological touchstones that once defined it. The vote — and the manner in which it unfolded — also illustrated how Republican Party orthodoxy has come to be defined more by allegiance to a twice-impeached former president who prizes loyalty over all else than by a political agenda or a vision for governing.” See also, House Republicans oust Liz Cheney for calling out Trump’s false election claims, The Washington Post, Marianna Sotomayor and Jacqueline Alemany, Wednesday, 12 May 2021: “House Republicans began Wednesday by quickly ousting Rep. Liz Cheney (Wyo.) from her leadership post because she continues to challenge former president Donald Trump over his false claim that the presidential election was stolen. Soon after, several GOP members spoke up to minimize the actions of pro-Trump rioters who attacked the Capitol on Jan. 6., an event that led to deadly clashes with police and threatened the orderly certification of President Biden’s electoral victory. Taken together, the events Wednesday offered the clearest sign yet of how far Republicans are willing to go to support or tolerate Trump’s lies about the election as well the degree to which many members are trying to rewrite the history of Jan. 6 to erase the former president’s culpability.”

Several House Republicans recast the deadly January 6th attack by pro-Trump mob as a ‘normal tourist visit,’ The Washington Post, Colby Itkowitz, Wednesday, 12 May 2021: “Several House Republicans on Wednesday tried to recast and downplay the events of Jan. 6, comparing the mob that breached the Capitol to tourists, railing against law enforcement for seeking to arrest them and questioning how anyone could be sure the rioters were supporters of President Donald Trump. The Republicans’ distortions about the most violent attack on the Capitol since the War of 1812 defy the well-documented reality of what occurred that day — 140 police officers were injured, some bludgeoned with flagpoles and baseball bats, with one officer’s eye gouged, another later losing an eye; rioters chanted ‘Hang Mike Pence’ and erected a gallows on the Capitol grounds; and members of the House and the Senate were rushed to safety in secure locations for several hours. The attack resulted in five dead.”

 

Thursday, 13 May 2021:

 

Biden Says Colonial Pipeline Is Nearing Full Capacity After Hack. Jill Biden and other prominent figures removed their masks in public after the C.D.C. said vaccinated Americans could do so. The New York Times, Thursday, 13 May 2021:

  • Biden says Colonial Pipeline is nearing ‘full operational capacity,’ and doesn’t rule out a counterattack.

  • Ex-aide to Colorado congressman sues, claiming he was fired for voicing virus concerns.

  • Chip Roy challenges Elise Stefanik to replace Liz Cheney in House G.O.P. leadership.

  • One by one, Washington begins to unmask.

  • Conservative activists and an ex-spy are said to have plotted to discredit Trump’s ‘enemies.’

  • Missouri chooses not to enact Medicaid expansion, despite voters approving it.

  • ‘Is this not a massive failure?’ The latest data from the border draws mixed reactions on the Hill.

  • The Biden administration is set to repeal a Trump-era rule aimed at weakening the Environmental Protection Agency (E.P.A.).
  • By ousting Liz Cheney from leadership, Republicans elevated her case against Trumpism.

Biden touts new CDC mask guidelines and vaccine efforts: ‘Today is a great day for America,’ The Washington Post, Colby Itkowitz, Felicia Sonmez, Eugene Scott, Amy B Wang, and John Wagner, Thursday, 13 May 2021: “President Biden on Thursday touted the nation’s coronavirus vaccine campaign and other efforts to combat the pandemic, calling it ‘a great day for America’ hours after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention relaxed federal masking guidelines to say that fully vaccinated people no longer need to wear masks indoors or outdoors. ‘I think it’s a great milestone, a great day,’ Biden said in remarks from the White House. ‘It’s been made possible by the extraordinary success we’ve had in vaccinating so many Americans so quickly.’ Biden urged those who have not yet gotten the shot to do so as soon as possible and to wear a mask until they been fully vaccinated. ‘It’s going to take a little more time for everyone who wants to get vaccinated to get their shots. So all of us, let’s be patient with one another,’ Biden said. Earlier Thursday Biden said the FBI continues to believe that the Russian government was not behind the cyberattack that led to the shutdown of the Colonial Pipeline but that ‘the criminals who did the attack are living in Russia.’ In remarks from the White House, Biden also urged U.S. motorists not to panic amid fuel shortages and predicted a return to normalcy this weekend. Biden also convened an Oval Office meeting with six Republican senators as he continues to try to build support for a sweeping infrastructure package.

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

  • Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) is seeking to shore up support to replace Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) in the No. 3 leadership position among House Republicans. Cheney was ousted Wednesday by her colleagues as conference chairwoman.
  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said the degree to which Republican lawmakers minimized the deadly Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, likening the assault to a visit of tourists, ‘fell into the range of sick.’
  • After verbally harassing Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) in the Capitol on Wednesday night, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) escalated her attacks in tweets.
  • The president of the nation’s second-largest teachers union is calling for a return to full-time school this fall, a move that could smooth the way to a return to normalcy.

Conservative Activists and Ex-Spy Said to Have Plotted to Discredit Trump ‘Enemies’ in Government. The campaign included planned operations against President Trump’s national security adviser at the time, H.R. McMaster, and F.B.I. employees, according to documents and interviews. The New York Times, Adam Goldman and Mark Mazzetti, Thursday, 13 May 2021: “A network of conservative activists, aided by a British former spy, mounted a campaign during the Trump administration to discredit perceived enemies of President Trump inside the government, according to documents and people involved in the operations. The campaign included a planned sting operation against Mr. Trump’s national security adviser at the time, H.R. McMaster, and secret surveillance operations against F.B.I. employees, aimed at exposing anti-Trump sentiment in the bureau’s ranks. The operations against the F.B.I., run by the conservative group Project Veritas, were conducted from a large home in the Georgetown section of Washington that rented for $10,000 per month. Female undercover operatives arranged dates with the F.B.I. employees with the aim of secretly recording them making disparaging comments about Mr. Trump. The campaign shows the obsession that some of Mr. Trump’s allies had about a shadowy ‘deep state’ trying to blunt his agenda — and the lengths that some were willing to go to try to purge the government of those believed to be disloyal to the president.”

Leaked Video: Dark Money Group Brags About Writing Republican Voter Suppression Bills Across the Country. ‘We did it quickly and we did it quietly,’ said Jessica Anderson, the executive director of Heritage Action for America, a sister organization of the Heritage Foundation. Mother Jones, Ari Berman and Nick Surgey, Thursday, 13 May 2021: “In a private meeting last month with big-money donors, the head of a top conservative group boasted that her outfit had crafted the new voter suppression law in Georgia and was doing the same with similar bills for Republican state legislators across the country. ‘In some cases, we actually draft them for them,” she said, “or we have a sentinel on our behalf give them the model legislation so it has that grassroots, from-the-bottom-up type of vibe.’ The Georgia law had ‘eight key provisions that Heritage recommended,’ Jessica Anderson, the executive director of Heritage Action for America, a sister organization of the Heritage Foundation, told the foundation’s donors at an April 22 gathering in Tucson, in a recording obtained by the watchdog group Documented and shared with Mother Jones. Those included policies severely restricting mail ballot drop boxes, preventing election officials from sending absentee ballot request forms to voters, making it easier for partisan workers to monitor the polls, preventing the collection of mail ballots, and restricting the ability of counties to accept donations from nonprofit groups seeking to aid in election administration.”

Marine Corps officer Major Christopher Warnagiris is the first known active-duty service member charged in the January 6th Capitol riot, The Washington Post, Alex Horton and Spencer S. Hsu, Thursday, 13 May 2021: “A Marine Corps officer was arrested Thursday for alleged crimes during the U.S. Capitol riot on Jan. 6, becoming the first known active-duty service member charged in the violent attempt to thwart the certification of Joe Biden’s election as president. Maj. Christopher Warnagiris, 40, stationed at Marine Corps Base Quantico, was charged with five counts, including assaulting and obstructing police during a civil disorder and obstructing an official proceeding of Congress, federal prosecutors said. He made his first appearance in federal court in Alexandria on Wednesday afternoon.”

A sprawling investigation: What we know so far about the Capitol riot suspects. Since the January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol, more than 400 people who were part of the pro-Trump mob that day have been arrested–a number that could still grow substantially. The Washington Post, Devlin Barrett, Abigail Hauslohner, Spencer S. Hsu, and Ashlyn Still, Thursday, 13 May 2021: “Four months after the Jan. 6. attack on the U.S. Capitol, Congress is starkly divided about how to investigate the deadly assault by supporters of President Donald Trump, many of whom were animated by his false claims that the election was stolen. House Republicans this week ousted Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) from party leadership for continuing to warn that Trump’s rhetoric led to violence, and some GOP lawmakers have echoed the former president in attempting to minimize the destruction that day. In fact, the ongoing criminal probe has swept up at least 411 suspects in what federal officials have called an unprecedented domestic attack on a branch of the U.S. government. ‘I have not seen a more dangerous threat to democracy than the invasion of the Capitol,’ Attorney General Merrick Garland told senators in a hearing Wednesday. He called the assault ‘an attempt to interfere with the fundamental element of our democracy, a peaceful transfer of power.’ Since January, prosecutors have secured their first guilty plea and cooperation deal, charged about 75 people with assaulting police and filed conspiracy charges against members of two far-right extremist groups. Those charged publicly so far with federal crimes hail from 259 counties spread across 44 states and D.C., according to an analysis by The Washington Post of court filings. Yet even as prosecutors build cases alleging prior planning and coordination, the majority of those facing criminal charges were not known members of self-styled militias or other organized extremist groups, the filings show. ‘The bulk of people being charged is what law enforcement sometimes calls free agents, and that tells you we don’t really have a firm grasp on the radicalization process,’ said Colin Clarke, director of policy and research at the Soufan Group, a security consulting firm. Some of the information that FBI agents have found so far in their investigation highlights more than just the intense violence and danger of that day — it points to the ongoing risk of politically motivated unrest. Officials estimate about 800 people were part of the human wave that stormed the Capitol complex as Congress was formalizing Joe Biden’s electoral college victory — meaning hundreds of perpetrators have still not been identified.”

Republican Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene aggressively confronts Representative Ocasio-Cortez, causing New York congresswoman to raise security concerns, The Washington Post, Marianna Sotomayor, Thursday, 13 May 2021: “Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene aggressively confronted Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Wednesday and falsely accused her of supporting ‘terrorists,’ leading the New York congresswoman’s office to call on leadership to ensure that Congress remains ‘a safe, civil place for all Members and staff.’ Two Washington Post reporters witnessed Ocasio-Cortez (N.Y.) exit the House chamber late Wednesday afternoon ahead of Greene (Ga.), who shouted ‘Hey Alexandria’ twice in an effort to get her attention. When Ocasio-Cortez did not stop walking, Greene picked up her pace and began shouting at her and asking why she supports antifa, a loosely knit group of far-left activists, and Black Lives Matter, falsely labeling them ‘terrorist’ groups. Greene also shouted that Ocasio-Cortez was failing to defend her ‘radical socialist’ beliefs by declining to publicly debate the freshman from Georgia.” See also, Greene’s ‘verbal assault’ on Ocasio-Cortez underscores growing tensions over safety and security on Capitol Hill, The Washington Post, Marianna Sotomayor, Colby Itkowitz, and Jacqueline Alemany, Wednesday, 12 May/Thursday, 13 May 2021: “Democrats rebuked Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene on Thursday over her confrontational approach toward Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez as tensions between the two parties escalated over the safety of the Capitol as a workplace and the level of security needed following the Jan. 6 attack. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said early Thursday that the Georgia congresswoman’s ‘verbal assault’ on Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) was ‘so beyond the pale’ that it should be investigated by the House Ethics Committee. ‘This is beneath the dignity of a person serving in the Congress of the United States and is a cause for trauma and fear among members,’ Pelosi (D-Calif.) said during her weekly news conference. On Wednesday afternoon, Greene followed Ocasio-Cortez out of the House chamber, quickening her pace behind her and shouting accusations that the Democrat supports terrorists and is a ‘radical socialist’ who doesn’t ‘care about the American people.'”

Biden Administration to Repeal Trump Rule Aimed at Curbing Environmental Protection Agency’s Power. The cost-benefit rule limited the way the E.P.A. could justify clean air regulations. The New York Times, Lisa Friedman, Thursday, 13 May 2021: “The Biden administration on Thursday moved to repeal a Trump-era regulation that it said weakened the government’s ability to curb air pollution that threatens public health and is driving climate change. Critics said the regulation distorted the costs of reducing air pollution while diminishing the associated benefits. It is one of several Trump administration policies that have been reversed by Michael S. Regan since he became the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency in March. Finalized at the end of the Trump administration, the so-called cost-benefit rule was designed to change how the E.P.A. calculated the economic costs and benefits of new clean-air and climate-change rules. Agency economists would have been required to calculate the public health benefits that stem directly from a new regulation and separately the value of ancillary benefits, or ‘co-benefits’ — such as the reduction of pollutants not directly governed by the regulation. Direct benefits and ‘co-benefits’ would have to be presented as separate categories. Experts said that requirement appeared designed to give industries a way to legally block the E.P.A. over future air pollution rules. It would have also allowed the E.P.A. to avoid putting a price tag on certain health benefits if the scientific evidence was deemed limited.”

 

Friday, 14 May 2021:

 

House Republicans Elect Elise Stefanik as Number 3 Leader, Installing Trump Loyalist, The New York Times, Friday, 14 May 2021:

  • House Republicans elect Stefanik as Liz Cheney’s replacement in leadership.

  • Biden revokes more of Trump’s executive actions, including moves on immigration and monuments.

  • House Democrats press forward with a bipartisan proposal to create a commission on the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.

  • Biden meets with DACA recipients as his administration grapples with the border surge.

  • A Gitmo detainee took a plea deal barring him from questioning the C.I.A. on torture.

  • An ex-Green Beret who spied for Russia was sentenced to nearly 16 years in prison.

  • Beneath Joe Biden’s folksy demeanor is a short fuse and an obsession with details.

White House rules out paying for infrastructure plan with higher gas tax or other user fees, The Washington Post, Colby Itkowitz, Felicia Sonmez, Amy B Wang, and John Wagner, Friday, 14 May 2021: “White House press secretary Jen Psaki categorically ruled out paying for new infrastructure spending with an increase in the gas tax or other user fees, saying that would violate a ‘red line’ from President Biden not to raise taxes on Americans making less than $400,000 a year. Biden is also seeking to put a spotlight on immigration policy Friday as he holds an Oval Office meeting with six beneficiaries of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program to discuss their experiences working in health care, education and agriculture during the pandemic.

