CNN Says Government Issued Gag Order in Fight Over Reporter’s Email Data

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Credit…John Lamparski/WireImage

CNN disclosed on Wednesday that the Justice Department had fought a secret legal battle to obtain the email logs of one of its reporters — and that as part of the fight the government imposed a gag order on the network’s lawyers and its president, Jeff Zucker.

The news network’s disclosure came less than a week after a lawyer for The New York Times revealed that he and a handful of lawyers and executives for the newspaper had been gagged as part of a similar fight stemming from a leak investigation.

The fight for the CNN reporter’s email data began in July 2020 under the Trump administration and was resolved on Jan. 26, just after the Biden administration took office, in a deal with prosecutors under which the network turned over “a limited set of email logs,” it said. A judge recently lifted the gag order over the matter.

The disclosure was the latest involving aggressive steps the Justice Department took in leak inquiries late in the Trump administration, and the second inquiry now known to have spilled over into the early Biden administration.

The Justice Department had revealed in recent weeks that it had, during the Trump administration, successfully seized phone records for the four Times reporters, the CNN reporter and several reporters at The Washington Post as part of leak investigations. Each involved records from 2017.

In the fallout from the revelations, President Biden has directed the department to cease the practice of seizing reporters’ communications records in an attempt to identify their sources. Attorney General Merrick B. Garland has scheduled a meeting with leaders of the three news organizations for Monday.

President Biden is set to revoke a Trump-era executive order that sought to ban TikTok from U.S. app stores.
Credit…Narinder Nanu/AFP via Getty Images

President Biden on Wednesday revoked a Trump-era executive order that sought to ban the popular apps TikTok and WeChat and replaced it with one that calls for a broader review of a number of foreign-controlled applications that could pose a security risk to Americans and their data.

The Trump order had not been carried out “in the soundest fashion,” Biden administration officials said in a call with reporters, adding that the new directive would establish “clear intelligible criteria” to evaluate national security risks posed by software applications connected to foreign governments, particularly China.

Mr. Biden’s order reflects a growing urgency among American officials, both Republican and Democrat, to aggressively counter what they see as a growing threat posed by China’s military and technology sectors. In a rare show of bipartisanship, U.S. lawmakers have also sought to reduce America’s dependence on China for supply chain technology like semiconductors, rare minerals and other equipment. On Tuesday, the Senate approved a $250 billion spending package to bolster American technology research and development.

The order is the first significant step Mr. Biden has taken to approach the saga between TikTok and the Trump administration, which tried to ban the app over national security concerns but was immediately challenged in federal court.

Analysts said the new executive order is meant to create a process that could withstand such a challenge.

The Biden administration has worked to reassess several directives Mr. Trump made to curb China’s influence, and in several cases has taken a more aggressive approach. Last week, Mr. Biden expanded a Trump-era order by barring Americans from investing in Chinese firms linked to the country’s military or engaged in selling surveillance technology.

It is unclear how effective either order will ultimately be at stopping the spread of Chinese espionage technology, and does not fully resolve the future of TikTok, a wildly popular app with 100 million American users.

James Lewis, a senior vice president of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said the Biden administration has shown no easing of the government’s strong stance against China. But the new executive order lays out much more precise criteria for weighing risks posed by TikTok and other companies owned by foreign adversaries like China.

“They are taking the same direction as the Trump administration but in some ways tougher, in a more orderly fashion and implemented in a good way,” Mr. Lewis said. Mr. Lewis added that Mr. Biden’s order was stronger than the Trump-era directive because “it’s coherent, not random.”

On Wednesday, administration officials would not go into specifics about the future of TikTok’s availability to American users or say whether the U.S. government would seek to compel ByteDance, which owns the app, to transfer American user data to a company based in the United States.




Garland Defends D.O.J. Moves to Uphold Trump-Era Positions

Attorney General Merrick B. Garland on Wednesday said that the Justice Department’s moves to uphold Trump-era positions were consistent with the rule of law.

“Look, the job of the Justice Department in making decisions of law is not to back any administration, previous or present. Our job is to represent the American people, and our job in doing so is to ensure adherence to the rule of law, which is the fundamental requirement of a democracy or a republic or a representative democracy. And the essence of the rule of law is what I said when I accepted the nomination for attorney general. It is that like cases be treated alike, that there not be one rule for Democrats and another for Republicans, that there not be one rule for friends and another for foes.” “Sometimes it means that we have to make a decision about the law that we would never have made and that we strongly disagree with as a matter of policy. But in every case, the job of the Justice Department is to make the best judgment it can as to what the law requires.”

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Attorney General Merrick B. Garland on Wednesday said that the Justice Department’s moves to uphold Trump-era positions were consistent with the rule of law.CreditCredit…Stefani Reynolds/The New York Times

Attorney General Merrick B. Garland defended on Wednesday recent Justice Department moves upholding Trump-era positions on controversial cases, vowing to continue to adhere to the rule of law regardless of political pressure.

