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The Early 202

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

When can lawmakers be removed from committees? A task force could help decide.

The Early 202

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

Good morning, Early Birds. Today marks one year since Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Tips: Thanks for waking up with us.

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In today’s edition …  Rep. Angie Craig on her assault and crime policy … The invasion that changed everything … A look at some of the gifts Biden received in 2021 … White House leans on friends … but first …

On the Hill

McCarthy moves on new task force to determine when lawmakers can be removed from committees

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) is moving forward with the creation of a bipartisan task force to set parameters for when a lawmaker can be kicked off a committee, with McCarthy reaching out to members to ask them to serve on it, according to a person familiar with the creation of the new group. 

Democrats plan to participate and House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) is expected to submit the names of Democratic members to serve on the bipartisan group, according to a senior leadership aide. 

The task force represents a step toward a truce between the two parties, which have spent a significant amount of time over the past two years punishing lawmakers by depriving them of their committee assignments. 

McCarthy said he would create such a group to “clarify the rules” after Republicans booted Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) from the House Foreign Affairs Committee earlier this month. That vote did not come easy for McCarthy, who had to work to find enough Republican votes to oust Omar. 

Democrats kicked off Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) and Paul A. Gosar (R-Ariz.) off their panels in the last Congress for violent language against fellow members of Congress. In addition to ousting Omar, Republicans this year removed Reps. Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) and Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) from the House Intelligence Committee.

Rep. Angie Craig on her assault and whether it’s changed her views on crime policy

On Thursday we spoke with Rep. Angie Craig (D-Minn.), who was assaulted earlier this month in the elevator of her apartment building in Washington. We discussed the frightening incident and whether it has changed her thinking on crime policy. This interview has been edited and condensed for length and clarity.

On her post-attack recovery:

Physically, I’m healing. You know, I had a bruise on my chin where I took a punch and a cut on my lower lip. I guess mentally, the assailant was arrested and we know his history — it's clear that I got really lucky to be able to get out of that elevator with no more injuries than I did.

On whether the attack altered her views on crime policy: 

It has to alter how I think about it; it just makes it much more personal. 

We’ve always been focused on addiction. But as we learn more about this individual, it puts into even further perspective that the system is completely broken. He assaulted 12 other people before me. Clearly he's fallen through the cracks of the criminal justice system, and he shouldn't be on the street, to endanger other people. At the same time, we also have failed him, right? Because it's complex issues like addiction and mental illness and homelessness and public safety that collide. And for me, I think it really has reinforced that this is far more complicated than the political buzzwords from either side of the aisle.

On where crime policy should focus:

What's so fascinating is this individual who assaulted me is experiencing homelessness, addiction, mental health, and he's 26 years old. He's assaulted 12 times, I was the 13th count he has been charged with and he's barely served any time and many times the charges against him were just simply dismissed. This can't be the way things work out where people cycle in and out of the system.

The truth is I’m still processing what’s happened to me, but (I’m interested in) this intersection of public safety around mental illness and around addiction. So, I think more than anything, it’s understanding that there is no silver bullet here to fixing this problem. 

It’s just solidified my resolve to work across the aisle on a bipartisan basis as much as possible in order to make a bit of difference here. 

On the “lie” that Democrats wants to defund the police: 

The [National Republican Campaign Committee] and Fox News tried to do this last week to me, it was just unbelievable. So, five days after I was physically assaulted, punched in the face before the bruises on the face had even heeled, the NRCC put out a document saying I was a “defund the police” Democrat. And they know it’s a lie. The [local] police union of rank-and-file officers put a statement out denouncing the NRCC and Fox News on their description of me.

On the new threats she’s received since her attack: 

My office faced an onslaught of calls from Fox News viewers following the lies that the NRCC put out, and some Fox News commentators talked about. These are dangerous lies. I’m one of the most bipartisan members of Congress. We need the Republican Party to actually stop lying about it. I mean, if an individual Democrat says something, fine, call them out, but to politicize law enforcement and try to create a wedge between law enforcement and Democrats across the country, it does nothing to help keep our community safe. And that's the bottom line is our communities need to be safe for everyone.

On whether the Republican-controlled House will bring up bipartisan legislation that passed the House last year to increase funding for small police departments:

That’s the question, right? [House Speaker] Kevin McCarthy should bring that back, he should pass it, and the Senate should give it a vote. But why won't they bring that bill up? Because they actually would rather lie about Democrats than to give us a chance to prove that we support law enforcement. They would rather attack on defund than actually give us the votes to support law enforcement. 

On legislation to overhaul policing practices: 

We absolutely have to hold officers to the highest of standards, and at the same time, they have tough jobs. Their job is to protect our communities. We have to give them the resources to do that and give them the best chance to get home to their families as well. If we have to choose between social justice and supporting law enforcement, it can’t be a binary choice. We have to be able to accomplish both. And I think that’s the middle ground we should be working on.

On what that legislation could look like: 

A ban on chokeholds — many of my communities have banned no-knock warrants. My police chiefs are begging for a way to check references and complaints about officers before they hire them if those hires are from out of state. So I think there are many, many reforms that we could come to some agreement and consensus on throughout the country.

At the White House

The invasion that changed everything

One year later: Today is the first anniversary of the start of the largest European land war since World War II. On the first day of the war, world leaders like former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson recalled feeling disgusted and angered by what Russian President Vladimir Putin initially called a “special military operation.”

