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WASHINGTON — In the middle of breaking news about federal health officials recommending a pause for the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine, the former president of the United States offered one of his wild conspiracy theories.

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The Johnson & Johnson pause was announced “for politics,” Donald Trump said in a statement released late Tuesday morning. Or maybe it was done to benefit a rival vaccine manufacturer like Pfizer, he added.

Then, in the same statement, he complained that Pfizer didn’t announce its Phase 3 study results until after the 2020 presidential election was decided. “They didn’t like me very much because I pushed them extremely hard.”

And guess what: Few heard Trump’s baseless conspiracy theories.

Former Speaker Boehner discusses GOP’s future, U.S. political division
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They didn’t lead the evening news broadcasts. They didn’t generate big headlines in the New York Times or Washington Post.

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And while some news outlets did cover his statement, it was more background noise to the breaking news — rather than the main event.

So when the political, tech and legal worlds debate Trump’s social-media ban from Twitter and Facebook after his conspiracy theories and false claims after the election, the result is pretty telling.

Without Twitter, Trump no longer drives the news, even on the most explosive and delicate of topics.

Tweet of the day

Biden to announce full Afghanistan withdrawal by Sept. 11

At 2:15 p.m. ET, President Biden will deliver remarks on Afghanistan, in which he’s expected to announce that the United States will completely withdraw its troops from that country by Sept. 11.

“The troop drawdown will begin before May 1, the deadline for complete withdrawal as outlined in a deal the Trump administration reached with the Taliban, a senior administration official said. The U.S. says there are roughly 2,500 troops serving in Afghanistan,” NBC’s Carol E. Lee and Kristen Welker report.

“‘We went to Afghanistan to deliver justice to those who attacked us on Sept. 11, and to disrupt terrorists seeking to use Afghanistan as a safe haven to attack the United States,’ the official said. ‘We believe we achieved that objective some years ago.’”

On the one hand, you hear arguments that the U.S. announcing its full withdrawal takes away any leverage it has in finding peace between the Afghan government and the Taliban.

On the other hand, there’s the argument that — after 20 years of U.S. involvement — the Afghan government couldn’t still fight the Taliban to a stalemate without U.S. help.

Prominent sports columnist calls to boycott Beijing Winter Games

One of the nation’s most influential sports columnists, the Washington Post’s Sally Jenkins, argues that the West should boycott the 2022 Winter Games in Beijing — and hold them instead in Canada.

“What do you do with an invasive constricting snake? You step the hell away from it, that’s what. You don’t send your most aspirational kids into its maw and ask them to shut up and just breathe shallowly for two weeks while they’re being squeezed by it. Isn’t that the most harmful thing we could possibly do to a Mikaela Shiffrin?”

Data Download: The numbers you need to know today

31,481,525: The number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in the United States, per the most recent data from NBC News and health officials. (That’s 80,362 more than yesterday morning.)

567,525: The number of deaths in the United States from the virus so far, per the most recent data from NBC News. (That’s 880 more than yesterday morning.)

192,282,781: Number of vaccine doses administered in the U.S.

20.5 percent: The share of Americans who are fully vaccinated

15: The number of days left for Biden to reach his 100-day vaccination goal.

ICYMI: What else is happening in the world

First Lady Jill Biden is undergoing a “common medical procedure” this morning.

Three GOP senators want to strip the MLB of its antitrust exemption over its All Star game protest.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has formally invited Biden to address Congress on April 28.

An inspector general report finds that Capitol police were told not to use their most aggressive tactics in advance of Jan. 6.

Arkansas is the latest state to approve a ban that would effectively prevent food and water from being given to voters waiting in line.

The Washington Post looks at the big picture of Biden’s Afghan pullout.

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