Opinion | Does your child’s teacher know how to teach?

The Covid-19 pandemic has exacerbated harmful educational inequalities in the preK-12 public education system. The nation’s poorest students, Black and Latino students, and our disabled students have been the most negatively impacted by school closings necessitated by the pandemic. Black students in high poverty schools have been especially hard hit because of the racialized, historic and ongoing disinvestment in the education of Black children and youth.

One of the most obvious — and dangerous — ways this inequality shows up is by channeling a proportionally larger share of less qualified or alternatively credentialed teachers to schools with higher percentages of Black, Latino and disabled students. Black and Latino students are more likely than their white peers to be taught by teachers in training who are in alternative teacher preparation programs. These alternative route programs differ from traditional teacher preparation programs in at least one significant way: Most alternative route teacher interns become teachers of record prior to completing any teacher training. This means that as teachers in training, they are not profession-ready on Day 1. They are training on the backs of our neediest students — the students who most need a profession-ready teacher.

The pandemic and racial unrest have revealed just how much further the nation has to go to fulfill children’s constitutional right to equal educational opportunity. State constitutions define this right to an education in beautiful and compelling language as a "democratic imperative," "fundamental value" and "paramount duty." Yet, despite these powerful phrases, nearly 30 years of research shows that in schools serving students of color where 50 percent or more are on free or reduced lunch (one indicator of poverty status), these students are 70 percent more likely to have a teacher who is not certified or does not have a college major or minor in the subject area they teach. This finding holds true across four critical subject areas: mathematics, English, social studies, and science.

A review of the typical requirements for traditional teacher preparation and alternative programs — especially those that are not based at universities — reveals just how different the programs are in terms of substantive coursework and the length of time spent devoted to reflective and supervised practice under a fully certified and prepared preK-12 teacher (usually with at least three years of successful teaching experience) and university faculty member. It is clear that these two routes are not producing similar calibers of teachers and, even if they did, the alternative route program places an undue burden on the preK-12 students who are assigned a teacher-in-training as their full-time teacher of record.

This trend of placing untrained and uncertified individuals as teachers of record in schools serving the urban poor and disabled students is accelerating during the pandemic as states utilize more back door routes into classrooms through emergency certificates — in some states, these are granted to individuals with only a high school diploma. This practice is generating a new wave of uncredentialed teachers.

This reality is ill-matched to another circumstance: high stakes standardized tests and graduation examinations are more often used in states with higher percentages of Black and Latino students. How can we continue to educationally malnourish students, raise the bar on what they are expected to know and demonstrate on standardized tests, and lower the standards for the adults who teach them?

Teacher quality is clearly tied to opportunity to learn in four categories: the quality of resources, school conditions, curriculum and the teaching that students experience. Yet the data about each of these opportunity-to-learn categories reveal alarming trends. According to the Schott Foundation, which researches and advocates for racial justice in the public school system, Native American, Black and Latino students have just over half the opportunity to learn, compared to white non-Latino students in the nation’s best supported and best performing schools. Additionally, the Schott study found that low-income students of any race or ethnicity have just over half of the opportunity to learn, compared to the average white, non-Latino student. Therefore, the availability and placement of fully credentialed, profession-ready, caring and effective teachers for students of color and poor students is especially acute.

As citizens and leaders, we can certainly tinker around the edges of the current order and attempt to return to a pre-Covid sense of normalcy, but this will not serve the nation well. One reason is that students of color are now the majority of our public school population, which means the majority of today’s public school students have probably not benefited from the prevailing order. In sustained and systematic ways, the new majority of public school students have had their education and life chances stymied by a social contract that consistently ensures lack of access to the best educational resources: namely, teachers.

The federal courts have recognized this reality. Nearly a decade ago, in a case known as Renee v. Duncan, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals found that the practice of disproportionately placing uncertified teachers, teachers in training or teacher interns in classrooms serving poor and minority students is “discriminatory” and “does harm.” Further, the court indicated that the appellants in the case provided evidence that 41 percent of interns in California taught in the 25 percent of schools with the highest concentration of students of color. Further, 61 percent of California’s teacher interns taught in the state’s poorest schools. The court starkly stated: “We conclude that the appellants established injury in fact. This disproportionate distribution of interns … results in a poorer quality education than appellants would otherwise have received.”

Not only is a disproportionate share of students of color saddled with teachers in training, remarkably, nearly 40 percent of special education teachers are coming from alternative preparation routes. This means that while these students come to school ready to learn, their teacher is not fully prepared to teach. They are learning. To teach. On them.

Clearly, the proliferation of ill-credentialed “teachers” and their placement in schools serving the urban poor is linked to a broader issue of the devaluing of public education and the students of color and poor students who have become the majority constituency of public schools. Unfortunately, common sense has not gotten us to equality of educational opportunity and educational equity. Research has not gotten us there. Court decisions and decrees have not gotten us there. State and federal policymaking has not gotten us there. Time has not gotten us there. And, though the Covid-19 pandemic is forcing us to reconfigure and recalculate how to deliver schooling, we should not revert to a “normal” that continues to disadvantage our students who are most in need.

So, what can be done to rectify these problems? There are at least three policy responses that will help:

— Enforce through federal and state statutes and regulations the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling in Renee v Duncan.

— Incentivize states to approve only those teacher preparation programs — whether they are university-based or not — that meet national accreditation standards.

— Incentivize states to work with districts to develop plans that equitably distribute fully certified, profession-ready teachers.

Ultimately, there are larger questions at stake. Are we as a nation prepared to confront our beliefs about whose children we deem worthy and unworthy of investment? Are we willing and able to dismember the infrastructure, mechanisms and policies that have us ideologically and financially disinvesting from children of color and children from families experiencing poverty? What state, district and school policies and practices routinely privilege white and affluent students and disenfranchise students of color and poor students? How do we move past a deficit perspective about Black and other students of color and create teaching and learning environments that affirm the intellectual capacity and cultural heritage of all students?

The Black Lives Matter movement and protests continue to rightly place structural racism front and center, reinvigorating discussions about diversity in the teacher workforce, the need to change curriculum content imagery and authorship so that it is not exclusively white, and the equitable assignment of teachers so that more students have access to profession-ready teachers.

The Black, Latino and poor children who are languishing in too many under-resourced schools will soon be the majority of adult Americans. They already constitute the majority of public school students. What will it mean for American democracy when these young people — many of whom have been pushed and held at the margins of the social, political and economic order — are the majority of adult citizens? Will their commitment to democracy and public schooling be resonant or absent? What we do now will answer this question in the near future.

Biden wants the nation to 'return to normal.' Will the White House follow?

President Joe Biden is preparing to make his first international trip as president. White House and administrative staff are beginning to trickle into the West Wing in greater numbers. And additional journalists are working at the White House.

As the president this week set an ambitious goal to get 70 percent of Americans vaccinated by July Fourth and “return to normal,” 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue is starting to open up. How much, however, remains unclear, in part because White House officials are reluctant to say.

Those officials insist they are moving cautiously and still working to balance medical guidance in the workplace and the realities of employees returning to work within cramped quarters. They’re also aware that every aspect of the Covid precautions they take — from mask-wearing to vaccinations — has been intensely scrutinized. That includes just how closely they’re adhering to their own medical guidance around how communities and workplaces should be reopening.

The White House is offering vaccines to all employees through its medical unit and allows staff to take time off to get vaccinations, but that’s rare, since the shots are available on the grounds themselves. The White House would not say what percentage of its staff has been vaccinated. When asked if vaccination was required to work in person, an official said only that it was encouraged, offered to all staff, and provided by the White House.

“I think that everybody espouses the overall position that you need to be vaccinated to take care of yourself, your friends and your family,” said Cedric Richmond, one of Biden’s small circle of senior advisers.

The White House would not disclose the number of staffers physically working on the White House grounds on a daily basis, with one official responding, “no comment.” Richmond, however, said he and his team come into the White House every day. Those who don’t are still able to do their jobs, he said.

“We’ve invested a lot in technology — the ability for people to remote work — and we’re being very careful and following the science,” Richmond said. Of a plan to add more staffers into the office this summer, he said, “I didn’t think many people would be interested in that, but I could be wrong.”

A White House official said it will be a gradual ramping up of in-office personnel.

“We are planning to begin a phased approach to bring those White House staff who have been working remotely back to campus later this summer. As we do so, we will continue to follow COVID protocols that have been developed in close consultation with our public health experts and advisors,” the official said in a statement.

Like millions of other American employers, the Biden White House is grappling with the thorny legal, ethical and operational questions involved in bringing a largely remote workforce back into an office environment. These questions have taken on greater scrutiny as a growing number of employees become fully vaccinated against Covid-19.

Unlike many other employers, the White House is doing so under a microscope, conscious that any choices it makes can trigger a deluge of political criticism. That’s particularly true after the last White House, under President Donald Trump, hosted multiple superspreader events and refused to require masks.

Biden and his team have diligently stressed that they are breaking sharply from those past practices, particularly when it comes to mask wearing and in-person events. White House staff still primarily conduct video calls rather than in-person meetings and are still limiting visitors into the building, according to three people familiar with the practice. Advocates who work closely with the White House on a host of policy issues say the White House has continued to conduct all meetings virtually.

“All Zoom calls and phone calls for now still,” one said.

In the close confines of the West Wing, some communications staff currently take turns leaving the White House to work at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building next door, as part of an effort to keep offices less crowded.

Today, those who physically come into work vary in the West Wing. Most senior advisers around Biden are in the office every day. Some, including political director Emmy Ruiz, have been working out of state since Inauguration Day. But last week in a conference call with staff, Biden aides announced they would begin moving more people into the White House building. However, there were no clear, across-the-board directives and White House officials would not divulge the specifics on timing and number of personnel. A person familiar with the discussions on increasing in-person staff said it was not imminent.

Other departments are following suit with a pared-down in-office workforce. The State Department, for instance, has about 25 percent of its staff in the office and was still awaiting medical guidance before setting its next target.