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

House members announce bipartisan deal to establish an independent commission to investigate the January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol, The Washington Post, Karoun Demirjian and Colby Itkowitz, Friday, 14 May 2021: “A group of House Democrats and Republicans announced Friday that they had struck a deal to establish an independent commission to investigate the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, a significant breakthrough after months of partisan standoff over the mandate for such a panel — and whether it should exist at all. The proposed 10-member commission, which emulates the panel that investigated the causes and lessons of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, would be vested with subpoena authority and charged with studying the events and run-up to Jan. 6 — with a focus on why an estimated 10,000 supporters of former president Donald Trump swarmed the Capitol grounds and, more important, what factors instigated about 800 of them to break inside. Trump’s critics in both political parties view it as a means to bring further public scrutiny to his role in inspiring the violence.” See also, House strikes deal to create independent January 6th commission, CNN Politics, Jeremy Herb, Ryan Nobles, and Annie Grayer, Friday, 14 May 2021: “The top Democrat and Republican on the House Homeland Security Committee struck a deal to create a bipartisan commission to investigate the January 6 attack on the Capitol, breaking a months-long logjam between House leaders about how to structure the independent panel. House Homeland Security Chairman Bennie Thompson of Mississippi and the panel’s ranking Republican, Rep. John Katko of New York, announced on Friday they had reached an agreement for the panel that would be modeled after the 9/11 Commission. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a letter to lawmakers on Friday that the House would vote on the legislation creating the commission next week, as well as a $2 billion supplemental funding bill to bolster security at the Capitol. After the agreement was announced Friday, it was not clear whether House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy — who has been fighting with Pelosi over the commission proposal — would sign off on the deal, as he said he was still reviewing it.”

Gaza Staggers Under Shortages as Israel Steps Up Attacks. Gazans are down to about five hours of electricity a day and half their usual water supply. Palestinian officials say 120 people have been killed there and 900 wounded. Eight Israelis, including a soldier, have been killed, the authorities said. The New York Times, Friday, 14 May 2021:

  • An already battered Gaza reels from shortages of electricity and fuel.

  • The violence rocking Gaza, Israel and the West Bank has left scores dead.

  • Israel’s military apologizes for wrongly announcing that troops entered Gaza.

  • ‘City beneath a city’: A Gaza tunnel network is a key target for Israel.

  • In pictures: Fighting and destruction escalate.

  • As the violence spreads, so does misinformation.

  • A Gaza rocket found a rare gap in Israel’s defenses, killing a 5-year-old.

  • What set off the latest violence? The Daily explains.

Joel Greenberg, Former Confidant of Representative Matt Gaetz, Pleads Guilty to Sex Trafficking a Minor and Agrees to Cooperate in Prosecutions of Others, The New York Times, Michael S. Schmidt, Friday, 14 May 2021: “A former confidant of Representative Matt Gaetz, Republican of Florida, admitted in court papers on Friday to an array of federal crimes — including sex trafficking of a minor — and agreed to cooperate with the Justice Department’s investigations, handing prosecutors a potential key witness as they decide whether to charge Mr. Gaetz. Joel Greenberg, who was a tax collector in the Orlando area until he was indicted last year, did not implicate Mr. Gaetz by name in papers filed by prosecutors in Federal District Court in Orlando. But Mr. Greenberg admitted that he and unidentified others had paid a 17-year-old girl for sex and that he had provided her with drugs. He admitted that he “introduced the minor to other adult men, who engaged in commercial sex acts” with her, according to the documents, and that he was sometimes present. The others were not named. Prosecutors revealed in the documents that they have evidence they say corroborates Mr. Greenberg’s admissions — including a series of communications and transactions Mr. Greenberg had with the girl, and a list of dates of their sexual encounters. The inclusion of that material appeared designed to bolster the credibility of Mr. Greenberg as a witness whose truthfulness would likely be challenged by anyone who is charged based on anything he tells prosecutors. Mr. Gaetz, a close ally of former President Donald J. Trump, is said to be under investigation into whether he violated sex trafficking laws by having sex with the same girl. Mr. Greenberg, who has been meeting with prosecutors for at least five months, has told investigators that Mr. Gaetz had sex with the girl and knew that she was being paid, according to a person briefed on the inquiry.” See also, Joel Greenberg, associate of Republican Representative Matt Gaetz, will cooperate with federal investigators as part of guilty plea, NBC News, Dareh Gregorian, Friday, 14 May 2021: “The former Florida tax official whose criminal case led to a sex trafficking investigation of Rep. Matt Gaetz has agreed to plead guilty to six of the charges against him and to cooperate with federal investigators, court filings show. In a copy of the plea agreement submitted in federal court in Orlando on Friday, Joel Greenberg said he will plead guilty to charges of identity theft, stalking, wire fraud, conspiracy to bribe a public official and sex trafficking of a minor — a fraction of the 33 charges that prosecutors had already slapped him with. The filing also said he agrees ‘to cooperate fully with the United States in the investigation and prosecution of other persons, and to testify, subject to prosecution for perjury or making a false statement, fully and truthfully before any federal court proceeding or federal grand jury in connection with the charges in this case.’ If he cooperates fully, the government will seek a reduced sentence. The counts Greenberg agreed to plead guilty to carry a minimum mandatory sentence of 12 years in prison and a maximum of life behind bars.”

Since-deleted video shows Marjorie Taylor Greene harassing Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s office during 2019 Capitol Hill visit, CNN Politics, Em Steck and Andrew Kaczynski, Friday, 14 May 2021: “Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene confronted Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez outside the House chamber on Wednesday afternoon. The incident, first reported by The Washington Post, was just the latest of several hostile confrontations the Georgia congresswoman has had with her Democratic colleagues, but her interactions with the New York Democrat predate Greene’s election to Congress in 2020. During a February 2019 visit to congressional offices at the US Capitol with associates who include a man who would later enter the Capitol during the January 6 insurrection, Greene — then a conservative activist — can be seen taunting Ocasio-Cortez’s staff outside the congresswoman’s locked office by talking through a mailbox slot urging her to come out. In the video, from a since-deleted Facebook Live of Greene’s that was saved by CNN’s KFile, Greene tells Ocasio-Cortez to ‘get rid of your diaper,’ referring to the congresswoman’s office as a ‘day care.'” See also, 2019 video shows Marjorie Taylor Greene searched Capitol office building for Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, The Washington Post, Colby Itkowitz, Thursday, 14 May 2021: “Less than two years before Marjorie Taylor Greene became a member of Congress, she walked the halls of a congressional office building with a few men searching for a new Democratic congresswoman from New York named Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. A deleted video from February 2019 unearthed by CNN shows Greene arriving at Ocasio-Cortez’s office door to find it locked. She, and the men with her, then taunt the congresswoman’s staff through a mail slot and defile her guest book, all while mocking Ocasio-Cortez.”

Republican Representative Liz Cheney says some Republican members voted against impeachment out of fear for their lives, CNN Politics, Caroline Kelly, Friday, 14 May 2021: “Wyoming Republican Rep. Liz Cheney, whose criticism of former President Donald Trump led to her ouster from House Republican leadership, said Friday that several Republican members of Congress had voted against impeaching Trump out of fear for their own lives. Telling CNN’s Jake Tapper on ‘The Lead’ that there are ‘more members who believe in substance and policy and ideals than are willing to say so,’ Cheney cited the impeachment vote earlier this year, in which she was one of only 10 House Republicans who voted to hold Trump accountable for the Capitol riot. ‘If you look at the vote to impeach, for example, there were members who told me that they were afraid for their own security — afraid, in some instances, for their lives,’ she said. ‘And that tells you something about where we are as a country, that members of Congress aren’t able to cast votes, or feel that they can’t, because of their own security.’ Hours earlier on Friday, New York Republican Rep. Elise Stefanik, a vocal ally of the former President who has a less conservative voting record than Cheney, was elected House GOP conference chairwoman. [A] key difference between the two women is that Stefanik has supported Trump’s baseless claims of widespread fraud in the 2020 election while Cheney has repeatedly rebutted them, leading House Republicans to complain that the Wyoming Republican is undermining the party’s message of promoting Trump’s brand of politics.”

In Dramatic House Floor Speech, Democratic Congressmember Rashida Tlaib Blasts U.S. Aid for Israel and Israel’s Attack on Gaza, Democracy Now!, Friday, 14 May 2021: “As the death toll in Gaza reaches at least 119 amid Israel’s escalation of its aerial assault, Congressmember Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, the first Palestinian American woman elected to Congress, delivered a powerful speech on the House floor Thursday to denounce the violence and attempted erasure of the Palestinian people.”

 

Saturday, 15 May 2021:

 

Conflict Spirals Across Israel and the Palestinian Territories, The New York Times, Patrick Kingsley and Vivian Yee, Saturday, 15 May 2021: “Fighting between Israelis and Palestinians spiraled across several fronts on Saturday as Israel destroyed a high-rise building in Gaza housing the offices of two major international media outlets, thousands of Palestinians fled their homes, Hamas militants in Gaza fired more rocket barrages toward the Tel Aviv area, and protests broke out again in the occupied West Bank. The violence continued amid increased American efforts to help mediate a cease-fire, as President Biden spoke with Israeli and Palestinian leaders and an American envoy, Hady Amr, landed in Israel for two days of talks with Israeli and Arab counterparts. They joined efforts led by Egyptian, Qatari and United Nations officials to secure a break in the fighting. But by Saturday night, those efforts showed no sign of success: The fighting is the most intense since 2014 and has taken on a rare complexity because of its spread across the entirety of Israel and the occupied territories.”

The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: Airstrikes and Protests Escalate as U.S. Steps Up Mediation, The New York Times, Monday, 17 May 2021:

  • As Biden reaches out, Netanyahu vows attacks until Israel’s security is ensured.

  • Israel faces criticism for the number of children killed in airstrikes.

  • Anti-Semitic incidents in Britain are said to have risen sharply in the past week.

  • A U.S. envoy arrived in Jerusalem, but the visit is unlikely to ease the conflict.

  • In Washington, hundreds take part in pro-Palestinian protests.

  • An Israeli airstrike killed at least 10 members of a family in a Gaza refugee camp.

  • Israel’s military apologizes for wrongly announcing that troops entered Gaza.

  • Why did the Israeli-Palestinian conflict reignite?

 

Sunday, 16 May 2021:

 

No Sign of Israel-Gaza Conflict Ending, The New York Times, Sunday, 16 May 2021:

  • Netanyahu says there is no clear end in sight, and airstrikes begin again.

  • As Israel and Hamas fight, civilians suffer.

  • The U.N. Security Council held its first open meeting on the crisis but took no action.

  • In pictures: Fire and thunder fill the night sky as Israel’s Iron Dome is tested.

  • Catch up on the major flash points from seven days of conflict.

  • Why did the Israeli-Palestinian conflict explode after years of quiet?

Arizona Republican official says Trump’s comments on Maricopa County election recount are ‘unhinged,’ The Washington Post, Timothy Bella, Sunday, 16 May 2021: “An Arizona Republican who heads up the county elections department that is the target of a GOP audit of the 2020 election results condemned former president Donald Trump for continuing to push false claims of electoral fraud months after his defeat and called his recent comments ‘unhinged.’ Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer on Saturday called on Republicans to stop supporting Trump’s baseless claims of widespread fraud and slammed the former president for falsely accusing Maricopa County of deleting an elections database. ‘This is unhinged,’ Richer tweeted, adding that he was ‘literally looking at our voter registration database on my other screen. Right now. We can’t indulge these insane lies any longer. As a party. As a state. As a country.'”

 

Monday, 17 May 2021:

 

Biden Releases Tax Forms, Resuming an ‘Almost Uninterrupted’ Tradition. Donald J. Trump was the first president in 40 years to refuse to share his tax forms with the public. Arizona Republicans split over what some call the ‘insane lies’ driving a review of the 2020 vote. The New York Times, Monday, 17 May 2021:

  • Biden releases his tax forms, showing that he and his wife, Jill Biden, earned just over $600,000 in 2020.

  • The Biden administration will begin making monthly child tax credit payments in July.

  • A new presidential pardon policy is being formed, with an emphasis on racial justice.

  • ‘We can’t indulge these insane lies’: Arizona Republicans split over a review of voting results.

  • Montana’s new voting laws violate Native Americans’ rights, a lawsuit argues.

  • The Biden administration approves three Guantánamo detainees for release.

  • Joel Greenberg, the former confidant of Matt Gaetz, pleads guilty to a range of crimes.

  • Israeli-Palestinian fighting rages overnight after Biden voices support for a cease-fire.
  • Democrats, including some who’ve long supported Israel, are pressuring Biden to take a more skeptical stance toward Israel.
  • The U.S. plans to send 20 million vaccination doses to help world battle the coronavirus.
  • Biden marks the international day against L.G.B.T.Q bigotry, urging states to fight discrimination.
  • The Supreme Court will hear a major abortion case that could undermine Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that established a constitutional right to abortion.

Biden says coronavirus cases are down in all states as he announces more U.S. sharing of vaccines, The Washington Post, Felicia Sonmez, Eugene Scott, Colby Itkowitz, and John Wagner, Monday, 17 May 2021: “President Biden said Monday that the number of coronavirus cases are down in all 50 states for the first time since the pandemic began as he announced plans for the United States to share more U.S.-approved coronavirus vaccines abroad with the goal of ‘ending the pandemic everywhere.’ During remarks from the White House, Biden said 60 percent of Americans have received at least one shot and warned that those who do not get vaccinated ‘will end up paying the price’ as he lamented that ‘we’re still losing too many Americans’ despite the significant progress.

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

  • Joel Greenberg, a Florida politician considered key to the investigation of Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), pleaded guilty Monday in Orlando to federal charges including sex trafficking of a child and agreed to cooperate with prosecutors, a possibly ominous sign for Gaetz.
  • The Supreme Court said it will review a restrictive Mississippi abortion law that opponents of the procedure say provides a clear path to diminish Roe v. Wade’s establishment of the right of women to choose an abortion.
  • The Biden administration announced that roughly 39 million American families will begin receiving direct cash payments in July under a new child benefit created by Democrats’ coronavirus relief bill.
  • White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Monday that the Biden administration will remain focused on ‘intensive, quiet diplomacy behind the scenes’ in a bid to ‘de-escalate’ the deadly violence in the conflict between Israel and Hamas.
  • Pelosi extends House proxy voting through early July as coronavirus pandemic continues.

Arizona Republicans Split on Vote Review: ‘We Can’t Indulge These Insane Lies.’ Top local Republicans are hitting back at Donald J. Trump and fellow party members in the State Senate over a review of Arizona ballots. The New York Times, Michael Wines, Monday, 17 May 2021: “For weeks, election professionals and Democrats have consistently called the Republican-backed review of November voting results in Arizona a fatally flawed exercise, marred by its partisan cast of characters and sometimes bizarre methodology. Now, after a week in which leaders of the review suggested they had found evidence of illegal behavior, top Republicans in the state’s largest county have escalated their own attacks on the effort, with the county’s top election official calling former President Donald J. Trump ‘unhinged’ for his online comments falsely accusing the county of deleting an elections database.” See also, ‘Our democracy is imperiled’: Maricopa County officials decry 2020 recount as a sham and call on Arizona Republicans to end the process, The Washington Post, Rosalind S. Helderman, Monday, 17 May 2021: “The Republican-dominated Maricopa County Board of Supervisors on Monday denounced an ongoing audit of the 2020 election vote as a ‘sham’ and a ‘con,’ calling on the GOP-led state Senate to end the controversial recount that has been championed by former president Donald Trump. In a fiery public meeting and subsequent letter to state Senate President Karen Fann, the board members said the audit has been inept, promoted falsehoods and defamed the public servants who ran the fall election. Calling the process a ‘spectacle that is harming all of us,’ the five members of the board — including four Republicans — asked the state Senate to recognize that it is essential to call off the audit, which officials have said is only about one-quarter complete.”

The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: Biden Voices Support for Cease-Fire in Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, The New York Times, Monday, 17 May 2021:

  • Fighting rages overnight after Biden voices support for a cease-fire.

