Friday morning news – February 26, 2021

House panel holds hearing on Capitol breach » Lawmakers on Capitol Hill once again grilled law enforcement officials Thursday about the Jan. 6th siege at the U.S. Capitol. 

CLARK: Yet still we come down to this failure to be ready when we are at a significant likelihood of attacks.

Democratic Congresswoman Katherine Clark of Massachusetts heard there. She’s among the lawmakers wary of arguments by former top Capitol law enforcement officers that the FBI and other agencies failed to fully warn them about the threat to the Capitol. 

The Democratic chairman of the House panel holding the hearing, Congressman Tim Ryan, was also skeptical.

RYAN: To me it’s—you took the intelligence and I feel like you didn’t put it all together and synthesize it in a way and go ‘holy cow, I mean something really bad can happen here.’

But Acting U.S. Capitol Police Chief Yogananda Pittman pushed back. 

PITTMAN: The department was not ignorant of intelligence indicating an attack of the size and scale we encountered on the 6th. There was no such intelligence. 

And Acting House Sergeant at Arms Timothy Blodgett also insisted that intelligence provided to Capitol law enforcement did not predict a coordinated siege.

BLODGETT: Bad information, conflicting information or missing information leads to poor decisions. 

Many lawmakers agreed that Capitol law enforcement should not shoulder all of the blame. But members maintained that police should have been more prepared than they were. 

House passes controversial LGBT rights bill » Hours later on the House floor, the Democrat-led chamber passed a sweeping LGBT rights bill down party lines.  

AUDIO: On this vote, the yeas are 211, the nays are 195. The motion is adopted. 

The legislation, dubbed the “Equality Act,” would write protections into civil rights statutes, prioritizing LGBT protections over religious liberties. 

Last year, the Supreme Court extended sexual orientation and gender identity protections to cover secular employment decisions. The new House bill would extend protections to many other areas without adding religious freedom protections.

A virtually identical bill passed the House in 2019 but never got a vote in the then-GOP-controlled Senate. While Democrats now have a slim majority in the upper chamber, once again. The bill is likely to die in the Senate.

Ten republicans would have to back the bill to avoid a filibuster. 

Senate confirms Granholm as energy secretary » Lawmakers in the Senate have approved Jennifer Granholm as energy secretary. 

AUDIO: The yeas are 64, the nays are 35. The nomination is confirmed. 

The 62-year-old Granholm served two terms as the Gov. of Michigan.  She’ll play a pivotal role in what President Biden describes as his plan to build a green economy and fight climate change. 

During her confirmation hearing last month, Granholm, pushed her plans to embrace new wind and solar technologies. 

GRANHOLM: We can install wind turbines from Denmark or we can make ‘em in America!

Many GOP lawmakers fear that the Energy Dept. under Granholm will be hostile toward the oil and gas industry. But 14 Republicans, including Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, voted to confirm her nomination.

Khashoggi declassified assessment » President Biden on Thursday spoke with Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud for the first time since taking office. 

The two leaders spoke ahead of the release of a declassified U.S. report on the 2018 murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi. 

The report is said to further implicate Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in the killing. 

The White House held off on releasing it until after Biden spoke with the king. But President Biden is fulfilling a campaign promise to take a tougher stance toward Saudi Arabia. WORLD’s Kristen Flavin has more. 

KRISTEN FLAVIN, REPORTER: As a candidate for president, Biden pledged to end US support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen. He has done that. He has also halted some weapons sales to the country. 

He also said of Saudi Arabia that he would—quote—“make them pay the price and make them, in fact, the pariah that they are.” 

Biden denounced the country’s leadership after Saudi assassins killed Jamal Khashoggi inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul in 2018. 

The White House says the president is working to “recalibrate” the U.S. relationship with the Saudis. Biden is expected to communicate with the king rather than with the country’s de facto ruler, Prince Salman. 

Democratic lawmakers could introduce a resolution today aimed at holding Saudi Arabia accountable for Khashoggi’s death and other human rights violations.

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Kristen Flavin.

Manhattan prosecutor obtains Trump tax records » Former President Donald Trump’s tax records are now in the hands of a New York prosecutor. That after the Supreme Court on Monday declined to step in and stop the transfer of the records. 

District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr., a Democrat, had been fighting for more than a year for access to Trump’s tax records for a grand jury investigation into his business dealings. 

The documents are protected by grand jury secrecy rules and are not expected to be made public.

Former President Trump has called Vance’s investigation “a fishing expedition” and a continuation of “the greatest witch hunt in history.”

Trump to make first post-presidency speech at CPAC » And Trump may have more to say about it this weekend—when he makes his first speech since leaving office—at CPAC—the Conservative Political Action Conference. WORLD’s Leigh Jones has that story. 

LEIGH JONES, REPORTER: The former president will close out the conference as the final speaker on Sunday. Of course the big question on the minds of many: Will he tip his hand about another possible White House run in 2024? 

The annual CPAC conference generally features a who’s-who roster of Republican speakers. 

For the first time ever, the event will not take place in Washington D.C. It moved to Orlando, Florida this year due to COVID-19 restrictions. 

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis will kick off the conference today. 

Several GOP lawmakers will follow, including Senators James Lankford, Ted Cruz, and Tom Cotton. 

Also speaking this weekend will be former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy. 

Not speaking at CPAC this year—former Vice President Mike Pence. He declined an invitation to attend. 

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Leigh Jones.

(AP Photo/Andrew Harnik) Former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm is is sworn in as Energy Secretary by Vice President Kamala Harris in the Old Executive Office Building in the White House complex in Washington, Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021. 

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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