Table of Contents
- 1 ‘Telling the Truth Shouldn’t Be Hard’: Officers Testify About Jan. 6 Riot
- 2 McCarthy Slams Democrats’ Handling of Jan. 6 Riot Investigation
- 3 Day of Rage: An In-Depth Look at How a Mob Stormed the Capitol
- 3.1 Pelosi is not responsible for securing the Capitol.
- 3.2 Pelosi does not control National Guard requests for the Capitol.
- 3.3 Pelosi was not briefed about warning signs before the attack.
- 4 Biden Administration May Require Vaccinations for Federal Workers
WASHINGTON — One officer described how rioters attempted to gouge out his eye and called him a traitor as they sought to invade the Capitol.
Another told of being smashed in a doorway and nearly crushed amid a “medieval” battle with a pro-Trump mob as he heard guttural screams of pain from fellow officers.
A third said he was beaten unconscious and stunned repeatedly with a Taser as he pleaded with his assailants, “I have kids.”
A fourth relayed how he was called a racist slur over and over again by intruders wearing “Make America Great Again” garb.
“All of them — all of them were telling us, ‘Trump sent us,’” Aquilino A. Gonell, a U.S. Capitol Police sergeant, said on Tuesday as he tearfully recounted the horrors of defending Congress on Jan. 6, testifying at the first hearing of a House select committee to investigate the attack.
One by one, in excruciating detail, Sergeant Gonell and three other officers who faced off with the hordes that broke into the Capitol told Congress of the brutal violence, racism and hostility they suffered as a throng of angry rioters, acting in the name of President Donald J. Trump, beat, crushed and shocked them.
More than six months after the assault, the accounts of the four uniformed officers — as precise as they were cinematic — cut through a fog of confusion, false equivalence and misdirection that Republicans have generated to try to insulate themselves politically and placate Mr. Trump.
They provided a set of gripping first-person narratives that brought home the harrowing events of Jan. 6, when Mr. Trump’s supporters, urged on by his lie of a stolen election, stormed the Capitol to disrupt the official counting of electoral votes to formalize President Biden’s victory.
House Republican leaders who have opposed efforts to investigate the assault boycotted the inquiry and dismissed it as a partisan ploy, so they were absent as the officers relived their trauma in a Capitol Hill hearing room.
“This nigger voted for Joe Biden!” Officer Harry Dunn of the Capitol Police told the panel a rioter had screamed at him, prompting a crowd to turn on him with shouts of “Boo! Fucking nigger!”
Later, Officer Dunn begged the lawmakers leading the inquiry to uncover the full extent of Mr. Trump’s role.
“There was an attack on Jan. 6, and a hit man sent them,” he said. “I want you to get to the bottom of that.”
Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming, a leading critic of Mr. Trump and one of two Republicans named by Speaker Nancy Pelosi to serve on the panel, used the proceedings to chastise her G.O.P. colleagues for refusing to investigate the worst attack on Congress in centuries.
“Will we be so blinded by partisanship that we throw away the miracle of America?” Ms. Cheney demanded. “Do we hate our political adversaries more than we love our country and revere our Constitution?”
The two top congressional Republicans later said they had been too busy with other work to watch.
The testimony, punctuated by video montages of the rampage — including some footage from the body cameras of police officers who testified — was a riveting reminder of the brutal reality of the day. In the hearing room and across Capitol Hill, officers, lawmakers and aides who lived through the riot were glued to cellphone or television screens watching it unfold.
“A violent mob was pointed toward the Capitol and told to win a trial by combat,” Representative Bennie Thompson, Democrat of Mississippi and the chairman of the panel, said as he opened the session. “Some descended on this city with clear plans to disrupt our democracy. One rioter said that they weren’t there to commit violence, but that, and I’m quoting, ‘We were just there to overthrow the government.’”
The refusal by most Republicans to participate in the hearing was just the latest indication of how a party that portrays itself as the champion of law enforcement has worked to thwart attempts to investigate the attack.
“We still don’t know exactly what happened,” said Representative Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, the other Republican afforded a seat on the panel by Ms. Pelosi. “Why? Because many in my party have treated this as just another partisan fight. It’s toxic, and it’s a disservice to the officers’ families.”
Fearing its political implications for their party, Republicans succeeded in blocking the creation of an independent, bipartisan panel in the style of the 9/11 commission to handle the inquiry and fiercely opposed the creation of the select committee. Then, after Ms. Pelosi refused to seat two Trump allies put forward by Republicans — both of whom had amplified the former president’s false claims of election fraud and disparaged the inquiry — the House Republican leader, Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, said his members would simply not participate.
Instead, Mr. McCarthy called his own event in the shadow of the Capitol before the hearing to try to pre-empt the officers’ testimony and divert blame for the assault onto Democrats. Ignoring those who organized, encouraged and carried out the attack, he and other Republicans faulted Ms. Pelosi, who on Jan. 6 was forced to flee the Capitol as armed members of the mob roamed the corridors calling out, “Where are you, Nancy?”
“Nancy Pelosi bears responsibility as speaker of the House for the tragedy that occurred on Jan. 6,” said Representative Elise Stefanik of New York, who became the House’s No. 3 Republican when the party ousted Ms. Cheney from the position for speaking out against Mr. Trump.
Congressional leaders hire the law enforcement personnel responsible for Capitol security, but are typically not involved in day-to-day decisions about security protocols. Security at the Capitol is controlled by the Capitol Police Board, which includes the House and Senate sergeants-at-arms and the architect of the Capitol.
While the hearing was underway, senators announced that they had reached a bipartisan deal on a supplemental spending bill to repay the National Guard for its deployment costs, pump $100 million into the embattled Capitol Police and allocate another $300 million to harden defenses at the Capitol.
