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US Monthly Headline News February 2021 Page 1

On social media, on cable networks and even in the halls of Congress, supporters of Donald J. Trump tried to rewrite history in real time, pushing the fiction that left-wing agitators were to blame for the violence on Jan. 6.
By Michael M. Grynbaum, Davey Alba and Reid J. Epstein

At 1:51 p.m. on Jan. 6, a right-wing radio host named Michael D. Brown wrote on Twitter that rioters had breached the United States Capitol — and immediately speculated about who was really to blame. “Antifa or BLM or other insurgents could be doing it disguised as Trump supporters,” Mr. Brown wrote, using shorthand for Black Lives Matter. “Come on, man, have you never heard of psyops?” Only 13,000 people follow Mr. Brown on Twitter, but his tweet caught the attention of another conservative pundit: Todd Herman, who was guest-hosting Rush Limbaugh’s national radio program. Minutes later, he repeated Mr. Brown’s baseless claim to Mr. Limbaugh’s throngs of listeners: “It’s probably not Trump supporters who would do that. Antifa, BLM, that’s what they do. Right?” What happened over the next 12 hours illustrated the speed and the scale of a right-wing disinformation machine primed to seize on a lie that served its political interests and quickly spread it as truth to a receptive audience. The weekslong fiction about a stolen election that President Donald J. Trump pushed to his millions of supporters had set the stage for a new and equally false iteration: that left-wing agitators were responsible for the attack on the Capitol. more...

By Bill McCarthy

Tucker Carlson’s false claim downplaying role of white supremacists at Capitol riot. Several people charged in connection with the U.S. Capitol riot have ties to right-wing extremist groups. Some of those groups are explicitly white supremacist. Others, like the Proud Boys, have members who have expressed white supremacist views. Video and photos from the event show that white supremacist symbols were prominently displayed on shirts and flags. Asked during a Senate hearing on Feb. 23 whether white supremacists and extremist groups were involved in the riot, top Capitol security officials said, “yes.” Fox News host Tucker Carlson downplayed the involvement of racially motivated extremist groups in the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, falsely suggesting that the mob of pro-Trump rioters who violently stormed the building did not include white supremacists. "There's no evidence that white supremacists were responsible for what happened on Jan. 6. That's a lie," Carlson said Feb. 22 on his TV show. "And contrary to what you've been hearing, there's also no evidence this was a, quote, 'armed insurrection.'" During the segment, Carlson, whose primetime show is among the most-watched cable news programs, interviewed the author of a blog post that argued the riot did not amount to an armed insurrection. PolitiFact previously rated that claim Pants on Fire. more...

By Erik Larson

Donald Trump’s niece is balking at the former president’s claim that she waited too long to file her multi-million dollar fraud suit against him, saying she would have sued sooner if he hadn’t covered his tracks so well. Mary Trump on Friday asked a judge to deny Donald Trump’s motion to dismiss the suit, which she filed in September against her uncle and his siblings, Robert Trump and Maryanne Trump Barry. She claims they conspired to skim tens of millions of dollars off her stake in the family business for decades after her father died and left them as her fiduciaries. The suit by the daughter of Donald Trump’s late older brother, Fred Trump Jr., is one of several serious legal threats the former president faces as a private citizen. If the case in New York state court in Manhattan survives, he could be deposed under oath by the end of the year or early 2022. more...

Whistleblowers say they were forced out after flagging problems with e-commerce giant’s data security and compliance.
By Vincent Manancourt

YOUR ORDER HISTORY. Your credit card information. Even your intimate health data. Amazon is amassing an empire of data as the online retailer ventures into ever more areas of our lives. But the company's efforts to protect the information it collects are inadequate, according to insiders who warn the company's security shortfalls expose users' information to potential breaches, theft and exploitation. The warnings about privacy and compliance failures at Amazon come from three former high-level information security employees — one EU-based and two from the U.S. — who told POLITICO they had repeatedly tried to alert senior leadership in the company's Seattle HQ, only to be sidelined, dismissed or pushed out of the company in what they saw as professional retaliation. more...

*** If you cannot win honestly rig the elections and cheat to win that is the republican way. ***

Steve Inskeep

Republican-led legislatures in dozens of states are moving to change election laws in ways that could make it harder to vote. Many proposals explicitly respond to the 2020 election: Lawmakers cite public concerns about election security — concerns generated by disinformation that then-President Donald Trump spread while trying to overturn the election.

The Brennan Center, a nonprofit that tracks voting laws, says that 43 states — including key swing states — are considering 253 bills that would raise barriers to voting, for example by reducing early voting days or limiting access to voting by mail. Lawmakers in a different set of 43 states have proposed expanding voter access, but Republicans have prioritized new security requirements and shorter voting periods.

In Georgia, which President Biden won by nearly 12,000 votes, legislators are considering multiple bills to restrict voting. The most significant, House Bill 531, is before a committee chaired by Republican Rep. Barry Fleming. He said Democrat Stacey Abrams campaigned to expand voter access after losing a governor's race in 2018, and now Republicans want their own changes. The bill is "an attempt to restore the confidence of our public," he said, because "there has been controversy regarding our election system." more...

Wynne Davis

A second former aide to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has come forward with allegations of sexual harassment that took place last spring as the state was facing a surge in cases and deaths in its fight against the coronavirus. Cuomo says he will now ask New York's attorney general and the state's chief judge to pick an independent investigator to review the accusations against him.

The allegations were first reported by The New York Times on Saturday — just four days after another former aide published similar allegations about the governor in a Medium post, including an unwanted kiss and touching.

The latest allegations were brought by Charlotte Bennett, 25, who worked as an executive assistant and health policy adviser for Cuomo until leaving his administration in November. The Times said it approached Bennett about her story following a tweet she wrote in support of Lindsey Boylan for sharing her account of what happened with Cuomo — an account the governor has called untrue. more...

Jason Slotkin

The release of a U.S. intelligence report finding that Saudi Arabia's crown prince had approved the 2018 killing of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi is prompting calls for penalties against the man next in line to the Saudi throne. The report, released Friday, found that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman — whose involvement was widely suspected — had approved the operation to kill Khashoggi at the country's consulate in Istanbul, Turkey. The day of the report's release, the U.S. State department also issued a visa ban for 76 Saudis. But so far no direct penalties for Salman have been announced. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., who chairs the House Intelligence Committee, tweeted on Friday that Biden should "ensure that repercussions for the brutal murder of Khashoggi go beyond those who carried it out, to the one who ordered it." "The Crown Prince has blood on his hands. The blood of an American resident and journalist. We must have accountability," Schiff wrote. He also told CNN that Biden should "shun" the crown prince. more...

*** No matter what Republicans and right wing media say it was not Antifa is was Trump supporters, white supremacist and Qanon who arrack the United States Capitol. ***

By Marshall Cohen, CNN

(CNN) Nearly a dozen Trump supporters charged in connection with the US Capitol insurrection have said that Antifa and other left-wing groups weren't involved in the attack, debunking a false-flag conspiracy theory that is gaining popularity in the pro-Trump orbit. The baseless claim that left-wing infiltrators were responsible for the violent attack has been promoted by former President Donald Trump's impeachment lawyers, several GOP lawmakers and at least one speaker at the Conservative Political Action Conference Friday morning. Many of the alleged rioters facing charges also embraced this conspiracy. But according to a CNN review of court documents, nearly a dozen defendants have explicitly pushed back, saying that they and other Trump supporters deserve the credit for storming the Capitol -- not Antifa. "There's a lot of memes and posts flying around saying that the people who were fighting last night were all Antifa provocateurs etc.," defendant Jose Padilla allegedly posted to Facebook one day after the January 6 attack. "I just want to say that as a first hand observer of every point of last night, that it was not Antifa. They were Patriots who were trying to Restore the Republic." more...

Mike Redmond

While today’s Republicans are predominantly Evangelical Christians, they clearly missed the part in The Bible about building false idols. In a move that truly captures the apocalyptic vibes of his presidency, Bloomberg’s William Turton captured footage of a golden statue of Donald Trump being wheeled around CPAC on Thursday, and people are having a blast dunking on the graven image. Shortly after the footage hit Twitter, “Golden Calf” started trending as religious leaders and others pointed out the awkward (and hypocritical) Biblical implications of turning Trump into a golden idol, which is a big no-no, according to Christian scripture. And, yet, that’s definitely a gilded Trump wearing American flag shorts. more...

By Nicole Lyn Pesce

Comments like ‘the GOP worship a golden crook’ spread across Twitter faster than you can say ‘Moses’. This is pure Twitter gold. The 2021 Conservative Political Action Conference, or CPAC, kicked off in Orlando, Fla., this week with someone wheeling in a golden statue of Donald Trump. And the inevitable comparisons to the Old Testament story of the Israelites worshiping a false idol in the form of a golden calf spread across social media faster than you can say “Moses.”  In fact, “golden calf” and related terms like “Moses” and “CPAC” were soon trending on Friday morning. more...

Artist Tommy Zegan reveals figure was constructed in country the former president has assailed and demonized
Guardian staff

A golden statue of Donald Trump that has caused a stir at the annual US gathering of conservatives was made in Mexico – a country the former president frequently demonized. The statue is larger than life, with a golden head and Trump’s trademark suit jacket with white shirt and red tie. Video and pictures of the tribute being wheeled through the halls of the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Orlando, Florida, went viral on Friday. The conference is seen as a vital gathering of the Republican right, and this year has become a symbol of Trump’s continued grip on the party, despite being cast out of office after two impeachments, seemingly endless parades of scandals and a botched response to the coronavirus pandemic that has cost half a million lives in the US. more...

By Jeff Berardelli

An influential current system in the Atlantic Ocean, which plays a vital role in redistributing heat throughout our planet's climate system, is now moving more slowly than it has in at least 1,600 years. That's the conclusion of a new study published in the journal Nature Geoscience from some of the world's leading experts in this field. Scientists believe that part of this slowing is directly related to our warming climate, as melting ice alters the balance in northern waters. Its impact may be seen in storms, heat waves and sea-level rise. And it bolsters concerns that if humans are not able to limit warming, the system could eventually reach a tipping point, throwing global climate patterns into disarray. The Gulf Stream along the U.S. East Coast is an integral part of this system, which is known as the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation, or AMOC. It was made famous in the 2004 film "The Day After Tomorrow," in which the ocean current abruptly stops, causing immense killer storms to spin up around the globe, like a super-charged tornado in Los Angeles and a wall of water smashing into New York City. more...

This year’s Conservative Political Action Conference attendees “are living in an alternate reality in which facts don’t matter,” said former GOP Rep. Mickey Edwards.
By Lee Moran

A former chair of the Conservative Political Action Conference on Friday slammed what the event has now become, suggesting former President Ronald Reagan would not get elected by those in attendance at this year’s gathering. Mickey Edwards — who led the American Conservative Union, which organizes the event, for five years until 1983 — ripped Republicans attending this year’s CPAC in Orlando for their devotion to former President Donald Trump. In an interview with CNN’s Erin Burnett, Edwards likened the GOP to a cult whose members are living in an alternate reality. Edwards served as a GOP representative for Oklahoma for 16 years until 1993 but quit the GOP in January following the deadly U.S. Capitol riot. The violence was perpetrated by a violent mob of Trump supporters who’d been whipped up by the then-president’s lie that the 2020 election was stolen from him. more...

“The Daily Show” montage spots similarities in the rhetoric of Republicans at the Conservative Political Action Conference and the U.S. Capitol rioters.
By Lee Moran

A stinging supercut calls out Republican rhetoric at this week’s Conservative Political Action Conference in Orlando, Florida. “The Daily Show With Trevor Noah” montage highlights how speakers — including Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Donald Trump Jr. — used the same frenzied language in their addresses on Friday as the violent mob of then-President Donald Trump’s supporters who stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. video...

Donald Trump Jr.’s girlfriend set Twitter alight with her declaration at the Conservative Political Action Conference.
By Lee Moran

Kimberly Guilfoyle confused Twitter users on Friday with a prediction about ex-President Donald Trump. “I will confidently say that (former) President Trump from his desk at Mar-a-Lago will accomplish more for America in the next four years than (President) Joe Biden and (Vice President) Kamala Harris could ever dream of,” former Fox News host Guilfoyle, who is the girlfriend of Donald Trump Jr., told the Conservative Political Action Conference in Orlando, Florida. more...

The Fox News personality’s comment has not aged well.
By Lee Moran

What a difference a year makes. On Saturday, “The Daily Show With Trevor Noah” hit Fox News personality Sean Hannity with a musical reminder of what he said while downplaying the threat of the coronavirus on the same day ― Feb. 27 ― in 2020. “Zero people in the United States of America have died from the coronavirus,” Hannity told his millions of viewers. One year on, the U.S. death toll now stands upward of 500,000. “The Daily Show” remixed Hannity’s statement into a club anthem: more...

Conservative activists and leaders are set to spend the weekend talking about unproven voter fraud weeks after stolen election lies fueled a deadly riot.
By Jane C. Timm

The nation's largest conference of conservative activists will prominently feature former President Donald Trump's false claims of voter fraud weeks after his stolen election lie fueled a riot that led to the deaths of five people. The agenda for the Conservative Political Action Conference, the influential right-wing summit best known as CPAC taking place in Florida this weekend, provides attendees multiple forums that appear to perpetuate conservative mythmaking around the 2020 election as well as ways to discuss the new wave of voting restrictions pushed by the Republican Party. The featured speaker is the former president himself on Sunday. The event includes seven speeches and panels about “protecting elections” over the long weekend, with 2020-specific themes like "Other Culprits: Why Judges & Media Refused to Look at the Evidence," and "The Left Pulled the Strings, Covered It Up, and Even Admits It." more...

