President Biden will deliver a prime-time address on Thursday to commemorate the first anniversary of the coronavirus “shutdown” and to talk about the role “Americans will play in beating the virus,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki announced Monday.

The address is part of a busy week of events focused on the coronavirus as Congress nears final passage of a $1.9 trillion relief bill. On Monday, Biden visited a veterans’ medical center in Washington that is administering coronavirus vaccines.

Meanwhile, Sen. Roy Blunt (Mo.) said Monday that he won’t seek reelection next year, becoming the fifth Republican senator to announce retirement plans.

Here’s what to know:

  • The Dow Jones industrial average soared nearly 600 points by midday Monday following news that the Senate had passed Biden’s relief package and that he is on track to sign it this week.
  • On International Women’s Day, Biden signed a pair of executive orders. One directs the Education Department to review a controversial regulation governing how colleges and universities handle allegations of sexual assault. The other establishes the White House Gender Policy Council.
  • Biden on Sunday signed an executive order aimed at promoting voting rights amid a push by Republican-led state legislatures to roll back voting access in the wake of former president Donald Trump’s 2020 loss and baseless effort to cast doubt on the integrity of U.S. elections.
  • Worried that Afghan peace talks are going nowhere, and facing a May 1 deadline for the possible withdrawal of all U.S. troops, the Biden administration has proposed sweeping plans for an interim power-sharing government between the Taliban and Afghan leaders.
1:00 a.m.
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Two Justice Department nominees to highlight importance of responding to Jan. 6 attack during confirmation hearing

At their confirmation hearing Tuesday, Lisa Monaco, Biden’s nominee for deputy attorney general, and Vanita Gupta, his choice for associate attorney general, are expected to say that the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob has made the Justice Department’s work even more important.

The Senate Judiciary Committee will meet Tuesday morning to consider the nominations of Monaco and Gupta.

According to prepared remarks released by the panel Monday night, Monaco will say that the department “is at an inflection point” in the wake of the January insurrection.

“Never has the Department’s role in protecting our national security and the safety of the American people been more important, as we battle violent extremism — foreign and domestic — and mounting cyber threats from nation states and criminals alike,” Monaco is expected to say. “Our response to the shocking events of January 6th, an attack that cut to our country’s core, and I know so personally affected many in this room, is nothing less than the defense of our democracy.”

Monaco will emphasize the need for the Justice Department to “renew our work with law enforcement to protect public safety and build community trust.”

Gupta is expected to cite the influence of the attack on the department’s work as well, according to her prepared remarks.

“As the events on Jan. 6th make clear, our democracy and Constitution do not protect themselves,” Gupta will say. “It is people of good conscience who do.”

12:28 a.m.
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Rare trial of U.S. journalist arrested on the job begins in Iowa

Prosecutors in Iowa on Monday began their case against a Des Moines Register reporter arrested during racial justice protests last summer, in a rare trial of a U.S. journalist charged with a crime while reporting.

Andrea Sahouri, a public safety reporter for the Register, had been covering protests sparked by the police killing of George Floyd, when police pepper-sprayed and arrested her and her then-boyfriend, Spenser Robnett, on May 31. They were charged with failure to disperse and interference with official acts, misdemeanors that could lead to 30 days in jail.

In opening statements, prosecutor Brecklyn Carey presented the case as a simple one, hinging on whether Sahouri and Robnett complied with an order to disperse and interfered with an arrest. She didn’t mention that Sahouri had been reporting — an element that has alarmed journalism experts following the case.

11:35 p.m.
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Reversing Trump decision, Biden reimposes sanctions on Israeli businessman accused of corrupt business practices in Africa

Biden reimposed punitive U.S. sanctions on an Israeli businessman on Monday, reversing a controversial action taken by former president Donald Trump shortly before he left office.

The Biden administration action replaced restrictions on billionaire Dan Gertler, who is accused of corrupt and exploitative business practices in Africa. Trump had applied sanctions on Gertler in 2017 but granted him a waiver on Jan. 15, less than a week before Trump left office.

That waiver is “inconsistent with America’s strong foreign policy interests in combating corruption around the world,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said in a statement.

The State Department cited the mining magnate’s business operations in Congo, where he is accused of cutting corrupt deals.

“The United States will continue to promote accountability for corrupt actors with all the tools at our disposal, in order to advance democracy, uphold international norms, and impose tangible costs on those who seek to upend them,” Price said.

The Biden administration action does not answer the mystery of why Trump punished Gertler and then gave him a pass.

