Psaki swipes at Fox News hosts who privately tried to get Trump to stop the January 6 rioters but took a different tone publicly: ‘Disappointing but not surprising’

Jen Psaki
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki speaks during the daily press briefing at the White House December 14, 2021.

  • Psaki criticized Fox News hosts who tried to get Trump to stop the rioters on January 6 but publicly took a different tone.
  • “Well it’s disappointing and unfortunately not surprising,” Psaki said Tuesday.
  • The comments come after the January 6 committee revealed texts that Fox News hosts sent to Mark Meadows.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Tuesday called out prominent Fox News hosts for privately trying to get former President Donald Trump to stop the pro-Trump Capitol rioters on January 6 before publicly blaming the insurrection on antifa and others.

“Well it’s disappointing and unfortunately not surprising that some of the very same individuals who are willing to warn, condemn and express horror over what happened on January 6 in private were totally silent in public,” Psaki said during a press briefing. 

“Or, even worse, were spreading lies and conspiracy theories and continue to since that time. So, disappointing, not surprising, unfortunately we’ve seen a trend from some of the same individuals,” she added.

Psaki’s comments came in response to a question about the White House’s reaction to text messages that Fox News hosts and lawmakers sent to former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows during the Capitol riot, urging him to get Trump to put an end to the violence.

The House select committee investigating January 6 revealed the texts during a hearing on Monday. Republican Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, vice chair of the bipartisan panel, read them aloud, including ones from Fox News hosts Sean Hannity, Brian Kilmead,e and Laura Ingraham.

“Can he make a statement? Ask people to leave the Capitol,” Hannity texted Meadows as the riot was ongoing on January 6.

“Please get him on TV. Destroying everything you have accomplished,” Kilmeade wrote.

“Mark, the president needs to tell people in the Capitol to go home. This is hurting all of us. He is destroying his legacy,” Ingraham texted.

The three Fox News anchors expressed different sentiments publicly that same evening. Although they condemned the violence, they shifted the conversation away from Trump and his supporters.

Instead, the hosts floated conspiracy theories claiming that groups like antifa had infiltrated the crowd and were behind the attack. The FBI said its found no evidence that outside groups such as antifa had been involved in the riot. 

“I’ve been to a lot of these rallies,” Ingraham said hours later on Fox News, raising doubts about whether the crowd was made up of Trump supporters. “I have never seen that before. Ever.”

“I do not know Trump supporters that have ever demonstrated violence that I know of in a big situation,” Kilmeade said in a Fox News interview that night.

On his radio show, hours after his text to Meadows, Hannity said “we had the reports that groups like antifa, other radical groups — I don’t know the names of all of them — that they were there to cause trouble.” And on his TV show, Hannity suggested that “bad actors” could have been responsible for the violence.

Since then, the Fox News personalities have downplayed what happened on January 6.

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White House punts Biden’s promise to cancel $10,000 in student debt to Congress: ‘They haven’t sent him a bill on that yet’

Jen Psaki
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki speaks during the daily press briefing at the White House December 14, 2021.

  • The White House said it’s up to Congress to help carry out Biden’s promise to cancel $10,000 in student loans.
  • “If Congress sends him a bill, he’s happy to sign it. They haven’t sent him a bill on that yet,” Psaki said.
  • Millions of Americans are expected to restart their student-loan payments in 49 days. 

The White House on Tuesday said it’s up to Congress to help execute President Joe Biden’s promise to cancel $10,000 in student loans per borrower, though Democrats have asked him to forgive the debt on his own for months. 

“What is the message to those people who feel that he is yet to follow through on that promise?” a reporter asked White House press secretary Jen Psaki said during Tuesday’s press briefing.

“If Congress sends him a bill, he’s happy to sign it. They haven’t sent him a bill on that yet,” Psaki responded.

Biden campaigned on approving $10,000 in student debt cancellation per borrower, but he still has not done so nearly 11 months into his presidency. In a speech on November 16, he said student loans are holding borrowers up, and forgiving $10,000 “should be done immediately.”


