New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) is expected to announce Monday that the state will no longer require students and school employees to wear masks, the New York Times reports.
“California will end its indoor masking requirement for vaccinated people next week but masks still are the rule for schoolchildren, state health officials announced Monday amid rapidly falling coronavirus cases,” the AP reports.
“After Feb. 15, unvaccinated people still will be required to be masked indoors, and everyone — vaccinated or not — will have to wear masks in higher-risk areas like public transit and nursing homes and other congregate living facilities.”
Axios: Connecticut, Delaware and New Jersey are also moving to life their mask mandates and New York is reevaluating the policy.
David Leonhardt: “The United States has a vaccination problem. And it is not just about the relatively large share of Americans who have refused to get a shot. The U.S. also trails many other countries in the share of vaccinated people who have received a booster shot.”
“This is a different problem from outright skepticism of the vaccine. The unvaccinated skew heavily Republican… The vaccinated-but-unboosted more closely resemble the country as a whole. Millions of Americans who have already received two vaccine shots — eagerly, in many cases — have not yet received a follow-up. The unboosted include many Republicans, Democrats and independents and span racial groups.”
“Two years into the pandemic, politicians are still getting tripped up over face masks, lockdowns and other restrictions intended to curb the spread of the coronavirus — sometimes rules that were put in place by the politicians themselves,” the Washington Post reports.
“Donald Trump improperly removed multiple boxes from the White House that were retrieved by the National Archives last month from his Mar-a-Lago residence because they contained documents and other items that should have been turned over to the agency,” the Washington Post reports.
“The recovery of the boxes from Trump’s Florida resort raises new concerns about his adherence to the Presidential Records Act, which requires the preservation of memos, letters, notes, emails, faxes and other written communications related to a president’s official duties.”
Former White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham told the House Select Committee investigating the Capitol riots that Donald Trump was enjoying watching the riot so much on television that he rewound the video several times to watch it over again, the AP reports.
Grisham said Trump told his staff to “look at all of the people fighting for me” but he was apparently “confused” about why staffers weren’t as excited as him while watching the violence unfold.
“Donald Trump’s incendiary call at a Texas rally for his backers to ready massive protests against ‘radical, vicious, racist prosecutors’ could constitute obstruction of justice or other crimes and backfire legally on Trump,” The Guardian reports.
“Trump’s rant that his followers should launch the ‘biggest protests’ ever in three cities should prosecutors ‘do anything wrong or illegal’ by criminally charging him over his efforts to overturn Joe Biden’s victory, or for business tax fraud, came at a 30 January rally in Texas where he repeated falsehoods that the election was rigged.”
“Russian President Vladimir Putin could order an attack on Ukraine within days or weeks, White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan warned on Sunday, as Washington and its European allies continued efforts to offer Putin a diplomatic way out of the crisis,” Reuters reports.
Said Sullivan: “We are in the window. Any day now, Russia could take military action against Ukraine, or it could be a couple of weeks from now, or Russia could choose to take the diplomatic path instead.”
French President Macron “will offer President Putin a peace plan including western gestures towards Moscow when he visits the Kremlin today on a mission to ease tensions over Ukraine,” the Times of London reports.
“The French leader outlined his ideas for a ‘new security order in Europe’ as the United States stepped up its warnings of an imminent invasion.”
Eurointelligence: “What is not fully appreciated is the sheer degree to which Germany has become a Russian ally. This is not just about Gerhard Schröder, though his influence in the SPD is still very strong. There are many Germans who feel culturally and politically closer to Russia.”
“They may disagree with Putin, but the Russian leader is kind of the devil they know, whereas your average German struggles to figure out US leaders like George W. Bush or Donald Trump.”
Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) told ABC News that former President Donald Trump accidentally revealed he incited the January 6 Capitol riot to intimidate Mike Pence and Congress into overturning the election.
Said Christie: “Let’s face it. Let’s call it what it is. January 6 was a riot that was incited by Donald Trump in an effort to intimidate Mike Pence and the Congress into doing exactly what he said in his own words last week: Overturn the election.”
He added: “He’s trying to do a clean-up on aisle one here. But it’s not going to change. He actually told the truth by accident. He wanted the election to be overturned.”
