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Biden says Trump should not receive intelligence briefings because of his ‘erratic behavior’

The Washington Post logo The Washington Post 2/5/2021 Colby Itkowitz, Felicia Sonmez, John Wagner, Amy B Wang
Joe Biden wearing a suit and tie: President Biden delivers remarks to State Department staff in Washington on Thursday. © Evan Vucci/AP President Biden delivers remarks to State Department staff in Washington on Thursday.

President Biden, in an interview with the “CBS Evening News With Norah O’Donnell,” said former president Donald Trump should not receive intelligence briefings, citing his “erratic behavior unrelated to the insurrection.”

“I just think that there is no need for him to have the intelligence briefings. What value is giving him an intelligence briefing? What impact does he have at all, other than the fact he might slip and say something?” Biden said when questioned. The White House has been reviewing whether the former president, now out of office, should get the briefings.

Separately, Biden pledged Friday “to act fast” on securing passage of his $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package, making clear that he and Democrats in Congress are willing to move forward without Republican support. He pointed to a disappointing jobs report for January to argue that the cost of the legislation is justified.

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) held a combative news conference, responding to a House vote Thursday to remove her from her committee assignments as a rebuke for espousing extremist beliefs. She said committee service was a “waste of my time” and she would now have more time to promote her conservative views.

Here’s what to know:

  • The U.S. economy added 49,000 jobs in January, a modest increase amid the labor market’s ongoing strain from the coronavirus pandemic, according to new Labor Department data. The country has recovered just over half of the 22 million jobs lost between February and April.
  • The House approved a budget plan that directs committees to start working on the details underlying Biden’s stimulus package that aims to shore up the ailing economy and strengthen vaccine distribution. The Senate in the early Friday morning hours approved the budget bill through a narrow partisan vote.
  • Biden recommitted the United States to global alliances and a role in the world that projects democratic principles, using his first major foreign policy address to promise that he will counter “advancing authoritarianism” and to announce an end to U.S. support for offensive operations in Yemen that are blamed for thousands of civilian deaths.
  • House Democrats asked Trump to testify about his role in the Jan. 6 assault on the U.S. Capitol, an invitation his advisers promptly rejected. Democrats did not immediately indicate whether other witnesses would be called to testify at next week’s Senate impeachment trial.

9:35 PM: Lincoln Project parts ways with second co-founder in a week with another biting statement

Another co-founder of the Lincoln Project, a group of high-profile Republicans who opposed Trump and rose to prominence last year campaigning against him with viral video ads, is leaving the organization amid apparent acrimony.

Jennifer Horn, a former chair of the New Hampshire Republican Party, told the New York Times earlier Friday that she was resigning from the Lincoln Project because of concerns about how the group managed allegations about John Weaver, another co-founder who has been accused of making unsolicited sexual overtures to young men and at least one 14-year-old boy. The Lincoln Project issued a statement Sunday disavowing Weaver, who has said he is not returning to the group.

“John Weaver’s grotesque and inappropriate behavior, coupled with his long-standing deceptions concerning that behavior, are sickening,” Horn told the Times. “It is clear at this point that my views about how the Lincoln Project’s efforts are managed, and the best way to move the Lincoln Project forward into the future in the wake of these awful events, have diverged.”

Horn said she had terminated her relationship with the group “effective immediately.”

In a pointed statement Friday night, however, the Lincoln Project blasted Horn for reportedly asking for a hefty bonus and contract on Wednesday.

“Forty-eight hours ago, at a moment when the Lincoln Project was under attack from the Trump organization and their propaganda allies, Jennifer Horn, in written communication, requested from the Lincoln Project an immediate ‘signing bonus’ payment of $250,000 and a $40,000 per month consulting contract,” the group said in a statement.

The statement continued: “This followed a Christmas Eve communication from Jennifer, where she demanded a board seat on the Lincoln Project, a television show, a podcast hosting assignment, and a staff to manage these endeavors. She also stated her goal was ‘to establish immediate and long-term financial security.’ ”

The group said Horn resigned when her demands were “unanimously rejected by the management committee and board.”

“We wish her the best in her future endeavors,” the group added.

When reached for comment Friday, Horn reiterated her statement to the Times.

By: Amy B Wang

8:57 PM: Fox News has dropped ‘Lou Dobbs Tonight,’ promoter of Trump’s false election fraud claims

Lou Dobbs wearing a suit and tie smiling at the camera: FILE — In this Nov. 16, 2009 file photo, Lou Dobbs, left, speaks with Bill O'Reilly during taping a segment for Fox News Channel's “The O'Reilly Factor,” in New York. Dobbs apologized Thursday, Oct. 13, 2016, for a tweeting the address and phone number of a woman who alleged Donald Trump had groped her without her consent. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens, File) © Kathy Willens/AP FILE — In this Nov. 16, 2009 file photo, Lou Dobbs, left, speaks with Bill O'Reilly during taping a segment for Fox News Channel's “The O'Reilly Factor,” in New York. Dobbs apologized Thursday, Oct. 13, 2016, for a tweeting the address and phone number of a woman who alleged Donald Trump had groped her without her consent. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens, File)

“Lou Dobbs Tonight” has been canceled by Fox News, a network spokesperson confirmed.

Dobbs, 75, was among the most ardent pro-Trump voices on air. He held influence over Trump administration policy — particularly on trade and immigration — and relentlessly promoted the former president’s false claims of election fraud late last year. His nightly program, which a person close to Dobbs said aired its final episode Friday, was by far the highest-rated on Fox Business.

The news was first reported by the Los Angeles Times, which reported that Dobbs will be unlikely to return to air, although he still has a contract with Fox News Media.

The announcement comes one day after the election technology company Smartmatic filed a $2.7 billion defamation lawsuit against Fox News, parent company Fox Corp. and several on-air commentators, including Dobbs.

Read the full story here.