The White House press briefing room is still limited to 14 reporters, but the White House Correspondents’ Association is working toward adding to those numbers, with a hope of expanding to 50 percent occupancy in the press room over the next several weeks, which would mean roughly 25 reporters at a briefing.

The biggest sign the presidency is inching back to normal is Biden’s travel, which includes an in-person commencement speech and more frequent domestic travel. The president, who had foregone foreign visits in his first months in office, will travel to Europe for his first overseas trip next month to attend a G-7 summit in the United Kingdom and a NATO summit in Belgium.

This week, Biden is scheduled to make two stops in Louisiana — New Orleans and Lake Charles — on Thursday as part of the Getting America Back on Track Tour to sell his $4 trillion in spending plans. It’s his fourth trip in less than a week with previous stops in Georgia, Pennsylvania and Virginia. Since Jan. 20, Biden has made 10 trips total, aside from his regular weekend trips to Delaware or Camp David, the presidential retreat in Maryland.

Last Thursday, to mark his 100th day in office, Biden traveled to Georgia to speak at a rally outside Atlanta. But instead of a traditional campaign event, mask-clad attendees sat in their cars honking their horns. Later this month, though, Biden will attend one of his largest events, an in-person graduation ceremony with hundreds of people. He will deliver the keynote address at the graduation of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in Connecticut on May 19. Each of the 250 graduates will be allowed two guests, down from the usual six guests. “Fewer guests, masks, social distancing and pooling arrangements for the media are the primary precautions we are taking this year due to Covid-19,” said David Santos, an academy spokesperson.

First lady Jill Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and her husband, Douglas Emhoff, are also traveling regularly. Jill Biden will be in Utah, Nevada and Colorado this week. Harris flew to Wisconsin Tuesday and to Rhode Island Wednesday. Emhoff visited Pennsylvania Wednesday and will be in Tennessee on Thursday. Still, the events for all four are limited to a select group of guests and members of the media.

Members of Congress, who started visiting the White House the first week of February, have been coming over now with more frequency. In total, the White House has hosted more than 130 lawmakers during the first 100 days of the administration, according to a White House tally. Biden is expected to host a group of Senate Republicans at the White House next week, including West Virginia Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, the top Republican on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, to discuss his infrastructure plan.

Amy Dacey, the former CEO of the Democratic National Committee, who is in touch with administration officials, said in-person meetings between White House officials and lawmakers have been different because of vaccination schedules, but also because of the administration’s goals.

“The Biden administration has made it a priority that they want to work with Congress, so yes, some of those meetings are happening,” she said. “It’s important for them, for the work that they do in building these relationships in the early days of the administration, to have those conversations.”

Republicans have politicized Biden’s handling of Covid safety protocols, accusing him, for instance, of not modeling properly by limiting the joint address of Congress to 200 people and continuing to wear a mask outdoors despite being vaccinated.

“We do take some extra precautions for him because he is the president of the United States,” White House senior adviser Anita Dunn said on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday. “But I would say that people should follow the CDC guidelines, and they should take advantage of getting the vaccine, getting fully vaccinated, and taking that mask off, particularly as the weather grows so beautiful and we all want to be outside.”

G-7 takes aim at China over Taiwan Strait

Foreign ministers of leading economies hold no punches on China, denouncing human rights violations and escalation of tensions with Taiwan.

U.S. Justice Department worried about Arizona vote recount

PHOENIX — The U.S. Department of Justice expressed concern Wednesday about ballot security and potential voter intimidation arising from the Republican-controlled Arizona Senate’s unprecedented private recount of the 2020 presidential election results in Maricopa County.

In a letter to GOP Senate President Karen Fann, the head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division said the Senate’s farming out of 2.1 million ballots from the state’s most populous county to a contractor may run afoul of federal law requiring ballots to remain in the control of elections officials for 22 months.

And Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Pamela S. Karlan said that the Senate contractor’s plans to directly contact voters could amount to illegal voter intimidation.

“Past experience with similar investigative efforts around the country has raised concerns that they can be directed at minority voters, which potentially can implicate the anti-intimidation prohibitions of the Voting Rights Act,” Karlan wrote. “Such investigative efforts can have a significant intimidating effect on qualified voters that can deter them from seeking to vote in the future.”

Karlan wants Fann to lay out how the Senate and its contractors will ensure federal laws are followed. She pointed to news reports showing lax security at the former basketball arena where the ballots are being recounted by hand.

Fann said Senate attorneys were working on a response she promised to share when it was completed.

The Justice Department letter came six days after voting rights groups asked federal officials to intervene or send monitors to the Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Phoenix at the state fairgrounds, where the ballots are being recounted.

“We are very concerned that the auditors are engaged in ongoing and imminent violations of federal voting and election laws,” said the letter sent by the Brennan Center for Justice, the Leadership Conference and Protect Democracy.

In other developments Wednesday, the Arizona Democratic Party has reached a deal with the Republican-controlled state Senate to ensure that voter and ballot privacy is guaranteed during an unprecedented recount of the 2020 presidential election results in Maricopa County.

The agreement reached Wednesday puts teeth in a court order that already required the Senate and its contractor, Florida-based Cyber Ninjas, to follow state laws around ballot privacy. Any violations of the agreement would be enforceable by seeking an emergency court order.

The agreement also puts in writing a verbal agreement between the Senate and Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs that allows her to have three observers inside the Veterans Memorial Coliseum at the state fairgrounds.

Under the court order, the Senate and Cyber Ninjas last week released their policies and procedures for the recount. Hobbs’ elections director, Bo Dul, told The Associated Press there were major problems with those rules, including that they seemed haphazard, lacked specifics and left much room for interpretation — something that is never allowed in ballot counts.

Dul noted that the policies allow counters to accept a large enough error rate to perhaps show Trump won the state. Such an outcome would not change the outcome of the election because the results were certified months ago in the state and Congress.

Hobbs on Wednesday sent a letter to the Senate’s liaison to its recount contractor, former Secretary of State Ken Bennett, formally laying out a series of problems with the policies.

“Mr. Bennett, as a former Secretary of State, you know that our elections are governed by a complex framework of laws and procedures designed to ensure accuracy, security, and transparency,” Hobbs wrote. “You also must therefore know that the procedures governing this audit ensure none of those things.”

The developments come as the counting of 2.1 million ballots from the November election won by President Joe Biden are off to a slow pace. Bennett told the Associated Press Tuesday night that teams doing a hand recount of the presidential race lost by former President Donald Trump and the U.S. Senate race won by Democrat Mark Kelly has tallied less than 10% of the ballots since starting on April 23.

Bennett said it is clear the count can’t be done by the time the deal allowing the Senate to use the Coliseum ends on May 14. Several days of high school graduations are set to begin on May 15.

Jenner: 'I am all for the wall' at the border

OAKLAND — Republican reality TV star and former Olympian Caitlyn Jenner told Fox News that she is "all for the wall" — former President Trump's controversial southern border effort — and called it crucial to control illegal immigration.

"I am all for the wall, I would secure the wall. We can't have a state, we can't have a country without a secure wall," Jenner told host Sean Hannity in her first major television interview since she entered the California governor's race nearly two weeks ago. The excerpt was released Wednesday ahead of an interview that will be broadcast at 6 p.m. Pacific Time.

But Jenner also appeared to support undocumented immigrants already living in the country.

"You have two questions here," she said. "One is stopping people from coming in illegally into the state. And then the second question is, what do we do with the people that are here? We are a compassionate country, okay? We are a compassionate state."

"I mean, some people we're going to send back, OK, no question about that," she added. "But I have met some of the greatest immigrants into our country."

The Republican's sit-down with Hannity in her hometown of Malibu seemed clearly aimed to put her squarely in the sights of GOP base voters and donors nationwide in the run-up to the California recall election challenging Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom.

State elections officials last month announced that recall backers had secured at least 1.6 million valid signatures — more than enough to qualify the election likely to take place in the fall.

The drive largely relied on the state's Republican voters, and organizers fed on anger at Newsom over his pandemic restrictions on businesses, churches and schools. They collected the bulk of their signatures during the state's worst coronavirus spike from November to January, when the governor imposed a strict lockdown. Newsom also made a major misstep when he dined at one of the nation's most exclusive restaurants for a lobbyist friend's birthday party after suggesting that residents stay home and limit their interactions.

But California now has the nation's lowest coronavirus rate and businesses are starting to open on a wider scale, including Disneyland and professional sports stadiums. Vaccines are widely available, and residents have begun meeting with friends and family again after being fully inoculated.

Still, most of California's 6 million public schoolchildren don't have access to five-days-a-week of classroom instruction, a sticking point for critics, including Jenner and other Republican challengers. They have said they would open schools full-time if elected governor. Newsom has pushed local districts and labor unions to do the same, but he has given them control over the decisions.

Jenner, according to excerpts of the interview, portrayed herself as "an outsider" to the political process and the antidote to Newsom, saying she is now "in a race for solutions" to solve the state's most critical problems.

“I want to take that same fight, that same spirit, go to Sacramento, surround myself with some of the smartest people out there," she said. "I am an outsider... now I'm in a race for solutions."

Jenner also said it's important to be a role model for young people who are transgender. "And for me to be a role model, for them, to be out there," she said. "I am running for governor of the state of California, who would ever thunk that? We've never even had a woman governor.”

Opinion | Facebook’s Speech Policies Are Even More Arbitrary Than We Thought

It is said that medieval scholastic philosophers debated how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.

If so, they didn’t have anything on the amorphous and tendentious deliberations of Facebook regarding who is allowed to post on its social network, most pertinently the former president of the United States Donald J. Trump.

On January 7, the day after the Capitol riot, Facebook blocked Trump from posting indefinitely. It then kicked the matter to its oversight board, saying “You decide.” On Wednesday, the oversight board replied, “No, no — you decide.”

