Morning news brief
A MARTÍNEZ, HOST:
The U.S. has dropped many pandemic restrictions. But thanks to the Supreme Court, a pandemic rule that slows down border traffic remains in place.
STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
For almost three years, the United States has invoked Title 42, a public health rule that makes it easier to turn away migrants at the border. The Biden administration expected that order to expire this week. But many state governments resisted. And Chief Justice John Roberts granted their request to stop the change until he can hear the government's response. In an NPR interview, Vice President Kamala Harris said the United States is preparing for the order to end whenever it does.
VICE PRESIDENT KAMALA HARRIS: That means, again, putting more agents on the border as appropriate so that we can manage what might be an influx.
MARTÍNEZ: NPR's Joel Rose is in El Paso, Texas, where many migrants have already arrived. Joel, the city where you're in has seen a significant rise in the number of migrants crossing the border in the last week, all in anticipation of the end of Title 42. What are the city's plans now?
JOEL ROSE, BYLINE: Yeah. So the city says it's moving ahead as if Title 42 is ending. At a press conference Monday afternoon, El Paso Mayor Oscar Leeser said the city is still treating this as an emergency and that it's continuing to prepare for large numbers of migrants to arrive. The mayor said he's been in touch with city officials in Juarez, Mexico, just across the border from El Paso.
OSCAR LEESER: We want to make sure that we're prepared. We've heard that numbers are really big in Mexico right on Juarez. And there's probably over 20,000 over there today that are waiting for Title 42 to be lifted.
ROSE: El Paso is standing up an operation center and trying to identify enough shelter beds to get people off the streets. Temperatures here are dipping below freezing at night, which is, you know, pretty cold for people who, really, only have the clothes on their back. What El Paso officials want is to get more migrants processed quickly and bus them out of town to other cities, like San Antonio and Houston, that have bigger airports and better transportation networks than El Paso so that the shelters here don't overflow.
MARTÍNEZ: Yeah. And so - OK, so the restrictions are in place. When might we know if they're going to be lifted or extended further?
ROSE: It's hard to say, you know? For now, these restrictions allow immigration authorities to quickly expel migrants at the border without giving them a chance to seek asylum. Last month, a federal judge in Washington ruled that the policy is unlawful and ordered the Biden administration to end it. But a group of Republican attorneys general from 19 states have been trying to extend Title 42. They argue that lifting it would spark even more illegal immigration at the border. And then they've taken their appeal all the way to the Supreme Court.
The court yesterday, in an order from Chief Justice John Roberts, didn't say much. It only says that the lower court ruling is stayed for the moment. It doesn't lay out any kind of timetable for how long the stay will continue. However, it does ask the Justice Department for a response by 5 p.m. today. That's not a long time, which suggests that, you know, we could get a relatively quick decision on whether these Title 42 restrictions are extended or whether they're allowed to end soon, maybe even in the next few days. Still a lot of ways that could go.
MARTÍNEZ: Looking ahead, Joel, any long-term ideas for policy around asylum-seekers?
ROSE: That is also a moving target. The Biden administration is reportedly weighing some major changes to the asylum system that would restrict who can apply for asylum at the border while trying to encourage migrants to apply from outside the U.S. and not to cross the border illegally. But administration officials have not made any formal announcements yet about exactly what they are planning. And I don't expect that they will until we get, you know, some more clarity about what is next with Title 42.
MARTÍNEZ: That's Joel Rose, covers immigration for NPR. Joel, thanks.
ROSE: You're welcome.
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MARTÍNEZ: The House committee investigating the January 6 attack on the Capitol held its last hearing Monday afternoon, outlining what the public can expect from its final report.
INSKEEP: The hearing fell on the second anniversary of then-President Trump's tweet calling for supporters to come to Washington to protest his election defeat. He wrote that the protest, quote, "will be wild." That call to action was the heart of the committee's case against Trump for inciting an insurrection.
MARTÍNEZ: We're going to hear from NPR's senior political editor and correspondent Domenico Montanaro. Domenico, the major headline from the hearing is the committee's unanimous referral for criminal charges against Donald Trump. So outline those for us, please.
DOMENICO MONTANARO, BYLINE: Well, the committee is alleging that Trump obstructed an official proceeding, conspired to defraud the United States, conspired to make a false statement and assisted, aided and comforted those involved in an insurrection. More than 900 people have already been charged with crimes stemming from January 6. And the FBI says some 2,000 may have been involved. But Congressman Jamie Raskin of Maryland, one of the members of the committee, said Trump is the one who inspired the riot and should also face charges.
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JAMIE RASKIN: Ours is not a system of justice where foot soldiers go to jail and the masterminds and ringleaders get a free pass.
MONTANARO: Remember, we're talking about inspiring a mob to storm the Capitol, pressuring elections officials around the country, participating in a scheme to submit fake electors. And all of this was to overturn the election results of an election that Trump lost fair and square. It's a remarkable thing. And it's never happened before, a former U.S. president being referred for crimes to defraud the United States. And he's running again for the job.