“The essence of the rule of law is what I said when I accepted the nomination for attorney general,” Mr. Garland said at a budget hearing before the Senate Appropriations Committee, adding that his goal was to ensure that there would “not be one rule for Democrats and another for Republicans, that there not be one rule for friends and another for foes.”

Mr. Garland continued: “It is not always easy to apply that rule. Sometimes it means that we have to make a decision about the law that we would never have made and that we strongly disagree with as a matter of policy.”

The Justice Department defended on Monday a legal position taken under the Trump administration in a case involving E. Jean Carroll, a writer who in 2019 publicly accused former President Donald J. Trump of sexually assaulting her 25 years earlier.

Mr. Trump denied the assault in an Oval Office interview and said that he could not have assaulted her because she was not his “type.” After Ms. Carroll sued him over the remarks, the Justice Department argued that Mr. Trump could not be held liable for defamation because he had made the statements as part of his official duties as president.

In the brief filed on Monday with a federal appeals court in New York, Mr. Garland’s Justice Department called Mr. Trump’s remarks “crude and disrespectful,” but said that his administration had correctly argued that he could not be sued over them.

Should the Justice Department prevail, Ms. Carroll’s lawsuit could be dismissed.

The appeal dismayed Democrats, as did another argument by the Justice Department in May when it sought to keep hidden a memo related to Mr. Barr’s determination that Mr. Trump had not illegally obstructed justice in the Russia investigation.

While the department released the first page and a half of the nine-page memo, it argued that the full document must remain out of view because it contained information that was part of the department’s decision-making process, and that such information could be lawfully kept secret.

Mr. Garland said that he was aware of the criticisms, but defended his actions.

“The job of the Justice Department in making decisions of law is not to back any administration, previous or present,” he said.

Lawyers for Aleksei Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation leaving court in Moscow, where the group was named as an extremist organization on Wednesday.
Credit…Dimitar Dilkoff/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

MOSCOW — A Russian court on Wednesday designated Aleksei A. Navalny’s political movement as extremist, a remarkable broadside by President Vladimir V. Putin that also sent a message to President Biden ahead of their meeting in Geneva next week: Russian domestic affairs are not up for discussion.

The court decision — almost certainly with the Kremlin’s blessing — seemed likely to push the resistance to Mr. Putin further underground, after several months in which the Russian government’s yearslong effort to suppress dissent has entered a new, more aggressive phase. Under the law, Mr. Navalny’s organizers, donors, or even social-media supporters could now be prosecuted and face prison time.

The ruling heightened the stakes of the summit in Geneva for Mr. Biden, who has promised to push back against violations of international norms by Mr. Putin. On arriving in Britain on Wednesday, Mr. Biden said, “The United States will respond in a robust and meaningful way when the Russian government engages in harmful activity.”

The Russian president has said that, while he is prepared to discuss cyberspace and geopolitics with Mr. Biden, he will not engage in talks over how he runs his country.

“Views on our political system can differ,” Mr. Putin told the heads of international news agencies last week. “Just give us the right, please, to determine how to organize this part of our life.”

In recent months, Mr. Putin has dismantled much of what remained of Russian political pluralism — and made it clear that he would ignore Western criticism.

Mr. Navalny was arrested in January when he returned to Moscow, after being treated for a poisoning last year that Western officials say was carried out by Russian agents. Since then, thousands of Russians have been detained at protests; leading opposition politicians have been jailed or forced into exile; online media outlets have been branded “foreign agents.”

The Kremlin denies playing any role in the campaign against Mr. Navalny and his movement, and insists Russia’s judiciary is independent. Analysts and lawyers, however, widely see the courts as subordinate to the Kremlin and the security services, especially on politically sensitive cases.

Mr. Putin has already signaled that he will reject any criticism of the Kremlin’s handling of the Navalny case by claiming that the United States has no standing to lecture others. At Russia’s marquee annual economic conference in St. Petersburg last week, Mr. Putin repeatedly invoked the arrests of the Capitol rioters in Washington in January when challenged about repression in Russia or its ally Belarus.

Former President Donald J. Trump holding a Bible in front of St. John’s Episcopal Church last year.
Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

A federal watchdog said Wednesday that the United States Park Police had been planning to clear protesters from a park near the White House well before they learned that President Donald J. Trump was going to walk through the area.

The report by the Interior Department’s inspector general concluded that “the evidence did not support a finding” that park police cleared the park just for Mr. Trump, who strode through the park on June 1 of last year before posing for photographs in front of St. John’s Episcopal Church holding a Bible.

The burst of violence in Lafayette Park, which came at the height of last summer’s racial justice protests, became one of the defining moments of the Trump presidency. Protesters in the shadow of the White House were pushed back with smoke and flash grenades and chemical spray deployed by shield-bearing riot officers and mounted police.