If Facebook had set out to demonstrate that it has awesome power over speech in the United States, including speech at the core of the nation’s political debate, and is wielding that power arbitrarily, indeed has no idea what its own rules truly are or should be, it wouldn’t have handled the question any differently.

The case of Facebook v. Trump is an open invitation to political actors to swoop in to reduce the social network’s power or write new rules for it, and indeed Trump-friendly Republicans are making loud calls for action.

It’s not clear what the best solution is, or even if there is a solution, but there’s obviously a problem.

In its wisdom, the Facebook oversight board said that it was “not permissible” for Facebook to impose an indeterminate, standardless penalty of indefinite suspension on Trump — then upheld the suspension!

It called on Facebook to review the suspension within six months and made some suggestions toward developing rules to follow in such cases, which has an Alice in Wonderland quality to it — verdict first, rules about whether the verdict is correct or not later.

The oversight board underlines the astonishing fact that in reaching its most momentous free-speech decision ever in this country, in determining whether a former president of the United States can use its platform or not, Facebook made it up on the fly.

“In applying this penalty,” the board writes of the suspension, “Facebook did not follow a clear, published procedure.”

This is like the U.S. Supreme Court handing down decisions in the absence of a written Constitution, or a home-plate umpire calling balls and strikes without an agreed-upon strike zone.

Two Trump posts on January 6 prompted the suspension. Trump’s video posted at 4:21 p.m. that day was too little, too late, but it wasn’t incitement. After expressing disgraceful “I feel your pain” sentiments about the rioters, Trump urged them to “go home and go home in peace.”

He followed this up with his egregious 6:15 p.m. post about these kind of things happening when elections are stolen, but said in that one, too, “Go home with love in peace.”

Facebook interpreted these posts as violations of its Community Standards on Dangerous Individuals and Organizations, which do not allow “organizations or individuals that proclaim a violent mission or are engaged in violence to have a presence on Facebook.” The standards cite the examples of mass murder, human trafficking, and organized violence or criminal activity.

The standards also forbid content that expresses support or praise for people involved in such activities, which is where Trump’s post supposedly crossed the line.

This is a tenuous violation. Facebook would have more credibility enforcing it if there was evidence that it scoured its platform removing the posts of people who expressed sentiments during the rioting associated with the George Floyd protests like, “I understand your frustration with policing and our system of justice, and admire your passion, but please, don’t loot or burn things.”

If Facebook just wanted to say that Trump is often noxious and dishonest in his social-media postings, that’d be understandable, but this would put it in the inherently subjective and highly contentious business of deciding which politicians are worthy and truthful and which are not.

Mark Zuckerberg had it right the first time, when, not too long ago, he was arguing it wasn’t Facebook’s role to circumscribe the nation’s political debate.

Some Republicans, like former Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows, are saying in response to the social network’s Trump decision that Facebook should be broken up. It’s not evident what authority the federal government would have to do that. More targeted attempts to force viewpoint-neutrality on social-media platforms might have unintended consequences and would raise their own free-speech concerns (the companies would argue they can’t be compelled to host speech they disapprove of).

But there can be no doubt that Facebook, already beset on all sides, has hung a lantern on its unsettling combination of power and caprice.

Facebook’s political nightmare deepens

Facebook may have hoped that life in Washington would get easier after its appointed oversight board ruled on former President Donald Trump’s fate on the social network.

Instead, it is facing a whole new round of censure, especially from the right — months after the company suspended Trump over his remarks during the deadly Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, triggering calls from conservative lawmakers to break up, rein in or otherwise restrain the world’s biggest social media network.

And that means Facebook’s political threats from Republicans may be poised to get a lot worse, at a time when the pro-Trump wing of the GOP is feeling especially emboldened. Wednesday’s board decision arrived just as the former president’s supporters were poised to oust an anti-Trump apostate from their House leadership, with Trump’s vocal endorsement, and days after a squeeze on Democratic seats gave Republicans new reason to feel optimistic about their chances of reclaiming Congress next year.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy issued a warning in response to the ruling on Wednesday: “A House Republican majority will rein in big tech power over our speech.”

Now Facebook and CEO Mark Zuckerberg face as much as six more months of public wrangling over a Trump controversy they had hoped to put behind them.

“It has blown up in their faces,” said Jim Steyer, CEO of the left-leaning group Common Sense Media, adding that the board basically said to Facebook, “We're kicking it back to you.”

The oversight board issued a mixed decision Wednesday, upholding Trump’s suspension but directing Facebook to revisit what the panel called the company’s “arbitrary” and “vague” decision-making. That puts the tech behemoth in the same unenviable spot it found itself in January: having to make a massive-yet-controversial call on how to handle accusations that Trump used its platform to help spark an insurrection.

The immediate result — Trump’s continued absence from Facebook’s 2.7-billion-member platform — fanned Republicans’ grievances about so-called cancel culture and allegations that the tech industry is biased against conservatives. And the ruling could deal more lasting damage if it serves to coalesce Republicans around a strategy to attack the company and its Silicon Valley cohorts.

There are indications that’s already happening.

Irate over Trump's latest muzzling on social media, Republicans flashed signs on Wednesday of warming to legal changes once thought off-limits for the traditionally business-friendly party, all to curtail Facebook’s conduct.

Rep. Steve Scalise, the No. 2 House Republican, gave a notable boost to calls for Congress to update U.S. antitrust laws, which until now have largely only gained traction among the populist, anti-Big Tech wing of the GOP. “Big Tech has a choice: Have the same standards for ALL—or—we look at antitrust laws to limit their monopolistic power,” he tweeted.

Sen. Roger Wicker of Mississippi, the top Republican on the Senate Commerce Committee, voiced support for legislation to treat social media companies as common carriers, a dramatic move that could strip them of their ability to exclude certain users from their services. That echoed a recent suggestion from Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, who used a recent case to express alarm about the “control of so much speech in the hands of a few private parties.”

“Even with rank and file voters right now, there's just a serious distrust of the system, and I think that's why you're seeing the fight against Big Tech censorship as priority issues,” said Jon Schweppe, director of policy and government affairs at the American Principles Project, a conservative think tank.

Republican strategists and activists said the lawmakers’ remarks are emblematic of the shifting tides in the GOP against the power of the Big Tech companies, which are beginning to converge around possible avenues to strike back at Silicon Valley companies. That includes efforts to revamp U.S. antitrust laws and to roll back the liability shield that protects digital platforms from lawsuits over the content of users’ posts.

It’s a progression from the GOP attacks against Silicon Valley during the Trump era, which saw support for those changes pick up significant steam only during his final months in office.

“Republicans are still moving past where they were four years ago, which is openly defending Big Tech, to two years ago, where it was [Sen.] Josh Hawley out on a limb,” said Schweppe. “And now I think it's become the mainstream view of the party that something needs to be done. So we just have to figure out what that policy is specifically going to be.”

“Republicans are responding to the evidence that just keeps piling up that there's a market distortion, there's a power imbalance [in Big Tech] and they're looking at what tools are available to them,” said Rachel Bovard, senior policy director at the Conservative Partnership Institute.

The Facebook oversight board’s ruling marked an immediate setback to Trump’s potential campaign fundraising efforts ahead of a 2024 run, by at least temporarily shutting off his access to the platform’s powerful organizing tools. Still, conservative leaders made the case Wednesday that the party could harness accusations that Silicon Valley is stifling conservatives to rally support ahead of the 2022 midterms, and potentially even take back the House.

“@facebook thank you for securing the GOP majority come 2022,” tweeted Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.), a member of the conservative Freedom Caucus.

The ordeal also emboldened Facebook’s critics on the left, who seized on the ruling Wednesday to call for more sweeping government action against the platform. While the board upheld the ban on Trump’s account, fulfilling a longstanding wish among some liberal advocacy groups and officials, Democratic lawmakers indicated they were largely unimpressed by the quasi-judicial proceedings. And they said it underscored the need for the federal government to take a more active role in policing the platforms, rather than letting Facebook regulate itself.

“While this is a welcome step by Facebook, the reality is that bad actors still have the ability to exploit and weaponize the platform,” Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) said in a statement. “Policymakers ultimately must address the root of these issues, which includes pushing for oversight and effective moderation mechanisms to hold platforms accountable for a business model that spreads real-world harm.”

At the same time, critics of the company cautioned that as long as a political lightning rod like Trump is at the center of Facebook’s problems, it could make it harder to find agreement in Washington about how to respond.

“When Donald Trump is in the conversation, we're talking about political speech, we're talking about content moderation, we’re talking about individual things that people say,” not the company’s broader structural problems, said Rashad Robinson, CEO of the racial justice group Color of Change.

Newsom's AG pick will test California's mood on criminal justice

OAKLAND — Becoming California's top cop may have been the easy part. Keeping the job is another story.

Rob Bonta was Gov. Gavin Newsom's choice for state attorney general after eight years as a liberal Democratic state lawmaker. He was celebrated in March by police reformers and Asian American organizations as a groundbreaking pick at a time of social upheaval.

But Bonta has routinely been at odds with law enforcement, who remain powerful in California and could very well back a credible challenger. Whether Bonta survives next year in his first statewide election will be the ultimate test of whether this once tough-on-crime state has truly changed.

Bonta enters as one of the nation's most liberal attorneys general and has repeatedly spoken about a lack of trust between law enforcement and the communities they police. His ascension comes as reform-minded prosecutors have come to power around California and the country and ignited a fierce battle with from law enforcement. Bonta is allied with those prosecutors.

“I’ve been proud to partner with each of you to pass a number of big reforms and to right historic wrongs — to repair our criminal justice system,” Bonta told lawmakers during his confirmation hearing, adding that he hoped to make California “a national vanguard for reform.”

Bonta, 48, takes over a position that has become a prime Democratic stepping stone. The last three state AGs were now-Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra, Vice President Kamala Harris, and former Gov. Jerry Brown.

