with Tobi Raji

Good Tuesday morning. Nikki Haley's changing her tune on Donald Trump; “Salvator Mundi” has been found; and we're interviewing Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) this morning at 9 a.m. join us! Thanks for waking up with the Power Up newsletter.

On the Hill

DIVIDED WE STAND: No Republicans have yet signed on to a measure requiring the Justice Department to speed up reviews of hate crimes related to the coronavirus pandemic.

That's according to one of the bill's sponsors, Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), who doubts her proposal will garner the support necessary to be considered on the Senate floor. Democrats describe the measure as “unobjectionable,” “modest,” and “noncontroversial,” meaning a GOP decision to block it could intensify a simmering debate over eliminating the filibuster, which effectively means most Senate bills need 60 votes for passage.

  • “You would think that all the Republicans would condemn the hate crimes that are being targeted against [Asian American Pacific Islanders] but not enough of them have spoken up,” Hirono added. 
  • The bill, co-sponsored by Rep. Grace Meng (D-N.Y.), would assign a DOJ official to review and expedite all hate crime reports related to the coronavirus, expand support for local and state law enforcement agencies responding to these hate crimes, and issue guidance on mitigating racially discriminatory language to describe the pandemic.
  • We just want to get more information about who's reaching out data collection working with the state and county law enforcement on hate crimes, Hirono told reporters. 
  • Hirono told reporters she's tried reaching out to Republicans to discuss the bill and “they basically don't respond.” 

President Biden urged Congress to “swiftly pass the legislation as anti-Asian violence has risen during the pandemic. Senate Republicans have yet to make an official decision whether to support the bill.

  • “Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.), who said he had not yet read the bill, said it ‘doesn’t do anything’ and is a ‘messaging bill’ and then told reporters he needed to read it,” our colleague Paulina Firozi writes.
  • “Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) said there are ‘members who are interested in finding out more about what’s in it, and perhaps having an opportunity to engage in a discussion about how to make it better, how to improve it, so we’ll see what happens,’” Paulina reports.
  • “I’d love to see a bipartisan result here. But in some ways it goes too far, in our view,” Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) said of the bill.
  • Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) told Wu, Levine, and Everett the bill has “drafting problems that I hope can be corrected. For example, it seems to say that the hate crime has to be linked to covid, which is rather odd.”

Democrats are poised to call out Republicans for obstructionism if they choose to employ the filibuster on such a sensitive topic.

  • Who can’t say that hate crimes against Asian Americans and others [are] reprehensible?” Senate Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.) told Politico's Nicholas Wu, Marianne Levine, and Burgess Everett. 
  • But even some Democrats, notably Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), questioned why the bill didn't go through committee. “It’s not a b***s*** topic, it’s a really serious topic,” Kaine told Politico. “Why wouldn’t we have a committee hearing and have witnesses to talk about the trauma this is visiting upon Asian Americans because there’s a real fear out there. Why wouldn’t we do that? Have a markup in committee? We control the committees.”
  • “Because anything … the Democrats are putting forward as important, the Republican tend to not to support,” Hirono surmised.

The “racialization” of the pandemic: Terms including ‘China,’ ‘Wuhan’ and ‘flu’ surged on far-right forums on Telegram, 8kun and TheDonald.win as former president Donald Trump pushed baseless allegations of widespread voter fraud, according to data tracked by the Network Contagion Research Institute, which monitors misinformation and online extremism,” our colleagues Drew Harwell, Craig Timberg, Razzan Nakhlawi and Andrew Ba Tran reported last month in the wake of the fatal shooting of six Asian women in Georgia. 