  • With no end in sight, the fighting enters a second week.

  • A battle below ground: the fight to destroy Hamas’s tunnel network.

  • Catch up on the flash points from eight days of conflict.

  • Israel is targeting Hamas naval forces. So what can Hamas do by sea?

  • Palestinian activists are calling for a general strike in Gaza, the West Bank and Israel.

  • In pictures: At least 42 people were killed in the deadliest strike to date.

  • Why did the Israeli-Palestinian conflict reignite?

Biden administration approves $735 million weapons sale to Israel, The Washington Post, Jacqueline Alemany, Karoun Demirjian, and John Hudson, Monday, 17 May 2021: “The Biden administration has approved the sale of $735 million in precision-guided weapons to Israel, raising red flags for some House Democrats who are part of the shifting debate over the U.S. government’s support for the Israeli government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Congress was officially notified of the proposed sale on May 5, according to three people based on Capitol Hill familiar with the notification. That was nearly a week before hostilities intensified between Israel and Hamas in the Middle East. House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Gregory W. Meeks (D-N.Y.) called a virtual emergency meeting Monday evening with House Democrats on the committee to discuss the sale to Israel and the conflict more broadly, according to a person familiar with the meeting. Meeks told lawmakers that he was caught unaware of this weapons sale to Israel, the person said.”

More than 25 Democratic senators call for immediate ceasefire in Middle East, CNN Politics, Jessica Dean, Ryan Nobles, and Daniella Diaz, Monday, 17 May 2021: “More than 25 Democratic senators, led by Georgia Sen. Jon Ossoff, released a joint statement calling for an immediate ceasefire agreement in Israel and the Palestinian territories to ‘prevent further loss of life and further escalation of violence. To prevent any further loss of civilian life and to prevent further escalation of conflict in Israel and the Palestinian territories, we urge an immediate ceasefire,’ the senators wrote in a joint statement first obtained by CNN. CNN has reached out to the White House and National Security Council for comment. This comes as Sunday marked the deadliest day of the week-long conflict so far, according to data from the Palestinian ministry of health in Gaza. Israeli airstrikes have killed at least 52 Palestinians in Gaza Sunday, according to the health ministry.”

Trump Justice Department Tried to Use Grand Jury to Identify Critic of Republican Representative Devin Nunes on Twitter, The New York Times, Charlie Savage, Monday, 17 May 2021: “The Justice Department under President Trump secretly obtained a grand-jury subpoena last year in an attempt to identify the person behind a Twitter account dedicated to mocking Representative Devin Nunes of California, according to a newly unsealed court document. But Twitter fought the subpoena, as well as an associated gag order barring the company from talking about it publicly. Twitter executives raised skepticism about whether the Justice Department might be abusing federal criminal law-enforcement power to retaliate against a critic of Mr. Nunes, a Republican who is a close ally of Mr. Trump, in violation of the First Amendment. Ultimately, according to a person familiar with the matter, the Justice Department withdrew the subpoena this spring, after President Biden took office.” See also, Trump Department of Justice tried to unmask a Twitter account behind ‘mean tweets and bad memes’ that teased Republican Representative Devin Nunes, The Washington Post, Katie Shepherd, published on Tuesday, 18 May 2021: “After Rep. Devin Nunes failed last summer to force Twitter to unmask several accounts dedicated to ruthlessly mocking the California Republican, the Justice Department took aim at one of the congressman’s anonymous critics. Court filings unsealed this week revealed that in the last months of the Trump presidency, the Justice Department used a grand jury subpoena to demand the identity of whoever was behind @NunesAlt, a Twitter account that criticized Nunes, a close ally of former president Donald Trump. Twitter strongly objected to the November request and filed a motion to quash it, noting Nunes’s own failed legal efforts to reveal the identities of his Twitter detractors…. In the end, the DOJ’s request was withdrawn after President Biden took office, the New York Times reported Monday.”

 

Tuesday, 18 May 2021:

 

Representative Kevin McCarthy, the Top House Republican, Announces He Will Not Support an Independent Commission to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol by a Pro-Trump Mob, The New York Times, Tuesday, 18 May 2021:

  • McCarthy opposes Jan. 6 commission because it would not study ‘political violence’ by the left.

  • On a tarmac in Detroit, Representative Rashida Tlaib confronted Biden on U.S. support for Israel.

  • The House passes an anti-Asian hate crimes bill, clearing it for Biden’s signature.

  • The State Department reverses a policy that denied citizenship to some babies born abroad to same-sex parents.

  • In Arizona, G.O.P. senators defend their vote review but retract claims of deleted election data.

  • Biden is said to have taken a firmer line in his call with Netanyahu in private than he has done in public..

  • A Michigan judge dismissed one of the last remaining lawsuits by Trump supporters challenging the 2020 election.

  • The Capitol Police are conducting an inquiry related to a subpoena to Twitter about a Devin Nunes parody account.

  • Val Demings is planning to challenge Marco Rubio for one of Florida’s Senate seats.

Biden says the U.S. is in race with China to build electric cars as he pitches infrastructure plans, The Washington Post, Eugene Scott, Felicia Sonmez, Colby Itkowitz, and John Wagner, Tuesday, 18 May 2021: “President Biden on Tuesday cast the United States as being in an urgent race with China to build electric vehicles as he visited a plant in Dearborn, Mich. that is about to formally unveil the electric version of its popular F-150 pickup truck. The trip was part of Biden’s ongoing pitch for a $2 trillion infrastructure plan that includes incentives to accelerate a transition to electric vehicles. On Capitol Hill, the Democratic-led House passed legislation aimed at strengthening federal efforts to address hate crimes directed at Asian Americans amid a sharp increase in violence and discrimination against the community during the pandemic. The measure heads to Biden for his signature.

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

  • House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) announced his opposition to a bipartisan deal to establish an independent commission to investigate the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.
  • Democratic Rep. Val Demings, who raised her national profile as one of the House managers prosecuting President Donald Trump’s first impeachment, plans to run for the U.S. Senate in Florida in a bid to unseat Sen. Marco Rubio (R).
  • Andrew Giuliani, the son of former New York mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani and a former Trump aide, launched a promised Republican bid to become New York’s next governor.
  • The Supreme Court announced that it will review a restrictive Mississippi law that provides a clear path to diminish Roe v. Wade’s guarantee of a woman’s right to choose an abortion.
  • Biden, first lady Jill Biden, Vice President Harris and second gentleman Doug Emhoff released their 2020 tax returns, reversing the practice of the Trump administration.

The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: Biden Said to Have Taken a Firmer Line on Call With Netanyahu. The president is said to have warned Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel that he could put off growing pressure from the international community for only so long. The New York Times, Tuesday, 18 May 2021:

  • Biden is said to have taken a firmer line in his call with Netanyahu.

  • Palestinians across the West Bank, Gaza and Israel go on strike, in a rare joint action.

  • There have been quiet, but potentially promising, talks about halting the conflict.

  • Hundreds of thousands in Gaza face shortages of clean water and medicine.

  • On a tarmac in Detroit, Representative Rashida Tlaib confronted Biden on U.S. support for Israel.

  • The U.S. faces more pressure at the U.N. over its defense of Israel.

  • European foreign ministers call for a cease-fire.

  • Catch up on the flash points from nine days of conflict.

House passes anti-Asian hate crimes bill, NBC News, Rebecca Shabad and Dareh Gregorian, Tuesday, 18 May 2021: “The House on Tuesday passed a Senate bill with a 364 to 62 vote to address the rise in anti-Asian hate crimes during the Covid-19 pandemic. The legislation, which the Senate passed in a 94-1 vote last month, directs the Department of Justice to expedite the review of Covid-related hate crimes that were reported to law enforcement agencies and help them establish ways to report such incidents online and perform public outreach. The bill, which Sen. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, introduced in March alongside Rep. Grace Meng, D-N.Y., also directs the attorney general and the Department of Health and Human Services to issue best-practices guidance on how to mitigate racially discriminatory language in describing the pandemic.”

International Energy Agency Warns Nations must Drop Fossil Fuels. A landmark report says countries need to move faster and more aggressively to cut planet-warming pollution. The New York Times, Brad Plumer, Tuesday, 18 May 2021: “Nations around the world would need to immediately stop approving new coal-fired power plants and new oil and gas fields and quickly phase out gasoline-powered vehicles if they want to avert the most catastrophic effects of climate change, the world’s leading energy agency said Tuesday. In a sweeping new report, the International Energy Agency issued a detailed road map of what it would take for the world’s nations to slash carbon dioxide emissions to net zero by 2050. That would very likely keep the average global temperature from increasing 1.5 Celsius above preindustrial levels — the threshold beyond which scientists say the Earth faces irreversible damage. While academics and environmentalists have made similar recommendations before, this is the first time the International Energy Agency has outlined ways to accomplish such drastic cuts in emissions.” See also, The International Energy Agency Says Investment in New Fossil-Fuel Supply Projects Must Immediately Cease if the World Is Going to Slash Net Carbon Emissions to Zero by 2050, The Wall Street Journal, David Hodari, Tuesday, 18 May 2021.

New York state attorney general Letitia James adds ‘criminal capacity’ to probe of Trump Organization, CNN Politics, Sonia Moghe and Kara Scannell, Tuesday, 18 May 2021: “New York Attorney General Letitia James is joining the Manhattan district attorney’s office in a criminal investigation of the Trump Organization, James’ office said Tuesday. The attorney general office’s investigation into the Trump Organization, which has been underway since 2019, will also continue as a civil probe, but the office recently informed Trump Organization officials of the criminal component. ‘We have informed the Trump Organization that our investigation into the organization is no longer purely civil in nature. We are now actively investigating the Trump Organization in a criminal capacity, along with the Manhattan DA,’ James’ spokesman Fabien Levy told CNN. ‘We have no additional comment.'” See also, The New York State Attorney General Letitia James Joins Criminal Inquiry Into Trump Organization. The move increased the investigative muscle looking into the former president and his family business. The New York Times, Danny Hakim, William K. Rashbaum, and Ben Protess, Tuesday, 18 May 2021: “Donald J. Trump and his family came under increasing pressure from New York investigators after the attorney general’s office said Tuesday it was working alongside the Manhattan district attorney in an ongoing criminal fraud investigation. The two offices have been conducting parallel investigations for more than a year, though the inquiry by the office of New York’s attorney general, Letitia James, has been a civil one, meaning it could result in a lawsuit or fines. The Manhattan district attorney, Cyrus R. Vance Jr., has been conducting a criminal investigation, which could result in charges. The new development, first reported by CNN, was disclosed after the attorney general’s office wrote to the Trump Organization in recent days notifying it that information collected as part of the civil inquiry could now be used as part of a criminal investigation. ‘We have informed the Trump Organization that our investigation into the organization is no longer purely civil in nature,’ Fabien Levy, a spokesman for Ms. James, said in a statement. ‘We are now actively investigating the Trump Organization in a criminal capacity, along with the Manhattan D.A. We have no additional comment at this time.'”

Republican Representative Andrew Clyde of Georgia compared Capitol rioters to tourists. Photos show him barricading a door on January 6th. The Washington Post, Brittany Shammas, Tuesday, 18 May 2021: “Rep. Andrew S. Clyde (R-Ga.) last week downplayed the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol, comparing the mob’s breaching of the building to a ‘normal tourist visit.’ But photos from that day show the congressman, mouth agape, rushing toward the doors to the House gallery and helping barricade them to prevent rioters from entering. The images have resurfaced in recent days on social media amid a wave of disbelief and outrage over Clyde’s comments, including from several Republicans.”

 

Wednesday, 19 May 2021:

 

House Votes to Create a Commission to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol, The New York Times, Wednesday, 19 May 2021:

  • A divided House votes to create a commission to investigate the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.

  • Addressing U.S. Coast Guard Academy graduates, Biden says ‘being here today is a victory in and of itself.’

  • House Democrats quash a G.O.P. effort to end the chamber’s mask mandate.

  • The governor of Texas signed into law a near-complete ban on abortion.

  • Biden tells Netanyahu that he expects ‘a significant de-escalation today.’

  • Senators offer a bipartisan bill to overhaul the Postal Service that may have enough support to pass.

  • A subpoena to Twitter may have concerned Mitch McConnell, not Devin Nunes.

  • ‘We definitely have our work cut out for us.’ Biden’s Supreme Court commission holds its first public meeting.
  • Biden reappoints Michael Kuperberg, a top climate scientist who was removed by Trump.
  • Democrats keep underestimating Republican support in presidential elections. They want to know why.

Biden sets deadline for Netanyahu; House backs the creation of an independent commission to investigate the January 6th attack on the Capitol over opposition of Republican leaders, The Washington Post, Felicia Sonmez, Eugene Scott, Colby Itkowitz, and John Wagner, Wednesday, 19 May 2021: “President Biden told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a conversation Wednesday that he expects a ‘significant de-escalation today on the path to a cease-fire’ between Israel and Hamas militants, the White House said, publicly setting a deadline for the first time. Word of the conversation came as Biden traveled to New London, Conn., where he spoke to graduates of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy. It was his first commencement address as commander in chief. Later in the day, the House voted 252-175 for a bill creating an independent commission to investigate the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, with 35 Republicans breaking ranks with their leadership to join Democrats in support. The bill’s fate is in doubt in the Senate where Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said that he opposes a bill establishing a bipartisan commission.

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

  • Former president Donald Trump lashed out at New York Attorney General Letitia James, saying her office’s criminal investigation into the Trump Organization is ‘an investigation that is in desperate search of a crime’ and part of a ‘political and partisan Witch Hunt.’
  • The Biden administration has reinstalled the director of the federal climate program after the Trump administration removed him in November.
  • Survivors of the Tulsa Race Massacre of 1921 spoke at a hearing about the need for reparations to the Black families whose lives were severely affected.
  • Biden’s Supreme Court commission that will evaluate potential structural changes to the judiciary met for the first time in public, outlining topics the group plans to examine during its six-month mandate.
  • House blocks Republican effort to call for relaxing mask rules.

The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: Officials Say Israel and Hamas May Reach Cease-Fire Soon. Both sides said they were close to an agreement to end more than a week of fighting. President Biden and other world leaders intensified calls to end the conflict, which has killed at least 227 people in Gaza and 12 in Israel. The New York Times, Wednesday, 19 May 2021:

  • Biden tells Netanyahu that he expects ‘a significant de-escalation today.’

  • Hopes rise that Israel and Hamas could reach a cease-fire by Friday, and bombings ease overnight.

  • An Israeli campaign targets a Hamas commander who has escaped death many times.

  • An airstrike killed a 2-year-old and her parents in Gaza, adding to a growing toll.

  • Israeli-Palestinian strife feeds a spate of anti-Semitic acts in Europe.

  • Hamas rocket attack kills two Thai workers in Israel.

  • In Pictures: A day of protest and solidarity.

  • Multimedia: Explore the current Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Liberal Democrats launch late push to block U.S. arms sale to Israel, NBC News, Shannon Pettypiece and Lauren Egan, Wednesday, 19 May 2021: “A group of progressive Democratic lawmakers are moving to block the sale of $735 million of U.S. precision-guided weapons to Israel, as President Joe Biden faces growing pressure from his party to take a tougher approach to the conflict in Gaza and to explicitly call for a cease-fire. The Biden administration approved the weapons sale from Boeing, a U.S. company, to Israel this month before violence broke out in the Gaza Strip at a level not seen since 2014. Democratic Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Mark Pocan of Wisconsin and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan are leading the resolution to block the sale.”

