The Hill’s Morning Report — Santos faces growing criticism after revelations

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The Hill's Morning Report — Santos faces growing criticism after revelations

Rep.-elect George Santos (R-N.Y.) continues to face controversy after admitting Monday to fabricating pieces of his work and education background. 

In his campaign to represent Long Island in the House, Santos falsely claimed that he earned a college degree and worked directly with Goldman Sachs. Additionally, after he claimed on the campaign trail to have Jewish heritage and be “a proud American Jew,” Santos clarified Monday that he “never claimed to be Jewish.” After his inconsistent biography had drawn scrutiny, Santos confessed to the embellishment, resulting in criticism from Democrats, Jewish groups and a growing number of Republicans.

Santos, 34, campaigned with a professional history that included claims that he graduated from Baruch College in New York and worked with top firms Citigroup and Goldman Sachs (The Hill). 

Santos’ Democratic opponent, Robert Zimmerman, on Tuesday called for the Republican to resign and run in a new election.

“George, if that’s even your real name, if you’re so convinced that #NY3 voters still trust you — resign & run against me again in a special election,” Zimmerman wrote on Twitter. “Face the voters with your real past & answer questions about your criminal history. Let the voters decide.”

In Congress Reps. Joaquin Castro (D-Texas) and Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) are among those calling on Santos to resign — and for the House to expel him if he refuses. 

Castro argued that if Santos is allowed to serve, “there will be more who seek office up and down the ballot who will believe that they can completely fabricate credentials, personal features and accomplishments to win office.”

It’s unlikely, however, that House Republican leadership will refuse to seat Santos. While the House has the power to expel any member with a two-thirds vote, only five lawmakers have been expelled in the country’s history (CNN).

The Hill’s Emily Brooks has rounded up eight outstanding questions about Santos and his history.

The Hill: The Republican Jewish Coalition says Santos is “not welcome” at future events.

Roll Call: Fellow New York Republican calls for Santos ethics investigation.

The Supreme Court, meanwhile, on Tuesday ordered the controversial Trump-era Title 42 border policy, which allows border officials to deny migrant asylum claims under a public health emergency, to remain in place. The policy was enacted in spring 2020, at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The court’s 5-4 ruling comes in response to an emergency request filed by 19 Republican state attorneys general asking to maintain the policy, which was scheduled to expire this week. The Biden administration had been signaling its desire to end the policy, which has drawn fierce criticism from immigration activists, who say Title 42 is cruel and inhumane and no longer relevant as most pandemic restrictions have been lifted (The Hill and Bloomberg News).

“The current border crisis is not a COVID crisis,” Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch said in a dissent. “And 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. We are a court of law, not policymakers of last resort.”

The New York Times: What is Title 42?

Reuters: Slipping over the Mexico border, some migrants get the jump on the Supreme Court ruling.


Related Articles

The New York Times: Jan. 6 Committee transcripts shed new light on how former President Trump considered blanket pardons.

The Atlantic: The great big Medicare rip-off. The government is leaving billions of dollars on the table — here’s how to fix it.

Politico: These states tried an Obamacare public option. It hasn’t worked as planned.

The Washington Post: Social Security denies disability benefits based on a list with jobs from 1977.


LEADING THE DAY

MORE POLITICS

The rift became apparent in the weeks after the midterm elections: Rupert Murdoch’s media empire, which includes Fox News, was beginning to turn on Trump, The Hill’s Dominick Mastrangelo reports. Those in media circles and politics have been following the souring relationship closely, given the power of Murdoch’s media outlets — which include The Wall Street Journal and the New York Post — to potentially shape the race for the GOP presidential nomination in 2024. 

“Trump’s superpower is getting all the coverage. That’s not happening anymore. Fox is not covering him 24 hours a day,” Daniel Cassino, a media expert who wrote a 2016 book about Fox’s influence over American politics, told The Hill. “So, it seems that is leading to frustration that he’s not dominating Fox the way he did before.” 

In Arizona, a judge on Tuesday rejected a request to sanction Arizona Republican gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake over her lawsuit challenging her loss. Maricopa County and Katie Hobbs (D), acting as both governor-elect and secretary of state, had asked the judge to require Lake and her legal team to pay all parties’ attorneys’ fees, arguing the suit was made in bad faith and groundless (The Hill).

Lake is appealing a judge’s decision to dismiss her lawsuit challenging her midterm defeat (The Hill).

Meanwhile in Michigan, the right-wing extremist who federal authorities say led the failed plot to kidnap Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) has been sentenced to 16 years in prison. Adam Fox, 39, who in August was convicted of two conspiracy charges, dodged what could have been a life sentence that federal authorities had sought in the rare domestic terrorism case.

