Good morning! Welcome back to 10 Things in Politics. I’m Brent Griffiths. Sign up here to get this newsletter in your inbox each day.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. INFIGHTING OVER THE INSURRECTION: Former officials could not agree on their own actions during the Capitol riot. The disunity came to light at the first major congressional hearing on the attack, the largest breach in the building since the British burned it in 1814. This means that nearly three months later we still don’t know critical facts about what happened.
- What was new: This was the first time we’ve heard publicly from former U.S. Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund, former Senate Sergeant at Arms Michael Stenger, and former House Sergeant at Arms Paul Irving. All three resigned in the wake of the riot. Acting Metropolitan Police Department Chief Robert Contee also testified.
The three leaders responsible for the Capitol’s security (D.C. police is specifically prohibited from policing the grounds) said to some extent that they were caught off guard by the violent mob, which did not match their preparations.
- Part of this lack of preparedness may be down to a key lapse: Neither Sund, Irving, nor Stenger saw an FBI intelligence report written on January 5 that pointed to online posts calling for violence the following day. Further adding insult to injury, Sund confirmed Capitol Police did receive the report – it just wasn’t sent to him.
- Key quote: “None of the intelligence we received predicted what actually occurred,” Sund told lawmakers. “We properly planned for a mass demonstration with possible violence. What we got was a military-style, coordinated assault on my officers and a violent takeover of the Capitol building.”
Another telling moment: Republican Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin used the hearing to push a debunked conspiracy theory that the riot included “fake” Trump supporters and was infiltrated by “provocateurs.” Needless to say, all the available evidence we have widely contradicts this.
2. Republicans are trying to unite over opposition to Biden’s stimulus plan: Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah called Biden’s $1.9 trillion relief plan a “clunker” that is “filled with bad policies and sloppy math.” Romney was part of a small group of GOP lawmakers trying to craft a bipartisan deal with the president. But Democrats seem ready to ram their legislation through without them. The House will vote on Friday.
3. The Justice Department is reviving its investigation into George Floyd’s death: A new federal grand jury has been formed in Minnesota and new witnesses have been called as part of a narrowed investigation into former officer Derek Chauvin, The New York Times reports. Chauvin is already facing state charges next month, but the news could foretell federal action, particularly if Chauvin is not convicted of murder.
4. Tiger Woods is recovering from “significant” injuries: A late-night statement said Woods is awake and recovering after surgery for injuries to his right leg and ankle following a major car crash in Los Angeles. “Mr. Woods suffered significant orthopaedic injuries,” said Dr. Anish Mahajan, the chief medical officer and interim CEO at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, in a statement released by Woods’ team.
5. Sen. Mitt Romney says Trump would win the 2024 GOP nomination: “I look at the polls, and the polls show that among the names being floated as potential contenders in 2024, if you put President Trump in there among Republicans, he wins in a landslide,” the Utah Republican told the Times. Romney said Trump would not receive his vote. Instead, the senator will “be getting behind somebody in the tiny wing of the Republican Party that I represent.”
6. The top things for your calendar, all times Eastern:
- 10:00 a.m.: House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and his leadership team hold a news conference; Neera Tanden faces the first of two Senate committee confirmation votes.
- 12:30 p.m.: Jen Psaki holds the White House’s daily news briefing.
- 2:00 p.m.: Xavier Becerra, Biden’s pick to lead the Health and Human Services Department, faces his Senate confirmation hearing.
7. Top officials in charge of Texas’ energy grid will resign: Five board members of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, the state’s grid operator, will resign later today in the face of immense criticism over the power crisis. Sally Tollberg, ERCOT’s board chair, is among those who will leave. Republican Gov. Greg Abbott, himself a target of criticism, welcomed the news. All five departing members live outside of Texas, a fact which has generated further frustration.
8. Officers involved in Daniel Prude’s death won’t face charges: New York Attorney General Letitia James said she was “extremely disappointed” by the grand jury’s decision not to indict any of the officers who responded to Prude having a mental health crisis. Officers put a “spit hood” over his head due to fear he might have COVID-19, before pressing Prude’s head into the ground for two minutes until he stopped breathing. He was taken off life support a week later and died.
