Skip Navigation
Breaking News
Breaking News
from Washington and beyond

Three Quick Takeaways From Donald Trump’s Long-Awaited Tax Returns

One reason he might have been eager to keep these records under wraps is that they don’t exactly paint the picture of a business genius.

Nicholas Kamm/Getty Images

The House Ways and Means Committee released six years of Donald Trump’s tax returns Friday, after a protracted battle by the former president to prevent that from happening. Trump famously refused to release them during the 2016 presidential election; doing so is not a legal requirement but has long been the norm. The Treasury Department turned over these records to the committee in November.

The committee reviewed Trump’s tax returns primarily from his time in office. Here are three major initial takeaways.

Loans and donations: Trump made repeated large charitable donations and loaned his three adult children either $51,000 or $46,000 for each of the six years covered in the returns.

Donations and loans are tax-deductible, which means they can reduce the amount of total income that can be taxed. But the nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation raised concerns that both Trump’s loans and donations should have been subject to taxes. Trump didn’t have taxable income from 2015-2017, meaning any deductions he received for charitable donations or loans would carry forward and be applied in later years. He did have taxable income in 2018 and 2019, so he would benefit from previous deductions.

The taxation committee also raised concerns that the loans to his children were really gifts, which should have been taxed.

Sales: Each year except 2019, Trump listed millions of dollars in cost of goods sold, or the amount spent on getting products to customers, from his corporation DJT Holdings, LLC. The cost of goods sold is tax-deductible, which again would drive down his taxable income at the end of the year.

The returns do not specify which assets DJT Holdings had sold, but IRS audit files indicate that the company appeared to sell residential and hotel units. Real estate holdings are not considered inventory, so costs related to their sale are not eligible for tax deductions.

Losses:  In 2016 and 2017, Trump and his wife Melania paid $750 or less in federal income tax. They paid $0 in 2020. Trump paid taxes in the other three years, but at a far lower rate than the average taxpayer. Part of the reason why was because he listed millions of dollars in losses.

He reported a gross negative income of $53.2 million over the six years covered in the tax returns. Tax law allows taxpayers to carry losses over to another year, reducing the amount of taxable income. Trump repeatedly carried over his massive reported losses, dramatically reducing the amount of overall taxes he had to pay each year. Fittingly, Steven M. Rosenthal, a senior fellow in the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center, summarized Trump’s tax returns for The Los Angeles Times like so: “He’s a staggering loser.”

A Man Saved a Baby During New York’s Devastating Blizzard. Meanwhile, the City Towed His Car.

John Normile/Getty Images

A calamitous blizzard in upstate New York has left at least 39 dead and knocked out power for thousands. The ruinous winter-weather event fell hardest on the 1.1 million people of the Buffalo-Niagara Falls area, who were forced to fend largely for themselves and for each other, as local government agencies fell short.

One man and his neighbors embody the spirited lengths that people took to care for each other: Shaquille Jones was driving with his mother, niece, and sister—who was on crutches with a broken leg—as the storm approached. As the snow began to pile up, his truck got stuck, leaving his family mired for 18 hours because the police, who claimed to be on their way, failed to show up. After eventually being told that help was not on the way, Jones and his family scrambled to find shelter on their own.

Not long after his family was safe and secured, Jones decided he had an obligation to continue helping others in need. “After I figured that God gave me another chance at life, I have to try to save others. Because the police–they told me they weren’t coming, so I could only imagine what they told others,” Jones told CNN.

Shahida Muhammad, her husband, and their one-year-old baby were snowed in their home without power. The infant was in dire need of a ventilator: The husband and wife had spent two consecutive days—without breaks—manually giving their baby breath. Jones had seen the pleas for help that Muhammad had posted online, and sprang to action.

Jones and his friends reached the family’s home and dug the Muhammads out, potentially saving the life of the child. These saviors kept at it, continuing their work for days—purchasing and delivering supplies, giving rides to neighbors, and more.

While Jones and his retinue of do-gooders took on the personal toll and expenses of weathering the conditions and bringing aid to his neighbors, the local government somehow found a way to add to his burden. Jones’s vehicle—the one his family had to escape from after being stuck in it for 18 hours as no help came—was towed after it was pulled from the snow. The town of Amherst, a Buffalo suburb, charged him a $353.44 fee.