House passes bill to create commission to investigate January 6th attack on U.S. Capitol, but its chances in the Senate are dim, The Washington Post, Mike DeBonis, Colby Itkowitz, and Jacqueline Alemany, Wednesday, 19 May 2021: “Republican leaders are trying to sink legislation establishing an independent commission on the deadly Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol that would probably scrutinize former president Donald Trump’s role in the riot and his conversations with Republican lawmakers that day. The bill passed the House on a 252-to-175 vote Wednesday with 35 Republicans supporting the measure, but its chances of clearing the Senate dimmed after Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) came out against the bill earlier in the day. He said he opposes the legislation because it is a ‘slanted and unbalanced proposal’ a day after he said his members were open to voting for the plan but needed a chance to read the ‘fine print.’ In between those comments, Trump released a statement Tuesday evening slamming the bill and decrying it as a ‘Democrat trap’ while urging McConnell and other GOP leaders to start ‘listening.'” See also, House Backs January 6th Commission, but Senate Path Dims. The vote was a victory for Democrats, who were joined by 35 Republicans in pushing for a full accounting of the deadly riot. But Mitch McConnell voiced opposition, clouding Senate prospects. The New York Times, Nicholas Fandos, Wednesday, 19 May 2021: “A sharply divided House voted on Wednesday to create an independent commission to investigate the Jan. 6 Capitol assault, overcoming opposition from Republicans determined to stop a high-profile accounting of the deadly pro-Trump riot. But even as the legislation passed the House, top Republicans locked arms in an effort to doom it in the Senate and shield former President Donald J. Trump and their party from new scrutiny of their roles in the events of that day. The 252-to-175 vote in the House, with four-fifths of Republicans opposed, pointed to the difficult path for the proposal in the Senate. Thirty-five Republicans bucked their leadership to back the bill. The vote came hours after Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader, declared his opposition to the plan. Mr. McConnell had said just a day earlier that he was open to voting for it, and he had previously been vocal both in condemning Mr. Trump’s role in instigating the assault and denouncing the effort by some Republicans on Jan. 6 to block certification of the 2020 election results. His reversal reflected broader efforts by the party to put the assault on the Capitol behind them politically — or to recast the rioting as a largely peaceful protest — under pressure from Mr. Trump and because of concerns about the issue dogging them into the 2022 midterm elections.” See also, Several Republicans who oppose January 6 commission are potential witnesses about Trump’s conduct that day, The Washington Post, Felicia Sonmez, Josh Dawsey, and Jacqueline Alemany, published on Thursday, 20 May 2021: “Several Republicans who oppose creating a commission to investigate the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol are more than lawmakers making a public policy decision — they are potential witnesses to what former president Donald Trump and his aides were saying and doing as the mob laid siege. Their testimony could answer questions about Trump’s state of mind that day, how responsive he was to pleas for help and whether he blocked or delayed his administration’s response. But if Republican leaders are successful in sinking the bill, their accounts of that day may never come to light. Jamie Gorelick, a former member of the bipartisan commission that investigated the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, said it was ‘exceedingly unusual’ for potential witnesses to be the ones deciding whether there should be a commission.”

Inspired by Arizona recount, Trump loyalists push to revisit election results in communities around the country, The Washington Post, Amy Gardner and Rosalind S. Helderman, Wednesday, 19 May 2021: “The ramifications of Trump’s ceaseless attacks on the 2020 election are increasingly visible throughout the country: In emails, phone calls and public meetings, his supporters are questioning how their elections are administered and pressing public officials to revisit the vote count — wrongly insisting that Trump won the presidential race. The most prominent example is playing out in Arizona’s Maricopa County, where Republican state lawmakers have forced a widely pilloried audit of the 2020 vote. That recount is being touted as an inspiration by small but vocal cohorts of angry residents in communities in multiple states.”

Texas Governor Greg Abbott signs into law one of the nation’s strictest abortion measures, banning the procedure as early as six weeks into a pregnancy, The Texas Tribune, Shannon Najmabadi, Wednesday, 19 May 2021: “Gov. Greg Abbott signed into law Wednesday a measure that would prohibit in Texas abortions as early as six weeks — before some women know they are pregnant — and open the door for almost any private citizen to sue abortion providers and others. The signing of the bill opens a new frontier in the battle over abortion restrictions as first-of-its-kind legal provisions — intended to make the law harder to block — are poised to be tested in the courts. Abortion rights advocates have promised to challenge the new law, which they consider one of the most extreme nationwide and the strictest in Texas since the landmark Roe v. Wade decision. It would amount to an outright ban on abortions, as the six-week cutoff is two weeks after a missed menstrual cycle, opponents say.” See also, Texas governor Greg Abbott signs abortion bill banning the procedure as early as six weeks into pregnancy, The Washington Post, Timothy Bella, Wednesday, 19 May 2021. See also, Near-Complete Ban on Abortion Is Signed Into Law in Texas by Republican Governor Greg Abbott. Abbott signed one of the nation’s most restrictive abortion measures, banning it after six weeks of pregnancy, as Texas lawmakers take a hard-right approach to major issues. The New York Times, Edgar Sandoval and Dave Montgomery, Wednesday, 19 May 2021.

Top Trump Executive Allen Weisselberg Is Under Criminal Investigation Over Taxes. New York Attorney General Letitia James is investigating whether taxes were paid on perks that the Trump Organization gave to Allen Weisselberg, its chief financial officer. The New York Times, Ben Protess, William K. Rashbaum, and Danny Hakim, Wednesday, 19 May 2021: “The New York attorney general’s office has been criminally investigating the chief financial officer of former President Donald J. Trump’s company for months over tax issues, according to people with knowledge of the matter. The office of the attorney general, Letitia James, notified the Trump Organization in a January letter that it had opened a criminal investigation related to the chief financial officer, Allen Weisselberg, the people said. The investigators have examined whether taxes were paid on fringe benefits that Mr. Trump gave him, including cars and tens of thousands of dollars in private school tuition for at least one of Mr. Weisselberg’s grandchildren. Previously, Ms. James’s office had been conducting only a civil investigation into the Trump Organization, meaning it could sue the company and seek fines, but not criminal charges.” See also, New York attorney general has been looking into the taxes of Trump Organization CFO for months, sources say, CNN Politics, Kara Scannell and Sonia Moghe, Wednesday, 19 May 2021: “The New York attorney general’s office has opened a criminal tax investigation into top Trump Organization officer Allen Weisselberg, increasing the legal pressure on the long-time aide to former President Donald Trump, people familiar with the investigation say. The pressure on Weisselberg is mounting from two directions with the attorney general looking into his personal taxes, while prosecutors in the district attorney’s office are digging into his role at the Trump Organization, his personal finances, and benefits given to his son Barry, a long-time employee of the Trump Organization. Prosecutors are seeking to find leverage that could sway Weisselberg into cooperating with authorities, people familiar with the investigation said, potentially raising the legal stakes for Trump and his family. It’s a common tactic used by prosecutors to try to get individuals to ‘flip’ to help build a case higher up the corporate ladder. Vance’s office is coordinating with James’ office on its criminal investigation into Weisselberg.”

Survivors of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Share Eyewitness Accounts, NPR, Juana Summers, Wednesday, 19 May 2021: “The day that a white mob came to Greenwood Avenue in Tulsa, Okla., Viola Fletcher was just 7 years old. During emotional testimony on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, Fletcher, who is now 107, recalled her memories of the two-day massacre that left hundreds of Black people dead. ‘I will never forget the violence of the white mob when we left our home. I still see Black men being shot, Black bodies lying in the street. I still smell smoke and see fire. I still see Black businesses being burned. I still hear airplanes flying overhead. I hear the screams,’ Fletcher told lawmakers. ‘I have lived through the massacre every day. Our country may forget this history, but I cannot.’ Fletcher and two other survivors of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, her younger brother Hughes Van Ellis and Lessie Benningfield Randle, testified before a House Judiciary Subcommittee on Wednesday nearly 100 years to the date of the massacre. Some historians say as many as 300 Black people were killed and another 10,000 were left homeless. Greenwood was destroyed by the attack that was launched on May 31, 1921. The country is currently grappling with systemic racism laid bare by the coronavirus pandemic and the killings of George Floyd and other Black people in encounters with law enforcement. The same committee that heard from the survivors has also been studying reparations for the descendants of millions of enslaved Americans and recently advanced a bill that would create a commission to study the lingering effects of slavery. Fletcher and other survivors are calling for justice.” See also, At 107, 106, and 100, Remaining Tulsa Massacre Survivors Plead for Justice. White mobs gunned down Black people in the streets, and Black-owned businesses were burned to the ground. The New York Times, Daniel Victor, published on Thursday, 20 May 2021: “The three known survivors of the 1921 race massacre in Tulsa, Okla., in which white mobs gunned down Black people in the streets and Black-owned businesses were burned to the ground, appeared before a congressional committee on Wednesday, arguing that justice was far overdue. Adding a personal touch to a House Judiciary subcommittee considering reparations for survivors and descendants of the massacre, the three centenarians recalled how the violence, among the worst attacks of racial violence in U.S. history, changed the trajectory of their lives. They described feeling safe, even prosperous, before the attack, surrounded by friends and family in a neighborhood of mostly Black-owned businesses. Then, on June 1, a day that is rarely mentioned in history textbooks, the neighborhood of Greenwood, home to a business district known as Black Wall Street, was destroyed by a white mob. The mob looted and set fire to the businesses, and historians estimate up to 300 people were killed, 8,000 left homeless, 23 churches burned and more than 1,200 homes destroyed.”

 

Thursday, 20 May 2021:

 

Biden Signs Bill Addressing Hate Crimes Against Asian-Americans. The measure is the first legislative action that Congress has taken to bolster law enforcement’s response to attacks on people of Asian descent during the pandemic. The White House is exploring options to help rebuild the besieged Gaza Strip. The New York Times, Thursday, 20 May 2021:

  • ‘All of this hate hides in plain sight.’ Biden signs bill addressing increase in assaults against Asian-Americans.

  • Biden says Israel and Hamas have agreed to a ‘mutual, unconditional’ cease-fire.

  • The U.S. may lead international efforts to rebuild Gaza, but aid could hinge on Hamas’s rocket arsenal.

  • House passes $1.9 billion Capitol security bill by a one-vote margin.

  • Secretary of state confirms the U.S. does not want to buy Greenland.

  • Democrats’ effort to remake the courts moves ahead as Biden’s first judicial nominees clear a Senate panel.

  • Biden signs executive order telling agencies to prepare for climate-related shocks across the economy.

  • Facing hurricane and wildfire seasons, FEMA is already worn out.

  • Four House Democrats urge party leaders to fight for an expansive voting rights bill.
  • Bernie Sanders introduces legislation to block a $735 million arms sale package to Israel.
  • Treasury outlines its plans to crack down on tax cheats by beefing up I.R.S. enforcement.
  • Officials say Russia is escalating a fight with U.S.-funded journalists.
  • Election considerations are driving the Republican opposition to an independent commission to investigate the January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol by a pro-Trump mob.

Biden welcomes Israel’s approval of cease-fire to end conflict with Hamas, The Washington Post, Amy B Wang, Colby Itkowitz, Felicia Sonmez, and Eugene Scott, Thursday, 20 May 2021: “President Biden on Thursday welcomed Israel’s approval of a cease-fire in its 11-day conflict with Hamas in brief remarks at the White House. ‘The Palestinians and Israelis equally deserve to live safely and securely and enjoy equal measures of freedom, prosperity and democracy,’ Biden said in reiterating that Israel has a right to defend itself and promising U.S. support to help Israel replenish its Iron Dome defense system. Earlier in the day, Biden signed into law a bill to expedite a review of pandemic-related hate crimes, with an emphasis on an increase in attacks targeting Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. ‘Every time we’re silent, every time we let hate flourish, we make a lie of who we are as a nation,’ Biden told Republicans, Democrats and guests in the East Room.

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

  • The House narrowly passed a $1.9 billion spending package to pay for security improvements at the U.S. Capitol, with Democrats scrambling to overcome defections just one day after party leaders won hearty bipartisan backing for an independent commission to investigate the Jan. 6 riot carried out by supporters of former president Donald Trump. The vote was 213 to 212, with three members voting present.
  • Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), a surprise vote to convict Trump of inciting the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, opposes the establishment of an independent, bipartisan commission to investigate the deadly assault.
  • Efforts to challenge the 2020 election persist across the country as Trump supporters press local officials to revisit the results, wrongly insisting that he won.
  • The Senate Judiciary Committee advanced Biden’s first slate of judicial nominations, including Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to replace Attorney General Merrick Garland on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.

The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: Israel and Hamas Begin Cease-Fire in Gaza Conflict, The truce came into effect on Friday morning in the Middle East, after days of fighting that claimed hundreds of lives. The New York Times, Thursday, 20 May 2021:

  • A fragile peace takes hold after an intense diplomatic effort.

  • Cease-fires can be fragile, and short-lived, with underlying disputes unresolved.

  • Hamas supporters declare ‘victory’ in a Gaza City celebration.

  • International pressure for a cease-fire had been growing.

  • On the ground: Visiting a mixed Arab-Jewish city recently rocked by mob violence.

  • In pictures: Scenes of conflict and destruction.

  • Multimedia: Explore the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

  • On the ground: What Israelis said about the latest eruption of violence.

Arizona secretary of state says Maricopa County should replace voting equipment because Republican-backed recount compromised its security, The Washington Post, Rosalind S. Helderman, Thursday, 20 May 2021: “Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs (D), the state’s chief elections officer, advised Maricopa County Thursday that it should replace all voting machines that were turned over to a private contractor for an audit of the 2020 presidential election, citing “grave concerns regarding the security and integrity” of the machines that make them unusable for future elections. Hobbs’ guidance, outlined in a letter to county officials, is the latest fallout from a review of the election ordered by Republicans in the Arizona state Senate, who used a subpoena to order the county to turn over voting machines and nearly 2.1 million ballots to reexamine last fall’s vote. The chief executive of the private company hired to conduct the audit has echoed false allegations that the election was stolen, and the process has been widely criticized by election experts as insecure and unprofessional.”

