The rest is history, and we have lived it together. A reality television star became the first U.S. president with no prior governing or military experience. Thanks to readers like you, the Daily 202 succeeded beyond our wildest dreams.
Narrating the Trump era has been an eye-opening, if exhausting, labor of love. I woke up at 2 a.m. more than 1,400 times to ensure this email would be as fresh and comprehensive as possible. I’ve recorded about 900 editions of the accompanying Big Idea podcast, which launched in July 2017. Because there is no substitute for shoe-leather reporting, I filed this newsletter from 41 states. If not for the pandemic, I might have reached 50 by now.
From climate change to Charlottesville to the coronavirus, news cycles have only seemed to accelerate these past 5 1/2 years. I tried to make sense of two impeachments, three election cycles and four Supreme Court confirmation battles. There was #MeToo, the racial reckoning and that always-looming bear in the woods.
Trump has shown a singular ability to put himself at the center of all of these stories. Whether you loved him or hated him, many of you seemed to always be thinking about him. There was constant chaos and record staff turnover, with feuds and firings. The experience opened our eyes to the fragility of certain institutions, including the Justice Department, and the strengths of others, including the press.
Even after his repudiation in November, the lame-duck Trump continued to suck up most of the political oxygen by denying his defeat, trying to overturn election results and inciting a mob of his supporters to attack the Capitol. Even after leaving office, Trump will continue to be a top story because of his impending Senate trial. There will likely be controversy over the pardons he is expected to issue during his final hours. Trumpism will remain a dominant force in Republican politics. More books will probably come out about Trump than Biden next year, as publishing houses place big bets that the national addiction to Trump will endure.
If history is any guide, though, attention will eventually fade. The country will probably move on sooner than many people suspect. Twitter banning the outgoing president has had a dramatic impact that might be a harbinger of what’s to come. Research firm Zignal Labs found that online misinformation about election fraud dropped 73 percent in the week after several social media sites suspended Trump and his allies.
Newspapers will no longer have a journalistic duty to cover every pronouncement from a former president. Neither will cable television, especially if Trump does not generate the ratings he once did. Biden will face major challenges in cleaning up the many messes and crises that he’s about to inherit, and he will surely create some of his own. I do not yet know what it will say, but I have resolved that my first column will not be about Trump.
So many people deserve special thanks.
PowerPost editor Rachel Van Dongen, who recruited me from Politico, has been a wonderful boss and friend since the beginning. Her deputy, Sara Sorcher, has been instrumental in keeping the trains running on time. The 202’s success would never have been possible without the vision of publisher Fred Ryan, as well as the support of executive editor Marty Baron, managing editor Cameron Barr, national editor Steven Ginsberg and national politics editor Peter Wallsten.
Mariana Alfaro has heroically worked the overnight shift as the Daily 202’s lead researcher since 2019, parsing and aggregating literally hundreds of stories a day. Before Mariana, I was fortunate to work with Joanie Greve, Breanne Deppisch and Elise Viebeck in this role.
The Big Idea podcast would not have been possible without producer Ariel Plotnik, and Anne Li before her, as well as audio editors Jess Stahl and Allison Michaels.
Thank you to the copy editors on the early shift who have saved me from countless typos, including Thomas Heleba, Melissa Ngo and Sue Doyle.
Finally, and most of all, I want to thank all the readers and listeners. With limited time and busy lives, you have welcomed me into your homes and let me tag along during your commutes. I have always enjoyed your kind words of encouragement. Who wouldn’t? But I want to sign off by letting you know how much I have also sincerely appreciated your critiques and quibbles. I always took your thoughtful, sometimes challenging, feedback to heart. Your messages made me smarter and better at my job.
Tune in for our special inauguration coverage.
I will join Libby Casey tonight at 5 p.m. Eastern to cover Biden’s arrival in Washington and a vigil he will attend for coronavirus victims. We will be live again at 8 a.m. tomorrow from The Post’s newsroom for wall-to-wall coverage of the inaugural festivities. You can watch here.
