“Mark Meadows, the former White House chief of staff who was deeply involved in efforts to keep former President Donald J. Trump in power after the 2020 election, was ordered on Wednesday to travel to Atlanta to testify in a criminal investigation into election meddling,” the New York Times reports.
Rolling Stones: “Several of Trump’s attorneys and political counselors have directly told the ex-president this month that any testimony under oath before that panel would be an awful idea for him… The advisers cautioned Trump that committee members would mine his testimony for potential perjury charges, particularly given Trump’s penchant for lying.”
Hicks had previously had an “informal interview” with the panel, according to CNN.
Hicks had tried to convince Trump to accept his 2020 election defeat, prompting the ex-president to complain during meetings, “Well, Hope doesn’t believe in me,” according to a book by reporters Peter Baker and Susan Glasser. Hicks reportedly responded, “No, I don’t. Nobody’s convinced me otherwise.”
“The Justice Department is asking a federal judge to force the top two lawyers from Donald Trump’s White House counsel’s office to testify about their conversations with the former President, as it tries to break through the privilege firewall Trump has used to avoid scrutiny of his actions on January 6, 2021,“ CNN reports.
“The move to compel additional testimony from former White House counsel Pat Cipollone and deputy White House counsel Patrick Philbin just last week is part of a set of secret court proceedings.“
“The National Archives is denying Republican accusations that its decision to refer Donald Trump’s handling of classified records to the Justice Department had anything to do with an inquiry from a top House Democrat,” Politico reports.
“House Republicans have been raising questions over the timing of the referral, which occurred on Feb. 9 — the same day House Oversight Committee Chair Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) wrote to the agency to raise questions about Trump’s handling of sensitive documents that he retained at his Mar-a-Lago estate. But that timing is ‘entirely coincidental,’ Acting National Archivist Debra Steidel Wall wrote in a letter to congressional Republicans on Tuesday.”
“The Congressional Progressive Caucus on Tuesday announced it is withdrawing a letter to President Biden calling on him to couple military aid to Ukraine with a ‘proactive diplomatic push’ to end hostilities with Russia,” Axios reports.
“The letter appeared to indicate that some on the Democratic Party’s left flank were advocating a softening of U.S. policy towards the war in Ukraine, though several members who signed on now say that’s not their position.”
Caucus chair Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) said the letter had been drafted several months ago and was released by staff “without vetting.”
The reversal was spurred by the caucus’ worry that its proposal was being “conflated” with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s (R-CA) warning about the GOP potentially cutting Ukraine aid, Jayapal said.
Punchbowl News: “Well, this is a disaster for the Congressional Progressive Caucus and Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), the group’s chair.”
“Jayapal has made no secret of her desire to be in Democratic leadership in a post Nancy Pelosi era. But this is a very high-profile misstep for the Washington State Democrat.”
Sen. Bernie Sanders told Semafor that the Russian invasion of Ukraine “has to be resisted,” and that the Congressional Progressive Caucus was right to withdraw a letter that urged President Biden to negotiate an end to the war with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Said Sanders: “I don’t agree with that, and they don’t agree with it, apparently.”
Two in five U.S. voters say they are worried about threats of violence or voter intimidation at polling stations during the country’s midterm elections, according to a new Reuters/Ipsos poll.
Boston Globe: “Unlike after 2000, there is little chance now of both parties agreeing on major reforms — or on much of anything. The American democratic system — which relies entirely on the competency and tirelessness of thousands of local election officials — is facing a test it may not pass.”
“The Republican National Committee and its allies say they have staged thousands of training sessions around the country on how to monitor voting and lodge complaints about next month’s midterm elections,” the Washington Post reports.
“Supporters of former president Donald Trump who falsely claim the 2020 election was stolen have summoned a swarm of poll watchers and workers in battleground states to spot potential fraud this year. It is a call to action that could subject voting results around the country to an unprecedented level of suspicion and unfounded doubt.”
“An unwritten pact binding the U.S. and Saudi Arabia has survived 15 presidents and seven kings through an Arab oil embargo, two Persian Gulf wars and the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Now, it is fracturing under two leaders who don’t like or trust each other,” the Wall Street Journal reports.
“Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the kingdom’s 37-year-old day-to-day ruler, mocks President Biden in private, making fun of the 79-year-old’s gaffes and questioning his mental acuity, according to people inside the Saudi government. He has told advisers he hasn’t been impressed with Mr. Biden since his days as vice president, and much preferred former President Donald Trump.”
“As President Biden was planning a politically risky trip to Saudi Arabia this summer, his top aides thought they had struck a secret deal to boost oil production through the end of the year — an arrangement that could have helped justify breaking a campaign pledge to shun the kingdom and its crown prince,” the New York Times reports.
“It didn’t work out that way.”
“Mr. Biden went through with the trip. But earlier this month, Saudi Arabia and Russia steered a group of oil-producing countries in voting to slash oil production by two million barrels per day, the opposite of the outcome the administration thought it had secured as the Democratic Party struggles to deal with inflation and high gas prices heading into the November elections.”
Wall Street Journal: “Candy prices are up more than 13% from a year ago, according to the Labor Department, the largest-ever yearly jump for candy. Surging labor costs and skyrocketing flour and sugar prices have helped fuel the increase, candy makers say.”
New York Times: “While Republicans insist they will be better stewards of the economy, few economists on either end of the ideological spectrum expect the party’s proposals to meaningfully reduce inflation in the short term. Instead, many say some of what Republicans are proposing — including tax cuts for high earners and businesses — could actually make price pressures worse by pumping more money into the economy.”