Trump administration secretly obtained CNN reporter’s phone and email records, CNN Politics, Jeremy Herb and Jessica Schneider, Thursday, 20 May 2021: “The Trump administration secretly sought and obtained the 2017 phone and email records of a CNN correspondent, the latest instance where federal prosecutors have taken aggressive steps targeting journalists in leak investigations. The Justice Department informed CNN Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr, in a May 13 letter, that prosecutors had obtained her phone and email records covering two months, between June 1, 2017 to July 31, 2017. The letter listed phone numbers for Starr’s Pentagon extension, the CNN Pentagon booth phone number and her home and cell phones, as well as Starr’s work and personal email accounts. It is unclear when the investigation was opened, whether it happened under Attorney General Jeff Sessions or Attorney General William Barr, and what the Trump administration was looking for in Starr’s records. The Justice Department confirmed the records were sought through the courts last year but provided no further explanation or context. A Justice Department official confirmed that Starr was never the target of any investigation. The seizure of Starr’s records is the third disclosure in as many weeks where the Trump administration used its Justice Department to secretly obtain communications of journalists or to expose the identity of critics of former President Donald Trump’s allies.” See also, Trump Justice Department Seized CNN Reporter’s Email and Phone Records. In a wide-ranging request, federal prosecutors obtained records for Barbara Starr’s email accounts and multiple phone lines, the network said. The New York Times, Adam Goldman, Thursday, 20 May 2021: “The Justice Department under the Trump administration targeted the phone and email records of a prominent CNN journalist who covers the Pentagon as part of an investigation into the apparent disclosure of classified information, the network revealed on Thursday. Federal prosecutors secretly obtained the records, which covered a two-month period beginning in June 2017. In a letter to CNN, prosecutors acknowledged they not only sought records for Barbara Starr’s work and personal email accounts, but also phone records for her offices at the Pentagon and at home, as well as for her cellphones. It was not clear which CNN article prompted the Justice Department to obtain the records, but seeking them is supposed to be the last step that F.B.I. agents and prosecutors take after exhausting all other efforts to uncover the source of sensitive information.” See also, Trump Justice Department secretly obtained CNN correspondent’s phone and email records, The Washington Post, Matt Zapotosky, Thursday, 20 May 2021: “The Justice Department under President Donald Trump secretly obtained the phone and email records of CNN’s Pentagon correspondent, according to that news network and a Justice Department spokesman, again illustrating how the previous administration was willing to seek journalists’ data to investigate disclosures of information it preferred to remain secret.”

Daniel Lyons Scott, Proud Boys member who allegedly shouted about taking the Capitol before the breach, is arrested, The Washington Post, Spencer S. Hsu, Thursday, 20 May 2021: “U.S. authorities have arrested three more alleged associates of two right-wing groups in the Jan. 6 storming of the Capitol, including one who allegedly shouted, ‘Let’s take the f—ing Capitol!’ an hour before the assault while marching with a large group of Proud Boys around the building. Charging papers identified Daniel Lyons Scott, 28, of Bradenton, Fla., as the Proud Boys member nicknamed ‘Milkshake,’ who after allegedly yelling about taking the Capitol was admonished, ‘Let’s not f—ing yell that, okay?’ by a Proud Boys leader on a video live-streamed by the group that day. In the same moments, court documents allege, accused leader Ethan Nordean was recorded saying, ‘It was Milkshake, man, you know . . . idiot!'”

 

Friday, 21 May 2021:

 

Biden Meets With South Korean President Moon Jae-in, The New York Times, Friday, 21 May 2021:

  • Biden, ‘deeply concerned’ about North Korea’s nuclear program, appoints a new envoy to Pyongyang.

  • Biden and Moon are expected to discuss more ambitious climate targets.

  • Biden awards the Medal of Honor to a Korean War hero.

  • Biden sends Republicans a $1.7 trillion counteroffer on infrastructure, but gulf remains.

  • The U.S. says it will play a leading role in helping rebuild Gaza.

  • A G.O.P. challenger to Liz Cheney says he impregnated a 14-year-old when he was 18.

  • Representative Tom Malinowski defended profitable stock trades he made during the pandemic.

  • George Floyd’s family will visit the White House on the anniversary of his death.

Biden hosts South Korean President Moon Jae-in at the White House, The Washington Post, Amy B Want, Felicia Sonmez, Eugene Scott, and Colby Itkowitz, Friday, 21 May 2021: “President Biden welcomed South Korean President Moon Jae-in to the White House on Friday, making him the second foreign leader to visit the United States after Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga came last month and underscoring the importance of Asia to the administration’s foreign policy. At a joint news conference with Moon on Friday evening, Biden announced that he is appointing veteran diplomat Sung Kim to serve as special envoy to North Korea. ‘The United States and the Republic of Korea are allies with a long history of shared sacrifice,’ Biden said earlier Friday at a bilateral meeting with Moon. ‘I look forward to continuing our discussion today here and growing the U.S.-[Republic of Korea] relationship further as we take on new challenges and we take them on together. Vice President Harris met with Moon first in the morning. ‘Our alliance is critical to peace, security and prosperity in Northeast Asia, the Indo-Pacific and around the world,’ she told him. Biden, Harris and Moon also attended a Medal of Honor ceremony for a 94-year-old Korean War veteran, an honor Biden said was ’70 years overdue.’

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

  • Col. Ralph Puckett, who led a company of Army Rangers that came under heavy Chinese fire during the Korean War, will receive a Medal of Honor for his valor.
  • Several lawmakers who voted against the creation of an independent commission on the Jan. 6 attack at the U.S. Capitol could also be called as witnesses to testify about former president Donald Trump’s actions that day.
  • The White House coronavirus response team, including National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Anthony S. Fauci, held a news briefing as Biden faces criticism from some public health officials over a swift change to mask guidance.
  • Thursday’s cease-fire between Israel and Hamas militants came only after more than 80 calls and contacts among U.S. officials and Israeli and Arab officials, including six conversations between Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
  • In echo of Arizona, Georgia judge orders county to allow voters to inspect mailed ballots cast last fall.

As Israel-Hamas Cease-Fire Holds, Gazans Survey Wreckage, The New York Times, Friday, 21 May 2021:

  • With the fighting suspended, assessing the destruction in Gaza.

  • Why Biden used a light touch while pressing Netanyahu.

  • The rockets may have stopped, but Palestinians are no less angry.

  • For Israelis, victory is hard to define, much less achieve.

  • Biden says Democrats are still committed to Israel, but he walks a fine diplomatic line.

  • On the ground: The road to Gaza.

  • Cease-fires can be fragile, and short-lived, with underlying disputes unresolved.

The federal government puts out a ‘help wanted’ notice as Biden seeks to undo Trump cuts, The Washington Post, Lisa Rein, Friday, 21 May 2021: “The Federal Bureau of Prisons, its staff depleted by Trump-era hiring freezes, is advertising for thousands of jobs. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is bringing on dozens of lawyers after being gutted by four years of budget cuts. The Agriculture Department is moving to replace hundreds of scientists who fled or were forced out by the last administration. At the Justice Department, officials are looking to hire civil rights attorneys — and the Energy Department is recruiting for senior energy efficiency and renewable energy roles that went unfilled when Donald Trump was president. That’s a fraction of the growth in the federal bureaucracy that the Biden administration would like to see, according to a $1.5 trillion preliminary budget the White House released in April, which directs billions of dollars into hiring to help curb climate change, restore enforcement of environmental and workplace laws, and expand safety net programs in housing, education, public health and veterans’ health…. Some programs that are crucial to Biden’s agenda are so short-staffed that his administration can’t yet fully implement his policies, among them enforcement of fair-housing and workplace safety laws. A number of decisions by the Trump administration, including the relocation of key economic research and land management offices, are proving hard to reverse.”

Matt Gaetz’s ex-girlfriend to cooperate with federal authorities in sex trafficking investigation, CNN Politics, Paula Reid, David Shortell, and Gloria Borger, Friday, 21 May 2021: “Federal authorities investigating alleged sex trafficking by GOP Rep. Matt Gaetz have secured the cooperation of the congressman’s ex-girlfriend, according to people familiar with the matter. The woman, a former Capitol Hill staffer, is seen as a critical witness, as she has been linked to Gaetz as far back as the summer of 2017, a period of time that has emerged as a key window of scrutiny for investigators. She can also help investigators understand the relevance of hundreds of transactions they have obtained records of, including those involving alleged payments for sex, the sources said. News of the woman’s willingness to talk, which has not been previously reported, comes just days after the Justice Department formally entered into a plea agreement with Joel Greenberg, a one-time close friend of Gaetz whose entanglement with young women first drew the congressman onto investigators’ radar.”

How a Sweeping New Proposal Would Limit Police Use of Force in New York. The state’s attorney general seeks to create a “last resort” rule for officers’ use of physical force, and to impose new criminal penalties for those who break it. The New York Times, Luis Ferré-Sadurni and Ali Watkins, Friday, 21 May 2021: “Police officers in New York could only use physical force as a last resort, would have to meet a higher threshold for using deadly force and would face new criminal penalties for violating those guidelines under a sweeping legislative proposal unveiled on Friday. If adopted, the changes could drastically alter the nature of law enforcement in New York at a time when the issue of police accountability is at the center of a fraught national debate over persistent racism in America’s criminal justice system. The legislation was proposed by Letitia James, the state’s attorney general, who said in a statement that her goal was to provide ‘clear and legitimate standards for when the use of force is acceptable and enacting real consequences for when an officer crosses that line.’ The proposal — announced nearly a year after a white Minneapolis police officer, Derek Chauvin, killed George Floyd, a Black man — came amid continuing calls for increasing the accountability applied to officers who are involved in such killings.”

Wyoming state Senator Anthony Bouchard, challenger to Liz Cheney, says he impregnated 14-year-old when he was 19: ‘It’s like the Romeo and Juliet story,’ The Washington Post, Timothy Bella, Friday, 21 May 2021: “Wyoming state Sen. Anthony Bouchard, a Republican who has announced his intention to challenge Rep. Liz Cheney (R) for her House seat, acknowledged Thursday that he had impregnated a 14-year-old and had a relationship with her when he was 18, comparing the teen intimacy to Shakespeare’s tragedy ‘Romeo and Juliet.’ Bouchard first acknowledged that he impregnated a girl when he was 18 in a Facebook Live video, but did not initially disclose her age. He confirmed to the Casper Star-Tribune that the girl was 14 and the couple, who were both living in Florida, later married when she was 15 and he was 19.”

 

Saturday, 22 May 2021:

 

U.S. Grants Temporary Protections to Thousands of Haitians, The New York Times, Eileen Sullivan, Saturday, 22 May 2021: “The Biden administration on Saturday extended special protections to Haitians living temporarily in the United States after being displaced by a devastating 2010 earthquake, reversing efforts by the previous administration to force them to leave the country. The decision, announced by the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, Alejandro N. Mayorkas, makes good on President Biden’s campaign promise to restore a program that shields thousands of Haitian migrants from the threat of deportation under the restrictive policies put in place under President Donald J. Trump. Mr. Mayorkas said the new 18-month designation, known as temporary protected status, would apply to Haitians already living in the United States as of Friday.”

Georgia Republican Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene is slammed for comparing House covid restrictions to the Holocaust, The Washington Post, Amy B Wang, Saturday, 22 May 2021: “Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) is being widely lambasted for comparing the continuing coronavirus restrictions in the U.S. Capitol to what Jewish people suffered during the Holocaust. In a recent appearance on Real America’s Voice network’s ‘The Water Cooler with David Brody,’ a conservative show, Greene complained about House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s recent decision to keep a mask mandate on the House floor over concerns that many Republican lawmakers might not be vaccinated. ‘This woman is mentally ill,’ Greene said, referring to Pelosi (D-Calif.). ‘You know, we can look back in a time in history where people were told to wear a gold star, and they were definitely treated like second-class citizens — so much so that they were put in trains and taken to gas chambers in Nazi Germany and this is exactly the type of abuse that Nancy Pelosi is talking about.’ Greene was erroneously referring to the yellow Star of David that most Jews under Nazi rule were ordered to wear. Earlier in the podcast, Brody balked at Pelosi’s recent suggestion that unvaccinated GOP lawmakers who didn’t want to wear a mask should vote in a separate gallery off the House floor. ‘I think she’s talking segregation,’ Brody said. ‘That’s right. I said it.'”

CNN Drops Rick Santorum After Dismissive Comments About Native Americans, The New York Times, Jesus Jiménez, Saturday, 22 May 2021: “Rick Santorum, the former Pennsylvania senator and Republican presidential candidate, has been dropped from his role as a CNN political commentator amid controversy over recent remarks in which he seemed to erase the role of Native Americans in U.S. history. Matt Dornic, head of strategic communications at CNN, confirmed in an email on Saturday that the network had ‘parted ways’ with the former senator. Mr. Santorum’s departure from CNN came after comments he made about Native Americans at a Young America’s Foundation event last month. ‘We birthed a nation from nothing — I mean, there was nothing here,’ Mr. Santorum said at the event. ‘I mean, yes, we have Native Americans, but candidly, there isn’t much Native American culture in American culture.'”

 

Monday, 24 May 2021:

 

Gordon Sondland, the Former Ambassador to the European Union Who Testified Against Trump, Sues Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo Over Legal Fees, The New York Times, Monday, 24 May 2021:

  • A key impeachment witness against Trump sued Mike Pompeo over legal fees.

  • A critical week looms for Biden and Republicans in infrastructure talks.

  • Blinken will travel to the Middle East in a bid to bolster the Israel-Hamas cease-fire.

  • Sanders proposes strict conditions for semiconductor companies that receive federal funds.

  • Xavier Becerra, head of the Department of Health and Human Services, touts shelters housing migrant children overseen by his agency.

  • Florida will fine social media companies that ban political candidates.

  • Supreme Court refuses to hear appeal from death row inmate over method of execution.

  • White House affirms Biden’s vow to stop seizures of reporters’ phone data.

  • Iran extends agreement with international inspectors, averting crisis.

  • Trump’s former White House counsel, Donald McGahn II, will likely testify next week on Trump’s efforts to obstruct the Russia investigation.
  • The U.S. is distributing stimulus aid to victims of domestic abuse, who faced even greater hardship in the pandemic.
  • Biden is doubling a FEMA program to prepare for extreme weather.
  • Amy Klobuchar, chair of the Senate Rules Committee, is set to introduce legislation on Monday to ban political campaigns from guiding online donors into recurring donations by default.

Biden says he will ‘insist on nothing less than readiness’ during hurricane season, The Washington Post, Felicia Sonmez, Eugene Scott, Colby Itkowitz, and John Wagner, Monday, 24 May 2021: “President Biden said he would ‘insist on nothing less than readiness’ as he visited the Federal Emergency Management Agency on Monday ahead of the official June 1 start of the Atlantic Ocean hurricane season. Before the visit, Biden announced that he was doubling the money the U.S. government will spend to help communities prepare for extreme weather events. Vice President Harris held a listening session at the White House campus on the digital divide as the Biden administration continues to press its case for a major infrastructure bill. Negotiations with Senate Republicans reached an impasse last week.

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

  • National Guard personnel will fully depart the U.S. Capitol grounds this week, bringing an end to the security mission that began when troops were dispatched to help quell the attack by supporters of President Donald Trump on Jan. 6.
  • Biden condemned as ‘despicable’ recent attacks on Jews in the United States — actions linked to the conflict between Israel and Hamas.
  • Trump’s ambassador to the European Union, Gordon Sondland, is suing the U.S. government for $1.8 million to compensate for legal fees incurred during the 2019 House impeachment probe.
  • The Biden administration is moving to make a pandemic experiment permanent by allowing more federal employees than ever to work from home.

Court papers allege man charged with bringing molotov cocktails to U.S. Capitol on January 6th has Texas militia ties and contacted Ted Cruz’s office, The Washington Post, Spencer S. Hsu, Monday, 24 May 2021: “An Alabama man charged with bringing five loaded firearms and 11 molotov cocktails with napalm-like properties to the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 approached Sen. Ted Cruz’s Washington home and office weeks earlier to discuss ‘election fraud’ and previously joined an armed-citizen camp at the Texas border, new court filings alleged Monday. The new U.S. allegations came in a federal judge’s ruling ordering the continued detention of Lonnie Leroy Coffman, of Falkville, Ala., citing evidence that he had potential plans to coordinate with others and was prepared for political violence. The 71-year-old Army veteran is awaiting trial on charges of possessing some of the deadliest unregistered weapons and explosives on the day of the riots that breached the Capitol, led to assaults on nearly 140 police officers and forced the evacuation of Congress.”