Trump's final days
Scholars will struggle to understand what the Trump era says about American democracy.
“More than 30,000 falsehoods and lies. Nearly 400,000 coronavirus deaths. Rising white nationalism. Financial self-dealing. A social media ban. Two impeachments. A deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol. Trump’s four years in office come to a close Wednesday after a reign defined by constant chaos, corruption and scandal, a tenure that numerous scholars predict is destined to rank him among America’s worst presidents,” David Nakamura reports. “The historians preparing to reckon with his legacy say it’s not just Trump who will be examined in the harsh reflection of history’s mirror, but also American society and the nation’s commitment to democracy. Trump’s relentless attacks on civic institutions, provoking of racial and social divisions, trampling of political norms, broadsides against the free press and impugning of America’s international allies have raised profound questions about the nature of American governance and the endurance of the values the United States has long professed to cherish, scholars said. ‘Trump and Trumpism have brought those flaws into sharp relief,’ said Matthew Dallek, a political historian at George Washington University.”
- “The social conditions that brought so many people to believe the falsehoods Trump has told about the election and a litany of other issues took root decades before he became a political figure and will extend far beyond the four years of his administration, according to scholars of disinformation and conspiratorial thinking,” Jose Del Real reports.
- Trump’s final job approval rating is the worst of his presidency at 34 percent, according to Gallup, one point worse than in the aftermath of Charlottesville. “His 41% average approval rating throughout his presidency is four points lower than for any of his predecessors,” Gallup notes.
- Just over 1 in 10 Americans say the pandemic is mostly under control, despite Trump’s parting insistence that case numbers are being exaggerated, according to fresh Post-ABC News polling. The survey found that large majorities of people of all political affiliations say they think the deadly virus is only somewhat, or not at all, under control. (Amy Goldstein and Emily Guskin)
- Trump taped a farewell address on Monday, and the recording will likely be released today. (CNN)
- “You never want to be ranked below William Henry Harrison, who was only president for one month. If you rank below him, it means you’ve harmed the country,” said presidential historian Douglas Brinkley of Rice University. “Now you’re getting into James Buchanan and Andrew Johnson territory. Trump will automatically be in that category.”
- Trump issued an executive order to mandate the creation of a “Garden of American Heroes” including statues of Abraham Lincoln, Andrew Jackson, Antonin Scalia, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Martin Luther King Jr., Harper Lee, Steve Jobs, Whitney Houston and Kobe Bryant.
While the president remains mired in grievance, his wife plots their next chapter.
“In her final days as first lady, Melania Trump has largely stayed away from the West Wing. While her husband spends his time there in anger — though aides said his dark mood has lightened since he began planning a rousing military send-off for himself — she has shown no sign of any disappointment for how the president’s era is ending,” Mary Jordan reports. “Instead, she has been busying herself with finding a new school for Barron in Florida and working on her own farewell video message to the country, which she released Monday. Several people who have been in touch with Melania Trump said she is aware of the intense criticism both she and her husband have gotten since the deadly Jan. 6 Capitol riot, but that unlike her spouse she appears completely unfazed. … She focuses on what she has control over: choreographing her own exit, trying to cement her legacy as a first lady who devoted much time to renovations of the White House, and making plans to continue her ‘Be Best’ initiative. …
“One person close to the president said it can be hard to predict what will bother him most and that even with all that was going on, he was particularly upset that Lady Gaga, Jennifer Lopez, Tom Hanks and other stars agreed to perform as part of Biden’s inaugural celebrations. … [The first lady] is expected to be involved in the site selection, planning and design of the Trump presidential library, which probably will be located in Florida. Her stepdaughter Ivanka Trump also has expressed interest in the library.”
Snubbed by the Trumps, the Bidens will be greeted at the White House by chief usher Timothy Harleth.
