- The U.S. Capitol Police Department’s Union head has urged Congress to enhance security measures and hire more officers following another attack on the Capitol, just three months after the Jan. 6 insurrection.
- On Friday, a driver slammed two USCP officers into a barricade, killing one and injuring the other before exiting the vehicle with a knife and lunging at different officers who fatally shot him.
- The union’s chairman said Saturday that the department is 233 officers below its authorized level and warned that hundreds more are considering early retirement or finding new jobs following the two attacks.
- The latest assault on the Capitol comes amid a growing battle over the level of security at the complex between Democrats, who support enhanced measures, and Republicans, who believe the precautions are excessive.
Capitol Police Union Calls for More Security
The head of the U.S. Capitol Police union asked Congress for heightened security following an attack at the Capitol complex that left one officer dead and another injured when a driver slammed them into a barricade on Friday.
Acting Capitol Police Chief Yogananda Pittman said the suspect was shot and killed after emerging from the car with a knife and “lunging” at officers. Investigators currently do not know the motive for the attack, but Washington Metropolitan Police Department Chief Robert Contee III said they no do not believe it was “terrorism-related.”
In a statement Saturday, union Chairman Gus Papathanasiou said USCP officers are “reeling” after the latest attack and the death of their colleague, Officer William Evans.
“We have now lost two officers in the line of duty this year,” he said, in reference to Officer Brian Sicknick, who died from injuries he sustained during the Jan. 6 insurrection. “Another officer has taken his own life and we have 80 officers who were seriously injured in the insurrection. Some of those injured officers may never return to duty.”
In addition to the injured officers, Papathanasiou also said that the agency is “struggling to meet existing mission requirements” and urged lawmakers to hire hundreds of new officers. He claimed the agency is currently 233 officers below its authorized level of more than 2,000. He also warned that hundreds more are considering early retirement or finding new jobs following the two attacks that took place just three months apart.
Papathanasiou said Congress should implement the recommendations made in a report by a task force headed by retired Army Lt. General Russel Honoré following the Jan. 6 attack.
That report, which was published last month, found that Capitol Police “were understaffed, insufficiently equipped and inadequately trained to secure the Capitol and Members.” Among other measures, the task force said the USCP should fill all open positions and add around 800 more officers.
Ongoing Battle Over Security Concerns
Both the attack and the call for increased security come after Republican members of Congress criticized the enhanced precautions taken after the insurrection. In fact, they previously called for the measures to be scaled back, citing the decreased threat of violence.
Last month, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) complained last month that the fencing and armed soldiers were “overdone.”
Despite the latest attack, many Republican leaders still appear to oppose increased police presence. During an interview on ABC’s “This Week” Sunday night, Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) said that when considering additional police funding, Congress needs to think about “how we’re gathering intelligence as it relates to the Capitol and what we’re doing to recruit and what we’re doing to train.”
“That’s maybe even more important than the size of the force,” he added, arguing that the focus should be on “how we secure the Capitol but, at the same time, make it as secure as it needs to be but as free as we could possibly make it.”
Democrats have condemned their colleagues, accusing them of failing to listen to the demands of the people who protect them, and arguing that the latest attack further proves the need for enhanced security measures at the Capitol complex.
“This rips the scab off and continues to provide a level of uncertainty and worry about the workplace and what’s happening there,” Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Oh.), who chairs a subcommittee that oversees USCP funding, told reporters following the attack. “I think this is very personal for so many of us who have come to really love and respect the Capitol Police even more than we already had, because of what they did on Jan. 6, and then immediately turning it around to make sure that the inauguration was safe.”
See what others are saying: (The Associated Press) (NBC News) (CNN)
NY Attorney General Says Investigation of Trump Business Found “Significant Evidence” of Fraud
The state attorney general’s office accused the former president and his family business of falsely inflating the value of assets and personal worth to lenders, the IRS, and insurance brokers.
New York Attorney General’s Filing
New York Attorney General Letitia James announced late Tuesday she had “significant evidence” that former President Donald Trump and the Trump Organization “falsely and fraudulently” misrepresented the value of assets “to financial institutions for economic benefit.”
The allegations mark the first time James has made specific accusations against Trump and his business. They come as part of a nearly 160-page filing asking a judge to order the former president — along with Ivanka Trump and Donald Trump Jr. — to comply with subpoenas for the investigation after the family sued James to block her from questioning them.
The filing claims that Trump and the company inflated the value of six properties, including several golf courses and Trump’s own penthouse in Trump Tower, on financial statements to obtain favorable loans, tax deductions, and insurance coverage.
The document adds that many of the financial statements were “generally inflated as part of a pattern to suggest that Mr. Trump’s net worth was higher than it otherwise would have appeared.”
James outlined several specific examples, such as a financial statement where the value of Trump’s Seven Springs estate in Westchester was boosted because it listed seven mansions on the property worth $61 million that did not actually exist.
That resulted in Trump receiving millions of dollars in tax deductions on that property, as well as another in Los Angeles.
In another notable instance, the attorney general’s office said that the $327 million value of Trump’s penthouse in Trump Tower was calculated off a financial statement that falsely reported his home was nearly triple its actual size.
While the statement claimed the apartment was 30,000 square feet, Trump had signed documents stating it was actually 10,996 square feet.
Alleged Direct Involvement
The allegation regarding the apartment is especially significant because it directly ties Trump himself to the accusations of financial wrongdoing. It is also not the only instance where Trump was implicated.
The filing additionally asserts that Trump Organization chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg — who was indicted last summer on multiple criminal charges relating to the business’ tax dealings — implied the former president was involved in finalizing the false valuations.
