February 2, 2018

The Democratic National Committee had a rough 2017, plagued by leadership troubles, internal squabbling, and unflattering reports. To top it off, the party ended the year "dead broke," says The Intercept's Ryan Grim.

The Democratic Party is carrying more than $6 million in debt, according to year-end filings — and has just $6.5 million in the bank. Do the math, and the party is working with just over $400,000 overall. Meanwhile, the Republicans are swimming in pools of money. The Republican National Committee had raised $132 million by the end of 2017 — about twice as much as the DNC — and entered 2018 with almost $40 million to spare, with not a penny of debt.

The DNC's rebuttal, The Washington Post reports, is that they raised more money in 2017 than they have in previous non-election years and were operating at something of a disadvantage given the "rebuilding job" undertaken by first-year chairman Tom Perez. While the DNC claims it is not borrowing money to pay the bills, Grim notes that the party would be operating at a financial loss if not for its borrowing.

If there is any cause for Democratic optimism, it's that individual Democratic candidates seem to be doing well for themselves even as the national party apparatus struggles. NBC News reported Thursday that nearly 50 non-incumbent Democrats running for Congress in the 2018 midterm elections outraised their Republican opponents in the last quarter of 2017. Kelly O'Meara Morales

5:10 a.m.

Former President Donald Trump first met Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert, at a September 2019 photo op, the newly "liberated" Fauci told The New York Times in an interview published Sunday. Until the COVID-19 pandemic hit four months later, "he barely knew who I was," Fauci said. But once he started going to the White House "very, very frequently" to advise about the pandemic, things started going wrong between him and Trump almost immediately.

The first problem is that Trump would get ideas about the coronavirus and how to treat it from friends and acquaintances, and he would believe their evidence-free opinions, Fauci said. "It was always, 'A guy called me up, a friend of mine from blah, blah, blah.' That's when my anxiety started to escalate." Fauci said he felt obliged to speak the truth publicly after Trump said something false or misleading, and while he would get pushback from Trump's top aides for contradicting the president, Trump himself never confronted him or got angry.

Fauci said he never really believed Trump would try to fire him, and he never considered quitting. He explained why:

Someone's got to not be afraid to speak out the truth. They would try to play down real problems and have a little happy talk about how things are okay. And I would always say, "Wait a minute, hold it folks, this is serious business." So there was a joke — a friendly joke, you know — that I was the skunk at the picnic. ... I always felt that if I did walk away, the skunk at the picnic would no longer be at the picnic. Even if I wasn't very effective in changing everybody's minds, the idea that they knew that nonsense could not be spouted without my pushing back on it, I felt was important. [Dr. Anthony Fauci to The New York Times]

Read more about Fauci's experience working with Trump and his team during a once-in-a-century pandemic, including the serious death threats he and his family received, at The New York Times. Peter Weber

3:53 a.m.

After a post-holiday surge, new COVID-19 cases are starting to decline across the U.S. But hospital intensive care units, where the people hit hardest by COVID-19 end up, are "running out of space and supplies and competing to hire temporary traveling nurses at soaring rates," especially in the South and West, The Associated Press reports, citing federal data. "Since November, the share of U.S. hospitals nearing the breaking point has doubled. More than 40 percent of Americans now live in areas running out of ICU space, with only 15 percent of beds still available."

The U.S. surpassed 25 million total recorded COVID-19 cases on Sunday — the number was 25.1 million as of Monday morning — and 419,215 Americans have died of the disease, according to Johns Hopkins University's count. "Encouragingly, hospitalizations appear to have either plateaued or are trending downward across all regions," AP reports. "It's unclear whether the easing will continue with more contagious versions of the virus arising and snags in the rollout of vaccines."

Along with full ICUs, hospitals are running out of supplies and trying to manage nursing shortages, after nearly a year of grueling, draining working trying to keep COVID-19 patients alive and recovering. "You can't push great people forever. Right? I mean, it just isn't possible," said Dr. Marc Boom, CEO of Houston Methodist, which recently paid staff nurses $8,000 retention bonuses. Agencies pay "absolutely ridiculous sums of money" for traveling nurses, he tells AP. "They go to California, which is in the midst of a surge, but they poach some ICU nurses there, send them to Texas, where they charge inordinate amounts to fill in gaps in Texas, many of which are created because nurses in Texas went to Florida or back to California." Peter Weber

2:32 a.m.

Former acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen and other top Justice Department officials spent New Year's Eve berating Jeffrey Clark, the acting head of the DOJ's civil division, for repeatedly pushing them to help former President Donald Trump overturn his clear electoral loss and secretly meeting with Trump, The New York Times reports, citing six people with knowledge of the meeting. Rosen thought the matter was settled that night, the Times reports, but Clark continued secretly planning with Trump to intervene in Georgia, including a plot where Trump would fire Rosen and put Clark in his place.

Clark has said the reporting by the Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post about his role in an effort to replace Rosen and meddle in Georgia to undo Trump's loss is inaccurate, and he claims his discussions with Trump are shielded under "legal privileges." Only intervention by Justice Department officials and Trump's White House counsel, Pat Cipollone, plus the threat of mass resignations, stopped Trump from firing Rosen and elevating Clark, all three newspapers report.

Even before "Clark's machinations came to light" in the new year, it was clear from "his willingness to entertain conspiracy theories about voting booth hacks and election fraud" that Clark "was not the establishment lawyer they thought him to be," the Times reports. "Some senior department leaders had considered him quiet, hard-working, and detail-oriented. Others said they knew nothing about him, so low was his profile. He struck neither his fans in the department nor his detractors as being part of the Trumpist faction of the party."

