Evening summary

We’re wrapping up today’s live US politics coverage for the evening. It’s been a day of major developments with global reach here in the United States, as well as sustained infighting within the Republican party over Republicans’ allegiance to Donald Trump and his lies. Here’s an updated summary:

  • The Biden administration backed a waiver of intellectual property rights for coronavirus vaccines, which progressive activists have said will help spur global production of the vaccines. “The administration believes strongly in intellectual property protections, but in service of ending this pandemic, supports the waiver of those protections for Covid-19 vaccines,” the US trade representative, Katherine Tai, said in a statement.
  • Facebook’s oversight board upheld the suspension of Donald Trump’s account in response to the former president’s comments about the deadly Capitol insurrection. However, the board also criticized Facebook for indefinitely suspending Trump’s account and instructed the company to conduct a six-month review to determine whether the ban should be lifted.
  • Trump lashed out against Facebook and other social media giants in response to the decision, saying such companies “must pay a political price” for suspending his accounts. “What Facebook, Twitter, and Google have done is a total disgrace and an embarrassment to our Country,” Trump said in a statement. “The People of our Country will not stand for it!”
  • A federal judge blocked the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s eviction moratorium, ruling that the health agency did not have the authority to halt evictions because of the coronavirus pandemic. The justice department has said it will appeal the decision.
  • Joe Biden said the Republican party engaged in a “mini-revolution”, as House Republicans push for Liz Cheney to be removed as conference chairwoman over her criticism of Trump. “It seems as though the Republican party is trying to identify what it stands for,” Biden said this afternoon. “They’re in the midst of a significant sort of mini-revolution.”
  • Cheney, who has been labeled a “dead woman walking” in terms of her political standing within the party, wrote an op-ed warning her fellow Republicans that “history is watching us” and that continuing to support Trump and his election lies would fundamentally undermine the rule of law and US democracy.
  • Meanwhile, a new survey of people in 53 counties found widespread fear that the US, more than China or Russia, might undermine democracy in their countries.
  • Allies of Rudy Giuliani, the former New York City mayor and Trump attorney, are publicly imploring Trump’s campaign to help Giuliani with legal costs. No comment from team Trump
  • Not long after landing a $2.9bn Nasa contract, Elon Musk’s SpaceX also landed a prototype spacecraft without exploding it, a contrast from some previous tests, which ended in prototypes exploding before, during, and even after landing.

Updated

This time, Elon Musk’s SpaceX prototype did not explode

The successful landing of the SpaceX Starship comes at a crucial time for the company lead by Elon Musk, which was recently awarded a $2.9bn Nasa contract to develop a craft to land astronauts on the moon, prompting protests from competitors, the Washington Post’s Christian Davenport reports.

Per Davenport, SpaceX’s Starship prototypes have previously exploded:

More on those previous explosions here:

Updated

Chris Hayes: GOP is ‘radicalizing against democracy, moderating on policy’

The Club for Growth, a conservative advocacy group, is not happy about Donald Trump’s endorsement of Elise Stefanik, once a moderate Republican New York congresswoman, as a replacement in congressional leadership for Liz Cheney of Wyoming, who continues to blast Trump for lying about the 2020 election and undermining American democracy.

The MSNBC host Chris Hayes said that this development is the latest example of the current trend of the GOP, which, he argues, is “radicalizing against democracy” while also “moderating” on policy as the Democratic party as moved to the left on some issues.

The Cheney situation also highlights how Trump’s political power is not solely based on his ability to dominate the news media and social media, Hayes argued.

Updated

Biden’s support for vaccine patent protection waiver puts pressure on Boris Johnson

The Biden administration’s announcement that it will support waiving patent protections on Covid-19 vaccines is now putting pressure on the wealthy US allies who are currently blocking the waiver.

Global Justice Now, a UK-based advocacy group, said the Biden administration’s move “could be the beginning of the end of the vaccine apartheid”, and that the endorsement now put the spotlight on Boris Johnson.

“The Prime Minister has no more excuses. He must now follow Biden’s lead and drop his opposition to the intellectual property waiver immediately. Anything less would be shameful,” said Nick Dearden, the director of Global Justice Now, in a statement.

“In the many months since this waiver was first proposed, we could have produced many hundreds of millions more vaccines. Let’s get moving. The UK, EU, and all remaining blockers need to get out of the way.”

As my colleague Julian Borger reports:At present, one in four people in rich countries have received at least one vaccine dose. In low-income nations, the ratio is about one in 500 people.”

Updated

Giuliani allies continue to ask Trump publicly for help with Giuliani’s legal costs

Rudy Giuliani’s supporters, including his son, are publicly calling on Donald Trump’s campaign to help Giuliani with his mounting legal fees, CNN reports.

Maggie Haberman of the New York Times tweeted that Trump told an associate this week that the decision of whether or not to help Giuliani is somehow not his “call”.

Updated

Phantom of the Opera will sell tickets again as Broadway prepares to reopen this fall

As state officials approved a full reopening of Broadway theaters in New York this September, Phantom of the Opera will be there again, not just inside your mind.

“Yes, we are coming back,” Phantom’s composer, Andrew Lloyd Webber, told the New York Times, as Broadway’s longest-running production announced that it would put tickets on sale again this Friday.

“The production anticipates that audiences will be allowed to return at full capacity, but will be required to wear masks (aptly enough, considering the title character’s signature look),” Playbill reported.

The show is slated to return to Broadway on 22 October, when the experience of being once again inside a crowded theater for a live performance is sure to heighten each sensation for audience members.

