1/ The U.S. imposed new sanctions on Russia’s largest financial institution, its largest private lender, and Putin’s adult children, as well as Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov’s wife and daughter, and members of Russia’s Security Council, including former President and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and current Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin. Biden condemned the atrocities taking place in Ukraine as “major war crimes” and called on “responsible nations” to come together to hold Russia accountable, adding that he would be signing an executive order to ban all new U.S. investment in Russia. The sanctions against two of Russia’s largest banks, Sberbank and Alfa Bank, freeze all assets from going through the U.S. financial system and bar Americans from doing business with those two institutions. Sberbank holds nearly one-third of all the assets in Russian banks, while Alfa Bank is Russia’s largest private lender. “Our partners are outraged by the atrocities that are being committed in Russia, as we are,” Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said. “And we are working very actively with them to impose new sanctions that will cause Russia significant pain.” (Associated Press / Politico / Washington Post / CNN / CBS News / Bloomberg / New York Times / CNBC / ABC News)
2/ The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs warned that the “potential for significant international conflict is increasing, not decreasing.” Gen. Mark Milley, appearing before the House Armed Services Committee, said Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is “the greatest threat to peace and security of Europe and perhaps the world” in his 42 years serving in the U.S. military. More than 60 Republicans, meanwhile, voted against a symbolic resolution affirming support for NATO and its “democratic principles.” The “no” votes represent more than 30% of the party’s conference. (CNN / Business Insider / The Week / Washington Post)
3/ The Jan. 6 committee obtained emails belonging to Trump’s lawyer. John Eastman had sought to keep the 101 emails secret – exchanged between Jan. 4 and Jan. 7, 2021 – which contain extensive communications between Eastman and others about plans to obstruct the certification of Biden’s victory in the 2020 presidential election. The emails were released to the committee after Judge David Carter ruled that Eastman hadn’t made a sufficient claim to attorney-client privilege. (CNN / The Guardian)
4/ A Virginia state court has disbarred an attorney who represented several high-profile Jan. 6 defendants, including a member of the Oath Keepers charged with seditious conspiracy. The Virginia State Bar said it found that Jonathon Moseley violated “professional rules that govern safekeeping property; meritorious claims and contentions; candor toward the tribunal; fairness to opposing party and counsel; unauthorized practice of law, multijurisdictional practice of law; bar admission and disciplinary matters […] and misconduct.” Moseley’s clients include Kelly Meggs, one of 11 Oath Keeper facing seditious conspiracy charges, and Zachary Rehl, a Proud Boys leaders charged with conspiring to obstruct Congress on Jan. 6, 2021. (Politico)
5/ The bipartisan $10 billion Covid-19 relief bill stalled in the Senate after Republicans blocked the measure from moving forward. Republicans demanded a vote on an amendment to prevent the Biden administration from ending a Trump-era border restriction that limited asylum at the U.S.-Mexico border to prevent the spread of Covid-19. The CDC announced last week it would lift the pandemic-era rule, known as Title 42, because of improving public health conditions. The impasse means lawmakers will depart for a two-week recess without passing aid. (Bloomberg / CBS News)
6/ A federal judge ruled that Trump administration officials involved in the “zero tolerance” immigration policy that separated thousands of immigrant families at the southern border cannot be sued. Judge John Hinderaker dismissed 15 Trump administration officials from the case, ruling they can’t be held personally liable for the government’s conduct. The Trump-appointed judge, however, rejected the government’s motion to dismiss a lawsuit filed in 2019 by the ACLU seeking damages for families affected by the policies. More than 5,000 families were separated from mid-2017 through June 2018 as part of the policy. It’s estimated that roughly 1,000 are still separated. (NBC News / Bloomberg)
7/ The House Judiciary Committee plans to hold a closed-door meeting to discuss how they could address ethical and conflict-of-interest concerns against Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and his wife. Some lawmakers have suggested legislation to create a code of ethics for Supreme Court justices, while others have floated investigations or public hearings to pressure the justices to enact their own code. It was reported last month that Virginia Thomas, the wife of Justice Clarence Thomas, exchanged 29 text messages with then-White House chief of staff Mark Meadows imploring him to take steps to overturn the 2020 election in the weeks after Election Day. (NBC News)
poll/ 37% of registered voters said Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas should “definitely” recuse himself from any cases related to the 2020 presidential election, while 16% said he “probably” should. 28% percent of voters said Thomas shouldn’t recuse himself, and 19% don’t know. (Politico)
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