By: Elahe Izadi

7:58 PM: Biden says he’s ‘prepared to negotiate’ on targeted $1,400 stimulus checks

President Biden on Friday indicated he was willing to negotiate with Republicans in Congress over who should receive $1,400 stimulus payments but vowed the amount of the payments would not change.

In a “CBS Evening News” interview — his first network interview since taking office, a portion of which aired Friday night — Biden said he was “prepared to negotiate” on the annual income that would be the cutoff for people to receive a stimulus check.

“Here’s the deal: Middle-class folks need help,” Biden told host Norah O’Donnell, adding that he did not believe those making $250,000 or $300,000 annually would need assistance from the government.

“So it’s somewhere between an individual making up to 75 [thousand dollars] and phasing out, and a couple making up to 150 [thousand dollars] and then phasing out,” he said. “But again, I’m wide open on what that is.”

FAQ: The Democratic plan for $1,400 stimulus checks

Democrats have proposed sending $1,400 relief checks to individuals earning $50,000 or less and $2,800 checks to couples making up to $100,000.

Though Biden has shown a willingness to narrow who receives the checks, earlier Friday he vowed to move forward with his economic relief plan, even without Republican support, saying that too many families are suffering because of the pandemic.

“I see enormous pain in this country,” Biden said then. “A lot of folks out of work. A lot of folks going hungry, staring at the ceiling at night wondering, ‘What am I going to do tomorrow?’ So I’m going to act, and I’m going to act fast.”

In his interview with O’Donnell, Biden also said he thought raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour — a proposal included in his relief plan — would not survive the Senate, but he said he was prepared for “a separate negotiation” on that issue.

“Look, no one should work 40 hours a week and live below the poverty wage. And if you’re making less than $15 an hour, you’re living below the poverty wage,” he told O’Donnell.

Read the latest about the coronavirus relief package here.

By: Amy B Wang

7:53 PM: Biden administration to remove Yemen’s Houthi rebels from terrorism list in reversal of Trump-era policy

The Biden administration has formally notified Congress that it will remove Yemen’s Houthi rebels from the U.S. government’s list of foreign terrorist organizations, according to three congressional aides and a State Department official, reversing an 11th-hour Trump administration decision that aid groups said would worsen the dire humanitarian situation in the country.

The State Department added the rebel group to a list of official terrorist groups on the day before Donald Trump left office despite an outcry from humanitarian organizations that said it would make it harder to get food, medical assistance and other basic goods to people in Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen.

The Trump administration defended the move as part of a broader pressure campaign against Iran, which backs the Houthis against Yemeni forces supported by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and other regional powers.

“We have formally notified Congress of the Secretary’s intent to revoke these designations,” a State Department official said in a statement. “This decision has nothing to do with our view of the Houthis and their reprehensible conduct, including attacks against civilians and the kidnapping of American citizens.”

Read the full story here.

By: John Hudson and Missy Ryan

6:43 PM: Biden says Trump should not receive intelligence briefings because of his ‘erratic behavior’

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President Biden does not think former president Donald Trump should continue to receive intelligence briefings because of his “erratic behavior,” according to the president’s interview on “CBS Evening News with Norah O’Donnell.”

Biden’s remarks were a step further than the stance he and other officials in his administration had previously taken on the issue, when they said they would seek guidance from intelligence professionals.

In a portion of the interview that aired Friday night, Biden cites Trump’s “erratic behavior unrelated to the insurrection” — a reference to when a pro-Trump mob overran the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 — as the reason he thinks Trump should not continue receiving intelligence briefings, as is typical after a president leaves office.

O’Donnell also pressed Biden on his past remarks when he called Trump an existential threat, dangerous and reckless. Biden acknowledged that he said those things and said he still believed them.

Biden demurred, however, when O’Donnell asked what his worst fear was, should Trump continue to get the briefings.

“I’d rather not speculate out loud. I just think that there is no need for him to have the intelligence briefings,” Biden told O’Donnell. “What value is giving him an intelligence briefing? What impact does he have at all, other than the fact he might slip and say something?”

Former White House officials and political analysts have expressed fear that Trump could divulge classified information, either unintentionally or for personal gain.

Just before the inauguration, incoming White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain did not rule out withholding intelligence briefings from Trump, saying then that the administration would “look for a recommendation from the intelligence professionals in the Biden-Harris administration.”

The conversation with O’Donnell was Biden’s first network interview since he took office.

By: Amy B Wang

5:35 PM: Biden departs White House for first trip on Air Force One as president

Biden left the White House for a weekend at his Delaware home, where he’ll stay and watch the Super Bowl with family.

The president walked alone from the residence to board Marine One to take him to Joint Base Andrews, where he started his first trip on Air Force One as president.

Upon arriving in Delaware, Biden told reporters that he was there to “see my grandchildren and to hang out with Jill to get the rest of the stuff we have to move from our house to the other house.”

Asked earlier during a news briefing why the president was going to Delaware this weekend, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said, “He is from Delaware and has a home there and is going to spend the weekend with his wife and family.”

Psaki wouldn’t say who Biden would be rooting for in the Super Bowl, only that he would be watching.

By: Colby Itkowitz

5:04 PM: Republican group urges GOP senators to vote to convict Trump in new ads

A group of anti-Trump Republicans is airing television ads targeting 22 Republican senators across 19 states ahead of next week’s Senate impeachment trial, calling on them to vote to convict the former president.

The new political action committee, the Republican Accountability Project (RAP), created in the wake of the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, is led by Trump critics such as Bill Kristol and Olivia Troye, who worked for Vice President Mike Pence before leaving and speaking out about what she had observed in the Trump White House.

The 30-second television ad begins with footage of the Capitol siege. It shows Trump’s speech at the rally just before and people in the crowd parroting his rhetoric. Trump is heard saying they’re going to the Capitol “to stop the steal” and to “fight like hell,” over footage of the mob busting through security barriers and breaking into the Capitol.

Then a narrator singles out a senator and says: “Donald Trump incited an attack on our Capitol. It’s up to you to convict and disqualify him.”