Eight years ago, Bonta arrived in Sacramento in the midst of a generational shift in thinking on law and order. Emboldened by durable Democratic majorities in both houses of the Legislature and victories at the ballot box, California lawmakers have spent years repudiating the state’s tough-on-crime past by pushing to reduce incarceration and cut down sentencing. Bonta’s record as a lawmaker aligns him firmly with that trend.

Still, voters remain unpredictable. While they affirmed sentencing rollbacks at the ballot last year, they also chose to keep California's cash bail system, overriding the Legislature's attempt to ban it.

Two serious Bonta challengers have emerged and more could follow. Republican Nathan Hochman, a former assistant U.S. attorney general, and independent Sacramento District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert announced they would run soon after Bonta was confirmed last month.

Schubert in particular could pose a tough challenge if she survives the June top-two primary. She left the Republican Party in 2018 and has won big headlines for playing a lead role in solving the Golden State Killer crime spree — perhaps the state's most puzzling cold case in the last 50 years — and helping to identify inmates who were illegally collecting unemployment benefits from California during the pandemic.

She said in an interview that “some of these bills that Bonta is supporting or passing” fuel “the continual erosion of crime victims rights and really a danger to public safety.”

The campaign could morph into the latest referendum on California’s aggressive moves away from stringent sentencing and incarceration. A new class of progressive prosecutors like Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascón and San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin has come to power in California, channeling a national racial justice movement and tapping into a national fundraising network that can counter the deep resources of law enforcement unions. Bonta endorsed Gascón and has worked with Boudin on police use-of-force legislation.

Both Boudin and Gascón have faced headwinds since their election. They are staring down recall campaigns, and a statewide group representing prosecutors joined with Los Angeles line attorneys in suing to block Gascón’s efforts to suspend sentencing enhancements, expanding a rift between the majority of California’s prosecutors and a new generation of reformers. Schubert is a leader in the prosecutors' group, the California District Attorneys Association.

Bonta’s reelection campaign is likely to reproduce those dynamics on a statewide scale. Bonta predicted at his introductory press conference that “a lot of folks [are] prepared to get behind an election.” Law enforcement interests could throw their weight behind a candidate who rejects the agenda of reformers like Bonta and Gascón.

Schubert already has repudiated Gascón, refusing to share jurisdiction on cases with him, and she said in an interview that “when Gascón and Chesa Boudin are the ones tweeting out their overwhelming support for [Bonta], anyone who’s concerned about public safety should be concerned about this nomination.”

“I believe crime victims’ rights have been eviscerated and they have been ignored by these types of individuals,” she said.

Bonta political adviser Dana Williamson responded that Schubert is "tremendously flawed" and called the Sacramento prosecutor's criticisms "Trumpian lies" in a likely preview of campaign messaging next year. Williamson was quick to point to CDAA's misuse of $2.9 million in enforcement funds on political activities and Schubert decisions not to prosecute officers in high-profile police shootings.

"She has refused to bring excessive force cases and serves as treasurer of an organization that misspent millions meant to prosecute polluters," Williamson said in a statement. "Now she wants to lead the Department of Justice — the same entity that is investigating her organization's misdeeds."

Bonta’s history has trained him for a legal career while orienting him toward activism. His parents helped organize California farm workers, giving him a front-row seat from the family trailer — provided by the powerful United Farm Workers — to one of the state’s most storied social justice movements. That experience ensured, in Bonta’s words, that “their fight for justice has been hardwired into who I am.” He went on to earn undergraduate and law degrees from Yale, where he captained the soccer team, before working as an attorney for San Francisco and as a health care official and then vice mayor of Alameda.

He won his East Bay Assembly seat in 2012, wearing a traditional barong tagalog for his swearing in as he became the first Filipino-American to serve in the Legislature. Throughout his time there, Bonta has been a reliably progressive vote at the leftward end of Sacramento’s ever-growing Democratic caucus, and his bills show a long-running commitment to overhauling how California incarcerates immigrants and inmates — repeatedly putting him at odds with influential law enforcement interests.

He fought for years to limit California’s use of private detention facilities, in 2019 securing a ban on for-profit prison contracts. His efforts to phase out cash bail culminated in a law banning the practice that voters subsequently overturned. He sought repeatedly to limit California’s cooperation with Immigration and Customs Enforcement. He has pushed to expand compensation for crime victims and to offer services like condoms and pregnancy care to inmates. He firmly opposes the death penalty.

Bonta has also pushed year after year to have California collect more precise data on Asian American subgroups. One of his first bills signed into law required state curricula on California’s farmworker movement to cover the contributions of Filipino-Americans like his parents.

That record helped build an alliance of criminal justice reformers and Asian Americans who pushed Newsom to appoint Bonta attorney general — a message that gained urgency after a wave of anti-Asian violence. In an interview, Bonta said it was possible to be “smart on crime, while pursuing accountability, supporting our victims and enforcing our existing laws is the right way.”

Progressive backers hope Bonta will continue pushing to reduce incarceration and policing in marginalized communities, forego the death penalty and advocate for more police accountability. During his confirmation hearing, Bonta endorsed legislation that would allow California to decertify peace officers for misconduct — a priority for reformers.

“What's happening in the world is we're talking about accountability for individual officers, as we just saw with the Derek Chauvin trial,” said Melina Abdullah, a co-founder of the Black Lives Matter Los Angeles Chapter, “but we're not talking about accountability for departments. And so we'd love to have Bonta engage in a way that brings accountability for departments.”

That accountability would include investigating police departments when officers shoot and kill suspects, Abdullah said. One of Bonta’s tasks will be enforcing a new state law requiring his office to take over police slaying investigations — which was enacted last year after years of thwarted attempts.

Bonta will have just months on the job before he has to stand for reelection in 2022. That he represents a safely Democratic seat in the liberal Bay Area brings advantages and disadvantages: a lack of competitive elections has let him pile up a $2.4 million war chest, but it also means Bonta has never been truly tested during election season and has scant statewide name recognition.

Despite the competitive election ahead, Bonta can win public opinion, said Tinisch Hollins, the executive director of Californians for Safety and Justice. She points to the elections of Gascón and Boudin as an indication that voters want progressive-minded law enforcement officials.

“There will always be a public political debate about it,” said Hollins, “but when we look at where folks have placed their priorities in terms of what they want to see around public safety, AG Bonta and others like him are on the right track.”

Santa Clara District Attorney Jeff Rosen, a progressive who was on Newsom’s short list for the attorney general nomination, said he believes California voters have a strong desire to see “smart and balanced” criminal justice reform that will be reflected during the election, but cautioned that there’s “very little appetite for a radical dismantling of the criminal justice system.”

“It's not defunding police, it's not tearing down the jail, it's not closing all the prisons,” he continued. “I think [voters] are looking for solutions that keep them and their families safe, and that reduce crime in a humane and effective way.”

Law enforcement groups are taking a cautious approach for now, wary of antagonizing the state’s new top prosecutor before he takes office. San Francisco Police Officers Association head Tony Montoya said Bonta’s record would put him to the left of any prior California attorney general, but Montoya said he remains optimistic they can find common ground as long as Bonta acts “based on the law and the facts” and “with the least amount of politics involved.”

El Dorado County District Attorney Vern Pierson, who heads the California District Attorneys Association, argued Bonta will come to power at a critical moment for public safety, pointing to a “staggering” surge in homicides in Los Angeles and criticizing Gascon’s “reckless” policies.

“It’s a big responsibility, and we’re really hoping he’s a serious attorney general that will recognize some of those serious problems we’re facing,” Pierson said. “In Los Angeles, and to a lesser extent in San Francisco people don’t feel safe.”

WATCH: The GOP civil war is heating up

It has been nothing but drama since the Republicans returned from their retreat in Florida. The top two Republicans in the House, Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Minority Whip Steve Scalise, seem intent on booting Rep. Liz Cheney from her leadership position as House Conference Chair. This week, Ryan Lizza breaks down the latest infighting in the Republican Party, and what that means for the small band of anti-Trump Republicans.

Opinion | The Real Reason Republicans Want to Oust Liz Cheney

To hear most media observers tell it, Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) is being martyred for having the courage of her convictions, and the House Republican Conference can no longer abide her truth-telling. Republican lawmakers, the narrative goes, are campaigning to oust her from her leadership role as the No. 3 Republican in the House because she has continued to make Donald Trump’s false claims of election fraud the center of her public remarks.

But that is a partial understanding of the dynamics at work, which have more to do with the inside game essential to political survival in Washington, including Cheney’s ability—or inability, as the case may be—to cultivate the loyalty of colleagues, donors and friendly journalists. At this point, the conflict isn’t so much about Cheney’s principles; it’s about the way she’s gone about articulating them, publicly and privately.

In conversations with nearly a dozen GOP operatives and lawmakers, many of whom are now indifferent to or supportive of Cheney’s ouster, they say they are not unsympathetic to her views either on Trump or on foreign policy, where she is and always has been an important voice within the Republican Party. That’s in part why, just three months ago, Cheney beat back—by a convincing margin—an attempt to oust her from House leadership.

But Republican lawmakers and GOP operatives alike are frustrated that, after standing by her, Cheney has repaid the favor by continuing to draw attention to an issue that divides Republicans, rather than training her fire on the Biden administration. And while, yes, it is possible to do both, take a look at the headlines and see which message is getting more traction.

Cheney’s allies say that allowing Trump to promulgate lies about the election, as he has done since November, risks another insurrection. She has every right to make that her focus. But it’s one thing to do that as a rank-and-file member; her job as conference chairwoman is to help the party regain a House majority next year by rallying Republicans around a message that unites them and damages Democrats’ prospects.

The divide is deeper than pro- or anti-Trump. Rather, it’s a disagreement about how influential an out-of-office Trump continues to be on the party and whether, politically speaking, GOP energy is best spent fighting him or President Joe Biden. Cheney and her allies say Trump is an electoral loser for the GOP and won’t fade on his own; others argue his influence is diminishing and it’s disastrous to keep fighting the last war.