The 30-page report by the Interior Department’s inspector general offers new details about the park police’s decision-making. And the sequence of events described in the report suggests that the operation to clear the area turned violent soon after the park police were informed of Mr. Trump’s arrival.

But the report’s author was careful to warn it was not to be seen as a definitive account of the day, in part because so many other law enforcement agencies were involved. The inspector general, Mark L. Greenblatt, noted that it was not in his jurisdiction to investigate what the Secret Service and other law enforcement agencies knew and who may have ordered them to use force to clear the park.

“It was a fulsome review of everything in our jurisdiction,” Mr. Greenblatt said in an interview. “The unfortunate thing is not everything is in our jurisdiction.”

The long-awaited report was ordered by congressional lawmakers and former Interior Secretary David Bernhardt to find out the park police’s reasons for dispersing the protesters and whether it had been under orders to help stage a presidential photo op.

According to the report, the park police were planning to clear the park so contractors could install new fencing around the area.

But protesters were allowed to gather there all day, anyway. Mr. Greenblatt said that was because authorities were waiting for contractors to arrive and for enough law enforcement officers to show up so they could clear the park. That happened around 5:30 p.m., less than an hour before William P. Barr, the attorney general at the time, came out to inspect the area himself.

Evidence showed the park police did not know about Mr. Trump’s plan to walk across the park until “mid- to late afternoon on June 1 — hours after it had begun developing its operational plan and the fencing contractor had arrived in the park,” the report said.

The head of operations for the park police learned about Mr. Trump’s plan when Mr. Barr came out to inspect the area, the report said.

“Are these people still going to be here when POTUS [President of the United States] comes out?” Mr. Barr asked, according to the report.

The operations commander replied to Mr. Barr, “Are you freaking kidding me?” and then hung his head and walked away, the report said.

Shortly after that, the confrontation turned violent.

The report said Mr. Greenblatt did not seek to interview Mr. Barr, White House personnel or the Secret Service, among others, regarding decisions that did not involve the Park Police.

Other agencies involved that day included the National Guard, Capitol Police and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Mr. Greenblatt noted that the Secret Service started its efforts to clear the park before the park police had issued its first dispersal warning. In a footnote, the report called that decision one that was “contrary to the operational plan.”

Mr. Trump issued a statement on Wednesday thanking the inspector general for what he called “completely and totally exonerating me in the clearing of Lafayette Park!”

In an interview, Mr. Greenblatt said he did not appreciate the comment.

“That’s uncomfortable for me,” he said. “We are independent from any political administration. This is not at all comfortable footing for anyone in my community.”

Representative Josh Gottheimer, Democrat of New Jersey, is one of the leaders of the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus, which unveiled an infrastructure plan on Wednesday.
Credit…Jacquelyn Martin/Associated Press

A group of bipartisan House lawmakers unveiled their own framework for an infrastructure package, as Democrats wrestle with how to advance President Biden’s ambitions for a sweeping economic agenda and whether to restructure the plan to win Republican votes.

Mr. Biden’s decision to end talks with Senator Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, the lead Republican negotiating a package on behalf of the Republican conference, has left prospects for a bipartisan deal unclear, even as the administration has encouraged lawmakers to continue working toward that goal.

The so-called Problems Solvers Caucus, a group of 29 Democrats and 29 Republicans in the House, put forward a plan for $761.8 billion in new spending, as part of an overall $1.249 trillion plan over eight years. While the plan outlines funding pots for highways, roads, waterways, broadband, airports and veterans’ housing, it does not address how to pay for the legislation — one of the biggest hurdles that has long prevented agreements on infrastructure in the past.

The leaders of that caucus, Representatives Josh Gottheimer, Democrat of New Jersey, and Brian Fitzpatrick, Republican of Pennsylvania, have been in touch with a group of senators who have been quietly discussing their own framework. Those senators, led in part by Rob Portman, Republican of Ohio, and Kyrsten Sinema, Democrat of Arizona, huddled for hours Tuesday evening, but did not emerge with any details of specific funding levels or a timeline for releasing a framework.

But the administration also faces pressure from liberal Democrats, who are eager to abandon the search for the 10 Republican votes needed to overcome the filibuster and instead opt to muscle a fiscal package through using the fast-track budget reconciliation process.

“Every day that is wasted trying to get Republicans on board is another day that people can’t go back to work because they don’t have child care; another day without investing in millions of good, union jobs, another day that we lose further ground on the climate crisis,” said Representative Pramila Jayapal of Washington, the chairwoman of the House Progressive Caucus. “Further delays jeopardize momentum and allow Republicans to block progress for the American people with no end in sight.”

Using that process, however, will be fraught as all 50 Senate Democrats and nearly all House Democrats will need to be united around the plan for it to clear both chambers.

