Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: January 6, 2022

Garland vows to hold Jan. 6 perpetrators at all levels accountable, the CDC approves Pfizer boosters for children ages 12 to 15, and more

1

Garland vows to 'hold all Jan. 6 perpetrators' accountable

Attorney General Merrick Garland promised Wednesday to "hold all Jan. 6 perpetrators, at any level, accountable" for last year's attack on the Capitol by a mob of former President Donald Trump's supporters. "We will follow the facts wherever they lead," Garland said in a speech to Justice Department employees. The comments came the day before the first anniversary of the deadly attack by rioters aiming to prevent Congress from certifying Trump's loss to President Biden in the 2020 election. More than 700 people have been arrested for participating in the insurrection. The FBI is still looking for another 350 suspects, including 250 people accused of assaulting police officers. On Thursday, President Biden will go to the Capitol to commemorate the one-year anniversary of the attack.

2

CDC backs Pfizer boosters for adolescents

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Wednesday endorsed giving the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus booster to children ages 12 to 15, five months after their initial two-dose series of shots. "It is critical that we protect our children and teens from COVID-19 infection and the complications of severe disease," CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said in a statement. "This booster dose will provide optimized protection against COVID-19 and the Omicron variant." Walensky's approval came hours after CDC advisers voted 13-1 to recommend the change, and strengthened the recommendation for 16- and 17-year-olds to get the booster. Health officials had previously recommended that people get the Pfizer booster six months after their second dose, but cut the wait to five months to expand protection against the fast-spreading Omicron variant.

3

Fire in Philadelphia rowhouse kills at least 12, including 8 children

A fire ripped through a crowded rowhouse in Philadelphia's Fairmont district on Wednesday, killing at least 12 people, including eight children. "This is without a doubt one of the most tragic days in our city's history," Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney said. Eight people managed to escape the flames. Firefighters said that when they arrived they saw flames were shooting up from the second floor of the three-story, 2,300-square-foot house, which was operated by the Philadelphia Housing Authority. Witnesses said screams from the building woke them up. Firefighters managed to control the blaze within 50 minutes. Investigators said smoke detectors in the building failed.

4

Fed minutes show support for faster rate hikes to fight inflation

Federal Reserve officials last month discussed speeding up their timetable for raising interest rates, with the first hike coming as soon as March, according to minutes of Fed policymakers' Dec. 14-15 meeting that were released Wednesday. The minutes indicated that Fed leaders believed that the quicker pace could be justified to fight high inflation occurring at the same time as a tight labor market. Some officials at the central bank also supported cutting the Fed's $8.76 trillion portfolio of bonds and other assets after the interest rate increases start. Fed officials said in projections released after the meeting that they expected three quarter-percent rate increases in 2022. During much of 2021, Fed officials said rising inflation was mostly due to supply-chain disruptions, but the persistence of high inflation has increased pressure on the Fed to move faster.

5

Capitol Police chief vows to fix problems exposed by Jan. 6 attack

J. Thomas Manger, the chief of the U.S. Capitol Police, told lawmakers on the eve of the anniversary of the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on Congress that his department was taking steps to fix security shortcomings exposed by the insurrection. Manger vowed to implement more than 100 recommendations to address the issues. "We fully understand the need to restore confidence in our ability to fulfill our mission each day, no matter the circumstances," Manger said in written testimony to the Senate Rules Committee. The panel last month received a critique on the Capitol Police from the agency's inspector general, Michael A. Bolton, who made 103 recommendations, including upgrading riot gear and other equipment, and streamlining intelligence operations.

6

White House says fresh COVID stimulus under discussion

The White House said Wednesday that it is continuing to talk with members of Congress and others about the possibility of another round of stimulus funding to address fallout from the latest coronavirus surge. Recent economic data indicates that the economy is doing well, with private payrolls increasing, holiday sales strong, and supply chain bottlenecks easing. But economists warn that spiking COVID-19 cases, driven by the fast-spreading Omicron variant, have started to dent economic activity. Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) told CNN a bipartisan group is looking into whether Congress can provide aid to restaurants and other industries expected to be hit hard by the latest COVID-19 wave, although no formal deal has been proposed.

7

Kazakhstan protests turn deadly as Russia-led troops arrive to back government

Protesters stormed Kazakhstan's largest airport on Wednesday as anti-government demonstrations that began last weekend over higher fuel prices intensified. Protesters also set fire to the president's residence and several other government buildings. Kazakhstan's interior ministry said eight law enforcement officers and national guard members have been killed in the unrest, and more than 300 injured. A police spokesperson said dozens of protesters were killed. "Peacekeepers" from a Russia-led military alliance arrived to back the government at the request of President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, who fired his government and declared a two-week state of emergency in response to the protests. BBC Russian correspondent Olga Ivshina wrote that analysts say "the Kazakh government clearly underestimated how angry the population was."

8

Former Pence aides talk to Jan. 6 committee

Several people who worked closely with former Vice President Mike Pence are cooperating with the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, helping the panel piece together what was happening at the White House that day, Axios reported Wednesday. Marc Short, Pence's former chief of staff, and Alyssa Farah, Pence's former press secretary, are among those reportedly cooperating. One person with direct knowledge of the matter said Short would not have cooperated without Pence's approval. The panel is particularly interested in learning more about what former President Donald Trump was doing during the attack, as he ignored requests from lawmakers and advisers to publicly call off the mob that stormed the Capitol hoping to prevent lawmakers from certifying Trump's 2020 election loss.

9

Australia denies Djokovic entry over vaccine exemption

Australian authorities on Thursday told Novak Djokovic, the world's No. 1-ranked men's tennis player, that he would have to leave the country because he failed to provide adequate evidence supporting a medical exemption from the country's coronavirus vaccine requirement. "Mr. Djokovic's visa has been canceled," Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison tweeted. "Rules are rules, especially when it comes to our borders. No one is above these rules." Djokovic had traveled all day Wednesday from Dubai to Australia to defend his Australian Open singles championship. The exemption was supposed to allow him to play even though he has not been vaccinated. A judge said he would be allowed to stay in the country pending a Monday hearing on a legal challenge to the order to leave.

10

Grammys postponed due to risks from Omicron surge

The Recording Academy and CBS announced Wednesday that they are postponing the 64th Grammy Awards, saying "holding the show on Jan. 31 simply contains too many risks" given the wave of COVID-19 cases blamed on the fast-spreading Omicron coronavirus variant. The Recording Academy said it would announce a new date "soon." "The health and safety of those in our music community, the live audience, and the hundreds of people who work tirelessly to produce our show remains our top priority," the Recording Academy said in a joint statement with its longtime television partner. This will be the second straight year the Grammys have been delayed due to the pandemic. Last year's ceremony was pushed back from Jan. 31 to March 14.

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