Even as the police officers testified about having been brutalized by the rioters, a group of far-right Republicans was publicly siding with those who breached the Capitol. Representatives Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, Matt Gaetz of Florida, Paul Gosar of Arizona and Louie Gohmert of Texas held a news conference outside the Justice Department to object to the treatment of the rioters charged in connection with the attack, calling them “Jan. 6 prisoners” who had been mistreated because of their political beliefs.
Both Mr. McCarthy and Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the top Senate Republican, said they had not watched the hearing. Pressed to address those within his party seeking to deny or distort the attack, Mr. McConnell merely pointed back to comments he made last winter, shortly after orchestrating Mr. Trump’s impeachment acquittal on the charge that he incited an insurrection, when he said Mr. Trump was “practically and morally responsible” for it.
“I don’t see how I could have expressed myself more forthrightly than I did on that occasion, and I stand by everything I said,” said Mr. McConnell, who later led the Republican effort to block an independent bipartisan investigation of the riot.
Senator John Thune of South Dakota, the No. 2 Senate Republican, called the officers “heroes,” and said, “We should listen to what they have to say.” Like Mr. McConnell, Mr. Thune helped marshal Republican opposition to the investigation.
The only two Republicans who appeared eager for answers about the assault were Mr. Kinzinger and Ms. Cheney, who greeted the officers warmly in the hearing room, gripping their hands and embracing them.
Ms. Cheney said the panel should move quickly to issue subpoenas to uncover any potential ties between the rioters and the Trump administration and campaign. Lawmakers must learn “what happened every minute of that day in the White House: every phone call, every conversation, every meeting leading up to, during and after the attack,” she said.
After the hearing, Mr. Thompson said that subpoenas would be issued “soon” and that another hearing could come within weeks.
But on Tuesday, the focus was on the nightmare experienced by the police officers who responded that day.
Michael Fanone, a Washington police officer who was beaten unconscious and subjected to repeated shocks with his own Taser by the mob, suffering a heart attack and a brain injury, said he heard rioters calling for him to be killed with his own gun.
Lawmakers played Officer Fanone’s body camera video, in which he could be heard pleading for mercy — “I have kids,” he muttered — before being carried off by fellow officers and losing consciousness.
“I feel like I went to hell and back to protect them and the people in this room,” Officer Fanone said. “But too many are now telling me that hell doesn’t exist, or that hell wasn’t actually that bad.”
“The indifference shown to my colleagues is disgraceful,” he added, his voice rising to a shout as he pounded the witness table in anger.
Sergeant Gonell said what he went through on Capitol Hill that day had been more fearsome than any experience patrolling bomb-infested roads during an Army deployment in Iraq, denouncing what he called a “continuous, shocking attempt to ignore or try to destroy the truth of what truly happened.”
Officer Daniel Hodges, another member of the Washington police, described how the mob descended into “terrorism,” booing and mocking the police as they hoisted American, Christian and Trump flags. He said he had been crushed in a door, bashed in the head and nearly had an eye gouged out.
“To my perpetual confusion, I saw the thin-blue-line flag — the symbol of support for law enforcement — more than once being carried by the terrorists as they ignored our commands and continued to assault us,” Officer Hodges said.
Emily Cochrane, Catie Edmondson and Jonathan Weisman contributed reporting.
Representative Liz Cheney, Republican of Wyoming, issued a defiant challenge to her own party on Tuesday as a special House committee began its inquiry into the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, saying that the riot would remain a “cancer on our constitutional republic” if Congress failed to hold accountable those who were responsible.
In stern opening remarks, Ms. Cheney, one of just two House Republicans willing to serve on the panel, dared her colleagues to support a full investigation into the worst attack on Congress in centuries.
“Will we be so blinded by partisanship that we throw away the miracle of America?” Ms. Cheney asked. “Do we hate our political adversaries more than we love our country and revere our Constitution?”
Her remarks underscored just how isolated she has become in her own party as one of the few Republicans willing to speak out against President Donald J. Trump and his role in inspiring the attack on the Capitol. Ms. Cheney, the daughter of a powerful conservative family, has already been ousted from Republican leadership for her insistence on calling out the former president and his election lies, and her participation in the inquiry has drawn scorn from party leaders.
Ms. Cheney focused her remarks on Tuesday on the former president’s role, urging lawmakers to find out “what happened every minute of that day in the White House.”
“Every phone call, every conversation, every meeting leading up to, during and after the attack,” Ms. Cheney said.
Hoping to move past horrific political optics and fearful of invoking Mr. Trump’s wrath, just 35 Republicans in the House supported the creation of an independent bipartisan commission to investigate the attack. Only Ms. Cheney and Representative Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, who is also serving on the select committee in defiance of his party, supported the creation of the panel led by lawmakers.
Mr. Kinzinger, an Air Force veteran and lieutenant colonel in the Air National Guard, grew visibly emotional during his remarks on Tuesday, choking back tears as he angrily condemned conservative “counter narratives” and conspiracy theories designed to undercut the gravity of the Jan. 6 attack.
“Many in my party have treated this as just another partisan fight,” Mr. Kinzinger said. “It’s toxic and it’s a disservice to the officers and their families.”
Republican leaders are boycotting the proceedings, after Speaker Nancy Pelosi refused to seat two of the five lawmakers they had recommended, citing their statements backing Mr. Trump’s false election claims, equating the riot to racial justice protests and disparaging the investigation.
“I’m here to investigate January 6 not in spite of my membership in the Republican Party, but because of it,” Mr. Kinzinger said. “Not to win a political fight, but to learn the facts and defend our democracy.”
A House panel charged with investigating the January riot on the U.S. Capitol gathered on Tuesday to hold its first hearing, with police officers testifying about their experiences holding back the mob of supporters of President Donald J. Trump that overwhelmed law enforcement and stormed the building. The New York Times has published several investigations into the events of that day.