Updated

US is seen as a greater threat to democracy than Russia or China, survey finds

Nearly half of respondents in a survey of people from 53 countries are concerned that the US is a threat to democracy in their country. That’s a greater proportion than those concerned about any threat to their democracy from China or from Russia, my colleague Patrick Wintour reports.

While support for democracy was high among respondents, only 53% said they currently believe their own countries are actually democratic. The biggest threats to democracy, according to respondents, were inequality and the power of big tech companies.

The poll was commissioned by the Alliance of Democracies Foundation among 50,000 respondents in 53 countries, and carried out from February to April this year.

Report: McCarthy told Trump that Liz Cheney would be out of leadership soon

In a recent call, current Republican House minority leader Kevin McCarthy told Donald Trump that Liz Cheney, the Wyoming Republican who voted for Trump’s impeachment and continues to publicly criticize his lies, would soon be forced out of her Republican leadership position, the Daily Beast reports.

Cheney herself has told other Republicans that it’s not worth holding on to her leadership role as conference chair “if lying is going to be a requirement”, one source told the Daily Beast.

Updated

'History is watching us' Liz Cheney writes in defiant message to the GOP

As Congressional Republicans move towards ousting Liz Cheney from her leadership role, the Wyoming Republican published a defiant op-ed in the Washington Post, warning her party that standing with Donald Trump means undermining the rule of law and risking continued violence.

“I have worked overseas in nations where changes in leadership come only with violence, where democracy takes hold only until the next violent upheaval,” Cheney writes.

“We must be brave enough to defend the basic principles that underpin and protect our freedom and our democratic process. I am committed to doing that, no matter what the short-term political consequences might be.”

Deb Haaland’s plans for addressing violence against indigenous women

This is Lois Beckett, picking up our live politics coverage from our West Coast office in Los Angeles.

Interior secretary Deb Haaland spoke with the Huffington Post about the crisis of murdered or missing indigenous women, and shared a chilling story about the lack of law enforcement action.

Global implications: the inside story of the Facebook Oversight Board Trump decision

Former Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger is one of the members of the Oversight Board that upheld Facebook’s decision to ban Donald Trump’s account for inciting violence and undermining democracy after the 6 January insurrection at the Capitol.

In an insider’s account of the Oversight Board’s deliberations, Rusbridger defended the board’s independence from Facebook and highlighted members’ broader concerns about the global ramifications of Facebook’s action against Trump.

One of their key issues: “For how much longer would giant social media platforms act as an amplification system for any number of despots around the world. Would they, too, be banned?”

Among the board’s new policy advisories to Facebook, Rusbridger writes: “if the head of state or high government official has repeatedly posted messages that pose a risk of harm under international human rights norms, Facebook should suspend the account for a determinate period sufficient to protect against imminent harm”.

Updated

Today so far

That’s it from me today. My west coast colleague, Lois Beckett, will take over the blog for the next few hours.

Here’s where the day stands so far:

  • The Biden administration backed a waiver of intellectual property rights for coronavirus vaccines, which progressive activists have said will help spur global production of the vaccines. “The administration believes strongly in intellectual property protections, but in service of ending this pandemic, supports the waiver of those protections for Covid-19 vaccines,” US trade representative Katherine Tai said in a statement.
  • Facebook’s oversight board upheld the suspension of Donald Trump’s account in response to the former president’s comments about the deadly Capitol insurrection. However, the board also criticized Facebook for indefinitely suspending Trump’s account and instructed the company to conduct a six-month review to determine whether the ban should be lifted.
  • Trump lashed out against Facebook and other social media giants in response to the decision, saying such companies “must pay a political price” for suspending his accounts. “What Facebook, Twitter, and Google have done is a total disgrace and an embarrassment to our Country,” Trump said in a statement. “The People of our Country will not stand for it!”
  • Joe Biden said the Republican party engaged in a “mini-revolution”, as House Republicans push for Liz Cheney to be removed as conference chairwoman over her criticism of Trump. “It seems as though the Republican party is trying to identify what it stands for,” Biden said this afternoon. “They’re in the midst of a significant sort of mini-revolution.”
  • A federal judge blocked the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s eviction moratorium, ruling that the health agency did not have the authority to halt evictions because of the coronavirus pandemic. The justice department has said it will appeal the decision.

Lois will have more coming up, so stay tuned.

Updated

The first “tweaked” vaccine against the worrying coronavirus variants that emerged in South Africa and Brazil has successfully neutralised them in laboratory trials, the US company Moderna has said.

The results of the small trial suggest that boosters against the variants will be feasible and could potentially be rolled out this year to counter the threat from variants that have appeared around the world and are feared in some cases to be more transmissible or partially vaccine-resistant.

Leading companies have been racing to produce adapted versions of their Covid vaccines. Pfizer/BioNTech, which has a similar mRNA vaccine to Moderna’s, and Oxford/AstraZeneca are also in the process of developing tweaked vaccines against the South African variant, B1351, and the Brazilian variant, P1, which appear to be the major threat to current immunisation programmes.

Moderna became the first to announce results on Wednesday. They appear to be very positive, although only basic information from an initial analysis of results is available so far.

Gabriel Scally, a professor of public health at the University of Bristol and a member of the Independent Sage committee, argued that waiving intellectual property protections was the most efficient way to get vaccines to countries like India, which is experiencing a devastating surge in cases right now.

Scally wrote in a Guardian column last month:

Production is being constrained because pharmaceutical companies have refused to share their vaccine technology, and intellectual property rules prevent countries from creating their own generic versions of the jabs. This means we are restricted to the supply chains of the patent-holder company. Because of this impediment, we are using just a fraction of the world’s potential global vaccine manufacturing capacity.