His campaign website also said he’d work with Democrats to “authorize up to $10,000 in student debt relief per borrower” as part of COVID-19 relief, but the $1.9 trillion stimulus package he signed in March didn’t include student debt relief. And in early February, shortly after Biden was sworn in and pressure to fulfill the student-loan cancellation began, Psaki said that the president’s “calling on Congress to draft the proposal.”

But lawmakers have insisted that Biden can get it done himself by simply signing an executive order. Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer have led the push to cancel $50,000 in student debt per borrower, which they believe Biden can do on his own via the Higher Education Act. 

“Cancelling $50,000 in student debt would completely wipe out student loans for 84% of borrowers, including more than 3 million borrowers who have been repaying their loans for more than 20 years,” Warren previously told Insider. “This is the single most effective executive action President Biden could take to jumpstart our economy and begin to narrow the racial wealth gap.” 

Biden has expressed doubt in his legal ability to cancel student debt broadly, and he asked the Education Department to prepare a memo in April on whether he has that authority. But recently released documents revealed that Biden received that memo as early as April but has yet to release its contents.

Even so, Psaki said during the Tuesday press briefing that “there have been questions and asks about what executive authorities could be used. That has been under review.”

“I don’t have anything to report on that in this point in time,” she added. 

Psaki’s comments come as millions of Americans are expected to restart their student loan payments on February 1, 2022, after a nearly two-year pause because of the COVID-19 pandemic. But with the public health crisis still ongoing, Democratic lawmakers, advocates and borrowers have urged Biden to extend the pause.

“This debt is just overwhelming for people,” Schumer said last week. “If we don’t extend the pause, interest rates just pile up. Students owe a fortune. And with Omicron here, we’re not getting out of this as quickly as we’d like.”

Borrowers across the country owe an estimated $1.7 trillion in student, a record-breaking total, according to data from the Federal Reserve. 

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The 2nd-ranked Senate Democrat is daring Joe Manchin to sink Biden’s agenda: ‘It’s time to put up or shut up’

Richard Durbin Joe Manchin
Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) speaks with Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) on Capitol Hill.

  • Some Senate Democrats want to put Manchin on the spot about Biden’s $2 trillion bill.
  • “It comes a time we’ve got to say.. it’s time to put up or shut up,” Sen. Richard Durbin said.
  • But pressuring Manchin in a high-stakes vote could blow up in Democrats’ faces.

Some Senate Democrats are growing frustrated that Sen. Joe Manchin has not given their $2 trillion social climate and spending bill a green-light — and they’re ready to put him on the spot before the holidays.

“Many people will sit on the fence as long as possible,” Sen. Richard Durbin of Illinois, the second-ranked Democrat in the upper chamber, told reporters on Tuesday. “It comes a time we’ve got to say, ‘All right, we’ve done the negotiating. We’ve made the accommodations, it’s time to put up or shut up.'”

The remarks are a clear reference to Manchin, who seems to be the only Senate Democrat who still hasn’t thrown his support behind Biden’s big spending bill. All 50 Senate Democrats must give it a thumbs-up for it to clear the 50-50 chamber, given strong GOP opposition. Senate Democrats are scrambling to iron out remaining disagreements and put it to a vote before their self-imposed Christmas deadline — only 11 days away.

Manchin has waffled on the bill and declined to state whether he’d vote for it. Instead, he’s raised concern about inflation, the price tag of the package, and whether the US can afford another burst of government spending on top of federal pandemic aid.

“Anything is possible,” he told reporters on Monday on whether passing it by Christmas was feasible. Biden spoke with Manchin that same day, and the pair are set to speak more in the coming days.

Final passage of the plan still seems far off. Democrats are still fighting on the state and local tax deduction (known as SALT), Medicare expansion, certain climate change provisions and immigration as well. They’re racing to avert a sudden lapse in President Joe Biden’s monthly child tax credit.