Investigating the security response: How communication breakdowns, inaction and confusion over who had authority to call for the National Guard delayed a deployment of hundreds of troops who might have helped quell the violence that raged for hours.
For months, Republican leaders have downplayed the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob. But on Tuesday, ahead of the first hearing of a special committee to investigate the riot, they took their approach to new and misleading extremes, falsely blaming Speaker Nancy Pelosi for the violence.
“The American people deserve to know the truth that Nancy Pelosi bears responsibility as speaker of the House for the tragedy that occurred on Jan. 6,” said Representative Elise Stefanik, Republican of New York and the party’s No. 3 leader.
It amounted to an audacious attempt to rewrite the history of the worst attack on the Capitol in two centuries and pre-empt the damning testimony of four police officers who were brutalized by the mob of Donald J. Trump’s supporters. Here’s how Republicans twisted the facts.
Pelosi is not responsible for securing the Capitol.
Looking past the motivations of the mob or Mr. Trump, Republicans said it had been up to Ms. Pelosi and her leadership team to protect the Capitol from the attack, particularly given that intelligence gathered in the weeks before it occurred pointed to the potential for violence against Congress.
“On Jan. 6, these brave officers were put into a vulnerable, impossible position because the leadership at the top has failed,” said Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, the minority leader.
Ms. Pelosi has considerable influence as the speaker, but she is not responsible for the security of Congress. That is the job of the Capitol Police, an agency Ms. Pelosi only indirectly influences. Most decisions about securing the Capitol are made by the Capitol Police Board, a body that consists of the House and Senate sergeants-at-arms and the Architect of the Capitol.
Ms. Pelosi shares control of the Capitol with the Senate majority leader, who at the time was Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky. Republicans have made no attempt to blame Mr. McConnell for the security breach or for failing to prepare for attack.
That charge also contradicts a bipartisan report produced by a pair of Senate committees that found evidence of systematic failures across American intelligence, military and law enforcement agencies, which misjudged the threat leading up to Jan. 6 and were not properly trained to respond to it.
It also flatly contradicted congressional testimony, news reports and public accounts of that day, when Ms. Pelosi herself was one of the prime targets of the rioters, some of whom stalked the halls of the Capitol chanting ominously, “Nancy…Where are you Nancy?”
Pelosi does not control National Guard requests for the Capitol.
Mr. McCarthy and others said that Ms. Pelosi had refused pleas by the Capitol Police to provide backup, like the National Guard, ahead of Jan. 6.
But the speaker of the House does not control the National Guard. And while Congress could have requested support in advance, that decision lies with the Capitol Police Board, not the speaker.
Members of the Capitol Police board have provided conflicting accounts of a debate that occurred on Jan. 4 over whether to request the help in advance. Steven A. Sund, then the chief of Capitol Police, has said he asked the board for the pre-emptive assistance but was rebuffed.
Among the reasons cited, Mr. Sund said, was a concern by the House sergeant-at-arms, Paul D. Irving, about the “optics” of bringing in reinforcements. Ms. Stefanik falsely attributed that concern to Ms. Pelosi, whose aides have said she only learned of the request days later.
A Times investigation detailed why it took nearly two hours to approve the deployment on Jan 6. After rioters breached the Capitol, Chief Sund called Mr. Irving at 1:09 p.m. with an urgent request for the National Guard. Mr. Irving approached Ms. Pelosi’s staff with the request at 1:40 p.m., and her chief of staff relayed it to her at 1:43 p.m., when she approved it. But it would be hours more before Pentagon officials signed off on the deployment and informed the District of Columbia National Guard commander that he had permission to deploy the troops.
Pelosi was not briefed about warning signs before the attack.
Republicans repeatedly said that Ms. Pelosi had been warned as early as mid-December that demonstrations were being planned for Jan. 6 around Congress’s joint session to count the electoral votes.
That appeared to be a reference to early intelligence reports and warnings that began to circulate inside the Capitol Police on Dec. 14, which were evidently never shared widely enough to be acted upon.
But Ms. Pelosi’s aides say she was not briefed at the time about the threat, and the Senate’s joint report found that the warning signs were mixed at best until just days before the attack.
Senators — Republicans and Democrats alike — instead said the blame was with the Capitol Police and intelligence agencies for failing to properly assess and warn about the threats.
WASHINGTON — The Biden administration is considering requiring all federal employees to be vaccinated against the coronavirus or be forced to submit to regular testing, social distancing, mask requirements and restrictions on most travel, officials said Tuesday — a major shift in approach by President Biden that reflects the government’s growing concern about the spread of the highly contagious Delta variant.
Mr. Biden said on Tuesday that a vaccine mandate for all federal workers was under consideration, but did not provide details. Administration officials said the idea being debated was similar to a plan announced by New York City, which would require any of the city’s 300,000 employees who refuse to be vaccinated to submit to weekly testing.
Officials said there was no consideration of simply firing employees who refuse to get vaccinated, but that the government could add additional burdens or restrictions on those who do not get the protections in an effort to convince more people to get the shot in the first place. They said there was evidence that making life inconvenient for those who refuse the vaccine works reasonably well to increase vaccination rates.
Around the country, mayors, business leaders, hospital administrators and college presidents are requiring Covid-19 vaccinations, even for those who have refused to voluntarily roll up their sleeves. So far, Mr. Biden has resisted. He has not yet required all federal workers to be vaccinated. He has not ordered members of the military to get shots. And he has not used his bully pulpit to call for a broader use of vaccine mandates.
But the president’s stance may be shifting quickly.