The personalized ads will run in 19 states during “Fox & Friends” Monday through Friday as the Senate trial commences. A generic one will also run in the D.C. market during the show and on Fox News during prime time.

“This is exactly the kind of case impeachment was designed for,” said Sarah Longwell, executive director of RAP. “Trump abused the power of the presidency to attempt a violent overthrow of Congress so he could stay in office even though he lost the election. If Republicans don’t convict him, they’re actively endorsing his behavior and inviting more violence and usurpation.”

The targeted senators include four of the five Republicans who supported moving ahead with an impeachment trial — Sens. Susan Collins (Maine), Ben Sasse (Nebraska), Patrick J. Toomey (Pa.) and Mitt Romney (Utah) — as well as others who the group says can be persuaded: Sens. John Cornyn (Tex.), Rob Portman (Ohio), John Barrasso (Wyo.), Charles E. Grassley (Iowa), Mitch McConnell (Ky.), Richard Burr (N.C.), Thom Tillis (N.C.), James M. Inhofe (Okla.), James Lankford (Okla.), Richard C. Shelby (Ala.), Todd C. Young (Ind.), Jerry Moran (Kan.), Bill Cassidy (La.), Roger Wicker (Miss.), Kevin Cramer (N.D.), John Hoeven (N.D.), John Thune (S.D.) and Shelley Moore Capito (W.Va.).

By: Colby Itkowitz

4:44 PM: House Republicans Gohmert, Clyde are fined $5,000 for bypassing security screening, aide says

A metal detector outside of the House chamber at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 22. © Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images A metal detector outside of the House chamber at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 22.

Two Republican House members have been fined $5,000 for bypassing the security screening that has been set up outside the House chamber in the wake of the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob, a senior Democratic aide said Friday.

The lawmakers, Reps. Louie Gohmert (R-Tex.) and Andrew S. Clyde (R-Ga.), appear to be the first members punished under a new rule approved by the House on Tuesday night.

Spokespeople for Gohmert and Clyde did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

According to the new rules, lawmakers who bypass the metal detectors that have been installed outside some doors to the House chamber will be fined $5,000 for the first offense and $10,000 for each subsequent offense.

The metal detectors were installed in a move aimed at tightening security in the wake of the deadly Jan. 6 riot. Some Republican lawmakers have objected to being screened, prompting tense confrontations with Capitol Police.

In the days after the equipment’s installation, some Republicans, such as Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.), refused to hand their bags over to police even after they had set off the magnetometers. Others, such as Gohmert and Reps. Ralph Norman (R-S.C.) and Randy Weber (R-Tex.), walked around the machines on their way into the House chamber.

Still others argued with the Capitol Police officers enforcing the new security measures, and one lawmaker, Rep. Greg Steube (R-Fla.), delivered a floor speech in which he blasted the metal detectors as “appalling” and an “atrocity.”

Without naming lawmakers, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) cited some of that behavior in a statement after Tuesday’s vote, noting that after the Jan. 6 insurrection, “many House Republicans began disrespecting our heroes by refusing to adhere to basic precautions keeping members of our Congressional community safe — including by dodging metal detectors, physically pushing past police, and even attempting to bring firearms into the chamber.”

“It is beyond comprehension why any Member would refuse to adhere to these simple, common-sense steps to keep this body safe,” Pelosi said, describing the rule change as “sad” but necessary to ensure the safety of lawmakers and others inside the Capitol.

By: Felicia Sonmez, Paul Kane and Mike DeBonis

3:33 PM: Democratic group American Bridge plans $100 million midterm campaign to back President Biden

The Democratic group American Bridge, which spent about $62 million on ads in 2020 to defeat President Donald Trump, plans to relaunch next month with a new effort aimed at defending the record of Biden, as well as a nine-figure ad budget to maintain Democratic congressional majorities through the midterm elections.

Former Montana governor Steve Bullock, former Democratic National Committee chair Tom Perez and former Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards will join as co-chairs, according to a statement from the group. They will join former Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick, who began advising the group last year.

The announcement marks the first major reorganization of the external Democratic infrastructure that helped elect Biden, with more moves expected in the coming weeks as the White House prepares to roll out additional details of its own political program.

“In 2022, Democratic fortunes are going to sink or swim on Biden’s success, so we want to engage on that front from the outset,” said Bradley Beychok, the group’s president, who will step down to become a senior adviser next month. “Biden’s policies are going to impact American families. Our job is to make sure that those impacts are seen and heard by voters starting now.”

Jessica Floyd, the managing director of campaigns for the Hub Project, a network of liberal groups involved in elections, plans to take over as president on March 1, working with the group’s co-founders, Beychok and David Brock. At the Hub Project, she oversaw nearly $30 million in spending to defeat Republicans in Congress in 2018, and she previously worked for the independent expenditure arm of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

Read the full story here.

By: Michael Scherer

3:29 PM: Analysis: The Biden administration’s muddled message on reopening schools

If there is one issue that increasingly bridges much of the political divide over the coronavirus response, it might be reopening schools. Growing evidence from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other organizations has suggested that schools pose very little risk of spreading the virus once they reopen, and the Biden administration has set a goal of making this happen in its first 100 days.

But when it comes to how we get there, the messaging from the Biden administration has been a bit of a muddled mess — particularly over the past two days.

The big sticking point is whether schools might be able to reopen even before all teachers are vaccinated. CDC Director Rochelle Walensky made big news Wednesday when she seemed to strongly indicate that that was indeed where the guidance was headed.

Read the full story

By: Aaron Blake

3:10 PM: Analysis: Biden’s Yemen policy breaks with Obama. There may be more daylight to come.

President Barack Obama began U.S. cooperation with the Saudi-led war in Yemen, fueling a humanitarian crisis. Trump’s unstinting instincts were to deepen it, even as his administration pared back some key elements. Biden announced Thursday he’s keeping a campaign pledge and ending America’s five-year involvement.