That sentiment is behind the exasperation with Cheney that extends even to some of the Republicans who joined her in voting for Trump’s second impeachment, according to two GOP lawmakers. They say Cheney is hurting the electoral prospects of the anti-Trumpers in the conference, who are being asked about her, rather than Biden, when they return home to their districts.

“People who voted to impeach stand by their decision, but they don’t want to be litigating that,” a top Republican operative told me. “We should be litigating why the Democrats suck and how Republicans are going to win the majority.”

Yet, in the immediate aftermath of the January 6 attack, Cheney told donors she wanted to make her forthcoming primary battle a referendum on the attacks, according to people on the call. It is not a message that resonates particularly well with a group that struggled with how to approach the Trump era altogether, and is eager to put the divisions of the past four years behind them.

Cheney might have understood her colleagues’ thinking better if she spent some more time hearing them out. POLITICO’s John Harris made the point in a column in March that asked, pointedly, why some politicians are such a--holes. He contrasted the friendless and scandal-plagued New York governor, Andrew Cuomo, with the late presidential adviser Vernon Jordan, a man of a thousand close friends. At the time, I wrote Harris telling him that Cheney was another example of the former, and the retired Gen. David Petraeus, who survived a public scandal mostly intact, of the latter.

Cuomo and Cheney don’t have much else in common, but both are second-generation politicos whose rise in public life was propelled in large part by their father’s networks. As a result, they seem to have learned less about what it takes to develop and maintain professional friendships and alliances.

Since Cheney’s arrival in Congress in 2017, I’ve heard complaints from operatives, donors and fellow reporters about Cheney’s political operation, which has been described as difficult, brittle, unresponsive and tone deaf. To wit, she is not working her colleagues to hold onto her leadership role. As repellent as it might seem, the cultivation of allies and the trading of favors is essential to political survival, a lesson Cheney seems to be learning the hard way.

As a counterexample to Cheney’s persistent focus on Trump, take Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, whose distaste for the former president is hardly a state secret and who has demonstrated that it’s possible to stand on principle without belaboring it. It wasn’t so long ago that McConnell, a ruthless political operative, called his vote to affirm the results of the November election the most important he had cast in his political career. The former president has responded by calling McConnell a “dumb son of a bitch.”

But asked about a recent Trump broadside, McConnell told Fox News last week: “We’re looking to the future, not the past. And if you want to see the future of the Republican Party, watch [Sen.] Tim Scott’s response to President Biden last night. … We’re not preoccupied with the past but looking forward.”

Or, as a second GOP operative put it: “She is choosing not to pivot. Mitch McConnell is no fan of Donald Trump, but he doesn’t say a goddamned word.”

Team Cheney argues that Trump remains a threat even if he is tapping out inanities from a beach chair at Mar-a-Lago, rather than from the Oval Office, and that Cheney’s silence would be a concession to Trump’s version of events.

But Cheney’s ideological allies are now left wondering: What is her end game?

The irony of the situation is that Cheney has rightfully derided some of her colleagues for using their positions to peacock for the most pathetic pro-Trump grifters and media outlets. Cheney’s audience is different, and her cause more righteous, but that’s where she is headed.

Location, location, location: Picking a spot for Biden-Putin summit is a tricky task

Vienna? Maybe. Reykjavik? Not impossible. Helsinki? Umm...

As President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin prepare for a potential face-to-face meeting, their aides are trying to nail down the best location for what could prove a tense affair. They already have offers from several other countries eager to host. But they’re finding that — for reasons ranging from recent wars to the jaw-dropping performance of a certain former U.S. president — there are few ideal options.

“A lot of preparation goes into a meeting like this, and it’s also very choreographed,” said Julia Friedlander, a former White House National Security Council official. “If the goal of the Biden administration is to make sure that Russia understands the fundamental U.S. disapproval of its behavior, the organizers will be thinking of how history will view every aspect, including the venue.”

Hosting the summit brings bragging rights and the country selected becomes the center of international attention for at least 24 hours.

On Tuesday, Biden said that it is his “hope and expectation” to meet Putin when he travels to Europe in mid-June for meetings with the leaders of NATO, the G-7 and the European Union. Putin won’t be attending those events, but former U.S. officials and analysts say it makes sense for Biden to meet the Russian president somewhere nearby while he is in the neighborhood.

A White House spokesperson on Wednesday declined to go beyond Biden’s comments. An official with the Russian Embassy in Washington pointed to comments late last month from a Kremlin spokesperson, who noted that Russia had yet to formally agree to meet.

Already, some European governments have offered up their premier cities as potential venues, according to media reports. They include a trio of countries accustomed to hosting such gatherings: Switzerland, Finland and Austria. These three are considered, in broad terms, “neutral” venues: none of them are in the NATO military alliance, whose growth Putin has long seen as a threat to Russia and its sphere of influence.

Former U.S. officials and analysts say a dark horse candidate shouldn’t be ruled out. Among the possibilities: Reykjavik, the Icelandic capital; Prague, capital of the Czech Republic; Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia; and maybe, just maybe, the Azerbaijani capital, Baku.

Of the first three choices, Helsinki is probably least likely to be selected given what happened when then-President Donald Trump met Putin in the Finnish capital in 2018.

During that gathering, Trump lived up to his reputation as being too eager to please Putin when he appeared to accept Putin’s denials that Russia had interfered in the 2016 U.S. election. Trump tried to walk back his comments later, but the blowback was huge and bipartisan.

Going to Helsinki could, arguably, give Biden an opportunity to right a Trump wrong. But, some former U.S. officials and analysts said the comparison with Trump would drive every narrative and overshadow the substance of what Biden and Putin hope to accomplish if they meet.

From the war in Ukraine to how to tackle climate change, the pair have a great deal to discuss. The U.S.-Russian relationship is not in a good place, and Moscow and Washington have taken a number of retaliatory measures against each other in recent months.

The White House has imposed a sanctions package on Russian officials and expelled several Russian diplomats; the Kremlin has responded with the expulsion of American diplomats and severely restricted whom the U.S. Embassy in Moscow can hire. Biden also recently agreed that Putin was a “killer”; Putin responded by ominously wishing Biden “good health.”

Still, Biden proposed the summit during a call with Putin last month, a nod to his belief that it’s best to maintain solid contact with a world power like Russia at a time when so many transnational threats require cooperation. Those threats include the coronavirus pandemic, whose prevalence in a potential host country is also likely to factor into the summit’s location.

Some U.S. officials and outside analysts say Iceland could be a potential venue. Iceland may be slightly trickier to reach than some of the other countries. There's also the issue of it being a longtime NATO member. Plus, there is currently an active volcano spewing lava in an area visible from Reykjavik.

But it would not be Iceland’s first time hosting such an event. Reykjavik was the scene of a famous 1986 meeting between Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and U.S. President Ronald Reagan. The men came close to reaching a major nuclear arms-control deal, and it was later seen as a key moment in the final years of the Cold War.

Baku would also be something of a trek, especially for the U.S. side. But while Azerbaijan has solid relations with both Washington and Moscow, and it would be an out-of-the-box choice, the odds are low that Biden would go there. One reason: last year’s brief war between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the Nagorno-Karabakh region.

A Biden visit to Baku would likely offend Armenia, as well as many Armenian-Americans. Biden recently pleased many in that community by formally recognizing the Armenian genocide of the early 20th century.

In 2001, Slovenia hosted a summit between then-President George W. Bush and Putin, still a relatively new leader in Russia at the time. (The pair met multiple times, including in Slovakia.) In 2017, Slovenia offered to host Putin and Trump — noting that Trump’s wife, Melania, was born in Slovenia.

If it’s willing, the country may have a shot this time, but there’s a caveat: Slovenia joined NATO in 2004, and that may lower it on the Russians’ list. Still, Putin didn’t seem to mind that in 2017, when he welcomed the Slovenians’ offer to host him and Trump.

A U.S. official familiar with Russian issues said Putin doesn’t worry as much as the United States and the Europeans about where he will or won’t go. “He’s a drama queen and loves watching NATO and European Union countries fret about him visiting their territory,” the official said.

The Russian strongman showed up and danced in an Austrian vineyard during the 2018 wedding of that country’s then-foreign minister. The invitation to Putin, though described as a private matter, led some to question Austria’s loyalty to the European Union, which had condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Others who watch Russia closely said it’s more complicated than saying Putin will go anywhere. One Washington-based Russia analyst said it could come down to Putin’s history with each particular country, not simply whether or not it’s a NATO member.

Prague was the scene of a 2010 summit between then-President Barack Obama and Dmitry Medvedev, the Russian president at the time (who nonetheless operated in Putin’s shadow). Obama and Medvedev signed the New START arms control treaty during that gathering.

In mid-April, a Czech Republic official was reported to have offered to host Putin and Biden. But that invitation may no longer be in effect because relations between Prague and Moscow have since taken a nosedive.

The Czech Republic has expelled dozens of Russian diplomats after determining that new evidence showed Russia was behind an explosion at a Czech ammunition depot in 2014 that killed at least two people.

Russia has taken retaliatory measures, including reportedly placing the Czech Republic on a list of “unfriendly countries.” According to various Russian media accounts, the list includes the United States and several of Russia’s neighbors, such as Latvia and Estonia.

Daniel Fried, a retired U.S. Foreign Service officer whose many postings included being the ambassador to Poland, said Russian actions, from land invasions to cyberattacks, seem to be costing the country diplomatic space to maneuver — or to meet.

“They keep attacking people and pissing them off,” Fried said. “I’d rather have our problems than Putin’s.”

Cheney doubles down in op-ed, says Republicans are at a 'turning point'

Facing removal from party leadership, Rep. Liz Cheney doubled down on Wednesday, saying in a Washington Post op-ed that the GOP is at a "turning point" and calling on Republicans to turn away from former President Donald Trump’s rhetoric, which she argued "can provoke violence again."

"The Republican Party is at a turning point, and Republicans must decide whether we are going to choose truth and fidelity to the Constitution," the Wyoming Republican wrote in the op-ed. “History is watching. Our children are watching. We must be brave enough to defend the basic principles that underpin and protect our freedom and our democratic process.”