  • “I was disgusted by Putin. I was disgusted by what he was doing. I was nauseated by his language, by his lies, by his aggression, by his condescension toward Ukraine. I thought the whole thing was repellent, arrogant, chauvinistic, wrong,” Johnson told our colleagues.

In one year, as many as 13,000 Ukrainian soldiers have been killed, while 40,000 to 60,000 Russian troops have perished. The war has shifted and renewed alliances, crippled supply chains, driven up food and gas prices, and displaced 14 million Ukrainians, per our colleague Claire Parker

Happening today: Biden and members of the G-7 will meet virtually this morning with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. They’re expected to announce new sanctions on Russia as well as more export controls and new tariffs on Russian metals, minerals and chemicals. 

The meeting follows a video address by Zelensky in which he hailed Ukraine’s “year of invincibility” and vowed to defeat Russian troops.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken also plans to visit the United Nations today, John Hudson reports. He’ll attend a meeting of the United Nations Security Council and is set to meet with U.N. Secretary General António Guterres.

The Pentagon also announced a new, $2 billion round of military aid for Ukraine, including drones, ammunition and demining equipment.

Republicans are divided on the path moving forward. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) complained on Thursday evening on how much money the United States has spent on aid to Ukraine, even as Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-Tex.), Armed Services Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-Ala.) and Intelligence Committee Chairman Michael R. Turner (R-Ohio) — criticized Biden for “dragging his feet on providing the lethal aid necessary to end this war.”

Here’s a roundup of The Post’s coverage of the anniversary: 

  • How the war changed a family: “Russia’s cataclysmic invasion, coupled with Ukraine’s martial law preventing fighting age-men from leaving the country, has forced agonizing decisions for millions of Ukrainian families about how to balance safety, duty and love. As the war hits the one-year mark, so many once-intertwined lives have become unrecognizable,” our colleagues Chico Harlan, Isabelle Khurshudyan, Whitney Shefte and Whitney Leaming write
  • How the war changed Zelensky: “Gone was the boyish, turtlenecked comedian who campaigned for Ukraine’s presidency in 2019 on idealistic promises to find a way to make peace with Russia. Gone, too, was the eager young president jumping through hoops in his first year in office to land a meeting with Putin in search of elusive common ground,” our colleagues Paul Sonne and David L. Stern write. “Experience and tragedy had washed over him. Cynicism battled with idealism inside him. He had seen the aftermath of atrocities and grasped the hands of the loved ones of Ukraine’s dead soldiers.”
  • How the war changed the world: “The conflict has exposed a deep global divide, and the limits of U.S. influence over a rapidly shifting world order,” our colleague Liz Sly writes. “Conversations with people in South Africa, Kenya and India suggest a deeply ambivalent view of the conflict, informed less by the question of whether Russia was wrong to invade than by current and historical grievances against the West — over colonialism, perceptions of arrogance, and the West’s failure to devote as many resources to solving conflicts and human rights abuses in other parts of the world.”

At the White House

What do dog bowls, the U.S. flag and rum all have in common?

Gifts, gifts, gifts: The State Department’s Office of the Chief of Protocol has released its annual report detailing all the gifts federal employees — including President Biden, Vice President Harris, first lady Jill Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken — received from a foreign government or head of state in 2021. 

  • “The State Department’s annual report provides a fascinating glimpse into the practice of gift-giving in diplomatic settings,” our colleague Amy Wang writes. “They also can reveal plenty about the giver.”

The most expensive gift given in 2021 also happens to be the most interesting gift because it didn’t come from the leader of a close U.S. ally like Britain or Canada. It came from a world leader whose relationship with Biden and the U.S. has deteriorated over the past few years, resulting in the highest tension since the Cold War.  

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin gifted Biden a miniature Kholuy lacquer writing set, worth $12,000, during their high-stakes June summit in Geneva. (It was their only face-to-face summit before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.)
  • In contrast, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky gave Biden a U.S. flag worth $700. 

Other interesting gifts: 

To Biden

  • From Queen Elizabeth II: A photograph of herself in a silver frame ($2,200)

To Jill Biden

  • From former Afghanistan first lady Rula Ghani: A silk carpet ($19,200) (gifted weeks before her husband’s government fell, and the Taliban returned) 

To Harris: 

  • From Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei: Jade beaded earrings and beaded necklace set; black suede purse with textile flap; and two bottles of Guatemalan rum in a leather case ($739) (perfect for piña coladas)

To Blinken: 

  • From China’s top diplomat Yang Jiechi: Porcelain vase ($2,000) (striking considering the current state of relations between China and the U.S.)

White House leans on their friends

The Biden administration’s ongoing focus on implementation of major legislation passed in the last Congress, including infrastructure, microchips manufacturing and green energy investments, continues. They’ve brought in three Democratic governors to help. Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker, Massachusetts Gov. Maura Healey, and North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper made appearances on the White House Twitter account on Wednesday.  

“We’ll continue to enlist the help of elected officials, business leaders, and Americans seeing the impact of President Biden’s agenda to tell the story of how this administration is making America stronger,” White House Director of Digital Strategy Rob Flaherty said. 

The Media

Weekend (must) reads 

From The Post:  

From across the web:  


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