Bloomberg: “California’s economy has proven relatively resilient, first through the pandemic and now through the current period of elevated inflation. So much so, that the Golden State’s gross domestic product is poised to overtake Germany’s as the fourth largest in the world after the US, China and Japan. It had already leapfrogged Brazil (No. 7) and France (No. 6) in 2015 and supplanted the UK (No. 5) in 2017.”
“Although many of California’s current figures won’t be published until 2023, estimates suggest the state may have already caught Germany, with at least one forecast implying California is ahead by $72 billion when considering the state’s recent growth rate.”
California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) “vowed he would serve a full four-year term if reelected in November, trying again to knock down speculation that he wants to replace Democrat Joe Biden on the ballot should he not seek a second term,” KTLA reports. “Newsom made the promise during an hourlong debate with his Republican challenger, state Sen. Brian Dahle — the only time the two candidates will meet face to face before voting ends on Nov. 8.”
California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s (D) team is reportedly “giving thought to him delivering a major post-mortem speech about politics in the first few weeks after Election Day,” Puck reports.
“A wave of new government spending by President Jair Bolsonaro may be giving him a boost in the final stretch of a close reelection campaign, opinion polling shows, in a dangerous precedent for electoral law,” Reuters reports.
Barton German: “Sometime next year, after an interval of performative investigations, Republicans in the House are going to impeach Joe Biden.”
“This may not be their present plan, but they will work themselves up to it by degrees. The pressure from the MAGA base will build. A triggering event will burst all restraints. Eventually, Republicans will leave themselves little choice.”
“Gradually, and then suddenly, impeachment will become as much a litmus test for Republican House members as the Big Lie. McCarthy—‘my Kevin,’ as Trump styles him—will not hold back that tide. In the end, he will not even try.”
Associated Press: “Fortified with a new funding stream, the IRS is making plans to clear a massive backlog of unprocessed tax returns, upgrade technology that is decades out of date and, yes, hire more auditors.”
“But, as GOP candidates across the country are making clear, the battle over IRS funding has only just begun. They are making attacks on a larger IRS a central part of their midterm election pitch to voters, warning that the Democratic legislation will bankroll an army of auditors that will harass middle-class taxpayers rather than help them.”
Justice Samuel Alito said that the leak of his draft opinion to overturn Roe v. Wade made his colleagues in the majority on the U.S. Supreme Court “targets for assassination,” the Washington Post reports. Sammy, you took the constitutional rights away from over half the population of this country. You will be targeted for the rest of your life, and rightly so.
Associated Press: “In Mississippi, where health officials expect 5,000 more births each year as a result of the Supreme Court ruling upending abortion rights, children are more likely to die before their first birthday than in any other state.”
“Mississippi has the nation’s highest fetal mortality rate, highest infant mortality rate, highest pre-term birth rate and is in the top decile of states in maternal mortality. Black mothers are nearly three times more likely to die due to childbirth than Mississippi’s white women.”
Max Boot: “Polls suggest that the economy and crime are among the most important issues for voters in the midterms — and that, as a result, Republicans are surging in the home stretch. I think a lot of voters are missing the point. These elections are actually a referendum on whether you favor the continuation of democracy in America — and Ukraine.”
“Those issues are more closely linked than most people realize, because most of the same MAGA candidates who support Donald Trump’s strongman rule at home are either indifferent or hostile to the fate of democracy abroad.”
Philip Bump: “For a guy looking to sell a book to a right-wing audience, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) couldn’t have landed a much better spot than his interview with Fox News’s Mark Levin on Sunday. Levin, less an interviewer than town crier, gave Cruz plenty of time to explain what his new book, Justice Corrupted, would offer readers.”
Said Cruz: “This book is the first inside account of what happened on Jan. 6 And so I take the reader through the events of the 2020 election leading up to Jan. 6. I take them through the evidence of election fraud and voter fraud in November 2020, which the Democrats and the corporate media insists doesn’t exist.”
“The book was released on Tuesday. This particular ‘corporate media’ outlet can now report that, in fact, rampant fraud continues not to exist — as demonstrated, here at least, by Cruz’s failure to present any of his promised evidence of election or voter fraud.”
Lisa Lerer: “For years, pundits and political strategists have speculated about Donald Trump’s hold on the Republican Party. It is an essential question for the party and, as a result, the country: Could there be Trumpism without Trump? And what, exactly, would that look like?”
“Two weeks before the first midterm elections since Trump left office, the answer to the first question seems clear. Trumpism is embedded in the DNA of the party. Most of those who refused to pledge fealty to the former president lost their primaries or retired to avoid defeat. With only a handful of exceptions, the Republicans running for office are strongly in Trump’s camp, embracing some version of his denials of his 2020 election loss.”
Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) faces a new federal investigation, Semafor reports.
“Prosecutors in the Southern District of New York have contacted people connected to Menendez in recent weeks… They have sent at least one subpoena in the case.”
“Menendez and a Florida eye doctor, Salomon Melgen, were indicted in 2015 for an alleged arrangement under which the doctor provided flights on a private jet and lavish vacations in exchange for the senator’s help with government contracts and other public favors. Menendez’s lawyers argued that the two men were simply good friends. The inquiry ended in a mistrial in 2017 after the jury failed to reach a verdict.”
“Elon Musk pledged Monday to close the acquisition of Twitter Inc. by Friday in a video conference call with bankers helping fund the deal,” Bloomberg reports.