President Biden and the first lady, Jill Biden, on Wednesday, shortly before the president’s first trip abroad.
Credit…Tom Brenner for The New York Times

WASHINGTON — President Biden, under pressure to aggressively address the global coronavirus vaccine shortage, will announce as early as Thursday that his administration will buy 500 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and donate them among about 100 countries over the next year, according to people familiar with the plan.

The White House reached the deal just in time for Mr. Biden’s eight-day European trip, which is his first opportunity to reassert the United States as a world leader and restore relations that were badly frayed by President Donald J. Trump.

“We have to end Covid-19, not just at home, which we’re doing, but everywhere,” Mr. Biden told American troops after landing at R.A.F. Mildenhall in Suffolk, England. “There’s no wall high enough to keep us safe from this pandemic or the next biological threat we face, and there will be others. It requires coordinated multilateral action.”

People familiar with the Pfizer deal said the United States would pay for the doses at a “not for profit” price. The first 200 million doses will be distributed by the end of this year, followed by 300 million by next June, they said. The doses will be distributed through Covax, the international vaccine-sharing initiative.

Mr. Biden is in Europe for a week to attend the NATO and Group of 7 summits and to meet with President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia in Geneva. He is likely to use the trip to call on other nations to step up vaccine distribution.

In a statement on Wednesday, Jeffrey D. Zients, the White House official in charge of devising a global vaccination strategy, said Mr. Biden would “rally the world’s democracies around solving this crisis globally, with America leading the way to create the arsenal of vaccines that will be critical in our global fight against Covid-19.”

The 500 million doses still fall far short of the 11 billion the World Health Organization estimates are needed to vaccinate the world, but significantly exceed what the United States has committed to share so far. Other nations have been pleading with the United States to give up some of its abundant vaccine supplies. Less than 1 percent of people are fully vaccinated in a number of African countries, compared with 42 percent in the United States and the United Kingdom.

Advocates for global health welcomed the news, but reiterated their stance that it is not enough to simply give vaccine away. They say the Biden administration must create the conditions for other countries to manufacture vaccines on their own, including transferring the technology to make the doses.

President Biden began his first trip abroad in office on Wednesday.
Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

It should not be that hard to be an American leader visiting Europe for the first time after the presidency of Donald J. Trump.

But President Biden will face his own formidable challenges in Europe this week, especially as the United States confronts a disruptive Russia and a rising China while trying to reassemble a Western alliance shaken by the hostility of U.S. foreign policy under the Trump administration.

Buoyed by a successful vaccination program and a rebounding economy, Mr. Biden departed Washington on Wednesday for a series of summits where he will make the case that America is back and ready to lead the West anew in what he calls an existential collision between democracies and autocracies.

Mr. Biden arrives in England tonight for the annual summit meeting of the Group of 7 large, wealthy democracies, which will be held from Friday through Sunday in Cornwall, on the southwestern tip of England. Beginning on Thursday, Mr. Biden will hold one-on-one meetings with other G7 leaders, and on Sunday he will visit Queen Elizabeth II at Windsor Castle.

On Monday, Mr. Biden will attend the NATO summit in Brussels and have bilateral meetings with NATO heads of government. On Tuesday, he will meet there with leaders of the European Union, many of whose member countries are also in NATO.

He will hold his first meeting with President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, who has stated that a “new Cold War” is underway, on Wednesday in Geneva. Mr. Putin appears as determined as ever to undermine Western economies, alliances and political systems. Mr. Biden takes a much tougher rhetorical stand on Russia than his predecessor, Donald J. Trump, but the White House has limited leverage at its disposal.

An increasingly authoritarian China is also flexing its muscles commercially, diplomatically and militarily, and Mr. Biden sees it as more of a long-term challenge than Russia. But it is not clear how he might corral U.S. allies into a strategy to modify China’s behavior.

Mr. Biden’s overarching task is to deliver the diplomatic serenity that eluded such gatherings during four years in which Mr. Trump scorched longstanding relationships with close allies, threatened to pull out of NATO and embraced Mr. Putin and other autocrats, admiring their strength.

But the good will Mr. Biden brings simply by not being Mr. Trump papers over lingering doubts about his durability, American reliability and the cost that Europe will be expected to pay.

Mr. Biden will face European leaders who are now wary of the United States in a way they have not been since 1945 — and are wondering where the country is headed.

“They have seen the state of the Republican Party,” said Barry Pavel, the director of the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at The Atlantic Council. “They’ve seen Jan. 6. They know you could have another president in 2024.”

If the future of the United States is the long-term concern, how to manage a disruptive Russia is the immediate agenda. No part of the trip will be more charged than a daylong meeting with Mr. Putin.

Representative Val Demings during a House Judiciary Committee hearing last year.
Credit…Pool photo by Greg Nash

Representative Val Demings, a Florida Democrat who was floated as a potential vice-presidential pick in 2020, will challenge Senator Marco Rubio, a Republican, in a 2022 race likely to be fought over the legacy of a third Sunshine Stater — former President Donald J. Trump.