By Andrew Kaczynski and Em Steck, CNN

(CNN) A close ally of Georgia Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene took part in the January 6 mob at the Capitol and said he was among those who eventually made their way into the building. Greene, a freshman congresswoman with a history of promoting dangerous and violent conspiracies and comments, encouraged the big lie that the election was stolen from former President Donald Trump by voting to object to the election certification and fanned the flames of the insurrection by telling her supporters to "fight for Trump." In tweets after the Capitol insurrection, Greene falsely suggested that those who had broken into the Capitol were not Republicans and instead falsely implied so-called "Antifa" dressed as Trump supporters were to blame.

In fact, Anthony Aguero, a conservative livestreamer, activist and associate of Greene, said on video following the January 6 assault on the Capitol that he had been among those who entered and attacked those who falsely claimed it was done by "Antifa." "We were all there. It was not Antifa and it was not BLM. It was Trump supporters that did that yesterday. I'm the first to admit it, being one myself," said Aguero in a video posted on January 7. "I walked amongst all those people," he added, later defending entering the Capitol. more...

By Rosa Flores, Sara Weisfeldt and Scottie Andrew, CNN

(CNN) A Florida sheriff's office is investigating whether a Manatee County official broke the law when she organized a Covid-19 vaccine drive limited to two of the county's most affluent ZIP codes. The Manatee County Sheriff's Office said it has launched the investigation after a citizen watchdog filed a complaint regarding County Commissioner Vanessa Baugh, who last week admitted she chose the ZIP codes herself and also selected some people for the vaccination list, so she and others could access the Covid-19 vaccine. more...

By Leah Asmelash and Taylor Romine, CNN

(CNN) The New Jersey Attorney General's Office is investigating after video footage shows multiple police officers assaulting a Muslim Arab American teenager. Osamah Alsaidi, 19 at the time, was assaulted and arrested by police officers with the Paterson Police Department in New Jersey in December, his lawyer Diego Navas said in a pre-lawsuit notice of claim. Alsaidi was walking down Madison Avenue in Paterson just after midnight December 14 when a vehicle approached him, according to video footage released by the New Jersey chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). In the video, two Paterson police officers are seen briefly talking to Alsaidi before grabbing him and punching him repeatedly. The video came from a surveillance camera across the street that Navas said they were "lucky" to find. "If it wasn't for that camera, it'd be the word of our client against the word of the officers," Navas said in a news conference Tuesday. more...

*** Republican cannot win elections fairly so they are trying to rig elections so they can win. ***

By Fredreka Schouten and Kelly Mena, CNN

(CNN) Republican legislators around the country are moving aggressively to strip governors and other officials of their power to change election rules -- after states made it easier to vote last year during the coronavirus pandemic and turnout surged to record levels. The measures have been introduced in at least eight states with Republican-controlled legislatures -- including the key battlegrounds of Georgia and Arizona. Some bills would give more authority to lawmakers to establish the ground rules for voting, in an escalation of the already bitter partisan fights that have erupted following the 2020 presidential contest. The fresh showdowns over who should run elections come as allies of former President Donald Trump continue to try to cast doubt on his loss -- by arguing that election officials and the courts usurped state laws when they relaxed voting rules to overcome challenges posed by the pandemic. And they represent the latest front in the ongoing political warfare over voting rules. As of this month, state legislators in 43 states had introduced 253 bills to restrict voting access, according to an updated tally by the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University. more...

Jacob Pramuk

Democrats cannot include a $15 per hour minimum wage in their $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package, a Senate official ruled Thursday, derailing for now a party priority and a raise for millions of Americans. Senate parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough determined lawmakers could not include the policy under budget reconciliation, CNBC confirmed. She and her staff heard arguments from Democrats and Republicans about whether the proposal met strict standards for deficit effects needed to include it in the process. Reconciliation allows the Senate to pass bills with a simple majority — in this case with no Republicans who are wary of another massive rescue package. However, Democrats faced challenges in passing the pay hike regardless of whether the chamber’s rules allowed it in the legislation. House Democrats included the $15 per hour minimum wage in the rescue bill they plan to approve Friday. It is unclear now if House leaders will amend their plan before passing it and sending it to the Senate. more...

Noah Higgins-Dunn

A new CDC study found that some elderly people who apparently recovered from the coronavirus later came down with a second, even worse case — indicating that asymptomatic or mild cases may not provide a lot of protection against becoming reinfected with Covid-19. The study, published Thursday in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, studied two separate outbreaks that occurred three months apart at a skilled nursing facility in Kentucky. Between mid-July and mid-August, 20 residents and five health-care personnel tested positive for the virus, according to the study. The second outbreak, between late October and the beginning of December, was worse — 85 residents and 43 health-care personnel tested positive for the virus. Among the residents who tested positive during the first outbreak and were still living in the facility, five of them tested positive a second time more than 90 days after their first positive test. more...

Some Republicans worry that this week's controversial antics from Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) have stomped on their attempts to sensitively communicate why they are opposed.
By OLIVIA BEAVERS and MELANIE ZANONA

The House passed sweeping legislation on Thursday to ban discrimination against people based on sexual orientation and gender identity, delivering a major victory to the LGBTQ community — while exposing an ugly rift in the GOP. The Equality Act, which would amend the 1964 Civil Rights Act to provide protections for LGBTQ individuals, garnered unanimous support from House Democrats on its way to approval on a 224-206 vote. Three Republicans crossed party lines to join Democrats to endorse the bill, less than half of the number of GOP votes the measure got the last time it came to the floor. But some Republicans worry that this week's controversial antics from Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), who harassed Rep. Marie Newman (D-Ill.) over her transgender daughter, have stomped on their attempts to sensitively communicate why they are opposed to the LGBTQ rights bill. Most Republicans say they oppose the measure due to its perceived infringement on religious freedom, not out of discriminatory sentiment toward LGBTQ people — a fine line that Greene has effectively erased. more...

By Zachary Cohen, Marshall Cohen and Whitney Wild

(CNN) Acting US Capitol Police Chief Yogananda Pittman warned Thursday that militia groups involved in the January 6 insurrection want to "blow up the Capitol" and "kill as many members as possible" when President Joe Biden addresses Congress. Pressed by House lawmakers to provide a timeline for removing the razorwire fencing and other enhanced security measures installed after the US Capitol attack, Pittman said law enforcement remains concerned about threats by known militia groups "with a direct nexus to the State of the Union" address. "We know that members of the militia groups that were present on January 6 have stated their desires that they want to blow up the Capitol and kill as many members as possible with a direct nexus to the State of the Union, which we know that date has not been identified," she told House lawmakers during Thursday's hearing on security failures related to January 6. "We know that the insurrectionists that attacked the Capitol weren't only interested in attacking members of Congress and officers," she added. "They wanted to send a symbolic message to the nation as to who is in charge of that legislative process." more...

By Philip Bump

The clip that quickly traveled across social media was bizarre, as is often the case with clips that travel quickly across social media. Here was Tucker Carlson, the brightest star in Fox News’s prime-time opinion lineup, seemingly denying that QAnon exists. “So it’s worth finding out where the public is getting all this false information — this ‘disinformation,’ as we’ll call it,” Carlson says in the clip from his show on Tuesday night. “So we checked. We spent all day trying to locate the famous QAnon, which in the end we learned is not even a website. If it’s out there, we could not find it.” Stripped of context, it’s a nonsensical claim. There is probably not any actual individual who is “Q,” the anonymous source of various random allegations and cryptic comments that serve as the basis of the quasi-religious conspiracy theory QAnon. But there’s no question that the QAnon movement exists, that those edicts exist and that the effect has been poisonous to the American political conversation. “QAnon” isn’t a website, but the conspiracy theory is centered around online content and online communities. more...

By Associated Press

President Joe Biden on Wednesday formally revoked a series of presidential orders and memorandum signed by Donald Trump, including one that sought to cut funding from several cities he deemed 'anarchist' havens and another mandating that federal buildings should be designed in a classical aesthetic. Since taking office last month, Biden has revoked dozens of Trump orders and issued dozens more of his own as he's sought to target foundational aspects of Trump's legacy and promote aspect of his own agenda without going through Congress. The latest slate of revocations targeted a grab-bag of issues, including a few that Trump signed in his last months in office. more...

Dan Murphy, John Barr

Former USA Olympic gymnastics coach John Geddert died by suicide Thursday, hours after he was charged with two dozen crimes stemming from allegations that he physically, emotionally and sexually abused gymnasts under his care. Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel confirmed that Geddert took his own life Thursday afternoon, calling his death "a tragic end to a tragic story for everyone involved." Michigan state police confirmed that Geddert's body was found at an interstate highway rest stop at 3:24 p.m. ET. Geddert, 63, was scheduled to be arraigned in Eaton County, Michigan, on Thursday afternoon. more...

By Cassidy McDonald

Richard Michetti texted his ex during the Capitol riot to say she was "a moron" if she didn't believe the election was stolen. She turned him in. Michetti is now facing charges for his alleged conduct January 6 after prosecutors said someone with whom Michetti had a "prior romantic relationship" shared with law enforcement texts and videos that he'd sent her during the attack. "If you can't see the election was stolen you're a moron," Michetti texted her that day. Michetti was charged with entering or remaining in restricted building or grounds, violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds, obstruction of justice as well as a charge making him punishable as a principal. Prosecutors listed a series of texts that Michetti sent his ex as he made his way to the U.S. Capitol. Around 7:15 p.m. the night before the riot, he wrote, "I just got to dc I'll call when I get off." more...

Barbara Sprunt

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell slammed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's draft proposal for a commission to investigate the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, calling it "partisan by design." The Kentucky Republican said he agrees the siege on the Capitol warrants a "serious and thorough review," but said he thinks Pelosi's proposal falls short of the standard set by the commission established after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, upon which Pelosi said she would model this new panel. "The 9/11 Commission was intentionally built to be bipartisan, 50-50 bipartisan split of the commissioners was a key feature," McConnell said Wednesday on the Senate floor. "It both helped the effectiveness of the investigation itself, and help give the whole country confidence in its work, and its recommendations." more...

The Daily Beast has learned that investigators have been asking questions in recent days about Trump’s eldest son as they expand their criminal probe into Trump’s business empire.
Asawin Suebsaeng, Lachlan Cartwright

For months, some of Donald Trump’s top advisers have assured him that he has virtually nothing to fear from the Manhattan district attorney’s tax investigation, which they view as merely “fishing” for information. But investigators with the D.A.'s office have been expanding their criminal probe into Trump’s business empire, asking questions and grilling witnesses—as recently as in the past few days—not only about Trump but particularly about his eldest son, Don Jr., and Allen Weisselberg, one of the former president’s most trusted officers, The Daily Beast has learned. This latest round of interest in Trump Jr. and Weisselberg’s activities, as well as other new developments, underscore the resources and the gravity that New York prosecutors are devoting to the investigation, just as Trump continues to publicly decry the probe as another example of Democrats picking on him. more...

By Teo Armus

The only Democrat on Georgia’s state election board on Sunday called on Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R) to investigate possible civil and criminal violations committed by President Trump during a phone call over the weekend in which the president pressured Raffensperger to “find” enough votes to overturn his defeat. David J. Worley, an Atlanta lawyer, said a transcript of the hour-long call, a recording of which was obtained by The Washington Post, amounted to “probable cause” to believe that Trump had violated Georgia election code. “It’s a crime to solicit election fraud, and asking the secretary to change the votes is a textbook definition of election fraud,” he said in an interview with The Post on Sunday. more...

The postmaster general has faced intense criticism amid mail delays but said he has no plans to leave.
By NICK NIEDZWIADEK

Louis DeJoy, the embattled postmaster general, said on Wednesday he is not going anywhere as he faces withering criticism of his leadership of the U.S. Postal Service and calls for President Joe Biden to move to oust him. Testifying at a House Oversight and Reform Committee meeting, DeJoy said he intended to be around “a long time.” “Get used to me,” he said. However, DeJoy's resolve may be put to the test soon, as Biden nominated three people — Ron Stroman, Anton Hajjar and Amber McReynolds — to fill open seats on the board that determines the postmaster‘s fate, the White House announced on Wednesday afternoon. If confirmed, Democratic appointees would have a majority of the USPS Board of Governors’ nine-seat panel, potentially giving them the opportunity to get rid of DeJoy.  more...

Sen. Mitch McConnell indicated that he would be open to a commission narrowly focused on security on the Hill.
By ANDREW DESIDERIO and KYLE CHENEY

Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s bid to create a broad bipartisan review of the Jan. 6 insurrection is in peril after Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell slammed the proposal on Wednesday as “partisan by design.” McConnell rejected a draft version of Pelosi’s proposed commission that would give Democrats a 7-4 majority on the panel, and he said any large-scale review of the insurrection must also include an analysis of broader political violence — a nod to GOP complaints about a wave of riots across the country last summer that followed the death of George Floyd at the hands of police. Expanding the commission's mandate that way would likely spark significant Democratic resistance. more...

