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The Daily 202

A lunchtime newsletter featuring political analysis on the stories driving the day.

On anniversary of Jan. 6, Trump's ‘Big Lie’ has only gained traction

The Daily 202

A lunchtime newsletter featuring political analysis on the stories driving the day.

Welcome to The Daily 202! Tell your friends to sign up here. I hope 2022 is off to a good start for all of you. 

The big idea

On anniversary of Jan. 6, Trump's ‘Big Lie’ has only gained traction

Christmas has come and gone, but this week the specter of elections past and ghost of elections future will haunt Washington.

One year ago this Thursday, thousands of President Donald Trump’s supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol and interrupted the certification of Joe Biden’s presidential election victory, denying America the peaceful transfer of power that is a hallmark of healthy, functioning democracies.

On that fraught anniversary, President Biden and his predecessor will lay out dueling visions of what the insurrection means for American politics – even as Congress pursues its investigation into the violence and Trump’s role in it, and the former president’s loyalists whitewash the worst attack on the U.S. electoral system and his role in inspiring it.

Biden and Vice President Harris will make remarks Thursday morning from National Statuary Hall in the Capitol, according to a knowledgeable source. Trump will speak from his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida around 5 p.m., his office announced last week.

This isn’t some shrug-your-shoulders-and-roll-your-eyes partisan circus. How Americans understand Trump’s months-long, falsehood-fueled campaign to overturn the 2020 election, ultimately calling on supporters to march on the Capitol a year ago, remains a clear and present force shaping U.S. politics.

That includes, as I wrote in a piece that published this weekend, this year's midterm contests. The same false GOP claims of voter fraud in 2020 that fueled the insurrection have driven Republican efforts at the state level to take control of the country’s electoral processes and rewrite election laws.

In response, Biden indicated renewed interest last month in federal action to expand access to voting (after his Build Back Better legislation stalled), then came out explicitly in favor of carving out an exception to the filibuster to pass legislation to achieve that purpose. There's no reason to think this will win over Democratic holdouts like Sen. Joe Manchin III (W.Va.) who have refused to alter Senate rules.

Trump, on the other hand, can be counted on to repeat his election falsehoods on Thursday – not only has he shown no contrition, his claims have escalated to the point where he now says Biden’s legitimate election, not the insurrection, was the true act of violence against the republic.

He can also be expected to try to focus voters on other arguments that have caught fire on the right: Allegations of spikes in violent crime, immigration chaos at the southern border, a surge in inflation that has hit American wallets, and control over what is taught about race in the nation’s schools.

The numbers

Still, far from receding in history’s rear-view mirror, the story of the events leading up to the insurrection, the West Wing response, and the Republican party’s reaction to what has come to be known as Trump’s “Big Lie” that he was cheated out of a second term has only gained importance.

And what a response from the GOP, as my colleagues Dan Balz, Scott Clement, and Emily Guskin documented this weekend.

“Overall, 60 percent of Americans say Trump bears either a ‘great deal’ or a ‘good amount’ of responsibility for the insurrection, but 72 percent of Republicans and 83 percent of Trump voters say he bears ‘just some’ responsibility or ‘none at all,’” they noted.

No authorities anywhere in the United States have turned up evidence supporting Trump’s repeated contention that fraud decided the outcome of the election. But the former president, who never conceded, hasn’t lost GOP adherents to his false claims.

“Big majorities of Democrats (88 percent) and independents (74 percent) say there is no evidence of such irregularities, but 62 percent of Republicans say there is such evidence. That is almost identical to the percentage of Republicans who agreed with Trump’s claims of voter fraud a week after that Capitol attack, based on a Washington Post-ABC News poll at the time.”

A CBS News-YouGov poll released yesterday found fairly resilient overall condemnation of the actions of those who forced their way into the Capitol – 83 percent disapprove now, down from 87 percent last January.

But 56 percent of Republicans say what happened at the Capitol was “defending freedom” and another 47 percent say it was “patriotism.” (And 41 percent of GOP respondents said they believed most of those who ransacked the Capitol were “left-leaning groups” in disguise.)

In our poll, “78 percent of Democrats describe the protesters as mostly violent compared with 26 percent of Republicans. Thirty-six percent of Republicans say the protesters were mostly peaceful, compared to 5 percent of Democrats.”