The announcement on Wednesday by Ms. Demings, the former police chief of Orlando and one of the managers of Mr. Trump’s first impeachment, was expected for weeks.

But it came as welcome news to embattled Democrats in the state, giving them a high-profile and well-funded opponent against a tough and wily incumbent who once scorned, and now supports, Mr. Trump.

Ms. Demings, who is Black, made it clear she would not abide by the middle-of-the-road messaging favored by recent Democratic candidates like former Senator Bill Nelson. In her kickoff announcement, she made a direct appeal to her party’s diverse, urban base, speaking bluntly about her race, gender and experiences growing up in segregated Jacksonville in the 1960s.

“When you grow up in the South poor, Black and female, you have to have faith in progress and opportunity,” she said in a video posted on her Twitter page early Wednesday, showing her walking past a church in her hometown. “My father was a janitor, and my mother was a maid. She said, ‘Never tire of doing good, never tire.’”

Mr. Rubio, responding with his own Twitter post, previewed his counter messaging, attacking Ms. Demings as a “far-left liberal Democrat” and “do-nothing” member of Congress.

Two other Democrats from the Orlando area, Representative Stephanie Murphy and former Representative Alan Grayson, are also considering jumping into the race.

Ms. Demings faces a daunting task. Florida Democrats have been battered by mounting losses in a perpetual battleground state trending red, capped by Mr. Trump’s comfortable win in the state last year.

Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican who has emerged as a leader of the Trump wing of the party and is said to be considering a 2024 presidential run, also faces re-election next year.

The presence of Mr. DeSantis and Mr. Rubio on the same ballot is almost certain to boost turnout on both sides and elicit massive small-donor contributions in a state with several big, expensive media markets.

Ms. Demings seemed to be leaning toward the governor race earlier this year: When Representative Charlie Crist declared his Democratic candidacy against Mr. DeSantis this spring, her team released a polished biographical video on the same day.

Nikki Fried, a Democrat who serves as Florida agriculture commissioner, is also running for governor. She is one of the few statewide officials who is a Democrat; Florida’s other senator, Rick Scott, is a Republican.

In 2016, Mr. Rubio easily defeated his Democratic challenger, Patrick Murphy, then a congressman. But that same year Mr. Trump demolished him in the Republican presidential debates, mocking him as “Little Marco” and hammering him for supporting a bipartisan immigration bill that would have offered undocumented immigrants a path to citizenship.

Over the past four years Mr. Rubio has focused on policy work and avoided high-profile political fights, careful to support Mr. Trump when he could, while politely parting with him over several foreign policy issues, including Mr. Trump’s ill-fated overtures to North Korea, China and Russia.

The former president reciprocated in April, offering his onetime critic a “Complete and Total Endorsement” to quell rumors of a primary challenge against Mr. Rubio from the right.

Mary Barra, the chief executive of General Motors, at an assembly plant in Michigan last month. President Biden is seeking to reinstate Obama-era auto pollution restrictions to combat climate change.
Credit…Rebecca Cook/Reuters

General Motors on Wednesday told the Biden administration that it would agree to tighter federal fuel economy and tailpipe pollution rules, along the lines of what California has already agreed to with five other auto companies.

The move is a step by the nation’s largest automaker away from its position during the Trump administration, when G.M.’s chief executive, Mary Barra, asked President Donald J. Trump to relax Obama-era auto pollution rules.

President Biden is seeking to reinstate those restrictions as part of his efforts to cut climate-warming pollution, and he hopes to propose new draft auto pollution rules as soon as next month.

Ms. Barra stopped short of endorsing Mr. Biden’s desire to fully reimpose or strengthen the Obama-era auto pollution standards, which to date stand as the strongest policies ever imposed by the federal government to fight climate change. And she also asked the administration to augment the federal rules with provisions that would give incentives to auto companies that are investing in electric vehicles, although she did not specify what those incentives should be.

Just weeks after Mr. Biden’s election, Ms. Barra dropped her company’s support of the Trump administration’s efforts to nullify California’s rules on tailpipe emissions. And days after the new president’s inauguration, she announced that after 2035 her company will sell only vehicles that have zero emissions, a target in line with Mr. Biden’s pledge to cut the United States’ emissions 50 percent from 2005 levels by 2030.

This week, in a letter to Michael S. Regan, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, Ms. Barra wrote, “G.M. supports the emissions reduction goals of California through model year ’26,” adding, “the auto industry is embarking upon a profound transition as we do our part to achieve the country’s climate commitments.”

The Obama-era climate rules, which G.M. sought to loosen, required automakers to build vehicles by 2025 that achieve an average fuel economy of 54.5 miles per gallon. The rules would have eliminated about six billion tons of planet-warming carbon dioxide pollution over the lifetime of the vehicles. Mr. Trump rolled back Mr. Obama’s standards from 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025 to 40 miles per gallon and revoked California’s legal authority to set its own state-level standard.

