by Gabe Fleisher
Good morning! It’s Monday, February 7, 2022. Election Day 2022 is 274 days away. Election Day 2024 is 1,002 days away.
January 6 was “legitimate political discourse,” GOP says
There are a lot of stories worth covering from this weekend, from the latest developments in Ukraine to the newest jobs report. I will get to all of that later on in the newsletter.
But I want to start things off this morning in Salt Lake City, which is where the Republican Party formally declared on Friday that the events of January 6, 2021, were nothing more than “legitimate political discourse.”
That’s how the GOP opted to describe a day that included thousands of rioters violently breaking into the U.S. Capitol to block Congress from certifying the results of a valid presidential election, in an attack that injured hundreds of police officers and ended in five deaths.
To be clear, Republican National Committee (RNC) chair Ronna McDaniel later said on Twitter that the party was referring only to the actions of “ordinary citizens” who “had nothing to do with violence at the Capitol.” But the resolution itself — which you can read here — makes no such distinction or any effort to qualify its description.
The attempt to minimize the January 6 riot was tucked at the end of a resolution censuring Reps. Liz Cheney (R-WY) and Adam Kinzinger (R-IL), who have joined the Democratic-led select committee investigating the Capitol attack.
But the GOP’s official description of January 6 is noteworthy in itself. As the New York Times put it, the censure resolution amounted to “the latest and most forceful effort by the Republican Party to minimize what happened” on January 6 and suggest that “the assault and the actions that preceded it were acceptable.”
The resolution was also a reminder of how firmly in Trump’s grasp the Republican Party apparatus remains as the ex-president gears up for a 2024 bid.
As I’ve covered previously, there is an ongoing debate within and around the GOP over the extent to which the party remains in thrall to Trump heading into the 2022 midterms and the 2024 presidential race. Some members of the anti-Trump commentariat have held up poll numbers and a new rift with Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) to suggest that Republicans are moving on from the former president.
But dominance over the RNC provides Trump a powerful lever as he mulls whether to stage a comeback bid for the White House. In addition to the censure resolution, the party moved Friday to aid in Trump’s project of rooting out dissenters in the GOP ranks: according to the Washington Post, the RNC inked a rules change that will allow it to raise funds for Cheney’s pro-Trump challenger, even though the Republican primary has yet to take place.
Plus, campaign finance records recently showed that the RNC continue to spend millions of dollars to Trump’s legal bills, much as the committee would for an incumbent president.
The GOP’s January 6 declaration capped a week in which new details continued to emerge about Trump’s conduct in the twilight of his presidency. Such details included a report from Politico that Trump considered issuing a blanket pardon to the January 6 rioters before leaving office and another from the New York Times that he urged federal officials to seize voting machines from key swing states after the election.
The Washington Post also reported over the weekend on Trump’s penchant for ripping up documents while in office and then this morning on his attempt to take some White House records with him to Mar-a-Lago. Both actions are potential violations of presidential records law.
And the new reporting has been complemented by Trump’s own increasingly incendiary which has included dangling pardons for the Capitol rioters if he returns to the White House and baldly claiming that former Vice President Mike Pence “could have overturned the election” at the January 6 certification.
Despite the RNC’s rhetorical embrace of January 6, there remains some whispers of dissent within the GOP. The censure resolution provoked responses from a handful of Republican officials, including Alaska Rep. Don Young (“What transpired was criminal, un-American, and cannot be considered legitimate protest”) and Utah Sen. Mitt Romney (“Shame falls on a party that would censure persons of conscience, who seek truth in the face of vitriol”).
Pence himself also emerged to rebuke his onetime partner, and possible future presidential rial, going farther than he ever has previously to speak against Trump and the suggestion that he could have undone the 2020 election results.
“President Trump is wrong,” Pence said simply, at a Federalist Society confab in Florida. “I had no right to overturn the election. The presidency belongs to the American people, and the American people alone. And frankly, there is no idea more un-American than the notion that any one person could choose the American president."
