Monday Roundup

Politics

MANCHIN, COLLINS, AND ROMNEY TO OPPOSE OMB NOMINEE NEERA TANDEN

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) announced on Friday that he would oppose Neera Tanden’s nomination for director of the Office of Management and Budget. Manchin’s announcement was followed by similar declarations on Monday from Sens. Susan Collins and Mitt Romney, who, too, pledged to vote against the pick.

Citing controversial tweets, Sen. Collins said in a statement, “Neera Tanden has neither the experience nor the temperament to lead this critical agency. Her past actions have demonstrated exactly the kind of animosity that President Biden has pledged to transcend.”

The Senate Homeland Security and Budget committees are expected to vote on Tanden’s nomination this week. Should she not amass the requisite votes, Tanden would become the first Biden nominee to fail.

SENATE HOLDS CONFIRMATION HEARING ON ATTORNEY GENERAL NOMINEE MERRICK GARLAND

Judge Merrick Garland testified in front of the Senate Monday in the first of a two-day hearing.

Garland answered questions on the family separation policy at the border, Hunter Biden, the Capitol riot investigation, presidential clemency, gun control, implicit bias in the justice system, defunding the police, gender equity, Jeffrey Epstein, the death penalty, the role of an attorney general, voting legislation, subpoenas for reporters, foreign terror, the Durham probe, asylum, antitrust, and more.

After an emotional moment discussing how his grandparents fled anti-Semitism and persecution, Garland said of the United States and its protection of his family, “I feel an obligation to the country to pay back; this is the highest, best use of my own set of skills to pay back. And so I want very much to be the kind of attorney general that you are saying I could become. I will do my best to try to be that kind of attorney general.”

The Judiciary Committee is expected to vote on Garland’s nomination on March 1, with a full Senate vote later that week.

Read Garland’s opening statement here, and watch his emotional moment below:

$1.9 TRILLION COVID RELIEF BILL TO RECEIVE HOUSE VOTE THIS WEEK

The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, which was formally released on Friday, passed the House Budget Committee on Monday by a vote of 19-16. One Democrat, Lloyd Doggett, voted against advancing the measure but later clarified that his vote was the accidental result of a misunderstanding, as he joined the hearing late and remotely.

The Rules Committee is set to take the bill up later in the week, with a floor vote expected by Friday or Saturday.

Assuming it passes the House, the bill will then go to the Senate, where it is due to face potential amendments — the $15 minimum wage hike, for example, is unlikely to stand — and be sent back to the House for a subsequent vote.

SUPREME COURT REJECTS TRUMP BID TO SHIELD FINANCIAL RECORDS

The Supreme Court issued an order on Monday denying Donald Trump’s request for a stay.

Manhattan district attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. had subpoenaed Mazars USA — Trump’s accountants — seeking tax records and financial statements, engagement agreements, and raw financial data, prompting Trump to challenge the subpoena. After Trump’s arguments were rejected by a federal appeals court in New York, Trump had filed an “emergency application” asking the Supreme Court to intervene, paving the way for Monday’s order and the release of Trump’s returns.

Monday’s decision thus serves as the final blow to Trump’s last-ditch effort to withhold his records, as Mazars said in a statement that it was “committed to fulfilling” all of its “legal obligations.”

Trump, in response, released a statement, claiming political persecution.

TRUMP TO SPEAK AT CPAC

Donald Trump will make his first public appearance since leaving office at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Sunday.

According to a source, “He’ll be talking about the future of the Republican party and the conservative movement” and taking on “President [Joe] Biden’s disastrous amnesty and border policies.”

Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and Donald Trump Jr. are also scheduled to speak.

Former Vice President Mike Pence declined his invitation.

Coronavirus

UNITED STATES SURPASSES 500,000 DEATHS

Roughly one year after the U.S. suffered its first known coronavirus death, the country has reached the loss of half a million residents, and President Biden has ordered all flags over federal buildings to fly at half-staff to commemorate the deceased.

More Americans have now died from this virus than from World War I, World War II, and the Vietnam War combined.

There is cause for optimism, however, as cases and hospitalizations are on the decline, with deaths soon to follow. And the pace of vaccinations, currently sitting at 1.7 million per day, is due to accelerate, with 145 million doses set for delivery in the next 5 1/2 weeks, and an additional 200 million expected by the end of May and 200 million more by the end of July.

