good morning! Welcome to 10 Things in Politics. Before we get to the news, a quick announcement: Tomorrow will be our last edition before the newsletter stops.
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Now, this is what we’re talking about:
1. Bear Market: Russian President Vladimir Putin’s aggression against Ukraine has drawn some new admirers. Fox News host Tucker Carlson defended Putin’s decision to mass troops near the borders of the former Soviet republic. Many Republican lawmakers are calling out Putin and urging the White House to make a big effort, but Carlson’s praise highlights an element in the conservative movement that is happy to find common cause with strongmen.
Here is some background information about the situation:
Carlson defended his views by saying that there was a good chance of a “hot war”: US President Joe Biden said on Wednesday that the United States had no plans to deploy forces. During his Tuesday evening programme, Carlson also lit up to NATO and Putin’s other frequent target. Ukraine is a partner of the Alliance, but it is not a full member – an important distinction since an attack on Ukraine would not trigger a mutual defense agreement, NATO.
- What is on the table: According to reports, Biden told Putin earlier this week that the United States would impose a heavy economic cost in response to the invasion. The White House is said to be considering options including sanctions as well as scrapping Russia’s Nord Stream 2 pipeline.
Putin wants Ukraine under his thumb: “One way or another, he wants to neutralize Ukraine,” Fiona Hill, who served as Russia’s top adviser on the National Security Council under the Trump administration, told Insider.
- More details: Driven by Russia’s renewed image, Putin has long been the aggressor in a relationship dating back to Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea. Russia has also claimed not to be involved in the war in eastern Ukraine that has continued since that year, but the West and Ukraine point to evidence that The Kremlin sent troops and weapons.
Read more about why Tucker Carlson’s support for Putin isn’t surprising.
2. The Senate votes to repeal Biden’s broadest mandate for a vaccine or test: Every Republican and two Democratic senators — Joe Manchin of West Virginia and John Tester of Montana — voted to rescind Biden’s mandate for private companies with more than 100 employees. But that effort is likely doomed to failure, as the measure is unlikely to pass the House of Representatives and would almost certainly face a presidential veto. Meanwhile, a federal appeals court has already halted the policy. More on growing frustration among some lawmakers with Biden’s mandate.
3. Mark Meadows sues Nancy Pelosi and the Capitol Riot Committee: Meadows, President Donald Trump’s chief of staff, is suing the House Select Committee to investigate the insurgency and the lawmakers working on it. Meadows’ lawsuit came on the same day lawmakers announced that they would continue their plans for a detainee after he refused to cooperate with their subpoenas. Meadows’ suit calls the commission’s subpoenas “too loose” and alleges that a Verizon subpoena for his phone recordings infringes his First Amendment rights. More on what is now the biggest challenge to the House investigation into the January 6 rebellion.
4. Biden is expected to call on world leaders to reverse the “stagnation” of democracy: Biden is expected to launch his much-anticipated White House Democracy Summit later today and ask his counterparts to continue ensuring, as one White House representative said of him, that “democracies provide for their people,” the Associated Press reports. Not everyone is satisfied with the assembly. “The Cold War mentality, the ambassadors to the United States from China and Russia wrote a joint article in the Journal of National Interest describing the Biden administration as a show,” the AP noted. As the Washington Post points out, there are also many questions about which countries were and were not invited. Here’s what you need to know before the summit.
5. Judge sets an approximate date for John Durham’s trial of former Clinton campaign attorney: A federal judge said Michael Sussman, a former attorney for Hillary Clinton’s campaign, will likely go to trial in late spring 2022 on charges brought by the Trump-era special prosecutor investigating the origins of the Russia investigation. Sussman’s indictment and upcoming trial represent some of the first public signs of activity outside the Durham investigation in months. Here’s what we also learn about this condition.
6. Better employees reveal turmoil within the lauded startup: Vishal Garg, CEO of Better Digital Mortgage, laid off 900 people
last week. Former employees described the random and sudden way in which Garg released the news, saying it was particularly shocking given that recent internal communications portrayed the business as healthy and growing. Read more about how America’s startup fell from grace.
7. Governor Gavin Newsom says California will become a “sanctuary” for abortion if needed: Newsom told the Associated Press that he believes out-of-state patients would likely flock to California if the Supreme Court overturns its landmark decision in Roe v. Wade. A majority of Supreme Court justices indicated earlier this month that they would like to change the way the nation treats abortion rights, and some conservative justices appear to be interested in upending Roe entirely. More on California’s response.
8. Pfizer says its booster provides protection against Omicron: Pfizer and BioNTech said their coronavirus vaccine appears to be effective against the Omicron variant after three doses, but the two doses alone produced a much lower response. More early data on how the shot is holding up to the new variant.
9. Someone Involved In Planning Bob Dole’s Funeral Canceled January 6: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell complained to the Dole family about the involvement of event organizer Tim Younes, who was summoned by the Capitol Riot Committee for his work organizing the pro-Trump rally held on Uprising Day, the New York Times reported. In response, the Elizabeth Dole Foundation cut ties with the United Nations. Read more stories of this kind in Washington only.
PM 10. Finland apologizes for clubbing amid COVID 19 panic: Local reports said Prime Minister Sanna Marin was out of clubs at 3 a.m. last weekend, hours after one of her advisers tested positive for COVID-19. Marine said she has been instructed not to quarantine, but government officials have been told to self-isolate in such circumstances. The prime minister, who was vaccinated, tested negative. More about the story.
Today’s Trivia A question: Where did Bob Dole live in the 1970s when he was chairman of the Republican National Committee during Richard Nixon’s presidency? Incredibly, he was out of town when the date happened.
- Yesterday’s answer: The Library of Congress contains buildings named after Presidents Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and James Madison. After the British set much of Washington on fire during the War of 1812, Congress took Jefferson on his offer to sell his personal collection of books to replenish what was lost in the fire.