Ukraine: A new U.S. intelligence report suggests that Russia has amassed about 70% of the troops on Ukraine’s borders that he would need in order to launch a full invasion of the country. The report also said that Russia would be able to seize Kyiv, the country’s capital, within two days and that a potential invasion could precipitate 50,000 civilian deaths and 5 million refugees.
Covid: New coronavirus cases are decreasing across the country, but more than 2,500 Americans continue to die from Covid-19 each day. The death toll from the virus exceed 900,000 on Friday.
Redistricting: Between a new map in New York and a legal victory in North Carolina, Democrats are racking up wins in the battle to redraw America’s congressional maps for the next 10 years — partly by engaging in aggressive gerrymandering tactics that the party has long decried.
The U.S. economy added 467,000 jobs in January, beating expectations that feared a contraction in the first month of the year. It was expected that the Omicron variant would hit the economy’s job recovery, similarly to how last year’s winter wave caused a negative job growth month in December 2020. But the report showed that the economy was able to weather the economic impact of the variant, and surged anyways.
The report, released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, also revealed that the unemployment rate went up to 4 percent. However, that was partially due to a jump in the labor force participation rate, now at 62.2 percent, which measures those employed or actively looking for work. The figure has been lagging throughout the pandemic, but the jump in the rate now shows people are starting to once again look for work.
The BLS also released major revisions to previous jobs reports, continuing a trend and painting a much stronger portrait of the labor market than what had previously been thought. President Biden celebrated the news on Friday: “America is back to work,” he declared.
Job openings in December remained elevated as layoffs fell to a record low. There were 10.9 million job openings at the end of the month in December, according to a report released last week. Quits, after hitting a high in November, declined to 4.3 million, but the bigger headline is about layoffs. 1.2 million people, or 0.8 percent of U.S. workers, were laid off or discharged in December, a record low.
With workers quitting in huge numbers, employers are struggling to hold onto their current workforce. Daniel Zhao, a senior economist at Glassdoor, told NBC News, “The record low layoff rate suggests that employers are holding on to the workers they do have. Employers are extremely focused on retention.”
For the first time, the national debt has surpassed $30 trillion. The new data was revealed by the Treasury Department last Monday. It was supposed to take much more time to breach that figure, but it came earlier than expected due to the surge in federal spending amid the pandemic.
Some experts have expressed concerns that if the U.S. continues to borrow at this rate, the nation might be weaker against future economic threats that require intervention. But others maintain that the country can handle high debt, especially since so much of the money that is spent goes back into the economy.
All times Eastern.
President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris will receive their daily intelligence briefing at 10:15 a.m. Later, at 1:30 p.m., Biden will meet with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who is visiting Washington for his first time since taking office in December. At 3:15 p.m., Biden and Scholz will hold a joint press conference.
- First Lady Jill Biden will deliver remarks at 9:15 a.m. to the 2022 Community College National Legislative Summit in Washington, D.C. The first lady has taught at community colleges for nearly 30 years, including teaching English at Northern Virginia Community College throughout her time in the White House.
- White House press secretary Jen Psaki will hold her daily press briefing at 1:45 p.m.The Senate will convene at 3 p.m. The chamber will hold two confirmation votes at 5:30 p.m., on the nominations of Ebony M. Scott and Donald Walker Tunnage to be Associate Judges of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia (which is DC’s trial court).
The House will convene at 12 p.m. The chamber is scheduled to finish debate and eventually vote on H.R. 4445, the Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Act, which would allow victims of sexual harassment or assault to invalidate any forced arbitration agreements they made with their alleged aggressor that precluded them from filing a lawsuit in court.
Congressional leaders will hold a moment of silence at 7 p.m. on the Capitol steps to remember the more than 900,000 Americans who have died of Covid-19. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, and other lawmakers from both parties will participate.
The Supreme Court is not in session.
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