Trump invokes Fifth repeatedly in deposition video; Santos quits House committees: recap
Newly released video shows former President Donald Trump being questioned under oath last year for the massive civil fraud lawsuit filed against him, his businesses and his oldest children by the New York Attorney General's office – and pleading the Fifth repeatedly.
Here's what else is going on in politics Tuesday.
George Santos steps away from committees amid furor: Facing increased legal and public scrutiny, New York Rep. George Santos told his House Republican colleagues Tuesday morning he will step aside himself from his committee positions until his name is cleared.
FBI searched Joe Biden's former office: It happened shortly after the president's lawyers discovered an initial batch of documents Nov. 2.
Kamala Harris to attend Tyre Nichols' funeral: The vice president will be at the service Wednesday with four other White House officials.
President to discuss police accountability legislation: President Joe Biden will meet with members of the Congressional Black Caucus Thursday to discuss police reform legislation in the wake of Nichols’ brutal beating that led to his death in Memphis, Tennessee.
Debt limit debate: Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., will discuss federal spending Wednesday in a highly-anticipated one-on-one meeting that could indicate how far apart both sides are on addressing the debt ceiling deadline.
Brazil’s president to meet with Biden
President Joe Biden will meet with Brazil’s newly inaugurated leftist president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva next week, the White House announced Tuesday.
Biden invited Lula to visit the White House shortly after thousands of supporters of former President Jair Bolsonaro swarmed Brazil’s government buildings earlier this month in protest of Lula’s election.
Topics on the agenda for the meeting include how the U.S. and Brazil can work together to promote inclusion and democratic values in the region and around the world.
- Maureen Groppe
Brazil politics: In echo of Jan. 6 attack in U.S., Brazilian protesters storm their Congress, high court and palace
White House praises Minnesota for codifying Roe v. Wade
The White House Tuesday praised Minnesota for being the first state to codify Roe v. Wade. The Supreme Court's 1973 ruling in the case had established a federal constitutional right to abortion that subsisted for nearly half a century until it was overruled by the high court in June.
“Americans overwhelmingly support a woman’s right to make her own health care decisions, as so clearly demonstrated last fall when voters turned out to defend access to abortion – including for ballot initiatives in California, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Montana, and Vermont,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a statement. Jean-Pierre also applauded Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz for signing the legislation.
Since the high court overturned Roe, abortion rights advocates are now trying to get protections at the state level.
– Rebecca Morin
More: Post-Roe abortion battle draws attention to state judicial elections, new legal strategies
Joe Biden: Kevin McCarthy is a 'decent man' but caters to extremists
President Joe Biden offered both a compliment and a dig at House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., the day before the leaders will meet at the White House to discuss federal spending and the need to raise the federal debt limit.
Speaking to supporters at a Democratic Party fundraiser in New York City on Tuesday, Biden called McCarthy a “decent man” but said he’s beholden to extremist Republicans.
The commitments McCarthy had to make to get enough votes to become speaker were “just absolutely off the wall,” Biden said.
– Maureen Groppe
Rep. Jamie Raskin asks Secret Service for Trump, Pence visitor logs
Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., the ranking member of the House Oversight Committee, wants the Secret service to turn over the visitor logs from former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate and former Vice President Mike Pence’s Indiana home.
The move is a counterpoint to committee chair James Comer, R-Ky., who is zeroing in on documents found in President Joe Biden’s Delaware garage and former office in Washington, D.C.
Raskin asked Secret Service Director Kimberly Cheatle for all documents and communication related to visitor information from Jan. 21, 2021, to present, and he asked her to submit the information by Feb. 14.
– Candy Woodall
Vice President Kamala Harris to attend Tyre Nichols’ funeral
Vice President Kamala Harris will attend Tyre Nichols’ funeral Wednesday, the White House announced.
In early January, Nichols was brutally beaten by five Memphis police officers who have been charged with his murder.
In addition to Harris, four other White House officials are attending. They are: Keisha Lance Bottoms, director of the White House Office of Public Engagement; Tara Murray, deputy director of the White House Office of Public Engagement; senior adviser Mitch Landrieu; and Erica Loewe, White House director of African American media.
– Maureen Groppe
FBI searched Joe Biden's former DC office after first document discovery
The FBI searched President Joe Biden's former Washington, D.C. office after the president's lawyers initially alerted the National Archives about the discovery of classified documents at the location, a person familiar with the matter said Tuesday.
No search warrant was issued in connection with the previously undisclosed action, which involved the consent of the president's legal team, said the source who is not authorized to comment publicly on the investigation.
The search was conducted in November, after lawyers discovered an initial batch of documents Nov. 2, at the think tank office that Biden used after serving as vice president.
– Kevin Johnson
Biden documents latest: FBI searched Biden's former DC office after first classified document discovery
Trump repeatedly invokes Fifth Amendment in deposition for fraud lawsuit
Newly released video showed former President Donald Trump being questioned under oath for the massive civil fraud lawsuit filed against him, his businesses and his oldest children by the New York Attorney General's office.