Still, such a high-stakes maneuver from Democrats to pressure Manchin may blow up in their face. It’s possible the West Virginia Democrat could vote to kick off a marathon series of amendment votes — and join Republicans to modify large chunks of the bill before the Senate ultimately votes on it.

“Nightmare for Ds isn’t that Manchin shoots down the motion to proceed, it’s that he allows debate to begin and then sides with Rs on amendments that alter the product in ways they have zero control over,” Republican lobbyist Liam Donovan wrote on Twitter. “Not a great plan.”

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The clock is ticking with 2 weeks left for Democrats to avoid a sudden end to monthly checks to families — but Manchin is still a wild card

Joe Manchin
Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) walks after a vote on Capitol Hill on November 4, 2021 in Washington, DC.

  • Manchin poses a big obstacle for Democrats trying to approve Biden’s big bill by Christmas.
  • Democrats want to pass it to prevent cutting off families from monthly child tax credit checks.
  • Manchin has remained publicly silent since a Friday report showing a surge in inflation.

Senate Democrats are scrambling to approve a $2 trillion economic spending plan by year’s end. But a swing vote within their ranks could still slam the brakes and upend their aggressive timetable, kicking it into next year.

Democrats are still sticking to their Christmas deadline to approve the sprawling bill, which includes an expansion of Medicare to cover hearing, a one-year extension of the child tax credit, funding for affordable housing, universal pre-K and childcare subsidies. It would be paid for with tax increases on large firms and wealthy Americans.

Senior Democrats are leaning into the pending expiration of up to $300 in monthly checks to families as a pressure point to wrap up work on the bill. Around 35 million families are receiving the federal cash and the last scheduled payment will go out on Dec. 15.

“Let’s pass and enact Build Back Better into law before Christmas so families won’t see their checks come to a halt in the coming months and families— as they’re doing their Christmas shopping — can be assured that new checks will be coming over the next year,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a Thursday floor speech.

Manchin, however, has not thrown his backing behind the legislation and all 50 Senate Democrats must give it a thumbs-up for it to clear the 50-50 chamber, given strong GOP opposition. He’s repeatedly expressed concern about the legislation contributing to inflation and whether it would be fully paid for by the tax increases. Manchin remained silent after a key government report on Friday showed consumer prices had risen 6.8% compared to a year ago.

Manchin’s office didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Internal Revenue Service has told Congress that Dec. 28 is the latest date that the bill must pass to ensure monthly checks are issued to families. The IRS and the Treasury Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Democrats appear far from done from finalizing key aspects of the legislation. They’re still haggling over tax cuts for higher-income families in predominantly blue states and those negotiations are ongoing. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont is pushing to scale back those tax breaks, warning it would be too generous for the rich.

The “Build Back Better” bill may be pared down further to gain Manchin’s support as the West Virginia Democrat has lambasted a measure to provide four weeks of paid parental and medical leave.

Republicans are also trying to pressure Manchin to sink the bill. They released an analysis from the Congressional Budget Office indicating it could add $3 trillion to the federal deficit. Sen. Lindsay Graham of South Carolina said at a press conference on Friday that Manchin seemed “stunned” at the findings.

President Joe Biden said on Friday that he was unsure whether he could get Manchin’s support for the bill this year. The pair are set to talk early this week in what will be a high-stakes meeting.

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Former Trump advisor Peter Navarro defies House subpoena in COVID-19 probe, points to former president’s claim of executive privilege

Peter Navarro
Trade advisor Peter Navarro speaks with reporters outside the White House on July 27, 2020.

  • Former White House trade advisor Peter Navarro is refusing to comply with a House subpoena.
  • The select subcommittee on the coronavirus crisis has sought documents pertaining to Navarro’s influence over health policy.
  • Rep. Jim Clyburn wrote that Navarro’s noncompliance to the subpoena “in its entirety” is “improper.”

Former White House trade advisor Peter Navarro — who tussled with scientists over the government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic and retains deep ties to former President Donald Trump — is refusing to comply with a congressional subpoena for documents, according to a letter sent to the investigating House panel.

