During the Texas rally on Saturday, the ex-president vowed to treat the insurrectionists “fairly” — “and if it requires pardons, we will give them pardons.” Then he put out a statement that said former Vice President had every right and power to “overturn” the election on January 6.
“Unfortunately, he didn’t exercise that power, he could have overturned the election!” — Former President Donald Trump, in a statement saying publicly for the first time that he wanted Vice President Mike Pence to throw out electoral votes.
“This is beyond being a demagogue to the stuff of dictators. He is defying the rule of law. Failure to confront a tyrant only encourages bad behaviour. If thinking Americans don’t understand what Trump is doing and what the criminal justice system must do we are all in big trouble!” — Former Nixon White House counsel John Dean, on Twitter, referring to Donald Trump’s pledge to pardon the Capitol rioters.
“I think it is inappropriate. I don’t want to reinforce that defiling the capitol is okay.” — Sen. Lindsey Graham, quoted by CBS News, responding to former President Trump dangling the possibility of pardons for Capitol rioters.
“This is an admission, and a massively un-American statement. It is time for every Republican leader to pick a side… Trump or the Constitution, there is no middle on defending our nation anymore.” — Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL), on Twitter, about Donald Trump’s first public admission that he sought to “overturn” the 2020 election.
Josh Marshall: “Over the weekend ex-President Trump suggested he’d pardon the various insurrectionists now either facing charges or serving time for their role in the January 6th insurrection. He’s also increasingly open in justifying his attempt to overturn the results of the 2020 election. Those promised pardons are better seen as inducements to future acts than anything directed at those involved in January 6th.”
Jonathan Bernstein: “The strongest case for the work of the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, and for that committee to move quickly to public hearings, is that former President Donald Trump continues to make it clear that he set out to undermine democracy, that he sees nothing wrong with having done so, and that he would do it again if given a chance.”
“I’d prefer to ignore what Trump is saying, but that’s not really an option. He’s acting like a presidential candidate — he is, as the political scientist Josh Putnam puts it, running for 2024, although we won’t know for some time whether he’ll be running in 2024 — so he can’t just be ignored.”
“Marc Short, former Vice President Mike Pence’s chief of staff, quietly testified before the House select committee investigating January 6 last week in response to a subpoena, in the most significant sign to date that Pence’s team is cooperating with the probe,” CNN reports.
“Short, who was with Pence at the Capitol on January 6, 2021, and participated in a critical White House meeting on January 4, 2021, is seen as a potentially crucial witness in the committee’s investigation as the panel pieces together the pressure campaign then-President Donald Trump and his allies waged to try to convince Pence not to certify the presidential election.”
Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, who’s investigating Trump’s 2020 election meddling, sent a letter to the FBI special agent in charge of the Atlanta field office on Sunday asking for extra security, per CNN.
Her request came in response to Trump attacking prosecutors who are investigating him as “radical” and “racist” during his Texas rally on Saturday. The ex-president also called for “the biggest protests we have ever had” in Atlanta, New York and other areas of the country where state- and county-level authorities are investigating him if they “do anything wrong or illegal.”
Trump’s attempt to stoke his white supporters’ resentment over supposed “anti-white” oppression isn’t subtle here: Willis, New York Attorney General Letitia James (D) and Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg are all Black.
Willis is seeking a “risk assessment” of her office and the courthouse where the special grand jury in her investigation is meeting, plus “protective resources to include intelligence and federal agents.”
The district attorney noted that her office had already been getting angry messages about her investigation, even before Trump called for protests on Saturday.
Daily Beast: “Trump has privately told GOP lawmakers, congressional candidates, and operatives in recent months that Republicans on Capitol Hill should be prepared to launch a full-blown investigation to ‘get to the bottom of’ how FBI agents supposedly caused violence and mayhem on Jan. 6.”
“The theory that the feds somehow orchestrated or caused the rioting at the Capitol is groundless, but it has nevertheless been embraced in influential spheres of Republican politics, in Trumpland, and in right-wing media and online culture. The appeal, of course, lies in the attempt to shift obvious blame off of the 45th U.S. president and conservatives.”
Washington Post: “Trump may be out of office, and not yet an official candidate for president in 2024, but he still represents a conundrum for his party. The former president retains an unchallenged grip over the base of the party. In most states, separation from Trump’s desires and policies is a sure path to defeat in a Republican primary and risks lower GOP turnout in a general election.”
“But Trump’s continued effort to downplay the events of Jan. 6 while stoking agitation for future violence risks alienating the independent and moderate voters Republicans desperately need and think they are set to gain in November.”