More than 100 nations, led by India and South Africa, are pushing to temporarily suspend patent rules at the World Trade Organization during this pandemic. But the move has been blocked by a small number of countries, including the UK and the US, as well as by the EU.

Throughout this pandemic, Independent Sage has sought to guide the government and act as a non-party political voice for sound population health policy. Our remit would not usually extend to matters of international trade. But in this case the risk to public health is clear.

By helping block a patent waiver, the UK government is stifling vaccine production, which means many countries will wait years for sufficient doses. That risks letting the virus run rampant, leading to new variants and putting our own vaccination programme in jeopardy. It would be a reckless act of self-mutilation.

Senator Bernie Sanders applauded the Biden administration for backing a waiver of intellectual property protections for coronavirus vaccines.

The progressive senator also thanked the “the dedicated work done by activists around the world to put this issue on the global agenda”.

“We are all in this together,” Sanders said on Twitter.

US Trade Representative Katherine Tai acknowledged the conversations about waiving intellectual property protections for coronavirus vaccines will not be easy, but she said the move was necessary to support the increased global production of vaccines.

“We are for the waiver at the WTO, we are for what the proponents of the waiver are trying to accomplish, which is better access, more manufacturing capability, more shots in arms,” Tai told Bloomberg News.

She added, “In terms of how soon the WTO can deliver -- that literally depends on the WTO members, collectively, being able to deliver, and so I am the first one to admit that what we are leaning into is a process that is not going to be easy.”

Biden administration backs waiver of intellectual property protections for vaccines

The US trade representative has announced the Biden administration supports waiving intellectual property protections on coronavirus vaccines to help ramp up production.

“The Administration believes strongly in intellectual property protections, but in service of ending this pandemic, supports the waiver of those protections for COVID-19 vaccines,” Katherine Tai said in a statement.

Tai said the Biden administration will “actively participate” in conversations with the World Trade Organization to help lift those protections. She acknowledged those conversations will “take time” given the complexity of the issue.

“The Administration’s aim is to get as many safe and effective vaccines to as many people as fast as possible,” Tai said.

A number of progressive lawmakers had called on Biden to lift the protections in order to more easily get coronavirus vaccines to other countries, but some health company executives argued such a move would not help expedite delivery of vaccines.

Joe Biden also told reporters he was “willing to compromise” on how to pay for his infrastructure proposals, which would cost trillions of dollars.

“But I’m not willing to not pay for what we’re talking about. I’m not willing to deficit spend. They already have us $2 trillion in the hole,” Biden said, referring to the Trump era tax cuts that were not offset with spending cuts.

Biden has proposed spending $2 trillion on his American Jobs Plan, and he plans to help pay for that massive project by raising the corporate tax rate to 28%.

However, some lawmakers, including Democratic Senator Joe Manchin, have called for a more modest corporate tax rate hike to 25%.

Republicans are in the midst of a 'mini-revolution,' Biden says

Joe Biden took several questions from reporters after concluding his prepared remarks on the Restaurant Revitalization Fund.

One reporter asked the president to elaborate on his earlier comments about House Republicans’ efforts to oust Liz Cheney from her leadership role over her criticism of Donald Trump. Biden said earlier today, “I don’t understand the Republicans.

“It seems as though the Republican party is trying to identify what it stands for,” the president said. “They’re in the midst of a significant sort of mini-revolution.”

Biden noted he has been a Democrat for decades, and he has never seen any kind of internal party conflict like the one Republicans are experiencing right now.

“I think Republicans are further away from trying to figure out who they are and what they stand for than I thought they would be at this point,” the president said.

Another reporter asked Biden about Mitch McConnell’s comments earlier today, when the Senate minority leader said his top priority was blocking the efforts of the Democratic administration.

Biden said McConnell made similar comments during Barack Obama’s presidency, but Democrats were still able to work with Senate Republicans to pass important legislation.

Updated

Biden touts Restaurant Revitalization Fund: 'The American Rescue Plan is working'

Joe Biden just delivered remarks at the White House to tout the Restaurant Revitalization Fund included in the American Rescue Plan, which he signed into law in March.

The president noted he visited Taqueria Las Gemelas in northeast DC earlier today. The restaurant benefitted from the Paycheck Protection Program, part of the first coronavirus relief package, and the revitalization fund.

More than 186,000 businesses have already filed applications for the revitalization fund, the president said. More than half of those businesses are owned by women, veterans and socioeconomically disadvantaged people, he added.

Biden said his $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package is also helping to lower hunger and child poverty in the country.

“The message is clear: help is here,” Biden said. “The bottom line is this: the American Rescue Plan is working. America is getting vaccinated, job creation is soaring, the economy is growing and our country is on the move again.”

The White House press secretary was asked about the federal court’s decision on the eviction moratorium during her press briefing this afternoon.

Jen Psaki noted the justice department was reviewing the decision, which could have major implications for Americans who have suffered financially over the past year.

“We also recognize, of course, the importance of the eviction moratorium for Americans who have fallen behind on rent during the pandemic,” Psaki said.

Psaki added that one study indicated the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s moratorium had prevented 1.5 million evictions last year. “It clearly has had a huge benefit,” she said.

A spokesperson for the justice department confirmed that the Biden administration will be appealing a federal judge’s decision to block the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s moratorium on evictions.

The DOJ is also seeking a stay of the decision to prevent the moratorium from being lifted as the appeal process plays out.

Federal judge blocks CDC's moratorium on evictions

A federal judge has blocked the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s moratorium on evictions, ruling the health agency does not have the authority to prevent evictions in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Reuters reports:

Washington-based U.S. District Judge Dabney Friedrich said the ‘plain language’ of a federal law called the Public Health Service Act, which governs the response to the spread of communicable diseases such as COVID-19, blocked the CDC’s moratorium.