The news came in the Delaware Democrat’s first foreign policy speech since taking office, a whirlwind 20-minute rhetorical world tour in which he promised a hard line on China and Russia but did not mention North Korea, Afghanistan, or the Iran nuclear deal.

Biden also left open the future of U.S.-Saudi relations more broadly, which are under review. Trump’s immediate and full-throated support for the kingdom’s operations in Yemen, which Obama had come to criticize sharply by late 2016, showed his eagerness to court an ally central to his plans to confront Iran.

Read the full story

By: Olivier Knox

2:31 PM: As impeachment trial kicks off next week, Biden to focus on pandemic response, national security

Joe Biden wearing a suit and tie: President Biden speaks about the economy Friday in the State Dining Room of the White House. © Stefani Reynolds/Pool/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock President Biden speaks about the economy Friday in the State Dining Room of the White House.

Democrats on Capitol Hill are preparing for Trump’s impeachment trial, which is set to begin Tuesday. Biden, meanwhile, will not be focusing on the trial, but on an array of other issues, including his administration’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Friday that Biden next week “will be focused on engaging with bipartisan groups on the American Rescue Plan and other key priorities, including current vaccine distribution and national security.”

On Monday, Biden will conduct a virtual visit of a coronavirus vaccination center, Psaki said. On Wednesday, he will visit the Pentagon and meet with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin. On Thursday, he will visit the National Institutes of Health.

Psaki also said the White House is hopeful the Senate can move forward with confirming Biden’s remaining Cabinet nominees even as it conducts the trial.

“You know, we are confident that the Senate can walk and chew gum at the same time,” she said.

By: Felicia Sonmez

2:13 PM: Biden to bring back weekly presidential address

Biden will resume a weekly address to the American people, a tradition that withered under President Donald Trump.

The first episode comes out Saturday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said, and will feature a conversation between Biden and a California woman named Michelle who lost her job because of the pandemic.

But unlike predecessors who delivered recorded speeches, Biden’s address will take many forms, Psaki said, with some having more of a conversational podcast feel.

The weekly tradition, modeled after President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s fireside chats, began in earnest with President Ronald Reagan and continued with Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama.

Trump, who used Twitter to directly speak to Americans, mostly abandoned the weekly address and stopped them for good in 2018.

By: Colby Itkowitz

1:40 PM: Economic adviser says Biden won’t ‘lose sight of people in the middle of the income scale’ in coronavirus relief negotiations

a man wearing a suit and tie: Council of Economic Advisers member Jared Bernstein speaks during a news briefing at the White House in Washington on Friday. © Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post Council of Economic Advisers member Jared Bernstein speaks during a news briefing at the White House in Washington on Friday.

Biden economic adviser Jared Bernstein offered a full-throated defense of the size and scope of the president’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief plan Friday, highlighting the disproportionate impact of the pandemic on the jobs of women and people of color.

Speaking during a White House briefing for reporters, Bernstein, a member of the Council of Economic Advisers, reiterated that Biden remains willing to negotiate who will be eligible to receive a $1,400 stimulus check included in the package but said the president is committed to helping not only the poor but also the middle class.

I think what’s important to the president is that we don’t lose sight of people in the middle of the income scale who continue to struggle with both the health and economic fallout from this crisis,” Bernstein said. “And these checks target them effectively and efficiently.”

As Biden did in remarks earlier, Bernstein highlighted a disappointing January jobs report in arguing for the necessity of a robust relief package.

He said, “workers of color have been more likely to lose their jobs than White workers in January,” and noted a troubling trend about women leaving the workforce.

While the unemployment rate for men and women is relatively similar, women have left the labor force in numbers that are of great concern to us,” Bernstein said.

In response to questions, Bernstein also pushed back against those who have argued that the overall package is too costly, including Lawrence H. Summers, a former economic adviser to President Barack Obama.

Bernstein cited recent statements about “going big” by Federal Reserve Chair Jerome H. Powell and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, and said Biden’s team is united in its belief that there is greater risk in spending too little than spending too much.

“The White House economic team is in complete consensus on the urgency of the need for this American Rescue Plan and in complete solidarity on the calibration of this plan, that it’s of the magnitude to meet the challenges we face,” Bernstein said.

By: John Wagner

1:01 PM: ‘I’m going to help the American people who are hurting now,’ Biden says, pledging to ‘act fast’ on pandemic relief with or without GOP

In remarks at the White House on Friday, Biden pledged to “act fast” to deliver relief to Americans who are struggling amid the coronavirus pandemic, declaring that he is prepared to move ahead without Republicans if they do not agree to a large-scale package.

“I believe the American people are looking right now to their government for help — to do our job, to not let them down,” Biden said. “So I’m going to act. I’m going to act fast. I’d like to be doing it with the support of Republicans. I’ve met with Republicans. There are some really fine people who want to get something done, but they’re just not willing to go as far as I think we have to go.”

Biden said that while his preference is for a bipartisan deal, Democrats will act alone if necessary.

“If I have to choose between getting help right now to Americans who are hurting so badly and getting bogged down in a lengthy negotiation or compromising on a bill that’s up to the crisis, that’s an easy choice. I’m going to help the American people who are hurting now,” he said.

Earlier, in remarks upon leaving the White House, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said a stimulus deal would “absolutely” be completed by March 15 at the latest.

By: Felicia Sonmez

12:31 PM: 42 GOP House members urge Pelosi to have barrier around Capitol removed

An eight-foot-tall steel fence topped with concertina razor wire surrounds the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 14. © John McDonnell/The Washington Post An eight-foot-tall steel fence topped with concertina razor wire surrounds the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 14.

A group of conservative Republicans sent House Speaker Nancy Pelosi a letter asking that she facilitate the removal of a security perimeter erected around the U.S. Capitol that may become permanent in response to the Jan. 6 attack by a pro-Trump mob.

The 42 lawmakers accused Congress and its members of “hiding” and called it a “double standard” to offer themselves this protection when they criticized the law enforcement response over the summer to racial justice protests.

