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McCarthy blocks two Democrats from Intelligence Committee

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy.HAIYUN JIANG/NYT

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy said Tuesday he will block Representatives Adam B. Schiff and Eric Swalwell from serving on the House Intelligence Committee, days after House minority leader Hakeem Jeffries, Democrat of New York, formally recommended the California Democrats be reappointed to the panel.

McCarthy has argued that both Schiff and Swalwell are unfit to serve on the committee, using Schiff’s work conducting the first impeachment investigation of President Trump and Swalwell’s alleged ties to a Chinese intelligence operative. There has been no evidence of wrongdoing in relation to the allegation against Swalwell.

‘’This is not anything political. This is not similar to what the Democrats did,’’ McCarthy, a California Republican, told reporters Tuesday evening. ‘’Those members will have other committees, but the intel committee, the intel committee’s responsibility is a national security … I respect Hakeem Jeffries’s support of his conference and his people. But integrity matters.’’


Unlike most committees, where party leaders control their appointees, the speaker has final say over who sits on the Intelligence Committee.

McCarthy declined to answer multiple questions on whether he will try to keep Representative, Democrat of Minnesota, from serving on the Foreign Affairs committee — a move that would require a majority vote in the full House.

Schiff told reporters that McCarthy was ‘’carrying the dirty water’' for Trump by leaving him out of the committee as retribution for his work during Trump’s first impeachment trial.

Republicans have been keen to deny Democrats positions on key panels after the Democratic-led House in the last Congress voted to remove Republican Representatives Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and Paul A. Gosar of Arizona from their committee assignments. Greene had previously voiced approval of violence against prominent Democrats, and Gosar had posted an animated video on social media that depicted the killing of Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Democrat of New York. In the votes to remove them from their committee slots, some Republicans joined Democrats in voting yes.


Greene and Gosar were removed ‘’after a bipartisan vote of the House found them unfit to serve on standing committees for directly inciting violence against their colleagues,’’ Jeffries wrote in his letter. ‘’It does not serve as precedent or justification for the removal of Representatives Schiff and Swalwell, given that they have never exhibited violent thoughts or behavior.’’


Jill Biden donates inaugural dresses to Smithsonian

WASHINGTON — First ladies typically donate their inaugural ball gowns to the Smithsonian Institution for its collection. Jill Biden is giving up two clothing ensembles, and neither one includes a gown.

The first lady is donating the ocean blue tweed dress and matching coat that she wore to her husband’s presidential inauguration at the Capitol on Jan. 20, 2021, along with the ivory silk wool dress and cashmere coat ensemble she wore at the White House later that evening.

The donations on Wednesday will be Jill Biden’s first public appearance since Jan. 11, when doctors removed a cancerous lesion from her face and another from her chest.

“Glad to be back in action today! Thank you to everyone for your prayers and well-wishes as I recovered from Mohs surgery,” the first lady tweeted on Wednesday morning, signing off with a hearts emoji.

First ladies usually donate the gown they danced in at inaugural balls following the oath-taking ceremony, but there were no such celebrations for President Biden. He took office at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, when large indoor gatherings were discouraged.



Paper seeks evidence in Fox News, Dominion Voting lawsuit

The New York Times on Wednesday asked a judge to unseal some legal filings that contain previously undisclosed evidence in a defamation suit brought against Fox News by Dominion Voting Systems, a company targeted with conspiracy theories about rigged machines and stolen votes in the 2020 election.

Most of the evidence in the case — including text messages and e-mails taken from the personal phones of Fox executives, on-air personalities, and producers in the weeks after the election — has remained under seal at the request of lawyers for the network.

Federal law and the law in Delaware, where the case is being heard, broadly protect the public’s right of access to information about judicial proceedings. The law allows for exceptions if a party in a lawsuit can show good cause to keep something under seal, such as a company seeking to protect a trade secret or financial information.

The judge in the case, Eric M. Davis, has cautioned that neither Fox nor Dominion was entitled to keep information secret for reasons not covered by those limited exceptions, including, he said last month, the fact that something “may be embarrassing.”

Dominion filed the lawsuit in early 2021, arguing that “Fox sold a false story of election fraud in order to serve its own commercial purposes.” It is asking for $1.6 billion in damages from the network and its parent company, Fox Corp.


Fox has defended itself by claiming that the commentary of its hosts and guests was protected under the First Amendment, and that the allegations of fraud made by former president Trump and his allies were inherently newsworthy, even if they were false.


One of former president Trump’s most consistent personal traits — one that his advisers say has helped keep him out of even worse legal jeopardy — has been his refusal to communicate by text or e-mail.

Until now.

Trump, 76, who is heading into his third presidential campaign and is still under scrutiny by investigators on multiple fronts, has at last become a texter, according to three people with knowledge of his new habit. His messages have recently shown up in the phones of surprised recipients, they said.

The former president’s resistance to texting frustrated investigators for the House Jan. 6 committee as they tried to track his thoughts and actions when he worked to overturn the 2020 election. In his testimony before the committee, the former president’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., said he texted the White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows, during the Capitol attack because his father “doesn’t text.”

That changed around the beginning of this year. Friends, confidants, and even people not especially close to Donald Trump began receiving text messages from his cellphone, most of them described as innocuous, such as new year greetings or political observations. A spokesperson for Trump declined to comment.



BTW: Trump finally takes up texting