California reached a separate deal with Honda, Ford, Volkswagen, BMW and Volvo under which they would be required to increase their average fuel economy to about 51 miles per gallon by 2026.

Ms. Barra said her company would now support those standards at the federal level — alongside a program to give some form of credit or incentive to electric-vehicle manufacturers like her own company.

Negotiations on the new auto pollution standards are ongoing alongside White House talks to reach a deal on infrastructure legislation, which Mr. Biden hopes will include generous spending on tax credits for electric vehicle manufacturers and consumers, as well as direct government investments in 500,000 new electric vehicle charging stations.

Nick Conger, an E.P.A. spokesman, said in an email that Mr. Regan had spoken this week with leaders from auto manufacturers and that the “conversations have been constructive as the agency moves forward on actions to address emissions from cars and light-duty trucks.”

Prairie potholes, a type of ephemeral wetland, dot the landscape in North Dakota.
Credit…Charlie Riedel/Associated Press

The Biden administration intends to revive federal protections for millions of miles of streams, marshes and other small bodies of water that former President Donald J. Trump eliminated.

The original 2015 measure, known as the Waters of the United States rule, extended the range of bodies of water that were considered to be under federal jurisdiction, and was one of former President Barack Obama’s signature environmental achievements.

Mr. Trump repealed the policy in 2020, calling it “one of the most ridiculous regulations of all,” and saying it put onerous burdens on farmers and home builders. He claimed that his repeal caused farmers to weep in gratitude.

Michael S. Regan, administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, said in a statement on Wednesday that the agency intended to revise the definition of what qualifies as protected waters, though he did not say when it would do so.

Mr. Regan said that a Trump administration rule finalized in 2020, the Navigable Waters Protection Rule, which significantly removed federal pollution oversight from tributaries and other waterways, was “significantly reducing clean water protections.”

Christine Abizaid appeared before senators on Wednesday for her confirmation hearing to run the National Counterterrorism Center.
Credit…Olivier Douliery/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Lawmakers quizzed the Biden administration’s nominee to lead the National Counterterrorism Center on Wednesday about the role of intelligence agencies in investigating domestic terrorism.

Christine S. Abizaid, the nominee to lead the center, said that the kind of terrorist groups that the United States faced was changing. Though she repeatedly emphasized that the F.B.I. would continue to take the lead in domestic terrorism investigations, she also said there was a role for the broader intelligence community to look for connections between domestic extremists and foreign groups.

The counterterrorism center, she said, “was established to connect the dots, integrating intelligence from across an array of sources, whether they’re foreign or domestic.”

Still, Republican lawmakers suggested growing public unease with the intelligence community’s work on domestic terrorism could complicate Ms. Abizaid’s efforts. Senator John Cornyn, Republican of Texas, said there was “a lack of trust by the American people in what the intelligence community is actually doing,” and stressed that intelligence work should not curtail any U.S. citizen’s right of free speech.

“Any use of intelligence authorities needs to be consistent with the Constitution, and follow the laws of land; that is a very bright line,” Ms. Abizaid said. “And it’s one that has to govern all of our activities across the intelligence community.”

As the hearing ended, Senator Angus King, the Maine independent who votes with the Democrats, said the question of investigating domestic violent extremism was being made “more complicated than it needs to be.”

“The keyword is violent,” Mr. King said. “We don’t want to be in the business of spying on Americans but we also have to protect ourselves.”

If approved by lawmakers, Ms. Abizaid, who was accompanied by her wife, would be the first woman and first openly gay person to serve as the Senate-confirmed leader of the center. At the hearing Wednesday, Ms. Abizaid talked about her wife and other family members as a key part of her motivation and inspiration.

Ms. Abizaid is the daughter of a former top military commander in the Middle East, retired Gen. John P. Abizaid, and her brother and brother-in-law served in the military.

Ms. Abizaid said her career, like those of her family members, was “rooted in the attacks on 9/11.” She worked in the Defense Intelligence Agency before serving on the National Security Council staff and as a senior Pentagon official during the Obama administration.

Ms. Abizaid said the threat from Al Qaeda and the Islamic State was now diminished. Those groups today are less able to attack the United States, she said, but have become active across a larger geographic area.

Ms. Abizaid said it was important to maintain the hard-won gains against terrorism, even while adapting to its shifting threats.

Testifying alongside her was Robin C. Ashton, the nominee to become the C.I.A.’s inspector general. She would be the first Senate-confirmed inspector general for the agency in seven years.

Ms. Ashton said she would ensure the C.I.A. maintained an “effective whistle-blower program.”

“Those who demonstrate the personal ethics, and moral courage to bring concerns forward, must not fear or suffer from reprisal for speaking up,” Ms. Ashton said.