Yahoo Finance

Yahoo Finance's Brian Cheung joined Yahoo Finance Live to break down the details of Powell testifying on Capitol Hill in addition to the nationwide outage that hit the Federal Reserve's banking system. - Let's check in with Brian Cheung, because Jay Powell was testifying for a second day on Capitol Hill. But then there was the surprise nationwide outage, which hit the Federal Reserve banking system. What can you tell us about this, Brian? BRIAN CHEUNG: Yeah, absolutely, well, kicking off things, I guess, with the major breaking news, I guess, that happened in the last hour or so, the Federal Reserve experienced an outage in some of their key settlement systems that allowed banks to, essentially, send funds, transfer funds to one another. more...

Grace Dean

Luxury fashion retailer Gucci won't be leaving Manhattan's Trump Tower any time soon. That's according to a report in the The New York Times detailing a deal from 2020 in which Gucci, the Trump Tower's biggest commercial tenant, renegotiated and extended its lease in the building at 721-725 Fifth Avenue. The paper cited two people with knowledge of the deal. The 20-year lease the company took in 2006 was due to expire in 2026. Gucci got a reduction in rent after agreeing to expand its lease beyond this date, the sources said. Gucci declined to comment to the Times, and The Trump Organization did not respond to the paper's request for comment. Gucci had asked the Trump Organization to sign confidentiality agreements regarding the terms of the lease, one person who had seen the lease told the publication. more...

Carlson declared on Monday night that white supremacists were not involved in the deadly Capitol riot and that there was no evidence that it was an insurrection.
Justin Baragona

CNN anchor John Berman on Tuesday morning blasted Tucker Carlson for attempting to “suppress the memory” of what happened during the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection, mockingly calling the far-right Fox News host’s show “Fantasy Island.” Carlson, who has long played down the seditious riot as nothing more than “political protest that got out of hand,” took his revisionism a step further on Monday: He claimed that “it’s a lie” that white supremacists were at all involved in the violence and said there was “no evidence” of an “armed insurrection” at the Capitol. With the Senate holding hearings on the security breakdown during the deadly riot, Berman brought on Punchbowl News founder Anna Palmer and columnist Errol Louis to discuss the latest push by Republicans to memory-hole the events of Jan. 6. “I don’t think this could come at a more important time because you are seeing a wave of revisionism among some Republican senators like Ron Johnson, who says it wasn’t an armed insurrection,” the New Day co-host noted, referencing Johnson’s recent downplaying of the riot. more...

Carlson attacked other media networks accusing them of running disinformation campaigns
Mayank Aggarwal

Fox News host Tucker Carlson was mocked for claiming on his show on Tuesday that he can’t find any evidence of QAnon. "We spent all day trying to locate the famous QAnon, which in the end we learned is not even a website. If it’s out there, we could not find it,” said Mr Carlson on his show while stating that the media coverage about it is actually part of a left-wing disinformation campaign. He also attacked other media networks for coverage related to the radicalisation of people in the US. QAnon is a vast conspiracy theory believed by some on the right, and has even been classified as a domestic terrorism threat by the FBI. QAnon followers and Trump supporters were among those who were part of the 6 January Capitol riots. more...

Yasmin Khorram

The mystery of what happened to critical evidence proving Theranos’ blood-testing technology didn’t work deepened when Elizabeth Holmes blamed the government for what she calls an “investigative failure.” In a filing late Tuesday, attorneys for Holmes shot back at prosecutors on a motion to exclude evidence of so-called test results, saying they are at fault for losing a database called the Laboratory Information System (LIS),  which contained three years worth of accuracy and failure rates of Theranos tests. “Rather than accept responsibility for that investigative failure, and the resulting evidentiary holes in its case, the government has chosen a different path,” Holmes’ attorneys write, adding “the government has insinuated that the loss of the LIS data reflects on Ms. Holmes’ supposed guilt even though she had nothing to do with it.” more...

By Lexi Lonas

Texas’s deregulated electricity market has raised costs to consumers by $28 billion since 2004, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis published Wednesday. The analysis found that consumers purchasing power from the deregulated electricity market have paid significantly more than state residents whose sources were traditional electric utilities. The report comes after widespread power outages in Texas that left millions of residents without power for days amid freezing temperatures. That was followed by many households receiving sky-high electricity bills, with warnings from experts that consumers are likely to be hit with covering the costs for grid upgrades. more...

by: Associated Press, Darcie Loreno

CHICKASHA, Okla. (AP/WJW) — An Oklahoma man who was released early from prison in January as part of a mass commutation effort is now accused of killing three people in a gruesome case. Authorities say Lawrence Paul Anderson this month killed a neighbor in Chickasha, cut out her heart and then cooked the heart to serve to his relatives. The Oklahoman reports he cooked the heart with potatoes and allegedly fed it to his family to “release the demons.” Anderson is also accused of killing his uncle, wounding his aunt and killing the pair’s 4-year-old granddaughter. Anderson had been serving a 20-year prison sentence for probation violations on a drug case. He was released after serving a little more than three years. Anderson sobbed in court on Tuesday, saying he didn’t want bail. The Oklahoman reports a vial of PCP was found on Anderson when he was arrested. It’s not clear yet if he was on drugs when the murders occurred. more...

By Jordan Valinsky, CNN Business

New York (CNN Business) Fry's Electronics suddenly closed all of its stores overnight, ending a nearly four-decade run in business.
The company, which had 31 stores across nine US states, said in a statement on its website that it "made the difficult decision to shut down its operations and close its business permanently" because of changing consumer shopping habits and the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. Based in San Jose, California, the privately held company was a family business. It was founded in 1985 by the three Fry brothers with the goal of being a "Silicon Valley retail electronics store to provide a one-stop-shopping environment for the Hi-Tech Professional." "It is hoped that undertaking the wind-down through this orderly process will reduce costs, avoid additional liabilities, minimize the impact on our customers, vendors, landlords and associates, and maximize the value of the company's assets for its creditors and other stakeholders," Fry's explained on its website. more...

By Stephen Rex Brown | New York Daily News

Rudy Giuliani spent a week dodging service of a $1.3 billion lawsuit filed by Dominion Voting Systems after publicly declaring he was ready for the legal fight, a source told the Daily News. Dominion hired the process servers to hand Giuliani its mammoth 107-page lawsuit after the former mayor ignored requests to simply accept it via email, the source said. The voting machine company claims Giuliani destroyed its reputation by knowingly spreading lies that it helped steal the election for President Biden. On Tuesday, the company filed a separate defamation suit, also seeking $1.3 billion, against MyPillow CEO Mike Lendell for making similar bogus claims Dominion played a role in election fraud. more...

Jaclyn Diaz

Five out-of-state board members of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas — the entity that maintains and operates much of the state's electricity grid — will resign Wednesday, according to a notice filed with the Public Utility Commission of Texas. The resignations come as Texas still grapples with the aftermath of last week's winter storm that, at its worst, left more than four million residents in the dark and bitter cold for days. The outages also stretched into northern Mexico. Ratepayers and politicians alike have criticized ERCOT's leadership for failing to prepare before the storm and for seating board members who don't live in Texas. In the immediate days after the record cold temperatures, customers reported exorbitantly high electricity bills. State officials have called for an investigation into ERCOT's failures. more...

Brian Naylor

If your mail has not been showing up some days, or you're getting second notices on the bills you thought you'd paid, you're not alone. The U.S. Postal Service has been beset by continuing delays in delivering the mail. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy apologized for those delays in testimony before the House Oversight Committee Wednesday, but warned the postal system was "in a death spiral" and needs legislation to help restore it to financial stability. "My message is that the status quo should be acceptable to no one," DeJoy told the panel. DeJoy is developing a 10-year strategic plan to address its problems, and is discussing the proposal before the House oversight committee Wednesday. He said the service lost more than $9 billion last year, and owes some $80 billion in unfunded liabilities because of a congressionally imposed mandate that it prepay the health care costs of its future retirees. DeJoy is working with lawmakers on legislation that would end that requirement and place retirees with in the Medicare program. more...

By Clare Foran, Liz Stark and Kristen Holmes, CNN

(CNN) Rep. Deb Haaland, President Joe Biden's nominee to be Interior Secretary, defended her record during Senate confirmation hearings as Republicans grilled her over past statements and painted her as partisan and liberal. The Democratic congresswoman from New Mexico, who would be the first Native American Cabinet secretary if confirmed by the Senate, pledged to work in service of the Biden administration during the first day of the hearing before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee on Tuesday. But Republicans on the panel expressed concern over her nomination and described her views on public land use and fossil fuels as radical. During the second day of hearings, Haaland argued that her role as interior secretary would be very different from her role as an elected member of the House of Representatives. more...

By ERIN DURKIN

NEW YORK — A former aide to Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the governor kissed her without her consent and asked her to play strip poker, alleging a pattern of sexual harassment she detailed in a new account Wednesday. Lindsey Boylan, who is running for Manhattan borough president and formerly worked for Cuomo and the state’s economic development agency, wrote in a Medium post that Cuomo kissed her on the lips against her will at his office in Manhattan. The former staffer’s charges come as the governor is deluged with accusations that he covered up coronavirus deaths in New York nursing homes. The fallout has led to accusations in New York's political world about Cuomo's tyrannical behavior — including a recent allegation by Assembly Member Ron Kim who said the governor threatened to "destroy" him over Kim's criticism of the nursing home debacle. more...

Seth takes a closer look at the Republican Party lying about the Green New Deal and the 2020 election as the U.S. passes a grim coronavirus milestone and Texas experiences an unprecedented power crisis. video...

During the Senate hearing on the Capitol riot, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) claimed that the vast majority of Trump supporters are pro-law enforcement but the former Capitol police chief said that many rioters at the Capitol identified themselves as police and tried to illegally enter the building. video...

by: Los Angeles Times, Eric Spillman

A California program intended to improve COVID-19 vaccine availability to people in hard-hit communities of color is being misused by outsiders who are grabbing appointments reserved for residents of underserved Black and Latino areas. The program to address inequities in vaccine distribution relies on special access codes that enable people to make appointments on the My Turn vaccine scheduling website. The codes are provided to community organizations to distribute to people in largely Black and Latino communities. more...

By Sissi Cao

Elon Musk’s run as the richest man on earth has ended. Tesla’s months-long stratospheric stock rally seems to be coming to an end. After tumbling 6 percent, the largest single-day drop in six months, on Monday, the electric carmaker’s shares slid another 10 percent Tuesday morning as the sell-off worsened, erasing $30 billion from its founder Musk’s net worth on paper overnight. Tesla’s epic losses were, on the surface, driven by a broad downturn of tech stocks (NASDAQ fell 2 percent on Monday and opened another 2 percent Tuesday morning). But a bigger force, according to Tesla analysts, is Bitcoin, whose dollar value recently hit an all-time high partly thanks to Musk’s public endorsement. more...

Scott Horsley

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell warned on Tuesday the United States has a "long way" to go to return to full employment, even as he expressed cautious optimism that the economy will recover from the pandemic this year. At the same time, Powell avoided commenting on the level of federal support needed for the economy as Congress prepares to vote on President Biden's $1.9 trillion dollar rescue package for families and businesses battered by the coronavirus downturn. In testimony before the Senate Banking Committee, Powell also pushed back against concerns that inflation will become a threat, as Republicans – and even some Democrats - warn that Biden's plan is excessive and could overheat the U.S. economy. "While we should not underestimate the challenges we currently face, developments point to an improved outlook for later this year," Powell said. more...

By Hayley Smith, Richard Winton, Faith E. Pinho, Sam Farmer, Christina Schoellkopf

Golf star Tiger Woods was in the hospital Tuesday after a serious rollover crash near Rancho Palos Verdes, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said. Woods was the sole occupant of a Genesis GV80 SUV that was traveling north on Hawthorne Boulevard at Blackhorse Road when he crashed just after 7 a.m., authorities said. The vehicle sustained major damage, and Woods had to be extricated from the wreckage by personnel from the Los Angeles County Fire Department, sheriff’s officials said. Sources said he had to be removed through the car’s windshield. more...

The former chief of the U.S. Capitol Police Department is set to testify before a Senate committee on Tuesday about the events that unfolded on January 6. It comes as the FBI said it has identified over 500 suspects in the federal investigation into the deadly riot, and made more than 200 arrests. CBS News senior investigative correspondent Catherine Herridge joins CBSN's "Red & Blue" anchor Elaine Quijano with new details about the planning that went into the attack and the results of a lab report on pipe bombs that were placed around the Capitol. video...

Nicholas Wu, Kevin Johnson | USA TODAY

Top Capitol law enforcement officials on Tuesday said they did not see intelligence from the FBI the night before the U.S. Capitol riot that warned of calls for violence online and said groups were “preparing for war.” Under questioning from Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., the chair of one of the panels leading the hearing, former Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund said the report was received at Capitol Police headquarters the night before the Jan. 6 riot, but leadership did not see it. And Sund, who resigned from the Capitol Police in January, said he learned only within the last day that the report had been given to the Capitol Police before the attack. “I actually just in the last 24 hours was informed by the department that they had received that report," he told lawmakers. more...

Yes, Jan. 6 Capitol assault was an “armed insurrection”
By Eric Litke

Five people died Jan. 6, 2021, including a U.S. Capitol Police officer, when a mob violently invaded the U.S. Capitol in protest of the November 2020 election results. Few arrests were made that day, but our understanding of the day’s events and the rioters’ motivations has grown over time, as more than 230 people have now been identified and charged, according to a database maintained by National Public Radio. But U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wisconsin, still claims accounts of the day’s events are being exaggerated. He made his case Feb. 15, 2021, in an appearance on "The Jay Weber Show" on WISN radio. "The fact of the matter is this didn’t seem like an armed insurrection to me. I mean armed, when you hear armed, don’t you think of firearms?" Johnson said. "Here’s the questions I would have liked to ask. How many firearms were confiscated? How many shots were fired? I’m only aware of one, and I’ll defend that law enforcement officer for taking that shot." more...

