with Tobi Raji

Good Tuesday morning. Donald Trump turned 75 yesterday; listen to Christiane Amanpour and your body; and Barack Obama has some advice for us. This is the Power Up newsletter – thanks for waking up with us. 

At the White House

THE IMMIGRATION FILES: With the Biden administration off to a slow start in fulfilling the president's campaign promise to overhaul the nation's immigration laws, the administration announced a new immigration policy on Monday and Vice President Kamala Harris is expected to ramp up pressure on the Senate on Tuesday to pass two immigration bills that passed the House with bipartisan support earlier this year. 

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced a new policy yesterday that “will expand access to work permits and deportation relief to some immigrants who are crime victims while their visa cases are pending,” Reuters's Ted Hesson first reported. 

  • The change will benefit immigrants who have applied for the U visa, a program that currently has a backlog of 270,000 applications, a number that grew significantly during the Trump administration,” per the New York Times's Eileen Sullivan. 

Today, on the nine-year anniversary of the creation of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, Harris will host a roundtable featuring “a group of female immigrants who have temporary protection from deportation,” USA Today's Courtney Subramanian reports. 

  • “The roundtable comes as DACA's future remains in peril as a federal judge in Texas is weighing a court challenge to strike down the program entirely, sealing the fate of hundreds of thousands of young immigrants who have spent the majority of their lives in the U.S. but may be forced to return to countries they haven't seen in years.” 
  • “The vice president will use the meeting to call on the Senate to pass two bills that cleared the House with bipartisan support earlier this year: the American Dream and Promise Act,  which would give DACA recipients the ability to live and work in the U.S, as well as the Farm Workforce Modernization Act, which would enable more than 1 million undocumented farm workers to apply for legal status,” per Subramanian. 

The meeting also comes after Harris made news overseas for her tough warning to potential migrants mulling a trip to the U.S. border that's at odds with Biden's vow to take a gentler and more humane approach to the issue than the previous administration. 

  • “Do not come. You will be turned back,” Harris said during a news conference with Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei last week.
  • “…And Harris’s trip through Latin America, the first international foray of her tenure, was repeatedly overshadowed by questions about why she did not visit America’s southern border, where the problems are most evident,” our colleague Cleve Wootson Jr. reported last week from Mexico City. “Harris said Tuesday that she would visit the border at some point during her vice presidency, while stressing that her portfolio is to tackle the root causes of migration in the countries of origin.” 

The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing today on the American Dream and Promise Act, which would grant citizenship to an estimated 2.7 million people who arrived as children or have temporary permission to stay in the U.S.  

  • If DACA is struck down in court, it could put even more pressure on Congress to take up the House-passed legislation that the hearing will highlight. 
  • Reality check: “Immigration continues to vex GOP and Democratic lawmakers, as Republicans remain wary about granting legalization to undocumented immigrants as long as migrants, including unaccompanied children, continue to arrive at the southern border in large numbers,” our colleagues Seung Min Kim and Mike DeBonis reported last month. “And on voting, Senate Democrats, who hold the barest of majorities, have not even rounded up unanimous support within their ranks, much less the 10 GOP votes that would be needed to clear legislation through their chamber.” 

Global power

ALL EYES ON CHINA: “NATO leaders on Monday agreed to pivot their alliance to a more confrontational stance toward China, a landmark shift as President Biden sought to boost and reorient the organization after the eruptions and conflict that marked the Trump era,” our Post colleagues Michael Birnbaum, Anne Gearan and Ashley Parker report

  • “Monday’s discussion was a sharp expansion of NATO’s efforts to confront Beijing after years when China was outside the focus of the defensive alliance. The allies agreed in their closing communique that ‘China’s stated ambitions and assertive behavior present systemic challenges to the rules-based international order.’”
  • “Although the NATO leaders signed off on the sharper language on China, disagreements remained about the best role for a group that has traditionally focused on Russia and direct threats to NATO members, such as terrorism.”