“Trump’s suggestion of protests related to investigations into him represented his fiercest attempt yet to rally public opinion on the probes to his side.”
New York Times: Trump’s grip on the GOP faces new strains.
“Then-Vice President-elect Kamala Harris drove within several yards of a pipe bomb lying next to a bench outside the Democratic National Committee headquarters on January 6, 2021, and remained inside the DNC for nearly two hours before the bomb was discovered,” CNN reports.
“The U.S. has drawn up sanctions targeting Vladimir Putin’s inner circle and its ties to the west as Washington broadens the list of financial penalties it is ready to impose if Russia invades Ukraine,” the Financial Times reports. Said one senior administration official: “The individuals we have identified are in or near the inner circles of the Kremlin and play a role in government decision making or are at a minimum complicit in the Kremlin’s destabilizing behavior.”
“The Kremlin vowed Monday to retaliate if Britain seized Russian oligarchs’ London properties as part of sweeping sanctions aimed at deterring Moscow from invading Ukraine,” the Moscow Times reports.
“Bipartisan legislation aimed at striking the Russian economy if President Vladimir Putin invades Ukraine is nearing completion in the U.S. Senate,” the Wall Street Journal reports.
Russia angrily denounced the United States Monday for “whipping up hysteria” over Ukraine, saying it had brought “pure Nazis” to power on Russia’s border and wanted to make “heroes out of those peoples who fought on the side of Hitler,” the Washington Post reports.
Said Russian Ambassador Vasily Nebenzya: “You’re waiting for it to happen, as if you want your words to become a reality.”
“World leaders are applying diplomatic pressure on Russia ahead of a series of meetings over the Ukraine crisis, including a United Nations Security Council session Monday that U.S. diplomats say will offer a chance for Moscow officials to ‘explain themselves’ on the international stage,” the Washington Post reports.
New York Times: “The tensions surrounding the former Soviet republic — smoldering since Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula nearly eight years ago, and escalating sharply in recent months — have brought U.S.-Russian relations to their lowest point since the Cold War.”
Associated Press: “Any formal action by the Security Council is extremely unlikely given Russia’s veto power and its ties with others on the council, including China.”
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) broke with several of his Republican colleagues by seemingly expressing support for President Joe Biden’s pledge to nominate the first-ever Black woman to the Supreme Court, Politico reports.
Said Graham: “Put me in the camp of making sure the court and other institutions look like America. You know, we make a real effort as Republicans to recruit women and people of color to make the party look more like America.”
Graham also appeared to endorse Michelle Childs, a U.S. District Court judge in his home state of South Carolina, for the seat held by the retiring Justice Stephen Breyer.
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) told reporters that it’s “far beyond time” for a Black woman to serve on the Supreme Court, Politico reports.
Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) told ABC News that it’s “not likely” she would support former President Donald Trump if he seeks a second term in 2024. Tim Miller reviews “a few things about Susan Collins” after she refused to rule out supporting Donald Trump for president in 2024:
- Less than a year ago Collins voted to convict Donald Trump in his second impeachment trial, putting her support behind an article of impeachment that would have barred him from ever again holding federal office.
- She’s not up for election again until 2026.
- She has possibly the most independent brand of anyone in the Republican caucus.
- She won her last election in a surprisingly comfortable fashion.
“And despite all of that, the good senator still isn’t willing to endure whatever political blowback might come from simply saying that she won’t support Trump in a hypothetical 2024 run.”
“If someone as politically safe as Collins won’t stick her neck out, what hope is there that a meaningful group of others will find the mettle not just to privately hope for an alternative but to wage a vigorous, scorched-earth campaign on behalf the alternative?”
Joe Rogan, responding to Neil Young’s objections to his podcast and host Spotify, said his show has grown “out of control” and pledged to be more balanced and informed about controversial topics and guests, the Wall Street Journal reports.
Said Rogan, in an Instagram video: “If I pissed you off, I’m sorry… It’s a strange responsibility to have this many viewers and listeners. It’s nothing that I’ve prepared for. I’m going to do my best to balance things out.”
Rogan also thanked Spotify for their support and said he’s a huge Neil Young fan.
Spotify CEO Daniel Ek issued a statement saying the streaming giant would add “advisory labels” to some content after Neil Young and Joni Mitchell pulled their music from the service over podcaster Joe Rogin’s spreading of Covid-19 misinformation.
“The Sue Gray report has been published, criticizing the culture in Boris Johnson’s Downing Street that allowed “difficult to justify” social gatherings to take place during lockdown,” The Guardian reports.