After answering preliminary questions from New York Attorney General Letitia James, Trump used an introductory statement to characterize the investigation as a "witch hunt," an accusation he has repeated since the case was filed in 2022.
The video confirmed that Trump used much of the deposition to invoke his Fifth Amendment right not to answer questions on grounds that he might incriminate himself. Trump said anyone in his position who did not take the Fifth "would be a fool, an absolute fool," according to CBS News, which first obtained the video.
- Kevin McCoy
George Santos steps down from House committees
Facing increased legal scrutiny about his campaign finances, a House Ethics complaint and numerous calls to resign, New York Rep. George Santos told his House Republican colleagues Tuesday morning he will recuse himself from his committee positions.
“With the ongoing attention surrounding both my personal and campaign financial investigations, I have submitted a request to Speaker McCarthy that I be temporarily recused from my committee assignments until I am cleared,” Santos said in a statement released by his office Tuesday. “This was a decision that I take very seriously. The business of the 118th Congress must continue without media fanfare."
Santos indicated it may be temporary and that he would return to his committee seats once his legal and ethical reviews resolve. His resignation from the House Small Business and Science, Space and Technology committees comes a day after he had a meeting with GOP Speaker Kevin McCarthy. The speaker said he initiated the meeting Monday, but he did not disclose their discussion.
- Candy Woodall
Biden to meet with Congressional Black Caucus to discuss police accountability
President Joe Biden will meet with members of the Congressional Black Caucus on Thursday to discuss police reform legislation in the wake of Tyre Nichols’ brutal beating that led to his death in Memphis, Tennessee.
“Executive action can’t take the place of federal legislation and we need Congress to come together and take action to ensure our justice lives up to its name,” said Olivia Dalton, White House principal deputy press secretary.
Rep. Steven Horsford, D-Nev., chair of the CBC, requested a meeting with the president according to a statement released Sunday. “No one in our nation should fear interacting with the police officers who serve our diverse communities, large and small. We all want to be safe,” said Horsford.
- Ken Tran
How will ending COVID emergency affect Supreme Court's student loan, Title 42 cases?
President Joe Biden’s decision to end the national and public emergencies tied to COVID-19 raises questions about what will become of major cases pending at the Supreme Court dealing with the Title 42 immigration effort and the administration’s student loan forgiveness plan.
The Supreme Court is set to hear arguments in several cases dealing with those programs in February and early March. Because the programs are tied to the pandemic emergencies, it’s not clear how declaring the emergencies officially over will affect the cases.
“The fact that we’ve declared the emergency officially over is a strong political symbol that Title 42 is no longer needed and I think the Supreme Court will pick up on that signal,” said Lawrence Gostin, faculty director of the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law at Georgetown University Law Center.
Title 42 allows for the swift removal of some migrants seeking asylum without the usual review during an emergency. The high court is set to hear arguments March 1 on whether a number of conservative states could intervene in the case to defend the policy, which began during the Trump administration. The student loan cases, which question whether the administration had the power to forgive $400 billion in student loan debt, are set for argument Feb. 28.
The Justice Department declined to comment.
- John Fritze and Chris Quintana
Capitol Police arrest impersonator with knife stash
US Capitol Police found multiple knives and a chainsaw blade when they stopped and searched 37-year-old Max Eli Viner blocks from the Hill Monday evening, according to a press release.
Viner was wanted for questioning by the Secret Service, who after arriving on the scene searched his vehicle and found fake police equipment, along with shell casings, a smoke grenade and gas mask.
The suspect was arrested and faces pending charges for impersonating a law enforcement officer and possession of a prohibited weapon.
- Savannah Kuchar
House GOP will remove Omar from Foreign Affairs committee, Scalise says
If House Democrats follow through with naming Rep. Ilhan Omar from the Foreign Affairs committee, the majority party will move to a full House vote to remove her, Majority Leader Steve Scalise said during news conference Tuesday.
“Even if Omar were to be removed from the Foreign Affairs committee, she’d still be allowed to serve on other committees,” he said.
Speaker Kevin McCarthy unilaterally removed Reps. Adam Schiff and Eric Swalwell from the House Intelligence committee, but it will take a two-thirds vote of the House to remove Omar from Foreign Affairs.
- Candy Woodall
Pelosi won’t serve on House committees
Former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who left the powerful leadership position after the 2022 midterm elections, will not serve on any of the chamber’s committees.
The California lawmaker had previously indicated she would not take any committee assignments this term, with her spokesperson Drew Hammill telling the Daily Beast in November that her “only focus will be San Francisco.”
Pelosi’s biography on the House clerk’s website lists no current assignments.
– Ella Lee
House GOP budget expected by April deadline, Scalise says
After President Joe Biden challenged House Republicans to show him their budget, Majority Leader Steve Scalise said his caucus is working to meet its April 15 deadline.
