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The Paper Trail: March 8, 2024

Trump to Get Intel Briefings; Judge Nixes Beneficial Owner Disclosure; The Lie That’s Inflating Credit Card Bills; and More.

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The Paper Trail

Top stories for March 8, 2024

Intel agencies eye brief for Trump, amid fears he could spill secrets: U.S. intelligence officials are planning to brief Donald Trump on national security matters if he secures the GOP nomination this summer — despite concerns about his handling of classified information. (John Sakellariadis and Erin Banco, Politico)

GSA hasn’t performed asbestos inspections at 66% of buildings requiring them, GAO says: More than 630 federal buildings weren’t in compliance with GSA’s asbestos management policy requiring facilities to be examined every five years. (Carten Cordell, Government Executive)

Judge’s ruling sets back law meant to fight money laundering: In a blow to government efforts to combat money laundering, a federal court in Alabama ruled that the Treasury Department can’t require small businesses to report details about their beneficial owners. (Kate Kelly, New York Times)

Federal judge orders minority business agency opened to all races: A federal judge in Texas ruled that the Minority Business Development Agency must now open its doors to every race, siding with a group of White plaintiffs who argued that the agency’s presumption that businesses owned by minorities are inherently disadvantaged violated the plaintiffs’ equal protection rights. (Julian Mark, Washington Post)

NTSB says Boeing has not provided key information in 737 Max inquiry: At a Senate hearing, National Transportation Safety Board chair Jennifer Homendy testified that Boeing hasn’t provided crucial information as it investigates what caused a door panel to come off a 737 Max 9 plane during a flight in January. (Mark Walker, New York Times)

🔎 See Also:Boeing 737 Max recent rudder failure under investigation (Alan Levin, Bloomberg)

Why the IRS doesn’t believe your doctor’s note for tax-free health items: The IRS says some companies are misleading consumers about what is and isn’t eligible under the rules of Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) and Flexible Savings Accounts (FSAs). For example, food and dietary supplements are rarely considered a medical expense. (Anahad O’Connor, Washington Post)

Israel-Hamas War

U.S. floods arms into Israel despite mounting alarm over war’s conduct: Washington has approved more than 100 separate military sales to Israel since its invasion of Gaza, even as officials complain that Israeli leaders have not done enough to protect civilians. (John Hudson, Washington Post)

Biden to order U.S. military to construct port in Gaza to increase aid flow: Gaza remains an active war zone and much of the enclave poses security risks to aid workers, which will complicate any efforts to get food, water, medicine, and other assistance to those in need. The biggest issue is who will synchronize these efforts. (Alexander Ward, Politico)

Insurrection

Arizona investigators issue grand jury subpoenas as state’s 2020 Trump election probe accelerates: Arizona prosecutors in recent weeks issued grand jury subpoenas to multiple people linked to Donald Trump’s 2020 campaign, a sharp acceleration of their criminal investigation into GOP activists’ efforts to overturn Joe Biden’s victory in the state by falsely posing as presidential electors. (Betsy Woodruff Swan and Kyle Cheney, Politico)

Dobbs Aftermath

Alabama governor signs IVF bill giving patients, providers legal cover: The new law will protect providers and patients doing in vitro fertilization from legal liability if embryos they create are damaged or destroyed. The law also shields manufacturers of goods used to facilitate IVF or the transport of embryos but stops short of providing blanket immunity. (Praveena Somasundaram, Washington Post)

Police Misconduct

Residents lash out at Uvalde city leaders, police after report on Robb Elementary shooting: A city council report cleared Uvalde, Texas, city police of wrongdoing in the response to the May 2022 massacre at Robb Elementary School. (David K. Li and Doha Madani, NBC News)

Defense and Veteran Affairs

Profound damage found in Maine gunman’s brain, possibly from blasts: A laboratory examining the brain of the gunman who committed last year’s deadly shooting in Lewiston, Maine, found profound brain damage of the kind seen in veterans exposed to repeated blasts from weapons and concluded that it “likely played a role” in the incident. (Dave Philipps, New York Times)

A nearly $1 trillion defense budget faces headwinds at home and abroad: The quickly approaching $1 trillion milestone seems too large to some “America First” Republicans and progressive Democrats. It also falls well short of what some hawks say the Pentagon needs to meet its many commitments. (Bryant Harris, Defense News)