Thus far, 63 million shots have been injected, with nearly 45 million of those coming in the month since Biden’s inauguration.

National News

UNITED AIRLINES 777 SUFFERS IN-FLIGHT ENGINE FAILURE

A United Airlines flight experienced an engine failure shortly after takeoff on Saturday when the plane’s right engine caught fire, raining debris on neighborhoods below.

The plane was able to safely return to Denver International Airport, with no injuries reported.

The FAA and NTSB will investigate the incident, and Boeing has grounded more than 100 of its 777s pending recommendations from the FAA on “appropriate inspection protocol.”

United Airlines announced that it would suspend operations of any plane equipped with a Pratt & Whitney engine, and Japan’s Aeronautical Service Information Center followed suit with a suspension of their own.

Listen to the pilot’s mayday call here, and watch the footage below:

THREE KILLED IN LOUISIANA GUN STORE SHOOTING

Three people have died after 27-year-old Joshua Jamal Williams entered a gun store in a New Orleans suburb and fatally shot two, before dying under return fire by customers and staff.

Two others, who were injured by gunfire, were hospitalized and are in stable condition.

“It appears that several individuals ended up engaging that original suspect,” Jefferson Parish Sheriff Joseph Lopinto told reporters. “From what I understand, I have multiple shooters here at this location that were either customers, employees, or individuals here at the location itself. We’re trying to put it all together, piece it together.”

The coroner has named 47-year-old Herbert “Noah” Fischbach and 59-year-old Veronica Billiot as the deceased.

AURORA CITY COUNCIL RELEASES INVESTIGATIVE REPORT ON DEATH OF ELIJAH MCCLAIN

An investigative report funded by the Aurora city council concluded that police officers involved in the fatal detainment of 23-year-old Elijah McClain did not have a legal basis to stop him, frisk him, or physically restrain him, and that “EMS administered a ketamine dosage based on a grossly inaccurate and inflated estimate of Mr. McClain’s size.”

“The Aurora Police Department’s Major Crime/Homicide Unit investigation of the death of Mr. McClain raised serious concerns for the Panel and revealed significant weaknesses in the Department’s accountability systems,” the report states.

McClain — a massage therapist, musician, and animal lover — died last year three days after being put in a carotid hold by police officers and injected with ketamine by paramedics. Three officers involved in the interaction were initially placed on administrative leave but reinstated after prosecutors declined to file criminal charges; though one was later fired when he texted “haha” in response to a photo of other officers mimicking the chokehold used on McClain. 

The Colorado Attorney General’s Office has opened a grand jury investigation into McClain’s death, and the the U.S. Department of Justice is reviewing whether McClain’s civil rights were violated.

The full Aurora city council report can be read here.

NASA RELEASES FOOTAGE OF MARS LANDING

NASA released Monday first-of-its-kind footage captured by the Perseverance rover during its Mars landing last week.

Watch the remarkable video below:

SIX OATH KEEPERS CHARGED IN CAPITOL RIOT; LEADER CLAIMS TO HAVE BEEN GIVEN VIP PASS TO RALLY

A federal grand jury indicted six members of the far-right militia group “Oath Keepers” this weekend, on allegations that they plotted and planned a military-style attack on the Capitol as far back as November.

Meanwhile, according to a new court filing, Oath Keepers leader Jessica Watkins “was given a VIP pass to the rally,” “met with Secret Service agents,” and “was within 50 feet of the stage during the rally to provide security for the speakers.”

While the Secret Service denies contracting private citizens for security, the allegations raise new questions about the extent of the White House’s cooperation in the lead-up to the January 6 events.

PENNSYLVANIA POLICE OFFICER CHARGED IN CAPITOL RIOT

A Pennsylvania police officer was taken into custody by the FBI Friday on charges of obstruction of law enforcement, entering a restricted building, disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds, and obstruction of justice. Joseph Fischer, an officer with the North Cornwall Township Police Department, can allegedly be seen on video yelling “charge” and charging at a line of officers, engaging in a physical encounter with at least one.

“Word got out that I was at the rally…lol,” he wrote in a Facebook message, “and the FBI may arrest me … lol.”