“It’s time for healing and it’s time for the removal of the fencing so the nation may move forward,” they wrote.

Many Democrats have assailed Republicans who have said they should just move on from what happened at the Capitol a month ago, saying that’s not how trauma or accountability work.

The Republicans likened the fences put up around the Capitol to a loss of freedoms, saying it undermines the message that Americans are “free from tyranny and oppression.”

The barbed wire fence was put up the day after the Capitol attack and was intended to be temporary, but the acting Capitol Police chief has proposed creating a permanent barrier around the building. D.C. officials, residents and many members of Congress have pushed back at the idea.

By: Colby Itkowitz

12:22 PM: Rep. Greene declines to apologize for her treatment of David Hogg

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.,) speaks during a press conference on Capitol Hill on Friday, Feb. 5, 2021. © Salwan Georges/The Washington Post Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.,) speaks during a press conference on Capitol Hill on Friday, Feb. 5, 2021.

At a news conference Friday morning outside the Capitol, Greene defended her treatment of David Hogg, one of the survivors of the 2018 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., that left 17 dead.

Last month, a video went viral of Greene following and berating Hogg outside the U.S. Capitol complex in 2018, calling him a “coward,” telling him she had a gun and accusing him of being paid by George Soros, the liberal billionaire philanthropist. Greene also later mocked Hogg, saying in 2019, “He is very trained. He’s like a dog.”

Asked Friday about her behavior toward Hogg, Greene declined to apologize. She noted that the activist “was an adult when I talked to him” in 2018. Hogg, who was born in 2000, would have been 18 or 19 at the time.

“I’m not sorry for telling him he shouldn’t push for gun control,” Greene said. “What we need to do is we need to protect our children … with good guys with guns and not allow them to be sitting there sitting ducks.”

Greene also defended her actions by noting that she experienced an incident in which one of her classmates held her high school hostage at gunpoint. No one was injured in the incident.

“And so, being in the same situation as David Hogg, my voice matters, too,” she said.

Hogg tweeted earlier Friday in response to a tweet in which Greene called Democrats “a bunch of morons” after the House voted to remove her from her committee assignments. The move, Greene said, will give “some one like me free time.”

“Marge- you’re sorely mistaken if you think that wasn’t purely our intent,” Hogg replied, arguing that Democrats “want to give you more time to speak so we can make you the face of the Republican Party (that’s part of the point).”

Katie Shepherd contributed to this report.

By: Felicia Sonmez

12:15 PM: Defiant Rep. Greene lashes out at critics as she vows to push GOP to the right, fill Trump void

One day after the House voted to strip her of her committee assignments, a defiant Greene lashed out at Democrats and the media in Capitol Hill remarks in which she called the government tyrannical, said committee seats are a “waste of time,” and declared it her mission to push the Republicans further to the right.

The Georgia Republican called it “freeing” to admit that she’d been wrong in the past, but didn’t directly apologize for the dangerous rhetoric she’d used in recent years until pressed by a reporter to do so.

Lecturing and then sparring with reporters, Greene stepped into the role of Trump advocate, ensuring the former president’s mark on the Republican Party will continue to be felt in Washington.

“The party is his,” she said of the former president, “it doesn’t belong to anybody else.”

She warned that the 11 Republicans who voted with Democrats on Thursday night to strip her of her committee assignments on Budget and Education panels would face retribution from their constituents for their “big betrayal.”

I hope that my Republican colleagues really think about what they’ve done,” she said. “I’m sure they’re going to hear from their voters at home because the base is loyal to President Trump and the base has been very loyal to me.”

She repeatedly referred to Donald Trump as president though Biden has been in office since Jan. 20.

Greene deflected when asked by reporters about her repeated endorsements of political violence. On Facebook in 2019, Greene “liked” a comment advocating “a bullet to the head” of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). Last year, Greene posted on Facebook an image of herself holding an assault rifle next to photos of three liberal congresswomen of color — Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.). Underneath the photo was a caption that read: “Squad’s worst nightmare.”

Greene, who did not specifically address any of her threats toward fellow lawmakers, responded to questions about her actions by portraying herself as a victim of liberal hatred and likening herself to Trump.

“You know, this reminds me of when you guys would ask President Trump: ‘President Trump, do you denounce white supremacy?’ And he would say, ‘I denounce it.’ And then you would ask him again and he would have to say, ‘I denounce it,’ ” she said.

Read the full story here.

By: Colby Itkowitz and Felicia Sonmez

11:36 AM: How the Trump administration pardon process broke down in favor of the rich and well-connected

a person sitting in front of a window: President Donald Trump delivers a televised national address on the coronavirus pandemic in March. © Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post President Donald Trump delivers a televised national address on the coronavirus pandemic in March.

A federal judge in South Dakota was blunt in the summer when she sentenced Paul Erickson, a seasoned Republican operative who had pleaded guilty to wire fraud and money laundering.

“What comes through is that you’re a thief, and you’ve betrayed your friends, your family, pretty much everyone you know,” federal District Judge Karen E. Schreier told Erickson in July, before sentencing him to seven years in prison for scamming dozens of people out of $5.3 million.

But Erickson, who had advised GOP presidential campaigns and a noted conservative organization, had a way out.

He had the ear of White House adviser Kellyanne Conway, a member of Trump’s inner orbit. And, unrelated to his conviction, he had been caught up in the investigation of Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential campaign, an inquiry much reviled by Trump.

Read the full story

By: Beth Reinhard, Rosalind S. Helderman, Tom Hamburger and Josh Dawsey

11:09 AM: House set to advance budget plan as Biden calls for swift action on economic relief

The House of Representatives is poised to approve a budget plan Friday that directs committees to start working on the details underlying Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus package that aims to shore up the ailing economy and strengthen vaccine distribution.