In the op-ed, Cheney made no direct mention of the push in recent days to remove her from her position as House GOP conference chair. Cheney has drawn the ire of many Republicans for continuing to criticize Trump’s baseless claims of election fraud and to defend her vote to certify the 2020 election results.

Facing an uphill battle to stay in leadership, Cheney has not fought to keep her job. A formal vote is expected as early as next Wednesday, with House Republican leaders whipping against Cheney and Trump backing Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) to replace her.

Cheney‘s current posture is in stark contrast to her stance earlier this year amid an ultimately failed push to remove her from leadership, when she actively whipped to stay in leadership. Cheney prevailed in February in a 145-61 secret ballot vote, but she faces longer odds this time.

In the op-ed, Cheney slammed Trump and said she would continue to do so “no matter what the short-term political consequences might be.”

“We must be brave enough to defend the basic principles that underpin and protect our freedom and our democratic process,” Cheney wrote.

Cheney has also gotten blowback from the Wyoming GOP, which censured her after she voted to impeach Trump. Republicans bucking Trump have often been held to the fire, with Trump still enjoying broad support among GOP voters — 80 percent of Republicans said they viewed him favorably in a recent POLITICO and Morning Consult poll.

In the op-ed, she also called for Republicans to support the Justice Department’s investigations into the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol and renewed her calls for a bipartisan, 9/11-style fact-finding commission with subpoena power and no current members of Congress participating.

She also called on the party to move away from the "dangerous and anti-democratic Trump cult of personality.”

President Ronald Reagan, she wrote, "formed a broad coalition from across the political spectrum to return America to sanity, and we need to do the same now. We know how. But this will not happen if Republicans choose to abandon the rule of law and join Trump’s crusade to undermine the foundation of our democracy and reverse the legal outcome of the last election."

In the op-ed, Cheney called for Republicans to back “genuinely conservative principles,” arguing for "low taxes,“ fiscal conservatism and small government.

“There is much at stake now,“ she wrote, “including the ridiculous wokeness of our political rivals, the irrational policies at the border and runaway spending that threatens a return to the catastrophic inflation of the 1970s.”

‘Cult of personality’: House Democrats seize on Cheney chaos

Donald Trump is back in control of the House GOP inner circle, and Democrats can hardly believe their luck.

Republicans are days away from dethroning Rep. Liz Cheney as their No. 3 leader after her repeated broadsides against the former president. And in doing so, Democrats believe the GOP is handing over the ingredients for a political litmus test that could energize their push to beat the historical odds and hang onto their narrow House majority next fall. The Cheney ouster opens the door to tarring the GOP, once again, as the party of Trump.

That's because the turmoil over Cheney's future has elevated Trump’s voice in the party to a degree last seen before his encouragement of baseless election fraud claims turned to violence on Jan. 6, getting the former president impeached a second time. Trump's emergence this week, cheering the Cheney leadership purge and supporting likely successor Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.), has handed Democrats an unexpected gift ahead of the 2022 election.

Even as they brace for a potentially perilous midterm battle, Democrats are back on the offense, and the faster Republicans line up behind Trump, the harder Democrats plan to hit them.

Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) said the “first question in every race in the country” should be whether GOP candidates believed the “big lie” that the election was stolen. Cheney’s potential ouster will “link them more to the big lie,” Khanna added of House Republicans. “It’s not about Trump. It’s about, Do you believe in truth?”

For many Democrats, Cheney’s eviction also marks a grim development for Congress as an institution. Without her in House GOP leadership, all of its members will have voted against certifying President Joe Biden’s victory on Jan. 6 — a vote that took place hours after the armed insurrection, imbuing one roll call with political symbolism beyond a lawmaker's position on election results.

“Liz Cheney is being attacked for being a woman of integrity and telling the truth,” Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.) said in an interview. “What the Republican leadership is doing is destabilizing people’s trust in government.”

The GOP’s escalating push to silence the Wyoming Republican, specifically over her criticism of Trump and his unfounded claims about the election, has also given new ammunition to the Democrats who are ready to make him a bogeyman again for the midterms. Trump may not be on the ballot, but his relatively low popularity outside the GOP base allows Democrats to warn voters what could happen if Republicans do take back control of Congress next year.

"I think it's a real weakness in the Republican Party that they have jettisoned their principles, jettisoned adherence to the truth and simply pandered to one individual — Donald Trump,” House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said during a Washington Post event on Wednesday.

“It’s a question of ‘cult of personality’ that if you're not 1,000 percent for Donald Trump somehow, you're not a good Republican,” Hoyer said.

Hoyer isn’t the only top Democrat to seize on the GOP’s chaotic leadership scramble. A day earlier, Pelosi’s office sent reporters a press release written as a mock job posting for a “non-threatening female” to lead the GOP conference. Pelosi herself said at a Tuesday event in San Francisco she wished Cheney well but did not want to get involved in the dispute.

“I do commend Liz Cheney for her courage, for her patriotism, and I wish her well. Perhaps this challenge will make her stronger. I don’t know, that’s up to their caucus,” she said. “I don’t welcome their participation in our caucus, and I’m sure they don’t welcome my participation in theirs.”

Cheney herself argued in a Washington Post op-ed on Wednesday that "embracing or ignoring Trump’s statements might seem attractive to some for fundraising and political purposes" but warned that it would do "profound long-term damage" to the GOP and the country.

It’s not clear how much Democrats will lean into their anti-Trump playbook going into next fall. Their party is defending a handful of battleground seats in districts that the former president won in 2020, and many more where the ex-president remains popular.

Villainizing Trump in 2022 could pose similar risks to Democrats as it did last year. The former president’s presence on the ballot in 2020 energized voters both sides of the aisle, though many swing-district Democratic candidates ultimately lost their bids, stunned by higher-than-expected GOP turnout.

Still, the forthcoming shakeup in GOP leadership has already shaken up the contentious midterm landscape. While Democrats have been privately downtrodden about their prospects of hanging onto a handful of battleground seats in a year of congressional redistricting, Republicans have been practically measuring the drapes.

Democrats hope that the drama consuming their opponents across the aisle, and what it means for the GOP's future, could tilt the scale a bit toward them — at least for now.

"Liz Cheney is a staunch conservative, but she is being ousted from Republican leadership because she is not an enthusiastic adherent of the 'Big Lie,'" Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, who leads the House Democrats' campaign arm, said in a statement to POLITICO.

"It seems like the only way to get ahead over there is to be a dangerous liar, accused sexual predator, or perpetrator of white supremacist ideology," Maloney said, referencing scandals that have affected a few GOP members.

The rebellion over Cheney could also carry implications for the Democrats’ legislative agenda. The Wyoming Republican, whose family is a bastion of conservatism, was hardly a bipartisan deal-maker.

But Cheney was one of the few Republicans who has remained in good standing within the Democratic caucus since Jan. 6, and the GOP’s efforts to punish her have already begun to inflame tensions lingering between the two parties since the deadly insurrection.

“We need a two-party system. It’s not healthy to have a one-party system," Biden said Tuesday. "And I think the Republicans are further away from trying to figure out who they are and what they stand for then I thought they would be at this point."

“Part of me is like, disarray in the Republican Conference is fine. That's good for everybody. That's good for Democrats," said Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), who was one of the last lawmakers to leave the House chamber as rioters forcefully attempted to enter on Jan. 6.

"But watching this unfold, I can't help but think this is bad for the country. And it's bad for democracy... it’s bad for solving future problems in a bipartisan way.”

Yang falls behind Adams for first time in New York mayor’s race poll

NEW YORK — Eric Adams is leading the field of mayoral candidates in a new poll, marking the first time Andrew Yang is not the top contender since he shook up the race with his unexpected entry in mid-January.

Adams, the Brooklyn Borough president, was the first-place pick for 21 percent of the respondents in a three-day survey conducted by Washington, D.C.-based firm GQR, according to a copy of the survey obtained by POLITICO. Yang followed at 18 percent, and City Comptroller Scott Stringer had 15 percent support.

The poll of 500 likely Democratic primary voters was conducted over the course of three days last week, during which Stringer’s campaign was rocked by a 20-year-old accusation of sexual assault.

No other candidate cracked double digits, and 11 percent of those polled reported being undecided ahead of the June 22 primary to replace outgoing Mayor Bill de Blasio.

Until now, Adams has generally ranked second to Yang, though a poll conducted by charter school organization Students First recently found him inching closer to the first-time mayoral candidate who has received the most media coverage — albeit much of it critical.

But Adams, who has yet to spend any of his $7.9 million campaign war chest on TV ads, typically gets the second-highest amount of media attention, according to someone involved in the race who tracks that metric.

A former police officer who speaks openly about being assaulted by police officers when he was a teenager, Adams has been almost singularly focused on the rise in gun violence across the city. Where Yang is looking to capture the mood of an electorate anxious for New York to rebound from the Covid-19 pandemic, Adams is positioning himself as the candidate vowing to tackle a steady spike in crime.

Adams dominated with Black voters, garnering 47 percent of their support, compared to 11 percent of whites and 8 percent of Hispanics polled. Yang, by comparison, polled best with Hispanics — 22 percent — compared to 17 percent of white voters and 12 percent of Black voters.

Stringer did best of the eight candidates polled among white voters, seizing 24 percent, even as his campaign became embroiled in responding to an allegation that he groped a campaign volunteer in 2001. Though he denied the accusation, many of his left-leaning supporters quickly abandoned his bid. He has said he has no intention of abandoning his mayoral run.

“Every other poll has us in first place, but we’ve always said this would be a close race,” Yang co-campaign manager Chris Coffey said. “The only poll that really matters is the one on June 22 and we expect to win that one.”

Evan Thies, spokesperson for Adams, said the poll “shows what we have seen on the ground for months — that New Yorkers want Eric to be the next mayor because they share his vision for a safer, fairer city where prosperity is shared by all.”