The New York Times building in Midtown Manhattan.
Credit…Zack DeZon for The New York Times

The New York Times asked a court on Tuesday to unseal legal filings by the Justice Department that would reveal how prosecutors persuaded a court to cloak secrecy over an order to seize the email records of four New York Times reporters and then to prevent Times executives from speaking about the matter.

The filing came as Attorney General Merrick B. Garland scheduled a meeting on Monday with leaders of three news organizations — The Times, The Washington Post and CNN — to discuss concerns over prosecutors’ practices in leak investigations, according to two people familiar with the matter.

In recent weeks, the Biden Justice Department has disclosed Trump-era seizures of phone records for reporters at each of those organizations. After the first two disclosures, involving The Post and CNN, President Biden vowed not to let the Justice Department go after reporters’ sourcing information during his administration.

But last week, it came to light that the department had also secretly seized Times reporters’ phone records — and fought a separate, and ultimately unsuccessful, battle to obtain their email records from Google, which runs the Times’s email system. The Trump Justice Department obtained a court order to Google on Jan. 5. After Google resisted complying, the Justice Department under Mr. Biden kept the effort going until dropping it last Wednesday.

In an added twist, the government in March allowed a handful of Times lawyers and executives to know about the order and the legal fight over it. But it imposed a gag order that prevented them from disclosing it to the public or colleagues. Among others, Dean Baquet, the executive editor, was kept in the dark until a judge lifted the gag order on Friday.




Coaches and N.C.A.A. Officials Testify to Congress

On Wednesday, officials for the N.C.A.A., as well as coaches and additional sports officials, testified to Congress about establishing rules around payment for college athletes.

“The 1,200 colleges and universities of the N.C.A.A. are right now in the process of passing historic rules to allow new opportunities for student athletes to be compensated for the use of their name, image and likeness. These opportunities will allow student athletes to take advantage of the evolving landscape in multiple ways. And our schools intend to pass those rules as quickly as possible, preferably before the end of the month. However well-intentioned the multiplicity of state laws are, they confuse rather than clarify the N.F.L. landscape. This is why we are urging Congress to pass legislation creating a single national N.I.L. standard. Importantly, the proposal includes guardrails that would ensure that N.I.L. payments are not a proxy for pay-for-play, that a national recruiting environment for college sports is maintained and that students are not employees of their universities or their colleges.” “All athletes deserve to use their own name, image and likeness in commercial endorsements and on social media. And I am very much in favor of them profiting as much as they possibly can from this. They should be able to run a camp using their own name, sign autographs for money or profit off their popularity on Instagram or TikTok. That absolutely needs to happen, right now.”

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On Wednesday, officials for the N.C.A.A., as well as coaches and additional sports officials, testified to Congress about establishing rules around payment for college athletes.CreditCredit…Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

A Senate committee is scheduled to hold a hearing about college sports on Wednesday, at a time when college athletes are on the brink of being able to make money off their fame under coming changes to the rules that have governed college sports for more than a century.

Up until now, a provision in the N.C.A.A.’s Division I manual has barred players from being paid “to advertise, recommend or promote directly the sale or use of a commercial product or service of any kind.” The restrictions also have the effect of keeping students from selling their autographs and limiting how they may promote camps where they teach their craft.

But the rules are almost certainly about to change.

The N.C.A.A. says that one of its most influential panels is “expected to act” to change them during a meeting that begins on June 22, “provided it is feasible to do so.”

The lawyerly caveats are typical of the N.C.A.A., which happens to be awaiting a Supreme Court decision in an antitrust case, and the association’s plans could change dramatically for a host of reasons.

But the college sports industry is running out of time to rewrite its rules. Some states, including Alabama, Florida and Georgia, have laws poised to take effect on July 1 that are designed to guarantee student-athletes the opportunity to profit off their names, images and likenesses, regardless of what the N.C.A.A. says.

Those laws — and there are more like them in the pipeline across the country, including some that have already been signed into law but will go into effect later — have athletics officials anxious about a competitive imbalance. Unless the N.C.A.A. acts, many universities worry that schools in states with the new laws will gain an enormous advantage in recruiting: the ability to dangle the legally protected possibility to make money as a college athlete.

Congress has been paying attention, too, and could ultimately push ahead with legislation that would set a federal standard resolving the competitive issues surrounding the disparate state rules. College sports administrators also hope a federal law would offer them a greater shield from litigation.

Whether Congress will do anything, or when, is a different matter entirely. Legislators, particularly in the Senate, have long been engaged in negotiations about what a federal law might look like, but they have not yet struck a deal destined to make it through both chambers of Congress. Changing college sports may be centrally important for universities and the N.C.A.A., but it is a lower priority among federal lawmakers.

Some athletics administrators and legislators still believe that officials in Washington could reach an accord before the state laws start taking effect on July 1. Others are far more doubtful and, the panicked warnings of college sports executives notwithstanding, say they are unbothered by the possibility of a little chaos and confusion.