The Senate in the early morning hours of Friday morning approved the budget bill through a narrow partisan vote, by a 51-50 margin, with Vice President Harris (D) casting the tiebreaking vote in the chamber after over 15 hours of debate.

The stimulus package would include checks up to $1,400 for low- and moderate-income families, extended jobless benefits and $160 billion to strengthen the public health response to the pandemic, improving vaccine distribution and increased testing, among other measures.

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By: Jeff Stein and Erica Werner

10:52 AM: White House decision process on Iran strategy rejects ‘personality-driven decision-making’

Joe Biden wearing a suit and tie: Secretary of State Antony Blinken listens as President Joe Biden delivers remarks to State Department staff on Thursday. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci) © Evan Vucci/AP Secretary of State Antony Blinken listens as President Joe Biden delivers remarks to State Department staff on Thursday. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

The pending decisions on whether or when to rejoin the Iran nuclear deal are on the table as Secretary of State Antony Blinken and other senior Biden administration officials meet Friday.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki confirmed the session, first reported by Axios, using Twitter to contrast what the new administration argues is a deliberate approach being taken by the new president with the ad hoc and often chaotic foreign policy decision-making of the last one.

“It should come as no surprise that the National Security Council is hosting interagency policy meetings, including on a broad range of issues in the Middle East, including at the Principals level,” Psaki wrote Friday morning. “The meeting today is part of an ongoing policy review. It is not decisional.”

The administration is weighing the timeline for a promised attempt to reengage in nuclear diplomacy with Iran, which began violating the 2015 deal after Trump pulled the United States out of the agreement in 2018.

Biden has pledged to rejoin the agreement, contingent on Iran again complying with it.

“There are no pending policy announcements. We will consult broadly with Congress and partners before any decisions are taken,” Psaki wrote. “Meeting is proof that the interagency process is back to functioning after four long years of personality-driven decision-making.”

Iran suggested Monday that the United States and Iran could move toward reviving the deal at the same time. Iran has threatened to end some international inspections unless the United States drops sanctions by later this month.

By: Anne Gearan

10:39 AM: Biden says it would take U.S. ‘10 years to get to full employment’ at current pace, pushes for ‘big’ pandemic relief package

a person wearing a suit and tie sitting on a bench: President Biden speaks beside House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) during a meeting at the White House on Friday. © Kevin Lamarque/Reuters President Biden speaks beside House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) during a meeting at the White House on Friday.

In brief remarks before meeting with Democratic leaders at the White House, Biden weighed in on the latest jobs report, projecting that it would take the United States “10 years to get to full employment” at the current pace.

The jobs report, released Friday morning, showed the U.S. economy added 49,000 jobs in January, a disappointing but not entirely unexpected tally that reflects the continued strain on the labor market inflected by the coronavirus pandemic.

“Only 6,000 private sector jobs been created,” Biden said. “At that rate, it’s going to take 10 years before we get to full employment.”

He cited the jobs report as even more reason for Democrats to approach their work on a new pandemic relief package with “urgency.”

He also referred to his work garnering support for the Affordable Care Act during the Obama administration.

“The one thing we learned is we can’t do too much here,” Biden said. “We can do too little.”

He emphasized that “the end result is not just macroeconomic impact on the economy and our ability to compete internationally — it’s people’s lives.”

“Real, live people are hurting, and we can fix it,” Biden said. “We can fix it. And the irony of all ironies is if we help them, we are also helping our competitive capacity through the remainder of this decade. … We’ve got a chance to do something big here.”

Eli Rosenberg contributed to this report.

By: Felicia Sonmez

10:30 AM: Pelosi says House aims to finish work on Biden’s coronavirus relief plan by end of month

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said in a letter Friday to Democratic colleagues that her chamber is aiming to finish its work on Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief plan by the end of the month.

“Next week, we will be writing the legislation to create a path to final passage for the Biden American Rescue Plan, so that we can finish our work before the end of February,” she wrote. “Thank you to our Chairs for their knowledge and values-based leadership and to our Members for their courage.”

The letter was released as chairs of House committees involved with the legislation prepared to meet with Biden at the White House.

By: John Wagner

10:23 AM: Biden economic adviser seizes on new jobs report to argue magnitude of relief package is needed

Jared Bernstein, a member of the Council of Economic Advisers appointed by Biden, seized on the new jobs report Friday to argue that the size of Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief plan is justified.

“This morning’s job report shows that the U.S. labor market has essentially stalled, in terms of job creation,” Bernstein said. “This is a job market that is calling out for intervention of the magnitude that’s in the American Rescue Plan.”

The Labor Department reported Friday that the U.S. economy added 49,000 jobs in January, a disappointing but not entirely unexpected tally that reflects the continued strain on the labor market inflicted by the coronavirus.

The unemployment rate fell to 6.3 percent, compared with 6.7 percent in December, although the decline was driven at least in part by people leaving the workforce instead of getting jobs.

Bernstein is scheduled to appear alongside White House press secretary Jen Psaki at a White House briefing later Friday.

Senate Republicans have argued that the size of Biden’s relief plan is far too large, and in a Washington Post column published Thursday, Lawrence H. Summers, a former economic adviser to President Barack Obama, argued that its magnitude poses some risks to the economy.

“I think he’s wrong,” Bernstein said of Summers’s analysis.

Bernstein also reiterated that Biden is committed to keeping intact the $1,400 stimulus checks in his package but is willing to negotiate on eligibility to receive them.

“The president is very firm on making sure that folks who needed these checks get them,” Bernstein said. “We have to go big, and we have to go bold.”

By: John Wagner

9:26 AM: Analysis: Biden narrows picks to lead Medicare and Medicaid to two choices

The Biden administration has narrowed its search for Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services administrator to two people — former Obama administration appointee Chiquita Brooks-LaSure and North Carolina Health Secretary Mandy Cohen, five people with connections to the administration said.

The eventual pick to lead the federal agency that oversees the government’s major health insurance programs will play a central role in reshaping how the government manages the safety-net programs that provide tens of millions of Americans with health coverage, after some unprecedented reconfigurations by the previous administration. CMS is a trillion-dollar agency that oversees Medicare, Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act.