The moratorium had been scheduled to lapse on June 30. ...

The National Association of Realtors welcomed the judge’s decision, saying a better solution would be to help tenants pay rent, taxes and utility bills.

‘With rental assistance secured, the economy strengthening and unemployment rates falling, there is no need to continue a blanket, nationwide eviction ban,’ the group said.

The Trump administration first issued the moratorium last September, and the Biden administration most recently extended it in March.

Talking of which (Trump election lies), you can’t fault this headline as an eye-catcher: “Wisconsin Governor Tells Judge to Sanction Sidney Powell without Re-Litigating Her ‘Mish-Mash Mess’ of a Lawsuit”.

Sidney Powell, an attorney later disavowed by the Trump campaign, participates in a news conference with Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani at the Republican National Committee headquarters on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S. November 19, during their failed roadshow to overturn Joe Biden’s presidential victory.
Sidney Powell, an attorney later disavowed by the Trump campaign, participates in a news conference with Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani at the Republican National Committee headquarters on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S. November 19, during their failed roadshow to overturn Joe Biden’s presidential victory. Photograph: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

Reading on, this stuff from Law & Crime (lawandcrime.com) is priceless. But here’s how it just popped up on the socials.

Clicking through to the story brings this lede from Law & Crime:

Facing down a billion-dollar lawsuit from Dominion, multiple sanctions motions, and bar complaints, lawyer Sidney Powell asked a federal judge last month to set up an evidentiary hearing in Wisconsin on election-fraud claims that were rejected by every court that heard them. Lawyers for Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers (D) depicted that gambit as unnecessary and desperate in a new legal brief asking the judge to sanction her without all the fuss.

“The motion is not a vehicle for re-litigating this court’s numerous rationales for dismissing the amended complaint,” the governor’s lawyer Jeffrey A. Mandell wrote in an eight-page brief on Wednesday. “Nor is it a request for a guided tour through the scattershot of supposed evidence that they flung at the wall here, in the vain hope that something would stick, or even leave a mark. The question at the heart of Governor Evers’s motion for fees is whether their lawsuit was filed in a proper way for a proper purpose. It was not.”

U.S. District Judge Pamela Pepper, who presided over Powell’s case, dismissed the lawsuit last December in a ruling characterizing it as an attempt to achieve through the judiciary what Donald Trump’s supporters could not through the ballot.

“Federal judges do not appoint the president in this country,” Pepper wrote in 45-page ruling late last year. “One wonders why the plaintiffs came to federal court and asked a federal judge to do so. After a week of sometimes odd and often harried litigation, the court is no closer to answering the ‘why.’ But this federal court has no authority or jurisdiction to grant the relief the remaining plaintiff seeks.”

Filed on behalf of would-be Trump elector William Sheehan, Powell’s team misspelled their lead plaintiff’s name as “Meehan,” but they insisted that their complaint could have been a winner if Judge Pepper only allowed the case to reach the merits.

Full story here.

Updated

Social media companies should not promote "untrustworthy" content - White House

White House press secretary Jen Psaki just wrapped her media briefing and Q & A but has added a little more to our understanding of where Joe Biden may stand on someone like Donald Trump being blocked from platforms for behavior such as spreading lies and glorifying extremism.

The US president, Reuters writes:

Believes social media platforms have a responsibility to “stop amplifying untrustworthy content,” the White House said today, even as it declined to comment directly on a decision by Facebook Inc’s oversight board to keep a suspension in place for former president Donald Trump [from Facebook and Instagram].

“The president’s view is that the major platforms have a responsibility related to the health and safety of all Americans to stop amplifying untrustworthy content, disinformation and misinformation, especially related to Covid-19, vaccinations and elections,” Psaki told reporters.

Of course Donald Trump was notorious for pushing the US to reopen for business in the thick of the pandemic, while insisting coronavirus would disappear, as well as floating bogus cures. And for complaining, lying (and continuing to lie) that he actually won the 2020 election and would be officially hailed the winner if it wasn’t for widespread election fraud.

As our colleagues have noted today, Facebook suspended Trump’s account after the Capitol attack of 6 January, when a mob of Trump supporters stormed Congress in an attempt to overturn the former president’s defeat by Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential election.

Extremist Trump supporters clash with police and security forces as people try to storm the US Capitol in Washington DC on January 6.
Extremist Trump supporters clash with police and security forces as people try to storm the US Capitol in Washington DC on January 6. Photograph: Joseph Prezioso/AFP/Getty Images

Updated

Today so far

Here’s where the day stands so far:

  • Facebook’s oversight board upheld the suspension of Donald Trump’s account in response to the former president’s comments about the deadly Capitol insurrection. However, the board also criticized Facebook for indefinitely suspending Trump’s account and instructed the company to conduct a six-month review to determine whether the ban should be lifted.
  • Trump lashed out against Facebook and other social media giants in response to the decision, saying such companies “must pay a political price” for suspending his accounts. “What Facebook, Twitter, and Google have done is a total disgrace and an embarrassment to our Country,” Trump said in a statement. “The People of our Country will not stand for it!”
  • Trump endorsed Elise Stefanik to replace Liz Cheney as House Republican conference chairwoman. The former president’s endorsement comes as House minority leader Kevin McCarthy has signaled willingness to replace Cheney over her criticism of Trump. Asked about the efforts to oust Cheney, Joe Biden said earlier today, “I don’t understand the Republicans.”

The blog will have more coming up, so stay tuned.

The White House press secretary deflected a question about the Facebook oversight board’s decision to uphold the suspension of Donald Trump’s account.