“Harleth, a 2017 Trump hire from the Trump International Hotel in Washington, will likely not stay on in the Biden administration," CNN reports. "The afternoon of Inauguration Day, [Biden] will participate in a ceremonial wreath-laying at Arlington National Cemetery, joined by former Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama. … By that time, all Trump paraphernalia will be gone, and a thorough top-to-bottom cleaning of the entire White House campus will have been completed. … A particular focus of this move will be paid to the bedrooms in the residence, where new mattresses and box springs for the incoming first family are standard operating procedure … Yet one part of the bedroom set-up will be markedly different with the Bidens than it was for the Trumps: the Bidens will be sharing a bedroom. … On Monday, moving trucks were spotted in the driveways of Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida, with movers loading dollies of boxes and items and rolling them into the private club.”
Mike Pompeo is clinging to Trump’s legacy, hoping to inherit the MAGA base in 2024.
“The president’s most loyal Cabinet member has spent the past several days heaping praise on Trump and his presidency, saying it has made the United States ‘so much safer today than four years ago’ and has served as a role model to other nations," John Hudson reports. “To independent observers, the remarks are wildly tone-deaf and reinforce Pompeo’s status as one of the most partisan secretaries of state in modern U.S. history. … To Republican political observers, Pompeo’s unflinching promotion of a twice-impeached president is part of a careful balancing act designed to lay future claim to Trump’s large and loyal political base while retaining credibility among the GOP establishment. … Pompeo, who has made no secret of his presidential ambitions, is scrambling to build up his social media presence during his final week in office, repeatedly urging the more than 3 million followers of the official State Department account to follow his personal Twitter account."
- Lawmakers who objected to election results have been cut off from 20 of their 30 biggest corporate PAC donors. (Douglas MacMillan and Jena McGregor)
- Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) found a new publisher for his book, the conservative firm Regnery, after Simon & Schuster ended its contract to publish his book because of his role in the events of Jan. 6. (NYT)
- Trump tried to remove civil service protections from tens of thousands of career federal employees, but he has failed due to time constraints and legal hurdles. (Lisa Rein)
- Embattled Census Bureau Director Steven Dillingham is resigning in the wake of allegations he supported a partisan push to deliver data on undocumented immigrants to Trump before the president leaves office. (Tara Bahrampour)
- Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) demanded that acting defense secretary Chris Miller immediately end efforts to burrow Michael Ellis, a former Republican Party operative and Devin Nunes's right-hand man, as the National Security Agency's general counsel. (Amy B Wang and Ellen Nakashima)
- Dominion Voting Systems threatened MyPillow CEO and Trump loyalist Mike Lindell with a lawsuit over “false and conspiratorial” claims related to election rigging. Lindell said he welcomes a libel suit because it could unearth evidence supporting his claims. (Hannah Knowles and Emma Brown)
- Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani voted in November using an affidavit ballot, a method he’s publicly disparaged repeatedly as he tried to overturn the election results. (CNN)
Quote of the day
“My conscience is clear, and I am confident that my decision is on the right side of the law and history,” said Aaron Van Langevelde, the Republican on the Michigan Board of Canvassers who voted to certify Biden’s win in November. (Wang and Beth Reinhard)
Biden prepares to take over
Senate committees will hold hearings today for Biden’s national security team.
“But the last-minute rush means that most, if not all, will not be confirmed by the end of Inauguration Day,” Karoun Demirjian reports. ”The crammed schedule for the nominees — Avril Haines for director of national intelligence, Alejandro Mayorkas for homeland security secretary, Antony Blinken for secretary of state, Janet L. Yellen for treasury secretary and Lloyd J. Austin III for defense secretary — is a result of compound delays caused by factors including the Georgia Senate runoffs, paperwork disputes and partisan gridlock. Fallout from the Capitol riot this month further stymied the process, and President Trump’s impending impeachment trial could slow it even more. Even if the Senate manages to squeeze in some confirmations on Biden’s first full day in office, the road ahead is unclear for Austin and Mayorkas. Austin, a retired general whose military service ended in 2016, requires a waiver before he can take over as the Pentagon’s top civilian. Mayorkas, meanwhile, faces Republican grievances that as deputy homeland security secretary during the Obama administration, he was accused of using an immigrant visa program to secure investments for political allies’ pet projects — a charge Mayorkas has denied."
