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April 16, 2021
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  • President Joe Biden has not signed off on increasing the number of refugees allowed into the United States because of optical concerns amid pressure from lawmakers on his administration’s handling of the surge of migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border, according to sources. Biden’s administration has presented a plan to allow up to 62,500 refugees to be resettled in the United States in the current fiscal year – up from a historic low of 15,000 set by former President Donald Trump – but he has yet to sign a new order. (CNN)
  • The Biden administration said the Central Intelligence Agency has only “low to moderate confidence” in information that Russia paid the Taliban to kill Americans in Afghanistan, suggesting the idea Biden raised against Trump during the 2020 campaign is far from conclusive. (NBC News) That revelation came as the Biden administration outlined sanctions against Moscow, and the Treasury Department also revealed findings that an associate of the Trump campaign in 2016 provided internal polling data to Russian intelligence services in the strongest evidence yet that Russian spies penetrated his campaign that year. (The New York Times)
  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) shot down a proposal led by Democrats such as House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) to expand the ­Supreme Court from nine to 13 justices, saying she had “no plans” to bring the legislation to the floor. Pelosi said she instead supports a presidential commission that is reviewing changes to the court, including expansion and term limits. (The Washington Post)
  • Albert Bourla, the chief executive officer of Pfizer Inc., said people who receive COVID-19 vaccines will likely need booster shots and then annual vaccinations to remain safe from evolving variants of the coronavirus. Bourla said more research is required to reach a conclusion on the necessity of booster shots, but Moderna – another vaccine maker – has said countries with high vaccination rates will likely be shifting to boosters by as soon as the end of this year. (The Wall Street Journal)

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What Else You Need To Know

White House & Administration

Biden hosts Japan’s Suga as first foreign leader at the White House
Anne Gearan and Simon Denyer, The Washington Post

President Biden is making a point as he welcomes Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga to the White House on Friday, using the first in-person visit by a foreign leader to emphasize that his administration sees Asia as its highest priority.


Biden promised to stop seizing border wall land. His DOJ is still doing it.
Anita Kumar, Politico

Nearly three months into office, Joe Biden’s administration is seizing land near the southern border, fueling fears that the government will continue building one the most enduring symbols of Donald Trump’s presidency: a border wall.


Biden close to picking Nick Burns as China ambassador
Hans Nichols, Axios

Nicholas Burns, a career diplomat, is in the final stages of vetting to serve as President Biden’s ambassador to China, people familiar with the matter tell Axios.


Russian buildup raises stakes for Biden-Putin summit
Harrison Cramer, National Journal

President Biden levied an array of sanctions against Russia on Thursday over Moscow’s interference in the 2020 presidential election and its occupation of parts of Ukraine, an important table-setter ahead of his proposed summit with Russian president Vladimir Putin this summer.


Biden administration asks Supreme Court not to hear challenge to all-male military draft
Robert Barnes, The Washington Post

The Biden administration has asked the Supreme Court not to take up a lawsuit that calls the all-male military draft unconstitutional.


White House Considers Methane-Busting Vow Before Climate Summit
Jennifer A Dlouhy, Bloomberg

The Biden administration is considering singling out methane for significant reductions as part of a pledge to cut greenhouse gases in advance of a climate summit next week, according to two people familiar with the matter.


Hunter Biden on Burisma, Don Jr., and Cooking Crack
The Daily Beast

On a special edition of The New Abnormal, the president’s son opens up to Molly Jong-Fast about … well, about a lot.


How the G.O.P. Lost Its Clear Voice on Foreign Policy
Lisa Lerer, The New York Times

For decades, Senator Lindsey Graham traveled the world with his friend John McCain, visiting war zones and meeting with foreign allies and adversaries, before returning home to promote the Republican gospel of an internationalist, hawkish foreign policy.


Trump critics are spending tens of thousands of dollars on personal security
John Bresnahan et al., Punchbowl News

The Jan. 6 insurrection was 100 days ago. In the wake of that awful day, members of Congress are spending tens of thousands of their campaign dollars on security to protect themselves and their families.