“This is an independent board’s decision, and we’re not going to have any comment on the future of the former president’s social media platform,” Jen Psaki said.

Psaki emphasized that Joe Biden believes social media companies need to do more to crack down on misinformation about the presidential election and coronavirus vaccines.

Asked specifically about First Amendment concerns in connection to the suspension of Trump’s account, Psaki replied, “We are of course a believer in First Amendment rights. I think what the decisions are that the social media platforms need to make is how they address the disinformation, misinformation.”

A reporter asked the White House press secretary, Jen Psaki, about the strict new health guidelines for summer camps.

The reporter noted the guidelines recommend that adult camp counselors remain masked outdoors at all times, even though the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said vaccinated individuals do not need to wear masks outdoors unless in crowded settings.

Psaki said the guidelines could be still be reviewed more closely as health experts continue to gather data on the risks for vaccinated Americans.

Dr Anthony Fauci, the president’s chief medical adviser, acknowledged this morning that the guidelines are “a bit stringent,” and he suggested health officials would continue to review them.

The White House press secretary, Jen Psaki, is now holding her daily briefing with reporters.

Psaki is joined today by agriculture secretary Tom Vilsack, who will be discussing food and nutrition security in the US.

Vilsack emphasized the importance of feeding children through the summer months, when schools are out of session. Millions of American children rely on free or reduced school lunches during the academic year.

Vilsack said his department was committed to ensuring children have access to food during the summer, and he noted the USDA is investing $1 billion to improve the nutritional value of school lunches.

As he was leaving Taqueria Las Gemelas in northeast DC, Joe Biden was asked about the likely ouster of Liz Cheney from House Republican leadership.

“I don’t understand the Republicans,” the president told reporters.

A number of House Republicans have been pushing for Cheney’s removal from her role as conference chairwoman since she supported Donald Trump’s impeachment in January.

Cheney’s removal seems likely now that House minority leader Kevin McCarthy has signaled he is open to replacing her. Trump has endorsed congresswoman Elise Stefanik for the job.

Joe Biden paid a visit to Taqueria Las Gemelas in northeast DC today to highlight the benefits for restaurants included in his $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package.

The restaurant is owned in part by Mexican immigrants Yesenia Neri Diaz and Rogelio Martinez, the White House said in a statement about the visit.

Joe Biden visits Taqueria Las Gemelas restaurant Wednesday in Washington.
Joe Biden visits Taqueria Las Gemelas restaurant Wednesday in Washington. Photograph: Evan Vucci/AP

The White House also noted Taqueria Las Gemelas is one of the businesses that benefitted from the $28.6 billion Restaurant Revitalization Fund in the American Rescue Plan.

The restaurant also used the Paycheck Protection Program, part of the first coronavirus relief package, to rehire some of its workers after letting them go at the start of the pandemic.

“Now, the Restaurant Revitalization Fund allows the owners of Las Gemelas to complete delayed projects, provide raises to their staff, and operate with confidence again,” the White House said.

“Today, on Cinco de Mayo, the administration is reminded of the resiliency and ingenuity of the Mexican-American community in difficult times. As our country recovers from the pandemic, the Biden-Harris administration is committed to providing relief to small businesses and restaurants across the country and revitalizing opportunities for immigrants to achieve the American dream.”

Trump endorses Stefanik to replace Cheney in House Republican leadership

Donald Trump has officially endorsed Elise Stefanik to replace Liz Cheney as the House Republican conference chairwoman.

“Liz Cheney is a warmongering fool who has no business in Republican Party Leadership. We want leaders who believe in the Make America Great Again movement, and prioritize the values of America First,” the former president said in a new statement.

“Elise Stefanik is a far superior choice, and she has my COMPLETE and TOTAL Endorsement for GOP Conference Chair. Elise is a tough and smart communicator!”

Cheney has not yet been ousted from her leadership role, but it seems only a matter of time until she is, now that House minority leader Kevin McCarthy has signaled he is open to replacing her.

Some of Cheney’s Republican colleagues have been pushing for her ouster since she voted in support of impeaching Trump after the January 6 insurrection.

Stefanik had been one of the names floated to replace Cheney if she were removed from her post, and the New York congresswoman had already received the backing of House minority whip Steve Scalise.

When Stefanik arrived in Congress in 2015, she was widely considered to be a more moderate member of the House Republican caucus. However, she became an outspoken defender of Trump during his first impeachment inquiry and has remained in his good graces ever since.

CDC director warns coronavirus variants remain a 'wild card' even as cases decrease

The White House pandemic response team held a briefing this morning to provide an update on coronavirus case numbers and vaccine distribution.

Senior White House adviser Andy Slavitt reiterated Joe Biden’s announcement yesterday that the federal government is working with its vaccination partners to make it easier than ever to get a shot.

For example, the pharmacies participating in the administration’s vaccination program will now be required to provide walk-up appointments for those who have not yet received a vaccine.

The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also celebrated the recent downward trend in coronavirus cases and hospitalizations.

However, Dr Rochelle Walensky emphasized that the coronavirus variants remain a “wild card” in the pandemic response, which is why it is so crucial for Americans to get vaccinated as quickly as possible.

“Simply put, the sooner we get more and more people vaccinated, the sooner we will all get back to normal,” Walensky said. “We are not out of the woods yet, but we could be very close.”

Donald Trump suggested social media giants like Facebook “must pay a political price” for suspending his accounts after the Capitol insurrection.

Some of Trump’s congressional allies have argued the Facebook oversight board’s decision to uphold the suspension of his account underscores the need for more regulation of social media companies.