Inside the West Wing, his top public health experts are furiously debating the right path forward, according to administration officials, as the Delta variant surges in places where there are high numbers of unvaccinated Americans, posing a special threat to children, older people, cancer patients and others with weakened immune systems.
The White House is masking up again, just over two months after President Biden and senior government officials shed their face coverings in the biggest sign to date that the country was moving toward normalcy.
The shift came after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Tuesday that people vaccinated against the coronavirus should resume wearing masks in public indoor spaces in parts of the country where the virus is surging, amid growing reports of breakthrough infections of the more contagious Delta variant among people who are fully immunized.
An email to the White House staff with instructions to begin wearing masks again indoors arrived at 5 p.m. on the dot, an hour after the C.D.C. updated its county data online. The new data moved Washington, D.C., from yellow to orange, indicating that it has a “substantial” level of community transmission, senior officials said.
Over the past week, the city had a seven-day average of 52 cases per day, a 148 percent increase from the average two weeks ago (not 52 cases per 100,000 residents, as an earlier post said).
“As a result, the White House will require all individuals — regardless of vaccination status — to wear a mask at all times when on campus,” according to the email, which was obtained by The New York Times. The new policy begins on Wednesday morning.
The email said that masks could be removed only when “alone in an office with a door that closes, or when eating or drinking and maintaining at least 8-10 feet of distance.” The new guidance represents a return to the stringent masking rules that defined the early months of the Biden administration, when staff members were prohibited from gathering in large groups and conducted most of their meetings in offices with the doors closed, on Zoom.
The email also noted that “the vast majority of those working on campus are fully vaccinated.”
The White House Correspondents Association quickly followed the administration’s example, emailing reporters who cover the White House and work in the building that it was “reimposing its mask requirement for all indoor spaces at the White House.”
Because Washington is one county, the new C.D.C. guidance pertains to the entire city. In contrast, the new C.D.C.’s guidance means that states where transmission of the virus is relatively high could issue county-by-county mask requirements.
Earlier in the day, the White House press secretary, Jen Psaki, delivered the daily press briefing without a mask, and members of her staff sat in the room with their faces uncovered. The majority of journalists in the room also did not wear masks.
“We will be prepared to wear masks again,” Ms. Psaki said earlier in the day, when asked how new C.D.C. guidelines would affect the president and his staff.
Senate Republicans and Democrats struck a deal on Tuesday on a $2.1 billion in emergency spending bill to pay for increased security and costs related to the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, as well as the evacuation to the United States of thousands of Afghans who helped American diplomats and troops during the 20-year war in Afghanistan.
The deal, negotiated by Senators Patrick J. Leahy, Democrat of Vermont, and Richard C. Shelby, Republican of Alabama, the top lawmakers on the Appropriations Committee, came as officials with the Capitol Police, battered and demoralized in the aftermath of the Jan. 6 assault, have warned about running out of money in the coming weeks without congressional action.
Senators and aides involved in the negotiations confirmed the emerging deal as four police officers who survived the Jan. 6 riot finished testifying before a House committee about their experiences, and asked for additional resources and support as their colleagues continued to recover from the physical and mental toll of the riot.
“This bipartisan agreement addresses these critical needs, and it addresses them now because they cannot wait,” Mr. Leahy said in a statement announcing the agreement.
Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York and the majority leader, said he hoped to hold a vote on the bill this week.
“It is essential that we provide the National Guard and Capitol Police the funding they require without further delay,” Mr. Shelby said in a statement. “It is also critical that we not leave behind those who helped us in Afghanistan once President Biden fully withdraws U.S. troops later this year.”
Lawmakers have spent weeks privately negotiating over the spending bill. According to a summary released by Mr. Leahy, it would provide about $521 million to reimburse the National Guard for the months spent deployed on Capitol Hill and just over $100 million for the Capitol Police.
Funds for the Capitol Police include $31.1 million to backfill overtime incurred by officers; $4.4 million for mental health support, including the hiring of six mental health counselors and wellness resilience specialists; $5.8 million to protect lawmakers facing increased threats; and money for riot gear and specialized training.
It also includes $300 million for the Architect of the Capitol, the agency in charge of maintaining the complex, to increase security on Capitol Hill, including hardening windows and doors and installing new security cameras. The legislation also contains additional funds to address the toll of the coronavirus pandemic, with $42.1 million set aside for Capitol Police and other legislative branch agencies.
Senators also included about $1.1 billion for visas and refugee assistance for Afghans who assisted the United States during the war and now face retribution from the Taliban as American troops withdraw. Of those funds, the Pentagon would receive $500 million and the State Department would receive $600 million to help process special visas. The Department of Health and Human Services would receive $25 million to help with refugee settlement.
The legislation also includes changes to the special visa program to streamline the process and expand the number of authorized visas, in line with a House-passed bill that would increase the number to 19,000 from 11,000.
The House passed a $1.9 billion emergency funding bill in May, but it was opposed by Republicans who called it too costly and liberal Democrats who argued that more funding would not have prevented the Jan. 6 riot.
“I look forward to carefully reviewing the legislation,” said Representative Rosa DeLauro, Democrat of Connecticut and the chairwoman of the House Appropriations Committee, in a statement Tuesday evening. “We must not delay in meeting the needs of the Capitol Police, who were brutally attacked, and the National Guard, who bravely responded.”
The Justice Department declined on Tuesday to defend a congressional ally of former President Donald J. Trump in a lawsuit accusing them both of inciting supporters at a rally in the hours before the Jan. 6 storming of the Capitol.
Law enforcement officials determined that Representative Mo Brooks, Republican of Alabama, was acting outside the scope of his duties in an incendiary speech just before the attack, according to a court filing. Mr. Brooks had asked the department to certify that he was acting as a government employee during the rally; had it agreed to defend him, he would have been dismissed from the lawsuit and the United States substituted as a defendant.