California lawmakers taking a softer tone on restoring a tax break Californians lost under Trump
Sarah D. Wire, Los Angeles Times

Conscious of how it could affect Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s stance in negotiations, California Democrats aren’t drawing the same red line as their East Coast colleagues who are demanding that President Biden’s infrastructure package include a full repeal of the $10,000 cap set during the Trump administration on state and local tax deductions.


How the Justice Department came to investigate Rep. Matt Gaetz
Matt Zapotosky and Michael Scherer, The Washington Post

The missive arrived at an Orlando-area preparatory school in October 2019, outlining a damaging allegation against a music teacher there.


House GOP leader: Won’t punish Gaetz unless charges filed
Alan Fram, The Associated Press

Rep. Matt Gaetz, under federal investigation for sex trafficking allegations, is “innocent until proven guilty” and Republicans don’t plan to punish him unless charges are filed, the House GOP leader said Thursday.


Lawmakers scramble for ‘musical chairs’ to view Biden’s first Capitol speech
Melanie Zanona and Sarah Ferris, Politico

Which is a hotter ticket: Beyoncé’s first post-pandemic concert or President Joe Biden’s first address to Congress? Washington is about to find out.


U.S. Economy Ramps Up on Spending Surge, Hiring Gains
Amara Omeokwe, The Wall Street Journal

The U.S. economic recovery is accelerating as stimulus money, Covid-19 vaccinations and business re-openings spur a spring surge in consumer spending, a sharp pullback in layoffs and a bounceback in factory output.


In several fateful seconds, video appears to show 13-year-old Adam Toledo toss gun, turn with empty hands raised before Chicago cop fires fatal shot
Jeremy Gorner et al., Chicago Tribune

It happened in seconds: the pause in a dark Little Village alley, the officer’s shot fired, the 13-year-old crumpling to the ground.


Chauvin skips testifying as trial in Floyd death nears end
Amy Forliti et al., The Associated Press

Former Officer Derek Chauvin ’s trial in George Floyd’s death will be in a jury’s hands by early next week, after his brief defense wrapped up with Chauvin passing on a chance to take the stand and tell the public for the first time what he was thinking when he pressed his knee against Floyd’s neck.


Police: 8 dead in shooting at FedEx facility in Indianapolis
Casey Smith, The Associated Press

A gunman killed eight people and wounded several others before killing himself in a late-night shooting at a FedEx facility near the Indianapolis airport, police said, in the latest in a spate of mass shootings after a relative lull during the pandemic.


D.C. Guard misused helicopters in low-flying confrontation with George Floyd protesters, Army concludes
Alex Horton, The Washington Post

The D.C. National Guard’s deployment of helicopters to quell racial justice demonstrations in Washington last summer, a chilling scene in which two aircraft hovered extremely low over clusters of protesters, was a misuse of military medical aircraft and resulted in the disciplining of multiple soldiers, the Army said Wednesday.


J&J Privately Asked Rival Covid-19 Vaccine Makers to Probe Clotting Risks
Jenny Strasburg et al., The Wall Street Journal

Johnson & Johnson privately reached out to Covid-19 vaccine rivals to ask them to join an effort to study the risks of blood clots and speak with one voice about safety, but Pfizer Inc. and Moderna Inc. declined.


Pence underwent successful surgery to have a pacemaker implanted
Devan Cole, CNN

Former Vice President Mike Pence underwent a successful surgery Wednesday to have a pacemaker implanted to help combat a slow heart rate he’s recently experienced, his office said in a statement.


How Democrats Who Lost in Deep-Red Places Might Have Helped Biden
Isabella Grullón Paz, The New York Times

Ebony Carter faced an uphill climb when she decided to run for the Georgia State Senate last year. Her deeply Republican district south of Atlanta had not elected a Democrat since 2001, and a Democrat hadn’t even bothered campaigning for the seat since 2014.


