President Joe Biden said Thursday he has “no regrets” that he didn’t reveal the discovery of classified documents when they were found at his former personal office – shortly before the November election. The White House didn’t disclose the discovery until last week, after CBS News learned of the matter.
Also Thursday, the United States hit its borrowing limit and started taking “extraordinary measures” on Thursday to avoid defaulting on what it owes, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen told Congress.
And the Supreme Court said it still doesn’t know who leaked a draft opinion last year in the case that overturned Roe v. Wade — but there are some potential steps to take to prevent future leaks.
Here’s what’s happening in the political world right now:
- Key questions remain on Biden’s handling of classified documents
- It’s official: the U.S. has hit debt ceiling
- SCOTUS still doesn’t know who leaked that abortion draft opinion
- Abortion marches set for this weekend across the country
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President Joe Biden on Thursday downplayed the uproar over the classified documents found in his home and former office, telling reporters, “There’s no there there.”
Responding to a question after touring parts of storm-battered California, Biden also said he has “no regrets” about not revealing sooner the discovery of the documents.
“We found a handful of documents that were filed in the wrong place. We immediately turned them over to the Archives and the Justice Department,” Biden said. “We’re fully cooperating and looking forward to getting this resolved quickly. I think you’re going to find there’s nothing there.”
His comments were the third time he’s tried to brush off the revelations, all in response to reporters’ questions.
‘Fairness and double standards’:How Biden’s classified documents debacle could become a political, legal liability
The White House has been heavily criticized for how long it took to tell the public about the documents, which date to Biden’s time as vice president.
The first batch was found Nov. 2 in his former office at the Penn Biden Center in Washington. More were discovered Dec. 20 inside the garage in Biden’s home in Wilmington, Delaware.
The White House didn’t disclose the discovery until last week after CBS reported on the first set of documents.
Biden said he has been “following what the lawyers have told me they want me to do.”
“That’s exactly what we’re doing,” he said. “There’s no there there.”
Attorney General Merrick Garland last week appointed a special counsel, Robert Hur, to investigate.
— Maureen Groppe
Learn more about why this matters:5 key questions we still don’t know about Biden documents
The Supreme Court said Thursday that a monthslong investigation into the unprecedented leak of a draft opinion in its abortion case last year has failed to identify who is responsible for the “grave assault on the judicial process.”
The Supreme Court marshal, who led the investigation, reviewed forensic evidence and interviewed nearly 100 court employees, the statement said. Investigators recommended fewer employees be permitted access to documents and that the court update its security policies.
“But the team has to date been unable to identify a person responsible by a preponderance of the evidence,” the court’s statement said.
Read the whole story here:Supreme Court says investigators have been unable to identify leaker of draft abortion opinion
Democrats are slamming Republicans Thursday over a proposed 30% national sales tax.
New House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., as part of a deal to win the tightly contested speaker’s vote this month, has promised a floor vote for a plan to abolish the Internal Revenue Service and establish a 30% national sales tax, replacing income, payroll, estate and corporate taxes.
But even if the Republican-run House approves the sales tax, the Democratic-run Senate will shoot it down.
“Hold on: House Republicans want a national 30% sales tax on everything from groceries to gasoline?” tweeted Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass. “They want to raise taxes on working-class & middle-class families while slashing them for millionaires & billionaires?”
Rep. Buddy Carter, R-Ga., who proposed the sales tax bill, says it includes a “prebate” that he described as “an advance tax refund to every legal American family up to the national poverty level at the beginning of every month.”
The plan “would capture tax revenue from anyone spending money in the United States,” Carter wrote in The Washington Examiner.
– David Jackson
Your money and politics:What happens if the US hits the debt ceiling? Here’s what to expect if we reach debt limit.
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen informed Congress Thursday that the department has started taking “extraordinary measures” after the country reached its borrowing limit.
“I respectfully urge Congress to act promptly to protect the full faith and credit of the United States,” she said.
U.S. hits credit limit:Amid fears of debt default, Treasury begins ‘extraordinary’ measures
The House Oversight Committee, chaired by Kentucky Republican Rep. James Comer, will hold a hearing Feb. 6 to investigate President Joe Biden’s immigration policies.
“President Biden’s radical open borders agenda has ignited the worst border crisis in American history,” Comer said in a statement Thursday.
U.S. border patrol agents will provide testimony on securing the border.
“Republicans will hold the Biden administration accountable for this ongoing humanitarian, national security, and public health crisis that has turned every town into a border town,” Comer said.
— Rachel Looker
First trip to border:Biden faces pleas for help on migrant crisis as he visits El Paso
A slew of marches are planned this week tied to the 50th anniversary of Roe. v. Wade, the U.S. Supreme Court decision guaranteeing a federal right to abortion that the court overturned last year. Advocates on both sides of the abortion debate say they are focused on state courts now, and, in particular, the election of state supreme court justices.
Organizers of the National Women’s March are planning to hold their flagship event Sunday in Wisconsin – home to what has become a closely watched race for a seat on that state’s top court. The state court’s current 4-3 conservative majority is in play at a time when state courts are considering a challenge to the state’s abortion ban.
