The Paper Trail: May 14, 2024

FBI Urges Use of Warrantless Spying; Climate Change and the Insurance Industry; Who’s Killing Independent Pharmacies; and More. 

The Paper Trail logo in front of government buildings in Washington, DC

Delivered Tuesdays and Fridays, The Paper Trail is a curated collection of the government news you need to know. Sign up to get this newsletter delivered to your inbox.

The Paper Trail


The House Office of the Whistleblower Ombuds will have a pop-up tabling event in the Longworth Cafeteria, Thursday, May 16 from 12 noon – 2 p.m. House staff can stop by to pick up a physical copy of the office’s newest resource, Whistleblowing and Mental Health, and get their questions answered around working with oversight sources. For more information, please contact Charmise Jackson at [email protected].

Top stories for May 14, 2024

Leaked FBI email stresses need for warrantless surveillance of Americans: Last month, on the same day President Biden signed a bill that was criticized as a major expansion of warrantless surveillance, FBI Deputy Director Paul Abbate sent an internal email that seemed to urge employees to make frequent use of warrantless surveillance on Americans in order to justify the continued existence of the program. (Jon Brodkin, Ars Technica)

Justice Department vows crackdown on election-related threats: The DOJ promised to respond swiftly to threats of violence against officials overseeing this year’s elections, threatening extra punishment in cases involving AI and other digital advances. (Josh Gerstein, Politico)

In hundreds of deadly police encounters, officers broke multiple safety guidelines: In hundreds of deaths where police used force meant to stop someone without killing them, officers violated well-known guidelines for safely restraining and subduing people — not just once or twice, but multiple times. (John Seewer, Reese Dunklin, and Taylor Stevens, Associated Press)

As insurers around the U.S. bleed cash from climate shocks, homeowners lose: As climate change produces more extreme weather, insurers are losing money, even in states with low hurricane and wildfire danger. As a result, insurance companies are raising premiums, cutting back on coverage, or leaving entire states altogether. (Christopher Flavelle and Mira Rojanasakul, New York Times)

There’s not enough power for America’s high-tech ambitions: Tech and industrial firms have two things in common. One is that they represent a U.S. economy increasingly driven by advanced manufacturing, cloud computing, and AI. The other is that they hoover up huge amounts of electricity. (David Uberti, Wall Street Journal)

🔎 See Also: The nation’s power grid is overwhelmed. New rules aim to boost construction (Evan Halper, Washington Post)

Israel-Hamas War

U.S. criticizes Israel for failure to protect civilians in the Gaza conflict: The Biden administration believes that Israel has most likely violated international standards in failing to protect civilians in Gaza but has not found specific instances that would justify the withholding of military aid, the State Department told Congress on Friday. (Michael Crowley, New York Times)

Dobbs Aftermath

Louisiana moves to make abortion pills “controlled dangerous substances”: Louisiana could become the first state in the country to categorize mifepristone and misoprostol as controlled dangerous substances, with possible incarceration and fines for possessing the pills without a valid prescription or outside of professional practice. (Emily Wax-Thibodeaux, Washington Post)

Russia-Ukraine War

The U.S. is still falling behind on electronic warfare, special operators warn: The war in Ukraine is revealing just how good modern Russian electronic warfare gear is against American weapons. (Patrick Tucker, Defense One)


FDA warns users not to use Cue Health’s at-home COVID-19 tests: The FDA warned the public not to use Cue Health’s tests after finding that the company wasn’t following the conditions specified in the emergency use authorizations for its tests. (Jenna Philpott, Medical Device Network)

Defense and Veterans Affairs

Senators call for VA to tighten performance standards in new health records contract: Three Democratic senators urged the VA to prioritize stronger accountability and oversight standards as it negotiates a new one-year contract with Oracle Cerner to modernize its health record system. (Edward Graham, Government Executive)

Business and Finance

Landlords are charging junk fees for dubious services: Landlords across the U.S. are charging tenants a menagerie of fees that can significantly increase the cost of rent and can be for services that landlords are legally required to perform or are "benefits" that aren’t in tenants’ best interests. (Emma Rindlisbacher, The Lever)


Cyber threats rise along with scrutiny of how companies handle hacks: Nine out of 10 companies said cybersecurity threats rose over the past year, with nearly half saying the risk shot up substantially. (David Smagalla, Wall Street Journal)

Waymo is latest company under investigation for autonomous or partially automated technology: The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is investigating Waymo’s self-driving vehicles after receiving nearly two dozen reports of Waymo vehicles either crashing or doing something that may have violated traffic laws. (Tom Krisher, AP News)

Health Care

Who’s killing your independent pharmacy? Shadowy pharmacy middlemen known for jacking up consumers’ drug costs are also crushing independent pharmacies by slashing reimbursement rates for small drugstores while paying exponentially higher rates to corporate pharmacies. (Helen Santoro, The Lever)

How to reduce your exposure to plastics in food (and everywhere else): Experts say that big policy changes are needed to address the health risks posed by phthalates and bisphenols, which are used to make plastic more flexible and durable. (Lauren F Friedman, Washington Post)


Immigration and Border Security:

Is Biden’s new immigration rule doomed without more staffing?

A flyer in her name told migrants to vote for Biden. But she says she didn’t write it

Other News:

Meet the lawyer who’s trying to flag judges who harass their clerks

How 20 years of same-sex marriage changed America

Surgeon general says telework’s flexibility should be balanced with purposeful connection to promote mental health

IRS audit of Trump could cost former president more than $100 million

Exclusion of Jewish jurors prompts review of California death row cases

Upcoming Events

📌 Reviewing and Examining the Francis Scott Key Bridge Federal Response. House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure. Wednesday, May 15, 10:00 a.m., 2167 Rayburn House Office Building.

📌 A Review of Select Department of Defense Acquisition Programs. Senate Committee on Appropriations. Wednesday, May 15, 10:00 a.m., 192 Dirksen Senate Office Building.

Hot Docs

🔥📃 GAO - Southwest Border: CBP Could Take Additional Steps to Strengthen Its Response to Incidents Involving Its Personnel. GAO-24-106148(PDF)

Nominations & Appointments


  • Bruce Redman Becker - Member, U.S. Commission of Fine Arts
  • Brian K. Bond - Member. President’s Commission on White House Fellowships
  • Callisia N. Clarke - Member, National Cancer Advisory Board
  • Karen Emmons - Member, National Cancer Advisory Board
  • Tamika Felder - Member, National Cancer Advisory Board
  • Nicole Isaac - Member, President’s Commission on White House Fellowships
  • William J. Lenihan - Member, U.S. Commission of Fine Arts
  • Edjah K. Nduom - Member, National Cancer Advisory Board
  • Amy Robbins Towers - Member, President's Council on Sports, Fitness, & Nutrition