In the correspondence addressed to Democratic Rep. Jim Clyburn of South Carolina, Navarro stated that he’s adhering to a “direct order” from the former president not to comply with inquiries from the panel regarding the Trump administration’s pandemic response.

“At this time, I am unable to respond to the Subpoena, based on former President Trump’s invocation of executive privilege with respect to the very topic covered by the Subpoena. … Therefore, until such time as the scope of the privilege is negotiated or negotiated, this matter is out of my hands and something that the Sub-Committee should discuss with President Trump’s counsel,” Navarro wrote in his letter to Clyburn.

According to The Washington Post, the clash with Navarro represents the first time that a witness has rejected a subpoena order issued by the select subcommittee on the coronavirus crisis

House Democrats on Saturday disclosed Navarro’s response to their subpoena and made public their letter asking the former advisor to appear for a deposition before the subcommittee on Wednesday.

The subcommittee is investigating whether Trump officials impeded any scientific findings regarding COVID-19.

Clyburn, the House majority whip and chairman of the subcommittee, sent a sharply-worded response to Navarro.

“Your blanket refusal to comply with the subpoena in its entirety is improper,” he wrote. “Courts have clearly held that White House advisers, such as yourself, cannot avoid compelled congressional process. The records and information that you possess are critical to the Select Subcommittee’s investigations.”

He added: “Your refusal to comply is particularly indefensible given that you disclosed many details about your work in the White House, including details of conversations with the former President about the pandemic response, in your recent book and related press tour. The Select Subcommittee therefore expects you to promptly produce all responsive records and information in your possession and appear for a deposition on December 15, as the subpoena requires.”

Choosing to ignore a subpoena can place a potential witness in “contempt of Congress,” which can result in increased financial penalties and possible jail time.

House Democrats could push for a vote to hold Navarro in contempt for declining to appear before the panel.

In November, former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon was held in contempt for refusing to comply with subpoena issued by the House panel investigating the January 6 riot.

Bannon subsequently turned himself in to law enforcement after he was indicted on two counts of contempt of Congress.

In Navarro’s letter to Clyburn (which he mistakenly writes as “Rayburn,” where the offices for the subcommittee are located), the former advisor claims that he didn’t have access to documents from his government-issued account pertaining to COVID-19 decisions. 

During his time in the administration, Navarro advised Trump on a range of economic matters.

Navarro also pushed for individuals who had contracted COVID-19 to take the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine, an unproven drug for treating the disease, and sparred with Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top expert on infectious diseases.

However, the former advisor also pushed the administration to get ahead of the pandemic early, warning in a January memo that the coronavirus could cause “half a million” deaths domestically.

More than 797,000 people have died of the coronavirus in the US, with nearly 49.9 million confirmed cases, according to Johns Hopkins University.

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Hillary Clinton predicts Trump will run for president in 2024, says his win ‘could be the end of our democracy’

Hillary Clinton
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

  • Hillary Clinton predicts that former President Trump will once again seek the White House in 2024.
  • “He seems to be setting himself up to do that,” she told Sunday Today host Willie Geist.
  • Trump defeated Clinton in the 2016 presidential election, winning the Electoral College 304-227.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton — in an NBC interview that was released in its entirety on Sunday — predicted that former President Donald Trump would seek the presidency in 2024 and said that his potential victory “could be the end” of US democracy.

Clinton — who lost the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008 to then-Senator Barack Obama of Illinois before becoming the party’s nominee in 2016 — was defeated by Trump in what was seen as one of the biggest political upsets in modern political history.

“If I were a betting person right now, I’d say Trump is going to run again,” she told Sunday Today host Willie Geist. “He seems to be setting himself up to do that, and if he’s not held accountable, he gets to do it again.”

“I think that could be the end of our democracy,” she said. “Not too be too pointed about it, but I want people to understand that this could be a make-or-break point. If he or someone of his ilk were once again to be elected president, especially if he had a Congress that would do his bidding, you will not recognize our country.”