Christie (R) to Hugh Hewitt: “January 6 was a riot that was incited by Donald Trump in an effort to intimidate Mike Pence and the Congress into doing exactly what he said in his own words last week — overturn the election.”
He added: “He wanted the election to be overturned. Donald Trump did respond to what the Vice President said, and I think it’s kind of akin to the kid standing in the corner holding his breath. You know, it’s immature, and it’s beneath the office that he held.”
“You’re gonna carry this thing eventually to your grave, because it is a mark of shame and you are a stone-cold coward.” — Steve Bannon, slamming Mike Pence on his podcast for not overturning the 2020 election.
Vox: The GOP’s January 6 lies have reached a fever pitch.
House Republicans, conducting their own investigation of the Jan. 6 insurrection, plan to accuse the Capitol security apparatus of “negligence at the highest levels,” Axios reports.
“By placing blame on the building’s top security officials, this shadow investigation gives the GOP an alternative frame for discussing the 2021 Capitol assault.”
Margaret Talbot: “The newest Supreme Court Justice [Amy Coney Barrett] isn’t just another conservative—she’s the product of a Christian legal movement that is intent on remaking America.”
“Democratic dark money groups are gearing up for a multimillion-dollar campaign to back President Joe Biden’s eventual nominee to the Supreme Court,” CNBC reports.
“During his first address to Congress last spring, President Biden said that Jill Biden, the first lady, would lead an effort to fulfill his administration’s promise to provide two years of free community college to all eligible students,” the New York Times reports.
“That provision, tucked inside a massive social spending package that has struggled to win the support of all the senators who caucus with the Democrats, was the first lady’s signature legislative initiative. But on Monday, Dr. Biden will address a summit of community college leaders and confirm what her husband has recently suggested: The plan has no future in a bill that Democrats are trying to whittle down in order to salvage.”
“After nine days of noisy and chaotic disruption, Ottawa’s mayor declared a state of emergency as major cities across the country were hit over the weekend by protests opposed to vaccine mandates and other pandemic restrictions,” the Globe and Mail reports,
“With no end in sight to the protests in the country’s capital, Ottawa police announced that they would begin arresting anyone who attempted to bring material aid, such as fuel, to the protesters, some of whom have set up camp in the city.”
Politico: “It’s not every day that Canada becomes the red-hot center of a global protest movement.”
“But what started as a rally of Canadian truckers angry at cross-border vaccine mandates has fast become a magnet for far-right grievances around the world.”
Bloomberg: “A group of anti-vaccination demonstrators and conspiracy theorists have blocked roads and targeted businesses in the Australian capital of Canberra ahead of the return of federal parliament on Tuesday, in an echo of similar protests in Canada.”
National Post: “A more confrontational stance by Ottawa police declared on Friday against a protest siege on Parliament mirrors the entrenchment by convoy protesters who say their occupation is growing.”
“The pivot in police strategy left many frustrated residents of Ottawa asking why it didn’t come sooner and researchers of political protests wondering if it has come too late. As for protesters preparing for an increased street presence this weekend, they have spent the week digging in, bolstering their organization and infrastructure.”
“Some Republicans on Saturday vowed to investigate GoFundMe’s decision to take down a page accepting donations in support of protesting truck drivers in Canada, although GoFundMe early Saturday already said it would simply refund all donations,” Reuters reports.
Bloomberg: “Even in a society known for its civility and deference to authority, many Canadians are reaching their limit.”
“Pent-up frustration and rage have burst into the downtown core of the nation’s capital, with hundreds of truckers and other protesters occupying Ottawa’s streets for nearly a week to oppose vaccine mandates. Protests are expanding across Canada this weekend and are threatening to spill over into the U.S. with demonstrators planning a convoy to Washington, D.C.”
A Facebook post says “Convoy to DC 2022” is coming on March 1.
“President Joe Biden’s top science adviser, Eric Lander, bullied and demeaned his subordinates and violated the White House’s workplace policy, an internal White House investigation recently concluded,” Politico reports.
“Eric Lander, President Biden’s top science adviser, resigned Monday night after he acknowledged mistreating his subordinates and apologized for demeaning them, a pattern of behavior that put him at odds with one of Biden’s earliest promises — to run an administration marked by respect and professionalism,” the Washington Post reports.