The Trump administration had targeted Gertler in 2017, accusing him of gross human rights and other violations. The sanctions imposed then and in 2018 effectively cut off Gertler from the international banking system. In December, after Trump lost his reelection, Gertler asked that the penalties be lifted. The request was granted without substantial explanation.

Gertler had hired Trump-connected lawyer Alan Dershowitz to argue his case to Trump officials and had cultivated ties to David Friedman, the former Trump bankruptcy lawyer whom Trump had made ambassador to Israel.

11:13 p.m.
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Analysis: The community element of dangerous conspiracy theories

It’s convenient and comforting to think of conspiracy theorists as isolated loners. There’s an element of deviance to such theorizing, by definition, so it seems appropriate to view adherents as outcasts clumped together around society’s drain.

But that is often not the reality.

There were two conspiracy theories at the heart of the attack on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, both completely untrue. The first was that there was widespread fraud in the 2020 presidential election, tainting the results. The second was the QAnon theory — this idea that President Donald Trump was engaged in a massive, secret battle against a ring of pedophiles that would result in widespread arrests of Democratic leaders and celebrities.

10:29 p.m.
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House waiting for Senate to send over covid bill, could delay final vote

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said the Senate has yet to send over the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill it passed over the weekend, which could delay final passage until Wednesday.

Pelosi said there are no issues with the bill, just that it takes time to incorporate the changes the Senate made. Then the House must send the bill to the Rules Committee to establish rules for the floor debate before it can be brought to the House for a final vote.

The legislation “has to be very precise, and it takes time to do that. It has some changes that they have to precisely write,” Pelosi said. “It could be that we get it tomorrow afternoon and then it has to go to Rules. And we’d take it up Wednesday morning at the latest.”

After the House passes the package, which includes stimulus checks of up to $1,400 for individuals making less than $80,000 a year and households earning less than $160,000, $300 weekly unemployment benefits through September, and $14 billion for vaccine distribution, it will be sent to the White House for President Biden to sign into law.

10:09 p.m.
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RNC moves portion of its spring donor retreat to Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club

The Republican National Committee is moving part of its spring donor retreat next month to Mar-a-Lago from a nearby hotel for a dinner speech that will be headlined by former president Donald Trump, according to Republicans involved in the planning of the event.

The move, which highlights the former president’s continued grip over the GOP, comes amid a spat over the use by the RNC and other Republican organizations of Trump’s likeness and image in fundraising, as well as anxiety about how Trump plans to use his influence in the 2022 midterms.

The weekend retreat in early April for the party’s most influential donors will be at a luxury hotel in Palm Beach, Fla., as in past years. But the RNC has decided to move the Saturday evening portion of the schedule to the former president’s private club to accommodate Trump and guests who would like to visit the site, according to officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe the plans.

9:54 p.m.
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Man charged in Capitol riot is linked to Oath Keepers, seen with Roger Stone on Jan. 6, prosecutors say

A man linked by prosecutors to both the Oath Keepers and Republican strategist Roger Stone was arrested Monday in New York and charged with criminal involvement in the breach of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.

Roberto Minuta, 36, of Hackettstown, N.J., is accused of obstructing the formal counting of presidential election votes, trespassing and attempting to cover up his crimes.

Prosecutors say Minuta came to the Capitol dressed in gear identifying him as a member of the right-wing Oath Keepers group — citing a video in which he appears with Stone that morning. Federal prosecutors have alleged that members of the Oath Keepers conspired to storm the Capitol to prevent President Biden from taking office.

The Justice Department and the FBI are investigating whether Stone and other high-profile right-wing figures played a role in the insurrection by promoting false claims that the election was stolen from former president Donald Trump. Stone, a longtime Trump friend and adviser, was involved in events on Jan. 5 and 6 but says they were peaceful protests. While investigators are interested in how the rioters became radicalized, they caution that criminal charges against Stone and others who spread misinformation are a distant prospect given case law on incitement and free speech.

9:53 p.m.
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Biden moves to promote two female generals whose nominations were reportedly delayed by the Pentagon for fear of Trump’s reaction

President Biden on Monday announced the nominations of two female generals for promotion to four-star commands, hailing the nominees as “two outstanding and eminently qualified warriors and patriots.”

The president nominated Gen. Jacqueline Van Ovost of the Air Force to be commander of the United States Transportation Command, and Lt. Gen. Laura Richardson to be commander of the United States Southern Command. The nominations come on International Women’s Day, Biden noted in remarks from the White House.

“Once confirmed, they will become the second and third women in the history of the United States armed forces to lead combatant commands,” Biden said at the event, where he was joined by Richardson and Von Ovost as well as Vice President Harris and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.