9. Fed chair tells lawmakers the recovery has “a long way to go”: Jerome Powell told senators that “the economic recovery remains uneven and far from complete, and the path ahead is highly uncertain.” He also tried to dodge a number of questions related to the stimulus bill, including whether the federal minimum wage should be raised to $15 an hour. Powell will face House lawmakers later today.
10. Can you smell what the … *president* is cooking?: Apparently, the Undertaker can. The wrestler said Dwayne Johnson, who personified the Attitude Era as “The Rock,” could be the “uniter” people want if he decides to run for president. Interestingly, a new NBC show about Johnson’s life is told from the perspective of a 2032 White House run.
One last thing.
Today’s trivia question: Tuesday marked the 185th anniversary of the beginning of the 13-day siege of the Alamo. Do you know what famous rock star donated so many Alamo-related artifacts that there are plans for a museum to house them? Perhaps, he was waiting for this moment all his life. Email your response and a suggested question to me at email@example.com.
- Yesterday’s answer: Kentucky, Massachusetts, Virginia, and Pennsylvania are the US’s four Commonwealths, though effectively it means very little.
G7 to consider mechanism to counter Russian ‘propaganda’
By William James
LONDON (Reuters) -The Group of Seven richest countries will look at a proposal to build a rapid response mechanism to counter Russian “propaganda” and disinformation, British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab told Reuters.
Speaking ahead of a G7 foreign ministers’ meeting in London, the first such in-person meeting for two years, Raab said the United Kingdom was “getting the G7 to come together with a rapid rebuttal mechanism” to counter Russian misinformation.
“So that when we see these lies and propaganda or fake news being put out there, we can – not just individually, but come together to provide a rebuttal and frankly to provide the truth, for the people of this country but also in Russia or China or around the world,” Raab said.
Russia and China are trying to sow mistrust across the West, whether by spreading disinformation in elections or by spreading lies about COVID-19 vaccines, according to British, U.S. and European security officials.
Russia denies it is meddling beyond its borders and says the West is gripped by anti-Russian hysteria.
“It’s time to think of why the countries which are sick to the core with propaganda, and which used it more than once to justify armed intervention and toppling of governments … accuse our country of their own sins,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on social media after Raab’s comments.
China says the West is a bully and that its leaders have a post-imperial mindset that makes them feel they can act like global policemen.
Britain has identified Russia as the biggest threat to its security though it views China as its greatest long-term challenge, militarily, economically and technologically.
Raab will meet U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Monday, kicking off a week of diplomacy aimed at reinvigorating the G7’s role and forming a wider bulwark against those it sees as undermining the rules-based international order.
“The scope for intense global cooperation, international cooperation with our American partners and indeed the wider G7, that we’re convening this week has never been greater,” Raab said.
He stressed that meeting in person – something only possible due to measures like daily testing of attendees – would make diplomacy much easier: “You can only do so much by Zoom.”
The G7 members are Britain, the United States, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan and their combined gross domestic product is about $40 trillion – a little less than half of the global economy.
British and U.S. officials have expressed concern in recent months about growing strategic cooperation between Russia, the world’s largest country by territory, and China, the world’s fastest-growing major economy.
Asked about the concerns, Raab said: “What matters to us most is that we broaden the international caucus of like-minded countries that stand up for open societies, human rights and democracy, that stand for open trade.”
He said many of those allies wanted “to know how this pandemic started.” The coronavirus outbreak, which began in China in late 2019, has killed 3.2 million people and cost the world trillions of dollars in lost output.
Raab said some of the barriers between the G7 and other like-minded countries needed to be broken down, so that there could be a broader network of allies that stood up for open markets and democracy.
Britain has invited India, Australia and South Korea to attend this week’s meeting, running from Monday to Wednesday, and the full leaders’ summit in June.
Asked whether Britain could seek to join a separate grouping known as the Quad – the United States, Japan, Australia and India – Raab said there was no concrete proposal as yet, but Britain was looking at ways to engage more in the Indo-Pacific.
(Writing by William James and Guy Faulconbridge; Additional reporting by Vladimir SoldatkinEditing by Susan Fenton and Frances Kerry)
New Zealand says differences with China becoming harder to reconcile
By Praveen Menon
WELLINGTON (Reuters) -Differences between New Zealand and its top trading partner China are becoming harder to reconcile as Beijing’s role in the world grows and changes, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Monday.
