February 26, 2021

Bloomberg's Tim O'Brien, one of the few journalists who has seen former President Donald Trump's tax returns, told MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell on Thursday night he will sleep better now that Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance finally has eight years of Trump's financial documents, from 2011 to 2019. Trump "is very afraid of what's in these documents, I think," because they put him in serious criminal jeopardy, O'Brien said, but he isn't the only one implicated.

O'Brien went on to explain why he thinks it's likely Trump's chief accountant, Allen Weisselberg, will flip on Trump. "The thing to really focus in on here is that it's not just the tax records that Cy Vance has now," O'Brien said. "He probably has reams and reams of the accountant's work product. This is a criminal case, they're going to need to prove criminal intent on the part of Trump, his three eldest children, Allen Weisselberg, and anyone else in the Trump Organization who's fallen under the parameters of this investigation. And if there are email and notes and other records of communication about what they intended to do when they inflated the value of buildings so they could get loans against them and then turned around and deflated the value of the buildings so they could pay lower taxes on them, and there's a communication around that that predates any of these tax entries, that is gold for a prosecutor."

A few hours earlier, O'Brien told MSNBC's Nicolle Wallace that the particular eight years of documents Vance's team has "is important, because it predates Trump's ascent into the White House, and I think helps build the narrative around the money trail and Trump's motivations for his destructive and obscene dance with people like Vladimir Putin. It's a shame they couldn't go back further — think this is one of the tragic misses of Robert Mueller's investigation, he could have gone back further, I think, than Cy Vance is able to into Trump's finances."

O'Brien also underscored that the investigation implicates at least Eric Trump and Ivanka Trump, and "it also targets people inside the Trump Organization who might flip on Trump if they're exposed to criminal liability," but "the brass ring in all of this is that if Trump has a criminal conviction, he cannot run for president again, and that's looming over this entire thing as well." Peter Weber

9:56 p.m.

On Thursday, four Democratic lawmakers will stand on the steps of the Supreme Court to introduce legislation expanding the country's highest court from nine to 13 justices.

The bill is being proposed by Sen. Edward Markey (D-Mass.), Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.), and Rep. Mondaire Jones (D-N.Y.), The Washington Post reports. The Constitution does not state how many judges should sit on the Supreme Court, and it could be expanded by an act of Congress. There have been nine justices since 1869; now, there are six nominated by a Republican president and three by Democrats.

Those in favor of expanding the Supreme Court say having more justices would help prevent major decisions coming down to one "swing" justice, while also serving as a stronger check to the presidency. Last week, President Biden signed an executive order creating an independent commission to examine the structure of the Supreme Court. Catherine Garcia

8:58 p.m.

Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.) on Wednesday said if "something really formal" happens with the Justice Department's investigation into Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), Republican leadership will "of course react and take action."

The Justice Department is investigating whether Gaetz, 38, had sex with a 17-year-old girl and paid for her to travel out of state with him, allegations that Gaetz denies. Scalise, the No. 2 House Republican leader, told reporters that he hasn't talked to Gaetz about the investigation, but will likely meet with him later this week.

"It's serious things alleged," Scalise told reporters. "Obviously we want to get the facts." Gaetz is a member of the House Armed Services and Judiciary committees, and Scalise said GOP lawmakers who find themselves facing serious charges are removed from their committees.

Last week, Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) became the first Republican member of Congress to call on Gaetz to resign, and on Sunday, Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), the No. 3 House GOP leader, said the allegations against Gaetz are "sickening." Catherine Garcia

7:06 p.m.

A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advisory panel decided during an emergency meeting on Wednesday that members need more data before voting on whether to resume use of Johnson & Johnson's one-dose COVID-19 vaccine.

On Tuesday, the CDC and Federal Drug Administration recommended a pause in using the Johnson & Johnson vaccine after six women who received it developed rare brain blood clots. The panel is seeking more information on the clots, including the risk factors and frequency, and will reconvene in the next seven to 10 days.

Dr. Lynn Batha, an epidemiologist at the Minnesota Department of Health, is a member of the CDC advisory panel, and said she supported extending the pause because "by having more robust information, I think we can be more confident about how we talk about the safety of this vaccine."

