Good morning! Welcome back to 10 Things in Politics. Sign up here to get this newsletter in your inbox each day. Send your tips and suggestions to email@example.com or tweet me @BrentGriffiths.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. A TRUMP DEFENDER FACES A POTENTIAL SCANDAL: Rep. Matt Gaetz may now have the scandal he once jokingly craved. While former Trump White House officials and other Republicans are gossiping about their fellow Republican’s misfortune.
- Key quote: “Good riddance,” a former Trump White House aide told Insider. “It sounds like he let whatever BS power he thought he had go to his head and he thought himself above the law.”
- Messages are flying across Washington: One former senior Trump White House aide was on multiple text chains with former colleagues gossiping about the deluge of news.
- Read the rest of the details in our exclusive report.
What’s happening: The Justice Department is investigating whether Gaetz violated federal sex trafficking laws, The New York Times reports. At issue is whether the Florida congressman had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old and paid for her to travel with him.
Gaetz has denied any wrongdoing. But an interview defending himself raised eyebrows, including the host’s: Fox News’ Tucker Carlson called Gaetz’s appearance “one of the weirdest interviews I’ve ever conducted.”
It gets stranger: Gaetz further alleges the allegations are part of a $25 million extortion plot by a former DOJ official. The lawmaker even claims his father recently wore a wire as part of an FBI investigation into that plot.
- Worth noting: Part of his denial that is worth scrutiny is his claim that he was targeted for being “an outspoken conservative.” According to the Times, the sex trafficking investigation was started under the Trump administration i.e. while Bill Barr was still Attorney General.
The kicker: Before the Times story broke, Axios reported that Gaetz was eyeing leaving Congress to take a job at Newsmax, a conservative TV station.
2. The details on Biden’s $2.25 infrastructure plan: The first part of Biden’s plan calls for $650 billion in road, bridges, and waterways; $400 billion in clean-energy credits; and $300 billion for housing infrastructure, The Washington Post reports. Tax hikes will help cover the cost with officials eyeing higher taxes on wealthy Americans and corporations. Here’s what else is in it.
3. A 9-year-old testified about watching George Floyd die: “They asked him nicely to get off of him,” the girl testified, one of four witnesses who were all minors when Floyd died. “He still stayed on him.” Her comments punctuated another emotional day in the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former police officer charged with murdering Floyd last May.
Here’s what else we learned on day 2: An off-duty firefighter and EMT, Genevieve Hansen, also saw Floyd’s death. She said noticed something was wrong and wanted to help but wasn’t allowed to do so.
- Chauvin’s defense tried to paint Hansen as emotional: An attorney pointed out that she later swore at Chauvin. Hansen responded, “I don’t know if you’ve seen anyone be killed, but it’s upsetting.”
4. Grover Norquist is making a return to GOP politics: The conservative firebrand Grover Norquist is returning just as Democrats plan big spending, even as Norquist’s detractors point out that his longtime assault on federal spending was ignored in the Trump-era even before the pandemic. More in Insider’s profile on the man who created the taxpayer pledge.
5. The first look inside a massively overcrowded facility near the border: “For the first time on Tuesday, US Customs and Border Protection allowed two journalists … to tour the Donna, Texas, facility in the Rio Grande Valley.” The facility has a capacity of 250 but is currently housing more than 4,100 people.
- What conditions are like: “The children were being housed by the hundreds in eight pods about 3,200 square feet (297 square meters) in size. Many of the pods had more than 500 children in them,” reported the Associated Press, one of the two outlets allowed in.
6. Republicans are readying the next big pandemic fight over vaccine passports: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a possible 2024 presidential hopeful, said he would take executive action to ban them. Some venues, sports teams, and even universities are either eyeing or already requiring proof of COVID-19 vaccination.
7. The top things for your calendar, all times Eastern:
- 10:00 a.m.: The Supreme Court hears oral arguments on a case about the compensation of college athletes
- 10:00 a.m.: Chauvin’s trial resumes
- 11:00 a.m.: Dr. Anthony Fauci and other members of the White House’s pandemic team hold a news conference
- 4:20 p.m.: Biden visits Pittsburgh to discuss his infrastructure plan
8. New York is one step closer to recreational marijuana: “The New York State Senate and Assembly passed a bill legalizing marijuana for those over 21 years of age.” Gov. Andrew Cuomo has pledged to sign it into law. But a new law would most likely not take effect until next year.
9. The minimum wage would be $44 an hour if it had grown at the same rate as Wall Street bonuses: Last year, Wall Street firms paid their New York City-based traders an average bonus of $184,000, a 10% increase from 2019. That increase is right in line with the past 30 years of bonus growth: Since 1985, Wall Street traders’ bonuses have grown 1,217%, according to New York’s comptroller Thomas DiNapoli.
If the minimum wage had grown at the same rate, it would be $44.12 an hour: After having the $15 minimum wage struck from the last stimulus bill, Biden has been feeling renewed pressure from the left to raise federal wages. Here are some Democrats’ proposals for raising national pay.
10. Nike sues over the devil in a custom shoe’s details: The sportswear giant is suing MSCHF, a company behind a number of previous viral products, over its “Satan Shoe” collaboration with rapper Lil Nas X. The company used Nike’s Air Max 97 shoe for inspiration for its sold-out devil-themed design, which added a drop of human blood to the midsole. Here’s the 411 on the 666 sneakers.
One last thing.
Today’s trivia question: What state was awarded the first contract under Eisenhower’s Federal Highway Act of 1956, the law that pushed the US Interstate system to reality? Email your guess and a suggested question to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.