Commerce Department security unit evolved into counterintelligence-like operation, Washington Post examination found, The Washington Post, Shawn Boburg, Monday, 24 May 2021: “An obscure security unit tasked with protecting the Commerce Department’s officials and facilities has evolved into something more akin to a counterintelligence operation that collected information on hundreds of people inside and outside the department, a Washington Post examination found. The Investigations and Threat Management Service (ITMS) covertly searched employees’ offices at night, ran broad keyword searches of their emails trying to surface signs of foreign influence and scoured Americans’ social media for critical comments about the census, according to documents and interviews with five former investigators.”

Biden Justice Department fights release of legal memo on prosecuting Trump. The move puts the Biden team in the curious position of seeking to maintain secrecy surrounding legal decisions of the Trump era. Politico, Josh Gerstein, Monday, 24 May 2021: “The Justice Department on Monday released more of a key legal memo concluding that former President Donald Trump did not commit obstruction of justice through his alleged attempts to thwart federal investigations, including Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into ties between his 2016 campaign and Russia. However, top Justice officials filed an appeal to try to keep the majority of that nine-page legal opinion under wraps, despite a judge’s order earlier this month requiring that the legal memo be released in its entirety. The Justice Department signaled its split decision on the disputed memo in a brief court filing submitted at about 10:30 p.m. Monday. A department spokesperson declined to comment on whether Attorney General Merrick Garland, who promised at his confirmation hearing to read the Freedom of Information Act ‘generously,’ had signed off on the decision. However, the move appeared to reflect an institutional decision to take some action to protect the department’s internal deliberations on highly sensitive matters.” See also, Justice Department releases part of internal memo on not charging Trump in Russia investigation, The Washington Post, Devlin Barrett and Matt Zapotosky, published on Tuesday, 25 May 2021: “The Justice Department has released part of a key internal document used in 2019 to justify not charging President Donald Trump with obstruction, prompting a federal judge who wants to disclose the entire document to offer more blistering criticism of former attorney general William P. Barr. Two new court filings — one late Monday night and another made public Tuesday — offered details about how Barr ended a possible obstruction case against Trump, and how the department’s handling of that politically explosive question has drawn the ire of U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson. The ongoing fallout from the handling of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s findings is likely to fuel and frustrate Trump’s biggest critics, particularly Democrats who have long argued that Barr stage-managed an exoneration of Trump after Mueller submitted a 448-page report describing his investigation into whether the 2016 Trump campaign conspired with Russia to interfere in the election, and whether Trump tried to obstruct that investigation.” See also, Justice Department Fights to Keep Secret a Memo on Clearing Trump in Russia Inquiry. The move put the Biden administration in the position of defending the secrecy of a memo related to the disputed decision to clear President Donald J. Trump. The New York Times, Charlie Savage, published on Tuesday, 25 May 2021: “The Biden administration has decided to fight a legal battle to keep secret most of a Trump-era Justice Department memo related to Attorney General William P. Barr’s much-disputed declaration in 2019 that cleared President Donald J. Trump of illegally obstructing justice in the Russia investigation. In a late-night filing on Monday, the Justice Department appealed part of a scathing district court ruling that ordered it to make public the entire memo. Two senior department officials wrote the document at the same time that they were helping Mr. Barr draft a letter to Congress claiming that the evidence in the report, which was still secret at the time, was insufficient to charge Mr. Trump with a crime. The still-redacted portion of the document examines nearly a dozen episodes presented as raising obstruction of justice concerns that were detailed in the report by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, and has at least two sections, according to two people briefed on it.”

 

Tuesday, 25 May 2021:

 

Democratic Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema Implore Republicans to Back Creation of January 6 Commission. The maneuvering by the moderate Democrats amounted to a long-shot effort to salvage what may be the best chance at a full, bipartisan accounting for the attack on the Capitol and the security failures around it. The New York Times, Tuesday, 25 May 2021:

  • Manchin and Sinema implore Republicans to back Jan. 6 inquiry, fearing filibuster fight.

  • Blinken meets with Abbas and Netanyahu amid effort to secure a lasting cease-fire.

  • Republicans are planning a counteroffer to Biden’s latest infrastructure pitch as talks stall.

  • The Justice Dept. will fight to keep secret most of a Barr-era memo on whether Trump obstructed the Russia inquiry.

  • Even as Floyd’s family meets with Biden, police reform legislation languishes.

  • American troops are expected to be out of Afghanistan by July, even as unresolved issues linger.

  • Greene repeatedly compares vaccine mandates to Nazi Germany, drawing rebukes from her own party.

  • Kristen Clarke is the first Senate-confirmed woman of color to lead the Justice Department’s civil rights division.
  • Biden and Putin will meet face to face in Geneva in mid-June.
  • The White House is backing plans to open up the California coast to wind farms.
  • Chiquita Brooks-LaSure becomes the first Black administrator confirmed to lead Medicare and Medicaid.
  • The Biden administration seeks to oust several Trump appointees on an arts commission.

Biden appeals for policing legislation after meeting with family of George Floyd, The Washington Post, Felicia Sonmez, Eugene Scott, Colby Itkowitz, and John Wagner, Tuesday, 25 May 2021: “President Biden issued a plea for policing legislation Tuesday after meeting privately at the White House with family members of George Floyd on the first anniversary of his death in the custody of Minneapolis police. The meeting came as negotiations continue in Congress on a bill bearing Floyd’s name. ‘We have to act. We face an inflection point,’ the president said in a statement. ‘The battle for the soul of America has been a constant push and pull between the American ideal that we’re all created equal and the harsh reality that racism has long torn us apart. At our best, the American ideal wins out. It must again.’

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

Americans Gathered to Mark Anniversary of George Floyd’s Death, The New York Times, Tuesday, 25 May 2021: “President Biden hosted Mr. Floyd’s family at the White House one year after he was murdered, with rallies held in Minneapolis and many other cities.” See also, A Timeline of What Has Happened in the Year Since George Floyd’s Death, The New York Times, Giulia McDonnell Nieto del Rio, John Eligon, and Adeel Hassan, Tuesday, 25 May 2021. See also, George Floyd’s Family Meets With Biden Amid Push for Police Reform, The New York Times, Michael D. Shear and Nicholas Fandos, Tuesday, 26 May 2021: “In a private meeting at the White House on Tuesday, President Biden renewed the promise he made to the family of George Floyd just hours after a Minneapolis police officer was convicted of murder in his death. Mr. Biden vowed in April to pass a police reform bill in his name, promising justice not only for Mr. Floyd but for a nation still reeling from a year of killings and protests. He made a fresh commitment during the White House meeting even as Mr. Biden acknowledged that he had missed a self-imposed deadline of having the bill signed by the first anniversary of Mr. Floyd’s death, which fell on Tuesday.”

Faulty redactions in court document show federal investigators seized more information in case against Rudy Giuliani than previously disclosed, CNN Politics, Erica Orden and Kara Scannell, Tuesday, 25 May 2021: “New York federal prosecutors investigating Rudy Giuliani have seized material from a wider array of individuals than previously disclosed, including messages from email and iCloud accounts they believe belong to two former Ukrainian government officials, as well as the cell phone and iPad of a pro-Trump Ukrainian businessman, according to a court document unsealed Tuesday. The court filing, which contained redacted portions that CNN was able to read by copying and pasting them into another document, also disclosed that federal prosecutors have ‘historical and prospective cell site information’ related to Giuliani and another lawyer, Victoria Toensing, both of whom were the subjects of search warrants executed late last month.”

Why the January 6th Capitol Riot Inquiries Leave Room for a Broad Independent Commission, The New York Times, Alan Feuer and Nicholas Fandos, Tuesday, 25 May 2021: “As the Senate moves this week toward voting on the creation of a 9/11-style commission to investigate the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, Republicans have raised a series of arguments against it. They have objected to the inquiry’s scope, its length and even the process for hiring its staff. But last week, announcing that he too would oppose the plan, the Senate minority leader, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, made another argument: He claimed that the commission was redundant, noting that the Justice Department and congressional committees are already looking into the assault…. What he failed to mention was that the criminal investigation into the riot, despite being one of the largest in American history, was narrowly bounded by federal law and would not — indeed could not — seek the answers to several crucial questions about Jan. 6. The same can be said about the major congressional effort to investigate the assault, a tightly focused inquiry into the broad government response to the violence that day.”

Prosecutor in Trump criminal investigation convenes grand jury to hear evidence and weigh potential charges, The Washington Post, Shayna Jacobs and David A. Fahrenthold, Tuesday, 25 May 2021: “Manhattan’s district attorney has convened the grand jury that is expected to decide whether to indict former president Donald Trump, other executives at his company or the business itself, should prosecutors present the panel with criminal charges, according to two people familiar with the development. The panel was convened recently and will sit three days a week for six months. It is likely to hear several matters — not just the Trump case ­— during its term, which is longer than a traditional New York state grand-jury assignment, these people said. Like others, they spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss an ongoing investigation. Generally, special grand juries such as this are convened to participate in long-term matters rather than to hear evidence of crimes charged routinely. The move indicates that District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr.’s investigation of the former president and his business has reached an advanced stage after more than two years. It suggests, too, that Vance thinks he has found evidence of a crime — if not by Trump, by someone potentially close to him or by his company.”

Biden Opens California’s Coast to Wind Farms. The idea of erecting wind farms in the Pacific Ocean has long been dismissed as impractical. But major hurdles, including military objections, have now been cleared. The New York Times, Coral Davenport, Tuesday, 25 May 2021: “The notion of wind farms churning in the Pacific Ocean, creating clean energy to power homes and businesses, has long been dismissed because of logistical challenges posed by a deep ocean floor and opposition from the military, which prefers no obstacles for its Navy ships. But evolving technology and a president determined to rapidly expand wind energy have dramatically shifted the prospects for wind farms in the Pacific. On Tuesday, the Navy abandoned its opposition and joined the Interior Department to give its blessing to two areas off the California coast that the government said can be developed for wind turbines. The plan allows commercial offshore wind farms in a 399-square-mile area in Morro Bay along central California, and another area off the coast of Humboldt in Northern California. It marked the most significant action the federal government has taken to promote wind energy along the West Coast and is part of President Biden’s aggressive plan to expand renewable energy and shift the nation away from fossil fuels.” See also, Biden looks to California for next phase of offshore wind. Governor Gavin Newsom and Biden administration officials announce two new areas for wind farms off California. The Washington Post, Joshua Partlow, Tuesday, 25 May 2021: “Until now, the plan to power American cities by erecting thousands of giant wind turbines in the oceans off the United States has mostly been an East Coast vision. Developers are busy studying the outer continental shelf and awaiting — or recently celebrating — federal permits to put wind farms from Maine to North Carolina. The West Coast has lagged behind as the Biden administration pursues its ambitious goal of producing 30 gigawatts of electricity from offshore wind by 2030. The main reason has been geography. The deeper coastal waters of the Pacific make these costly construction projects even more difficult. And the U.S. military’s frequent use of the Pacific for training and maneuvers has been a complicating factor. But the Biden administration and California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) announced on Tuesday that they plan to push ahead with West Coast offshore wind by designating two areas off the California coast for future wind energy development. If wind farms in these areas ultimately get approved in coming years they would be the first of their kind on the West Coast.”

 

Wednesday, 26 May 2021:

 

David Chipman, Biden’s Nominee to Lead the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, Faces Fierce Opposition at His Confirmation Hearing. Chipman announced his support for a proposed ban on AR-15-style rifles during his Senate confirmation hearing. The New York Times, Wednesday, 26 May 2021:

  • Biden’s pick to lead A.T.F. faces fierce opposition at his confirmation hearing.

  • President Biden calls for U.S. intelligence agencies to investigate the origins of the virus.

  • Biden is said to be planning to nominate R. Nicholas Burns as ambassador to China and Mayor Eric Garcetti of Los Angeles as ambassador to India. 

  • A filibuster fight is looming in the Senate.

  • The mother of a Capitol Police officer who died lobbies Republicans to drop their opposition to an inquiry into the January 6 mob attack on the U.S. Capitol.

  • Karine Jean-Pierre takes her turn at the White House podium.

  • Biden’s ties to Israel face a stiff test as Iran talks loom.

  • The chief executives of the six biggest Wall Street firms testified before the Senate Banking Committee.

Biden asks intelligence community to redouble efforts to determine origin of the coronavirus. Mother and partner of fallen Capitol Police officer request meetings with all Republican senators, urging them to back January 6 commission. The Washington Post, John Wagner, Eugene Scott, and Felicia Sonmez, Wednesday, 26 May 2021: “President Biden said Wednesday that he has asked the intelligence community to redouble its efforts to determine whether covid-19 originated from human contact with an infected animal or from a laboratory in China. In a statement, Biden said he has asked for a report within 90 days and hopes the intelligence community ‘will collect and analyze information that could bring us closer to a definitive conclusion.’ The White House, meanwhile, is continuing its push Wednesday for an infrastructure package, with Vice President Harris convening a group of lawmakers from both parties to discuss investments in broadband. Negotiations have stalled with Republicans over legislation that could win bipartisan support in the Senate.

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

  • John W. Warner, a five-term Republican senator from Virginia who gained respect on both sides of the political aisle, died at age 94.
  • The mother and partner of the late Capitol Police officer Brian D. Sicknick are requesting meetings with all Republican senators to urge them to establish an independent commission to investigate the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.
  • Manhattan’s district attorney has convened a grand jury that is expected to decide whether to indict former president Donald Trump, other executives at his company or the business itself.

Prosecutors investigating Trump tell witness to prepare for grand jury testimony, CNN Politics, Sonia Moghe and Kara Scannell, Wednesday, 26 May 2021: “Manhattan prosecutors pursuing a criminal case against former President Donald Trump, his company and its executives have told at least one witness to prepare for grand jury testimony, according to a person familiar with the matter — a signal that the lengthy investigation is moving into an advanced stage. The development suggests that the Manhattan district attorney’s office is poised to transition from collecting evidence to presenting what is likely a complex case to a grand jury, one that could result in the jury considering criminal charges. The district attorney’s office, led by Cyrus Vance Jr., has been investigating Trump, his real estate company and the company’s executives on multiple fronts, including by examining the former President’s tax returns, questioning perks the company gave employees and probing the manner in which the company accounted for reimbursements it made to Trump’s former personal attorney Michael Cohen.”