“Mayorkas, 61, is a former federal prosecutor, not a liberal activist,” Maria Sacchetti and Nick Miroff write in a profile. ”He would be the first Latino, and first immigrant, in charge of DHS … Born in Cuba to Jewish parents and a mother who escaped the Holocaust, Mayorkas was raised in Southern California, painfully aware of the losses undergirding his family’s American success story. Through his Romanian-born mother, whose relatives were murdered by the Nazis, Mayorkas discovered the horrors that can unfold when refugees cannot flee to safety, friends and former colleagues say. Through his Cuban-born father, he learned someone can love a country and still feel compelled to leave it forever."
Yellen urged lawmakers to “act big” on economic stimulus relief during her opening statement. “I think there is a consensus now: Without further action, we risk a longer, more painful recession now – and long-term scarring of the economy later,” she will tell the Senate Finance Committee. (Jeff Stein and Erica Werner)
Biden will nominate Pennsylvania’s top health official, Rachel Levine, to be his assistant secretary of health. The pediatrician would become the first openly transgender federal official to be confirmed by the Senate. Biden’s transition team noted that Levine — first appointed by Gov. Tom Wolf (D) in 2017 — was confirmed three times by the Republican-controlled Pennsylvania state Senate to serve as secretary of health and the state’s physician general. (John Wagner and Teo Armus)
Biden will propose a sweeping overhaul of immigration laws on his first day in office.
His plan will include an eight-year pathway to citizenship for immigrants without legal status and an expansion of refugee admissions, along with an enforcement plan that deploys technology to patrol the border, Seung Min Kim reports. “Biden’s legislative proposal, which will be sent to Congress on Wednesday, also includes a heavy focus on addressing the root causes of migration from Central America, a key part of Biden’s foreign policy portfolio when he served as vice president. The centerpiece of the plan … is the eight-year pathway, which would put millions of qualifying immigrants in a temporary status for five years and then grant them a green card once they meet certain requirements such as a background check and payment of taxes. They would be able to apply for citizenship three years later. To qualify, immigrants must have been in the United States as of Jan. 1, a move meant to blunt any rush to the border. Beneficiaries of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals — which granted key protections for ‘dreamers’ — and the temporary protected status program for migrants from disaster-ravaged nations could apply for a green card immediately."
Biden will impose ethics rules that go beyond what was put in place under Trump.
“Biden will ban his senior presidential appointees from accepting special bonuses akin to ‘golden parachutes’ from former employers for joining the government,” Michael Scherer reports. "For departing administration employees, the Biden rules create a prohibition on lobbying the administration for at least the length of Biden’s term and add a one-year restriction on assisting lobbying efforts. That is an effort to crack down on lucrative ‘shadow lobbying’ jobs, in which former officials go to work at law firms to help guide lobbyists without making contact with government officials themselves. Existing law prevents senior appointees from appearing before their former agency for one year after leaving office, even in a non-lobbying capacity. Under the Biden rules, that prohibition will be extended to two years and include contact with senior White House officials. …
"For people coming to the government from the private sector, Biden will reimpose a ban on lobbyists going to work for agencies they had recently lobbied, unless they get a waiver from the White House counsel. Trump had removed that restriction when he came into office. Biden will also impose restrictions on registered foreign agents who seek jobs in the administration and will ban former officials from working as foreign agents right after they leave office. …
“The executive order on ethics will not address the issue of potential family conflicts of interest … Biden has several family members involved in businesses that have potential interests in federal policy, including his son-in-law and campaign adviser Howard Krein, who helps to run a health-care start-up, and his brother-in-law John T. Owens, who owns a Delaware-based telemedicine company that markets itself as a solution amid pandemic restrictions, with medical second-opinion operations in Europe and Asia. Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, who previously worked for foreign companies and is facing a tax investigation by the Justice Department, has pledged not to work for foreign-owned companies during his father’s presidency.”
