Here’s what we’re talking about:
1. THE INSIDER PROFILE: Rep. Peter Meijer was sworn into Congress just days before the Capitol riot. Then in one of his first votes, he opted to impeach the president, joining nine other Republicans in a historic break from the party line. Meijer soon bought body armor as death threats escalated over his perceived disloyalty — even months later, the state GOP chair has mused about a possible assassination. Now, Meijer wants to save the GOP from falling off the cliff. Insider traveled to his district to hear more from this outspoken Republican.
Here’s a peek at our in-depth profile:
While some question his motive, Meijer stands behind his impeachment vote: The congressman said it had weighed on him that he occupied the seat once held by President Gerald Ford. The same Ford who remains defined by his decision to pardon Richard Nixon after the Watergate scandal.
- But Meijer sees a key difference: “I mean, I think that, to me, the operative distinction there was that Ford pardoned Nixon after Nixon resigned and accepted responsibility. And there was no such acceptance of responsibility in any way, shape, or form by the president for the events leading up to January 6 and the failure to respond on the sixth.”
Being a Meijer in western Michigan is an experience in and of itself: Meijer’s grandpa and great-grandpa founded what became the family’s grocery-store chain in 1934. It’s why Peter Meijer thinks Ford, who once held Meijer’s congressional seat, signed his Disney World signature book. More important, it’s helped the family achieve an estimated net worth of $12.6 billion.
Why he feels free to express a more independent streak: “I just want to get shit done,” Meijer said. “I didn’t run for office to be building or burnishing some national brand or only secure reelection and a cozy perch. My goal is to make as much impact and drive as much positive change as I possibly can.”
- What he’s hoping to accomplish: “I would say very much at the top of the list is war-powers reform and AUMF reform.” Meijer, an Army veteran and former nongovernmental-organization worker in Afghanistan, has joined a bipartisan effort to end authorizations that in some cases date back to President Dwight D. Eisenhower. He views this as a necessary step to reassert congressional power and to help end “forever wars.”
2. A key Democrat is praising Republicans’ infrastructure plan: Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia called the GOP’s $568 billion counteroffer a “good start,” despite fellow Democrats’ balking at its being only roughly a quarter of Biden’s $2.25 trillion proposal. Manchin added that he supported a “more targeted” approach based mostly on more traditional definitions of infrastructure.
3. Rep. Matt Gaetz once fought for “scorched earth” penalties for sex offenders: Gaetz, while he was in the Florida legislature, cosponsored legislation that increased the mandatory prison time for convicted sexual offenders, calling it some of the most important work his colleagues would do. Now that Gaetz is under federal investigation, his record is getting renewed attention. The congressman has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing. Insider watched more than 11 hours of archived hearings to see how Gaetz talked about issues like sentencing sex offenders and sex trafficking before he was elected to Congress.
4. US to help India with vaccines as COVID-19 cases continue to soar: The Biden administration pledged to immediately make available raw materials to produce India’s equivalent of the AstraZeneca vaccine along with testing kits, drugs, ventilators, and other supplies. The country recorded 349,691 new cases on Sunday, smashing a global record for a fourth consecutive day.
- Fully vaccinated American tourists will be allowed to visit the European Union: A top EU official told The New York Times that all 27 member EU nations would accept “unconditionally, all those who are vaccinated with vaccines that are approved by E.M.A.” All of the US’s authorized vaccines meet that standard. There’s no timeline, though, on when travel would reopen.
5. Stephen Miller’s new nemesis is a former lawyer for the US women’s soccer team: Brian Netter, a former clerk for Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, has stepped down as a partner at the law firm Mayer Brown to become a top official in the Justice Department’s civil division. Netter will play a key role in defending Biden policies against legal challenges from Republican state attorneys general and conservative groups. Miller, a former Trump aide, recently launched a group aimed at promoting court fights against the Biden administration. More on Netter’s background, including representing the USWNT’s equal-pay fight.
6. The top things for your calendar, all times Eastern:
- Noon: Jen Psaki holds the White House’s daily news briefing. The National Economic Council’s director, Brian Deese, will join her.
- 4 p.m.: Vice President Kamala Harris hosts a virtual meeting with Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei.
7. Kevin McCarthy defended Trump’s response to the Capitol riot: McCarthy, the top House Republican, told Fox News that when he spoke with Donald Trump on January 6 the then-president promised to release a statement on the unfolding insurrection and “that’s what he did.” Just after the riot, McCarthy said Trump “bears responsibility” for the violence that unfolded. But since then, the Californian has walked back his criticism. McCarthy also dodged a question on whether Trump told him during their call that the rioters “are more upset about the election than you are.”
8. Harris says the goal of immigration talks is to “give people some sense of hope”: The vice president told CNN that the nation’s immigration problems were “not going to be solved overnight.” Biden has tapped Harris to work with the Northern Triangle countries of Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras as the administration struggles with an influx at the border. More on her comments here.
9. The Daily Mail and Fox News pushed misleading claims about Biden limiting meat consumption: False claims about Biden’s plans for addressing the climate crisis spread online. The stories were based on a 2020 University of Michigan study that is not related to the president or his climate plan, but that didn’t stop Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene or Lauren Boebert from weighing in.
10. What you missed during the Oscars: The 93rd Academy Awards had a shocking end amid an unusual and historic night. Anthony Hopkins beat Chadwick Boseman to win best actor, a twist amplified by the facts that the award was placed at the end of the show (instead of best picture) and that Hopkins was not in attendance.
One last thing.
Today’s trivia question: FDR gets credit for ushering in the 100-days marker for presidents. But do you know who wrote to the president as a teenager and would later become a world leader himself? Email your guess and a suggested question to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.