Trump has flirted with a 2024 presidential bid since leaving the White House in January, but has not yet made an official announcement of his plans.

When Geist asked Clinton if she ever had “moments of responsibility or even guilt” about Trump’s tenure in the White House, she acknowledged having such feelings.

“Of course,” she said. “I tried to warn people. I tried to make the case that this was really dangerous — the people he was allied with, what they were saying, what he might do. I do think but for Jim Comey and the stunt he pulled ten days before the election, I would have won.”

Comey, who at the time was the director of the FBI, sent a letter to Congress on October 28, 2020, to announce that the law enforcement agency was reopening its investigation into her private email server.

Clinton and many top Democrats have long maintained that the development swayed enough independent voters into Trump’s camp to help him win the election.

In her Today interview, Clinton remarked on what she sees as Trump’s perilous brand of politics.

“I feel terrible about not stopping him and the people around him, but I feel like now everybody can see for themselves what kind of leader he is,” she said.

However, Clinton  also reflected on Trump’s base of supporters, noting that he was trying to install loyalists in key election posts across the country.

“Clearly, there were people who liked what they saw, despite what I see as the real dangers to our country,” she said. “They turned out and voted for him. And he’s trying to get it set up so that will happen again for him, even as he loses, as he did twice the popular vote.”

In the 2016 presidential election, Trump beat Clinton in the Electoral College (304 to 227, with 7 electors defecting), but Clinton edged him out in the popular vote (48%-46%), securing nearly 2.9 million more votes than the Republican.

Clinton has been a fixture in national politics for generations, from her days as first lady alongside her husband, then-President Bill Clinton, and her tenure as a US senator representing New York, to her time as the country’s top diplomat and as one of the most influential figures in the Democratic Party.

She said the potential of Trump reentering the Oval Office presents the country with a clear choice.

“Are we going to give in to all these lies and this disinformation and this organized effort to undermine our rule of law and our institutions, or are we going to stand up to it?” she asked.

Last week — for the first time — Clinton shared the speech that she would have given at the Javits Center in Manhattan had she won the presidency in a video for her new MasterClass lesson called “The Power of Resilience.”

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Mark Meadows said he was ‘surprised’ he didn’t crack his phone’s screen when he angrily dialed a Fox News editor on election night after the network projected Biden would win Arizona: book

Mark Meadows
Then-White House chief of staff Mark Meadows speaks with reporters outside the White House on October 26, 2020.

  • Mark Meadows said it was “infuriating” when Fox News called Arizona for Biden on election night.
  • Meadows quickly called Fox News editor Bill Sammon, forcefully tapping the numbers on his phone.
  • “I’m surprised I didn’t crack the screen of my iPhone,” the former Trump aide wrote in his new book.

On November 3, 2020, then-White House chief of staff Mark Meadows was eagerly awaiting the results of the presidential election alongside then-President Donald Trump and the multitude of Republican loyalists who were on hand at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

As Meadows relished in Trump’s vote advantage over then-Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden in Florida — an electoral behemoth prized by both major political parties — he also remarked on the then-president’s leads in additional swing states.

To the Republicans present at the White House, Trump’s reelection to a second term seemed nearly assured, according to the former presidential aide’s new book.

When a phone call came through for Trump from veteran Republican political consultant Karl Rove to congratulate him for his success that night, Meadows said that the then-president was waiting for official network calls to declare victory.

However, when Fox News called the state of Arizona for Biden — projecting a win for the former vice president in a state that had not supported a Democratic presidential nominee since Bill Clinton in 1996 — the mood in the White House turned sour, Meadows wrote in “The Chief’s Chief.”

“I walked back down to the Map Room, where our analysts were reporting good news from social media. The Twitter traffic was all trending in the right direction,” Meadows described the scene at around 10:30 p.m. that night.

He continued: “Then, out of nowhere, I heard a loud series of screams and expletives from the next room. Fox News had called Arizona for Joe Biden.”

Meadows, a former congressman from North Carolina who served in office from 2013 to 2020, is no stranger to political campaigns and said that the decision to call Arizona for Biden at that stage was premature.