Meanwhile, officials have been desperate to deflect all blame for the crisis.

In a press conference earlier this week, five-term Buffalo Mayor Byron Browna cog of the New York Democratic Party machine—cited pictures of looters on social media and called them “the lowest of the low.” At the time of his statement, at least 27 people had died in the area due to the storm.

After the Erie County SNOW hotline, used for “non-life threatening but serious situations,” was inundated with 20,000 phone calls, Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said residents should stop flooding the hotline and rely on local media and a YouTube broadcast instead. Poloncarz went on to slam Mayor Brown and the city of Buffalo’s response: “The mayor is not going to be happy to hear about it, but storm, after storm, after storm, after storm, the city, unfortunately, is the last one to be opened, and that shouldn’t be the case. It’s embarrassing, to tell you the truth,” he said.

The contradictory priorities of government stakeholders abound. Buffalo is home to a $1.4 billion stadium project that has absorbed $600 million from the state’s coffers, as well as $250 million from Erie County—money that clearly would have been better spent helping the state and county to prepare for the inclement weather that frequently buffets the region. Even a cursory look at Buffalo’s city budget reveals the skewed priorities: The city allocates more than twice as much money to the police than it does to public works.

As residents of the region were left without the assistance their taxpayer dollars were supposed to provide, India Walton, who nearly beat Brown in the last mayoral election, told Democracy Now, “It is everyday people … who are delivering food, who are going and rescuing people, who are going on search missions and doing wellness checks. It is the people of Buffalo, the everyday, hard-working folks of this city, who have been taking care of one another.”

December 30 Is Tax Day (For Donald Trump)

The former president's personal and business returns will finally be released to the public in one of the last acts of the Democratic Party-controlled House.

Andrew Burton/Getty Images

It’s been a long time coming, but on Friday, the House Ways and Means Committee will show the United States the receipts: They will release Donald Trump’s tax returns, just in time to ring in the new year.

The Democratic-led committee has been trying to get Trump’s tax returns for three years. Trump famously refused to release them during the 2016 presidential election; doing so is not a legal requirement but has long been the norm. The Treasury Department turned over these records to the committee in November.

Trump repeatedly (convolutedly, and ridiculously) insisted that he couldn’t release his tax returns because they were under audit. But as it turns out, that wasn’t really true. The committee revealed last week that the IRS actually failed to audit Trump until 2019, despite a program that makes auditing sitting presidents mandatory. Those audits are not yet completed, according to the committee. Trump’s tax returns also show he paid $0 in taxes in 2020.

The committee reviewed six years of the former president’s tax returns, primarily from his time in office. The documents include his personal tax information, and that of several of his businesses.

Trump fought long and hard to prevent the release of his tax returns, which naturally only fueled suspicion and raised questions about why he would do so.

It has been, to put it mildly, a terrible year for Trump. The January 6 investigative committee unanimously recommended the Justice Department pursue criminal charges against Trump for his role in the insurrection. His Trump Organization was also found guilty of tax fraud and related crimes, and Trump himself is also under investigation by the FBI for taking classified documents to Mar-a-Lago. So the release of his tax returns will really be the cherry on a garbage sundae.

Biden’s Bid to Diversify the Federal Judiciary Hits a High-Water Mark

The president has made the most of Democratic control of the Senate.

Chip Somodevila/Getty Images

As the second year of his presidency draws to a close, Joe Biden has nominated an impressively diverse array of judges.

As the Associated Press reported on Wednesday, since he took office in 2021, 97 lifetime federal judges have been confirmed under Biden, far outpacing his predecessor Donald Trump (85) and former boss Barack Obama (62). This is due mainly to the fact that Democratic Party control of the Senate has allowed the president to push through nominations.

Three out of every four of those confirmations were women. About two-thirds were people of color. Eleven Black women were appointed to the powerful circuit court, and Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson became the first Black Woman to serve on the Supreme Court. They also have a wide range of experience, including public defenders or people with backgrounds in workers’ rights.

The diversity of nominations “says to the American people…if you wind up in federal court for whatever reason, you’re much more likely to have a judge who understands where you came from, who you are, and what you’ve been through,” White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain told the AP. “Having a more diverse federal bench in every single respect shows more respect for the American people.”