Congressman Jim Banks, the chairman of the Republican study committee, said on Twitter, “If Facebook is so big it thinks it can silence the leaders you elect, it’s time for conservatives to pursue an antitrust agenda.”

'These corrupt social media companies must pay a political price,' Trump says

Donald Trump has released a statement harshly criticizing Facebook and other social media giants, after an oversight board upheld the suspension of his Facebook account.

“What Facebook, Twitter, and Google have done is a total disgrace and an embarrassment to our Country. Free Speech has been taken away from the President of the United States because the Radical Left Lunatics are afraid of the truth, but the truth will come out anyway, bigger and stronger than ever before,” the former president said in the statement.

Trump added, “The People of our Country will not stand for it! These corrupt social media companies must pay a political price, and must never again be allowed to destroy and decimate our Electoral Process.”

Facebook initially suspended Trump’s account on January 7, the day after a group of his supporters staged a deadly insurrection at the US Capitol. The company said two of Trump’s posts praising the insurrectionists violated Facebook’s community guidelines. Facebook had previously taken down several of Trump’s posts promoting the “big lie” that there was widespread fraud in the presidential election.

In its decision, the oversight board said Facebook made the right decision to suspend Trump’s account in January, due to the continued threat of violence.

However, the board also said Facebook was wrong to indefinitely suspend Trump’s account and instructed the company to conduct a six-month review to determine whether to lift the ban.

Richard Luscombe reports for the Guardian:

Donald Trump’s defenders were, predictably, less than enamored by the oversight board’s decision to uphold the suspension of his Facebook account.

Lauren Boebert, the controversial right-wing congresswoman from Colorado, issued what appeared to be a threat: “This morning, Facebook banned Trump permanently. Facebook will pay the price. Mark my words,” she wrote, apparently overlooking the fact that the ban must be reviewed inside six months.

The loyalist Tennessee senator Marsha Blackburn attacked Facebook’s founder, even though the company insists he had no role in today’s decision.

The continued suspension “is extremely disappointing,” Blackburn wrote. “It’s clear that Mark Zuckerberg views himself as the arbiter of speech.”

And Kelli Ward, chair of the Arizona Republican Party that has a record for censuring members who have crossed Trump, used the hashtag #unAmerican to condemn the board’s action.

“In an OUTRAGEOUS decision: Facebook’s ‘oversight committee’ upholds permanent ban on President Trump’s right to free speech,” she wrote.

Richard Luscombe reports for the Guardian:

The decision by Facebook’s oversight board to uphold the ban on Donald Trump’s account was immediately welcomed by some social media users, and criticized by others.

Scott Dworkin, the activist and founder of the group the Democratic Coalition, said, “For now, it’s a big win for America, and the entire world,” in a tweet that also noted the ban would be reviewed within six months.

The Axios reporter Jonathan Swan tweeted that the decision could have far-reaching implications for Trump’s political future.

“The bottom line is Trump and his inner circle were hanging on this decision and view Facebook reinstatement as crucial to Trump’s political comeback. Mostly because of its fundraising power,” he wrote.

Trump aides, he said, were “cautiously optimistic that Trump would be re-platformed. And yes: his inner circle increasingly believes he will run in 2024. Facebook is crucial to their strategy as it was in 16 and 20.”

Frederick Joseph, best-selling author of the book The Black Friend, cautioned those welcoming the development. “People are praising Facebook for upholding the Trump ban as if that should have been a difficult decision,” he wrote.

“We spend so much time praising people dousing fires after lighting the matches.”

CNN tech reporter Donie O’Sullivan described the oversight board’s decision on the suspension of Donald Trump’s account as “worse-case scenario” for Facebook and its CEO, Mark Zuckerberg.

“Facebook has created this board, this supposedly independent board, because it wanted this board to make the hard decisions for them,” O’Sullivan said.

“But what this board is now saying is, ‘You were right to suspend him at the time, but maybe you shouldn’t suspend him forever.’ So this turns it all back on Zuckerberg.”

The Guardian’s Martin Pengelly and Kari Paul report:

Facebook suspended Donald Trump’s account after the Capitol attack of 6 January, when a mob of Trump supporters stormed Congress in an attempt to overturn the former president’s defeat by Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential election.

Trump was initially suspended from Facebook and Instagram for 24 hours, as a result of two posts shared to the platform in which he appeared to praise the actions of the rioters. The company then extended the president’s ban “at least until the end of his time in office”.

His account was suspended indefinitely pending the decision of the oversight board, a group of appointed academics and former politicians meant to operate independently of Facebook’s corporate leadership.

The board assigned ultimate responsibility to the social media company regarding whether the account will be given a reinstatement date and said Facebook must complete its review of this matter within six months. It said Facebook failed to impose proper penalties against Trump for violating its policies.

Facebook typically removes violating content from an account, imposing a time-bound period of suspension, or permanently disables the page and account. Trump’s account remains on Facebook with a number of older posts still live.

Congressman Jim Jordan, the top Republican on the House judiciary committee, said Facebook should be broken up in response to the oversight board upholding the suspension of Donald Trump’s account.

If Republicans take back the House next year, Jordan could become the chairman of the influential judiciary committee and would be able to call for hearings on breaking up social media giants like Facebook.

Trump lashes out against Cheney, Pence and McConnell in new statement

Donald Trump has just released a new statement, but the former president focuses his ire on congresswoman Liz Cheney, not the Facebook oversight board.

“Warmonger Liz Cheney, who has virtually no support left in the Great State of Wyoming, continues to unknowingly and foolishly say that there was no Election Fraud in the 2020 Presidential Election when in fact, the evidence, including no Legislative approvals as demanded by the U.S. Constitution, shows the exact opposite,” Trump said.