“Not only was this infuriating, but it was also mathematically impossible to determine at this early hour. With the information that Fox News had at the time, they could not possibly have been able to legitimately make the call that they did,” he wrote.

The presidential aide had previously initiated a testy phone call with Bill Sammon — who at the time was the managing editor of Fox News Washington — over what he felt was uneven election coverage by the network.

On election night, Meadows felt that his growing suspicions about Fox News had been validated.

“My worst fears — that there was a liberal contingent within the network trying to sabotage President Trump in the name of objectivity — had been realized. I dialed Bill Sammon once again, tapping the numbers with such force that I’m surprised I didn’t crack the screen of my iPhone,” he wrote.

He told Sammon: “There is no information that you could have at this time that would make this call possible.”

Sammon informed Meadows that the network’s election modeling projected a Trump loss in Arizona, but the top presidential aide pushed back on the call.

“It may well be that President Trump loses Arizona,” Meadows replied. “But if he does, it’s going to be by fewer than ten thousand votes, and there is no way you could know that right now.”

In the final tally, Biden edged out Trump in Arizona by 10,457 votes out of nearly 3.4 million ballots cast.

Meadows said that he received a dismissive response from Sammon, who reportedly expressed to him that it wasn’t the network’s job to placate political figures in the White House.

According to three individuals who spoke with The New York Times, Sammon received criticism from Fox News executives for his oversight of the network’s election coverage, despite the accuracy of the Arizona projection.

Sammon retired from the network in January.

The presidential aide later complained in the book that in the early morning hours of November 4, Democratic-leaning votes were being added to tallies across the country, without mentioning that states including Pennsylvania and Wisconsin were restricted from counting Biden-skewing mail-in ballots until Election Day.

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Mark Meadows said he would’ve ‘dressed in a giant penguin suit’ to have Trump back in the Oval Office after COVID-19 hospitalization: book

White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows speaks with reporters at the White House, Thursday, Sept. 17, 2020, in Washington.
White House chief of staff Mark Meadows speaks with reporters at the White House on September 17, 2020.

  • In his new book, Meadows said he would have donned “a giant penguin suit” to have Trump back in the Oval Office.
  • The former presidential aide made the comment regarding Trump’s hospitalization for COVID-19.
  • Meadows remarked on the heightened enthusiasm for the then-president after leaving Walter Reed.

When then-President Donald Trump returned to the White House from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center after his hospitalization for COVID-19 in October 2020, there was a heightened sense of enthusiasm among his most ardent supporters, according to a new book from his former chief of staff, Mark Meadows.

As Trump returned to the campaign trail in the final stretch before the November general election, Trump was held in even higher regard among the legions of voters who supported him in 2016 and backed his 2020 reelection bid, as Meadows details in “The Chief’s Chief.”

“By the time we hit the campaign trail again in October, I had been to around twenty Trump rallies. Whenever I attended one of these, I was struck all over again by the intensity of the support for President Trump across the country and by the media’s steadfast refusal to cover the events for what they were: huge, energetic seas of excitement — celebrations of prosperity and patriotism, held in honor of the man who believed in America and believed in them,” he wrote.

He continued: “They were always a great time. But I had never seen anything like the rallies that occurred when we got back on the road after the president’s battle with Covid-19 had ended.”

Meadows went on to describe how the racial justice protests that were catapulted into the public consciousness by the death of George Floyd in May 2020 resulted in “young liberal kids” coming into majority-minority neighborhoods to cause chaos — only to return to their “safe communities” and leaving Black Americans to deal with the fallout.

“Out on the trail, the president had heard from countless African American constituents about the detrimental impact that the riots had had on their communities,” the former Republican congressman wrote, adding that many of these voters said that “they were going to turn out in record numbers” for Trump.

The former presidential aide recounted a high-profile early October appearance from Trump where he spoke to members of the “Blexit” movement, which seeks to encourage Black voters to leave the Democratic Party. As the then-president continued to recover from the coronavirus, he spoke to the crowd from the White House Blue Room balcony overlooking the South Lawn.