Clark's friends and critics alike, the Times reports, described him as "nerdy" and "thoughtful," a Republican lawyer and Federalist Society member with the usual skeptical view of regulations, not a operator. Now, Clark, 53, is "notorious" and unlikely to be hired back at the law firm Kirkland & Ellis, where he spent his career outside his stints in the Trump and George W. Bush administrations, the Times reports. Read more about Clark — an alumnus of Harvard, Georgetown Law, and the Biden School of Public Policy at the University of Delaware — at The New York Times. Peter Weber

1:57 a.m.

Neighbors, friends, strangers, it doesn't matter — Ric Jackson is fixing any bike that comes his way, free of charge.

Jackson, a retired mathematician and avid cyclist, lives in Potomac, Maryland. Last April, one of his neighbors was trying to find someone to fix the brakes on his daughter's bike, and Jackson offered to help. When he was finished, the father and daughter were both "thrilled" with the results, Jackson told CBS News.

That was his first fix of the pandemic — since then, Jackson has repaired more than 650 bikes for people he knows, as well as others who find him through word of mouth. Kids are often in awe when he takes their broken bikes and returns them good as new, Jackson said. He regularly receives texts from people praising his handiwork and telling him about the great bike ride they just went on, thanks to him. "That's the kind of thing that makes my day," Jackson told CBS News. "That's my reward." Catherine Garcia

1:04 a.m.

Over the last three decades, Robert Peters has gotten to know a lot of people in Tipton, Indiana, and when they learned he was having car trouble, they were more than happy to lend a hand.

Peters has worked at a Pizza Hut in Tipton for 31 years, and Tanner Langley, 28, told Good Morning America he's the only pizza deliveryman he's ever known. "The town of Tipton calls him Mr. Smiley," Langley said. "He makes that impact on everybody and he's a very kindhearted individual."

During a recent delivery, Peters mentioned to Langley that his 28-year-old car was having issues. Langley wanted to do something, so he started a fundraiser to help Peters buy a new car. Within days of launching a GoFundMe, he received more than $18,000 in donations — well above the $12,000 goal.

With the money, Langley was able to purchase Peters a 2017 Chevy Malibu, cover registration, insurance, and taxes, and give him a $500 gas card. He received his surprise car earlier this month, and an appreciative Peters told GMA he hopes "that all those who made this happen will be blessed as much as they have blessed me. This has really been an awesome experience that I'll remember for the rest of my life." Catherine Garcia

12:48 a.m.

West Virginia is doing better than probably any other state in vaccinating its population against COVID-19. About 9 percent of West Virginians have already gotten their first dose, better than any state but Alaska, and West Virginia is No. 1 in giving out second doses, The New York Times reports. West Virginia has used 83 percent of the doses allocated to the state, by far the highest percentage.

Part of West Virginia's success it its size: with 1.8 million residents, its population is smaller than several U.S. cities. But the state's population is also older and less healthy than average. "People are dying every day," Albert Wright Jr., CEO of WVU Medicine, the state's largest health care provider, told the Times. "We just realized, the only way out of this is to vaccinate our way out." The Times highlights three decisions that put West Virginia "at the top of the charts," as former FDA chief Dr. Mark McClellan said:

1. No to the feds: West Virginia decided early on to opt out of a federal program that relied on Walgreens and CVS to vaccinate people in nursing homes and long-term car facilities. Instead, West Virginia created a network of local pharmacies and nursing homes, to great success. "Using your local partners and really having more control over where the vaccine is going, that's what has been successful for West Virginia," Association of Immunization Managers chief Claire Hannan told the Times.

2. Yes to the National Guard: West Virginia also put the National Guard at the center of its vaccination effort, a step other states have started taking amid slow rollouts. The National Guard "are logistical experts," said Jim Kranz, a vice president at the West Virginia Hospital Association.

3. Only promise what you have: West Virginia, after some mishaps, has also decided to require appointments for people to get vaccinated, and the state won't set up such appointments until they have the vaccines sitting in their own freezers. Other states have over-promised, only to have to cancel appointments when the vaccine ran out.

West Virginia's biggest hurdle now is the scarcity of vaccine supply, something it has no control over. The federal government is expecting hundreds of millions of more doses in the next few months. Read more about West Virginia's success at The New York Times. Peter Weber

12:09 a.m.

White House officials and 16 moderate Democratic and Republican senators discussed President Biden's $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief plan on Sunday, The Washington Post reports, with several lawmakers saying they want to see aid targeted to those who are most in need.

The hourlong Zoom call was organized by Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and led by National Economic Council Director Brian Deese. Biden has called for unity and wants to see bipartisan support for his plan, and prior to the call, Deese told reporters "we're at a precarious moment for the virus and the economy. Without decisive action, we risk falling into a very serious economic hole, even more serious than the crisis we find ourselves in."

There was agreement on the need to spend more money on producing and distributing vaccines, the Post reports. The consensus is not there when it comes to $1,400 checks, though, and some lawmakers want to narrow it down so the money goes to the neediest families, instead of Americans who make $75,000 or less, as was done during the last two rounds of COVID-19 relief. Some Republicans have also complained about the proposal including an increase in the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour.

"There are still a lot of unanswered questions, most notably, how did the administration come up with $1.9 trillion dollars required, given that our figures show that there's still about $1.8 trillion left to be spent," Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) told the Post. "We hope to get more data documenting the need from them." Sen. Angus King (I-Maine) described the call as a "genuine, open discussion," and said the proposal's $1.9 trillion price tag "isn't Monopoly money. Every dollar that we're talking about here is being borrowed from our grandchildren. We have a responsibility to be stewards."

People involved with the call told the Post the White House officials listened and promised to get answers to lawmakers' questions. While Biden and others may be holding out for a united vote, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) suggested the use of a procedural tool that would let Democrats push the package through. The Senate is split 50-50, with Vice President Kamala Harris the tiebreaker. Catherine Garcia

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