- North Korea’s Kim Jong Un appears to be taking steps toward a new test of a powerful submarine-launched missile, as he prepares to dial up pressure on the incoming administration. (Simon Denyer and Joby Warrick)
- Chuck Schumer and Mitch McConnell are nearing a power-sharing agreement to decide how the 50-50 chamber will operate. Under the tentative plan, Democrats will be in charge of setting the schedule but Republicans will likely hold an equal number of seats on committees, CNN reports.
- Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will speak at the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool tonight to honor lives lost to covid. (Felicia Sonmez)
- Country star Garth Brooks, a Republican, will perform at Biden’s swearing-in ceremony. Brooks said it’s important for the country to unify. (Annie Linskey)
Biden could usher in a new era of accountability for Silicon Valley.
“The Trump administration put antitrust and regulation on the agenda, and they are likely to continue under the Biden administration. An overhaul of the rules governing tech is overdue: The cornerstone Internet regulation law, which shields companies from liability for content posted by users, will turn 25 years old this year and predates many of the most popular sites, apps and services,” Tony Romm, Elizabeth Dwoskin, Faiz Siddiqui, Eli Rosenberg, Cat Zakrzewski and Rachel Lerman report.
- Silicon Valley is already bracing for tougher regulations. (Romm and Dwoskin)
- Biden campaigned on making gig workers into employees. Now he has to convince Democrats. (Siddiqui and Rosenberg)
- Biden will face pressure to immediately prioritize the expansion of broadband access and dismantle some of Trump's hallmark efforts to deregulate the Internet. (Zakrzewski and Romm)
- Section 230 has become a favorite Trump target, but the liability shield will get a more nuanced review under Biden. (Lerman)
- Government litigation could result in changes to Big Tech's business practices, breakups or significant structural changes. (Zakrzewski)
The security situation
QAnon adherents discuss posing as part of the National Guard to try infiltrating the inauguration.
“The FBI privately warned law enforcement agencies Monday that far-right extremists have discussed posing as National Guard members in Washington and others have reviewed maps of vulnerable spots in the city — signs of potential efforts to disrupt Wednesday’s inauguration,” Carol Leonnig and Matt Zapotosky report. “The FBI also said it had observed people downloading and sharing maps of sensitive locations in Washington and discussing how those facilities could be used to interfere in security during the inauguration. But the intelligence briefing did not identify any specific plots to attack the inaugural events that would be akin to the Jan. 6 siege. … National Guard members have been warned to watch for anyone in uniform who looks like they are out of place.”
The House’s security chief didn’t immediately call the National Guard because of lawmaker wariness.
“After nearly a decade working for the House of Representatives, the chamber’s top security official thought he knew how its political leadership would react if asked to station troops at the Capitol during a major rally supporting Trump. That’s why House Sergeant-at-Arms Paul Irving balked when the chief of the Capitol Police suggested activating the National Guard two days before the Jan. 6 event, he later told a friend,” Rosalind Helderman, Beth Reinhard, Demirjian and Leonnig report. “‘There’s a reality there — the leaders of the House and the Senate don’t want the military up there. They don’t want to show they can’t control their own turf,’ said Bill Pickle, who served as the Senate sergeant-at-arms from 2003 to 2007 and spoke to The Post at Irving’s request. … Irving did not consult first with his boss, [Pelosi], but thought he was reflecting her likely response, Pickle said.”
The FBI is probing possible connections between extremist groups at the heart of the insurrection.
