10 Things in Politics: Dems demand ouster of Trump holdovers

10 Things in Politics: Dems demand ouster of Trump holdovers
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Welcome back to 10 Things in Politics. Sign up here to receive this newsletter. Send tips to bgriffiths@insider.com or tweet me at @BrentGriffiths.

Here's what we're talking about:

One thing to watch for: President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin meet in Geneva for their summit.

With Jordan Erb

IRS commissioner Charles Rettig; Mark Calabria, director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency; Andrew Saul commissioner of the Social Security Administration
The IRS commissioner, Charles Rettig; Mark Calabria, the director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency; and Andrew Saul, the commissioner of the Social Security Administration. Photo by Tom Williams/Pool/AFP via Getty Images; Astrid Riecken - Pool/Getty Images; Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

1. THE HOLDOVERS: Several leaders appointed by President Donald Trump are staying in their high-level posts. This continuity is the traditional standard in the federal government, where some positions such as FBI director have terms designed to outlast presidents. But Democrats have identified some particularly controversial officials they are still hoping to remove.

Here are some of the nine key officials still in power:

Louis DeJoy, postmaster general: "Get used to me," he remarked to a Democratic lawmaker during a hearing. There is no set term for a postmaster general, and the position isn't a traditional political post since postmasters general are appointed by the US Postal Service's board of governors.

  • Still, Democrats want him gone: They've objected to his tenure atop the USPS, especially his plan to overhaul the agency. Meanwhile, the FBI is said to be investigating his past political donations and whether he illegally reimbursed employees of his former company for their contributions.

Andrew Saul, Social Security Administration commissioner
Saul. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Andrew Saul, Social Security Administration commissioner: Democrats have objected to proposed cuts to Social Security by Saul, a former retail-apparel-chain owner and Republican donor who served in the Bush and Obama administrations.

  • But Saul is most likely here to stay: His term doesn't expire until 2025. The law creating his office also limits the ability of a president to fire him.

Mark Calabria, Federal Housing Finance Agency director: Biden's team has reportedly explored ousting the top regulator of Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the 11 Federal Home Loan Banks.

  • The Supreme Court could make such a move easier: An argument in a case pending before the high court is that the structure of FHFA is unconstitutional because the president's authority to fire the director is limited. Otherwise, Calabria, a libertarian economist, has said he expects to serve through the end of his term in 2024.

Read the rest of the list here.

2. There are low expectations for today's summit between Biden and Putin: Relations have deteriorated between the US and Russia for years, deep disagreements have already cropped up during Biden's time in office, and both sides have already said they don't expect any deals to come out of today's talks, Reuters reports. The schedule for today's summit is also tightly scripted.

3. Steve Bannon asked Trump's DOJ to reimburse more than $1 million in legal fees: Bannon asked for taxpayers to pay him back for the hefty legal fees he incurred in connection to the Russia investigation, according to documents obtained by Insider. Trump's Justice Department never acted on Bannon's bid for the reimbursement of his legal fees. A top DOJ official in the Biden-led DOJ later denied Bannon's request.

4. More than 600,000 Americans have died in the COVID-19 pandemic: The US reached another grim milestone Tuesday as its known death toll from COVID-19 passed 600,000, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. The good news is that the pace of death has fallen dramatically during the country's vaccination effort. Daily deaths have decreased about 85% since mid-December - to 330 a day on average from about 2,150 a day.

Flames from an Israeli airstrike in Gaza City, Gaza.
Flames seen after an Israeli airstrike hit Hamas targets in Gaza City, Gaza, on Tuesday. Ali Jadallah/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

5. Israel hit Gaza with airstrikes for the first time since the cease-fire: The strikes targeted facilities the Israeli military said Hamas militants used for meetings to plan attacks, the Associated Press reports. There were no immediate reports of casualties. On Tuesday, hundreds of Israeli ultranationalists paraded in East Jerusalem, some chanting "Death to Arabs." Palestinians in Gaza responded by launching incendiary balloons. This is a major first test for Israel's new post-Netanyahu government.

6. DOJ officials recoiled at Trump's push to overturn the election: Senior officials at the Justice Department expressed deep frustration and alarm with top Trump officials' fixation on the election results during his final days in office, according to a trove of emails released by congressional lawmakers. Trump's chief of staff Mark Meadows repeatedly pressed Justice Department officials to investigate claims, including a conspiracy theory that the US Embassy in Rome somehow switched votes from Trump to Biden during the election.

"Can you believe this? I am not going to respond to message below," Jeff Rosen, then the acting attorney general, wrote to a deputy in response to a request by Meadows to have the DOJ investigate "signature match anomalies" in Georgia's Fulton County.

Glenn Youngkin
Glenn Youngkin. The Washington Post

7. Virginia's GOP gubernatorial nominee praised the state's economy when his Democratic opponent was in charge: Glenn Youngkin was for then-Gov. Terry McAuliffe's economy before he was against it. Before he claimed McAuliffe and the state's current governor, Ralph Northam, drove Virginia "into the ditch," Youngkin said Virginia was "one out of 50 states that's doing very well, and has shown really great strides."

An Insider review of Youngkin's public comments dating back to 2017 - during McAuliffe's first term - shows the then-CEO of Carlyle Group repeatedly praised the state's financial standing.

8. Biden elevated a critic of Big Tech to chair the FTC: He appointed Lina Khan to chair the Federal Trade Commission, the federal government's primary antitrust watchdog, The Washington Post reports. Khan's confirmation to the FTC sparked a rare bipartisan vote in the Senate, with Sens. Chuck Grassley and Roger Wicker among the Republicans supporting her, illustrating the increasing agreement among both parties to rein in large tech companies. Khan is known for her unconventional approach to counter companies like Amazon.

9. Twenty-one GOP lawmakers voted against honoring law enforcement for their work during the Capitol riot: A few Republican lawmakers said they opposed the bill because it referred to the riot led by Trump's loyalists to disrupt Congress' certification of the presidential election as an "insurrection." No House Democrats opposed the measure, which passed with the overwhelming support of 406 members. Here's a list of those who opposed it.

10. Pink Floyd's Roger Waters won't let Facebook use one of the band's songs: The Rock & Roll Hall of Famer said he declined an offer by Facebook for a "huge, huge amount of money" to use the song "Another Brick in the Wall, Part 2" in an Instagram advertisement. Why he says his reaction was "no f---ing way."

Today's trivia question: Today marks the anniversary of the opening of the first roller coaster in America. Where was it? Email your guess and a suggested question to me at bgriffiths@insider.com.

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