  • “The terms were used on those platforms 44 percent more in January than in the average month last year.”
  • Charissa Cheah, a University of Maryland Baltimore County professor who has studied Asian American discrimination, said the ‘racialization’ of the pandemic as the ‘China flu’ has led to Asian Americans being targeted for real-world abuse.”
  • An analysis of police department statistics by the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino, examining hate crimes in 16 of America's largest cities showed a “significant hike in anti-Asian hate crimes last year,” NBC News's Kimmy Yam reported. It revealed that while such crimes in 2020 decreased overall by 7 percent, those targeting Asian people rose by nearly 150 percent." 
  • Big picture: “Domestic terrorism incidents have soared to new highs in the United States, driven chiefly by white-supremacist, anti-Muslim and anti-government extremists on the far right, according to a Washington Post analysis of data compiled by the Center for Strategic and International Studies,” our colleagues Robert O'Harrow Jr., Andrew Ba Tran and Derek Hawkins report. 

Coming soon: Hirono told reporters the White House will soon announce the appointment of a senior adviser on AAPI issues. After Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) and Hirono said they'd block votes on Biden's nominees until he more deeply engaged on the uptick of hate crimes and incidents targeting Asian Americans, the White House made assurances to do more to elevate AAPI voices. 

  • On Thursday, Biden will meet with members of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus at the White House.

In the agencies

KRISTEN CLARKE POISED TO INHERIT DOJ'S ‘CROWN JEWEL’: Tomorrow, “Clarke will appear at a Senate confirmation hearing as Biden’s nominee to lead the Justice Department’s civil rights division,” our colleague David Nakamura reports this morning. “If confirmed, she would become the first Black woman to helm what former Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. called the agency’s ‘crown jewel.’”

  • “Her confirmation path is expected to be contentious. At the Lawyers’s Committee, Clarke was at the forefront of legal efforts to sue the Trump administration on voting rights, immigration, changes to the U.S. Census, and the teargassing of protesters outside the White House last summer.”
  • “Now, conservatives fearful that Clarke and Vanita Gupta — another civil rights lawyer who is awaiting a Senate vote on her nomination to the Justice Department’s No. 3 position — will seek to quickly ramp up federal efforts to restructure local police departments, bolster prosecutions of hate crimes and expand voting access for minorities have sought to cast them as radical and extreme.”
  • “Clarke’s supporters dismissed the attacks as a bad-faith effort to discredit her … ‘She genuinely cares about people, is serious about her business and believes in justice and equality for all people,'” Ernest Montgomery, a Black council member in Calera, Ala, told our colleague.

The campaign

INSIDE TRUMP’S PRIVATE, REVISIONIST, GRIEVANCE-LADEN SPEECH: The Post obtained audio of former president Donald Trump's speech to a private Republican National Committee event at Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate resort in Palm Beach, Fla., our colleague Aaron Blake reports. 

Most of what was in it has basically been reported, but “audio of the speech reviewed by The Post reveals that Trump at times went even further in going after his foes and revising electoral history, even lodging a suggestive attack involving former first lady Michelle Obama’s appearance.”

  • A McConnell “sir” story: “Mitch McConnell comes to see me,” Trump claimed. “‘I need your help, sir.’ ‘What do you need, Mitch?’ ‘I’m losing.’ And he was losing. Every poll — the fake news doesn’t talk about this — every poll said he was losing.”
  • On Georgia, where the president falsely claimed he won in 2020, Trump said “'Oprah Winfrey camped out in Atlanta' in support of [Gov. Brian] Kemp’s 2018 opponent Stacey Abrams, Trump claimed, wrongly saying that Winfrey was there for ‘months.' Trump added: “Barack Hussein Obama and the very beautiful Michelle Obama were there for At this point, the audience laughed uproariously. Michelle Obama’s appearance has often served as a punchline in some portions of the conservative Internet."