“Though no one has been charged with leading or directing the violence, investigators are working to find out whether certain individuals helped coordinate aspects of the attack, before and during the chaos, or were merely opportunistic instigators,” Devlin Barrett and Spencer Hsu report. “The weekend arrests of people with alleged ties to extremist groups reflects the FBI’s increasing attention to the more prepared, organized and determined groups among the larger mass of rioters. One of those newly charged was Robert Gieswein, 24, of Woodland Park, Colo. Charging documents and videos indicate he may have links to the three extremist groups that have drawn the most attention from the FBI: the Proud Boys, Oath Keepers and Three Percenters."
- Federal authorities said they have arrested Capitol rioter Riley June Williams and are investigating claims from a “former romantic partner” she stole a laptop or hard drive from Pelosi’s office with the intent to sell it to Russian intelligence officers. The ex-partner told the FBI that friends of Williams played a video of her stealing the drive or computer from Pelosi’s office, and that Williams “intended to send the computer device to a friend in Russia, who then planned to sell the device to SVR," according to charging documents. (Hsu and Knowles)
- Guy Reffitt of Texas allegedly threatened to kill his kids if they turned him into the FBI for joining the Capitol riot. “If you turn me in, you’re a traitor and you know what happens to traitors … traitors get shot,” Reffitt, 48, said to his son and daughter, according to his wife, who alerted the bureau. (Jaclyn Peiser)
The Proud Boys and other fringe groups found refuge on a Christian fundraising website.
When Henry “Enrique” Tarrio, the leader of the Proud Boys, was detained and banned from D.C. as he drove into the city on the eve of the riot, his family members “had the idea to monetize the support of his online followers through GiveSendGo.com, a niche Christian fundraising website that bills itself as ‘a place to fund hope,’” Amy Brittain and David Willman report. “Within a week, the ‘Enrique Tarrio Defense Fund’ had amassed more than $113,000 from 2,359 donors, according to the site. Tarrio has pleaded not guilty. ‘It’s not just Proud Boys that are raising money there,’ Tarrio said in an interview Thursday, noting that his group’s chapters nationwide have used the site to fund their cause. … A review by The Post shows that the self-described Christian website has become a refuge of sorts for outcasts and extremists … The pleas for money illustrate how even small-dollar donations could make the trip to Washington possible for some Trump supporters.”
FEMA denied requests from Maryland and Virginia for an emergency declaration to cover expenses associated with responding to the Capitol riot and increasing security because of the inauguration. FEMA’s decision — which both states plan to appeal — would mean they receive no federal funds for providing law enforcement backup amid the insurrection. (Fredrick Kunkle)
Covid lockdowns, protests and election strife led to record gun sales.
“More firearms were sold last year than in any previous year on record,” Marc Fisher, Mark Berman, Christine Spolar, Lori Rozsa and Andrew Ba Tran report. “Gun sales typically soar in the weeks following the election of a Democratic president, as buyers scurry to purchase firearms for fear that the new chief executive will fulfill campaign promises to tighten regulations. But a Washington Post analysis of gun sales in 2020 finds no such surge in recent weeks. Rather, purchases soared in March and April as the effort to curb the spread of the coronavirus led to food shortages, empty streets and millions of lost jobs. Then firearm sales peaked in July, in the weeks after massive protests against police brutality spread throughout the nation. … The flood of gun sales — about 23 million over the course of the year — represents a 64 percent increase over 2019 sales … The 2020 numbers include purchases by more than 8 million first-time buyers …
“Cherie Dercqu, who owns a nail salon in suburban Pittsburgh, never owned a gun until last year. On Thursday, she bought her 11th firearm, a shotgun she plans to keep behind the front door of her home. Dercqu, who said she spent her first stimulus check on guns, now packs a pistol in her purse and keeps another behind the cash register at her shop. She has been going to a range every couple of weeks to practice shooting and said she and her partner intend to keep buying firearms. ‘Until this passes, we are buying guns,’ Dercqu, 52, said. ‘We’re buying ammo, and we’re buying as much as we can. We’re two women. We don’t have a guy at home. I don’t want to feel vulnerable without anything.’”
After months of trauma, vaccinated health-care workers welcome a surprising emotion: Hope.