US senate examines 6 January Capitol attack security failures in hearing
Joan E Greve (now) and Martin Belam (earlier)

White House press secretary Jen Psaki received a question about today’s Senate hearing on the security failures that led to the Capitol insurrection. PBS reporter Yamiche Alcindor recounted how US Capitol Police captain Carneysha Mendoza testified that she received chemical burns during the insurrection, and those wounds have still not healed. Asked what the White House is doing to help USCP officers who continue to suffer effects from the insurrection, Psaki said Joe Biden was ready and willing to work with Congress to provide aid to those law enforcement officers who responded to the Capitol attack. more...

Congresswoman wades into debate amid growing concerns nominees from minority backgrounds are being singled out for harsh scrutiny
Ed Pilkington

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has stepped into the intensifying dispute around the treatment of women and people of color nominated to top jobs in the Biden administration, as the confirmation process in the US Senate begins to sour. The leftwing Democratic congresswoman waded into the debate amid growing concerns in progressive circles that Joe Biden’s nominees from minority backgrounds are being singled out for especially harsh scrutiny. Several women of color are facing daunting hurdles to confirmation with Republicans withholding backing and the Democratic majority in the Senate imperiled by the opposition of the conservative Democrat, Joe Manchin. The senator from West Virginia announced on Friday he would oppose the candidacy of Neera Tanden to become the first Asian American woman to fill the post of budget director. On Monday he also indicated that he was having doubts about Deb Haaland, who would become the first Native woman to take a cabinet seat. more...

Mike McIntire

When New York prosecutors finally get to examine the federal tax returns of former President Donald Trump, they will discover a veritable how-to guide for getting rich while losing millions of dollars and paying little to no income taxes. Whether they find evidence of crimes, however, will also depend on other information not found in the actual returns. The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday cleared the way for the Manhattan district attorney, Cyrus Vance Jr., to obtain eight years of Trump’s federal income tax returns and other records from his accountants. The decision capped a long-running legal battle over prosecutors’ access to the information. more...

MICHAEL BALSAMO | Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — The wife of Mexican drug kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman was arrested in the United States and accused of helping her husband run his multibillion-dollar cartel and plot his audacious escape from a Mexican prison in 2015. Emma Coronel Aispuro, a 31-year-old former beauty queen, was arrested at Dulles International Airport in Virginia on Monday and is expected to appear in federal court in Washington on Tuesday afternoon. She is a dual citizen of the United States and Mexico. Her arrest is the latest twist in the bloody, multinational saga involving Guzman, the longtime head of the Sinaloa drug cartel. Guzman, whose two dramatic prison escapes in Mexico fed into a legend that he and his family were all but untouchable, was extradited to the United States in 2017 and is serving life in prison. more...

Even the “appearance of corruption” is enough to justify voter suppression laws, according to the Supreme Court justice.
By Mark Joseph Stern

Justice Clarence Thomas is not backing down from the fight to legitimize Donald Trump’s claims that the 2020 election was rife with fraud. On Monday morning, Thomas issued a startling opinion ranting against the alleged dangers of mail voting and declaring that SCOTUS must override state courts that expand vote-by-mail pursuant to their state constitutions. Trump may be out of office, but his staunchest ally on the U.S. Supreme Court is carrying on his assault on the legitimacy of the election.

Thomas’ grievances arise out of two identical challenges to Pennsylvania’s election procedures. The state legislature set a strict deadline for mail voting: Any ballot received after 8 p.m. on Election Day must be thrown out. In September, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court held that, in light of the pandemic and the Postal Service slowdown, this deadline would disenfranchise many voters through no fault of their own. Specifically, the court found that the deadline violated the Pennsylvania Constitution, which requires that all elections be “free and equal.” To safeguard this right, the majority extended the mail ballot deadline by three days. more...

Jeff Cox

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen issued a warning Monday about the dangers that bitcoin poses both to investors and the public. Despite a sharp slide in price to start the week, the cryptocurrency continues to trade above $53,000 as it has received boosts from various sources. Elon Musk’s Tesla recently made a substantial purchase and has said it will accept bitcoin for transactions. However, Yellen said there remain important questions about legitimacy and stability. “I don’t think that bitcoin … is widely used as a transaction mechanism,” she told CNBC’s Andrew Ross Sorkin at a New York Times DealBook conference. “To the extent it is used I fear it’s often for illicit finance. It’s an extremely inefficient way of conducting transactions, and the amount of energy that’s consumed in processing those transactions is staggering.” more...

The 45th president profoundly altered our system of government.
Jonathan Rauch | The Atlantic

When I step back to look at the legacy of President Donald Trump, a surprising conclusion emerges: He has substantially altered the Constitution. His changes aren’t formal, of course. But his informal amendments are important. If left to stand, they threaten to make Congress an advisory body and give carte blanche to rogue presidents.

The surprising aspect of this conclusion is not that the Constitution can be informally amended. That has been the usual way of making revisions. In 1803, the Supreme Court granted itself the power to review laws and overturn them. In 1824, the states tied the electoral vote to the popular vote. Neither of those changes was inscribed on parchment or envisioned by the Founders, but today we can’t imagine our constitutional system without them. more...

Asher Price | Austin American-Statesman

AUSTIN, Texas – Ken Lay, the former CEO of the energy and utility company Enron, was fond of writing letters to his friend George on stationery bearing his company’s famous crooked E.

Crossing out the “Dear Governor Bush” typed by his secretary, and penciling in “Dear George” in its place, he wrote to invite Bush to musicals, commiserate over knee surgery, thank the governor for a Christmas gift — and lay out the “benefits of competition” that electricity deregulation would bring.

“We have already glimpsed this energy future, and it works,” Lay, who died in 2006 shortly after being convicted of a massive securities fraud, wrote to Bush in 1996, a year after Texas lawmakers had started to dismantle the electric utility monopolies.

Twenty-five years later, a fierce debate has erupted about whether the deregulation of the Texas electricity market contributed to the most calamitous week in recent Texas history, one that saw millions of Texans desperate and shellshocked as they sought out the most basic comforts of modern civilization — food, water, heat. more...

Daniels sued Trump for defamation after he dismissed her claims of being threatened to keep quiet about the tryst as a "total con job."
By The Associated Press

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Monday rejected an appeal from porn star Stormy Daniels, who sought to revive a defamation lawsuit she filed against former President Donald Trump. The justices did not comment in leaving in place a lower court ruling dismissing the case. Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, alleges she had an affair with Trump in 2006 and was paid $130,000 as part of a nondisclosure agreement days before the 2016 presidential election. She sued him for defamation after he dismissed her claims of being threatened to keep quiet about the tryst as a “total con job.” A federal judge dismissed the lawsuit in 2018 and ordered Daniels to pay nearly $300,000 in attorneys’ fees. more...

By Jordan Valinsky, CNN Business

New York (CNN Business) Dominion Voting Systems, the election technology company that has been the focus of debunked conspiracy theories about election fraud, is suing MyPillow and its CEO Mike Lindell. The company is seeking about $1.3 billion in damages for Lindell's numerous unfounded public statements by allies of former President Donald Trump that Dominion rigged its machines in favor of Joe Biden in the 2020 US presidential election. The 115-page lawsuit filed Monday in Washington, DC, cites Lindell's media appearances and social media posts pushing what they called the "Big Lie" about Dominion's machines — including a two-hour film that aired on OAN and was filled with falsehoods about voting irregularities. In the lawsuit, Dominion writes that Lindell "sells the lie to this day because the lie sells pillows" citing promotional discount codes on MyPillow's website, including "FightforTrump,""Proof" and "QAnon." more...

Outside consultants hired to review death delivered findings on Monday morning
By Elise Schmelzer | The Denver Post

Aurora police officers did not have a legal basis to force Elijah McClain to stop walking, to frisk him or to use a chokehold on him, an independent investigation commissioned by the city found. The initial investigation into the incident led by the department’s detectives in the Major Crimes Unit was also deeply flawed, the investigators found. The detectives failed to ask basic, critical questions of the officers involved in McClain’s death and instead “the questions frequently appeared designed to elicit specific exonerating ‘magic language’ found in court rulings,” the report states. The report from the detectives was relied upon by the department’s force review board as well as the 17th Judicial District Attorney’s Office, both of which cleared the officers of wrongdoing. “In addition, the report of the Major Crime Unit stretched the record to exonerate the officers rather than present a neutral version of the facts,” the investigators wrote. more...

By John Kruzel

The Supreme Court on Monday rebuffed a bid by former President Trump to shield his tax returns and other financial records from a New York grand jury subpoena. The justices issued the order in the long-running dispute between Trump and Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. (D) without comment or noted dissents. “The work continues,” Vance tweeted in response. The Supreme Court on Monday rebuffed a bid by former President Trump to shield his tax returns and other financial records from a New York grand jury subpoena. The justices issued the order in the long-running dispute between Trump and Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. (D) without comment or noted dissents. “The work continues,” Vance tweeted in response. The court’s order comes in response to an emergency request Trump filed in October to the Supreme Court after losing several rounds in the lower courts. Vance's office has sought Trump's records since 2019, when a New York grand jury issued a subpoena to Trump's accounting firm, Mazars USA, for eight years of the former president's personal and business tax returns and other financial records. more...

By Rebecca Klar

House Democrats are pressing cable and streaming services over their decisions to host channels that the lawmakers accuse of spreading misinformation and conspiracy theories that lead to “real world harm.” Reps. Anna Eshoo (Calif.) and Jerry McNerney (Calif.), senior members of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Communications and Technology, sent letters to the companies on Monday questioning their “ethical principles” involved in deciding which channels to carry and when to take action against a channel. “Some purported news outlets have long been misinformation rumor mills and conspiracy theory hotbeds that produce content that leads to real harm,” they wrote. “Misinformation on TV has led to our current polluted information environment that radicalizes individuals to commit seditious acts and rejects public health best practices, among other issues in our public discourse.” The letter specifically calls out Newsmax, One America Network (OANN) and Fox News. more...

By Jason Lemon

Arkansas GOP Governor Asa Hutchinson said Sunday that he would not support Donald Trump if the former president sought a second term in the White House in 2024, arguing that this would "hurt" Republicans. Hutchinson, who easily won reelection in 2018, will not be able seek reelection in 2022 due to term limits in Arkansas. The Republican governor is one of a number of prominent GOP lawmakers to come out against Trump in the wake of the January 6 riot against the U.S. Capitol carried out by the then president's supporters. During an interview with CNN on Sunday morning, Hutchinson said that Trump "will only define our party if we let him define our party." more...

By April Siese

Two ice skating rinks in Central Park that are operated by the Trump Organization will remain open for the remainder of the season, CBS New York reports. The rinks were originally set to close Sunday at 4 p.m. because New York City is cutting ties with the Trump Organization due to the Capitol riot. "New York City kids deserve all the time on the ice they can get this year," Bill Neidhardt, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio's press secretary, said in a statement. "The Wollman and Lasker rinks will stay open under current management for the few weeks left in this season. But make no mistake, we will not be doing business with the Trump Organization going forward. Inciting an insurrection will never be forgotten or forgiven." more...

Members of Congress, including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), visited Texas after a winter storm left residents to deal with massive power outages and water shortages. video...

By Jason Lemon

Arkansas GOP Governor Asa Hutchinson said Sunday that he would not support Donald Trump if the former president sought a second term in the White House in 2024, arguing that this would "hurt" Republicans. Hutchinson, who easily won reelection in 2018, will not be able seek reelection in 2022 due to term limits in Arkansas. The Republican governor is one of a number of prominent GOP lawmakers to come out against Trump in the wake of the January 6 riot against the U.S. Capitol carried out by the then president's supporters. During an interview with CNN on Sunday morning, Hutchinson said that Trump "will only define our party if we let him define our party." more...

By Daniel Politi

Sen. Ted Cruz wanted to show he’s devoted to helping Texans struggling due to a deep freeze that has led to power outages and burst pipes across the state. So the senator, who has been trying to swat away criticism after he took a jaunt to Cancun last week while his constituents suffered, posted photos of himself on Twitter carrying water to several cars. One photo even shows him shaking hands with a person. “#TexasStrong,” he wrote in the tweet. more...

By Paul LeBlanc, CNN

(CNN) Texas GOP Rep. Michael McCaul on Sunday delivered a pointed rebuke of Sen. Ted Cruz following his much-criticized trip to Cancun, Mexico, as a winter disaster rocked Texas last week. "Look, when a crisis hits my state, I'm there. I'm not going to go on some vacation," McCaul, the top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs committee, told CNN's Dana Bash on "State of the Union" Sunday. "I know Mr. Cruz called it a mistake and he's owned up to that, but I think that was a big mistake and as for me, I was on the ground trying to help my people out and my constituents, and that's what we should be doing in a time of crisis," he added. McCaul's comments join a raft of disapproval aimed at Cruz since he was spotted on a plane headed to Cancun while millions in his home state were left without power or water. After returning to Houston on Thursday afternoon, Cruz told reporters outside his home it was "obviously a mistake" and that "in hindsight I wouldn't have done it." more...

"The impact from this devastating crisis will be felt for days," one official said.
By Tim Stelloh

Millions of Texans remained without safe drinking water Sunday as state officials sought to ramp up bottled water distribution and calm residents whose electricity bills have spiked after a severe winter storm battered the state. Boil-water notices were lifted for about 5 million of the 14.9 million people who were told that their water wasn't safe to drink two days ago, Toby Baker, executive director of the state Commission on Environmental Quality, said in a news conference Sunday. more...

Cybersecurity pros are wondering what’s next
By Sean Hollister

There’s a popular stereotype that Apple’s computers are largely immune to malware. Not only is is that incorrect, it appears that sophisticated hacker(s) might have been toying with the idea of a heist or drop nasty enough they’d have needed to cover their tracks. As Ars Technica reports, security researchers at Malwarebytes and Red Canary discovered a mysterious piece of malware hiding on nearly 30,000 Macs, one designed to deliver an as-yet-unknown payload, and with a self-destruction mechanism that might remove any trace that it ever existed. They’re calling it Silver Sparrow. more...

By Katelyn Polantz, CNN

(CNN) A leader in an alleged Oath Keepers conspiracy in the US Capitol insurrection claims she was given a VIP pass to the pro-Trump rally on January 6, had met with Secret Service agents and was providing security for legislators and others, including in their march to the Capitol, according to a new court filing. Attorneys for Ohio Oath Keeper Jessica Watkins detail how the efforts among paramilitants who are now accused of conspiracy on January 6 were closer to the apparatus around then-President Donald Trump and his rally than was previously known. By sharing the new details in the filing Saturday, the defense attorney for Watkins, a former Army ranger who served in Afghanistan, argues for her release from jail on bond and other restrictions as she awaits trial. more...

Cristian Pineda's mother found him dead in their freezing mobile home.
ByBill Hutchinson

Texas power providers Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) and Entergy Corporation have been hit with a $100 million lawsuit accusing them of gross negligence in the death of a child whose family suspects he suffered hypothermia when they lost electricity and heat in their mobile home during a historic cold snap. The mother of 11-year-old Cristian Pineda filed the wrongful death lawsuit in Jefferson County District Court, alleging the utility giants "put profits over the welfare of people" by ignoring previous recommendations to winterize its power grid, which sustained an epic failure last week and left more than 4 million customers without heat and electricity as temperatures in some parts of the state plunged to single digits. more...

“Why was Dallas’ skyline lit up while Dallas residents were literally freezing in their homes? That’s unacceptable,” said U.S. Rep. Colin Allred, D-Dallas.
Jason Whitely, Michael McCardel

DALLAS — The Texas electric grid was not built to withstand "much less than 10 degrees," U.S. Rep. Colin Allred, D-Dallas, said on Saturday evening. But low temperatures set records over the last week with some reaching zero degrees, meteorologists said. The Dallas congressman made the statement on Saturday after speaking with Curt Morgan, CEO of Irving-based Vistra Corp. It owns and operates the Luminant energy company. more...

By Dan Merica, CNN

Medina, Ohio (CNN) To Shannon Burns, the betrayal that local Republicans felt when Ohio State wide receiver-turned-Republican-congressman Anthony Gonzalez voted to impeach then-President Donald Trump was analogous to only one other disloyalty: Suiting up for Michigan. "This is like him playing for the Buckeyes again, getting down to the two-minute warning, running into the locker room, getting a Michigan jersey and running back out," said Burns, who runs the Strongsville GOP, a grassroots organization that once backed Gonzalez. "It's not that you turned your back or you did something that we didn't like. You did the unthinkable." Gonzalez's decision to join just nine other House Republicans and all House Democrats to impeach Trump in January has unearthed profound anger in his northeast Ohio district, kicking off a localized fight over the future of the Republican Party that pits the two-term congressman against irate constituents eager to expel any Republican who crosses the former President. more...

Victoria Cavaliere

Texas residents who endured days without power during last week's winter storms are facing a new obstacle: Electricity bills over $5,000 for less than a week of energy. Some customers of the state-owned electric grid are seeing the eye-popping, five-figure power bills because their plans are tied to the wholesale market rate. In the Dallas-Fort Worth area, residents have been hit with $1,000 per day charges for electricity, The Dallas Morning News reported. Residents have taken to social media or other outlets to show $5,000 bills — or more— over a period of about five days. CPS Energy, the electric utility in San Antonio, said some consumers can expect "exorbitant" bills in the coming weeks, KSAT reported. The utility might try to minimize the hit by spreading the charges over a period of up to 10 years, the news station said. more...

By Konstantin Toropin and Shannon Liao, CNN

New York (CNN Business)Dallas resident DeAndre Upshaw said it was "very shocking" when he opened his latest electricity bill. "While I'm trying to get gas and groceries and make sure that my pipes don't explode, the last thing I'm thinking about is a $7,000 bill from my utility company," Upshaw told CNN's Fredricka Whitfield via Skype Saturday. As Texas struggles to recover from a deep freeze that has killed dozens, some customers in Texas like Upshaw are facing unprecedented price hikes in their energy bills as a result of the recent snow storm. Texas officials say they are investigating. Texas' utility regulator, Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUCT), said Saturday that it is investigating "the factors that combined with the devastating winter weather to disrupt the flow of power to millions of Texas homes." more...

Declan Walsh

NAIROBI, Kenya — Erik Prince, the former head of the security contractor Blackwater Worldwide and a prominent supporter of former President Donald Trump, violated a United Nations arms embargo on Libya by sending weapons to a militia commander who was attempting to overthrow the internationally backed government, according to U.N. investigators. A confidential U.N. report obtained by The New York Times and delivered by investigators to the Security Council on Thursday reveals how Prince deployed a force of foreign mercenaries, armed with attack aircraft, gunboats and cyberwarfare capabilities, to eastern Libya at the height of a major battle in 2019. As part of the operation, which the report said cost $80 million, the mercenaries also planned to form a hit squad that could track down and kill selected Libyan commanders. more...

By Konstantin Toropin and Shannon Liao, CNN

New York (CNN Business) Dallas resident DeAndre Upshaw said it was "very shocking" when he opened his latest electricity bill.
"While I'm trying to get gas and groceries and make sure that my pipes don't explode, the last thing I'm thinking about is a $7,000 bill from my utility company," Upshaw told CNN's Fredricka Whitfield via Skype Saturday. As Texas struggles to recover from a deep freeze that has killed dozens, some customers in Texas like Upshaw are facing unprecedented price hikes in their energy bills as a result of the recent snow storm. Texas officials say they are investigating. Texas' utility regulator, Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUCT), said Saturday that it is investigating "the factors that combined with the devastating winter weather to disrupt the flow of power to millions of Texas homes." more...

By Christina Maxouris and Holly Yan, CNN

(CNN) Just over a year since the first known US Covid-19 death, more than 500,000 people will have died from the disease by the end of this week. "It's something that is historic. It's nothing like we've ever been though in the last 102 years since the 1918 influenza pandemic," said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. "It really is a terrible situation that we've been through and that we're still going through. And that's the reason why we keep insisting to continue with the public health measures -- because we don't want this to get much worse than it already is." More than 497,600 people have died from Covid-19 in the US, according to Johns Hopkins University. more...

Martin Pengelly

At his Senate hearing on Monday, attorney general nominee Merrick Garland will pledge to prosecute “white supremacists and others” who attacked the US Capitol on 6 January, in support of Donald Trump’s attempt to overturn his election defeat. The pledge was contained in Garland’s opening testimony for the session before the Senate judiciary committee, released on Saturday night. “If confirmed,” Garland said, ‘I will supervise the prosecution of white supremacists and others who stormed the Capitol on 6 January – a heinous attack that sought to disrupt a cornerstone of our democracy: the peaceful transfer of power to a newly elected government.” Five people including a police officer died as a direct result of the attack on the Capitol, before which Trump told supporters to “fight like hell” against the result of the presidential election. Trump lost to Joe Biden by 306-232 in the electoral college and by more than 7m ballots in the popular vote. More than 250 participants in the Capitol riot have been charged. As NPR reported, “the defendants are predominantly white and male, though there were exceptions. more...

Trump’s critics – and the donors backing them – are scrambling fast to try to prise control away from the pro-Trump majority
Peter Stone

Some four dozen Republican donors were on a fundraising conference call on 5 February with Liz Cheney, the congresswoman and only Republican House leader to vote for Donald Trump’s impeachment for his role in the mob attack on the Capitol on 6 January. Many of the donors on the Cheney call are expected to donate the maximum amount of $5,800 to her 2022 re-election campaign before the end of the first quarter of this year, to ward off a primary challenge to her which Trump loyalists like congressman Matt Gaetz are encouraging, said Michael Epstein, a leading Maryland Republican donor. “We want to show a really big cycle for her to scare off competition,” Epstein said in an interview. “We want people who make judgments based on what’s right.” more...

Jason Slotkin

A space supply ship carrying some four tons of cargo bound for the International Space Station launched from Virginia on Saturday. The capsule is named for a Black mathematician whose contributions were featured in the Oscar-nominated film Hidden Figures. The S.S. Katherine Johnson, a Northrop Grumman Cygnus capsule, is due to arrive at the International Space Station Monday, bearing some 8,000 pounds of science and research supplies and vehicle hardware. The cargo will help astronauts with a variety of projects: learning about muscle loss using worms; investigating astronauts' sleep quality, experiments for disease treatments; upgrades to the life support systems; testing equipment for moon missions and more. more...

The winter storm that crippled Texas this week and heat wave the hit California last summer show much more needs to be done to protect power supplies from extreme weather.
By ERIC WOLFF, DEBRA KAHN and ZACK COLMAN

Texas and California may be worlds apart in their politics and climate policies, but they have something in common: Extreme weather crashed their power grids and left people stranded in the dark. The two sprawling, politically potent states have devoted massive sums to their power networks over the past two decades — California to produce huge amounts of wind and solar energy, Texas to create an efficient, go-it-alone electricity market built on gas, coal, nuclear and wind. But neither could keep the lights on in the face of the type of brutal weather that scientists call a taste of a changing climate. more...

By Hollie Silverman, Dakin Andone and David Williams, CNN

(CNN) A United Airlines flight was forced to return to Denver International Airport Saturday after it suffered an engine failure shortly after takeoff, sending aircraft debris raining down on soccer fields, homes and yards in a Denver suburb. United Flight 328 returned to the airport around 1:30 p.m. after suffering an engine issue, an airport spokesperson told CNN. The flight had been bound for Honolulu. The Federal Aviation Administration confirmed in a statement that the Boeing 777-200 safely returned to the Denver International Airport after "experiencing a right-engine failure shortly after takeoff." "The FAA is aware of reports of debris in the vicinity of the airplane's flight path," the statement said. The flight returned about 20 minutes after the police department in Broomfield, Colorado, said via Twitter that it had received reports that an airplane flying over the Denver suburb had engine trouble and had "dropped debris in several neighborhoods around 1:08 p.m." "No injuries reported at this time," according to the tweet. more...

CBS News

In Manatee County, Florida, this week, thousands of people got called to come to the affluent Lakewood Ranch development and get a coronavirus vaccine. It was a call many had been waiting for. "We were very fortunate, we got the call, we came right down," one woman told CBS News' Jim Axelrod. It was more than good fortune. Those who received the call all lived in two specific zip codes. Their doses came through a deal struck by Florida's Republican Governor Ron DeSantis and the CEO of Lakewood Ranch's parent company, owned by major Republican donors. Manatee County Commissioner Misty Servia said in a county meeting that the deal bypassed county protocol, allowing a select group of residents to go the front of the vaccine line. "So rather than this randomized pool where everybody gets a fair shake, these two zip codes were going to receive preferential treatment," she said. At a county meeting, Servia, who is also a Republican, told the room that the optics are horrible. The zip codes are two of the county's wealthiest and whitest, and they're in the bottom half of COVID-19 rates countywide. more...

By Yueqi Yang

After enduring a wretched week of Arctic storms, hunger and cold, several Texans were handed another pain point -- massive electricity bills. Houston resident David Astrein, 36, a human resources director at a manufacturing company, said he’s been charged $2,738.66 so far this month versus $129.85 in January for a three-bedroom home with a detached garage. He and his wife stopped using their dishwasher, washer and dryer, and turned on as few lights as possible at night. They kept the heat on for their 5-month old son. more...

by: Associated Press

All members of a San Francisco Bay Area school board resigned days after they were heard making disparaging comments about parents at a virtual board meeting they didn’t realize was being broadcast to the public. The four members of Oakley Union Elementary School District Board had stepped down by Friday amid growing outrage that began with the board’s Wednesday meeting. Before the meeting officially began and unaware the public could see and hear them, they used profanity and made jokes about parents just wanting a babysitter or to smoke pot in their home. The incident garnered national attention and widespread condemnation. The district’s superintendent, Greg Hetrick, announced the resignation in a letter Friday and said that Contra Costa County education board members will replace them in an interim capacity, the Mercury News reported. more...

By Spencer S. Hsu and Rachel Weiner

U.S. authorities on Friday alleged a broader conspiracy by Oath Keepers to attack the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, charging six new individuals who appeared to be members or associates of the right-wing group. One self-described leader in the group, which recruits among military and law enforcement, sent a Facebook message claiming at least 50 to 100 Oath Keepers planned to travel to D.C. with him on Jan. 6 and that they would “make it wild,” echoing a comment President Donald Trump made on Twitter rallying supporters to the Capitol. A 21-page indictment alleged that the defendants “did knowingly combine, conspire, confederate, and agree with each other and others known and unknown” to force entry to the Capitol and obstruct Congress from certifying the election of Joe Biden as president in riots that led to five deaths and assaults on 139 police. more...

