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The Early 202

An essential morning newsletter briefing for leaders in the nation’s capital.

Four months into the Jan 6. probe, here's where things stand.

The Early 202

An essential morning newsletter briefing for leaders in the nation’s capital.

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Happy Thanksgiving, Early Birds. Have a warm one and thanks to all the readers who sent in recipes & unsolicited cooking tips. 

Theo will be tackling a new stuffing recipe this year, along with repeat favorites: Melissa Clark's red wine cranberry sauce and Samantha Seneviratne's cloverleaf rolls. Jackie, meanwhile, is going to give Early Bird Diane Gale's cranberry pie (read to the bottom!) a go. 

We're off for the holidays and will be back in your inbox Monday morning. Keep those tips coming:

🚨 Happening today: The White House will nominate Shalanda Young to lead the White House Office of Management and Budget and help implement the administration's economic agenda, our colleagues Jeff Stein and Tyler Pager scoop. “She would be the first woman of color to lead the agency.”

On the Hill

Jan. 6 probe is dragging out longer than Democrats might want

Where we're at: Four months into the House investigation of the deadly attack on the Capitol on Jan. 6, the select committee of nine lawmakers and its team of investigators has issued over 40 subpoenas, held one public hearing, conducted over 200 interviews with witnesses and voted to hold one person — Steve Bannon — in contempt. 

But all that action doesn't mean it has necessarily gotten to the bottom of what happened that fateful day — at least not yet. Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) has previously said he hopes the investigation wraps in “early spring” of next year. As the midterm elections approach, it's a one step forward, two steps back dance that may take longer than Democrats want to yield real results. 

The panel is still very much in fact-finding mode and pursuing documents and interviews from some key allies of former president Donald Trump, and is also reviewing intelligence and national security failures leading up to Jan. 6. 

This week, the committee issued two new rounds of subpoenas targeting more individuals allegedly involved in planning and fundraising efforts around the Jan. 6 “Stop the Steal” rally, along with some of those leading extremist right-wing groups

The committee is seeking documents and a deposition from Taylor Budowich, Trump's current spokesperson, citing his efforts in directing $200,000 “from a source or sources that was not disclosed” to a 501(c) (4) nonprofit to “pay for the advertising campaign,” according to a letter transmitting notice of the subpoena. 

The panel has also requested documents from extremist organizations including the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers related to efforts to fundraise for “protective gear and communications” surrounding the Jan. 6 attack, according to a letter from the committee issued on Tuesday. 

‘Three rings’

Panel member and former Trump impeachment manager Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) has previously described his holistic view of the investigation as looking at “three rings.”

The outer ring was a mass demonstration that turned into a riot, the middle ring was a violent insurrection made up of extremists elements, like the Proud Boys, QAnon forces and then the very inner ring was the political coup, which we usually think of as something orchestrated against the president but this was a coup orchestrated by the president against the vice president and Congress,” Raskin told us earlier this fall. 

We also learned this week in reporting from our colleagues Aaron C. Davis, Carol D. Leonnig and Tom Hamburger “that the committee is examining the failures of various government agencies to recognize, share and elevate critical early warnings of extremists discussing violence in the run-up to Jan. 6, according to two people familiar with the panel’s work, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe the investigation.” 

And the committee hasn't been satisfied with the FBI's response so far: the committee “has been pressing the FBI to turn over additional documents related to the bureau’s handling of Jan. 6, frustrated that it has not yet received more material, according to people familiar with the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to do so publicly.” 

Another area of focus for the panel: “the FBI’s reluctance to formally investigate outspoken Trump supporters after classifying many online discussions about Jan. 6 violence as First Amendment-protected speech,” per Aaron, Carol and Tom. 

Witness limbo

Other key leads have yet to be litigated and some important witnesses have yet to cooperate. 

Mark Meadows, Trump's former chief of staff, failed to show up at his scheduled deposition earlier this month and the committee has since threatened to hold him in contempt. Jeffrey Clark, the former acting head of the Justice Department’s civil division who supported Trump’s efforts to challenge the 2020 election before the inauguration of President Biden, has also refused to cooperate.