“Each of these women have led careers demonstrating incomparable skill, integrity and duty to country, and at every step, they’ve also helped push open the doors of opportunity to women in our military, blazing the trail a little wider, a little brighter for all proud women following in their path and looking to their example,” Biden added.

According to the New York Times, Pentagon leaders held back the nominations of Van Ovost and Richardson until after the November presidential election for fear that President Donald Trump would reject them because they are women.

“They were chosen because they were the best officers for the jobs, and I didn’t want their promotions derailed because someone in the Trump White House saw that I recommended them or thought DOD was playing politics,” former defense secretary Mark T. Esper told the New York Times last month. “This was not the case. They were the best qualified. We were doing the right thing.”

Van Ovost is the commander of Air Mobility Command, while Richardson is commanding general of U.S. Army North.

9:49 p.m.
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New York attorney general appoints lawyers to lead investigation of allegations against Gov. Cuomo

New York Attorney General Letitia James has appointed a former acting U.S. attorney and an employment discrimination lawyer to lead the independent investigation of sexual harassment allegations against New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo (D).

Former acting U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York Joon H. Kim and employment discrimination attorney Anne L. Clark will lead the investigation into a pattern of conduct that has been described by five women over the last three weeks, James’s office said in a release Monday.

“We are committed to an independent and thorough investigation of the facts,” James (D) said in a statement. “Joon H. Kim and Anne L. Clark are independent, legal experts who have decades of experience conducting investigations and fighting to uphold the rule of law.”

The governor has previously authorized the investigation, giving it the power to subpoena documents and witnesses, after two failed attempts to have a different leadership structure. He has refused growing calls for his resignation and asked New Yorkers to withhold judgment until it is complete.

Five women, four of whom worked for Cuomo, have publicly alleged inappropriate conduct by the governor. The accusations include asking multiple junior employees personal questions about their dating history, describing his own willingness to date a younger woman to a 25-year-old aide, proposing a game of strip poker to another aide, kissing someone without their consent and inviting someone to his hotel room where he embraced her in an uncomfortable hug.

Cuomo has denied any inappropriate physical contact with women, and apologized for saying things that he says he did not realize were hurtful at the time.

Debra Katz, an attorney for Cuomo accuser Charlotte Bennett, welcomed the appointments. “We are encouraged by the experience and background of the attorneys who will be investigating Charlotte’s claims and expect the investigation will extend to the claims of the other women who we know to be out there,” said Katz.

9:42 p.m.
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Biden administration declares up to 320,000 Venezuelans eligible for temporary protected status

The Biden administration on Monday declared up to 320,000 Venezuelan migrants in the United States eligible for temporary protected status, a category of legal residence that would open a path to U.S. citizenship for them under the immigration bill Biden sent to Congress last week.

Eligibility extends only to those Venezuelans in the country as of March 8 who apply within the next 180 days and meet vetting requirements. The program is intended to protect those who are unable to return home safely because of natural disaster, violence or civil unrest.

“The living conditions in Venezuela reveal a country in turmoil, unable to protect its own citizens,” said Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro N. Mayorkas, who officially made the designation. The TPS decision marked the most visible step so far toward implementing campaign pledges Biden made to adopt a different Venezuelan policy from that of his predecessor, Donald Trump.

Biden promised to increase humanitarian aid both to those suffering from scarce food and medicine inside Venezuela, as well as the millions of Venezuelan refugees scattered across Latin America. He said he would mobilize more international pressure to force President Nicolás Maduro to negotiate with opposition leaders toward free and fair elections, and to combat corruption that — along with heavy U.S. sanctions — has brought the Venezuelan economy to near-ruin. But so far, it is difficult to see any significant change.

Trump sanctions remain in effect and “under review,” according to a senior administration official who briefed reporters on the TPS decision. The official spoke on the condition of anonymity under White House ground rules.

9:00 p.m.
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Hillary Clinton calls Meghan and Harry’s Oprah Winfrey interview ‘heart-rending’

Hillary Clinton said it was “heart-rending” to watch the deeply personal interview airing Sunday in which Harry and Meghan, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, spoke about not feeling supported by the British royal family.

“It just was heartbreaking that this incredibly accomplished woman, Meghan Markle, who falls in love with Prince Harry, was not fully embraced by not just the so-called ‘firm,’ which is the name for the permanent bureaucracy that surrounds the royal family, but by the media in the U.K.,” Clinton said during a Washington Post Live interview Monday. “I’ve had my time in the box with the British tabloids, as anybody who is in the public eye has had. Their cruelty in going after Meghan was just outrageous.”