By Clare Hymes, Cassidy McDonald

Federal prosecutors indicted six members of the Oath Keepers militia, who the government added as co-defendants to an existing indictment for three alleged Oath Keepers. Seven of the group were part of a tactical "stack" of people dressed in combat gear who pushed through crowds to enter the Capitol, the government said. The nine were indicted by a grand jury on charges that included conspiracy to corruptly obstruct, influence, or impede an official proceeding, destruction of property and restricted buildings or grounds charges. The indictment also charges two men with obstructing the investigation. Prosecutors say the group donned paramilitary gear and used military-style tactics — keeping hands on each other's backs to communicate as they marched up the steps of the Capitol — and coordinated with other Oath Keepers before and during the attack, using apps like MeWe and Zello. more...

By Jack Dutton

Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) launched another scathing attack on former President Donald Trump, accusing him of dividing the United States into a "dark and dangerous place" by continuously claiming the November election results were fraudulent. In a statement entered into a congressional record that was released on Thursday, the Utah lawmaker said Trump's denial of the election results was "one of the most reprehensible acts" possible and warned that the perpetuation of this "big lie" threatens the American people. Romney was one of seven Republicans who joined all 50 Democrats in the upper chamber to vote for convicting Trump at his second impeachment trial. Although a majority was obtained, it fell short of the two-thirds majority needed to convict him. more...

Cocooned in Mar-a-Lago, the newly acquitted ex-president is stepping up his political activities.
By GABBY ORR and MERIDITH MCGRAW

There’s no longer a chief of staff to screen his calls and he keeps no predictable working hours. So an unspoken rule has governed Donald Trump’s calendar since he left Washington last month: To sit down with the former president, you must belong to his posh Palm Beach club or know how to contact him directly. But even that won’t always do it. For weeks now, Trump has rejected meetings with everyone from former South Carolina governor and 2024 hopeful Nikki Haley to House and Senate GOP candidates vying for his ear — preferring to spend his days leisurely calling friends, binging cable news, golfing with a rotating cast of partners and basking in standing ovations whenever he arrives for dinner on Mar-a-Lago’s outdoor patio. One person close to the ex-president said he’s become “unreachable” to anyone outside his limited circle of loyal aides, longtime friends and die-hard political allies. more...

By Janet Shamlian CBS News

Millions of Americans in the South are heading into another night of freezing temperatures without clean water or enough to eat. At food banks and water distribution sites, lines now stretch as long as a mile. President Biden says he'll sign a new emergency declaration for the state of Texas, where half of the state is still under a boil water notice. Millions more in Louisiana and Mississippi are facing the same crisis Friday night. Things are so bad in San Antonio that firefighters struggled to get water from the hydrants to fight off an enormous blaze. Thousands of homes have been destroyed by pipes that have burst and families are now worried how they'll pay for the clean-up. At least 44 deaths have been linked to severe weather this week. The economic toll from the storms could reach as high as $50 billion. more...

By Lauren Fox, CNN

(CNN) Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin announced Friday he will vote against Neera Tanden, President Joe Biden's nominee for the director of the Office of Management and Budget, making her confirmation unlikely given Republican resistance to her nomination. Biden said, "No," when asked if he planned to pull Tanden's nomination because of Manchin's announcement, adding, "I think we're gonna find the votes to get her confirmed." In a brief statement, the moderate West Virginia Democrat said that Tanden's comments on Twitter about Republican colleagues, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, and Sen. Bernie Sanders, an independent, had led him to doubt she was the right fit. more...

By Sophie Lewis

Just minutes after NASA's Perseverance rover stuck its landing on Mars, it sent back two historic images — our first-ever views of the red planet from the elusive Jezero Crater. Percy, as the rover is nicknamed, got through the "seven minutes of terror" on Thursday — a series of make-or-break events to land. A successful landing was announced just before 4 p.m. ET from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in California. "Touchdown confirmed! Perseverance is safely on the surface of Mars, ready to begin seeking the signs of past life!" Swati Mohan, a guidance, navigation and control officer monitoring telemetry at JPL, called out as the rover landed. Socially-distanced flight engineers burst into cheers and applause as they breathed a collective sigh of relief. more...

By Harper Neidig

Federal prosecutors announced charges on Friday against six people affiliated with the right-wing paramilitary group Oath Keepers for their roles in the Capitol riot last month. All six were arrested this week in Florida, North Carolina and Ohio. They are facing various charges, including conspiracy and obstruction of an official proceeding, which carries a maximum of twenty years in prison. According to the U.S. Attorney's office in D.C., all six are being charged as codefendants along with three other people affiliated with the Oath Keepers who had been charged last month. more...

By Jordan Williams

Federal agents seized $2.82 million worth of cocaine-coated corn flakes, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) said in a news release on Friday. CBP officers in Cincinnati intercepted a large shipment of cereal that was headed to a private residence in Hong Kong from South America. Officers opened the box and saw cereal with white powder, with flakes coated in a “grayish substance.” They tested the flakes and the substance, and found that they contained cocaine. more...

Rachel Maddow reports on the distinguished background of attorney Mark Pomerantz, whose work as a mob lawyer helped define RICO prosecutions, and who has been made a special assistant district attorney by Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance, dedicated to the investigation of Donald Trump's business dealings. Aired on 02/19/2021. video...

Jake Lahut

In an effort to provide some cover for Republican Sen. Ted Cruz, Fox News opinion host Sean Hannity delivered a more flattering yet false account of Cruz's much-derided trip to Mexico. "Now Senator Ted Cruz tonight is facing the ire of the mob — the media — for travelling to Cancun, Mexico, with his daughters, to drop them off and come home — as Texas is still addressing the fallout and damage from severe weather," Hannity said on Thursday night. The widespread outcry began on Wednesday when photos emerged of Cruz travelling to Cancun with his family first at George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston and subsequently on a plane. Several hours after the trip became national news, Cruz issued his original statement, which Hannity tried sticking to. "With school cancelled for the week, our girls asked to take a trip with friends," Cruz said initially. "Wanting to be a good dad, I flew down with them last night and am flying back this afternoon." more...

Peter Weber

When the Texas power grid buckled under the strain of worse-than-expected winter cold, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) went on Fox News and blamed frozen wind turbines for what was mostly a problem with natural gas–fueled power supply. Then he savaged the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), which manages the Texas-only power grid. But he has notably "gone easier on another culprit: an oil and gas industry that is the state's dominant business and his biggest political contributor," The Associated Press reports. Abbott, in office since 2015, has raised more than $150 million in campaign contributions — the most of any governor in U.S. history — and "more than $26 million of his contributions have come from the oil and gas industry, more than any other economic sector," AP reports. In a news conference Thursday, Abbott mostly blamed ERCOT for assuring state leaders Texas could handle the storm. more...

By Rick Moriarty | rmoriarty@syracuse.com

Syracuse, N.Y. — Texas Republicans were quick to blame the state’s wind turbines for the massive power outages that millions of Texans experienced this week during an unusual blast of cold weather. Texas leads the nation in wind power, with nearly 15,000 wind turbines producing 23% of the Lone Star State’s electricity last year. Many of the turbines shut down when the cold descended on Texas. It turns out that only a third of the power outages in the state resulted from wind turbines failing in the cold. Power plants that use fossil fuels — coal and natural gas ― accounted for two-thirds of the power outages. more...

NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson explains to CNN's Wolf Blitzer why the NAACP is backing the lawsuit against former President Donald Trump, Rudy Giuliani and others for inciting the Capitol riot. video...

The United States formally rejoins the Paris Agreement today, after former President Trump withdrew from the treaty. President Biden has called climate change the "number one issue facing humanity," CBS News climate and energy reporter Cara Korte joins "CBSN AM" to talk about the significance of the world's second-biggest carbon emitter rejoining the global effort to address the climate crisis. video...

By Lexi Lonas

Members of a San Francisco-area school board are being called to resign after they were heard making derogatory remarks about parents on a Zoom call. The remark that has perhaps gained the most attention and criticism came from the school board president, who said the parents looked at teachers as their babysitters. “It’s really unfortunate that they want to pick on us because they want their babysitters back,” Lisa Brizendine, Oakley Union Elementary School Board president, said on the Zoom call. more...

By Whitney Wild and Paul LeBlanc, CNN

(CNN) Six US Capitol Police officers have been suspended with pay, and 29 others have been placed under investigation, for their actions in the January 6 riot, a department spokesman said Thursday. "Acting Chief Yogananda Pittman has directed that any member of her department whose behavior is not in keeping with the Department's Rules of Conduct will face appropriate discipline," department spokesman John Stolnis told CNN. CNN reported in January that the USCP had placed at least 10 officers under investigation, and two others had been suspended. One of the suspended officers took a selfie with someone who was part of the mob that overtook the Capitol, according to Rep. Tim Ryan, a Democrat from Ohio. Another wore a "Make America Great Again" hat and started directing people around the building, Ryan said. more...

By Sarah Polus

Kim Kardashian officially filed for divorce from husband Kayne West Friday, the Los Angeles County Superior Court confirmed to The Hill. The news comes after months of speculation over the status of the buzzy couple, who have been married for 7 years. According to court documents obtained by TMZ, Kardashian has filed for joint-custody of their children. The reality TV mogul and her rapper husband, share four children together: North, 7, Saint, 5, Chicago, 3, and Psalm, 1. more...

With grocery stores empty, school meals suspended and pantries forced to close, millions are trapped in precarious situations
Nina Lakhani

Food banks in Texas have gone into disaster mode as they ramp up operations to tackle a surge in hunger after unprecedented freezing conditions disrupted almost every part of the food supply chain in the state. Grocery stores are empty, school meal programs suspended, and deliveries disrupted by untreated, treacherous roads that have left millions of Texans trapped in precarious living conditions with dwindling food supplies. Even those who did stockpile before the Arctic conditions swept in have lost refrigerated groceries due to lengthy power cuts and cannot cook what food they do have without electricity or gas. In the worst-affected areas, food banks and pantries were forced to close for several days this week as it was impossible for staff and vehicles to get to the distribution sites. Relief was limited to disaster boxes sent to people seeking refuge in warming shelters. On Thursday, the disruption to energy and safe water supplies had food banks scrambling to procure large quantities of bottled water and ready meals and snacks that do not require cooking. more...

The Senate's No. 2 Republican on Thursday defended fellow Republicans who sided with Democrats on the “vote of conscience.”
By ASSOCIATED PRESS

PIERRE, S.D. — U.S. Sen. John Thune is criticizing Republican activists and party leaders for engaging in “cancel culture” by rushing to censure GOP senators who found former President Donald Trump guilty of inciting an insurrection. In his first interview since he voted to acquit Trump, the Senate's No. 2 Republican on Thursday defended fellow Republicans who sided with Democrats on the “vote of conscience” and warned against shutting out dissenting voices in the party. “There was a strong case made,” Thune said of the Democrats' impeachment presentation. “People could come to different conclusions. If we’re going to criticize the media and the left for cancel culture, we can’t be doing that ourselves.” more...

by Lexy Perez

Evan Rachel Wood and four other women have come forward with abuse allegations against Manson. The abuse allegations made about Marilyn Manson are being investigated by the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, The Hollywood Reporter has confirmed. "The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, Special Victims Bureau is investigating allegation(s) of domestic violence involving Mr. Brian Warner, also known as 'Marilyn Manson,' who works in the music industry," it said in a statement. "The incidents occurred between 2009 and 2011 when Mr. Warner lived in the city of West Hollywood." more...

By Konstantin Toropin, CNN

(CNN) Florida's Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis has threatened to move a pop-up vaccination clinic that his state has set up in an affluent community in Manatee County after he was confronted with allegations of political favoritism and preference for the wealthy at a news conference Wednesday. Manatee County announced on Tuesday that Florida's Division of Emergency Management would host a "pop-up" vaccination spot at Lakewood Ranch this week for 3,000 Manatee County residents, according to a statement from the county. The vaccines, however, would be limited to people living in only two zip codes -- 34202 and 34211. Manatee County Commissioner Misty Servia, a Republican, criticized the selection of these two areas at a Board of County Commissioners work session on Tuesday. more...

"I'll tell you what, I wouldn't be complaining," DeSantis told critics.
By Corky Siemaszko

Florida’s governor was slow to respond to the pandemic and his Covid-19 vaccine distribution plan has been marked by chaos, but critics say he’s been quick to recognize the political gold in those precious doses. Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican, ignored federal guidelines and prioritized getting senior citizens — one of Florida’s most potent voting blocs — vaccinated first. When Holocaust survivors and Cuban survivors of the Bay of Pigs debacle — revered members of two other key Florida voting blocs — got their first shots, DeSantis made sure he was there for the news conferences. And now the governor stands accused of using the Covid-19 vaccine to reward powerful political supporters and developers by setting up pop-up vaccination sites in planned communities they developed and where GOP voters predominate. more...

The Texas senator faced fierce blowback for fleeing his state as a disaster unfolded. Text messages sent by his wife revealed a hastily planned trip away from their “FREEZING” family home.
By Shane Goldmacher and Nicholas Fandos

Like millions of his constituents across Texas, Senator Ted Cruz had a frigid home without electricity this week amid the state’s power crisis. But unlike most, Mr. Cruz got out, fleeing Houston and hopping a Wednesday afternoon flight to Cancún with his family for a respite at a luxury resort. Photos of Mr. Cruz and his wife, Heidi, boarding the flight ricocheted quickly across social media and left both his political allies and rivals aghast at a tropical trip as a disaster unfolded at home. The blowback only intensified after Mr. Cruz, a Republican, released a statement saying he had flown to Mexico “to be a good dad” and accompany his daughters and their friends; he noted he was flying back Thursday afternoon, though he did not disclose how long he had originally intended to stay. more...