Johnson & Johnson's vaccine is one of three authorized for use in the United States, and because only one shot is needed and doses can be stored at normal refrigerator temperatures, it is considered the best option for people who are vulnerable, like those who are incarcerated or homeless. Catherine Garcia

5:33 p.m.

Former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin's attorneys continued their defense on Wednesday, arguing Chauvin's knee on the neck of George Floyd was not what ultimately killed him, reports The Washington Post.

Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man, died in May 2020 after Chauvin placed him under arrest, restraining him with his knee for more than nine minutes. Experts who testified for the prosecution previously said it was the pressure of Chauvin's knee that killed Floyd via a lack of oxygen, but David Fowler, a former Maryland chief medical examiner, testified Wednesday that none of Floyd's injuries were in areas that Chauvin's knee pressed on.

"The amount of force that was applied to Mr. Floyd was less than enough to bruise him," said Fowler, testifying that "all of Floyd's injuries were in areas that Chauvin's knee did not press on." Fowler concluded that Floyd died of a cardiac arrhythmia due to heart disease, with contributing factors, but criticized the fact that Floyd did not receive immediate medical attention to reverse his cardiac arrest.

Chauvin's lawyers have argued Floyd died as a result of drug use and underlying health issues. Chauvin is facing murder and manslaughter charges.

Read more at The Washington Post. The Week Staff

4:56 p.m.

Mick Jagger and Dave Grohl are trying to rock us out of this pandemic.

The pair released "Eazy Sleazy," a song written and performed by Jagger, with Grohl lending his talents on drums, bass, and guitar. In just shy of four minutes, the song touches on topics like studying pandemic charts, fake applause at football games, TikTok, Zoom, Bill Gates, climate change, aliens, and hope for the future, among others. The chorus chirps the pandemic will soon "be a memory you're trying to remember to forget." But of course, that requires "shooting the vaccine, Bill Gates is in my bloodstream."

Grohl said the collaboration is "beyond a dream come true," and declared it the "song of the summer." Listen below. Taylor Watson

4:56 p.m.

Buddy Valastro gave an update on his hand injury in an appearance on Rachael Ray.

The Cake Boss star is recovering from his fifth hand surgery following a bowling accident last September. Valastro said in the past month his hand has regained mobility and now has about 75 percent of its strength back. "I'm still in physical therapy, and you know, just doing really well," he said. Part of his healing journey was documented on TLC's Buddy Valastro: Road to Recovery.

After the accident, Valastro was worried about his cake decorating career since he severely injured his dominant hand. "I might not ever be able to pipe again, you know? I don't know," he told Entertainment Tonight. But now he's proved to Ray he's still got piping skills — he demonstrated how to decorate a floral cake, just in time for Mother's Day.

While this is great news for Valastro, major fan Gigi Hadid is also no doubt thrilled. After the Cake Boss made her a bagel cake and Zayn Malik a soccer cake, she might already be discussing plans with the baker for little Khai's first birthday. Taylor Watson

4:53 p.m.

During a Wednesday hearing, Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Nestler told a judge that surveillance footage recorded on Jan. 7 at the Comfort Inn Ballston in Arlington, Virginia, shows an alleged member of the Oath Keepers carrying what appeared to be rifle cases, BuzzFeed News reports.

While the footage is not considered conclusive, BuzzFeed writes that Wednesday's presentation was the "most comprehensive" to date when it comes to showing that the extremist group "came prepared for violence" ahead of the Jan. 6 Capitol riot and "stashed firearms just outside of Washington, D.C., that they could easily access." The footage does not include any images of actual guns.

Before the disclosure of the surveillance video, the government "had shared little evidence other than text messages that referenced" the alleged strategy, BuzzFeed notes. While dozens of rioters have been charged with assaulting police officers during the riot, most of the incidents do not appear to involve advanced planning; the government's case against the Oath Keepers is one of the few that specifically focuses on that notion.

The man captured on video was Kenneth Harrelson. His lawyer Nina Ginsburg dismissed the idea that the footage "was proof of anything other than that Harrelson had luggage at the Comfort Inn," BuzzFeed reports. Read more at BuzzFeed News. Tim O'Donnell

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