We also found that more than one-third of Americans say they aren’t confident their votes will be counted this year – including about 60 percent of Republicans and less than 20 percent of Democrats. And about one in three respondents said they aren’t confident all eligible citizens will be able to vote, with Democrats predictably more concerned.

Away from what I have dubbed “crass politics,” the insurrection has had significant human costs, with many of those traumatized by the day’s events quitting jobs in which they had found considerable pride, my colleagues Paul Schwartzman and Peter Jamison chronicled this weekend.

They quoted one police officer, anonymously, saying that one thing that has made it hard to recover is the way Republicans have played down the insurrection – in some cases after fueling it.

“‘You see people don’t even appreciate what you’ve been through,’” he said. “You’ve got people that we protect that were literally out there pumping the crowd up. What the f---?’”

What's happening now

Schumer says Senate will vote by Jan. 17 on changing rules if GOP continues to block voting-rights legislation

"The announcement of the planned action by Jan. 17 represented Schumer’s strongest endorsement yet of trying to muscle through legislation that has been stymied because of Senate rules requiring a 60-vote threshold," John Wagner reports.

FDA authorizes coronavirus vaccine boosters for 12- to 15-year-olds as schools reopen amid omicron surge

“The agency also cleared booster shots for children 5 to 11 with compromised immune systems. And it said anyone eligible for a booster could get the shot five months after receiving the second Pfizer-BioNTech shot, down from six months,” Laurie McGinley reports.

Trump offers unusual endorsement of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban ahead of parliamentary elections

“Former president Donald Trump on Monday made an unusual endorsement in a foreign election, offering his ‘Complete support’ for Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, a right-wing populist leader accused of undermining the country’s democracy and moving toward autocracy during more than a decade in power,” John Wagner reports.

Monthly child-tax-credit payments cease, ending cushion for family budgets

“Families are bracing for bank balances to suffer when the middle of January comes and the monthly child-tax-credit payment doesn’t,” the Wall Street Journal's Rachel Louise Ensign and Richard Rubin report.

“More than 30 million households started getting up to $300 per child in July after Congress temporarily transformed an annual tax break into a near-universal monthly benefit. … Families spent the money on essentials like groceries and stashed it as emergency savings, researchers found.”

Tesla opens showroom in China’s Xinjiang, region at center of U.S. genocide allegations

“Researchers say authorities in Xinjiang have detained as many as a million Uyghurs and members of other Turkic Muslim minority groups in a network of internment camps as part of the government’s assimilation campaign, which they say also includes mass surveillance, forced labor and stringent birth controls. The U.S. government, along with some lawmakers from other Western countries, have said the those policies amount to a form of genocide,” the WSJ's Liza Lin reports.

Lunchtime reads from The Post

Since Jan. 6, the pro-Trump Internet has descended into infighting over money and followers

“QAnon devotees are livid at their former hero Michael Flynn for accurately calling their jumbled credo ‘total nonsense.’ Donald Trump superfans have voiced a sense of betrayal because the former president, booed for getting a coronavirus immunization booster, has become a ‘vaccine salesman.’ And attorney Lin Wood seems mad at pretty much everyone, including former allies on the scattered ‘elite strike-force team’ investigating nonexistent mass voter fraud,” Drew Harwell reports.

  • “The infighting reflects the diminishing financial rewards for the merchants of right-wing disinformation, whose battles center not on policy or doctrine but on the treasures of online fame: viewer donations and subscriptions; paid appearances at rallies and conferences; and crowds of followers to buy their books and merchandise.”

But it also reflects a broader confusion in the year since QAnon’s faceless nonsense-peddler, Q, went mysteriously silent.”

… and beyond

Could Jan. 6 happen again?

“The political blight that contributed to the attack has only worsened, inside and outside the Capitol. So while leaders feel readier today than they did on Jan. 5, no one is rushing to declare the threat has passed,” Politico's Kyle Cheney reports.

“ ‘The last thing that I want to do is say, “this could never happen again” and have it sound like a challenge to those people,’ said Capitol Police Chief Thomas Manger, who took over the department in August after his predecessor's ouster following the siege. ‘I’m not trying to be overconfident. We are much better prepared.’ ”

Good cop, bad cop

“North Carolina was one of more than 30 states to pass new police oversight and reform laws in 2021. While elected officials in Raleigh were able to find common ground, compromise on their differences, and reach a deal, members of Congress could not do the same. How police reform was enacted in North Carolina, but not by federal lawmakers, offers a case study in what was good—and disappointing—about politics in 2021,” John Drescher and Kasonia Smith report for the Assembly.