… AND RUSSIA: “As NATO leaders wrapped up a one-day summit and his meeting with [Russian President] Vladimir V. Putin neared, Biden said Monday that the United States is not looking for confrontation with the Kremlin,” the New York Times’s Steven Erlanger reports.

  • “What I’ll convey to President Putin is that I’m not looking for conflict with Russia but that we will respond if Russia continues its harmful activities,” Biden said at a news conference in Brussels. “And we will not fail to defend the trans-Atlantic alliance or stand up for democratic values.”
  • The pair will have much to discuss on Wednesday. In an interview with NBC News, “Putin said the U.S. allegations that Russian hackers or the government itself were behind cyberattacks in the U.S. were ‘farcical,’ and he challenged NBC News, and by implication the U.S. government, to produce proof that Russians were involved.”
  • “We have been accused of all kinds of things,” he told NBC News’s Keir Simmons. “Election interference, cyberattacks and so on and so forth. And not once, not once, not one time, did they bother to produce any kind of evidence or proof. Just unfounded accusations.”

On the Hill

DEAL OR NO DEAL: “Momentum is building in the Senate behind a $1.2 trillion infrastructure proposal, as liberals are showing a new willingness to accept the package with key assurances and Republican leaders predicting the potential of wide support within their conference,” CNN's Lauren Fox and Manu Raju report.

  • On the left: “Liberals such as Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) said Monday that they might be willing to accept a smaller package now if there are ‘irrevocable’ commitments from Democratic moderates to pass a larger bill along straight party-lines.”
  • On the right: Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) “suggested there could be enough GOP senators backing such a plan to overcome a 60-vote threshold and any filibuster attempt, assuming the final proposal resembles the outline that the group put forward last week.”
  • Ulterior motives? “A growing number of Senate Republicans are betting that if a deal is reached, Democrats won’t have the votes needed to pass the rest of Biden’s ‘soft infrastructure’ priorities, such as child care and clean energy,” Politico's Marianne Levine and Burgess Everett report.

What we're watching: “Details of the bipartisan infrastructure's plan are still not yet public. The group is expected to unveil the proposal to their respective caucuses in more detail [today] during each parties's lunches,” per Fox and Raju.

ALSO: The Senate invoked cloture on Lina Khan, Biden’s pick for the 5-member Federal Trade Commission. The Senate will vote to confirm the nomination today.

In the agencies

🚨:  “An hour before President Donald J. Trump announced in December that William P. Barr would step down as attorney general, the president began pressuring Mr. Barr’s eventual replacement to have the Justice Department take up his false claims of election fraud,” the New York Times's Katie Benner reports. 

  • "Mr. Trump sent an email via his assistant to Jeffrey A. Rosen, the incoming acting attorney general, that contained documents purporting to show evidence of election fraud in northern Michigan — the same claims that a federal judge had thrown out a week earlier in a lawsuit filed by one of Mr. Trump’s personal lawyers.
  • Don't stop there: “Another email from Mr. Trump to Mr. Rosen followed two weeks later, again via the president’s assistant, that included a draft of a brief that Mr. Trump wanted the Justice Department to file to the Supreme Court. It argued, among other things, that state officials had used the pandemic to weaken election security and pave the way for widespread election fraud.”
  • The why: The documents “show that President Trump tried to corrupt our nation’s chief law enforcement agency in a brazen attempt to overturn an election that he lost,” Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney (D-N.Y.), chairwoman of the House Oversight Committee, told Benner. 

CLEANING HOUSE: John C. Demers, the head of the Justice Department’s national security division, will step down at the end of next week, according to an email he sent to his staff on Monday. His departure was arranged months ago but comes amid backlash over investigations into leaks of classified information,” the New York Times’s Katie Benner reported yesterday.