The Justice Department’s decision shows it is likely to also decline to provide legal protection for Mr. Trump in the lawsuit.
The Brooks decision ran counter to the Justice Department’s longstanding broad view of actions taken in the scope of a federal employee’s employment, which has served to make it harder to use the courts to hold government employees accountable for wrongdoing.
Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken sent a letter to employees of the State Department on Tuesday saying that a swastika was found this week in an elevator at the department’s headquarters in Washington.
Mr. Blinken said that the graffiti had been removed and that an investigation was ongoing. Mr. Blinken said the department had no tolerance for the hateful images and reiterated the administration’s stance against anti-Semitism. The memo was first reported by Axios.
“Anti-Semitism is not a relic of the past. It has no place in the U.S., at the State Department or anywhere else,” Mr. Blinken said. “To our Jewish colleagues please know how grateful we are for your service and how proud we are to be your colleagues.”
The memo came on the day that testimony began on Capitol Hill about the postelection riot on Jan. 6, when an angry mob shouting racist and anti-Semitic messages stormed the seat of government.
Mr. Blinken’s stepfather, Samuel Pisar, survived two concentration camps as a child, and as an adult worked to promote Holocaust awareness in Europe. Mr. Blinken has said Mr. Pisar’s story helped to influence his belief that the U.S. must confront bigotry and atrocity around the world.
Mr. Blinken participated in a Holocaust awareness ceremony in Germany last month, where he announced a joint U.S.-German program to support public education about the Nazi era.
In a statement, Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, Gilad Erdan, called the swastika “a serious incident of anti-Semitic vandalism, which once again shows that anti-Semitism does not distinguish between Jews in Israel and Jews in America, and harms not only Israel but the entire world.
“We must fight together resolutely against anti-Semitism of any kind,” the statement said, “and bring to justice anyone who acts out of hatred for the Jewish people.”
Michael Crowley contributed reporting.
Members of Congress on Tuesday threatened to withhold tens of millions of dollars in federal funding from four Native American tribes in Oklahoma, adding to renewed public pressure to end policies that discriminate against descendants of Black people who were enslaved by the tribes before the Civil War.
The House Financial Services Committee is considering adding a provision to a bill reauthorizing federal housing funds that would withhold some or all of those funds from tribes found in violation of their treaty obligations to these Black Native Americans, known as the Freedmen.
“For one minority group to discriminate against a minority group, as the chair of this committee, I don’t intend for it to stand,” said Representative Maxine Waters, Democrat of California and chairwoman of the House Financial Services Committee.
Ms. Waters is a senior member of the Congressional Black Caucus, and has used her influence to advance racial equality measures. She has also previously attempted to aid the Freedmen through provisions added in her committee.
The provision was discussed during a subcommittee hearing on the treatment of the Freedmen. Under Reconstruction-era treaties signed with the federal government in 1866, they had been enrolled as members of their tribes, but were expelled more than a century later by changes in tribal constitutions that added “by blood” requirements for citizenship: descent from non-Black tribal citizens who were on the Dawes Rolls of 1906, a census.
Freedmen were listed separately from “by blood” tribal members in the census.
The Native tribes now face pressure from two branches of government to recognize the Freedmen. The Biden administration has encouraged the tribes to voluntarily restore their citizenship and grant them equal rights. In May, Deb Haaland, the first Native American secretary of the Interior, addressed the Freedmen in Oklahoma and acknowledged their rights as citizens of the tribes that had enslaved their ancestors.
The Choctaw, Muscogee (Creek), Cherokee, Seminole and Chickasaw nations, which originally inhabited the Southeast, purchased enslaved Black people as laborers in the 18th and 19th centuries, and took them along when the federal government forcibly moved the tribes in a deadly ordeal known as the “Trail of Tears.”
Of these five tribes, only the Cherokee Nation grants the Freedmen equal citizenship by law, meaning that the four other tribes would likely be considered to be in violation of their treaty obligations. These four tribes received a combined $27.7 million in housing funds from the federal government this year.
Chuck Hoskin Jr., the principal chief of the Cherokee Nation, attended the hearing as a witness in support of equal citizenship for Freedmen in the other tribes. Mr. Hoskin has been a longtime supporter of the Freedmen, and presided over a change to the Cherokee Nation’s constitution in February that eliminated the “by blood” requirement for citizenship, the biggest step by a tribe so far to resolve the issue.
During the hearing, he declared that the Cherokee Nation’s enslavement of Black people, and efforts to discriminate against their descendants — abetted by previous tribal chiefs — were “a stain on the Cherokee Nation.”
“I offer both an apology on behalf of the Cherokee Nation for these actions, and more importantly, I offer a commitment to reconciliation,” Mr. Hoskin said.
But he urged the committee to not hold housing funding hostage over the issue.
“I don’t believe Congress should condition federal housing policy and dollars on this type of public policy,” Mr. Hoskin said. “I think it breeds antipathy. I don’t think it breeds understanding.”
Ms. Waters countered that the other tribes had opposed calls for equal rights for Freedmen for years, and that “they have no intentions of doing it.”
Marilyn Vann, a Cherokee citizen and president of the Descendants of Freedmen of the Five Civilized Tribes Association, presented accounts of Freedmen denied housing assistance and even Covid vaccinations by their tribes, and offered her support for congressional efforts to deny funding to tribes that continued to refuse full rights to the Freedmen.
“Many of the descendants of Freedmen today are impoverished and in need of housing,” Ms. Vann said, “as a result of past and current systemic racism.”
Two Native American tribes had said in May they would consider reversing the expulsion of their Freedmen. But those two, the Choctaw Nation and Muscogee (Creek) Nation, stopped short of a commitment to grant citizenship to the Freedmen, instead saying they would open discussions about the issue.