Biden Administration Defends Huge Alaska Oil Drilling Project Approved by the Trump Administration Late Last Year. The administration says the country must pivot away from fossil fuels but backed a project set to produce more than 100,000 barrels of oil each day for 30 years. The New York Times, Lisa Friedman, Wednesday, 26 May 2021: “The Biden administration is defending a huge Trump-era oil and gas project in the North Slope of Alaska designed to produce more than 100,000 barrels of oil a day for the next 30 years, despite President Biden’s pledge to pivot the country away from fossil fuels. The multibillion-dollar plan from ConocoPhillips to drill in part of the National Petroleum Reserve was approved by the Trump administration late last year. Environmental groups sued, arguing that the federal government failed to take into account the impact that drilling would have on fragile wildlife and that burning the oil would have on global warming. The project, known as Willow, set up a choice for the Biden administration: decline to defend oil drilling and hinder a lucrative project that conflicts with its climate policy or support a federal decision backed by the state of Alaska, some tribal nations, unions and key officials, including Lisa Murkowski, a moderate Republican senator seen as a potential ally of the administration in an evenly split Senate…. In a paradox worthy of Kafka, ConocoPhillips plans to install ‘chillers’ into the permafrost — which is fast melting because of climate change — to keep it solid enough to support the equipment to drill for oil, the burning of which will continue to worsen ice melt. Over the past 60 years, Alaska has warmed more than twice as fast as the rest of the United States. Arctic ecosystems are in disarray, sea ice is disappearing, sea levels are rising and the ground is thawing. A federal court halted construction in February while the case is pending. The court could ultimately still decide against the project, its critics said. But oil and gas industry officials and members of Alaska’s congressional delegation, some of whom personally appealed to President Biden this week, said they believed the administration’s support would help it proceed.” See also, Biden officials condemned for backing Trump-era Alaska drilling project, The Guardian, Oliver Milman, published on Thursday, 27 May 2021: “Joe Biden’s administration is facing an onslaught of criticism from environmentalists after opting to defend the approval of a massive oil and gas drilling project in the frigid northern reaches of Alaska. In a briefing filed in federal court on Wednesday, the US Department of Justice said the Trump-era decision to allow the project in the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska’s north slope was ‘reasonable and consistent’ with the law and should be allowed to go ahead. This stance means the Biden administration is contesting a lawsuit brought by environmental groups aimed at halting the drilling due to concerns over the impact upon wildlife and planet-heating emissions. The US president has paused all new drilling leases on public land but is allowing this Alaska lease, approved under Trump, to go ahead. The project, known as Willow, is being overseen by the oil company ConocoPhillips and is designed to extract more than 100,000 barrels of oil a day for the next 30 years. Environmentalists say allowing the project is at odds with Biden’s vow to combat the climate crisis and drastically reduce US emissions.”

Climate Activists Defeat Exxon in Push for Clean Energy. Shareholders elected at least two of the four directors nominated by a coalition of investors that said the oil giant was not investing enough in cleaner energy. The New York Times, Clifford Krauss and Peter Eavis, Wednesday, 26 May 2021: :Big Oil was dealt a stunning defeat on Wednesday when shareholders of Exxon Mobil elected at least two board candidates nominated by activist investors who pledged to steer the company toward cleaner energy and away from oil and gas. The success of the campaign, led by a tiny hedge fund against the nation’s largest oil company, could force the energy industry to confront climate change and embolden Wall Street investment firms that are prioritizing the issue. Analysts could not recall another time that Exxon management had lost a vote against company-picked directors.”

 

Thursday, 27 May 2021:

 

Republicans Counter Biden’s Infrastructure Plan. Republican lawmakers unveiled a counterproposal on Thursday that includes a fraction of new spending on top of the expected reauthorization of current programs. President Biden will release his full $6 trillion budget proposal for the fiscal year 2022 on Friday. The New York Times, Thursday, 27 May 2021:

  • Senate Republicans counter Biden’s $1.7 trillion infrastructure plan with an offer for $257 billion in new spending.

  • Biden will formally introduce his $6 trillion budget on Friday.

  • Janet Yellen says the Treasury needs more funds to oversee the economic recovery.

  • Biden pitches his spending plans during a visit to an Ohio community college.

  • Biden says he will release the results of an inquiry into the virus’ origin.

  • The U.S. will require pipeline companies to report any time they are hit by a significant cyberattack.

  • An ideologically diverse group of Democrats press Biden to expand Medicare.

  • Obama expresses frustration over his inability to address racial injustice as president.

  • Biden’s continued silence on abortion rights is worrying liberals.
  • Paul Ryan critiques Trump’s grip on the Republican Party.

Biden says his economic plan is working, but he urges additional ‘generational investments,’ The Washington Post, Colby Itkowitz, Felicia Sonmez, Amy B Wang, and John Wagner, Thursday, 27 May 2021: “President Biden claimed credit Thursday for putting a pandemic-battered U.S. economy back on track — proclaiming that ‘the Biden economic plan is working.’ He also used a speech in Ohio to urge Congress to make ‘generational investments’ in education and infrastructure to keep the country competitive. ‘Now’s the time to build on the foundation that we’ve laid to make bold investments in our families and our communities and our nation,’ Biden said at a community college in Cleveland. His visit came at a key juncture in negotiations over his infrastructure package. Earlier Thursday, Senate Republicans put forward a counter-offer that would spend $928 billion and focus more narrowly than Biden wants on ‘core physical infrastructure’ such as roads and bridges.”

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

  • The mother and partner of the late Capitol Police officer Brian D. Sicknick personally lobbied Republican senators to support an independent commission to investigate the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. The Senate is expected to vote as soon as Thursday on whether to advance a House-passed bill to create it.
  • The White House on Friday is set to propose a $6 trillion budget plan as Biden seeks major changes to the U.S. economy and welfare system.
  • The Senate unanimously approved Christine Wormuth as secretary of the Army, the first woman to have that job.
  • In a speech Thursday night, former House speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) is expected to offer a veiled criticism of former president Donald Trump — but not by name.

Federal judge Amy Berman Jackson of the DC District Court says Trump’s ‘steady drumbeat’ of the Big Lie could continue to inspire his supporters to take up arms, CNN Politics, Katelyn Polantz, Thursday, 27 May 2021: “A federal judge on Wednesday wrote that Donald Trump’s ‘Big Lie’ that the 2020 election was stolen from him could still inspire some of the former President’s supporters to take up arms, as they did in January during the deadly US Capitol insurrection. The judge’s blunt assessment of the current, charged political climate came in a legal decision about a defendant who was drawn to Washington, DC, in January. And it adds to a growing chorus of warnings from the officials most closely weighing the aftermath of the Capitol riot about what the threat level still might be. ‘The steady drumbeat that inspired defendant to take up arms has not faded away; six months later, the canard that the election was stolen is being repeated daily on major news outlets and from the corridors of power in state and federal government, not to mention in the near-daily fulminations of the former President,’ Judge Amy Berman Jackson of the DC District Court wrote in an opinion to keep defendant Cleveland Meredith Jr. in jail because he could endanger the public if released.”

Environmental Protection Agency to Modify Trump-Era Limits on States’ Ability to Oppose Energy Projects. In recent years, states have used the Clean Water Act to block pipelines and other fossil fuel projects. The Trump administration tried to curb that power. The New York Times, Brad Plumer, Thursday, 27 May 2021: “The Biden administration on Thursday said it planned to revise a Trump-era rule that limited the ability of states and tribes to veto pipelines and other energy projects that could pollute their local waterways. The Trump administration finalized the rule last June, saying that curbs on state authority were necessary because too many states had been using clean water laws to block pipelines, coal terminals and other fossil-fuel projects from going forward. Since then, 20 states and several tribes have challenged the rule in court, contending that the constraints could hamper their ability to safeguard their rivers and drinking water. But under the Biden administration, the Environmental Protection Agency is now saying that it will move to bolster state authority.”

Prosecutors Are Investigating Whether Ukrainians Meddled in 2020 Election. The Brooklyn federal inquiry has examined whether former and current Ukrainian officials tried to interfere in the election, including funneling misleading information through Rudolph W. Giuliani. The New York Times, William K. Rashbaum, Ben Protess, Kenneth P. Vogel, and Nicole Hong, Thursday, 27 May 2021: “Federal prosecutors in Brooklyn have been investigating whether several Ukrainian officials helped orchestrate a wide-ranging plan to meddle in the 2020 presidential campaign, including using Rudolph W. Giuliani to spread their misleading claims about President Biden and tilt the election in Donald J. Trump’s favor, according to people with knowledge of the matter. The criminal investigation, which began during the final months of the Trump administration and has not been previously reported, underscores the federal government’s increasingly aggressive approach toward rooting out foreign interference in American electoral politics. Much of that effort is focused on Russian intelligence, which has suspected ties to at least one of the Ukrainians now under investigation.”

Poll Suggests QAnon Is Now as Popular in U.S. as Some Major Religions. Fifteen percent of Americans believe that ‘patriots may have to resort to violence’ to restore the country’s rightful order, the poll indicated. The New York Times, Giovanni Russonello, Thursday, 27 May 2021: “As hopes fade for a bipartisan inquiry into the Capitol riot on Jan. 6, it’s increasingly clear that the Republican base remains in thrall to the web of untruths spun by Donald J. Trump — and perhaps even more outlandish lies, beyond those of the former president’s making. A federal judge warned in an opinion yesterday that Mr. Trump’s insistence on the ‘big lie’ — that the November election was stolen from him — still posed a serious threat. Presiding over the case of a man accused of storming Congress on Jan. 6, Judge Amy Berman Jackson of the United States District Court in Washington wrote: ‘The steady drumbeat that inspired defendant to take up arms has not faded away. Six months later, the canard that the election was stolen is being repeated daily on major news outlets and from the corridors of power in state and federal government, not to mention in the near-daily fulminations of the former president.’ But it’s not just the notion that the election was stolen that has caught on with the former president’s supporters. QAnon, an outlandish and ever-evolving conspiracy theory spread by some of Mr. Trump’s most ardent followers, has significant traction with a segment of the public — particularly Republicans and Americans who consume news from far-right sources. Those are the findings of a poll released today by the Public Religion Research Institute and the Interfaith Youth Core, which found that 15 percent of Americans say they think that the levers of power are controlled by a cabal of Satan-worshiping pedophiles, a core belief of QAnon supporters. The same share said it was true that ‘American patriots may have to resort to violence’ to depose the pedophiles and restore the country’s rightful order. And fully 20 percent of respondents said that they thought a biblical-scale storm would soon sweep away these evil elites and ‘restore the rightful leaders.'” See also, Poll finds most Republicans say 2020 election was stolen, and roughly one-quarter embrace QAnon conspiracies, CNN Politics, Ariel Edwards-Levy, Friday, 28 May 2021: “Most Americans reject QAnon-linked conspiracy theories and believe that Donald Trump lost legitimately in 2020, a set of new polling finds. But a substantial minority within the Republican party endorses some of those theories, and most continue to baselessly question the outcome of last year’s election. About one-quarter of Republicans, 23%, agree with a set of conspiratorial beliefs linked to the QAnon movement, according to a PRRI report released Thursday. These believers said they mostly or completely agreed that ‘the government, media, and financial worlds in the U.S. are controlled by a group of Satan-worshipping pedophiles who run a global child sex trafficking operation,’ that ‘there is a storm coming soon that will sweep away the elites in power and restore the rightful leaders,’ and, finally, that ‘because things have gotten so far off track, true American patriots may have to resort to violence in order to save our country.’ Among the full American public, 14% mostly or completely agree with all those statements, with a broad majority saying they disagree. Beyond partisanship, belief in QAnon conspiracy theories is also strongly associated with consumption of far-right media, the report finds.”

 

Friday, 28 May 2021:

 

Republicans Block Independent Commission to Investigate the January 6 Storming of the U.S. Capitol by a Pro-Trump Mob. Republican senators use the filibuster to prevent the creation of a panel to scrutinize the assault on the Capitol. President Biden proposes a $6 trillion budget that envisions a redistribution of wealth and invests in climate change, education and infrastructure. The New York Times, Friday, 28 May 2021:

  • Republicans block an independent inquiry into the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol by a pro-Trump mob.

  • Biden proposes a $6 trillion budget in a push to make the U.S. more competitive.

  • Here’s a look at what’s inside Biden’s $6 trillion budget request.

  • A judge orders the appointment of a ‘special master’ to review devices the F.B.I. seized from Giuliani.

  • Republican dissent delays passage of China competitiveness bill until June.

  • Biden recognizes the sacrifice of service members in a speech ahead of Memorial Day.

  • Harris becomes the first woman to deliver a commencement speech to the Naval Academy.

  • The federal housing agency plans to help Black homeowners as part of its racial justice agenda.
  • Russia appears to be behind a cyberattack that used State Department emails to target Putin’s critics.
  • The scope of the Rupublican-led effort to overhaul voting regulations in states across the country now makes it one of the most significant restrictions of access to the ballot in a generation, according to a report released on Friday by the Brennan Center for Justice, a research institute.
  • QAnon is now as popular in America as some major religions, poll suggests.
  • Some Biden actions on climate change are clashing with his 2020 environmental pledges.

Biden touts progress fighting the coronavirus in Virginia; White House formally releases budget, The Washington Post, Colby Itkowitz, Felicia Sonmez, Amy B Wang, and John Wagner, Friday, 28 May 2021: “President Biden traveled to Virginia on Friday to tout the state’s progress in combating the coronavirus, a visit that comes on the same day the White House formally proposed a $6 trillion budget plan for 2022 that seeks major changes to the U.S. economy and welfare system. On Capitol Hill, Senate Republicans blocked legislation that sought to establish an independent, bipartisan commission to investigate the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol by supporters of former president Donald Trump.

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

Republican senators block January 6 commission, likely ending bid for independent investigation of the pro-Trump mob attack on the U.S. Capitol, The Washington Post, Karoun Demirjian, Friday, 28 May 2021: “The bipartisan push to launch an independent and nonpartisan investigation of the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol suffered a fatal blow Friday, after nearly all Senate Republicans banded together in opposition. The 54-to-35 outcome, six votes shy of the 60 needed to circumvent a procedural filibuster, followed hours of overnight chaos as lawmakers haggled over unrelated legislation. The vote stood as a blunt rejection by Republicans of an emotional last-minute appeal from the family of a Capitol Police officer who died after responding to the insurrection, as well as an 11th-hour bid by Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) to save the measure by introducing changes intended to address her party’s principal objections.” See also, Senate Republicans Filibuster January 6 Inquiry Bill, Blocking an Independent Investigation, The New York Times, Nicholas Fandos, Friday, 28 May 2021: “Republicans on Friday blocked the creation of an independent commission to investigate the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, using their filibuster power in the Senate for the first time this year to doom a full accounting of the deadliest attack on Congress in centuries. The vote was a stark display of loyalty to former President Donald J. Trump and political self-interest by Republicans determined to shield themselves from an inquiry that could tarnish their party. They feared an investigation that would remind voters of the consequences of Mr. Trump’s election lies and how Republican lawmakers indulged them, spurring their supporters to violence. It all but guaranteed that there would be no comprehensive nonpartisan inquiry into the attack’s root causes, the former president’s conduct as his supporters threatened lawmakers and the vice president, or any connections between his allies in Congress and the rioters.” See also, Senate Republicans Block a Plan for an Independent Commission to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol by Pro-Trump Mob, NPR, Brian Naylor, Friday, 28 May 2021: “Bipartisan legislation to establish an independent commission to investigate the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol has failed in the Senate, as Republicans staged their first filibuster since President Biden took office to block the plan. The final vote Friday was 54-35, but Republicans withheld the votes necessary to bring the bill up for debate. Just six GOP senators joined with the Democrats, leaving the measure short of the 60 votes needed to proceed. The proposed commission was modeled on the one established to investigate the 9/11 terror attacks, with 10 commissioners — five Democrats and five Republicans — who would have subpoena powers. A Democratic chair and Republican vice chair would have had to approve all subpoenas with a final report due at the end of the year.”