  • “Demers, who has headed the division since February 2018, will be the last Senate-confirmed Trump appointee to leave DOJ,” Politico’s Betsy Woodruff Swan and Josh Gerstein report. 
  • “While he focused on combating Chinese intellectual property theft and espionage, his departure comes as the department draws scorching criticism for seizing reporters’s phone records as part of an investigation into leaks during the Trump administration.”
  • Meanwhile, “the Democratic-led House Judiciary Committee will open an investigation into efforts by the Trump-era U.S. Department of Justice to seize metadata from devices belonging to members of Congress, journalists and the then-White House counsel,” NPR’s Benjamin Swasey reports.

About those leaks: “Attorney General Merrick Garland on Monday said he would tighten the Justice Department’s policies on obtaining records from lawmakers and reporters, as he sought to address [the] growing controversy,” our colleague Matt Zapotosky reports.

  • “In the morning, Garland issued a statement announcing he had directed Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco to ‘evaluate and strengthen the department’s existing policies and procedures for obtaining records of the Legislative branch.’”
  • “Then, in the afternoon, Garland and other Justice Department officials met with executives from The Washington Post, CNN and the New York Times and agreed that the department needed ‘strong, durable rules’ implementing Biden’s recent directive that reporters’s phone and email records not be seized in an effort to identify their sources.”

Not a pretty picture. “When a Justice Department gets into the business of seizing reporters’s phone records and trying to track down leakers, while putting gag orders on the news organizations whose records it’s seizing, it’s hard not to wonder about the health of the First Amendment,” the New York Times’s Giovanni Russonello writes.

  • And “the rat-a-tat revelations raise more questions than they answer about why the Justice Department — the federal agency charged with upholding America's rule of law, regardless of politics — was so into the business of people the then-President viewed as his enemies,” CNN’s Zachary B. Wolf writes.

From the courts

SENATE CONFIRMS KETANJI BROWN JACKSON: “The Senate confirmed Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson on Monday to the influential federal appeals court in Washington, elevating a trial court judge who is considered a contender for a potential opening on the Supreme Court,” our colleague Ann E. Marimow reports.

  • “Ahead of Monday’s vote, Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) noted that women, especially women of color, have long been underrepresented on the federal bench and said Democrats are ‘working quickly to close the gap.’”
  • She fills the vacancy left on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit by Attorney General Merrick Garland, who served on the bench for 24 years.

It's working. “Biden and the Democrat-led Senate have moved quickly to boost minority and female representation on the federal courts following Trump’s four-year push to remake the judiciary, in which he nominated a large share of White, male justices,” our colleague Adrian Blanco reports.

  • “Fifteen of his 19 nominees so far are women, including 11 women from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds.”

Doing it differently. “Biden’s early judicial slate represents a departure from his recent predecessors; his initial picks are more diverse, and Biden rolled out more nominations earlier in his presidency than others.”

  • “In his first four months, Biden nominated as many minority women to the federal bench as Trump had confirmed in his entire four years.”

On K Street

THE CITY OF BROTHERLY CONFLICTS OF INTEREST: “When Biden flew to Detroit last month to highlight his infrastructure plans for a new network of electric car-charging stations, a White House official announced on Air Force One that senior counselor Steve Ricchetti had stayed behind to negotiate the bill with Republicans,” our colleagues Michael Scherer and Sean Sullivan report

  • “Left unmentioned was that Ricchetti’s brother, Jeff Ricchetti, was also working on the infrastructure bill as a lobbyist for General Motors, hired to push funding for charging stations in the House, in the Senate and at the Commerce Department.”
  • “The separate efforts by one of Biden’s most influential advisers and his brother had been popping up for weeks on the radar of White House ethics lawyers, who are charged with fulfilling Biden’s promise to ‘restore ethics in government.’”
  • “They required Steve Ricchetti to recuse himself from involvement with ‘particular matters’ for four companies that paid his brother to lobby Biden’s executive office. But under White House ethics guidance, Jeff Ricchetti’s work with GM did not trigger a recusal for his brother.”

“The booming business and political influence of the Ricchetti brothers have served as an early test case of just how far Biden will go to make good on his promise to turn the page on the Trump administration’s approach to ethics.”