The Justice Department notified former officials this week that they could testify to the various committees investigating the Trump administration’s efforts to subvert the results of the presidential election and the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, according to a letter obtained by The New York Times.
Witnesses can give “unrestricted testimony” to the House Oversight and Reform Committee and the Senate Judiciary Committee, the department said. Both panels are scrutinizing the bid by officials in the Trump White House to force the Justice Department to undermine President Biden’s victory, as well as the events leading up to the Capitol riot, as Congress convened to formally tally the electoral results.
The officials learned in May that they could provide information about how the department planned for and responded to the vote certification on Jan. 6, according to the letter. The department determines whether current or former officials can respond to requests for testimony on a case-by-case basis, and the letters to former officials leaves unclear whether the select committee investigating the Jan. 6 riot has made such a request.
The Justice Department’s decision runs counter to the views of former President Donald J. Trump, who has argued that his decisions and deliberations are protected by executive privilege. It also sets up a potential court battle if Mr. Trump sues to block any testimony, which would force the courts to determine the extent to which a former president can be protected by privilege.
Mr. Trump’s supporters have argued that a president cannot function if privilege can be taken away by a successor, exposing sensitive decision-making and opening up the previous administration to scrutiny. But others say that the matter is settled law, and that privilege does not apply to extraordinary circumstances.
In his last weeks in office, Mr. Trump pressured Justice Department officials to overturn the results of the election, asking them to examine claims of vote tampering that investigators said they had already determined to be false.
“Department lawyers, including those who have left the department, are obligated to protect nonpublic information they learned in the course of their work,” the department said in its letter, which was signed by Bradley Weinsheimer, a top career official in the deputy attorney general’s office.
“The extraordinary events in this matter constitute exceptional circumstances warranting an accommodation to Congress,” he wrote, noting that the information sought by Congress was directly related to the question of whether Mr. Trump tried to use the Justice Department to advance his “personal political interests.”
The department told former officials that they could provide unrestricted testimony “so long as the testimony is confined to the scope of the interviews set forth by the committees” and does not reveal grand-jury information, classified information or pending criminal cases.
The Senate Judiciary and the House Oversight and Reform Committees have asked a few Trump-era Justice Department officials to disclose the pressures they faced to undermine faith in the election outcome or seek to overturn it in the courts, as well as how the department responded to the Jan. 6 attack.
Those negotiations were effectively stalled as the Justice Department decided how much former officials were allowed to reveal. Many of their conversations and actions were potentially covered by privileges that the department has long protected to keep executive branch deliberations confidential.
The Justice Department decided to let former officials testify after consulting with the White House Counsel’s Office, given that such an authorization could force current and future administrations to publicly reveal deliberative information, according to its letter.
In an unusual move, the White House Counsel’s Office said that it would not be appropriate to assert executive privilege because of the topics that the committees wished to explore, the department told the former officials.
While Mr. Trump’s lawyers invoked executive privilege to keep the officials from testifying, the White House Counsel’s Office noted that precedent indicated that such privilege was meant to be a benefit to the country, rather than the president as an individual.
The Justice Department said in its letter that the decision was “unique to the facts and circumstances of this particular matter.”
Representative Carolyn B. Maloney, the chairwoman of the House oversight committee, said she was pleased with the Justice Department’s move and that she expected “prompt cooperation from these witnesses.”
“I am committed to getting to the bottom of the previous administration’s attempts to subvert the Justice Department and reverse a free and fair election,” she said in a statement.
Senator Richard J. Durbin, Democrat of Illinois, who leads the Judiciary Committee, said on Twitter that he was working to schedule interviews with the officials.
The Justice Department is still sending the committee documents related to its inquiry, according to a committee aide. Documents sent to the congressional panels this summer revealed that Mr. Trump and his chief of staff, Mark Meadows, were pressuring Jeffrey A. Rosen, the acting attorney general, to investigate claims of election fraud that investigators had found to be baseless.
In January, Mr. Durbin opened an investigation into involvement by Justice Department officials in efforts to reverse Mr. Trump’s election loss. This spring, he asked the National Archives for communications and records related to meetings between the White House and the Justice Department concerning those efforts.
In parallel with the congressional inquiries, the Justice Department’s inspector general is examining how Mr. Trump and the White House pressured former department officials during their final days in office. Mr. Trump has argued that executive privilege prevents former officials from cooperating with the inspector general, but those officials are likely to consider the Justice Department’s contrary view in deciding whether to provide information.
President Biden met with Senator Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, the lead Democratic negotiator on a bipartisan infrastructure deal, on Tuesday as talks between a group of senators and White House officials continue to hinge on a handful of unresolved disagreements over funding levels and how to finance the agreement.
The meeting, first reported by Politico and confirmed by two people familiar with the plans, is expected to center on the ongoing talks. Other senators involved in the talks expressed different degrees of optimism, but most said negotiations are likely to continue deeper into the week.
“If it takes a couple of extra days, fine,” said Senator Tom Carper, Democrat of Delaware, who is fighting for more funds for clean-water infrastructure. “At the end of the day, I think it’s just critically important to meet our priorities.”
The White House meeting comes more than a month after Mr. Biden, Ms. Sinema and nine other senators triumphantly announced a deal on a framework for $1.2 trillion in spending, with nearly $600 billion of that in new funding for roads, bridges, highways and broadband.
Time is running short for negotiators ahead of a scheduled August recess. Democratic leaders are determined to vote before the break not only on the bipartisan agreement on infrastructure, but also on a $3.5 trillion budget blueprint that will unlock the party’s ability to use the fast-track reconciliation process and advance the remainder of Mr. Biden’s economic agenda.