Biden’s $6 Trillion Budget Aims for Path to the Middle Class, Financed by the Rich. The president’s budget envisions a redistribution of wealth that will allow more Americans to enjoy prosperity, buoyed by investments in education, infrastructure, and climate-related initiatives. The New York Times, Jim Tankersley, Friday, 28 May 2021: “President Biden’s $6 trillion budget bets on the power of government to propel workers, families and businesses to new heights of prosperity in a rapidly changing economy, by redistributing income and wealth from high earners and corporations to grow the middle class. The inaugural budget request of Mr. Biden’s presidency reduces spending levels compared to last year, when lawmakers dispensed trillions of dollars to people, businesses and local governments to help them survive the pandemic recession. But it sets the nation on a new and higher spending path, with total federal outlays rising to $8.2 trillion by 2031 and deficits running above $1.3 trillion throughout the next decade. That spending represents an attempt to expand the size and scope of federal engagement in Americans’ daily lives, including guaranteeing two years of prekindergarten and two years of free community college, reducing the costs of child care, granting paid leave for workers, sending monthly government payments to parents and paving the way for electric cars and trucks to take over the nation’s highways and cul-de-sacs.” See also, A Look at What’s Inside Biden’s $6 Trillion Budget Request, The New York Times, Friday, 28 May 2021.

Russia Appears to Carry Out Hack Through System Used by U.S. Aid Agency, The New York Times, David E. Sanger and Nicole Perlroth, Friday, 28 May 2021: “Hackers linked to Russian intelligence surreptitiously seized an email system used by the United States government’s international aid agency to burrow into the computer networks of human rights groups and other organizations of the sort that have been critical of President Vladimir V. Putin, Microsoft Corporation disclosed on Thursday. Discovery of the breach comes only three weeks before President Biden is scheduled to meet Mr. Putin in Geneva, and at a moment of increased tension between the two nations — in part because of a series of increasingly sophisticated cyberattacks emanating from Russia. The newly disclosed attack was also particularly bold: By breaching the systems of a supplier used by the federal government, the hackers sent out genuine-looking emails to more than 3,000 accounts across more than 150 organizations that regularly receive communications from the United States Agency for International Development. Those emails went out as recently as this week, and Microsoft said it believes the attacks are ongoing. The email was implanted with code that would give the hackers unlimited access to the computer systems of the recipients, from ‘stealing data to infecting other computers on a network,’ Tom Burt, a Microsoft vice president, wrote on Thursday night.”

 

Saturday, 29 May 2021:

 

Texas Senate Passes One of the Nation’s Strictest Voting Bills, The New York Times, Nick Corasaniti, Saturday, 29 May 2021: “The Republican-controlled Texas State Senate passed a bill early Sunday that would impose a raft of new voting restrictions in the state, moving a step closer to the expected full passage of what would be among the most far-reaching laws in Republicans’ nationwide drive to overhaul elections systems and limit voting. The bill would tighten what are already some of the country’s strictest voting laws, and it would specifically target balloting methods that were employed for the first time last year by Harris County, home to Houston. In addition to banning drive-through voting and 24-hour voting, which were used by nearly 140,000 voters in Harris County during the 2020 election, the bill would prohibit election officials from sending absentee ballots to all voters, regardless of whether they had requested them; ban using tents, garages, mobile units or any temporary structure as a polling location; further limit who could vote absentee; and add new identification requirements for voting by mail. Partisan poll watchers would also have more access and autonomy under the bill’s provisions, and election officials could be more harshly punished if they make mistakes or otherwise run afoul of election codes and laws.” See also, Texas Senate approves stringent voting restrictions after all-night debate, The Washington Post, Amy Gardner, published on 30 May 2021: “After a dramatic all-night debate, the Texas Senate approved one of the most restrictive voting bills in the country early Sunday on a party-line vote, despite emotional pleas from Democrats who likened the measure to the Jim Crow laws of the 20th century that effectively barred Black Americans from voting in Southern states. The Republican-majority House is scheduled to take up the measure later Sunday; if it passes, Gov. Greg Abbott (R) is widely expected to sign it quickly.”

Some Capitol rioters are using misinformation about the election as their defense, Associated Press, David Klepper, Saturday, 29 May 2021: “Falsehoods about the election helped bring insurrectionists to the Capitol on Jan. 6, and now some who are facing criminal charges for their actions during the riot hope their gullibility might save them or at least engender some sympathy. Lawyers for at least three defendants charged in connection with the violent siege tell The Associated Press that they will blame election misinformation and conspiracy theories, much of it pushed by then-President Donald Trump, for misleading their clients. The attorneys say those who spread that misinformation bear as much responsibility for the violence as do those who participated in the actual breach of the Capitol.”

Efforts to Advance Racial Equity Are Baked In Throughout Biden’s Budget.The budget, which was released on Friday, includes tens of billions of dollars worth of programs intended to bolster the fortunes of people of color and other historically underserved groups. The New York Times, Michael D. Shear, Saturday, 29 May 2021: “Six days after his inauguration, President Biden vowed that his administration would see everything through the lens of racial equality, making it ‘the business of the whole of government.’ On Friday, his $6 trillion budget began to make good on that promise. Sprinkled throughout the president’s enormous spending plan are scores of programs amounting to tens of billions of dollars intended to specifically bolster the fortunes of Black people, Asian people, tribal communities and other historically underserved groups in the United States. Mr. Biden is not the first president to spend money on such programs. And civil rights advocates said the budget released on Friday fell short in some critical areas like student loans, where they say even more money is needed to rectify a longstanding lack of fairness and a lopsided burden being carried by minorities. ‘It’s going in the right direction, but it’s not a perfect document,’ said Derrick Johnson, the president of the N.A.A.C.P., who said he was disappointed that the president’s budget did not call for canceling student loan debt, which falls disproportionately on Black Americans. But he added that his organization was pleased that the president was ‘continuing to make one of his priorities equity’ via the budget.”

 

Sunday, 30 May 2021:

 

Nikole Hannah-Jones, Mega-Donor Walter Hussman, and the Future of Journalism. Emails obtained by The Assembly show that UNC-Chapel Hill’s largest journalism-school donor warned against Nikole Hannah-Jones’ hiring. The Assembly, John Drescher, Sunday, 30 May 2021: Even in the midst of a record-setting $4.25 billion capital campaign, Walter Hussman Jr.’s $25 million commitment in 2019 to the UNC-Chapel Hill school of journalism stood out. His name went on the school, and his statement of journalistic principles went up on the entryway wall. Hussman, the publisher of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, is an evangelist of old-school objectivity. ‘Impartiality means reporting, editing, and delivering the news honestly, fairly, objectively, and without personal opinion or bias,’ says the opening line of his statement of core values. It’s an ethos he passionately believes should be taught to a rising generation of journalists. Some at UNC-CH say that passion has led him to cross a line. Last summer, Hussman learned of the university’s interest in hiring Nikole Hannah-Jones, a Pulitzer Prize-winning essayist, former News & Observer reporter, and current New York Times reporter, best known for her work on the 1619 Project. Earlier this month, NC Policy Watch broke the news that Hannah-Jones, who is Black, had not been offered tenure by UNC-CH as part of her hiring as the prestigious Knight Chair in Race and Investigative Journalism. Previous Knight Chairs, who also did not have doctoral degrees, were offered tenure at Carolina. The report quickly became national news, in part as a proxy war around questions of systemic racism and cancel culture. Hannah-Jones has been widely supported at UNC and across academia since the news went public. But long before the debate entered the public arena, opposition to her appointment had been quietly growing, led in part by Hussman himself.”

 

Monday, 31 May 2021:

 

Texas Democrats Stymie Republican Voting Bill, for Now. Republicans hit a significant stumbling block in their push to enact some of the strictest voting laws in the nation. But they could yet pass the measures through a special session of the Legislature. The New York Times, Nick Corasaniti, 31 May 2021: “Democrats in the Texas Legislature staged a dramatic, late-night walkout on Sunday night to force the failure of a sweeping Republican overhaul of state election laws. The move, which deprived the session of the minimum number of lawmakers required for a vote before a midnight deadline, was a stunning setback for state Republicans who had made a new voting law one of their top priorities. The effort is not entirely dead, however. Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, indicated that he would call a special session of the Legislature, which could start as early as June 1, or Tuesday, to restart the process. The governor has said that he strongly supported an election bill, and in a statement he called the failure to reach one on Sunday “deeply disappointing.” He was widely expected to sign whatever measure Republicans passed.” See also, Texas Democrats block restrictive voting bill by walking off the floor to deny Republican-majority House a quorum, The Washington Post, Amy Gardner, Monday, 31 May 2021: “Texas Democrats staged a dramatic walkout in the state House late Sunday night to block passage of a restrictive voting bill that would have been one of the most stringent in the nation, forcing Republicans to abruptly adjourn without taking a vote on the measure. The surprise move came after impassioned late-night debate and procedural objections about the GOP-backed legislation, which would have made it harder to vote by mail, empowered partisan poll watchers and made it easier to overturn election results. Republicans faced a midnight deadline to approve the measure. Gov. Greg Abbott (R) tweeted that he would add the bill to a special session he plans to call later this year to address legislative redistricting. ‘Legislators will be expected to have worked out the details when they arrive at the Capitol for the special session,’ he wrote.” See also, How the Texas voting bill would create hurdles for voters of color. Provisions barring drive-through voting and early voting on Sunday mornings would have had a disproportionate effect on Black and Latino voters, critics say. The Washington Post, Amy Gardner, Monday, 31 May 2021. See also, Texas Democrats leave House floor, effectively blocking passage of restrictive voting bill for now, CNN Politics, Eric Bradner and Dianne Gallagher, Monday, 31 May 2021: “Texas Republicans’ push to enact a slew of new voting restrictions was stymied — at least for now — by Democrats who walked off the state House floor late Sunday night, leaving majority Republicans without the quorum they needed to approve the bill in the final hours before a midnight deadline. Their move effectively killed Senate Bill 7 for this year’s legislative session. But it could soon be revived: Republican Gov. Greg Abbott tweeted Sunday night that he is adding ‘election integrity’ to a list of topics lawmakers will address in a special session he plans to call.” See also, Texas Democrats abandon House floor, blocking passage of voting bill before final deadline. Midnight was the deadline for the House to approve the legislation that would alter nearly the entire voting process, create new limitations to early voting hours, ratchet up voting-by-mail restrictions, and curb local voting options. The Texas Tribune, Alexa Ura, published on 30 May 2021. See also, After defeating restrictive voting bill, Texas Democrats send loud message: ‘We need Congress to do their part,’ The Washington Post, Amy Gardner, Monday, 31 May 2021: “Texas Democrats who defeated a Republican effort to pass a suite of new voting restrictions with a dramatic late-night walkout from the state House chamber on Sunday have a message for President Biden and his allies in Congress: If we can protect voting rights, you can, too. The surprise move by roughly 60 Democratic lawmakers headed off the expected passage of S.B. 7, a voting measure that would have been one of the most stringent in the nation, by denying Republicans a required quorum and forcing them to abruptly adjourn without taking a vote. The coordinated walkout just after 10:30 p.m. Central time jolted the national debate on voting rights, putting the spotlight on Democratic-backed federal legislation that has been stalled in the Senate all spring, even as state Republicans move to enact new voting rules.” See also, After Dramatic Walkout, a New Fight Looms Over Voting Rights in Texas. After killing a Republican-sponsored bill to restrict voting in the state, Democrats vowed to oppose any efforts to revive it. Republicans pledged to pass it in a special legislative session. The New York Times, Dave Montgomery and Nick Corasaniti, Monday, 31 May 2021: “The battle among Texas lawmakers over a bill that would impose some of the strictest limits in the nation on voting access escalated Monday as Democrats and Republicans vowed that they would not back down over a highly charged issue that has galvanized both parties. Stung by the last-minute setback for one of the G.O.P.’s top legislative priorities, after Democrats killed the measure with a dramatic walkout Sunday night, Gov. Greg Abbott suggested he would withhold pay from lawmakers because of their failure to pass the bill.” See also, Texas Governor Greg Abbott vows to defund state Legislature after voting restrictions bill fails, threatening salaries, The Texas Tribune, Patrick Svitek, Monday, 31 May 2021: “Gov. Greg Abbott said Monday he would veto the section of the state budget that funds the Legislature hours after a Democratic walkout killed his priority elections bill. ‘No pay for those who abandon their responsibilities,’ Abbott said in a tweet. ‘Stay tuned.'”

A Proclamation on Day of Remembrance: 100 Years After the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, The White House, Monday, 31 May 2021: “One hundred years ago, a violent white supremacist mob raided, firebombed, and destroyed approximately 35 square blocks of the thriving Black neighborhood of Greenwood in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Families and children were murdered in cold blood. Homes, businesses, and churches were burned. In all, as many as 300 Black Americans were killed, and nearly 10,000 were left destitute and homeless. Today, on this solemn centennial of the Tulsa Race Massacre, I call on the American people to reflect on the deep roots of racial terror in our Nation and recommit to the work of rooting out systemic racism across our country.”

Four more Oath Keepers are indicted for participating in Capitol attack, The Guardian, Edward Helmore, Monday, 31 May 2021: “Four additional members of the Oath Keepers, a far-right militia group that took part in the storming of the US Capitol on 6 January, have been indicted for participating in the event. Court documents unsealed on Sunday named three individuals living in Florida – Joseph Hackett, 51, of Sarasota, Jason Dolan, 44, of Wellington, and William Isaacs, 21, of Kissimmee. The three appeared last Thursday before US magistrates in Tampa, West Palm Beach and Orlando. A fourth person’s name was hidden. The four new defendants are charged with conspiring to obstruct Congress’s confirmation of the 2020 presidential election results in a joint session of Congress that was interrupted by the attack on the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob. Five deaths were ultimately linked to the attack. The four Oath Keepers are each accused of forcing entry through the Capitol’s East Rotunda doors after marching up the steps wearing combat uniforms, tactical vests, helmets and Oath Keepers insignia. The new indictment is part of a larger criminal conspiracy case that now includes 19 members of the far-right group. Members previously charged in the government’s case have pleaded not guilty.”

Biden Aims to Rebuild and Expand Legal Immigration. Documents obtained by The New York Times show far-reaching efforts by President Biden to remake the immigration system and undo much of his predecessor’s legacy. The New York Times, Michael D. Shear and Zolan Kanno-Youngs, Monday, 31 May 2021: “If President Biden gets his way, it will soon be far easier to immigrate to the United States. There will be shorter, simpler forms and applicants will have to jump through fewer security hoops. Foreigners will have better opportunities to join their families and more chances to secure work visas. A 46-page draft blueprint obtained by The New York Times maps out the Biden administration’s plans to significantly expand the legal immigration system, including methodically reversing the efforts to dismantle it by former President Donald J. Trump, who reduced the flow of foreign workers, families and refugees, erecting procedural barriers tougher to cross than his ‘big, beautiful wall.'”

 

 

 

 

Now that the Trump administration is no longer in power, I plan to post summaries of the daily political news and major stories relating to this tragic and dangerous period in 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!