Outside the Beltway

MINNEAPOLIS KILLING ADDS TO ANGUISH: “Long before [Officer Kim Potter] raised her gun and fired at 20-year-old Daunte Wright, Minneapolis was braced for a turbulent spring. But the killing of Wright on Sunday — shot by a [26-year] veteran officer who, the police chief said, had apparently intended to use her Taser — instantly added anger and combustibility in a region already on edge from the highest-stakes trial to date,” our colleagues Griff Witte and Mark Berman report

  • “People haven’t healed from last year’s events, or the ones before that,” Jamar Nelson, outreach specialist for A Mother’s Love, a Minneapolis-based anti-violence group, told our colleagues. “We’ve been going through this for a long, long time. Each event is triggering.”
  • “Wright is at least the 262nd person shot and killed by police so far this year, according to a Washington Post database tracking such shootings. He also appears to be the latest person fatally shot by a police officer who said they intended to pull their Tasers but accidentally drew their firearms instead.”
  • The shooting also raises the stakes of the Chauvin murder trial, which “hurtled toward its conclusion on Monday, with final arguments in the case against former Minneapolis officer Derek Chauvin expected next week,” per Witte and Berman.

What we know about Wright: “He was a happy-go-lucky kid with a smile that could light up a room, a young man with personality oozing from every pore. A devoted son, brother and father, Daunte Wright had a rare spark,” the Minneapolis Star-Tribune’s John Reinan writes. 

  • “Wright, who had a two-year-old son, dropped out of high school about two years ago because of a learning disability. Since then, he worked in retail and fast-food restaurants to support his son. He planned to go back to school to get his GED,” our colleagues Kim Bellware, Andrea Salcedo, Sheila Regan, Jared Goyette and Meryl Kornfield report
  • “He had a smile that was angelic,” his mother, Katie Wright, said, sobbing at a vigil attended by hundreds. “My heart is literally broken in 1,000 pieces.”

STUDENT DEAD, OFFICER WOUNDED AFTER GUNFIRE EXCHANGE AT TENNESSEE HIGH SCHOOL: “A teenage boy was killed and a police officer wounded Monday afternoon in a shootout at Austin-East Magnet High School in Knoxville,” the Knoxville News Sentinel’s Tyler Whetstone reports

CDC DIRECTOR WARNS MICHIGAN AGAINST VACCINATING ITS WAY OUT OF THE OUTBREAK: “The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Monday that, to stem the rampant spread of coronavirus in Michigan, the state needs to ‘shut things down,’ rather than hope the federal government will send the extra doses of vaccine that the governor has sought,” our colleague Amy Goldstein reports

The policies

BIDEN WILLING TO BUILD BRIDGES: “Biden vowed Monday that the size and scope of his $2.25 trillion jobs plan — as well as how to pay for it — is up for negotiation, setting the stage for what is likely to be months of congressional wrangling on one of the White House’s chief legislative priorities,” our colleagues Seung Min Kim and Tony Romm report

  • “Despite the president’s appetite for bipartisanship, the infrastructure bill has received little interest from Republicans so far, particularly with Biden’s proposal to finance it by raising taxes on corporations from the current 21 percent to 28 percent.”
  • “Whether a bipartisan deal ultimately materializes is far from clear, however, a top GOP senator told Biden in a private Oval Office meeting Monday that it would be ‘almost impossible’ to win over Republicans if the plan envisions boosting the corporate tax rate, as it currently does.”

Meanwhile, Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) appears okay with some corporate tax increase:

Global power

U.S., IRAN STEAMROLL AHEAD, DESPITE ATTACK: “U.S. negotiators [are] prepared to resume indirect talks with Iran this week in hopes that an attack on a key Iranian nuclear facility, widely attributed to Israel, would not derail the nascent effort at diplomacy,” our colleagues Karen DeYoung, Shira Rubin and Kareem Fahim report.

  • “There was no way to know how Iran [will] react until they return to the European Union-sponsored talks [tomorrow]. After last week's initial meeting, both sides labeled the negotiations as constructive and businesslike.”
  • “The operation raised the question of whether Israel was acting on its own to strike Iran and undermine American diplomacy. Or, alternatively, whether Israel was operating in concert with American interests, carrying out dirty work that would weaken Iran’s negotiating position in the talks,” the New York Times’s Patrick Kingsley, David E. Sanger and Farnaz Fassihi report.



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