Jake Lahut

As first responders deal with Texas' statewide power and water crisis, Republican Sen. Ted Cruz's office asked Houston police for a security detail at the airport ahead of his family trip to Cancun, the department confirmed on Thursday afternoon. "The Houston Police Department (HPD) can confirm that a member of Senator Cruz's staff contacted HPD personnel at IAH on Wednesday afternoon, February 17th, and requested assistance upon the Senator's arrival at the airport," Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo said in a statement. more...

The Editorial Board | Houston Chronicle

Texans shivering in the dark are facing many shortages right now — lights, heat, tap water, gasoline — but the most vexing deficit is a critical shortage of leadership in Austin. Consider: As a massive cold front barreled down on the state Saturday, Gov. Greg Abbott was busy on Twitter mocking police reform in another state and sharing a photo of an improvised Whataburger cup. “Here is how one Texan is protecting his outdoor faucet from the cold winter weather,” he wrote. “@Whataburger of course.” more...

Although the historic winter storm in North Texas is over, thousands of people are still trying to gain access back to electricity and drinking water. video...

Scott Neuman

Nearly a half-million Texans are without electricity for a third-straight day as the effects from historic winter storms that have blasted the state and many other parts of the country this week are still being felt. And more severe weather is ahead for many of the same areas already hit hardest, with 100 million people in the path of the latest storm forecast to bring freezing rain and snow from the Plains to the East Coast on Thursday. The Electric Reliability Council of Texas, which manages most of the state power grid, said Thursday morning that it had directed Oncor and other energy providers to begin restoring power that had been previously dropped from the grid as part of a series of intentional outages aimed at keeping it from crashing. But there were still about 494,000 power outages in Texas as of early Thursday, with roughly 124,000 other people without power in Louisiana and almost 182,000 in Mississippi, according to the tracking site PowerOutage.US. more...

By STEPHEN GROVES

PIERRE, S.D. (AP) — South Dakota’s Republican attorney general was charged Thursday with three misdemeanors for striking and killing a man with his car last summer, avoiding more serious felony charges in a case that raised questions about how the state’s top law enforcement official first reported the crash. Jason Ravnsborg could face up to 30 days in jail and up to a $500 fine on each charge: careless driving, driving out of his lane and operating a motor vehicle while on his phone. more...

By Eric Levenson and Travis Caldwell, CNN

(CNN) The widespread power outages in Texas improved overnight even as they caused serious, cascading issues with the state's supply of heating, water, food and medicine. Power was still down for about 390,000 Texas customers as of Thursday afternoon -- well below the over 3 million outages a day earlier, according to Poweroutage.us. The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), which operates the state's power grid, said in a statement Thursday morning it had made "significant progress" restoring power overnight. Still, the winter storm and ongoing cold were affecting the system's power generation, and rotating outages may be needed over the next couple of days, the company said. ERCOT officials also said Thursday that the power grid was "seconds or minutes" away from catastrophic failure and a complete blackout if not for controlled outages implemented early Monday. more...

Customers use the light from a cellphone to look in the meat section of a grocery store in Dallas.
Maanvi Singh in Oakland (now) and Joan E Greve in Washington (earlier)

Rick Perry, the former Texas governor who became Donald Trump’s energy secretary, has said that Texans would willingly endure longer periods of sub-freezing temperatures if it stymied Democrats’ energy policy and efforts to combat climate change. “Texans would be without electricity for longer than three days to keep the federal government out of their business,” Perry was quoted saying in blog post published Wednesday on the website of Republican congressman Kevin McCarthy. The blog post had asserted that those “watching on the left may see the situation in Texas as an opportunity to expand their top-down, radical proposals. Two phrases come to mind: don’t mess with Texas, and don’t let a crisis go to waste”. Perry’s comments come as millions of Texas are struggling with a brutal winter storm, which created a surge in demand for electricity to warm up homes unaccustomed to such extreme lows, buckling the state’s power grid and causing widespread blackouts. Frigid temperatures and snow have covered most of the central US this week, resulting in at least two dozen deaths, but Texas in particular has reeled because most of its power is on a state-run grid that has repeatedly been described as mismanaged. more...


Residents struggle with lack of power, food and water while White House says storms prove ‘climate change is real’
Greg Abbott, Texas’s Republican governor. Abbott and other Republicans were accused of ‘wanting to point fingers at everything except the problem’.
Tom McCarthy and Erum Salam in San Antonio and Joan E Greve in Washington

As Texas struggled on Thursday with a disastrous lack of power, food and water following the deadly storm that brought Arctic temperatures to the southern US, the state’s Republican leadership stood battered by a growing outcry over mismanagement of the power grid and a painfully slow emergency response. Residents huddled at elementary schools in makeshift “warming centers”, moved in with any relatives and friends who have heat – despite the coronavirus risks – or simply held out inside their homes in deteriorating conditions. Some do not have enough water to drink, let alone wash. Others are dealing with flooding from burst pipes, unreliable gas and electricity service and “boil water” notices spreading to additional major cities. more...

Joel Rose

After four years of former President Trump's immigration crackdown, the Biden administration on Thursday announced new guidelines that are expected to sharply limit arrests and deportations carried out by Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Under the guidance, ICE agents and officers have been told to prioritize the "most pressing threats" to national security and public safety when deciding whom to arrest, detain and deport. ICE officials said the guidance is intended to help the agency allocate its limited resources to cases the public cares about most. "By focusing our limited resources on cases that present threats to national security, border security, and public safety, our agency will more ably and effectively execute its law enforcement mission," ICE Acting Director Tae Johnson said in a statement. "Like every law enforcement agency at the local, state, and federal level, we must prioritize our efforts to achieve the greatest security and safety impact. more...

Paul P. Murphy Betsy Klein Daniella Diaz Manu Raju
By Paul P. Murphy, Betsy Klein, Daniella Diaz and Manu Raju, CNN

(CNN) — Sen. Ted Cruz and his family flew to Cancun, Mexico, he confirmed in a statement to CNN, as a winter disaster in his home state left millions without power or water. Analysis: Cruz’s Cancun trip violates an unwritten rule of politics. Cruz, a Texas Republican, said in the statement he flew down for a night because his daughters “asked to take a trip with friends.”  “With school cancelled for the week, our girls asked to take a trip with friends. Wanting to be a good dad, I flew down with them last night and am flying back this afternoon,” he said in the statement. “My staff and I are in constant communication with state and local leaders to get to the bottom of what happened in Texas. We want our power back, our water on, and our homes warm. My team and I will continue using all our resources to keep Texans informed and safe.” more...

By Scott Friedman

Federal regulators have opened an inquiry into what caused the massive power outages across Texas. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) confirms it will investigate along with the North American Electric Reliability Corporation. FERC is the same agency that examined the last major winter power outage in Texas in 2011, and then offered recommendations aimed at preventing a repeat in the future. On Wednesday, a group of North Texas congressmen sent a letter demanding answers from ERCOT, the agency that manages the state’s power grid. The letter asks what ERCOT did to prepare ahead of this major storm? Meanwhile, NBC 5 Investigates has uncovered new information showing, less than a week before the storm, ERCOT officials gave assurances that the state’s power plants were ready to weather the elements, raising more questions about how such a massive failure of the state’s power system could happen. more...

Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., and the NAACP are using the Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871 in a lawsuit against former President Donald Trump and others.
By Char Adams

Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., and the NAACP are suing former President Donald Trump and his longtime ally Rudy Giuliani for allegedly conspiring with a pair of hate groups to storm the U.S. Capitol and block the Electoral College count in January. And they’re using a 150-year-old law as the basis of the suit. Thompson and the NAACP, the nation's oldest civil rights organization, allege in the suit, obtained by NBC News, that Trump, Giuliani, the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers used “intimidation, harassment, and threats,” to stop the vote count and caused the Jan. 6 Capitol riot in the process. This, they said, violated the Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871. “I guess it tells you something when you can use a Ku Klux Klan law from the 1870s,” said Brian Levin, director of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University. “It’s part of a series of laws enacted after the Civil War. Everything old is, unfortunately, new again." more...

By WAYNE PARRY

A spot on the Atlantic City Boardwalk where movie stars, athletes and rock stars used to party — and a future president honed his instincts for bravado and hype — was reduced to a smoking pile of rubble on Wednesday. The former Trump Plaza casino was imploded after falling into such disrepair that chunks of the building began peeling off and crashing to the ground. A series of loud explosions rocked the building around 9 a.m., and it started to collapse almost like a wave from back to front until it went straight down in a giant cloud of dust that enveloped the beach and Boardwalk. Overall, it took the structure less than 20 seconds to collapse. "I got chills," Mayor Marty Small said. "This is a historic moment. It was exciting." more...

By MJ Lee and Mark Morales, CNN

(CNN) New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has been pleading with lawmakers for support and even threatening political retribution against Democrats who have criticized him in an aggressive effort to contain political fallout from revelations that his administration had concealed the full extent of nursing home-related deaths during the Covid pandemic. Describing an alleged exchange with the governor that has not been previously reported, Democratic Assemblyman Ron Kim told CNN that he received a call on his cell phone from the governor last week as he was bathing his children at home. "Gov. Cuomo called me directly on Thursday to threaten my career if I did not cover up for Melissa [DeRosa] and what she said. He tried to pressure me to issue a statement, and it was a very traumatizing experience," Kim said. Cuomo proceeded to tell the assemblyman that "we're in this business together and we don't cross certain lines and he said I hadn't seen his wrath and that he can destroy me," according to Kim. more...

By Oliver Darcy, CNN Business

New York (CNN Business)Rush Limbaugh, the conservative media icon who for decades used his perch as the king of talk-radio to shape the politics of both the Republican Party and nation, died Wednesday after a battle with cancer. He was 70 years old. Limbaugh's wife Kathryn made the announcement on his radio show Wednesday. "As so many of you know, losing a loved one is terribly difficult, even more so when that loved one is larger than life," she said. "Rush will forever be the greatest of all time." Limbaugh announced in February 2020 that he had been diagnosed with advanced lung cancer. Limbaugh continued to host his show while undergoing treatment, and he told listeners that he remained hopeful he would defeat the disease. more...

Colorado City mayor Tom Boyd ranted on Facebook that he was ‘sick and tired of people looking for a damn handout’
Guardian staff

A Texas mayor has resigned after telling residents of his city to “Get off your ass and take care of your own family!” in the face of a devastating once-in-a-generation winter storm that has killed more than 20 people across the country and left millions without power in the state. Colorado City mayor Tom Boyd told the 4,000 or so of his fellow citizens in his town that he was “sick and tired of people looking for a damn handout” and blamed “a socialist government” for the dire situation. “No one owes you or your family anything; nor is it the local government’s responsibility to support you during trying times like this! Sink or swim, it’s your choice! The City and County, along with power providers or any other service owes you NOTHING!,” Boyd continued in the career-ending rant he posted on a local community Facebook group. more...

Lucas Ropek

A ransomware gang claims to have stolen over 100 gigabytes of data from Jones Day, a prominent global law firm that recently stirred backlash for its entanglement in the 2020 presidential election. The hacker group CL0P has posted a large tranche of stolen files to a dark web “leak site,” claiming it snatched them from the law firm during a recent cyberattack. Such sites will typically be used by hackers to goad a victim into paying a ransom. CL0P’s site is publicly available we have independently verified its existence. Databreaches.net initially reported the breach yesterday. According to reporting from the Wall Street Journal, CL0P claims to have reached out to the law firm about the hack in an apparent bid to initiate ransom negotiations: more...

Author: James Brooks

JUNEAU — Republican officials in at least five Alaska state House districts have approved resolutions censuring U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, and many of those officials said they believe the state party also will consider a resolution denouncing her. The resolutions are at least partially motivated by Murkowski’s support for the impeachment of President Donald Trump, but several sponsors expressed wider discontent with the senator. The districts’ actions set up a collision course with the state Republican Party organization, where chairman Glenn Clary has supported a “big tent” approach to party membership. “If we’re going to win this game, if you will, or win at politics and maintain our freedoms … then we’re going to have to band together and not splinter ourselves,” he said during a Jan. 26 talk radio interview. Republican officials in other states have expressed their disapproval of elected Republicans who supported impeachment, but Alaska’s Republican organization has remained relatively quiet until recently. more...

Jessica Guynn | USA TODAY

For months, Nicholas Atencio and his girlfriend, Heather Surovik, spent nearly every minute of their lives together in a 2000 Cadillac Escalade. After Atencio, 33, lost his job as a plumber in May, he and Surovik, 36, delivered for Grubhub by day and at night curled up with their puppy on an air bed in the back of their car parked in a lot in Longmont, Colorado, dreaming of being reunited under one roof with Surovik’s teenage son who was living with his grandmother. “I’m a mom, so I want to fix everything and make it better,” Surovik said. “It’s hard when you don't have the means to do that when you can’t do anything because you don't have anything.” Americans are being driven into their vehicles by COVID-19 pandemic-fueled woes. And their ranks are likely to grow as the government safety net frays and evictions and foreclosures rise. more...