The results are disappointing for the two candidates who have spent the most on TV ads — Shaun Donovan and Ray McGuire — who are at 8 percent and 6 percent, respectively. Between their own campaigns and multimillion-dollar expenditures on their behalf, each has been on air consistently in recent months, advertising their life stories and policy chops.

"It's clear this race is wide open and will break late, and this poll is yet another that speaks to exactly that dynamic," said senior Donovan adviser, Rick Fromberg. "It's also important to remember that the candidate who was in Shaun Donovan's position at this stage of the race in 2013 is the current mayor."

Of those polled, 55 percent identified themselves as liberal, 27 percent as moderate and 14 percent as conservative. Both Adams and Yang are running on relatively moderate messages, and both have been identified as concerns for a political action committee fundraising to elect a progressive mayor.

Forty percent of those polled were white; 30 percent Black; 19 percent Hispanic; and 7 percent Asian.

Moderna booster shots effective against Covid variants in early study

A single dose of Moderna’s original Covid-19 vaccine and a booster shot that targets key virus variants both show promising signals that they can protect previously vaccinated people against problematic strains, the company announced Wednesday.

The results from a preliminary study are an early sign that booster shots could play a role in future vaccination efforts — in this case, against the variants B.1.351, a strain first found in South Africa, and P.1, first found in Brazil, which are less susceptible to existing vaccines.

Moderna began a trial in March dosing vaccinate volunteers with a booster shot of its original formula or a modified vaccine aimed at B.1.351. The company and the National Institutes of Health also assessed the shots against P.1, a similar strain.

The study found that a booster dose of the variant-targeting formula was more effective than a booster of the original vaccine, but both raised antibody levels, Moderna said in a press release. The research is not yet peer-reviewed.

The boosters also appeared as safe as earlier shots, with volunteers reporting side effects similar to a second dose of the original Moderna vaccine.

There are several potential coronavirus boosters in lab and human studies as governments and pharmaceutical companies brace for possibly fading immunity in the face of spreading variants.

“As we seek to defeat the ongoing pandemic, we remain committed to being proactive as the virus evolves,” Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel said in a statement. “We are encouraged by these new data, which reinforce our confidence that our booster strategy should be protective against these newly detected variants.”

Trumpland thought he’d get back on Facebook. Now, they’re anxious and scrambling.

Republicans on Wednesday expressed outrage over news that Donald Trump’s Facebook suspension would remain in place for the time being. Privately, many of them, including some close to the former president, were panicked.

The ruling by the Facebook oversight board meant that Trump would remain off the platform for the foreseeable future and, perhaps, well beyond should the company make the ban permanent. In practical terms, the main driver of Republican Party enthusiasm would be less omnipresent in voters’ lives — a reality that sparked fear for some GOP operatives. As for Trump, he would remain without one of the great money-raising spigots in all of politics as his political operation geared up for a possible 2024 run.

“This is a huge decision, makes it infinitely harder for him to raise money,” conceded a person close to the Trump operation. “Facebook was the main way he raised money. He’s now going to have to spend far more in the future to find other ways to raise money … It was the main way he found donors.”

Trump’s official line in response to the ruling showed no concern over the financial ramifications of it, though some anxiety about how it could impact his ability to communicate with his hordes of followers. He accused Facebook, Twitter, and Google of taking away his free speech, called them “corrupt” and demanded that they “pay a political price.”

But it was clear that money matters were on his team’s mind. Shortly after the official statement was released, the Trump operation blasted out a text message to its list calling the Facebook ban “NONSENSE” but also asking for money. “I want a list of all donors sent to my office,” the text read.

Not everyone in the party felt that Trump would end up in a worse place because of the continued Facebook ban. The president still has one of the biggest email lists in politics even if it will atrophy without access to the country’s largest social media platforms. And in the tech industry, he has a bête noire to rail against. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said the Facebook decision would ultimately help Trump by making him a tech “martyr.”

“Do you want a communist Chinese style control over your voice or American style openness? We’ll see whether Biden sides with the Chinese communists or with the American people,” Gingrich said.

Elsewhere, Republicans argued that keeping Trump off Facebook would be good for the party, even if (or perhaps because) it would be “devastating” for Trump.

“It makes it more difficult for him and it gives everyone from Tim Scott to Nikki Haley to Mike Pompeo to Ted Cruz the ability to go out and begin to win over the Trump donors and voters that exist in a vacuum that Trump is not filling,” said one top GOP operative.

Already, GOP groups like the National Republican Senatorial Committee are running Facebook ads keying off Trump’s battle with “Big Tech” — a sign the party sees the flap as a strong opportunity to engage supporters and that Trump’s visage remains one of the best ways to draw in donors on Facebook.

But Trump himself can’t tap that universe, at least for the time being. And other Republicans feared that MAGA fanatics would become less engaged politically as Trump grew more remote in their lives. “Fundraising begets fundraising so him raising money helps,” said a separate top GOP operative who is working on congressional races this cycle.

Trump’s suspension from Facebook came after the Capitol riot in early January. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced the president would be indefinitely off the platform because he’d used it to “incite violent insurrection against a democratically elected government.” But the social media giant also referred its decision to the company’s independent oversight board for a review and allowed for Trump to make his case against a ban.

A statement submitted on Trump’s behalf by the American Center for Law and Justice claimed Trump called for supporters to be “peaceful and law abiding” and went on to say there was a “total absence of any serious linkage between the Trump speech and the Capitol building incursion.”

A content director for the board said the argument from Trump’s team was “replete with falsehoods." And after the announcement of the oversight board’s decision to punt back to Facebook, a spokesperson for the social media platform said the company stood by the decision to keep Trump accounts offline.

In the absence of Facebook and Twitter, Trump has continued to share his opinions on everything from the Academy Awards to Republican politics on friendly news show interviews and in statements dictated to aides and distributed to the public via email. On Tuesday, he launched a blog on his own website. But aides acknowledge he no longer has the same reach.

Alternative social platforms have been discussed by aides, but so far none have been backed by Trump or shared publicly. Trump’s team had anticipated Facebook would let him back on the site, and a person close to Trump said the company’s decision would only mean a “more aggressive timeline” for the development of a new social media platform.

“The model [for fundraising] that has been used to date has been a Facebook-related model, but Trump has one of the largest databases of emails and phone numbers of any political operation in modern times and so it’s a matter of deploying that in a different way,” the person said. “So while it would be a short term disadvantage it would be a long term advantage.”

With over 32 million followers, Trump had the third-largest political following on Facebook behind former president Barack Obama and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. His page was one of the most powerful platforms on the internet. In the final months of last year’s election, the Donald Trump Facebook page dwarfed not just Joe Biden’s page but the pages of many media outlets in total interactions by about a factor of ten.

Trump used his oversize presence on Facebook to not only amplify his message but to tap into a vast network of grassroots, small dollar donors. Advertising on Facebook was a major focus of his 2020 campaign effort, with nearly $140 million spent on the platform.

For Democrats, Facebook was more than a nuisance in 2020; it was a problem — not because of Trump’s ability to tap donors through it but because of the pervasiveness with which disinformation spread on it. The Biden campaign openly clashed with Facebook last fall. Campaign manager Jen O'Malley Dillon wrote in a letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg in September, calling the social network “the nation’s foremost propagator of disinformation about the voting process.” She added that: "Facebook’s continued promise of future action is serving as nothing more than an excuse for inaction."

Biden aides felt at liberty to publicly chide the company at will. So too did the boss. “I’ve never been a fan of Facebook, as you probably know. I’ve never been a big Zuckerberg fan. I think he’s a real problem,” Biden told The New York Times editorial board in 2019.

The oversight board’s decision on Tuesday didn’t spark praise among Democrats, who continued to argue that the company itself should have acted far sooner and more decisively. But they did view it as a potentially major development in the political landscape.

"Trump used Facebook to organize his supporters and fundraise, and Twitter to talk to media,” said Nu Wexler, a former Facebook staffer and Democratic operative. “Getting locked out of Facebook ads is a bigger punishment than any restrictions on his political speech."

For conservatives eager to make tech a bogeyman in upcoming elections, Trump’s suspension from Facebook and permanent ban from Twitter has only escalated their threats — ranging from lawsuits by conservative organizations to antitrust enforcement by Congress.

Trump, too, has argued for going after major tech companies by removing forms of legal shields that they enjoy for the content posted on them. Whether he will be in a position of power to affect that policy is less clear. He has not made any announcements about a run in 2024, and his indecision has held other presidential hopefuls hostage as they try to build out early operations. But Facebook’s decision may have already handicapped Trump’s future plans.

“It's a huge blow to his fundraising and ability to communicate with the masses,” said Mike Nellis, a Democratic digital strategist who was a senior adviser to Vice President Kamala Harris’ presidential campaign. It’s “going to make it very difficult to make a comeback.”

Alex Isenstadt and Alex Thompson contributed to this report.

Fauci: The U.S. has a 'moral obligation' to help with global pandemic response

President Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser Anthony Fauci said Wednesday that the U.S. has a “moral obligation” to share coronavirus vaccines and supplies worldwide and end the pandemic.

The federal government's longtime infectious disease official told POLITICO that he backs waiving pharmaceutical giants’ vaccine patents so that other countries can produce generic versions of the shots — but doing so would not be a quick fix for the current crisis, including surging cases and deaths in India.

The prospect of abandoning vaccine patents to allow broad global production has pitted public health advocates against industry and some Biden administration officials who argue that the move could undercut vaccine makers and stress supply chains.

“I am certainly not against anything that can get doses of vaccine quickly into the arms of people in the developing world,” he told POLITICO. “I feel very strongly that we have a moral obligation as a rich nation, to really put our forces in our resources into helping those who would otherwise die because they happen to be in a country that they were born in.”

U.S. World Trade Organization Ambassador Katherine Tai on Wednesday said that the government backs the proposal but needs to hammer out details during an ongoing WTO meeting.