The push for diversity should come as no surprise. Biden promised to counteract Trump’s judicial legacy, which saw the judiciary pushed to the right, as well as bringing new perspectives to the bench beyond the overwhelmingly white and male nominees seen under Trump.

Biden’s number two is Kamala Harris, the first Black and Asian vice president, and he boasts one of the most diverse cabinets in history. He also nominated Lisa Cook and Philip Jefferson to the Federal Reserve Board of Governors. Cook is the first Black woman to serve on the Board, and Jefferson is the fourth Black man.

But while he has done well in filling public-facing roles, the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, which focuses on issues related to Black equity, said he needs to do more to make sure internal positions are equally diverse.

Here’s Everything That George Santos Has Lied About (So Far)

This is an exhausting—but non-exhaustive—list.

George Santos in November
Alejandra Villa Loarca/Getty Images
New York Representative-elect George Santos

New York Representative George Santos has put on a clinic when it comes to building your own narrative. He has displayed inimitable will in showing that in politics, you don’t really need to “do” or “be” anything—you can just make it all up. That is, until The New York Times reports that you indeed, made it all up.

Since then, it’s been an unending cascade of revelations—each more bizarre than the last—showing that we can’t really trust anything that he has ever said. Poke around at practically any sentence he has uttered in public over the past few years, you’ll likely find something about it that isn’t quite right: lies, obfuscations, cover-ups, or simply absurd behavior kept under wraps. There’s so much—too much!—to keep track of. But we’ll give it a try. Here’s our exhausting, non-exhaustive list of all the yarn George Santos has spun.

Being a drag queen: A 2008 photo from Brazil depicts Santos, known at the time as Anthony, in a drag costume under the moniker Kitara Ravache. The photo comes from Santos’s old friend Eula Rochard, a Brazilian drag queen who has said she met Santos when he was a teenager, as they bonded over both being gay and enjoying drag.

Santos didn’t exactly lie about not doing drag, but he has vocally supported at least one anti-LGBTQ law and positioned himself among a political movement incredibly antagonistic toward drag queens and others who enjoy drag.

His mom’s death: In July 2021, Santos tweeted that “9/11 claimed my mothers life.” Santos’ campaign website explains that “George’s mother was in her office in the South Tower on September 11, 2001, when the horrific events of that day unfolded. She survived the tragic events on September 11th, but she passed away a few years later when she lost her battle to cancer.” Previously, the website wrote that she was also the “first female executive at a major financial institution,” and it did not include the detail that she had died from cancer.

Newly uncovered immigration records show that Santos’s mother was not even in the United States at all that day. She had applied for a visa to enter the United States from Brazil in February 2003, and on the application, she wrote that she hadn’t been in the United States since 1999.

Raising money for a homeless veteran’s dying dog through his “charity,” only to then steal the money and leave the veteran in the dust and his dog to die: In May 2016, Santos allegedly raised $3,000 for a homeless and disabled veteran’s service dog, Sapphire, who was suffering from a life-threatening stomach tumor. Santos claimed to have run a nonprofit called Friends of Pets United, and offered to help the veteran raise money for the dying dog through it. After Santos (who went by Anthony Devolder at the time) closed the GoFundMe, he took the $3,000 and was never heard from again. Sapphire died two months later.

Santos has previously claimed he ran his nonprofit, one “able to effectively rescue 2400 dogs and 280 cats, and successfully conducted the TNR [which stands for “trap neuter and release,” not “The New Republic”] of over 3000 cats,” according to his website. Axios found no evidence of this organization in either IRS filings or ProPublica’s nonprofit database. CNN found that he instead also ran a campaign for a pet charity under the alias “Anthony Zabrovsky,” on a GoFundMe page that no longer exists.

Leading a ponzi scheme company: Santos worked at Harbor City Capital Corporation in 2020 and 2021. In a 2021 complaint against the company, the SEC called it a “classic ponzi scheme.” Santos’s attorney told CNN that Santos was “completely unaware of any illegal activity” at the company. Santos himself told The Daily Beast that he was “as distraught and disturbed as everyone else” to learn about the complaints against Harbor City.

But CNN found a since-removed tweet from Santos’s since-deleted account (for which his name was George Devolder), showing him communicating with a customer complaining about potential fraudulent activity at Harbor City. “I’m sorry I’m not following you. Could you please send me an email at and we can go over this together,” Santos responded, showing he indeed became aware of complaints against the company. Santos also called himself “the head guy” at the company’s New York office and the company executive. In one 2020 clip, Santos claimed to manage a $1.5 billion fund for the company. So Santos is lying either about how much responsibility he had at the company, or whether he knew about the allegations against the “ponzi scheme” company—or some combination of both.