Fox has been identified by federal prosecutors as the “driving force” behind the plan to kidnap Whitmer and start a civil war in the leadup to the 2020 presidential election (The Hill).

ABC News: More than 6,000 children killed, hurt by gunfire in 2022, report shows.

Roughly half of Americans and a large majority of Republicans think the nation’s global influence is weakening, writes The Hill’s Daniel de Visé. A new Pew Research Center analysis shows 47 percent of respondents think the U.S.’s influence on the global stage is declining. The findings may come as a surprise to Democrats who had hoped replacing Trump with President Biden would improve the country’s standing around the world, as well as its national image domestically.

TRANSPORTATION

Holiday travelers across the country have felt the impacts of winter weather and flight cancellations this past week, but Southwest Airlines customers have been hit especially hard. About 87 percent of Tuesday’s U.S. flight cancellations were Southwest, according to flight tracking website FlightAware, which translates to more than 2,500 flights. 

And things may only get worse from here for customers. The airline said Monday that it would operate just one-third of planned flights “for the next several days” in order to salvage its schedule. As The Hill’s Karl Evers-Hillstrom reports, a perfect storm of factors — from reliance on point-to-point service rather than hubs to decades-old communications systems — have contributed to the mass flight outages.

Biden said Tuesday that his administration will hold airlines accountable after flight cancellations snarled travel after Christmas Day, and the Department of Transportation has announced a probe into Southwest’s cancellations, which its own CEO Bob Jordan has described as the “largest scale event that I’ve ever seen” (The Hill and Politico).

The New York Times: Southwest’s debacle, which stranded thousands, will be felt for days.

The Wall Street Journal: Southwest airlines fliers contend with lost luggage along with canceled flights.


IN FOCUS/SHARP TAKES

INTERNATIONAL

Russia on Tuesday announced it would ban oil sales to countries that abide by a Western-imposed price cap, giving a long-awaited response to the most dramatic step taken so far to limit Moscow’s ability to raise funds for its war in Ukraine.

Under the Dec. 5 price cap, oil traders must promise not to pay above $60 per barrel for Russian seaborne oil to retain access to Western financing for global shipping necessities, such as insurance. Russia is the world’s second-largest oil exporter, after Saudi Arabia (The Hill).

Bloomberg News: Germany is confident a key refinery will be fine without Russian oil.

Ukrainian forces are edging closer to Kreminna, a fiercely defended city in the east of the country that could help Kyiv recapture a key region that is currently almost entirely occupied by Russia. Serhiy Haidai, the Ukrainian regional governor of Luhansk, said in a Tuesday post on the Telegram messaging app that “the Russians understand that if they lose Kreminna, their entire line of defense will ‘fall.’” 

Moscow, meanwhile, on Wednesday increased mortar and artillery attacks on recently-liberated Kherson (The New York Times and Reuters).

Ukrainian officials are increasing their calls to establish a special tribunal to criminally prosecute Russian President Vladimir Putin and target the core group of advisers and military officials they say are responsible for carrying out the assault on their country, writes The Hill’s Laura Kelly. But Kyiv has yet to settle on the best way forward, and that raises tricky legal questions of jurisdiction, funding support and political will for Ukraine’s international partners. 

Anton Korynevych, the Ukrainian government’s point person on establishing such a tribunal, told The Hill that Kyiv is working to secure cooperation from the U.S. and European partners on establishing such a court — but said it was “impossible” to determine a timeline.

“There are legal challenges which are obvious. For instance, the issues of immunities, which is the obvious elephant in the room,” Korynevych said. “But I’m sure that all these legal challenges, we’re going to work out, whenever there’s political will to work it out.”

CNN: Despite Putin’s claims, Ukraine peace talks look unlikely in near future.

Reuters: Russia and China hold naval drills, practice submarine capture.

The U.S. has pledged to deploy so much firepower to the Indo-Pacific in 2023 that China won’t even consider invading Taiwan, Politico reports. But lawmakers and allies say it’s already too late.

The New York Times: “Tragic battle”: On the front lines of China’s COVID-19 crisis.

Reuters: The United Nations urges countries to help Rohingya at sea as hundreds land in Indonesia.