Progressive Democrats and global officials, including the World Trade Organization Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, insist that waiving vaccine patents is essential for making shots a public good and vaccinating the world. But that is the first step towards global production: It takes months, if not years, for manufacturers to set up production for specific vaccines.

“If you wait for that to happen, a lot of people are going to die,” Fauci said, arguing that patent waivers can come alongside immediate assistance from manufacturers and high-income countries. Biden pledged this week to donate 10 percent of U.S. supply to nations in need, but the administration has not laid out how it will prioritize populations for assistance.

“What I would like to see, but I don't have control [over], is much sooner rather than later to actually get doses over there,” Fauci said.

Fauci’s comments come amid ongoing tensions inside the Biden administration on whether the U.S. should be sending doses to the rest of the world when a large portion of American adults still have not received the shot — though not for lack of supply.

The Biden administration has committed to sending essential Covid-19 assistance, such as raw materials and components for vaccines, therapeutics and personal protective equipment to India. It has also pledged to send 60 million AstraZeneca doses overseas, though the State Department is still working on a system for evaluating multiple different bids from countries across the globe. President Biden recently told reporters he intends to send at least some of the vaccine to India.

Still, the U.S. trails well behind competing nations like China and Russia in the vaccine diplomacy race, inviting criticism from global health groups that contend the administration has not moved fast enough to help combat the pandemic overseas.

And despite Biden's vow earlier this week to make the U.S. an "arsenal for fighting Covid-19" worldwide, his administration has yet to settle on how quickly to distribute doses and which countries to prioritize.

Fauci alluded to that debate during the interview, chalking it up to differences among officials about how large the U.S. stockpile must be before the U.S. can give away portions without endangering the response at home. The administration will begin sending more doses to countries in need when the U.S. “interrupts the train of transmission,” he said.

Still, he stressed the need for the U.S. to assert itself in the coming months as a major contributor to the global Covid effort.

“Having been through a horrible situation, with close to 600,000 people in this country having died, we want to feel really comfortable that we have absolutely interrupted the chain of transmission before we do anything else,” Fauci said. “You can ramp up production, by investing resources into the companies that are already doing it. And you can do it in a way to say ramp it up, but it's going to be for the developing world in addition to us.”

Biden team says it supports waiving patent protections on Covid-19 vaccines

The United States said on Wednesday that it backs waiving valuable patent and other intellectual property protections for Covid-19 vaccines to help expand production of the life-saving shots worldwide.

“This is a global health crisis, and the extraordinary circumstances of the Covid-19 pandemic call for extraordinary measures,” U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai said in a statement announcing the move.

The decision is a partial victory for progressive Democrats who have pushed President Joe Biden to endorse India and South Africa's call for a broad waiver of all intellectual property protections for Covid-19 vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics.

The U.S. will have to engage in detailed negotiations on the scope of the waiver at the World Trade Organization, whose 164 members have to unanimously agree to such a change. But the shift in the U.S.' position will likely be seen as a major step to aiding global efforts to fight the pandemic.

“The administration believes strongly in intellectual property protections, but in service of ending this pandemic, supports the waiver of those protections for Covid-19 vaccines," Tai said.

Tai's statement mentioned waiving only intellectual property protections for vaccines — one early sign that any waiver approved by the WTO could be narrower than what India and South Africa proposed eight months ago.

Pharmaceutical companies including Moderna and Pfizer have strongly opposed such a move, saying it would undermine incentives to develop drugs to fight future pandemics and other diseases. They also argue the main impediments to the rapid expansion of vaccine production are logistical, including various export barriers that countries have imposed.

Shortly before the announcement, Biden’s chief medical adviser Anthony Fauci said in an interview that the U.S. has a “moral obligation” to share coronavirus vaccines and supplies worldwide to end the pandemic.

Fauci, the federal government's longtime infectious disease official told POLITICO that he backs waiving pharmaceutical giants’ vaccine patents so that other countries can produce generic versions of the shots. But he cautioned that doing so would not be a quick fix for the current crisis, including surging cases and deaths in India.

Tai said that the administration will participate in global negotiations on the language to implement the waiver. "Those negotiations will take time given the consensus-based nature of the institution and the complexity of the issues involved," she added.

Until now, the United States and the European Union have opposed even beginning talks on details of how the waiver would work, or how long it would last.

But earlier on Wednesday, World Trade Organization Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala said it was time for countries to sit down and thrash out the issue. Her comments came during the first of two days of a WTO General Council meeting, the organization's main decision-making body.

“I am firmly convinced that once we can sit down with an actual text in front of us, we shall find a pragmatic way forward, acceptable to all sides that allow the kinds of answers that our developing country members are looking at with respect to vaccines, whilst at the same time looking at research and innovation and how to protect them,” she said.

Tai said the Biden administration’s aim is to get as many safe and effective vaccines to as many people as fast as possible.

"As our vaccine supply for the American people is secured, the administration will continue to ramp up its efforts — working with the private sector and all possible partners — to expand vaccine manufacturing and distribution. It will also work to increase the raw materials needed to produce those vaccines," she said.

Sarah Owermohle, Erin Banco and Adam Cancryn contributed to this report.

Duckworth urges Biden to demand Turkey curb attacks on Syrian Kurds

Sen. Tammy Duckworth, an Iraq War veteran and Illinois Democrat, on Wednesday urged President Joe Biden to increase pressure on Turkey to curb its “malign activities” on the Kurdish population in Syria.

The letter turns the heat up on Biden to take a stronger line on Ankara, even as the U.S.-Turkey relationship sours further over the president's decision to recognize the 1915 Armenian massacres as genocide. While former President Donald Trump developed a cozy relationship with his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Biden administration has stepped up pressure on Ankara over human rights and buying Russian weapons.

In a May 5 letter, Duckworth urged Biden to do more to support the Syrian Kurds, who she says "stood shoulder-to-shoulder" with the U.S. military in the fight against the Islamic State.

Duckworth condemned Trump for "emboldening" Turkey to invade the Kurdish-held region of northeastern Syria in a devastating October 2019 operation, a move that she said created a humanitarian crisis that endangered tens of thousands of civilians, risked the release of ISIS prisoners and "severely damaged our international credibility."

"America is back, and diplomacy is once again at the center of our foreign policy," Duckworth wrote in the letter, which POLITICO obtained exclusively. "We must restore trust and confidence in our allies and partners to achieve our national objectives."

Specifically, Duckworth urged Biden to demand Ankara curb its ongoing malign activities against Kurdish populations and "fulfill its obligation as a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to settle international disputes peacefully."

Since the October 2019 operation, Turkey and its proxy fighters have occupied the area of northeastern Syria that once belonged to the Kurds, terrorizing the local population. In a deal reached later that month, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkey's Erdogan agreed to jointly patrol parts of the area.

Turkey has continued attacking members of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which Ankara considers terrorists, in Iraq as well. The Syrian Kurds officially say they have no affiliation with the PKK, which the United States has also labeled a terrorist organization, but many top Syrian Kurdish officials have ties to the group.

In the letter, Duckworth also urged Biden to direct foreign aid and humanitarian assistance to help the Syrian Kurds rebuild critical infrastructure devastated by the Islamic State and combat the spread of Covid-19.

Duckworth, who lost both of her legs after her UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter was hit by Iraqi insurgents in 2004, also asked the president to publicly acknowledge the sacrifice of Kurdish forces in fighting violent extremist organizations; provide special immigrant visas to Kurds who helped fight ISIS; and "expeditiously" review citizenship applications for Kurdish Green Card holders who assisted the U.S. military since the Gulf War, which were stalled during the Trump administration.

The senator, who was on the shortlist to be Biden's running mate during the 2020 campaign, noted that she was "encouraged" by the president's recent conversation with permanent representatives to the UN Security Council, in which he expressed the urgent need to take action on Syria.

"An opportunity exists to mend relationships, rally the international community and restore our foreign policy credibility," Duckworth said.

House GOP leaders tap a Republican woman to kickstart Cheney's eviction

House Republicans have settled on the member who will introduce the formal resolution removing Liz Cheney from leadership: Rep. Virginia Foxx of North Carolina.

Foxx, a veteran GOP lawmaker, spoke out against Cheney during February’s closed-door meeting on the Wyoming Republican's future, according to multiple party sources. Ahead of this year's failed first attempt to oust Cheney from leadership, Foxx specifically took issue with the fact that Cheney used her “conference chair” title in the press release announcing her vote to impeach then-President Donald Trump.

And Foxx, the top Republican on the House Education and Labor Committee, is notably facing a far-right primary challenger who is accusing her of staying in office too long and being part of the capital's "swamp." Her leading role in Cheney's now-inevitable leadership eviction could help her in that fight.

The plan to tap Foxx for the resolution was hatched in recent days. GOP leaders made a calculation that if the effort to remove Cheney from leadership was led by ultra-conservative members of the House Freedom Caucus, their involvement could turn off other more moderate members. Instead, they wanted a Republican to lead the anti-Cheney charge who is both less polarizing and a woman, easing some of the political awkwardness associated with removing the highest-ranking GOP woman in Congress from her role as conference chair.

House Republicans will gather next Wednesday for their weekly meeting, where the Foxx resolution is expected to be introduced. Under that scenario, only a simple majority would be needed to remove Cheney from her No. 3 position in leadership. And this time around, Cheney’s critics are expected to succeed.

In rapid succession, the plan to remove and replace Cheney is falling into place. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy began orchestrating a campaign on Tuesday to oust the Wyoming Republican from leadership, working behind the scenes to line up support for a successor, Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.).

Stefanik, a moderate turned pro-Trump ally, was also actively reaching out to members this week to help garner support if the No. 3 role became open. By Wednesday morning, Trump came out and officially endorsed Stefanik.

But Cheney isn’t fighting to keep her job: She has been telling people that if holding onto her leadership role requires having to lie or stay quiet, she doesn’t believe that’s a price worth paying, according to a source familiar with her thinking.