1/ Joe Manchin called Biden’s $2 trillion Build Back Better plan “dead.” When asked about the legislation, Manchin replied: “What Build Back Better bill? It’s dead.” Manchin, however, has said he remains open to a smaller bill aimed at reducing carbon emissions, creating free pre-Kindergarten programs, and increasing federal health care subsidies, but that he hasn’t yet taken part in any negotiations with the White House. In December, Manchin abruptly announced his opposition to the 10-year, roughly $2 trillion social and climate spending package, which had already passed the House. (Associated Press / Bloomberg / NBC News)
2/ At least 4 million people quit or changed jobs in December – down from last month’s all-time high but still near record levels. Job openings totaled nearly 10.9 million in December – more than 4.6 million above the total unemployment level. The White House, meanwhile, warned that Friday’s job report data for last month could overstate the number of unemployed people, saying the January surveys were taken at the height of Covid-19 absences stemming from the holidays. (Washington Post / CNBC / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal)
3/ The U.S. daily death toll from Covid-19 rose to an average of more than 2,400 fatalities over the previous seven days – up 39% over the past two weeks and the highest level since mid-February last year. The last time U.S. Covid-19 deaths were this high, vaccines weren’t yet widely available. (CNBC / Wall Street Journal)
4/ Pfizer asked the FDA to authorize their Covid-19 vaccine for children ages 6 months to 5 years. The FDA had urged Pfizer to apply for emergency use authorization for their two-dose vaccine now so that young children would be eligible for a booster by the time the results from the three-dose trial are available. In a clinical trial, the two-dose regimen, while safe, failed to produce the expected immunity in 2- to 5-year-olds in a clinical trial, although it did so for the babies up to age 2. Federal regulators, however, believe that two doses should provide enough protection against the Omicron variant. Data on a third shot is not expected to be available until at least late March. The FDA will convene a panel of independent researchers and physicians in mid-February to review the data, potentially making the first vaccine for young children by the end of the month. The Pfizer shots contain one-tenth of the dose given to adults. There are more than 19 million Americans under 5 years old. (CNN / NBC News / Associated Press / New York Times / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / Bloomberg)
5/ Trump was directly involved in plans to use the federal government to seize voting machines after he lost the 2020 election. New accounts show that in one instance, Trump directed Rudy Giuliani to ask the Department of Homeland Security if it could legally take control of voting machines in key swing states. In another instance, Trump asked Attorney General William Barr about the possibility of whether the Justice Department could seize voting machines. Homeland Security’s acting deputy secretary, Ken Cuccinelli, said he didn’t have the authority to seize voting machines, and Barr reportedly immediately shot down the idea. Additionally, Trump’s advisers – retired Col. Phil Waldron and retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn – drafted two versions of an executive order to seize voting machines: one would have directed the Department of Defense to do so and the other the Department of Homeland Security. (New York Times / CNN / HuffPost)
6/ Trump called on the Jan. 6 committee to investigate why Pence did not reject electoral college votes from several states that Biden won. Despite no evidence of widespread fraud that would have changed the election results in any of the states that Biden won, Trump nevertheless suggested that Pence “could have sent the votes back to various legislators for reassessment after so much fraud and irregularities were found.” In the same statement, Trump claimed that the House committee examining the Jan. 6 insurrection was filled with “political hacks, liars, and traitors.” Meanwhile, a second top aide to Pence met with the committee. Greg Jacob’s appearance comes after Pence’s former chief of staff, Marc Short, sat for an interview last week. And, former White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany turned over text messages to the committee. (Washington Post / CNN / ABC News)
7/ Some of the Trump White House documents preserved by the National Archives had been ripped up and then taped back together. Despite the Presidential Records Act, which requires the preservation of documents related to a president’s official duties, Trump was known for tearing presidential records into pieces and tossing them on the floor. The Archives, which has handed over the documents to the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection, said “some of the Trump presidential records received by the National Archives and Records Administration included paper records that had been torn up by former President Trump.” Meanwhile, Trump’s political action committee donated $1 million to a nonprofit where his former chief of staff, Mark Meadows, is a senior partner. The donation was made weeks after the House voted to establish a select committee to investigate the Capitol attack. (CNN / Washington Post / NBC News)
8/ New York Attorney General Letitia James subpoenaed the General Services Administration for information about Trump’s D.C. hotel lease. The inquiry seeks information related to Trump’s company’s successful bid to turn a historic D.C. post office into a hotel and whether he inflated his net worth to secure the lease. (Washington Post)
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