Day 371: "Profound concern."
1/ The seven-day average of Covid-19 deaths reached 2,188 a day – the highest level since February 2021 and up about 1,000 per day from two months ago. Omicron infections, however, are resulting in fewer hospitalizations than during the Delta wave in the fall. Pfizer, meanwhile, has begun a clinical trial to evaluate a new, Omicron-specific vaccine. (Wall Street Journal / New York Times / NPR)
2/ The Biden administration is withdrawing its Covid-19 vaccination and testing mandate for businesses, following the Supreme Court’s decision to block the requirement. The mandate would have applied to some 80 million people if it had not been struck down by the court, which described the regulation’s approach as “a blunt instrument.” (CNN / New York Times / CNBC)
3/ The White House warned that a Russian invasion of Ukraine is “imminent” and that Biden “may be moving” some troops into Eastern Europe to demonstrate American commitment to its NATO allies. Biden also said that he would consider personally sanctioning Putin if Russian forces invade Ukraine, warning of “enormous consequences” for Russia not only economically and politically but “worldwide.” Moscow, meanwhile, said it had “profound concern” over NATO’s military movements in eastern Europe, accusing the West of “building up tension” in the region. The Kremlin, however, announced military exercises on Ukraine’s border, including fighter jet and ballistic missile exercises. The Biden administration also announced that it was working with gas and crude oil suppliers to secure energy for European allies in the event that Moscow weaponizes energy supplies by cutting off fuel shipments. (CNN / Washington Post / New York Times / Bloomberg / USA Today / ABC News / CNBC)
4/ Federal prosecutors are reviewing fake Electoral College certifications that declared Trump the winner of states that he lost. The certificates contain the signatures of Trump supporters who falsely claimed to be the rightful electors in Georgia, Arizona, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Nevada, and New Mexico – all states that Biden won. The attorneys general in at least two of the seven states – Michigan and New Mexico – say they have referred investigations to federal prosecutors. Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco, meanwhile, confirmed that the Justice Department had “received those referrals. Our prosecutors are looking at those and I can’t say anything more on ongoing investigations.” The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol is also focusing on the falsified documents. (CNN / NPR)
5/ A federal judge ordered the Trump attorney who authored memos outlining how Trump could overturn the 2020 election to respond to a subpoena issued by the Jan. 6 select committee. The committee issued its subpoena to John Eastman’s former employer, Chapman University, on Jan. 18. Eastman had previously refused to provide information to the committee when it subpoenaed him directly. Eastman invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination 146 times when he was questioned by the committee last month. (CNN / Politico / Yahoo News)
6/ Biden was caught on a hot mic calling Fox News reporter Peter Doocy “a stupid son of a bitch.” As reporters were shouting questions while exiting the East Room, Doocy shouted: “Do you think inflation is a political liability in the midterms?” Thinking his microphone was turned off, Biden responded: “No, that’s a great asset. More inflation. What a stupid son of a bitch.” Doocy said Biden called him to apologize for the remark. It’s not the first time, however, that Biden was caught swearing on a hot mic. In 2010, a microphone picked up Biden telling Obama that passage of the Affordable Care Act was “a big fucking deal!” By comparison, Trump intentionally and repeatedly lobbed insults at journalists throughout his term, calling a reporter a “disgrace” for asking why he lied to Americans about the severity of Covid-19, and attacking another on live TV who asked what his message would be to Americans who are frightened by the coronavirus pandemic. Trump also threatened to revoke press passes, called CNN’s Jim Acosta “a rude, terrible person,” called April Ryan from American Urban Radio Networks a “loser,” accused CNN reporter Abby Phillip of “ask[ing] a lot of stupid questions,” and called PBS reporter Yamiche Alcindor, a woman of color, a “racist” for asking a question about white nationalists supporting him. (CNN / New York Times / CNBC)
poll/ 41% of Americans approve of Biden’s job performance – down from 44% in September and 59% in April. 21% of Americans say they’re satisfied with the way things are going in the U.S. – 12 points lower than last March (33%) and 15 points lower than in February 2018 (36%). (Pew Research Center)
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