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Friday’s Mini-Report, 2.3.23

Today’s edition of quick hits.


Today’s edition of quick hits.

* Balloon fallout: “Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Friday postponed a trip to Beijing next week after a suspected Chinese spy balloon was spotted over the United States, two U.S. officials told NBC News.”

* Among all the hysterical Republican responses to the balloon story, my favorite came from House Oversight Committee Chair James Comer, who asked on Fox News, “Is that bioweapons in that balloon? Did that balloon take off from Wuhan?”

* Pence’s docs: “The FBI is expected to search former Vice President Mike Pence‘s Indiana home for classified material in the coming days, according to people familiar with the matter, as senior government officials come under increased law-enforcement scrutiny of their handling of such documents. The Justice Department is in talks with Mr. Pence’s legal team about scheduling the search, the people said.”

* The Fifth Circuit strikes again: “A federal appeals court ruled Thursday that the government can’t stop people who have domestic violence restraining orders against them from owning guns — the latest domino to fall after the U.S. Supreme Court’s conservative majority set new standards for reviewing the nation’s gun laws.”

* An announcement in Manila: “President Biden and his aides have tried to reassure Chinese leaders that they do not seek to contain China in the same way the Americans did with the Soviet Union during the Cold War. But the announcement on Thursday that the U.S. military is expanding its presence in the Philippines leaves little doubt that the United States is positioning itself to constrain China’s armed forces and bolstering its ability to defend Taiwan.”

* Quite a difference: “Tighter restrictions applied by the Biden administration against migrants from Venezuela, Cuba, Nicaragua and Haiti along the southern border last month led to a precipitous drop in the number of people from those countries crossing into the United States illegally, according to three administration officials and preliminary data. Illegal crossings by migrants from the four countries were down more than 95 percent, preliminary figures obtained by The Washington Post show.”

* A strategy worth watching: “Manhattan prosecutors this week warned that they might file new fraud charges against Allen H. Weisselberg, a longtime top executive at Donald J. Trump’s real estate business — increasing pressure on Mr. Weisselberg to cooperate in a broader investigation into the former president, according to people with knowledge of the matter.”

* The latest on Santos: “The FBI is speaking with a Navy veteran who recently alleged that Rep. George Santos, R-N.Y., essentially stole thousands of dollars from an online fundraising campaign intended to cover lifesaving surgery for his service dog.”

* Even more on Santos: “Add Broadway producer to the long list of George Santos’s fabrications. While running for Congress in 2021, Santos told some potential donors he was a producer on the musical Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark, according to people familiar with the discussions. That show, which ran from 2011 to 2014, was an ill-fated production that lost tens of millions of dollars and suffered from technical mishaps and actor injuries.”

* Good to see: “The 164-year-old Senate chamber was not designed for wires and screens. Senators aren’t even allowed to use their phones when they’re inside. But to help with freshman Senator John Fetterman’s stroke recovery, the chamber just got a digital upgrade.”

* I wish I knew why the Columbia Journalism Review published such an unfortunate piece on such an important issue: “Misdirection, an essential tool for magicians, is not usually a component of media criticism. But in a lengthy critique of the coverage of the Trump-Russia scandal published this week by the Columbia Journalism Review, veteran investigative reporter Jeff Gerth deflects attention from the core components of Russiagate, mirroring Donald Trump’s own efforts of the past six years to escape accountability for his profound betrayal of the nation.”

Have a safe weekend.