MARTÍNEZ: Now, much of the work of the committee is already public. But did it reveal anything new?
MONTANARO: Well, there's certainly a lot of recap. And part of that is because the committee acknowledged there just are millions of people, especially Republicans, not tuning in. But yesterday, we did hear from Hope Hicks, Trump's former White House communications adviser. We hadn't heard from her before in these hearings. And Hicks pointed out in taped testimony that she told Trump that by continuing to make these false allegations of fraud, he was potentially damaging his legacy.
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HOPE HICKS: He said something along the lines of, you know, nobody will care about my legacy if I lose. So that won't matter. The only thing that matters is winning.
MONTANARO: The bottom line is that Trump had no exit ramp from losing the election. And here's someone in his inner circle - formerly inner circle - confirming that was his mindset in those days after the 2020 election.
MARTÍNEZ: OK. The committee also referred four Republican congressmen to the House Ethics Committee. Domenico, so, I mean, what now? What impact might all of this have?
MONTANARO: Well, we'll see if the ethics committee, which is evenly split between the parties, actually pursues this. Of course, Republicans are going to be in charge of Congress next term in just a couple of weeks. You know, the four members of Congress were referred, ironically, for not complying with a congressional subpoena. They're Kevin McCarthy, the man who will be in line to be next House speaker - or wants to be. Andy Biggs of Arizona, Scott Perry of Pennsylvania, and Jim Jordan of Ohio.
You know, for their part, they're dismissing the referrals as partisan. But, you know, the committee wanted to talk to them because they're close to Trump. They talked to him on or before January 6. But now, any consequences for them or others involved really is in the hands of the Justice Department because at this point, the January 6 committee really is out of time. And when it comes to whether or not Trump winds up being the standard-bearer once again for the Republican Party, it's really going to come down to those Republican primary voters. And like we said, many of them just haven't been tuning in.
MARTÍNEZ: NPR's Domenico Montanaro. Thanks a lot.
MONTANARO: You're welcome.
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MARTÍNEZ: Disgraced Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein was found guilty of three of seven charges in his sex crimes trial in Los Angeles.
INSKEEP: Three of seven. And as for the others, the jury could not reach an agreement on three charges and acquitted Weinstein on another.
MARTÍNEZ: NPR's Mandalit del Barco reports this was his second rape conviction. She joins us now. And one note, this conversation will discuss rape and assault. Mandalit, it's a split verdict. Why wasn't it a slam dunk?
MANDALIT DEL BARCO, BYLINE: Well, you know, A, the jury of eight men and four women found Harvey Weinstein guilty of raping and sexually assaulting one woman. But they acquitted him on another woman completely. And after deliberating for 10 days, they couldn't come to a decision on charges related to two other women at all. And the judge declared a mistrial on those counts. You know, a case like this is very hard to win. And even though we've read so much about Harvey Weinstein in the news, despite the Pulitzer Prize-winning investigations and documentaries and feature films about him and despite the fact that he was the original villain of and kicked off the entire #MeToo movement, well, that's not what was tried in court.
More than 100 women have accused Weinstein of sexual misconduct. In court, he was called a predator and a monster who lured women to hotel rooms for his attacks. Harvey Weinstein did not take the stand. But his lawyers worked very hard to convince the jury that these were all consensual affairs, that the women had engaged in so-called transactional sex to get ahead in Hollywood. And they said that Harvey Weinstein was simply part of the casting couch culture.
MARTÍNEZ: OK. Now, what are the victims and their lawyers saying?
DEL BARCO: Well, the jury found Weinstein guilty of all three charges related to a model and actress identified only as Jane Doe. And after the verdict, she told news outlets that Weinstein forever destroyed her the night he raped her after a film festival in 2013. In a statement, she said, quote, "I hope Weinstein never sees the outside of a prison cell during his lifetime." Now, another of his accusers was Jennifer Siebel Newsom, the wife of California's governor. She said in a statement that, quote, "throughout the trial, Weinstein's lawyers used sexism, misogyny and bullying tactics to intimidate, demean and ridicule us survivors." Her attorney, Beth Fagan, told NPR that Newsom and another accuser she represented were disappointed that Weinstein wasn't found guilty on all counts.
BETH FAGAN: Harvey Weinstein's defense team really took the approach of not defending his actions or explaining why he did what he did, but instead in attacking the women and calling them bimbos. I mean, their testimony was courageous. It was powerful. It was incredibly emotional. And the defense team's attack on them, attack on their character really exacerbated their trauma.
DEL BARCO: You know, Fagan and Newsom both said the results of this trial is a reminder that society has a lot more work to do to support survivors.
MARTÍNEZ: What happens to Harvey Weinstein now?
DEL BARCO: He faces a possible sentence of 24 years in prison on top of the 23-year sentence he's already serving for his rape conviction in New York. That's something he's now appealing. On the other hand, Harvey Weinstein is 70 years old. He's not doing well physically. And he could spend the rest of his life behind bars.
MARTÍNEZ: That's NPR's Mandalit del Barco in Los Angeles. Mandalit, thanks.
DEL BARCO: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.