That is not true -- on multiple fronts. What Cheney has said is that there was not widespread fraud in the presidential election, so even if there were isolated cases of fraud, it would not have been anywhere near enough to overturn Joe Biden’s victory. And that is accurate.

Trump went on to say, “Had Mike Pence referred the information on six states (only need two) back to State Legislatures, and had gutless and clueless MINORITY Leader Mitch McConnell (he blew two seats in Georgia that should have never been lost) fought to expose all of the corruption that was presented at the time, with more found since, we would have had a far different Presidential result, and our Country would not be turning into a socialist nightmare! Never give up!”

Again, that is not true. Although the vice-president oversees the congressional certification of the presidential election, Pence had no authority to overrule the results in battleground states. And despite Trump’s claims that the country is “turning into a socialist nightmare,” it should be noted Biden is not a socialist.

Trump’s continued efforts to spread the “big lie” that there was widespread fraud in the presidential election will likely impact Facebook’s decision about whether to restore his account. The oversight board instructed Facebook to conduct a six-month review to determine whether the suspension of Trump’s account should be lifted.

Updated

A former senior adviser to Donald Trump suggested the oversight board’s decision could lead to more federal regulations on Facebook.

“It’s a sad day for America. It’s a sad day for Facebook, because I can tell you, a number of members of Congress are now looking at, do they break up Facebook? Do they make sure that they don’t have a monopoly?” said Mark Meadows, Trump’s former chief of staff.

Meadows told Fox News shortly after the decision was announced, “This is a sad day for America but a sadder day for the Facebooks of the world who have actually enjoyed a very wild, wild west kind of regulatory environment. I can tell you that’s going to change. The discussion will happen within hours of this decision on Capitol Hill.”

Even before this morning’s decision, lawmakers of both parties had suggested that social media giants like Facebook should be subject to more regulation.

Facebook says it will 'determine an action that is clear and proportionate' on Trump's account

Facebook’s vice president of global affairs and communications, Nick Clegg, has released a statement in response to the oversight board’s decision.

Clegg defended Facebook’s initial suspension of Donald Trump’s account after the January 6 insurrection and said the company will review the recommendations offered by the board.

“As we stated in January, we believe our decision was necessary and right, and we’re pleased the board has recognized that the unprecedented circumstances justified the exceptional measure we took,” Clegg said.

“We will now consider the board’s decision and determine an action that is clear and proportionate. In the meantime, Mr. Trump’s accounts remain suspended.”

The board described Trump’s indefinite suspension as “not appropriate,” and its members instructed Facebook to complete a six-month review to determine whether to restore the former president’s account.

“The board also made a number of recommendations on how we should improve our policies,” Clegg said. “While these recommendations are not binding, we actively sought the board’s views on our policies around political figures and will carefully review its recommendations.”

The oversight board also offered recommendations to Facebook on how to handle situations where political leaders violate the platform’s community guidelines.

“The Board stated that it is not always useful to draw a firm distinction between political leaders and other influential users, recognizing that other users with large audiences can also contribute to serious risks of harm,” the panel said in its decision.

“While the same rules should apply to all users, context matters when assessing the probability and imminence of harm. When posts by influential users pose a high probability of imminent harm, Facebook should act quickly to enforce its rules.”

The board suggested enforcing a time-limited suspension to mitigate the risk of violence and then review whether to lift the suspension once the time limit has expired. If the threat of violence persists, another time-limited suspension may be warranted.

“The Board noted that heads of state and other high officials of government can have a greater power to cause harm than other people,” the panel said.

“If a head of state or high government official has repeatedly posted messages that pose a risk of harm under international human rights norms, Facebook should suspend the account for a period sufficient to protect against imminent harm. Suspension periods should be long enough to deter misconduct and may, in appropriate cases, include account or page deletion.”

The oversight board found that two of Donald Trump’s Facebook posts on January 6 violated the platform’s community guidelines.

Specifically, the then-president told his supporters participating in the Capitol insurrection, “We love you. You’re very special.” In another post, he described the insurrectionists as “great patriots” and told them to “remember this day forever”.

“The Board found that, in maintaining an unfounded narrative of electoral fraud and persistent calls to action, Mr. Trump created an environment where a serious risk of violence was possible. At the time of Mr. Trump’s posts, there was a clear, immediate risk of harm and his words of support for those involved in the riots legitimized their violent actions,” the panel said in its decision.

“Given the seriousness of the violations and the ongoing risk of violence, Facebook was justified in suspending Mr. Trump’s accounts on January 6 and extending that suspension on January 7.

“However, it was not appropriate for Facebook to impose an ‘indefinite’ suspension.”

The board instructed Facebook to complete a review of whether to restore Trump’s account within six months.

Although the oversight board upheld Facebook’s decision on January 7, the panel said it was “not appropriate” to issue an indefinite suspension of Donald Trump’s account.

“It is not permissible for Facebook to keep a user off the platform for an undefined period, with no criteria for when or whether the account will be restored,” the board said in its decision.

“In applying this penalty, Facebook did not follow a clear, published procedure. ‘Indefinite’ suspensions are not described in the company’s content policies. Facebook’s normal penalties include removing the violating content, imposing a time-bound period of suspension, or permanently disabling the page and account.”

The board instructed Facebook to complete a review to determine whether Trump can return to the platform.

“The Board insists that Facebook review this matter to determine and justify a proportionate response that is consistent with the rules that are applied to other users of its platform. Facebook must complete its review of this matter within six months of the date of this decision,” the board said.

Trump's Facebook suspension upheld by independent panel

Facebook’s oversight board has upheld the company’s decision to restrict Donald Trump’s access to the social media platform.