“House and Senate appropriators from both parties negotiated throughout the weekend on a ‘topline number’ for the FY 2022 spending bills. But the two sides didn’t come to an agreement,“ Punchbowl News reports.
“So with no deal in hand, the House is expected to vote on a short-term funding bill this week. Leaders are discussing March 11 as an expiration date for the continuing resolution, but like everything else about this appropriations season, it’s not finalized yet. The Senate could take up the CR this week or next, depending on how quickly the House acts. Funding expires on Feb. 18.”
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) on Sunday said elements from the Democrats social spending and climate package must go through the committee process if the party wants to pass initiatives from the bill, The Hill reports.
Said Manchin: “My biggest concern and my biggest opposition, it did not go through the process.”
He added: “These are major changes. It is going to change society as we know it… And those changes, there should be a hearing. There should be a markup. And then you’re going to have a better product, whether your friends on the other side vote for it or not. But they have to have input.”
“I’m not a Washington Democrat, I’m a good old West Virginia Democrat, who likes all my West Virginia Republicans, and I know that I have to have their input for us to get good outcomes for our West Virginia citizens we represent.”
— Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), quoted by The Hill.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski encouraged President Biden to choose a Supreme Court nominee who could receive broad bipartisan support and not pick the one that would be “to the furthest left,” Politico reports.
“More than 600 sitting senators have died or resigned from office since the first Congress met in 1789. That doesn’t mean another will happen soon, but it does underline the precarious position that President Joe Biden and Democrats’ reed-thin Senate majority are in following Democratic Sen. Ben Ray Luján’s stroke,” the AP reports.
“Luján, 49, should recover and return to the Capitol in four weeks to six weeks, barring setbacks, Democrats say. If that happens, Luján’s absence could have limited impact on his party’s priorities, including Biden’s pending nomination to fill a Supreme Court vacancy.”
“If the New Mexico senator’s recuperation takes longer or he has setbacks, Democrats’ agenda would confront serious problems. And with Vice President Kamala Harris’ tiebreaking vote all that gives them the 50-50 Senate’s majority, each day presents a small chance that Democrats could abruptly lose control if something happens to any of their senators.”
“In a blizzard of pretrial briefs Friday, Rep. Jeff Fortenberry’s (R-NE) attorneys are seeking to have the congressman’s full statement to the FBI played for jurors — both to show the repetitive questioning of government agents and the idea that Fortenberry was simply confused, rather than lying to agents,” the Omaha World Herald reports.
“Attorneys for the embattled Fortenberry, 60, also want to call an expert to testify to the fallibility of memory, especially in older adults. And his defense team wants to delve into the purported political leanings of the lead prosecutor.”
“Lawmakers in at least a dozen states are backing bills meant to increase transparency around school curricula, the next iteration of movements under way to bar teachers from promoting concepts perceived as divisive,” the Wall Street Journal reports.
“The bills, introduced by Republican legislators, would in some states allow taxpayers to sit in on classes or make staff professional development sessions open to members of the public.”
Former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) told Bloomberg that if he had to do it all over, he wouldn’t have resigned.
Said Cuomo: “I never resigned because I said I did something wrong. I said, I’m resigning because I don’t want to be a distraction.”
“During the interview, Cuomo studiously deflected questions about his political future, repeatedly changing the subject to his sense of anger and betrayal over the probe… He said he can’t begin to talk about his political future until he’s gotten some measure of closure on the Attorney General’s report, preferring instead to re-litigate the details of the accusations against him and the credibility of his accusers.”
President Joe Biden will visit Israel “later this year” after Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett invited him to the country, CNN reports.
The National Review calls the RNC’s censure of Reps. Liz Cheney (R-WY) and Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) “both morally repellent and politically self-destructive.”
“He is the weakest leader that has ever, frankly, existed in that position.” — Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) on Morning Joe, taking a shot at House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA).
“Conservatism is no longer about what you actually believe, it’s about how intensely you’re loyal to Donald Trump.” — Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL), in an interview on Morning Joe.
“A second member of an alleged plot to kidnap and hurt Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) has agreed to plead guilty and help the government try to fight defense claims of entrapment during next month’s trial,” the Detroit News reports.
“Israel Police used NSO’s Pegasus spyware to hack the phones of public figures, including protest leaders, journalists, government employees and associates of former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu,” Haaretz reports.