Jan. 6 committee member Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) declined to comment on the status of the contempt threats during a conversation with reporters last week. But Schiff maintained the DOJ's decision to prosecute Bannon for defying a congressional subpoena has had “a profound impact on people's willingness to cooperate and follow the law.” 

Also missing from the investigation at the moment: the committee has not yet gotten their hands on a trove of Trump White House documents requested from the National Archives and Records Administration related to the Jan. 6 insurrection. 

After a federal judge ruled that hundreds of pages of records could be turned over to the congressional committee, a federal appeals court shortly thereafter granted Trump's request to temporarily block release of the documents. 

Save the date 

“In a brief unsigned order with no noted dissents, a three-judge panel of the appeals court granted Trump 'an administrative injunction'… and set arguments for Nov. 30,” NBC News's Dareh Gregorian, Daniel Barnes and Pete Williams reported earlier this month. 

“Trump, who has tried to claim executive privilege over the scores of memos, e-mails and records of White House conversations and visits, contends that the records should be kept secret 'in perpetuity.'”

At the White House

Biden family arrives in Nantucket for Thanksgiving holiday

Biden’s Thanksgiving lodgings: President Biden and his family flew to Nantucket on Tuesday evening to spend Thanksgiving at the vacation home of David Rubenstein, the billionaire co-founder of the Carlyle Group (which, if you’re keeping score, is the same investment firm at which Virginia Gov.-elect Glenn Youngkin made his millions).

The Bidens have spent Thanksgiving on Nantucket for decades, and they’ve stayed at Rubenstein’s place before, including while he was vice president, according to the local Nantucket paper, the Inquirer and Mirror. He’s also spent past Thanksgivings at the Nantucket home of Louis Susman, a Democratic donor whom former president Barack Obama tapped as U.S. ambassador to Britain.

Rubenstein is a fixture of Washington — he’s the chairman of the Council on Foreign Relations, the Economic Club of Washington and the Kennedy Center, and he gave millions of dollars to help repair the Washington Monument after it was damaged in a 2011 earthquake — but he’s not a big Democratic donor. He doesn’t appear to have made any political donations since writing a $6,000 check to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee in 2007, according to campaign finance records.

The White House said only that First Family would be staying “at the home of their friend, David Rubenstein, as they have done previously.”

A controversial inclusion: “The Biden administration included Taiwan among the 110 invitees to its upcoming democracy summit, the State Department announced on Tuesday night, a move that’s intended to show solidarity with a key regional partner but risks angering China,” Bloomberg News' Nick Wadhams reports.

  • "Taiwan was invited to join nations, including the U.K. and Japan, at the Dec. 9-10 virtual summit, the State Department said on its website Tuesday. The online gathering is an event Joe Biden vowed to host while a candidate for president last year, with the goal of rallying like-minded countries around efforts to fight corruption and authoritarianism and advance human rights."
  • “The final list leaves out several ostensible U.S. partners such as Turkey, a member of NATO, underscoring the challenge the administration faced in pinning down the invitees.”

In the agencies

State Attorneys General are stepping up investigations into police misconduct

“Frustrated by the inability to enact wide-scale changes in police departments like Aurora with long histories of brutality claims, the Colorado General Assembly passed a bill last year giving the state attorney general a power traditionally wielded by the U.S. Department of Justice: to conduct investigations into the ‘pattern or practice’ of civil rights abuses by police departments,” our colleague Kimberly Kindy reports.

  • “It was one of four such laws passed by state legislatures across the country after the death of George Floyd, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. These states are among about 10 that have explicitly given their attorneys general this authority but, with the exception of California, most have only acquired this power in recent years.”

The Media

Short week reaaads: 

Big thanks to Early 202 reader Diane Gale for her cranberry pie recipe 🍒


And Happy Thanksgiving to everyone except this pie. 

Thanks for reading. You can also follow us on Twitter: @jaxalemany and @theodoricmeyer.