“For weeks, the long-term care facility where Linda Green works as a nurse looked to her like a battlefield hospital, swathed in plastic drapes separating the ill from the uninfected. The coronavirus ripped through the western Maryland facility like wildfire at the end of 2020, deepening Green’s fear that she, at 73, might bring the virus home to her husband, who is 84,” Karin Brulliard reports. “Then she received a coronavirus shot. It felt like any other vaccination, leaving her with mild upper arm soreness but no other physical side effects. The emotional effects, however, were remarkable. Even thinking of the vaccine, Green said two weeks after receiving the Moderna shot, makes her practically ‘cry with relief’ … ‘Now, when I go in and I’m putting on my N95, I think, ‘This may only be for a few more weeks,’’ said Green …
“Although about 21 million health-care personnel are in the first group to be inoculated, many have not yet received the vaccine, and some remain hesitant. About 12.3 million shots have been administered nationwide, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. … On Monday, the nation stood on the brink of another pandemic milestone as the death toll approached 400,000 … More than 151,000 new cases were reported Monday.”
- Biden will not immediately lift pandemic-related restrictions on international travel. “We plan to strengthen public health measures around international travel in order to further mitigate the spread,” said incoming White House press secretary Jennifer Psaki, responding to Trump's proclamation that he would lift restrictions on travel from Brazil and much of Europe next week. (Sonmez)
- “Five prominent anti-vaccine organizations that have been known to spread misleading information about the coronavirus received more than $850,000 in loans from the federal Paycheck Protection Program,” Elizabeth Dwoskin and Aaron Gregg report.
- More than 1,400 new vaccination appointments in the District were snapped up in 25 minutes. (Katherine Shaver, Erin Cox and Jenna Portnoy)
- A California man who said he was scared to go home due to covid spent three months living in the Chicago airport, taking up residence between a Cinnabon and a shoe shine stand before authorities noticed. He faces charges of felony criminal trespassing and misdemeanor theft. (Antonia Farzan)
The virus destroyed a young man’s lungs. His foster mother had to decide whether to let him go.
“Covid-19 had destroyed Elenilson Orellana Garcia’s lungs. The 36-year-old teacher’s aide, known to friends and family as Nelson, was in his third month on life support and his condition had not improved,” Steve Thompson reports. “Doctors at MedStar Washington Hospital Center no longer believed he had the strength to get better. The machines, they said, were just prolonging his suffering. … Doctors had to keep Orellana Garcia sedated and chemically paralyzed as they tried to hold his oxygen levels steady. They said they had done all they could do and it was time to let him go. But [Saundra] Rogers wasn’t ready. She had mothered him since he turned up in her bilingual-education classroom in Washington, D.C., a scrawny 10-year-old fresh from El Salvador. Under her care, he had adjusted to a new world, learned English, graduated from high school, become a responsible adult. Many times before, she had refused to give up on him when others might have. …
“Over the decades, Rogers had learned that motherhood meant doing hard things. She no longer believed that what she was doing was giving up. Rather, she thought, it was the last act of mothering she could give her son. … On Jan. 6, Rogers was allowed a final visit to Orellana Garcia’s hospital room. … She held his hand and told him how proud she was of him and that it was okay to stop fighting. Behind her, they did something to the machines. He took several deep breaths, and then he was still.”
Social media speed read
The outgoing president has not been seen in public since he traveled to Texas a week ago:
On MLK Day, his daughter reminded Americans not to forget that Martin Luther King Jr. was not universally beloved during his lifetime:
A Central American boy who was traveling toward the U.S. in a migrant caravan interacts with police in Guatemala as their group was broken up by authorities:
Videos of the day
Seth Meyers said that the “rot” that Trump exposed in the GOP will remain in the party through his many defenders:
Stephen Colbert said Trump finally started a profitable family business with the way so many in his circle are profiting from pardon deals:
And Jimmy Kimmel says Trump’s low approval rating is actually quite good for someone who inspired an insurrection: