Former Attorney General Jeff Sessions is telling associates he had no idea his Justice Department seized phone records of two top Democratic congressional critics of then-President Donald Trump. In the hours since The New York Times broke the news on Thursday that prosecutors subpoenaed Apple metadata from Reps. Adam Schiff (D-CA) and Eric Swalwell (D-CA), former Attorney General Sessions has privately told people that he wasn’t aware of, nor was he briefed on, the reported data seizures while he led the Trump DOJ. This week’s revelations were a surprise to him, according to a source familiar with the matter, and another person close to Sessions.
The FBI says that Brian Mock went to the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 unsure of what he would face, but as he shared on social media just days later, he was prepared to fully commit to whatever came his way — even death. “I went to the Capitol not knowing what to expect but said goodbye to my 4 children, not sure if I was going to come home,” Mock wrote on Facebook on Jan. 8, according to federal documents charging Mock with multiple crimes. “I was at peace with that knowledge.” Mock, 43, is one of the latest people to be arrested for crimes related to the siege on the U.S. Capitol, according to a statement from the Justice Department.
Manhattan prosecutors pursuing a criminal case against former President Donald Trump, his company and its executives have told at least one witness to prepare for grand jury testimony, according to a person familiar with the matter — a signal that the lengthy investigation is moving into an advanced stage. The development suggests that the Manhattan district attorney's office is poised to transition from collecting evidence to presenting what is likely a complex case to a grand jury, one that could result in the jury considering criminal charges.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) is facing calls to boot Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) out of the GOP conference for her remarks comparing COVID-19 mask and vaccine rules to the genocide of 6 million Jews during World War II.
Donald Trump's attorney defended the ex-President's incendiary speech on January 6, saying he is protected under the First Amendment and had "absolute immunity" while he was President to contest the election, according to a court filing this week. The argument is the first time Trump has formally defended his actions in court since the insurrection, and reflects his continued push to his supporters that he did nothing wrong and was robbed of a second term in office. Trump argues in DC District Court that his bully pulpit message to his supporters at the political rally on January 6 - encouraging them to oppose Congress certifying the vote - was a constitutionally protected act of the presidency.
After Rand Paul received a suspicious package containing white powder at his home on Monday, the Kentucky Republican senator pointed the finger at an improbable alleged instigator: the 1980s pop star Richard Marx. “As a repeated target of violence, it is reprehensible that Twitter allows C-list celebrities to encourage violence against me and my family,” Paul said in a statement.
Donald Trump’s longtime chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg faces escalating legal jeopardy on multiple fronts over questionable financial activity linked to the former president and the Trump Organization. Weisselberg is reportedly the subject of a criminal tax probe by the New York attorney general and an overlapping inquiry by the Manhattan district attorney, whose offices have begun coordinating efforts.
President Joe Biden on Thursday signed into law anti-hate crime legislation in response to the surge of attacks on Asian Americans during the Covid-19 pandemic. “Every time we’re silent, every time we let hate flourish, we make a lie of who we are as a nation,” Biden said before signing the bill two days after Congress finished passing it. “We cannot let the very foundation of this country continue to be eaten away like it has been in other moments in our history and happening again.” The newly enacted law would establish a position within the Justice Department centered on anti-Asian hate crimes and allocate resources to enhance state and local reporting.
The scandal surrounding Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) has now ensnared Joe Ellicot, a friend and former employee of a tax collector who has already pleaded guilty to an array of crimes associated with the probe. Joe Ellicott, the associate of Joel Greenberg, was included in a federal grand jury subpoena sent to a different individual that was obtained by Politico.
For much of Donald Trump’s presidency, Barack Obama largely abided by the convention that former presidents do not publicly criticize or attack their successors. Obama jettisoned any such caution during the 2020 election that put his own vice-president, Joe Biden, in the White House. But behind the scenes, with donors and advisers, Obama was reportedly much more candid.
The Republican House minority leader, Kevin McCarthy, should testify before the commission to investigate the 6 January Capitol attack, the Wyoming representative Liz Cheney said on Friday, because he has “said publicly that he’s got information about the president’s state of mind that day”.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has said the Republican extremist Marjorie Taylor Greene has a “fixation” on progressive members of Congress, and warned that Greene’s behavior has “raised concerns” among Democrats. Greene, a Trump loyalist and a promoter of the QAnon conspiracy theory, was elected to the House in 2020, and has spent her first months in office harassing Ocasio-Cortez and other progressive Democrats.
A group of Senate Democrats are urging Attorney General Merrick Garland not to fight a court order demanding the release of a 2019 Justice Department (DOJ) memo that essentially cleared former President Trump of criminal wrongdoing following the special counsel's investigation.
Elise Stefanik cruised to victory in a vote to replace Liz Cheney as House Republicans' third-ranked leader, capping off a tumultuous month in the GOP conference sparked by its bitter divisions over Donald Trump. Stefanik won in a 134-46 secret-ballot vote, defeating her sole challenger Rep. Chip Roy of Texas — an unsurprising outcome after she aggressively campaigned for the No. 3 spot, scooping up endorsements from top party leaders and Trump. The 36-year-old New Yorker, known as a moderate turned Trump ally who's used her fundraising skills to help elect a new class of GOP women.