North Cornwall Township suspended the officer, saying in a statement, “The Township recognizes every citizen’s right to free speech; however, each citizen must also be accountable for his or her actions. Accordingly, as required by the Pennsylvania Confidence in Law Enforcement Act, the police officer was immediately suspended without pay pending the disposition of these charges.”

JUSTICE DEPARTMENT AND FBI INVESTIGATING TIES BETWEEN ROGER STONE, ALI ALEXANDER, ALEX JONES, AND CAPITOL RIOTERS

The FBI and Department of Justice are investigating whether high-profile allies of former President Donald Trump played a role in organizing the Capitol riot.

While charges remain unlikely, law enforcement sources say that investigators are trying to achieve a broad understanding of any possible instigators.

World News

U.N. REPORT: BLACKWATER FOUNDER ERIK PRINCE HELPED LIBYA EVADE ARMS EMBARGO

An annual U.N. report submitted on Thursday revealed that Erik Prince, the private security executive and brother of Betsy DeVos, helped evade an arms embargo on Libya by proposing a private military operation to commander Khalifa Haftar and helping procure three aircraft for it.

According to the report, Prince’s proposal was “a well-funded private military company operation” designed to provide Haftar with armed assault helicopters, intelligence surveillance aircraft, maritime interdiction, drones and cyber, and intelligence and targeting capabilities, and “included a component to kidnap or terminate individuals regarded as high value targets in Libya.”

Prince’s private security firm, Blackwater, found itself embroiled in scandal in 2007 when its employees shot and killed more than a dozen Iraqi civilians in Baghdad. One of its employees was convicted of murder and three others, of manslaughter, but then-President Donald Trump pardoned the four men last year.

Of the most recent allegations, Prince’s spokesperson said, “Erik Prince had absolutely nothing to do with any operation in Libya in 2019, or at any other time.”

Sports

FAU FRESHMAN HITS TWO GRAND SLAMS IN FIRST TWO COLLEGIATE AT-BATS

Caleb Pendleton, a freshman catcher at Florida Atlantic University, hit two grand slams in a single inning in his first two collegiate plate appearances.

FAU was down 2-1 in the second inning when Pendleton hit a grand slam to give his team a 5-2 lead. Fifteen minutes later, in the same inning, Pendleton once again found himself at the plate with bases loaded, and hit yet another home run.

FAU went on to win the game by a score of 20-15.

NAOMI OSAKA AND NOVAK DJOKOVIC WIN AUSTRALIAN OPEN FINALS

Naomi Osaka capped off a 21-match win streak with a victory over Jennifer Brady in the Australian Open finals on Saturday, notching her fourth major title. Osaka now trails only Serena Williams and Venus Williams among active players, having tied Kim Clijsters following Saturday’s victory.

One day later, Novak Djokovic would beat fourth-ranked Daniil Medvedev, giving him his ninth Australian Open singles championship and 18th Grand Slam title overall. Djokovic is now behind just Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal for most major men’s singles titles, with the latter two holding 20 apiece.

Pop Culture

POLICE INVESTIGATING MARILYN MANSON OVER ALLEGATIONS OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Special Victims Bureau opened an investigation into Marilyn Manson after a woman approached authorities to report incidents alleged to have occurred between 2009 and 2011.

The investigation comes on the heels of a revelation made by Manson’s ex-fiancé, Evan Rachel Wood, who accused Manson on Instagram earlier this month of sexual and physical abuse.

“The name of my abuser is Brian Warner, also known to the world as Marilyn Manson,” the “Westworld” actress wrote. “He started grooming me when I was a teenager and horrifically abused me for years.”

“My intimate relationships have always been entirely consensual with like-minded partners,” Manson responded in an Instagram post of his own. “Regardless of how — and why — others are now choosing to misrepresent the past, that is the truth.”

According to the Associated Press, “in 2018, Los Angeles County prosecutors declined to file charges against Manson over allegations of assault, battery and sexual assault dating to 2011, saying they were limited by statutes of limitations and a lack of corroboration. The accuser in that case was identified only as a social acquaintance of Manson. 

“He denied the allegations through his attorney at the time. The lawyer could not be reached for comment.”

DAFT PUNK ANNOUNCES RETIREMENT

French electronic dance music duo Daft Punk announced their dissolution on Monday, after nearly 30 years in the business.

Relive one of their greatest hits below and pour one out for our adolescence.

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