The company initially made the decision after a group of the former president’s supporters staged a deadly insurrection at the US Capitol on January 6.

The blog will have more details soon, so stay tuned.

Here are two interesting threads from Twitter, one from attorney Zephyr Teachout and a second from NBC News journalist Ben Collins, on the need to remember that the Oversight Board is of Facebook’s creation, much more of a corporate advisory board than a public court, like the Supreme Court.

This morning will be the Facebook Oversight Board’s tenth decision since it started releasing its decisions at the end of January.

The board released its first decisions in a batch of five. The cases ranged from a post with photos of a deceased child that commented on Muslim’s reactions to killings in France versus reactions to China’s treatment of Uighur Muslims to an Instagram photos raising awareness of breast cancer that showed female nipples. In that batch of cases, the board overturned the company’s decision to remove the posts except for one post, which showed photos of churches in Azerbaijan. The board agreed with Facebook’s decision that the post indicated “disdain for Azerbaijani people.

For the next four decisions the board released, one in January, one in February and two more in April, the board overturned all but one of the company’s decisions. The board upheld the company’s removal of a Facebook user in the Netherlands who shared a post that included a portrayal of Black face, saying that the board agreed the post violated the company’s “Hate Speech Community Standard” rule.

The board releases its decisions on its cleverly titled website, oversightboard.com. Find the decisions here.

For a sobering take on Facebook’s Oversight Board, take a look at this piece Emily Bell, director of the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia’s journalism graduate school and a Guardian columnist, wrote last month. In it, she explains how the board is essentially a band-aid over problems that originate from Facebook’s core.

Facebook’s content decisions are increasingly its brand. In the Oversight Board it has a backstop for the kind of decisions the company cannot scale and smoothly enact across the world: which politicians’ accounts to take down and which to leave up; how to deal with certain persistent harassers who are ruled not to breach policy; whether to take down offensive material in one country but leave it up in another. And, most importantly, it is a mechanism through which to respond to the kind of public pressure that is a drain on management time, provokes congressional hearings, and upsets employees. To date, Facebook’s attempts to produce a “scalable” content moderation strategy for global speech has been a miserable failure, as it was always doomed to be, because speech is culturally sensitive and context specific.

After a decade of denying Facebook was responsible for, or even capable of, making content decisions beyond the broadest sweep of generalised rules, Mark Zuckerberg has shifted the company more into the territory of all historic media powers: making arbitrary decisions on hot topics in step with the prevailing cultural and political forces of the time. Ultimately, there is no other way that Facebook can operate, but accepting the position means abandoning some core beliefs.

Facebook is not a news company – it employs no reporters – but it is a news-driven company. Two years ago, I asked a Facebook executive who was actually responsible for coming in every morning and worrying about the global news cycle, the election pressures, the trending stories, the regional sensitivities. I got a long answer that essentially boiled down to: parts of many departments, led by policy. However, Facebook having any pre-emptive alarm for sensitive situations was unusual, until the pandemic and the US election changed attitudes.

What exactly is Facebook’s Oversight Board?

If you need some catching up on exactly what Facebook’s Oversight Board is, here are some basic facts:

  • Facebook announced the creation of the board on 6 May 2020. The company said the board will review the company’s biggest content moderation decisions. Upon announcing the board, Mark Zuckerberg said “Facebook should not make so many important decisions about free expression and safety on our own.”
  • The board is very much like the supreme court of Facebook. The board selects “cases” it wants to decide on, and once they release their decision, it’s final.
  • Facebook says it allocated $130m to financially support the board, which is supposed to be independent from the company. The company says the funding will last two full terms for the board, which is about six years.
  • There are currently 20 members of the board. It’s filled with a global group of academics, lawyers, politicians and journalists. Some notable members include Helle Thorning-Schmidt, prime minister of Denmark, Alan Rusbridger, former editor-in-chief of the Guardian, and Tawakkol Karman, a Nobel peace prize laureate.

Updated

Good morning, this is Lauren Aratani kicking off today’s politics live blog.

Facebook’s Oversight Board – AKA Facebook’s “supreme court” – will be announcing its decision on whether Donald Trump should be allowed back onto the social media site at 9am ET this morning. The decision will be the board’s biggest since it was created last May after Facebook long faced criticism over its content moderation.

Trump was removed from Facebook and Instagram on 7 January, the day after the insurrection at the US Capitol, after he posted a video responding to the attack that left five people dead. In the video, Trump told the insurrectionists, “I know your pain. I know you’re hurt. We had an election that was stolen from us.”

Upon his removal from Facebook in January, the company’s CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, wrote that Trump “used our platform to incite violence insurrection against a democratically elected government” and said that Trump would be indefinitely banned from the site.

Trump’s disappearance from social media has meant the former president has relied on speeches at events, interviews with his favorite cable news channels and press releases to get any messages to the public out as he lives his post-presidency life at his golf resort in Florida.

Here are some other things we’re watching today.

  • Trump, perhaps in anticipation of Facebook’s decision today, has created what is supposed to be a rival to the big social media platforms but is essentially a glorified blog.
  • House Republicans leaders are amping up efforts to oust one of their own from a powerful committee position. Republicans want Liz Cheney, daughter of former vice-president Dick Cheney and a vocal Trump critic, to be removed from her position as House Republican conference chair. Multiple reports say the House minority leader, Kevin McCarthy, is trying to push Cheney out.
  • A report expected to be published today reveals the birth rate in the US has dropped 4%. The birth rate has been declining for years as women postpone having children and opt to have smaller families.

We’ll be keeping an eye out for interesting thoughts and reactions on Facebook’s decision this morning. Stay tuned for more live updates.