“In an overnight social media post, former President Donald Trump predicted that ‘potential death and destruction’ may result if, as expected, he is charged by the Manhattan district attorney in connection with hush-money payments to a porn star made during the 2016 campaign,” the New York Times reports.
“The comments from Mr. Trump, made between 1 a.m. and 2 a.m. on his social media site, Truth Social, were a stark escalation in his rhetorical attacks on the Manhattan district attorney, Alvin Bragg, ahead of a likely indictment on charges that Mr. Trump said would be unfounded.”
“The Manhattan grand jury investigating former President Donald Trump is not concluding this week, with questions swirling over how close the grand jury is to bringing an indictment – or if it actually will at all,” CNN reports.
“While there’s been radio silence from Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg over the past several days about the status of the investigation amid widespread media and political speculation, the district attorney’s office reiterated that the public will know when the investigation has reached its conclusion.”
Bragg’s office pushed back on Jim Jordan (R-OH) and his MAGA allies’ Monday request that the DA testify before Congress about his Trump investigation. The Manhattan DA’s general counsel Leslie B. Dubeck called the Republicans’ request — which came after Trump announced he expected to be arrested on Tuesday — “an unprecedent[ed] inquiry into a pending local prosecution.”
“The Letter only came after Donald Trump created a false expectation that he would be arrested the next day and his lawyers reportedly urged you to intervene,” Dubeck wrote. “Neither fact is a legitimate basis for congressional inquiry.”
Melania Trump is ignoring the looming shadow of her husband’s impending criminal indictment and remains angry at him for his affair with Stormy Daniels, People reports.
A source tells the New York Post: Melania “is lying very low. She hasn’t been coming out for the dinners and events at Mar-a-Lago. He is acting like everything is normal, but she hasn’t been social.”
“He is absolutely putting on the old schtick of trying to get as much attention as possible and trying to raise money off of it—but the fact of the matter is, he is terrified.” — George Conway, quoted by MSNBC, on Donald Trump.
A top attorney for former President Donald Trump gave previously undisclosed testimony before a grand jury late last year regarding efforts by Trump’s team to locate any classified documents that remained in Trump’s possession after the FBI’s unprecedented August search of his Mar-a-Lago estate, ABC News reports.
New York Times: “Even in the absence so far of any charges against Mr. Trump, political polarization runs so deep, and mistrust of federal law enforcement is so ingrained on the right, that efforts by Mr. Garland and others to offer assurances that justice is being dispensed without regard to politics are often drowned out by powerful counterforces.”
“Among the strongest of those forces are allies of Mr. Trump who have sought to undercut the legitimacy of the Justice Department in general and the Federal Bureau of Investigation in particular.”
“The behind-the-scenes legal fight over obtaining evidence from a lawyer who represented former President Donald Trump in the investigation into his handling of classified documents has brought into sharper view where the Justice Department might be headed with the case,” the New York Times reports.
“According to the wisps of information that have seeped out of sealed court filings and closed-door hearings, prosecutors believe they have compelling evidence that Mr. Trump obstructed the government’s efforts to reclaim the sensitive records and may have even misled his own lawyers.”
A Manhattan judge ruled on Thursday that jurors hearing a trial next month involving a rape allegation against former President Donald Trump will be kept anonymous because of concern they could become victims of “harassment or worse” by Mr. Trump’s supporters, the New York Times reports.
“Donald Trump’s defense attorney repeatedly speculated as a legal pundit that Trump’s alleged affair with Stormy Daniels likely happened and that the $130,000 payment made to Daniels days before the 2016 election could be seen as an in-kind campaign contribution, contradicting his recent legal and public defense of Trump,” CNN reports.
“Joe Tacopina, a defense attorney representing Trump in the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office investigation of Trump, made the comments in 2018 as a prominent legal commentator – years before he would ultimately represent the former president in the case that may indict Trump.”