Being a volleyball star: Santos allegedly told the Nassau County Republican Chair that he was a volleyball star who helped lead the Baruch College team to a “league championship.” There is no record of Santos attending Baruch, and none of the team rosters include Santos.

Getting Covid and his general medical history: The Daily Beast reported a series of inconsistencies in Santos’ portrayal of when and how he got Covid. He has cited several different dates for when he tested positive for the virus and portrayed various different experiences of having it—sometimes saying the virus is overblown and “just [the] flu,” other times describing his time as “the worst two weeks of my life as an adult.”

He has also claimed underlying conditions—including immunodeficiency, acute chronic bronchitis, and a prior brain tumor—left him more susceptible to the virus. He has seldom mentioned these conditions elsewhere, nor has he provided further substantiation on them since.

Stealing all his friend’s money and pawning off her jewelry: Brazilian outlet Fantástico reported on a woman who was allegedly swindled by Santos over a decade ago. Adriana Damasceno said she met and befriended Santos at bingo in Niterói, a Brazilian city part of Rio de Janeiro’s metropolitan area. In 2011, they allegedly traveled to the United States together, where Santos used her identity to go shopping, withdrawing all the money she had in the bank and even pawning jewelry. Fantástico says Santos did not respond to requests for comment.

His voting record and when he even joined the House: As of early January 4, one day after his first day, Santos’ website claimed he voted “nay” on the House omnibus bill, a vote that took place on December 23, 2022. The vote has since been scrubbed from the website. It is unclear why a newly-elected member of Congress would choose to do this.

The lie comes after Santos also posted a press release January 3 announcing his swearing in to Congress, something that actually hadn’t happened given that the House had yet to select a speaker. The mis-announcement could readily be chalked to an accidental posting or staffer mistake. Actively marking down a vote that simply never happened is also erroneous, but much less likely to be an honest mistake.

Animal charity: Santos claimed he ran a nonprofit called Friends of Pets United, “able to effectively rescue 2400 dogs and 280 cats, and successfully conducted the TNR [which stands for “trap neuter and release,” not “The New Republic”] of over 3000 cats,” according to his website. Axios found no evidence of this organization in either IRS filings or ProPublica’s nonprofit database. CNN found that he instead ran a campaign for a pet charity under the alias “Anthony Zabrovsky,” on a GoFundMe page that no longer exists.

His mom’s death: In July 2021, Santos tweeted that “9/11 claimed my mothers life.” A few months later, in December, he honored his mother with a tweet that read “December 23rd this year marks 5 years I lost [sic] my best friend and mentor. Mom you will live forever in my heart.”

Santos’ campaign website explains that “George’s mother was in her office in the South Tower on September 11, 2001, when the horrific events of that day unfolded. She survived the tragic events on September 11th, but she passed away a few years later when she lost her battle to cancer.” Previously, the website wrote that she was also the “first female executive at a major financial institution,” and it did not include the detail that she had died from cancer.

There have been deaths attributed to 9/11-related illnesses. Santos’ mother could indeed be among those, but the details are mucky, given his initial suggestion that Santos’ mother lost her life on the actual day.

Being a Brazilian criminal: Santos allegedly stole two checks belonging to an 82-year-old man his mother was taking care of, and used them to buy shoes and clothes. Santos was charged with embezzlement, and the case is actually still open.

An undisclosed marriage: Santos became the first openly gay Republican elected to Congress. But the Daily Beast reported that Santos did not disclose a previous marriage he had to a woman—one that ended just 12 days before he began his first congressional campaign. “I’m very much gay…People change,” Santos has said. “I’m one of those people who change.”

His heritage: Santos, who has called himself “half Jewish” and a “Latino Jew” had repeatedly claimed his maternal grandparents “survived the Holocaust.” His website described them first fleeing Jewish persecution in Ukraine and settling in Belgium before again fleeing persecution during World War II. He has even claimed they changed their Jewish last name from Zabrovsky. But records show those grandparents were born in Brazil—with no indication of them having a Jewish background. And there is no evidence of his family changing their supposed last name.