Top Senate Republicans, speaking at their weekly news conference on Tuesday, said they discussed the infrastructure negotiations during a party lunch. But they directed most of their public comments toward plans for the $3.5 trillion plan, deriding it as a reckless spending spree that would fuel inflation concerns.
Senator Susan Collins, Republican of Maine, made it clear that the parties are still arguing over transit funding. “There are still some other broad issues as well,” she added, “and there are minor issues throughout.”
It is not at all clear what impact a collapse of the bipartisan talks would mean to the larger package. Senator Joe Manchin III, Democrat of West Virginia and a negotiator, told reporters on Tuesday, “If the bipartisan deal falls apart, then I think everything falls apart.”
He and Ms. Sinema, both key moderates, have not yet publicly committed to advancing a reconciliation package while negotiating the bipartisan deal.
But most negotiators struck a far more optimistic tone. Senator Bill Cassidy, Republican of Louisiana, said a deal is “absolutely” in reach.
Negotiators are still haggling over a number of unresolved items, including how much money to pour into transit programs. But after a round of finger-pointing between the two sides on Monday after Republicans panned the latest offer from Democrats, officials in both parties appeared more optimistic about the possibility for a deal.
Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the majority leader, on Tuesday continued to warn that lawmakers would have to work through the weekend to finalize the deal. Lawmakers have said they will likely try to wrap the new funding for infrastructure projects into the budget blueprint should the bipartisan talks collapse.
“We’re not there yet, but we’re making process,” Mr. Schumer said at his weekly news conference. “The number of issues has been narrowed significantly.”
Pressed repeatedly on the timing of a final agreement, he reiterated that he was optimistic about the chances for a deal and did not commit to a hard deadline for ending negotiations.
A New Jersey woman can leave up several banners that use what local officials called an obscenity to express her hostility toward President Biden, a state court ruled on Tuesday.
“I feel amazing,” Andrea Dick, 54, said after the Superior Court of New Jersey dismissed the case, which was brought against her mother, Patricia Dilascio, who owns the home in Roselle Park, where the banners have hung since the Memorial Day weekend.
The ruling came after Ms. Dick enlisted the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey to fight a municipal judge’s order that she take the banners off a fence outside the house where she lives with her mother or face $250 a day in fines.
The A.C.L.U. hailed the court’s action as an “uncomplicated” victory for free speech.
In a statement, Jarrid H. Kantor, the borough attorney, said Roselle Park stood by the summons and agreed with Judge Bundy’s decision.
“However,” Mr. Kantor continued, “the borough feels that the continued attention garnered by the inappropriate display and the escalating costs to the taxpayers of continuing to litigate the matter causes far greater harm to the borough, as a whole, than good.”
The mayor, of Roselle Park, Joseph Signorello III, called it a “moral loss” for the borough.
As the Biden administration continues to grapple with high numbers of migrant families streaming across the southwestern border, efforts taken earlier this year to relieve overcrowding at border stations are resulting in the unintended release of thousands of undocumented migrants into the country, some of whom are off the radar of immigration enforcement officers.
The situation has fueled Republican attacks on the administration for what they have declared a crisis on the border.
Alejandro N. Mayorkas, the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, fielded questions about those border policies, and the department’s funding request for the coming year, as he testified before the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee on Tuesday.
During the hearing, the White House released a summary of all of the administration’s immigration policies, including plans to have asylum officers determine cases in order to more quickly address the flow without adding significantly to the backlog of about a million cases. In addition, migrant families who do not claim asylum will be sent back to their home countries. The administration also highlighted its use of a special court docket to prioritize certain asylum cases.
In March, Border Patrol agents in Texas cut in half the amount of time agents typically take to enter an undocumented migrant into the immigration court system. They did this by using a document not recognized by the courts that directs migrants to report to an immigration office within 60 days to be officially entered into the immigration court system.
Homeland security officials are now finding that many of the migrants who received this alternate document have missed the reporting window, leaving about 15,000 migrants — most of whom entered the country with family members — somewhere in the United States and largely under the radar of immigration enforcement officials, according to internal data shared with The New York Times.
Since March 19, when the new policy began, Border Patrol agents have issued these documents to about 50,000 migrants, the department said. That is compared to about 63,000 official charging documents the Border Patrol has issued between March and June, according to government data. Of the 50,000, the department said that as of July 16, 70 percent of the migrants have either checked in or are still within the 60-day window to do so. That leaves 15,000 migrants who have missed their 60-day window.
“The document an individual receives is dependent on facility space and resources available to process,” Marsha Espinosa, spokeswoman for the Department of Homeland Security, said in a statement Monday night. She said even with the alternate document, agents continue to run background checks and collect fingerprints and other information. She said many of the migrants who received these documents have been reaching out to ICE and checking in.
Immigrant advocates and legal advisers have said they are telling the migrant families to follow the instructions and check in with ICE regardless of which document they were handed by Border Patrol.
Still overwhelmed, Border Patrol agents continue to issue about 800 of the documents a day, according to the data shared with The Times.
Most of the migrant families have been arriving in Texas’s Rio Grande Valley. Last week, a spokeswoman for Good Neighbor Settlement House, a soup kitchen in Brownsville, said the organization helped 268 migrants in one day, up from an average of 45 to 55 a day in June. “We are definitely seeing an increase,” she said.
Representative Henry Cuellar, Democrat of Texas, said the surge in migrants crossing into the country through the Rio Grande Valley comes as more Border Patrol agents are testing positive for Covid-19. He said one of the main nonprofit organizations that has been helping to provide shelter and support for migrants after they are released from Border Patrol has stopped accepting more people as of Monday, as cases in the region are on the rise.
More than half of the traffic on the southern border between February and June has been in Texas, where families and children from Central America have been entering the country in high numbers, according to Border Patrol data.