Both women worked at the sweeping agency during the Obama administration.

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By: Paige Winfield Cunningham

8:49 AM: Rep. Greene calls Democrats ‘morons,’ will hold news conference responding to House vote

a man wearing a suit and tie talking on a cell phone: Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) leaves after speaking on the House floor on Thursday. © Demetrius Freeman/The Washington Post Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) leaves after speaking on the House floor on Thursday.

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) has scheduled a late-morning news conference Friday following a House vote to remove her from her two committee assignments as a rebuke for espousing extremist beliefs that she publicly renounced in part just hours before the chamber acted.

Greene showed no contrition in a Friday morning tweet.

“I woke up early this morning literally laughing thinking about what a bunch of morons the Democrats (+11) are for giving some one like me free time,” she wrote. “In this Democrat tyrannical government, Conservative Republicans have no say on committees anyway.”

The vote Thursday night to remove her from her committee assignments was 230 to 199, with 11 Republicans voting with Democrats.

As recently as last year, Greene had been an open adherent of the QAnon ideology, a sprawling web of false claims that have incited violence and that played a role in inspiring the Jan. 6 Capitol attack. In addition, she had made comments on social media suggesting that some mass shootings were staged by supporters of gun control, that the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks were orchestrated by government forces and that a Jewish cabal had sparked a deadly wildfire with a laser beam from space.

Greene had renounced some of her most egregious remarks on the House floor a few hours earlier, in a 10-minute speech that was more explanation than apology — one that doubled down on her attacks against the media and her political enemies while omitting some of her most recent behavior.

“These were words of the past, and these things do not represent me, they do not represent my district, and they do not represent my values,” she said.

By: John Wagner and Mike DeBonis

8:43 AM: Pence to deliver campus lectures, host a podcast as part of new affiliation with conservative group

a man wearing a suit and tie: Former vice president Mike Pence departs the Capitol in Washington after the inauguration of President Biden on Jan. 20. © Melina Mara/The Washington Post/POOL Former vice president Mike Pence departs the Capitol in Washington after the inauguration of President Biden on Jan. 20.

Former vice president Mike Pence will deliver college campus lectures and host a new video podcast as part of a partnership with the Young America’s Foundation, the organization announced Friday.

The news was the latest on Pence’s post-Trump administration plans to stay visible. On Thursday, the Heritage Foundation announced Pence will join the conservative think tank as a distinguished visiting fellow, a role that will involve writing a column and giving policy addresses.

The Young America’s Foundation bills itself as “committed to ensuring that increasing numbers of young Americans understand and are inspired by the ideas of individual freedom, a strong national defense, free enterprise, and traditional values.” Pence will carry the title of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Scholar, the organization said.

“Now more than ever, we need to take the case for freedom, free markets, and traditional values to the rising generation and I look forward to working with the great YAF team to ensure the torch of freedom shines bright for generations to come,” Pence said in a statement.

The video podcast will be a new venture for Pence, though he worked as a radio show host in Indiana in the late 1980s and throughout the 1990s.

By: John Wagner

8:23 AM: Analysis: Republican leader Kevin McCarthy tries to unite his caucus, but divisions run deep

a man wearing a suit and tie: House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) walks back to his office on Feb. 2. © Salwan Georges/The Washington Post House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) walks back to his office on Feb. 2.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy took his GOP colleagues on a 5½-year journey Wednesday night, using his own rise, fall and rise as a metaphor for his party’s tumultuous ride since 2015.

McCarthy (R-Calif.) talked about his own failure to claim the speaker’s gavel back then, followed by rumors about his marriage, through the four years of the Trump administration and the bitter fallout from Jan. 6 riots that President Donald Trump encouraged.

After a terrible four weeks, McCarthy called on his troops to unify behind his leadership team, including Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), who voted three weeks ago to impeach Trump over the riot.

“I’m going to be a better leader; Liz is going to be a better leader,” McCarthy said, according to Republicans in the room. He ended with a plea: “Let me lead.”

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By: Paul Kane

7:44 AM: Analysis: The center of Washington’s drama has officially shifted to Congress

After four years of turbulence emanating from the White House, the drama has now officially moved to the other side of Pennsylvania Avenue.

Biden is following through on his campaign promise to govern with fewer tweets and plot twists. The bar is low for a “return to normalcy,” but it’s telling that perhaps Biden’s biggest controversy so far is issuing 28 executive orders since taking office.

Congress, however, is filling in the prime-time TV void, with lawmakers painting a clear picture of the chaos that can come with such a slim majority in both chambers. And the past few days have illustrated the challenge facing Republicans who want to build a “very big tent” that can house all factions of their party after the Trump presidency.

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By: Jacqueline Alemany

6:55 AM: Biden to meet with House Democrats, offer remarks as he continues push for coronavirus relief package

Joe Biden wearing a suit and tie: President Biden delivers a foreign policy speech at the State Department in Washington on Thursday. © Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock President Biden delivers a foreign policy speech at the State Department in Washington on Thursday.

Biden on Friday plans to continue his push for passage of his $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill, holding a White House meeting with House Democratic leaders and delivering a speech on the economic fallout from the pandemic.

Biden has invited House Democratic leaders, including the committee chairmen working on his plan, to an Oval Office meeting. It is the latest gathering meant to bolster support for legislation that Democrats are prepared to pass with little or no Republican support.

Later, according to the White House, Biden will deliver remarks “on the state of the economy and the need for the American Rescue Plan.” His remarks will come shortly after a U.S. jobs report for January is issued, offering a snapshot of the state of the economy amid continuing coronavirus cases.

Vice President Harris is also participating Friday in the lobbying campaign for the coronavirus relief legislation. She and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen are scheduled to hold a “virtual roundtable” with representatives of local Black chambers of commerce from across the country to discuss how the plan would impact them.

By: John Wagner

6:51 AM: Senate approves budget bill to pass Biden economic relief plan

a group of people that are standing in the rain holding an umbrella: Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) makes his way to the Senate floor on Thursday. © Salwan Georges/The Washington Post Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) makes his way to the Senate floor on Thursday.

The Senate approved a budget bill early Friday that paves the way for passage of Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package, with Vice President Harris casting the tiebreaking vote on the measure that will be key to enacting Biden’s first major legislative initiative.

Passage of the budget bill came just after 5:30 a.m. Friday, after an all-night session during which senators plowed through dozens of amendments in a chaotic process known as a “vote-a-rama.” Democrats cheered the progress on measures to address the pandemic, while Republicans complained of partisanship and excessive spending.

The House, which approved its own budget bill on Wednesday, must now act on the Senate’s version, which it is expected to do within a day.

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By: Erica Werner and Jeff Stein

6:50 AM: GOP Rep. Madison Cawthorn told a crowd before Capitol riots it had ‘fight in it.’ Now he says, ‘I don’t regret it.’

a man wearing a suit and tie: Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-N.C.) speaks to Trump supporters at the “Stop the Steal” rally on Jan. 6, which occurred before a mob stormed the U.S. Capitol. (REUTERS/Jim Bourg) © Jim Bourg/Reuters Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-N.C.) speaks to Trump supporters at the “Stop the Steal” rally on Jan. 6, which occurred before a mob stormed the U.S. Capitol. (REUTERS/Jim Bourg)

On Jan. 6, about two hours before a violent mob breached the U.S. Capitol in a deadly riot, Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-N.C.) took to the stage before a fiery crowd of Trump supporters and falsely claimed that the presidential election was fraudulent.

“This crowd has some fight in it,” Cawthorn said. “The Democrats, with all the fraud they have done in this election, the Republicans hiding and not fighting, they are trying to silence your voice. Make no mistake about it, they do not want you to be heard.”

One month later, Trump faces an impeachment trial over his role in inciting the riot, hundreds of rioters face criminal charges, and Cawthorn faces calls for his resignation and an ethics investigation.

Cawthorn, though, said in an interview that aired Thursday that he would offer no apologies for speaking at the rally or for urging the crowd to fight.

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By: Jaclyn Peiser

6:44 AM: Bipartisan support emerges for domestic-terror bills as experts warn threat may last ‘10 to 20 years’

a close up of a wire fence: Riot fencing and razor wire reinforce the security zone on Capitol Hill in Washington on Jan. 14. © Matt McClain/The Washington Post Riot fencing and razor wire reinforce the security zone on Capitol Hill in Washington on Jan. 14.

An apparent bipartisan majority of the House Homeland Security Committee on Thursday endorsed the idea of new laws to address domestic terrorism in the wake of last month’s riot at the U.S. Capitol, as experts warned that such internal threats would plague the country for decades to come.

Elizabeth Neumann, a former assistant secretary of homeland security for counterterrorism during the Trump administration, warned lawmakers that there is a “high likelihood” that another domestic terrorist attack would occur in the coming months and that the problem would persist “for the next 10 to 20 years.”

Jonathan Greenblatt, head of the Anti-Defamation League, told lawmakers that Jan. 6 was a “watershed moment for the white supremacist movement,” and that its adherents viewed the Capitol breach as a “victory.”

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By: Karoun Demirjian

6:41 AM: Republicans worry their big tent will mean big problems in 2022 elections

Kevin McCarthy wearing a suit and tie: House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill last month. © Susan Walsh/AP House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill last month.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) has pinned his hopes for reclaiming the majority in 2022 on never having to choose between the contradictory factions in his own party, no matter how deep the divisions appear.

He defended Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) after she voted to impeach Trump but also said he was unhappy with her after an outcry from Trump supporters. He said Trump “bears responsibility” for his slow response to the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol but then, in voting against impeachment, said the president did not “provoke” the violence.

But his insistence on allowing every Republican a place under the GOP’s big tent — including conspiratorial firebrand Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (Ga.) — has magnified the Democratic argument that his party is accommodating extremist elements, some in his party fear.

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By: Michael Scherer and Josh Dawsey

6:35 AM: Ocasio-Cortez, other Democrats recount on House floor what they experienced during Capitol siege

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Several Democratic lawmakers gave emotional and harrowing testimony on the House floor on Thursday, describing their experiences during the violent siege of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 in an effort to personalize the trauma.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), who helped organize the hour of testimonials with the Congressional Progressive Caucus, blasted those who demanded that lawmakers move on from the insurrection “with little to no accountability for the bloodshed and trauma of the 6th.”

“In doing so, they not only further harm those who were there that day and provide cover for those responsible, but they also send a tremendously damaging message to survivors of trauma all across this country that the way to deal with trauma, violence and targeting is to paper it over, minimize it and move on,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “Twenty-nine days ago, our nation’s capital was attacked. That is the big story. And in that big story reside thousands of individual accounts just as valid and important as the other.”

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By: Amy B Wang and Colby Itkowitz

6:30 AM: Dominion Voting tells Facebook, Parler and other social media sites to preserve posts for lawsuits

SAN FRANCISCO — Lawyers for Dominion Voting Systems have asked Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Parler to preserve posts about the company, even if the material was already removed for spreading misinformation.

The posts need to be kept “because they are relevant to Dominion’s defamation claims relating to false accusations that Dominion rigged the 2020 election,” according to the demand letters from Dominion’s law firm, Clare Locke. Dominion sued Rudolph W. Giuliani and Sidney Powell for more than $1.3 billion each in January, alleging that the lawyers defamed Dominion by saying the machines were used to steal the election from Trump.

Dominion asked each company to keep posts from slightly differing lists of people. Those included right-wing pundit Dan Bongino, Fox News host Maria Bartiromo, MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell and Powell. Also included were news organizations Fox News, One America Newsand Newsmax and — in Twitter’s case — Trump.

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By: Rachel Lerman

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