“It was a remarkable day,” Meadows wrote. “When the president got up to the microphone on the lower balcony, there was uproarious applause. Even out on the lawn, where you don’t typically get the kind of acoustics that are available in an auditorium, it was a formidable sound.”

He continued: “Inside, after the rally was over, I met with the president to update him on several issues. Before entering the Oval Office, I donned my surgical smock, face mask, and a pair of gloves, which had become standard operating procedure after the president’s infection. … I must have looked like I was going in to perform open heart surgery rather than brief the president. But I was relieved to have him behind the Resolute Desk where he belonged.”

Meadows heaped additional praise on Trump’s leadership, lauding his presidency in more pronounced terms after leaving the hospital.

“I would have dressed in a giant penguin suit if it meant having him back in the Oval, running the country,” he wrote.

Trump contracted the disease after downplaying the threat of COVID-19. Throughout much of 2020, the then-president routinely ignored guidance from top public health experts, such as wearing a mask or face-covering in public, which was recommended for reducing the spread of the coronavirus.

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The White House is pissed off at big meat for price gouging, arguing it’s the biggest source of rising grocery prices

meat beef
Pork, beef, and poultry made up a quarter of the overall hike in food prices last month, the White House said.

  • The White House said on Friday that large meat processing companies are gouging consumers. 
  • Saying that four large firms control up to 85% of meat supply, it criticized their excessive profits.
  • Last quarter, their gross profits collectively went up by more than 120% compared to 2019, and net income by 500%.

Groceries have been getting more expensive for Americans as of late. Part of the reason is because of unavoidable issues caused by the pandemic, but the other is a conscious decision by corporations to take excessive profits.

At least, that’s how the White House sees it. And they’re not happy about it. 

On Friday, the same day that inflation hit a 39-year high, the White House released an aggressive statement condemning the biggest meat processing companies for price gouging, arguing that just four large firms control the bulk of the market and are taking too big a bite out of consumers’ wallets. In turn, rising grocery prices have been a huge part of the basket that made up the giant jump in inflation.

The Biden administration said that the price surges are harmful to consumers and farmers alike, the latter of whom they say meat companies underpay in order to maximize executive profit margins. 

In September, the White House published a statement that named meat as the biggest contributor to the rising cost of groceries, citing the few large corporations that dominate meat processing. According to the November Consumer Price Index, that’s still true: pork, beef, and poultry made up a quarter of the overall hike in food prices last month.

Third-quarter earnings data for four of the largest meat-processing companies — Tyson, JBS, Marfrig, and Seaboard — showed that their gross profits increased over 120% collectively since the start of the pandemic, and that their net income has increased by 500%, according to White House calculations. Controlling about 55% to 85% of the market for pork, beef, and poultry, “these middlemen were using their market power to increase prices and underpay farmers, while taking more and more for themselves,” the White House said.

The Biden Administration said the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Justice are looking into price-fixing in the meat processing industry. It also says that the USDA’s investment into pandemic assistance is intended to provide relief to those working in the meat processing industry, such as farmers and small producers. 

Companies keep citing inflation while clocking record profits

It’s true that inflation levels are higher than they’ve been since the early 1990s, and have been impacting the cost of producing goods. 

Executives beyond the meat sector have been enjoying record profit margins. They’ve achieved them not just by passing costs on to customers, but by charging them even more, Insider’s Andy Kiersz and Dominick Reuter reported this month. 

Insider reported in November that two notable exceptions were Walmart and Target, whose margin actually went down last quarter. Despite profits exceeding expectations for both firms, their stock was actually down each day they reported.

Overall, data from the US Commerce Department shows that the last time corporate profit margins have been this high was in 1950.

More than half of the retailers surveyed by the small business services reviews website said that they were raising prices beyond what was required to make up for the rising cost of production. 

So, inflation is bad, and the White House thinks there’s excessive profit-taking going on.

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