OPINION

■ Free and fair voting — or “rigging” elections? Supreme Court will decide, by Michael J. Dell, opinion contributor, The Hill. https://bit.ly/3hVuK7j  

■ Independent voters are more important than ever, by David Hopkins, contributor, Bloomberg Opinion. https://bloom.bg/3WNCuqU


WHERE AND WHEN

👉 The Hill: Share a news query tied to an expert journalist’s insights: The Hill launched something new and (we hope) engaging via text with Editor-in-Chief Bob Cusack. Learn more and sign up HERE.

The House will convene on Tuesday, Jan. 3.

The Senate will convene on Friday at 9:30 a.m.

The president has no public schedule. He and first lady Jill Biden are in St. Croix, United States Virgin Islands, with their family.

The vice president has no public schedule.

The first lady is in St. Croix, United States Virgin Islands, with the president.


ELSEWHERE

STATE WATCH

Severe weather over Christmas is exposing vulnerabilities in the nation’s electric grid, writes The Hill’s Rachel Frazin. The various outages throughout the country are being caused by a variety of factors — from high power demand to downed power lines from wind as well as power plants going offline or cutting production.

Varun Rai, a public affairs professor at the University of Texas at Austin, told The Hill that because this extreme weather event was so “unprecedented,” the country’s grid system may not have been prepared. 

“To be prepared, en masse, for a country as large and as heterogeneous in terms of weather conditions and human conditions …it’s pretty unprecedented,” Rai said.

Rai added that such extreme conditions “expose the gaps” in the system and inform what can be improved in a system that’s facing limited natural gas supplies and the unpredictability of solar and wind power (Bloomberg News). 

Vox reports how the events over Christmas show how utilities and regulators continue to overestimate the reliability of fossil fuels to deliver power in a winter storm.

Biden on Monday approved New York’s emergency declaration request in response to the winter storm that’s claimed at least 28 lives in its western region (Axios).

The New York Times: “It was just a crying day”: Families mourn for those killed in the storm. 

The Washington Post: Buffalo’s no stranger to snow. Why was the storm so deadly?

Politico: Connecticut used Hurricane Sandy disaster aid to rebuild million-dollar homes.

Detroit, Cleveland, Philadelphia and Los Angeles rank among the nation’s 10 “neediest” cities, according to a report by the personal finance website WalletHub, which ranked 182 cities on 28 economic indicators, including child poverty, food insecurity and inadequate kitchens (The Hill).

➤ PANDEMIC & HEALTH 

Vaccine skepticism is on the rise in the U.S., and more than a third of parents with children under 18 — and 28 percent of all adults — now say parents should be able to decide not to vaccinate their children for measles, mumps and rubella to attend public schools, according to new polling by the Kaiser Family Foundation, even if remaining unvaccinated may create health risks for others.

Jen Kates, a Kaiser senior vice president, told The Washington Post that public sentiments against vaccine mandates have grown significantly since the pandemic. Pre-pandemic, a 2019 Pew Research Center poll found that less than a quarter of parents — and 16 percent of all adults — opposed vaccination requirements.

“The situation about increasing negative sentiment about childhood vaccination is concerning, but in absolute terms, vaccines remain the social norm,” Saad Omer, director of Yale’s Institute for Global Health and an infectious-disease expert who has studied vaccine hesitancy, told the Post.

A report by the global health strategy organization Resolve to Save Lives documented six possible epidemics that weren’t, The New York Times reports. All emerged in developing countries that have some of the most fragile health systems around the globe but show what measures can be taken to prevent a disease outbreak from ravaging communities.

Reuters: COVID-19 vaccine patent battles continue into 2023.

The Hill: FDA recalls blood pressure medication over cancer risks.

Information about COVID-19 vaccine and booster shot availability can be found at Vaccines.gov.

Total U.S. coronavirus deaths reported as of this morning, according to Johns Hopkins University (trackers all vary slightly): 1,090,595. Current U.S. COVID-19 deaths are 2,952 for the week, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (The CDC shifted its tally of available data from daily to weekly, now reported on Fridays.)


THE CLOSER

The Tarantula Nebula star-forming region as captured by the James Webb Space Telescope.

And finally… 🔭 The James Webb Space Telescope, launched on Christmas Day a year ago, is just getting started. The images from the telescope — which, with a primary mirror 21 feet wide, is seven times as powerful as its predecessor, the Hubble Space Telescope — provide scientists with views of the universe no human can see. 

But the pictures are only the first layer of information. Scientists say the telescope is in its early stages of discovery and may very well provide answers to the universe’s most fundamental questions in years and decades to come. 

“The first images were just the beginning,” Nancy Levenson, the temporary director of the Space Telescope Science Institute, which runs both Webb and the Hubble, told The New York Times. “More is needed to turn them into real science.”


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