Manuel Oliver, the father of a Parkland shooting victim, was arrested for interrupting a House Judiciary Committee hearing on gun regulations Thursday after he appeared to shout at a Republican lawmaker. During the hearing titled “ATF’s Assault on the Second Amendment: When is Enough Enough?,” Rep. Pat Fallon (R-TX) was asked panelists a series of questions while arguing that guns are “merely a tool” and shouldn’t be banned because they cause deaths when misused.
During his questioning, a man in the room could be heard yelling and interrupting him. In response to the heckling, which is not super uncommon during contentious hearings, Fallon looked across the room and asked, “Is this an insurrection? So will they be held to the same — I don’t want another Jan. 6, do we?”
We won’t waste any ink explaining how utterly unhinged it is to compare this parent’s passionate protest to a deadly, violent insurrection. Leave it to the Gen-Zer in Congress to capture the arrest on camera:
The Senate Select Committee on Ethics formally admonished Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) in a letter Thursday for soliciting campaign contributions for the 2022 Senate run-off race in Georgia during an interview with Fox News in the Russell Senate Office Building, The Hill reports.
“Ahead of TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew’s much-anticipated testimony in the United States House of Representatives today, the embattled tech firm conducted a full-court press on Capitol Hill. This included paying to bring TikTok influencers face-to-face with their home state lawmakers, staffers, and journalists, as well as sharing their journey with their collective audience of some 60 million followers,” Wired reports.
“TikTok covered travel, hotels, meals, and shuttle rides to and from the Capitol for dozens of influencers, according to the creators and the company itself. Each social media star was also invited to bring a plus one—whether they flew in from Oklahoma, hopped the Acela from New York, or drove in from their suburban Washington home.”
Punchbowl News: “Here’s a bipartisan assessment of today’s TikTok hearing at the House Energy and Commerce Committee: It was a disaster for the popular video-sharing app and its CEO, Shou Zi Chew.”
“And the hearing has put TikTok in more peril on Capitol Hill.”
Politico: “Chew’s defense of the platform — that he has no working relationship with the CCP, that it’s working on content moderation, that user data from U.S. consumers is stored in America — was unconvincing to lawmakers.”
Platformer: How TikTok failed to make the case for itself.
“A strike Thursday by a suspected Iranian-made drone killed a U.S. contractor and wounded five American troops and another contractor in northeast Syria, the Pentagon said. American forces said they retaliated soon after with ‘precision airstrikes’ in Syria targeting facilities used by groups affiliated with Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, with one activist group reporting the U.S. strikes killed fighters on the ground,” the AP reports.
“The attack and the U.S. response threaten to upend recent efforts to deescalate tensions across the wider Middle East, whose rival powers have made steps toward détente in recent days following years of turmoil.”
“A growing bloc of House Republicans is urging Speaker Kevin McCarthy to consider demands beyond the budget — like energy permitting — in the party’s opening offer to Democrats on raising the debt limit,” Politico reports.
“While many GOP lawmakers say they’ve stayed intentionally mum on how their party leaders should proceed with talks, a growing number are now floating their own ideas to stem the looming fiscal crisis. One idea that’s been gaining traction recently is linking the debt limit debate to the GOP’s proposal to speed up energy permitting.”
“This is the best time to do it.” — House Budget Committee chairman Jodey Arrington (R-TX), quoted by MSNBC, on forcing a debt ceiling crisis.
“The Republican-led House on Thursday failed to override President Biden’s first veto, falling short of the two-thirds majority needed to revive the resolution targeting an administration rule related to ESG investing, which takes environmental and social factors into account,” The Hill reports.
“The chamber voted 219-200, with one Democrat voting with every Republican in favor of overriding the veto.”
Michigan is poised to repeal its right-to-work law, the first state to do so in over 50 years. These laws allow those in unionized jobs to opt out of paying union dues — while the unions are still required to provide services, like representation in disputes with management, even to those non-paying workers.
Over the past half century, there have been very few wins in this direction. There was a flurry of these laws passed in the 1940s and 1950s, then another batch sprinted through in the early 2010s, as a resurgent Republican right wing looked for ways to establish political dominance on the state level.
But times are changing. And as pro-union sentiment is the highest it’s been in decades, an iconic union stronghold is finally fighting back.
Ukrainian troops, on the defensive for four months, will launch a long-awaited counterassault “very soon” now that Russia’s huge winter offensive is losing steam without taking Bakhmut, Reuters reports.
“The war in Ukraine has accelerated the unraveling of the international arms-control architecture painstakingly constructed from the Cold War onward, heightening concern among experts that a new nuclear arms race could emerge as decades of restraint on the numbers of nuclear weapons collapses,” the Wall Street Journal reports.
“NATO ally Norway has announced that it is boosting the number of naval patrols near vital undersea gas pipelines off its coast, and released a trove of videos… illustrating what it sees as a growing Russian threat in the Arctic,” NBC News reports.
“The videos provided by the Royal Norwegian Air Force capture the high-stakes cat-and-mouse game between the two militaries, with Russian attack submarines patrolling near a maze of undersea pipelines carrying vast amounts of natural gas to Europe and telecommunication cables linking Europe and America.”
“The grumbling has already begun over Joe Biden’s new chief of staff,” Politico reports. “Less than two months into his role as top White House aide, Jeff Zients faces frustration among progressives who see his influence behind Biden’s recent tack toward the center.”
“President Emmanuel Macron, addressing the French people for the first time since the tumultuous passing of a law that raises the retirement age to 64 from 62, denounced violent protests and said he would not tolerate their threat to the republic,” the New York Times reports.
“His tone was firm and unapologetic on the eve of another day of mass protests and strikes called for Thursday.”
The Economist: “Reports of terrible hunger are emerging from the closed-off state. The UN reckons that between 2019 and 2021, 42% of North Koreans were malnourished. And as a result of poor weather conditions and a shortage of fertilizer—in part due to the country’s self-imposed three-year quarantine—it had an especially poor harvest last year.”
“A Medicaid expansion deal in North Carolina received final legislative approval on Thursday, ending a decade of debate over whether the closely politically divided state should accept the federal government’s coverage for hundreds of thousands of low-income adults,” the AP reports.
“North Carolina is one of several Republican-led states that have begun considering expanding Medicaid after years of steadfast opposion. Voters in South Dakota approved expansion in a referendum in November. And in Alabama, advocates are urging lawmakers to take advantage of federal incentives to expand Medicaid in order to provide health insurance to thousands of low-income people.”
The principal of a local charter school was forced to resign after three parents complained about an art teacher showing a picture of Michelangelo’s 16th-century sculpture of David, the Tallahassee Democrat reports.
“A Pennsylvania woman linked to a far-right extremist movement was sentenced on Thursday to three years in prison for storming the U.S. Capitol, where she invaded then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office with other rioters,” the AP reports.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel defiantly vowed on Thursday to proceed with a divisive judicial overhaul, in a move that came just hours after his coalition passed a law making it harder to remove him from office, the New York Times reports.
“China threatened ‘serious consequences’ Friday after the U.S. Navy sailed a destroyer around the disputed Paracel Islands in the South China Sea for the second day in a row, in a move Beijing claimed was a violation of its sovereignty and security,” the AP reports.
“The warning comes amid growing tensions between China and the United States in the region, as Washington pushes back at Beijing’s growingly assertive posture in the South China Sea, a strategic waterway it claims virtually in its entirety.”
“North Korea claimed Friday to have tested a nuclear-capable underwater drone designed to generate a gigantic ‘radioactive tsunami’ that would destroy naval strike groups and ports,” the AP reports.
“Analysts were skeptical that the device presents a major new threat, but the test underlines the North’s commitment to raising nuclear threats.”