*** Another day another lie from Republicans, Fox News and right wing media. ***

Peter Weber

As Texas on Tuesday entered its third night with sub-freezing temperatures and 3.3 million customers without electricity, the operator of the state's unique power grid, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), urged Texans who still have electricity to turn off lights, unplug appliances, and turn down the thermostat. People without power took shelter elsewhere, if they could, or resorted to sometimes deadly means of generating heat. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) and state legislators called for investigations — and Abbott and other prominent GOP politicians wrongly blamed frozen wind turbines and other renewable energy sources for the failures of the Texas energy grid. more...

Brakkton Booker

Amy Cooper, a white dog owner who was at the center of a controversial encounter with a Black man bird-watching in New York's Central Park last year, had her misdemeanor charge stemming from that incident dropped on Tuesday. The woman had been facing a charge of falsely reporting an incident to police after she told them Christian Cooper, who is not related to her, threatened her and her dog. He did not. "Given the issues at hand and Ms. Cooper's lack of criminal background, we offered her, consistent with our position on many misdemeanor cases involving a first arrest, an alternative, restorative justice resolution," Assistant District Attorney Joan Illuzzi told a Manhattan judge, according to a statement provided to NPR. The program, Illuzzi explained, is "designed not just to punish but to educate and promote community healing." more...

By Aaron Blake

In 2017, a white supremacist who attended a rally in Charlottesville drove a car into a crowd of counterprotesters, killing one of them. President Donald Trump leaped into controversy by saying there were good people on both sides of a rally organized by racist groups. The remarks drew condemnation from many Republicans and even a high-profile White House aide, Gary Cohn. In the months and years that followed, though, something happened: Trump’s allies sought to rewrite the history of Charlottesville to fit Trump’s claims. It didn’t happen instantly, but eventually a conventional wisdom emerged among his most devoted supporters that the official Charlottesville narrative had been wrong all along — that there were indeed good people on both sides because this rally organized by racist groups included a significant number of non-racists who simply wanted to preserve Confederate history. They have come to label it the “Charlottesville hoax.” I debunked it here, as did The Post’s Fact Checker. more...

Analysis by Chris Cillizza, CNN Editor-at-large

(CNN) Every once in a while, a member of Congress says something that makes your eyes bug out of your head. More often than not these days, that person is Wisconsin Republican Sen. Ron Johnson. Here's Johnson over the weekend talking about the January 6 riot at the US Capitol: "This didn't seem like an armed insurrection to me. When you hear the word 'armed,' don't you think of firearms? Here's the questions I would have liked to ask: How many firearms were confiscated? How many shots were fired?" Well, as of Monday morning, more than 221 people had been arrested as a result of the Capitol riot, according to CNN's reporting. (Here are some of the most prominent.) Five people died in the riots. And while overrun police were in no position to confiscate guns and other weapons brought by rioters to the Capitol, PolitiFact wrote Sunday night that "we still can identify accounts of numerous weapons found in and around the Capitol, brought there in some cases by people who saw themselves as soldiers in a war." more...

The civil rights group brought the suit on behalf of Representative Bennie Thompson of Mississippi, with other Democrats in Congress expected to join as plaintiffs.
By Annie Karni

WASHINGTON — The N.A.A.C.P. on Tuesday morning filed a federal lawsuit against former President Donald J. Trump and his personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani, claiming that they violated a 19th century statute when they tried to prevent the certification of the election on Jan. 6. The civil rights organization brought the suit on behalf of Representative Bennie Thompson, Democrat of Mississippi. Other Democrats in Congress — including Representatives Hank Johnson of Georgia and Bonnie Watson Coleman of New Jersey — are expected to join as plaintiffs in the coming weeks, according to the N.A.A.C.P.

The lawsuit contends that Mr. Trump and Mr. Giuliani violated the Ku Klux Klan Act, an 1871 statute that includes protections against violent conspiracies that interfered with Congress’s constitutional duties; the suit also names the Proud Boys, the far-right nationalist group, and the Oath Keepers militia group. The legal action accuses Mr. Trump, Mr. Giuliani and the two groups of conspiring to incite a violent riot at the Capitol, with the goal of preventing Congress from certifying the election. more...

By: Associated Press

The lawsuit from Mississippi’s Rep. Bennie Thompson, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, is part of an expected wave of litigation over the Jan. 6 riot and is believed to be the first filed by a member of Congress. It seeks unspecified punitive and compensatory damages. The case also names as defendants the Republican former president’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani and groups including the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers, extremist organizations that had members charged by the Justice Department with taking part in the siege.

Lawyers for Trump have denied that he incited the riot. A Trump adviser didn’t immediately comment about the lawsuit on Tuesday, and a lawyer for Giuliani did not immediately return an email seeking comment. The suit, filed in federal court in Washington under a Reconstruction-era law known as the Ku Klux Klan Act, comes three days after Trump was acquitted in a Senate impeachment trial that centered on allegations that he incited the riot, in which five people died. That acquittal is likely to open the door to fresh legal scrutiny over Trump’s actions before and during the siege. more...

Ashley Collman

A House impeachment manager says Republican senators told her privately that she "made the case" to convict former President Donald Trump, but they still voted to acquit him. Del. Stacey Plaskett, a Democrat from the Virgin Islands, told CNN's Chris Cuomo on Monday about the interactions she had with unnamed Republican senators during Trump's second impeachment trial last week. "I had senators, even after we presented, who stopped me in the hallway, Republicans, who said that we had made the case, but yet they were going to vote to acquit the president," Plaskett said. Plaskett said she tried to win these senators over by saying they could vote to acquit Trump, but not vote to disqualify him from holding office in the future — a vote which would have taken place after conviction, and only requires a simple majority. more...

Aware of this emerging voter demo, the White House is hoping its agenda and relief bill will inoculate it against frustrations.
By CHRISTOPHER CADELAGO and NATASHA KORECKI

Distraught and exhausted parents are emerging as a new class of voters that could torment President Joe Biden — and the White House is moving quickly to head off the pain. Nearing a year into the pandemic, Biden’s advisers and allies recognize that they need to respond to the spiraling angst felt by families or risk driving them into the arms of waiting Republicans. It is a crucial test for Biden and Democrats as they try to consolidate their gains from the 2020 election. The pandemic has disrupted lives and exacerbated inequities and a raft of public and private surveys show clear political potholes and opportunities because of it. The coronavirus is spawning sweeping policy prescriptions from Democrats and Republicans alike, from billions in school reopening funds to the creation of a federal child allowance. And it’s prompting pollsters to loosely coin emerging voter demos like “women in chaos” and “families in crisis.” more...

By TARA PALMERI, EUGENE DANIELS, RYAN LIZZA and RACHAEL BADE  

While the rest of the country wants less DONALD TRUMP, Republicans just can’t quit him. Our flash POLITICO/Morning Consult poll conducted in the days following the Senate trial shows that despite the impeachment managers’ gripping presentation and video laying out Trump’s role in the Jan. 6 rampage, the GOP remains the undisputed party of Trump. Republican voters got over any misgivings they had about Trump’s role on Jan. 6 very quickly. Fifty-nine percent of Republican voters said they want Trump to play a major role in their party going forward. That’s up 18 percentage points from a Morning Consult poll conducted on Jan. 7, and an increase of 9 points from a follow-up poll on Jan. 25, before the impeachment trial began. Another piece of evidence: While Trump’s overall favorability rating is an abysmal 34% in our latest poll, 81% of Republican respondents gave him positive marks. Trump was at 77% approval among Republicans on Jan. 7 and 74% on Jan. 25. more...

Two reasons the royal family doesn’t like TV interviews include Diana and Andrew. But Harry and Meghan, faced with losing their last royal patronages anyway, saw nothing to lose.
Tom Sykes

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry decided to give an interview to their friend Oprah Winfrey after becoming aware that they are going to be stripped of all their remaining royal links when the terms of their exit package from the royal family are reviewed on March 31, it was claimed Tuesday. The Daily Mail says that insiders at Buckingham Palace believe that the interview, due to be screened on CBS on March 7, was organized by Meghan, 39, and Harry, 36, because the couple could “see the direction of travel” in regards to their future royal roles. more...

By COLLEEN LONG

WASHINGTON (AP) — Donald Trump’s acquittal at his second impeachment trial may not be the final word on whether he’s to blame for the deadly Capitol riot. The next step for the former president could be the courts. Now a private citizen, Trump is stripped of his protection from legal liability that the presidency gave him. That change in status is something that even Republicans who voted on Saturday to acquit of inciting the Jan. 6 attack are stressing as they urge Americans to move on from impeachment. “President Trump is still liable for everything he did while he was in office, as an ordinary citizen, unless the statute of limitations has run,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said after that vote. He insisted that the courts were a more appropriate venue to hold Trump accountable than a Senate trial. “He didn’t get away with anything yet,” McConnell said. “Yet.” The insurrection at the Capitol, in which five people died, is just one of the legal cases shadowing Trump in the months after he was voted out of office. He also faces legal exposure in Georgia over an alleged pressure campaign on state election officials, and in Manhattan over hush-money payments and business deals. more...

The Democratic leader also said Congress needs to pony up more money for security.
By Jane C. Timm

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., is doubling down on calls for a 9/11-style commission on the Capitol attack, following the impeachment and acquittal of former President Donald Trump in the Senate this past weekend. In a letter to House Democrats, Pelosi urged lawmakers to appropriate additional funds for better House member security and advocated for an independent commission to investigate the circumstances that led to the deadly Jan. 6 riot, after a mob of Trump supporters stormed the Capitol. Pelosi said initial reporting from retired Army Lt. Gen. Russel Honoré, who began a security review of the Capitol last month, highlighted the need for such an investigation. more...

Haven Orecchio-Egresitz

Parler, the preferred social media platform for the far-right, announced Monday that it was back online after it was dropped by an Amazon hosting service on January 11. The site became a haven for pro-Trump extremists ahead of, and during, the Capitol insurrection. Amazon Web Services (AWS) found that it "poses a very real risk to public safety." On Monday, the company announced that site was up and running with a Tea Party co-founder serving as interim CEO. Mark Meckler, an attorney, political activist, and founder of the Tea Party Patriots, replaced former CEO and co-founder John Matze, who was fired by the company's board earlier this month. more...

By Dan Merica and Devan Cole, CNN

Washington (CNN) The North Carolina Republican Party will meet Monday to vote on whether to censure Sen. Richard Burr for his vote to convict former President Donald Trump during his second impeachment trial -- a move that would make him the latest GOP senator to be reprimanded by his state party for siding with Democrats in the trial. It's likely that the vote -- which will be held by the party's central committee, according to party spokesman Tim Wigginton -- will pass given the swift Republican anger toward the senator on Saturday after he cast his guilty vote. Among Burr's critics is state party chairman Michael Whatley, who called the senator's decision "shocking and disappointing." Kyshia Lineberger, the RNC committeewoman from North Carolina, said she will vote to censure Burr. "I am voting yes because he failed his state and his constituents by voting to convict FORMER President Trump in what was an unconstitutional trial. A trial that even he said was unconstitutional," she said in an email. "At the end of the day, America is a Republic where we the people elect representatives. Senator Burr did not represent the will of the people and that is a shame." more...

*** Why do Republicans threaten or attack people who tell the truth or do what is right? What does that say about the Republican Party do what is right or tell the truth, and we will attack you? ***

Tucker Higgins

The seven Republican senators who joined all 50 Democrats in voting to convict former President Donald Trump of inciting the Jan. 6 riot in the Capitol are now facing heat from conservatives in their home states. Party leaders and local GOP officials, many seeking to curry favor with the broad swath of conservative voters still loyal to Trump, have condemned the 7 lawmakers for breaking ranks with the rest of the party. The critiques illustrate the strong hold that Trump continues to have over Republicans nationally in spite of his November loss and his subsequent refusal to concede defeat. Polling conducted after the attack on Congress last month continues to show Trump holds a sky-high approval rating among Republicans, and that about half of the GOP is primarily loyal to the ex-president himself, rather than the party. The Senate ultimately acquitted Trump on Saturday in a 57-43 vote after an unprecedented second impeachment trial. more...

Emma Newburger

President Joe Biden on Sunday called on Congress to strengthen gun laws on the third anniversary of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. “Today, as we mourn with the Parkland community, we mourn for all who have lost loved ones to gun violence,” Biden said in a statement released by the White House. The president called for several provisions including background checks on all gun sales, banning assault weapons and high-capacity magazines and eliminating legal immunity for gun manufacturers. “This Administration will not wait for the next mass shooting to heed that call. We will take action to end our epidemic of gun violence and make our schools and communities safer,” Biden said. “We owe it to all those we’ve lost and to all those left behind to grieve to make a change.” Fourteen students and three staff members were killed in the Parkland shooting. The student survivors started the March for Our lives movement in support of gun control legislation. more...

LAPD says "The Department will have zero tolerance for this type of behavior."
By Ivan Pereira

The Los Angeles Police Department announced it is currently looking into reports that its officers allegedly circulated a Valentine's Day image that mocked George Floyd's death. The post allegedly had Floyd's face and had the caption "You take my breath away," according to a spokesman for the LAPD. In a series of tweets Sunday, the LAPD said it was aware of the reported image and accusations that it was authorized by "a department employee." "A personnel complaint has been initiated and we are pursuing each allegation, including interviewing the department member who brought it to our attention," the department tweeted. The LAPD said it hasn't identified the actual postings or if it was created by one of their employees as of Sunday, but it has asked directors to search their worksites for more information. more...


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