She lamented that Meghan did not get more support, “that the reaction was, ‘Let’s just paper it over.’”

“This young woman was not about to keep her head down,” Clinton said. “This is 2021, and she wanted to live her life. She wanted to be fully engaged, and she had every right to hope for that.”

During the Sunday interview with Oprah Winfrey, Meghan discussed her own mental health and issues of race, revealing that there had been “concerns and conversations” about her son’s skin color.

Clinton called for “every institution” to “make more space and acceptance for young people coming up, particularly young women, who should not be forced into a mold that is no longer relevant, not only for them but for our society.”

Clinton said she hoped for “serious, thoughtful consideration in all of the institutions — not just in response to what Meghan and Harry were talking about — but literally across all of our societies. Why do we make it so hard to incorporate diversity, to celebrate it, to be proud of it?”

8:31 p.m.
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Hillary Clinton says she hopes GOP will ‘find its soul, will find its center again’

Hours after Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) announced he would not seek reelection next year, Hillary Clinton took at jab at the numerous Republicans announcing retirement plans, saying they “don’t have the stomach anymore to stand up and fight against extremism in their own party.”

“They’ve done a calculation. They’ve concluded Trump is the puppet master who pulls the strings of the hardcore base of the Republican Party,” she said in a Washington Post Live interview on Monday, adding: “They’re just throwing the towel in.”

During the half-hour interview with The Post’s Jonathan Capehart, Clinton spoke at length about former president Donald Trump’s influence on the Republican Party and said she hopes the party will “find its soul, will find its center again and understand they can’t keep playing with fire.”

“It is really troubling to see the Republican Party turn themselves into a cult, and basically pledge allegiance not to the United States of America but to Donald Trump,” she said, suggesting members of the party are in part anxious about the possibility that Trump will “instigate primary opponents against them.”

She said that after the 2016 presidential election, she hoped Trump would, “once in office, understand the enormity of the job, have some of that sense of humility that presidents need to have when they’re in the Oval Office.”

“He never grew into the job. He never accepted the awesome responsibility that goes with being president,” she said.

Clinton also swiped at Republicans during a discussion of the filibuster and sided with Democrats pressuring President Biden to do away with it.

“We have a minority that is becoming more and more extreme that is basically holding the majority — not just of Congress but of the country — back,” she said, adding she’s “encouraged there are conversations about whether, if [the filibuster is] not done away with completely, it can be modified.”

8:11 p.m.
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Sen. Blunt’s retirement sure to spark chaotic GOP primary that could pit controversial former governor against several sitting Missouri officials

Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri — the No. 4 Senate Republican leader and an experienced Capitol Hill dealmaker — said Monday he would not seek reelection next year, becoming the fifth veteran GOP senator to bow out of the midterm elections.

While Blunt’s seat is likely to remain in Republican hands, his retirement is certain to spark a chaotic GOP primary campaign that could pit a controversial former governor against several sitting Missouri officials.

That race could lead to the nomination of a much more ideological and confrontational candidate than the 71-year-old Blunt, who has spent 24 years in the House and Senate balancing party loyalty as a longtime member of the GOP leadership ranks with considerable skills as an inside operator able to cut high-stakes deals with Democrats on must-pass bills.

Blunt found his cordial, transactional style increasingly out of step with the mood of his party’s base — especially following the election of President Donald Trump, whom Blunt sometimes gently criticized, particularly on matters of foreign policy. But he gave little indication he was seriously considering retirement as he voted consistently in line with Trump — at least until Jan. 6, when he broke from scores of congressional Republicans and Missouri’s junior GOP senator, Josh Hawley, to reject challenges to Trump’s November loss.

His decision creates immediate headaches for Republican political strategists — who must worry about a fifth open GOP Senate seat in next year’s elections, another intraparty contest that could complicate the quest to retake the majority.

8:02 p.m.
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Harris announces $250 million in grants for health literacy amid coronavirus vaccination push

The Biden administration will offer $250 million in grants over the next two years aimed at improving health literacy amid the coronavirus pandemic, Vice President Harris announced Monday.

The grants will go toward localities to partner with community organizations, she said, with the goal of providing information to underserved communities on vaccinations and other health matters.

“Remember, information and education, of course, saves lives,” Harris said in remarks to the National League of Cities. “When folks have the information and the education, they have the tools that equip them to take care of themselves and their family.”

Harris said the administration will fund 30 projects in urban communities and 43 projects in rural communities.

The move was first reported by CBS News.