House Republicans voted quickly on Wednesday to remove Liz Cheney as their No. 3 leader over her repeated criticism of Donald Trump, a massive shakeup that ties the party tighter to Trump and threatens to create a new litmus test in the GOP. The fast-moving campaign to dump Cheney, Congress' highest-ranking Republican woman, and replace her with a Trump loyalist was orchestrated by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and his top deputies. The California Republican and his allies complained that Cheney’s constant readiness to call out Trump’s lies.
Federal investigators scrutinizing Rep. Matt Gaetz are seeking the cooperation of a former Capitol Hill intern who was once a girlfriend of the Florida Republican, sources familiar with the matter tell CNN. Investigators could also soon gain the formal cooperation of a second key witness, former Florida county tax collector Joel Greenberg, who is approaching a deadline this week to strike a plea agreement with the government on more than two dozen charges he's facing. The pursuit of the cooperation comes as investigators are nearly finished collecting evidence, one source said.
Veteran GOP pollster Frank Luntz warned that former President Trump’s repeated assertions that the 2020 presidential election was rigged against him could hurt Republican efforts to take back the House in 2022. Luntz noted in an interview on the New York Times podcast “Sway” released Thursday that “more than two-thirds of Republicans believe that the election was stolen,” warning that a widespread and unproven belief that there was rampant fraud last November could turn Republicans off from voting in the midterm elections.
The extraordinary FBI raid on Rudy Giuliani’s New York apartment and office has sparked debate about what criminal charges Giuliani may face, and signals a widening criminal investigation into his Ukraine drive to help Trump in 2020 by sullying Joe Biden, former prosecutors say.
Liz Cheney, the third-most-powerful House Republican, has warned that her party is “at a turning point” as it prepares to try to remove her from leadership for rejecting Donald Trump’s false claims about the election. Writing in a defiant op-ed, published by the Washington Post on Wednesday, the Wyoming Republican told her party that standing with Trump meant undermining the rule of law and risking continued violence. “Trump is seeking to unravel critical elements of our constitutional structure that make democracy work – confidence in the result of elections and the rule of law."
The Facebook Oversight Board is a “Supreme Court” for Facebook. On Wednesday, it acted like it — issuing a finely grained ruling that punts the hardest question posed to it back down for Mark Zuckerberg to deal with. The issue before the board, was whether to uphold Facebook’s indefinite ban of Donald Trump’s account following his role in inciting the January 6 riot at the Capitol. It was, by far, the most hotly anticipated decision in the Oversight Board’s young existence. Since the company referred the case to the board on January 21, it received over 9,000 public comments on the matter.
Weeks after abandoning the number, President Joe Biden once again set a 62,500 cap on refugees allowed into the United States for the rest of this fiscal year, the White House announced on Monday. The number delivers on an increase Biden initially promised in February, though still falls short of what he had pledged during the campaign. It marks a stunning and rapid turnaround after the White House said several weeks ago it would keep the number of refugees allowed into the United States at a historic low of 15,000 — a ceiling first implemented by President Donald Trump.
Rep. Liz Cheney on Monday escalated her feud with former President Donald Trump and his supporters in Congress, issuing a less-than-subtle swipe at the former president’s latest attempt to claim the 2020 election was stolen from him.
Jim Jordan told to ‘shut your mouth’ after ranting endlessly
During a meeting of the House Coronavirus Crisis Subcommittee on Thursday, Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) had to intervene in a shouting match between Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) and Dr. Anthony Fauci by telling Jordan to “shut your mouth.” Jordan ranted at Fauci for several minutes, demanding the doc provide definite answers on when the pandemic will end, when public health mandates will be lifted, and when Americans will have their “liberties” back.
Texas Republican will be temporarily blind
Rep. Dan Crenshaw will be "effectively blind" for about a month and “off the grid” for the coming weeks after emergency eye surgery, the Texas Republican announced Saturday. Crenshaw, a former Navy SEAL, lost an eye in an IED blast in Afghanistan, which also caused “extensive damage” to his other retina. Within the past few days, Crenshaw said he had begun to experience “dark, blurry spots” that were affecting his sight, after which he went Thursday to an ophthalmologist, where he learned that his retina was in the process of detaching. Crenshaw said the news was “terrifying” and the prognosis “very bad.”
Supreme Court rebuffs bid for deposition about emails
The Supreme Court on Monday denied a bid by a right-wing government watchdog group to require former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton to face a deposition over her use of personal email while she served as secretary of State. In an unsigned order issued without comment, the justices declined an appeal from Judicial Watch that followed a ruling last August by a federal appeals court panel which said Clinton could not be compelled to sit for a deposition.
Capitol rioters posed 'zero threat'
Donald Trump has defended some of his supporters who rioted at the US Capitol on 6 January, saying they posed “zero threat” to the lawmakers who had assembled there to certify the electoral college vote that confirmed Joe Biden’s election victory. Trump complained to Fox News’s Laura Ingraham that law enforcement was “persecuting” the Capitol rioters, while “nothing happens” to leftwing protesters. Five people, including a police officer, died in the riot.
New York Republican accused of sexual misconduct won’t seek re-election
Tom Reed, a Republican congressman from western New York who was accused last week of rubbing a female lobbyist’s back and unhooking her bra without her consent in 2017, apologized to the woman on Sunday and announced he will not run for re-election next year. Reed, 49, said the incident involving Nicolette Davis occurred “at a time in my life in which I was struggling”. He said he entered treatment that year as he was “powerless over alcohol”. Reed apologized to his wife and children and to Davis and said he planned “to dedicate my time and attention to making amends for my past actions”.