In the manner of an amateur Dad-joke, Santos has in the past joked that he is “Jew-ish.” In an interview with Fox News host Tulsi Gabbard, he doubled down on that very normal defense.

Santos also claimed that his “White Caucasian mother, an immigrant from Belgium” fled “socialism in Europe.” Records show his mother, like her parents, was born in Brazil.

Santos has also claimed to be biracial—“Caucasian and black”—to be specific. In a statement responding to first reports from The New York Times into his lies, Santos only claimed to be a “Latino,” (before falsely attributing a quote to Winston Churchill). This does not preclude Santos from being biracial—but clarity on any part of his background has been hard to come by.

His professional background: Santos claimed to have worked for Goldman Sachs and Citigroup as a “seasoned Wall Street financier and investor.” Both Goldman Sachs and Citigroup told The New York Times they had no record of his employment. Santos subsequently admitted he “never worked directly” for the companies, instead saying he interfaced with the companies while serving as VP at a company called LinkBridge.

He has also claimed to be a landlord, complaining on Twitter about people not paying their rent during Covid. The Times found no rental property-owning records associated with him.

His educational background: Santos has claimed that he obtained a degree from Baruch College. The school could not confirm that to be the case. “I didn’t graduate from any institution of higher learning,” Santos later admitted. “I’m embarrassed and sorry for having embellished my resume.”

He also has repeatedly claimed to have attended Horace Mann, an elite New York City preparatory school. CNN reported the school did not have evidence of him ever attending.

His campaign funding: In 2020, Santos reported holding no assets and having a salary of $55,000 from his position at LinkBridge. The Daily Beast reported that just two years after that, Santos claimed a net worth as high as $11.5 million—all of it coming from the newly-formed Devolder Organization, from which Santos claims to have received $750,000 in salary and between $1 and $5 million in dividends. Some $700,000 of the organization’s money funded Santos’ campaign, in what looks to be a potentially illegal laundering of big-money donations.

The Pulse shooting: In an interview with WYNC, Santos said that four people who worked for him were killed during the Orlando Pulse nightclub shooting in June 2016 that left 49 people dead. The New York Times did not find any evidence for that claim.

Of course, tons of politicians exaggerate, embellish, and stretch the truth. But in the party of Herschel Walker, Donald Trump, and company, it seems “George Santos”—if that’s really even his name—will fit right in.

This post was updated.

Marjorie Taylor Greene Is Ready to Give George Santos a Chance

Having backed Kevin McCarthy's bid for the speaker's gavel, she needs all the votes she can get.

John Bazemore/Getty Images
Georgia Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene

Embattled Representative-elect George Santos has been taking fire on numerous fronts as the steady drip of lies and fabrications continues to churn in the newscycle. But he has at least found one ally willing to look past all of his problems: Marjorie Taylor Greene.

Santos has admitted to lying about his professional background and education. He maintains he merely claimed to be “Jew-ish” despite previously claiming he was descended from Holocaust refugees. He has yet to explain how he went from reporting having no assets or earned income in 2020 to declaring he was worth millions in 2022. It apparently took 15 years for his mother to die in the September 11 terrorist attacks.

He now faces calls to resign and an investigation by the Nassau County district attorney. Fellow Republican New York Representative-elect Nick LaLota has called for Santos to be investigated by the House Ethics Committee. But the most prominent House Republicans have remained silent…until now.

Greene, one of the most vocal MAGA Republicans in Congress, came out swinging in Santos’s defense Tuesday night.

“I think we Republicans should give George Santos a chance and see how he legislates and votes, not treat him the same as the left is,” she said on Twitter, noting she believes “actions and words are extremely important.” Therein, of course, lies the rub: Greene is a conspiracy theorist who has lied to her constituents about the outcome of the 2020 election, Covid, and climate change. She has voted against major legislation that would improve the lives of the people she represents.

And all of her latest words and actions are likely nothing more than a power play. Greene has been an avid supporter of Kevin McCarthy’s bid for House speakership. With Republicans holding only a razor-thin majority in the chamber, McCarthy will need every vote he can get to take the gavel—and that includes Santos.

Santos won his district by only eight points. If he is recalled, there is no guarantee the district—which went for Joe Biden in 2020—will send another Republican to Congress.

Greene has tried to rally her colleagues behind McCarthy. If she succeeds, then the new speaker will owe her—and perhaps Santos—big time.

What Are You Doing for New Year’s Eve, Jair Bolsonaro?

Brazil's losing presidential candidate might be ditching his wife and skipping Lula’s inauguration to hang out at Trump’s resort.

Eva Marie Uzcategui/Getty Images
Brazil President Jair Bolsonaro joins President Donald Trump at Mar-A-Lago in March of 2020.

The past few years have been rough on all of us. Many have lost jobs, homes, loved ones. In these uneasy times, we have been able to look up to the select few who have persisted anyhow—but even our heroes need a break too.

Such is the tale of authoritarian former Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro, whose loss to Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva in this year’s presidential election may lead him to seek refuge at … Donald Trump’s Florida resort? It’s a very on-trend move, anyway.

According to Brazilian outlet UOL, Bolsonaro plans to skip out on officially handing over the presidential sash to Lula, and instead cool his jets at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach. The venue is familiar territory for Bolsonaro; he and Trump shared a meal there in March 2020, right at the beginning of the pandemic which both leaders famously bungled (the U.S leads the world in Covid deaths at nearly 1.2 million; Brazil is right behind at nearly 700,000).

A future Zagat guide might describe the resort as the perfect sanctuary for serially-criminal and basically off-putting guys who just cannot fathom that people simply might not want to vote for them again. However, some Bolsonaro insiders claim that his New Year’s Eve destination will actually be an Orlando condominium—a home offered to Bolsonaro by a supporter.

La Nacion’s reporting affirms the ambiguity of Bolsonaro’s exact plans, but confirms preparations are indeed in motion for the former President to travel to Florida. He will likely depart in the coming days, as access to the presidential plane only lasts through his term, which expires Saturday. So, while Bolsonaro will ring in the new year retreating from his home country, the revival of Lula will mark the new year in Brazil.

It remains unclear whether Bolsonaro will be joined on holiday by his wife, Michelle. Earlier reports indicated she would not be traveling, but recent updates report her planning to travel to Miami while her husband embarks on his solo venture.

Regardless, Bolsonaro—who has still refused to concede the election—now may be skipping his successor’s inauguration and ditching his wife to sojourn in Florida for up to two months. Perhaps we just found our Loser of the Year.

Biden’s Covid-19 Cupboard Is Growing Bare

As the funding that helped turn the tide of the pandemic dries up, a dire burden mounts on the backs of uninsured Americans.

Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Covid-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths are on the rise once more in the United States, but government funding to fight the disease is on the decline—permanently.

Existing funds to battle the coronavirus are running out, and the White House has been asking Congress for months to include billions of dollars for testing, vaccines, and treatments in the omnibus spending package that just passed the Senate. But the massive $1.7-trillion federal budget bill includes no mention of federal Covid funding.

In June, Joe Biden’s administration began using funds previously earmarked for coronavirus tests and protective equipment to buy more antiviral pills and vaccines. Eventually, that money will run out, too. Once government funding ends, paying for Covid testing, vaccines, and treatments will be bounced back to health insurance companies, which will make it “incredibly hard to deal with COVID, to get tested for it, to get treated,” Dr. Kavita Patel, a primary care doctor in Washington, told Marketplace.

For a few years, the coronavirus forced the U.S. government and health care system to actually work. Testing centers dotted street corners; treatments were free; and vaccines were smoothly rolled out on a massive scale. But when government funding dries up, that is all going to change for the worse.

More than 27 million Americans did not have health insurance in 2021, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, meaning they and anyone else who has since lost coverage would have to pay out of pocket for Covid supplies. And many of them will likely be unable to afford to do so. As a result, more people are likely to forgo getting the latest booster shot or even getting tested, raising the probability of increased community spread and the likelihood of new variants emerging.

Biden has declared the pandemic over (except for people who have chronic illnesses or autoimmune issues, or are disabled). But if people are forced to do without the latest vaccine, it may very well come surging back.

The Latest January 6 Revelation About Mark Meadows Is Both Literally and Figuratively Incendiary

Score one for everyone who thought the Trump administration was like the Coen Brothers movie “Burn After Reading.”

Drew Angerer/Getty Images
Former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows

Former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson told the House January 6 investigative committee that she saw her erstwhile boss, Trump White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, regularly burn documents in his office fireplace.

Hutchinson was a star witness for the committee over the summer, providing bombshell details about Donald Trump’s level of knowledge of and involvement in the attack on the Capitol. She also made a series of fiery revelations when she initially testified in May, according to transcripts the committee released Tuesday.

Hutchinson said that Meadows burned multiple batches of documents about a dozen times in his office fireplace between December 2020 and January 2021, including after two meetings with Representative Scott Perry. Perry, a Pennsylvania Republican, has been linked to efforts to make the Justice Department overturn the 2020 election.

Meadows has been ordered to testify about efforts to overturn the election results in Georgia. Talking Points Memo also reported in early December that a laundry list of election deniers in Congress had texted Meadows multiple times about subverting U.S. democracy in Trump’s favor.

Hutchinson also testified that Representative Marjorie Taylor Green discussed the QAnon conspiracy group multiple times with Meadows and Trump; during one of those conversations, she told Meadows that her QAnon supporters would be attending the January 6 “Stop the Steal” rally in Washington, which eventually turned into the Capitol Riot.

Her testimony comes a week after the revelation that Trump’s former ethics attorney advised Hutchinson to lie to the January 6 committee.

Supreme Court Orders the U.S. to Keep Violating Its Own Laws and Reject Asylum Seekers

The Calvinball court is at it again with its recent Title 42 decision.

Drew Angerer/Getty Images

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court voted to keep Title 42—a Trump-era policy that expels asylum seekers—in effect, overriding a district judge’s November decision that would have ended the policy last week. The Supreme Court will now entertain arguments in February, with a decision expected months from now, in June.

The 5-4 decision went in favor of the 19 Republican state attorneys general who had filed an emergency request in response to a ruling from U.S. district judge Emmet Sullivan, who ruled that Title 42 was “arbitrary and capricious in violation of the Administrative Procedure Act.” Sullivan’s ruling described how the Center for Disease Control hadn’t evolved the policy alongside the changing state of the pandemic, failing to make adjustments as wider availability of vaccines, testing, and treatments became the norm.

The majority’s decision flicked at the court’s conservative bloc’s tendency to play Calvinball with the law; having previously allowed the Trump administration the leeway to act as it willed in illegally rejecting asylum seekers, it thwarted the attempts of the executive branch to remediate those policies once it became “the Biden administration.”

But the decision didn’t entirely break along partisan lines. Justice Neil Gorsuch joined Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, and Kentanji Brown Jackson in dissenting. Gorsuch wrote that “the current border crisis is not a COVID crisis,” and accordingly, “courts should not be in the business of perpetuating administrative edicts designed for one emergency only because elected officials have failed to address a different emergency.”

Gorsuch’s thoughts in a losing opinion can only provide so much comfort. After all, just as the 19 Republican attorneys general sought to use Covid as a justification for draconian asylum restrictions, the Supreme Court played a similar round of Covid Calvinball last year when deciding to reject administrative action for workplace safety. Arguing that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s Covid testing mandate for workers overstepped the boundaries of the agency’s authority by issuing a “public health” edict instead of a “workplace safety” rule, the Supreme Court ruled 6-3 to block the mandate.

In that instance, the court’s six conservative justices argued that Covid presented a “universal risk” and not just a specifically occupational hazard; the dissenters rightly pointed out that “[the OSHA statute] is indifferent to whether a hazard in the workplace is also found elsewhere.… That provision authorizes regulation to protect employees from all hazards present in the workplace.… It does not matter whether those hazards also exist beyond the workplace walls.”

With the conservative-led Supreme Court’s incoherence on overseeing Covid-inspired policy, it’s no surprise that Republican members of congress—particularly those who have been on the front lines of Covid denialism—have cited the pandemic as a justification to skip votes (and sometimes end up instead happily attending CPAC).

The United States continues to disregard its own laws and principles on accepting asylum seekers. Halfway through the Biden administration, the Trump-era policy tweak has been allowed to continue while Biden has sought to quietly neutralize the border as an issue. In response to the Court’s decision, the administration says it is still preparing to manage the border while the Court reviews Title 42, and challenges Republicans “to move past political finger-pointing and join their Democratic colleagues in solving the challenge at our border.” But such bland messaging might not be up to snuff in confronting a Supreme Court that seems to want to make up the rules of the game as it goes along.