The comments come as New Zealand faces pressure from some elements among Western allies over its reluctance to use the Five Eyes intelligence and security alliance to criticise Beijing.
In a speech at the China Business Summit in Auckland, Ardern said there are things on which China and New Zealand “do not, cannot, and will not agree”, but added these differences need not define their relationship.
“It will not have escaped the attention of anyone here that as China’s role in the world grows and changes, the differences between our systems – and the interests and values that shape those systems – are becoming harder to reconcile,” Ardern said.
“This is a challenge that we, and many other countries across the Indo Pacific region, but also in Europe and other regions, are also grappling with,” she added.
In comments that sparked some reaction among Western allies, Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta said last month she was uncomfortable expanding the role of Five Eyes, which includes Australia, Britain, Canada and the United States.
“This speech appears to be crafted to deflect surprisingly sharp and severe criticism from commentators after Mahuta’s remarks last month,” said Geoffrey Miller, international analyst at the political website Democracy Project.
However, the comments do not change New Zealand’s overall shift to a more China-friendly, or at least more neutral position, he said.
“Ardern and Mahuta are selling the new stance as New Zealand advancing an ‘independent foreign policy’ that is not loyal to any major bloc,” he added.
China, which takes almost one-third of New Zealand’s exports, has accused the Five Eyes of ganging up on it by issuing statements on Hong Kong and the treatment of ethnic Muslim Uyhgurs in Xinjiang.
New Zealand’s parliament on Tuesday is set to look at a motion put forward by a smaller party to declare the situation in Xinjiang as a genocide.
Ardern said New Zealand would continue to speak about these issues individually as well as through its partners, noting that managing the relationship with China is not always going to be easy.
China’s Ambassador to New Zealand, Wu Xi, who also spoke at the event warned that Hong Kong and Xinjiang related issues were China’s internal affairs.
“We hope that the New Zealand side could hold an objective and a just a position, abide by international law and not interfere in China’s internal affairs so as to maintain the sound development of our bilateral relations,” she said in her speech.
Beijing is engaged in a diplomatic row with Australia and has imposed trade restrictions after Canberra lobbied for an international inquiry into the source of the coronavirus. China denies the curbs are reprisals, saying reduced imports of Australian products are the result of buyers’ own decisions.
Over the weekend, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said China had recently acted “more aggressively abroad” and was behaving “increasingly in adversarial ways.”
When asked if New Zealand would risk trade punishment with China, as did Australia, to uphold values, Ardern said: “It would be a concern to anyone in New Zealand if the consideration was ‘Do we speak on this or are we too worried of economic impacts?'”
(Reporting by Praveen Menon; Editing by Lincoln Feast.)
Canada records C$282.56 billion budget deficit over first 11 months of 2020/21
OTTAWA, April 30 (Reuters) – Canada‘s budget deficit in the first 11 months of fiscal 2020/21 swelled to C$282.56 billion ($230.04 billion) from a deficit of C$6.98 billion in the year-ago period, as Ottawa spent heavily to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, the finance ministry said on Friday.
“The unprecedented shift in the government’s financial results reflects the severe deterioration in the economic situation and temporary measures implemented,” it said in a statement.
Year-to-date revenues dropped 14.1% reflecting a broad-based decline in tax and other revenues, which include items like Crown corporation profits. Year-to-date program expenses, meanwhile, jumped 81.6% largely due to emergency transfers to individuals, businesses and the provinces.
On a monthly basis, Canada posted a deficit of C$14.37 billion in February 2021, compared to the C$3.58 billion surplus recorded in February 2020.
Monthly revenues were down 9.3% on a decline in tax and other revenues. Program expenses climbed 58.1%, again on COVID-19 response measures.
(Reporting by Julie Gordon, 613-235-6745, Julie.firstname.lastname@example.org; Editing by David Ljunggren)
Canada sends medical supplies to India as COVID-19 overwhelms country’s health care – Global News
Coronavirus: What's happening in Canada and around the world on Wednesday – CBC.ca
The latest news on COVID-19 developments in Canada for Wednesday, May 5, 2021 – moosejawtoday.com
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