New legal strategies:Post-Roe abortion battle draws attention to state judicial elections
“The political landscape has so fundamentally changed,” said Rachel O’Leary Carmona, executive director of the Women’s March, who noted that there is still a lawsuit pending in Wisconsin over the state’s 1849 ban on abortion. “Writ large, the Wisconsin ban will be decided by the Supreme Court, which will be decided by the people of Wisconsin.”
Groups that oppose abortion are marching on Friday in Washington, D.C. Those groups are also paying close attention to state judicial elections, advocates told USA TODAY.
— John Fritze
A Republican congressman from Florida remains in intensive care recovering from a 25-foot fall. Rep. Greg Steube was trimming tree limbs when he fell off a ladder Wednesday. Our colleagues at the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, a member of the USA TODAY Network, have the latest:
Steube was admitted to a hospital intensive care unit after a bystander witnessed the incident and called 911. He was still in the ICU Thursday morning, according to his office.
“He is making progress and in good spirits,” Steube’s office said in a statement Thursday.
— Donovan Slack
Ben Savage, the 42-year-old actor from Boy Meets World fame, is running for Congress, seeking to win California’s 30th District seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. He would replace Rep. Adam Schiff, a Democrat from Burbank.
Savage is a registered Democrat. He filed Federal Election Commission paperwork on Wednesday, according to Deadline.
Schiff is expected to run for Senate to replace Sen. Dianne Feinstein. Feinstein has not said if she will run for reelection.
Savage is the brother of The Wonder Years actor and director Fred Savage.
— Holly Rosenkrantz
Vice President Kamala Harris will address the ongoing fight over abortion in a trip to Florida Sunday to mark the 50th anniversary of Roe v. Wade.
The state is one of many where Republicans are making changes in abortion laws after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the landmark case this past June. Harris has sought to make reproductive rights a key issue in her political portfolio, and the trip is meant to highlight that abortion access remains a priority for the Biden administration.
Harris’s trip is also shining a spotlight on the home turf of Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, a potential 2024 presidential candidate. Democrats want to emphasize their position on protecting abortion access in the states, as they believe it is an issue that is popular with voters.
— Associated Press
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy should call on New York Rep. George Santos to resign, New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu told USA TODAY.
“Yes. Absolutely,” Sununu said in an interview Wednesday. “I can’t wait to see what’s on his resume next week. I mean, the guy is just a joke, at this point.”
He said Santos, who admitted to fabricating parts of his resume but refuses to step down, cannot be an effective congressman. “How are you going to be effective on committees,” Sununu said. “There’s no trust there with that individual.”
He said Republicans have to “move on” from the scandal, but at this point, he added, “I don’t know what they can do about it.”
Republicans hold a majority in the House by only a four-seat margin, and the prospect of cutting that thinner is not something McCarthy is likely to embrace. “He could call for him to resign, but I don’t know what he gets out of that,” Sununu said. “But I would, yeah.”
— Francesca Chambers
Why this is happening:Are California’s storms normal, or is climate change making them worse?
The White House still has not answered key questions about classified documents found at the home and former personal office of President Joe Biden more than a week after announcing the first discovery of classified material.
- Why didn’t the White House immediately disclose the existence of the documents when they were found?
- Have all the documents been located?
- How many documents have been discovered?
- What do the documents contain?
- Why were the documents taken to Biden’s personal office and residence?
Revelations about his retention of the documents have turned into a White House crisis, blunting the president’s momentum from the midterm elections and handing Republicans new lines of attack.
Complicating matters has been the inability – or unwillingness – of the White House to provide more answers. Administration officials have said they don’t want to interfere with the Justice Department’s investigation of what happened.
— Joey Garrison
Read the whole story here:5 key questions we still don’t know about Biden’s documents
Biden to assess California flooding and storm damage
President Joe Biden will get a first-hand look Thursday at the damage caused by storms, floods and landslides in California.
Biden will visit Santa Clara and Santa Cruz counties, which were among the hardest hit areas. Most counties had at least some damage from the staggering amount of rain and snow California received in recent weeks.
Accompanied by FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell, Biden will meet with California Gov. Gavin Newsom and other elected officials.
“He has remained in close touch with the governor and also local officials on the ground,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Wednesday.
— Maureen Groppe
Anti-abortion advocates are descending on Washington, D.C., for their annual march Friday even though they achieved a long-time goal just last year: a Supreme Court ruling striking down Roe v. Wade.
Organizers of the “March for Life” say they now have political goals rather than legal ones, and while marchers in past years have wound up in front of the Supreme Court building, this year’s end-point is closer to the U.S. Capitol, where Congress presides. They want to build support for anti-abortion legislation in Congress and state legislatures across the country.
There is “a brand new pro-life movement” in the wake of the ruling overturning Roe, said Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America. “This is week one.”
Abortion rights supporters are also heading to the nation’s capital this weekend to mark the 50th anniversary of the now-reversed Roe v. Wade ruling.
— David Jackson