Presidents are expected to share their budgets the first Monday in February, but many have missed that deadline. Biden said his will be ready on March 9.
“I hope the president meets his deadline just like we’re going to work to meet our deadline,” Scalise said.
He also commented on the scheduled meeting Wednesday between Biden and Speaker Kevin McCarthy about the debt ceiling and government spending.
The White House has said there will be no negotiations on the debt ceiling and Biden will not entertain any spending cuts.
“It’s a recklessly irresponsible position for President Biden to say just give him more money so he can keep spending money that we don’t have,” he said. “We have got to get control over spending in Washington.”
-- Candy Woodall
West Virginia: ‘In God We Trust’ mandate advances through state Senate
A West Virginia bill that would require all public K-12 schools and higher learning institutions to display the phrase “In God We Trust” in a “conspicuous place” in the building is one step closer to becoming law after the state’s Senate passed the measure Monday.
“We know there’s a lot of kids that have problems at home, tough times at home that we don’t know anything about,” Azinger said on the state Senate floor. “Maybe they’ll look up one day and say, ‘In God We Trust’ and know they can put their hope in God.”
The bill must pass the West Virginia House of Delegates before heading to the state’s governor, Republican Jim Justice, to be signed into law.
- Ella Lee and The Associated Press
Grand jury to see Trump hush money case in NYC: reports
A New York grand jury will hear evidence about former President Donald Trump’s potentially criminal role in making payments to the porn star Stormy Daniels to keep her from sharing details of an alleged sexual encounter with the former president, according to multiple news reports.
Manhattan prosecutors began presenting evidence to a new grand jury Monday, the New York Times and NPR reported. It would be the latest of Trump’s legal woes as he ramps up his 2024 bid for president.
In a Truth Social post, Trump said the “‘Stormy’ nonsense” happened a long time ago – “long past the very publicly known & accepted deadline of the Statute of Limitations,” he said. The former president added that he placed “full Reliance” on his counsel at the time, Michael Cohen.
Conservative media group goes undercover in search of CRT in Ohio
Several Cincinnati-area school districts are featured in an anti-critical race theory sting published over the weekend by Accuracy in Media, a national, conservative media watchdog organization. In the video, local school administrators say they would continue to teach about diversity and social justice even if Ohio law forbids teaching such concepts.
"We'll just call it something else," Mason Early Childhood Center Assistant Principal Vivian Alvarez says in the video. "We're still going to do the same work."
Mason City Schools spokesperson Tracey Carson told the Cincinnati Enquirer, a USA TODAY affiliate, that the district does not teach CRT, "nor do we teach it in practice while calling it something else."
-- Madeline Mitchell, Cincinnati Enquirer
Will white women be more reliable voters for Democrats in 2024?
Though women as a whole lean Democratic, white women tend to vote more conservatively than women of color.
In recent years, Republicans' messaging on schools' purported teachings on "critical race theory" — the idea that racism is embedded in all American laws and institutions — has been particularly effective at pushing white women voters to the right, said Jatia Wrighten, an African American studies professor at Virginia Commonwealth University. Critical race theory is an academic concept that is not taught in public schools.
But the 2022 overturning of Roe brought many white women back into the Democratic fold. In the midterm elections, Democrats successfully defended every incumbent Senate seat and managed to minimize substantial losses in the House, largely due to women who were furious about the decision.
That leaves Democrats with a daunting task for 2024: Persuading white women to join — and stick with — the party, giving Democrats a shot at control of Washington.
-- Ella Lee, Mabinty Quarshie
Biden traveling to NYC Tuesday
President Joe Biden heads to New York City Tuesday, where he will announce Amtrak is receiving $292 million for the Hudson Tunnel Project.
His trip is the second of three this week to promote benefits of the infrastructure bill. The president highlighted a rail tunnel project in Baltimore on Monday and will discuss lead pipe removal in Philadelphia on Friday.
In New York, Biden’s trip also includes a fundraising stop for the Democratic National Committee.
-- Maureen Groppe
'We're here': Donald Trump hits the campaign trail again in New Hampshire, South Carolina
Biden family hearing in House Oversight slated for next week
The day after he delivers the State of the Union, President Joe Biden and his family will be the subject of a GOP-led House Oversight Committee hearing.
A hearing on Twitter’s decision to initially block the New York Post’s reporting on the “Biden family’s business schemes” and Hunter Biden’s laptop will be held Wednesday, Feb. 8, a committee spokesperson confirmed to USA TODAY.
Committee Chairman James Comer, a Kentucky Republican, has repeatedly said the panel is focused on the president, not his son. Former Twitter employees Vijaya Gadde, Yoel Roth and James Baker will testify at the hearing, according to the committee.
- Candy Woodall
More: Biden’s most vocal Republican antagonists emerge from the sidelines – with subpoena power
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Video shows Trump taking Fifth; Santos leaves House panels: recap