Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: February 5, 2022

Mike Pence says he 'had no right to overturn the election,' January jobs report significantly beats expectations, and more

1

Mike Pence says 'Trump is wrong': 'I had no right to overturn the election'

Former Vice President Mike Pence on Friday rebuked assertions made by former President Donald Trump late last week, in which the ex-president alleged Pence had the power to overturn the results of the 2020 election. "President Trump is wrong," Pence said while speaking before conservative legal organization the Federalist Society. "I had no right to overturn the election." He added, "The presidency belongs to the American people, and the American people alone. And frankly, there is no idea more un-American than the notion that any one person could choose the American president."

2

January jobs report significantly beats expectations despite surge in Omicron cases

Some experts were bracing for a disappointing January jobs report — but it ended up significantly beating expectations. The Labor Department said Friday the U.S. economy added 467,000 jobs in January as the unemployment rate increased slightly to 4 percent. This number was much higher than expected, as economists were expecting about 150,000 jobs to be added. The better-than-anticipated report came despite the recent surge in Omicron COVID-19 cases in the United States.

3

Spotify pulls over 70 episodes of Joe Rogan’s podcast

Spotify removed over 70 episodes of Joe Rogan's podcast, The Joe Rogan Experience, on Friday. Rogan has drawn criticism for interviewing Drs. Peter McCullough and Robert Malone — both of whom have been accused of spreading COVID-19 misinformation — on his show. After several musicians removed their music from the streaming service in protest, Spotify announced it would add content advisories to future episodes that discuss COVID. Spotify has not commented on why those episodes were removed. The Malone interview is still up, but interviews with comedians Bull Burr, Nick Swardson, and Tom Segura — all of which were released years before the pandemic — no longer appear on Spotify.  

4

GoFundMe will refund donations to Canadian trucker protest

In a statement released Friday, fundraising website GoFundMe said it will refund any donations made to support the "Freedom Convoy" protesting the country's COVID-19 policies. Around 1 million Canadian dollars have already been released to the organizers of the protests, which have blocked streets in Ottawa and kept residents awake with loud honking. About 10 million Canadian dollars ($7.9 million American) will be automatically refunded. Elsewhere in Canada, the convoy is gaining ground. Alberta Premier Jason Kenney said Thursday he will announce early next week "a firm date to end" the province's vaccine passport policy. One opinion writer accused Kenney of "caving in to the truckers and their illegal blockade" of an Alberta-Montana border crossing.

5

Michael Avenatti convicted of stealing from Stormy Daniels

Michael Avenatti has again been found guilty in a criminal trial, this time for stealing from his former client, Stormy Daniels. Avenatti, the attorney who rose to fame after representing Daniels in a lawsuit against then-President Donald Trump, was convicted of wire fraud and aggravated identity theft on Friday after allegedly defrauding Daniels out of almost $300,000 from a book deal. Prosecutors said Avenatti directed payments meant to go to Daniels to an account he controlled, sending a letter to her literary agency that included her falsified signature. He faces up to 22 years in prison.

6

Staffers on Capitol Hill launch unionization effort

Congressional staffers launched a unionization push on Friday under the name the Congressional Workers Union. "While not all offices and committees face the same working conditions, we strongly believe that to better serve our constituents will require meaningful changes to improve retention, equity, diversity, and inclusion on Capitol Hill," the group wrote in a statement released online. The official unionization announcement also arrived after a spokesperson for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Thursday tweeted that unionizing staff would have the speaker's "full support." A spokesperson for Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) also noted he would "support that effort."

7

RNC censures anti-Trump Reps. Cheney and Kinzinger

Following the passage of a draft resolution on Thursday night, the Republican National Committee on Friday voted to formally censure GOP Reps. Liz Cheney (Wyo.) and Adam Kinzinger (Ill.) for their participation on the Jan. 6 committee investigating the Capitol riot. The whole process took just about a minute, and the resolution was not read or presented. There was no debate or discussion. Both Cheney and Kinzinger have drawn ire from fellow Republican lawmakers for their repeated criticism of former President Donald Trump. Both also voted to impeach Trump for his role in the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.

8

Dutch journalist dragged away as Beijing Olympics begin

The 2022 Beijing Olympics officially kicked off Friday, and there's already footage of a reporter being physically pulled away from his live shot while covering them. Sjoerd den Daas, a journalist with Dutch broadcaster NOS, was reporting on the opening ceremony when Chinese officials could be seen coming up to him to physically remove him from the area. It wasn't clear why the guards were pulling the reporter away, but NOS editor-in-chief Marcel Gelauff told Algemeen Dagblad that this incident was a "painful illustration" of how China treats journalists. The Olympics began Friday despite diplomatic boycotts from countries including the United States over what the White House described as China's "ongoing genocide … in Xinjiang"

9

Biden restores sanctions relief in attempt to keep Iran nuclear deal alive

The Biden administration restored a sanctions waiver for Iran's nuclear program Friday, but the Iranian foreign minister says it won't be enough to salvage the 2015 nuclear deal. A senior State Department official said the sanctions relief "is not a concession to Iran" but that it will "enable some of our international partners to have more detailed technical discussions to enable cooperation that we view as being in our non-proliferation interests." Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian was less optimistic. "Lifting some sanctions in a real and objective manner could be interpreted as the good will that Americans talk about," he said Saturday but added that the Biden administration's waiver is "not sufficient."

10

Tomato’s last flight: Shaun White to retire after 2022 Olympics

Three-time Olympic gold medalist Shaun White, the world's most recognizable snowboarder, announced Saturday that he plans to retire after this year's Olympic Games. "In my mind, I've decided this will be my last competition," the 35-year-old White said. He attributed his decision in part to injuries to his ankle, knee, and back but said he still plans to "lay it out there" during his final Olympic appearance. The snowboarding halfpipe opens for training Sunday. White previously won gold medals at Turin in 2006, at Vancouver in 2010, and at Pyeongchang in 2018.

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