The rise of omicron

Fauci: CDC mulling covid test requirement for asymptomatic

“As the COVID-19 omicron variant surges across the United States, top federal health officials are looking to add a negative test along with its five-day isolation restrictions for asymptomatic Americans who catch the coronavirus, the White House’s top medical adviser said Sunday,” the Associated Press's Hope Yen and Aamer Madhani report.

The Biden agenda

In latest effort to combat rising prices, White House to offer $1 billion in aid for smaller meat-industry producers

“The White House on Monday announced it will devote $1 billion to aiding independent meat and poultry producers, aiming to undercut the four powerful meat producers the Biden administration has alleged are responsible for surging consumer prices,” Jeff Stein reports.

Angst over China, Russia lessens chance of U.S. nuke policy changes

“Now, major shifts in U.S. nuclear weapons policy seem much less likely, and while Biden may insist on certain adjustments, momentum toward a historic departure from the Trump administration’s policy appears to have stalled,” the AP's Robert Burns reports.

Biden pushed to speak out more as U.S. democracy concerns grow

“While Biden has tried to offer America’s allies assurances, he has only occasionally emphasized the gravity of the threat to democracy from the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol and the repeated lie from the man he defeated, Donald Trump, that the 2020 election was stolen. And he’s not discussed the very real concerns about a growing collection of insurrection sympathizers installed in local election posts and changes by Republicans to election laws in several states,” the AP's Colleen Long and Zeke Miller report.

Trump’s culpability on Jan. 6 insurrection polled, visualized

One year after the deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol, Republicans and Democrats are deeply divided over what happened that day and the degree to which Trump bears responsibility for the assault, amid more universal signs of flagging pride in the workings of democracy at home, according to a Washington Post-University of Maryland poll.

Hot on the left

The care crisis isn’t what you think

“President Biden’s signature Build Back Better bill, which includes funding for long-neglected social programs like Medicaid’s home and community-based services (HCBS), is facing an uncertain future. An upgraded HCBS program would allow millions of people currently stuck on wait lists to receive care at home, rather than in congregant settings. But facing questions from the likes of Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) about cost, the new investments in HCBS may not become law,” Laura Mauldin writes for the American Prospect.

Here’s what we don’t talk about when we talk about the care crisis. When it comes to disability, we devalue care (both caregiving and paid care work) because we devalue the people who need it. It’s why we position care as a response to a horrible disaster. It’s why we refuse to adequately fund home care and fairly pay care workers. It’s why we rely on the 53 million (and climbing) unpaid family caregivers across the U.S. to provide care for free.”

Hot on the right

Trump is making the midterms a referendum on himself

“Donald Trump will own the midterms just as much as Joe Biden will. Voters’ verdicts on Trump will come in Idaho, Alabama, and Georgia this spring. Then in Arizona, Alaska, and Wyoming in summer. Trump has already endorsed candidates in 2022 primary contests in all of those states. He’s made picks in nearly 40 congressional races to date, most recently training his ammunition on the House Republicans who voted for the bipartisan infrastructure package. He’s made another nine endorsements in gubernatorial primaries, including one against the GOP incumbent in Idaho,” David Catanese writes for the Atlantic.

The former president’s ultimate record in these races will serve as the first barometer of his continued strength as he eyes a comeback bid for the White House in 2024. So far, his picks have lifted challengers to GOP incumbents who have crossed him and a bevy of newcomers who are eager to align with his brand.”

Today in Washington

At 1:30 p.m., Biden will meet virtually “with family and independent farmers and ranchers to discuss his administration’s work to boost competition and reduce prices in the meat-processing industry.” Attorney General Merrick Garland and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack will also attend.

The White House's daily news conference has been canceled today due to federal offices being closed because of snow.

In closing

Happy snow day, D.C.! Do you miss Betty White as much as we do? Travis M. Andrews compiled seven clips of her that might help cheer you up. Here's a sneak peek:

Thanks for reading. See you tomorrow.