Last week, Gov. Greg Abbott, Republican of Texas, directed law enforcement officials to start arresting migrants for trespassing to address illegal immigration.
“Texas has begun arresting illegal immigrants who are trespassing in Texas or vandalizing property & fences,” Mr. Abbott said in a Twitter post on Wednesday. He said the migrants were being sent to a detention center in Dilley, “rather than being released like the Biden Admin. has been doing.”
If the administration continues to use the alternate document while border stations see high numbers of migrants crossing illegally into the country, the number of undocumented immigrants living under the radar will continue to increase, Joseph Edlow, an immigration attorney and former deputy director for policy at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services during the Trump administration, said in an interview on Monday.
“To use this in the way that it’s being used is akin to ending immigration enforcement and making it clear that the onus is essentially on the individual to report themselves if they want to,” Mr. Edlow said of the alternate document. The migrants who have legitimate asylum claims, for example, are not benefiting from the policy, either, he said. “It’s almost like a legal purgatory, where there is really nothing going on because they’re not legally here,” he said.
Miriam Jordan contributed reporting from Los Angeles.
For years, Latino activists and organizers complained that Democratic efforts to woo their community often seemed like an afterthought, a motley collection of Spanish-language advertisements, haphazardly translated campaign literature and a handful of outreach staff members tacked on to campaigns.
But after last year’s election, when Republicans peeled away significant amounts of Latino support across the country, Democratic leaders are trying a more aggressive approach.
Led by a White House that recruited top Latino organizers to high-level staff positions, and with the first lady, Jill Biden, taking a particular interest in reaching out to Latino voters, the new effort bridges the party, encompassing policy, communications and political organizing.
The efforts reflect how vital Latino voters are to the party’s success, but also the extent of the work needed to win back a group that makes up nearly 20 percent of the population. Democrats have long viewed these voters — a diverse group that includes dozens of countries of origin and a wide range of socioeconomic status — as a mostly monolithic bloc that could be taken for granted, operating as though the most important factor was simply turnout; if Latino voters cast ballots, the reasoning went, they will vote Democratic.
But 2020, with a record 18.7 millions ballots cast by Latino voters, proved just how wrong that theory was. Though roughly 60 percent chose President Biden, the movement toward President Donald J. Trump plunged Democrats into a period of soul-searching.
The Democratic Party is now trying to use data to better understand Latino voters, and to try to develop a more granular understanding of how different national backgrounds, economic status and other factors change voting behavior.
Michael B. Enzi, a long-serving United States senator from Wyoming who had a reputation as a low-key, consensus-seeking conservative and who led the Senate Budget Committee for several years before he retired in January, died on Monday, days after a bicycle accident. He was 77.
A former spokesman, Max D’Onofrio, confirmed Mr. Enzi’s death in a statement.
Mr. Enzi sustained serious injuries while riding a bicycle near his home in Gillette, Wyo., on Friday, Mr. D’Onofrio said. He was airlifted to the UCHealth Medical Center of the Rockies, in Loveland, Colo., where he remained unconscious and was not able to recover from his injuries, Mr. D’Onofrio said.
Mr. Enzi was consistently conservative. He voted against marriage equality and abortion rights, and he regularly defended the energy industry, supporting off-shore drilling and opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and other public lands to private oil companies. But he also sought compromise at times, and he occasionally opposed members of his own party — as when he supported efforts to impose a uniform tax on interstate commerce online.
He served four terms in office, overwhelmingly winning re-elections. He easily fended off a primary challenge in 2014 from Liz Cheney, the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, despite her national name recognition and greater fund-raising ability.
In May 2019, Mr. Enzi became the fourth senator to announce his intention to step down ahead of the 2020 election. His seat, in a state that Mr. Trump won by 43 points in last year’s election, remained in Republican hands. It was won by Cynthia Lummis, a Republican who was the only woman to have been newly elected to the Senate last year.
MUMBAI — Earlier this year, when Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken was up for confirmation in Washington, he was hit with a strange question about a piece of property 8,000 miles away on the Arabian Sea.
Lincoln House, a former maharajah’s palace and U.S. consulate in Mumbai, was supposed to have been sold six years ago for $110 million. Ever since, the United States has been trying to transfer the property to one of the richest families in India, now among the major makers of Covid-19 vaccines, but for unknown reasons the Indian government has been blocking it.
The dispute is “an unnecessary irritant in bilateral ties,” Senator James E. Risch said in a written question to Mr. Blinken during the confirmation hearing. “Do you commit to making the resolution of the Lincoln House issue a priority with India, and to directing the U.S. Ambassador to India to do the same?”
“Yes,” Mr. Blinken said, and this week he will have a chance to prove his word.
On Tuesday, he is scheduled to arrive in India for his first trip to the country as secretary of state, and congressional and administration officials say he intends to bring up this moldering mansion that is becoming something of a diplomatic black hole.
Mr. Blinken has a full plate. He will be trying to quickly cover everything from cybersecurity, human rights and climate change to Covid assistance, the impending peril in Afghanistan and an elusive trade deal that could mean billions of dollars of new business for India and America, if it ever gets signed.
But Lincoln House has become an unexpected obstacle. High-level diplomatic correspondence reveals how much attention this single property has consumed, laying bare some of the tortuous twists and turns of the U.S.-India relationship, which many American officials hope will become their cornerstone in Asia.
Meanwhile, Lincoln House still sits unsold, its high walls crumbling, paint chipping off, rust streaks running down to the sidewalk, an American-owned eyesore. A rambling, haunted-looking, cream-colored building, it lies in one of Mumbai’s most desirable enclaves — Breach Candy — just a stone’s throw from where soft waves tumble into the shore.