J.D. Vance tells associates he plans to run for Senate in Ohio
Dan Primack, Axios

J.D. Vance, venture capitalist and author of “Hillbilly Elegy,” has told friends and colleagues that he plans to run for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Axios has learned from multiple sources.


Kellyanne Conway takes sides in Ohio Senate primary
Alex Isenstadt, Politico

Kellyanne Conway, who served as campaign manager and counselor to former President Donald Trump, has been named a senior adviser to Ohio Senate hopeful Bernie Moreno, taking sides in a race that has become a fight over which GOP candidate is closest to the former president.


Vernon Jones, a Pro-Trump Republican, Will Challenge Kemp in Georgia
Richard Fausset, The New York Times

Gov. Brian Kemp, the Georgia Republican who ranks high on former President Donald J. Trump’s list of enemies, will face a high-profile pro-Trump challenger in next year’s Republican primary: Vernon Jones, a former Democrat who, echoing the false claims of Mr. Trump, has called Georgia’s November presidential election “fixed” and “tainted.”


Wealthy ex-Trump ambassador moves toward Pennsylvania Senate race
David M. Drucker, The Washington Examiner

A Republican woman with deep pockets and three years of service in the Trump administration on her resume is poised to jump into the 2022 Pennsylvania Senate race. Businesswoman Carla Sands was appointed as the U.S. ambassador to Denmark by former President Donald Trump.


The Democrats’ Giant Dilemma
Holly Otterbein, Politico

John Fetterman’s blue-collar progressivism has endeared him to Pennsylvania voters. Why are so many Democratic leaders opposing his Senate run?


‘A nicer version of Trump’: GOP donors flock to DeSantis
Alex Isenstadt, Politico

One evening in February, Ron DeSantis quietly slipped into the luxurious Charleston Place Hotel in South Carolina.


States Struggle With Vaccine Pause as Federal Officials Reassure Public
Sheryl Gay Stolberg et al., The New York Times

Dr. Anthony S. Fauci said on Thursday that he hoped the nation would soon be able to resume use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, as a “pause” that now looks indefinite threatened to upend vaccination efforts overseas and in some of the most marginalized communities in the United States.


Unused Vaccines Are Piling Up Across U.S. as Some Regions Resist
Anna Edney and Drew Armstrong, Bloomberg

Many U.S. states and cities have a growing surplus of Covid-19 vaccines, a sign that in some places demand is slowing before a large percentage of the population has been inoculated, according to an analysis by Bloomberg News.


Alabama and North Dakota pass bills barring transgender girls and women from playing on female teams
Dan Levin, The New York Times

Lawmakers in Alabama and North Dakota on Thursday approved bans on transgender girls and women competing on sports teams that match their gender identity, joining a series of Republican-led states that have focused on a rapidly growing culture clash over restricting transgender athletes and prohibiting gender-affirming medical treatments this legislative session.


‘A Failure of Texas-Size Proportions’—State Struggles to Overhaul Its Power Market
Katherine Blunt and Russell Gold, The Wall Street Journal

Two months after blackouts paralyzed Texas, most of the people who participate in the state’s 19-year-old electricity market, including producers, sellers and traders, share a similar view. The freeze wasn’t a one-off event. The state’s power market needs to change.


The political CEO
The Economist

When Americans notice business and politics mingling in other countries they often see it as a sign of institutional decay, crony capitalism or authoritarianism.


Goldman Sachs’s Top Image Maker Is Leaving
Andrew Ross Sorkin et al., The New York Times

For nearly a decade, Jake Siewert led Goldman Sachs’s post-crisis efforts to shed its image as one of Wall Street’s most mysterious, and maligned, money machines. We’re the first to report that he plans to announce his departure later today.

Opinions, Editorials and Perspectives

Why I Signed
Richard Edelman, Edelman

On Wednesday, I joined 300 other CEOs in signing a petition to advocate for voting rights for all Americans.


Biden’s approach to North Korea is the opposite of ‘fire and fury’
David Ignatius, The Washington Post

As President Biden’s list of foreign challenges grows, he has quietly shelved his predecessor’s hopes for prompt denuclearization by North Korea.


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