Business and Finance

The lie that’s inflating your credit card bills: For years, credit card companies have jacked up interest rates, costing Americans $25 billion each year even though lenders’ risk of losses has declined. Now, in response to the Biden administration’s new cap on credit card late fees, the banking industry is threatening to punish debtors with even higher interest rates. (Katya Schwenk, The Lever)

Worker death in Louisiana confined space showcases dangerous trend: A growing number of workers in the U.S. are dying every year performing dangerous jobs in confined spaces. OSHA has comprehensive rules but doesn’t have enough resources to carry out inspections. (María Inés Zamudio, Center for Public Integrity)

Tech

Biden team, UnitedHealth struggle to restore paralyzed billing systems after cyberattack: The cyberattack on a UnitedHealth Group unit is being called the worst ever on the U.S. health care system. The attack exposed the system’s vulnerability to hackers and the shortcomings in the government’s response. (Darius Tahir, Bernard J. Wolfson, and Daniel Chang, KFF Health News)

TikTok users flood Congress with calls as potential ban advances in House: The proposal is the latest in a long series of bills that seek to give the federal government more power to ban apps it deems a security threat. But those measures face pushback from civil liberties groups. (Cristiano Lima-Strong and Drew Harwell, Washington Post)

Treasury slaps sanctions on notorious European spyware maker: It’s the latest move by the Biden administration to crack down on a shadowy ecosystem of commercial spyware vendors based in Europe whose products have been used by foreign governments against U.S. citizens. (John Sakellariadis, Politico)

Opinion:The government can’t stop those AI robocalls, so stay skeptical: As AI technology continues to improve and change our day-to-day lives, robocall deepfakes are going to become more common and could influence political campaigns or jeopardize national security. (Chris McIsaac, The Hill)

Infrastructure

Amid explosive demand, America is running out of power: Vast swaths of the country are at risk of running short of power as electricity-hungry data centers and clean-technology factories proliferate, leaving utilities and regulators grasping for credible plans to expand the nation’s aging power grid. (Evan Halper, Washington Post)

Health Care

Measles outbreak raises concerns about drop in vaccinations: There were 58 reported cases of measles in the U.S. during all of 2023; there’s already been 41 cases so far this year. The outbreak of this highly contagious virus is worrying public health departments. (William Brangham, Murrey Jacobson, and Shoshana Dubnow, PBS News Hour)

Elevated lead found in six ground cinnamon spice brands, FDA warns: It’s not uncommon for low levels of lead to be found in spices. Manufacturers and importers are ultimately responsible for lead contamination in their products, although federal law doesn’t require them to test ingredients or final products before they're sold in the U.S. (Teddy Amenabar, Washington Post)

Study provides insight into how health care workers view discrimination against patients: According to a new study, nearly half of all health care workers believe racism against patients is a serious problem in America. (Josiah Bates, TheGrio)

🔎 See Also:Burnout is rampant among female health care workers. Here’s why (Alejandra O’Connell-Domenech, The Hill)

ICYMI

Immigration and Border Security:

Migrant drownings in Pacific Ocean soared after border wall expansion

From China to New York, by way of the southern border

Why are kids from Guatemala coming to Culpeper?

DOJ issues “gag order” on immigration judges

Other News:

Army intelligence analyst charged with selling military secrets to contact in China for $42,000

Navy demoted Ronny Jackson after probe into White House behavior

Sen. Menendez and wife are charged with obstruction of justice

Liberty University fined $14 million for mishandling sex assaults and other crimes

Upcoming Events

📌 Hearing on the Report of Special Counsel Robert K. Hur. House Judiciary Committee. Tuesday, March 12, 10:00 a.m., 2141 Rayburn House Office Building.

📌 The Right Side of History: Protecting Voting Rights in America. Senate Judiciary Committee. Tuesday, March 12, 10:00 a.m., G50 Dirksen Senate Office Building.

📌 Panel Discussion: Artificial Intelligence: The Intersection of Public Access and Open Government. National Archives and Records Administration. Thursday, March 14, 1:00 p.m., William G. McGowan Theater at the National Archives.

Hot Docs

🔥📃 GAO - Coast Guard: Action Needed to Evaluate Efforts to Address Sexual Assault and Harassment. GAO-24-107388 (PDF)