According to the BBC, the report is 12 pages long, and makes clear that some of the events in Downing Street over the lockdowns “should not have been allowed to take place”, while others “should not have been allowed to develop as they did.”
“Job growth numbers may be about to turn negative for the first time since President Biden took office, and the White House is seeking to get ahead of potential negative headlines,” Axios reports.
“Vast numbers of Americans missed work this month due to the Omicron variant, and that is likely to drag down January jobs numbers. But the White House believes these effects will be temporary.”
“Democrats are touting record Affordable Care Act enrollment, but a lot of those gains will be wiped away next year unless Congress takes action,” Axios reports.
“Millions of Americans have taken advantage of the enhanced ACA subsidies Congress passed into law last year, with many enrolling in health insurance for the first time. But under the status quo, that more generous coverage is going to expire at the end of 2022 — and people will be notified right before the midterm elections.”
Playbook: “Lawmakers return from recess this week to a massive February to-do list before President Joe Biden’s March 1 State of the Union address. And the pressure is on: The White House and vulnerable House Democrats are desperate to quickly pass a $250 billion package aimed at boosting manufacturing and relieving supply-side clogs — a win they’d love the president to be able to trumpet at his big speech.”
“But Congress also has to avert a government shutdown and possibly begin vetting a Supreme Court nominee. And that’s to say nothing about trying to resuscitate Build Back Better.”
“Democrats are increasingly willing to accept whatever child-care, healthcare and climate package that Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) would support as they return to Washington this week, hoping to salvage elements of the party’s economic agenda after months of failed negotiations,” the Wall Street Journal reports.
“Party lawmakers have started to change their attitude toward the package as they grapple with the possibility of failing to convert their narrow control of Congress into progress on major party goals. Some have moved away from insisting that the package include particular priorities, instead advocating for the party to notch a result with Mr. Manchin ahead of the midterm elections.”
Playbook: “Not only did Manchin turn his back on that framework a long time ago, he also walked away from an even narrower deal he offered to the White House in December (pre-K, health care and climate). Yet still many on the left are struggling to accept the new reality.”
“The Omicron wave is now receding in states where the extremely contagious variant arrived later, and some governors are saying it’s time for pandemic-fatigued Americans to try to restore a sense of normalcy and learn to live with the virus,” the New York Times reports.
Said New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D): “We’re not going to manage this to zero. We have to learn how to live with this.”
David Leonhardt: “The CDC has begun to publish data on Covid outcomes among people who have received booster shots, and the numbers are striking… As you can see, vaccination without a booster provides a lot of protection. But a booster takes somebody to a different level.”
“This data underscores both the power of the Covid vaccines and their biggest weakness — namely, their gradual fading of effectiveness over time, as is also the case with many other vaccines.”
“Once you get a booster, your risk of getting severely ill from Covid is tiny. It is quite small even if you are older or have health problems.”
Politico: “The silence from the former president [on vaccines] is not coincidental. Within Trump’s circles, there is a growing sense that encouraging vaccines too aggressively could carry political risks. Like much of the rest of the GOP, the current calculation has been to rail against vaccine mandates but keep quiet on the push for the vaccines themselves.”
“Once relegated to corners of the internet, the anti-vaccine movement has emerged as a force within Republican politics — encouraged by some of the most prominent figures in conservative media and top operatives in the MAGA movement. Their growth has come despite overwhelming evidence that individuals are far less likely to have severe illness or die from Covid if they’re vaccinated and boosted.”
“Nearly two dozen Republicans who have publicly questioned or disputed the results of the 2020 election are running for secretary of state across the country, in some cases after being directly encouraged by allies of former President Donald Trump,” the New York Times reports.
“Their candidacies are alarming watchdog groups, Democrats and some fellow Republicans, who worry that these Trump supporters, if elected to posts that exist largely to safeguard and administer the democratic process, would weaponize those offices to undermine it — whether by subverting an election outright or by sowing doubts about any local, state or federal elections their party loses.”
“For decades, secretaries of state worked in relative anonymity, setting regulations and enforcing rules for how elections were administered by local counties and boards. Some held their jobs for many years and viewed themselves not as politicians but as bureaucrats in chief, tending to such arcane responsibilities as keeping the state seal or maintaining custody of state archives.”
“An acclaimed MLK-themed novel was removed from a 10th-grade English class in North Carolina,” Popular Information reports.
“Haywood County Superintendent Dr. Bill Nolte told Popular Information that he pulled the book, Dear Martin by Nic Stone, in a matter of hours after receiving one parent complaint. Nolte said he did not read the book — or even obtain a copy — prior to making the decision.”