A solar farm in Fayetteville, N.C. President Biden wants to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions from the electric grid by 2035.
Credit…Jeremy M. Lange for The New York Times

One of the nation’s biggest solar-energy companies said on Wednesday that it would double production in the United States by opening a third plant in Ohio by the middle of 2023.

The company, First Solar, said it would invest $680 million to build a new plant in Lake Township, Ohio, which is about an hour south of Cleveland, where it already has a plant. The project is expected to add 500 jobs to the company’s roster of 1,600 employees in the United States.

“We have said that we stand ready to support President Biden’s goal to transition America to a clean, energy-secure future, and our decision to more than double our U.S. manufacturing capacity with this new facility is First Solar making good on that commitment,” Mark Widmar, the company’s chief executive, said in a statement. “This facility will represent a significant leap forward in photovoltaics manufacturing, a true factory of the future.”

Mr. Biden wants to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions from the electric grid by 2035, an ambitious goal that would involve remaking the energy industry. The president has promised that the transition to cleaner energy would create millions of new jobs, a claim that some critics have said is far-fetched.

Over the last decade or so, most solar panel manufacturing has moved to China and other Asian countries where labor costs tend to be a lot lower than in the United States. That has been frustrating to Democratic lawmakers who have embraced solar power but also want more domestic manufacturing jobs.

But First Solar, which is based in Tempe, Ariz., and a couple of other companies have in recent years expanded production in the United States. In 2019, the Korean company Hanwha Q CELLS opened a plant in Dalton, Ga., and the Chinese firm JinkoSolar opened a factory in Jacksonville, Fla.

In addition to the operations in Lake Township, First Solar also has a plant in the Toledo area. The company’s panels are different from the more widely used silicon crystalline models. First Solar’s panels are made from a thin film semiconductor (not a thin film silicon material as was earlier reported here) and are typically used in large solar farms that supply power directly to the electric grid rather than on residential rooftops.

First Solar said its new plant should help it further reduce costs and allow American-made panels to compete more effectively with those produced in China. A sharp drop in the cost of solar panels over the last 10 years has made them one of the least expensive ways to generate electricity, far cheaper in some cases than power plants that burn coal and natural gas.

Migrant families seeking asylum in the United States are escorted to the main road to turn themselves in to the U.S. Border Patrol after crossing the Rio Grande near Roma, Texas, on Wednesday.
Credit…Go Nakamura/Reuters

The number of migrant children and teenagers arriving alone at the United States border with Mexico decreased last month compared to a month earlier, according to newly released Customs and Border Protection data.

There was a slight increase in the number of border crossings, encounters and apprehensions overall during the same time period, a sign that the record surge of migrants trying to get into the country this spring could be starting to stabilize.

But the problem is far from over for the Biden administration, which is currently trying to safely place more than 16,000 migrant children in government custody with family members living in the United States. The administration on Monday threatened to sue the state of Texas if Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, follows through with his threat to shut down more than 50 shelters in the state where thousands of migrant children have been living.

Mr. Abbott’s action, which was part of a disaster order issued at the end of last month, was seen by many as a deliberate swipe at the Biden administration’s more compassionate posture on immigration compared to the restrictive measures of the Trump administration.

It is typical for the number of migrants traveling to the United States through the southern border to increase during spring months, but this year the turnout has been much higher, with a nearly 50 percent increase in border crossings, encounters and apprehensions in March, April and May compared to a similar surge over the same period in 2019.

In a call with reporters Thursday afternoon, administration officials said 38 percent of encounters at the border in May involved a migrant who had crossed the border at least once in the last year, compared to an average recidivism rate of 15 percent from 2014 to 2019.

Republicans have seized on the surge along the southern border, calling it a crisis — a term the Biden administration has avoided.

Most of the adult migrants who have been arriving at the southern border this year have been barred from entering the country because of a public health rule put in place during the Trump administration, which is responsible for more than 463,000 expulsions on the southern border between January and May of this year.

While the last administration also barred children for public health reasons, the Biden administration has been allowing migrant children to enter the country and stay in shelters overseen by the Department of Health and Human Services until they can be placed with a family member or other sponsor. Since the beginning of the year, more than 65,000 migrant children and teenagers arrived alone on the southern border, with record numbers arriving during the spring months. Nearly 2,900 fewer migrant children arrived alone at the southern border in May compared to a month earlier.

Because of a shortage of shelter space at the federal government’s network of state-licensed facilities earlier this year, migrant children were forced to stay in overcrowded holding cells along the southern border long past the legal limit. Earlier this year, the Biden administration moved to set up about a dozen emergency shelters where the children could stay in Health and Human Services custody until they are placed with a family member or sponsor inside the United States.

Recently, migrant children and teenagers have been staying in H.H.S. custody for an average of 37 days, according to government statistics. Children’s advocates have said ideally a child would not have to stay more than 20 days in a government shelter.

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