According to the documents, Weisselberg “testified that it was ‘certainly possible’ Mr. Trump discussed valuations with him and that it was ‘certainly possible’ Mr. Trump reviewed the Statement of Financial Condition for a particular year before it was finalized.”
Another top Trump Organization executive also testified that he was under the impression Trump reviewed the statements before they were finalized.
While the filing provides less direct links to Trump’s children, it does detail their involvement. Specifically, it alleges that Ivanka Trump rented an apartment at Trump Park Avenue and was given an option to buy it for $8.5 million, despite the fact that the property was valued at $25 million.
It also connected Donald Trump Jr. to some of the properties flagged by claiming investigators found evidence he “was consulted” on the Statements of Financial Condition.
Citing these connections, James argued in a series of tweets Tuesday that it is necessary for her inquiry to question Trump and his two children on their alleged involvement.
“We are taking legal action to force Donald Trump, Donald Trump, Jr., and Ivanka Trump to comply with our investigation into the Trump Organization’s financial dealings,” she wrote. “No one in this country can pick and choose if and how the law applies to them.”
The former president has not yet addressed the matter, but a Trump Organization attorney representing Donald Trump Jr. and Ivanka Trump responded by arguing the subpoenas violate the constitutional rights of the family and that the filing “never addresses the fundamental contentions of our motion to quash or stay the subpoenas.”
In a statement Wednesday, the Trump Organization denied James’ allegations as “baseless” and accused her of trying to “mislead the public yet again.”
As far as what happens next, James’ office has said it “has not yet reached a final decision regarding whether this evidence merits legal action.”
Because James’s investigation is civil, she can sue Trump, his company, and his children, but she cannot file criminal charges. However, her probe is running parallel to a criminal investigation into the same conduct led by the Manhattan district attorney, who does have that power.
See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (The New York Times) (The Wall Street Journal)
Judges Uphold North Carolina’s Congressional Map in Major GOP Win
The judges agreed that the congressional map was “a result of intentional, pro-Republican partisan redistricting” but said they did not have the power to intervene in legislative matters.
New Maps Upheld
A three-judge panel in North Carolina upheld the state’s new congressional and legislative maps on Tuesday, deciding it did not have the power to respond to arguments that Republicans had illegally gerrymandered it to benefit them.
Voting rights groups and Democrats sued over the new maps, which were drawn by the state’s Republican legislature following the 2020 census.
The maps left Democrats with just three of North Carolina’s 14 congressional seats in a battleground state that is more evenly split between Republicans and Democrats. Previously, Democrats held five of the 13 districts the state had before the last census, during which North Carolina was allocated an additional seat.
The challengers argued that the blatantly partisan maps had been drawn in a way that went against longstanding rules, violated the state’s Constitution, and intentionally disenfranchised Black voters.
In their unanimous ruling, the panel — composed of one Democrat and two Republicans — agreed that both the legislative and congressional maps were “a result of intentional, pro-Republican partisan redistricting.”
The judges added that they had “disdain for having to deal with issues that potentially lead to results incompatible with democratic principles and subject our state to ridicule.”
Despite their beliefs, the panel said they did not have a legal basis for intervening in political matters and constraining the legislature. They additionally ruled that the challengers did not prove their claims that the maps were discriminatory based on race.
Notably, the judges also stated that partisan gerrymandering does not actually violate the state’s Constitution.
The Path Ahead
While the decision marks a setback to the plaintiffs, the groups have already said they will appeal the decision to the North Carolina Supreme Court.
The state’s highest court has a slim Democratic majority and has already signaled they may be open to tossing the map.
There are also past precedents for voting maps to be thrown out in North Carolina. The state has an extensive history of legal battles over gerrymandering, and Republican leaders have been forced to redraw maps twice in recent years.
A forthcoming decision is highly anticipated, as North Carolina’s congressional map could play a major role in the control of the House in the 2022 midterm elections if they are as close as expected.
See what others are saying: (Politico) (The New York Times) (The Wall Street Journal)
Biden Administration Says Private Insurers Will Have to Cover 8 At-Home Tests a Month
The policy will apply to all the nearly 150 million Americans who have private insurance.
New At-Home Testing Policy
The Biden administration announced Monday that private health insurers will now be required to pay for up to eight at-home rapid tests per plan member each month.
Under the new policy, starting Saturday, private insurance holders will be able to purchase any at-home test approved by the FDA at a pharmacy or online. They will either not be asked to pay any upfront costs or be reimbursed for their purchase through their provider.
The move is expected to significantly expand access to rapid tests that other countries have been distributing to their citizens free of charge for months.
According to reports, nearly 150 million Americans — about 45% of the population — have private insurance.
Each dependent enrolled on the primary insurance holder’s account is counted as a member. That means a family of four enrolled on a single plan would be eligible for 32 free at-home rapid tests a month.
All tests may not be fully covered depending on where they are purchased.
In order to help offset costs, the Biden administration is incentivizing insurance providers to establish a network of “preferred” pharmacies and stores where people in the plan can get tests without paying out of pocket.
As a result, health plans that do create those networks will only be required to reimburse up to $12 per test if they are purchased out of that network, meaning people could be on the hook for the rest of the cost.
If an insurer does not set up a preferred network, they will have to cover all at-home tests in full regardless of the place of purchase.
During a briefing Monday, Press Secretary Jen Psaki said tests should be “out the door in the coming weeks.”
“The contracts [for testing companies] are structured in a way to require that significant amounts are delivered on an aggressive timeline, the first of which should be arriving early next week,” she added.