Your Tuesday Briefing: Jan. 6 Panel Refers Trump for Charges

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The House committee investigating the attack on the Capitol accused Donald Trump of inciting insurrection, conspiracy to defraud the U.S. and two other federal crimes. The panel recommended that he face criminal charges.

It’s the first time in U.S. history that Congress has referred a former president for criminal prosecution. The committee’s referrals do not carry legal weight or compel the Justice Department to take any action. The charges would carry lengthy prison sentences, if federal prosecutors chose to pursue them.

The panel also referred five of Trump’s allies to the Justice Department for prosecution, including Mark Meadows, his final chief of staff, and Rudy Giuliani, his lawyer.

In an executive summary from its final report into the Capitol attack, the committee singled out Trump as the primary cause of the mob violence. “None of the events of January 6th would have happened without him,” the document said.

The report detailed his relentless drive to remain in power, after he lost the 2020 election by seven million votes, and identified co-conspirators. The full report is expected tomorrow.

More headaches: For Trump, the coming week will be among the most consequential. Another House committee will meet today to discuss whether to release Trump’s tax returns. The events shine a spotlight on Trump’s refusal to cede power and the issue that he has guarded for decades: the actual size of his personal wealth and his sources of income.

After Elon Musk asked Twitter users if he should step down as head of the social media site, 57.5 percent of the 17 million respondents voted yes. Musk had said he would “abide by the results.” After voting ended yesterday, there was no immediate response from Musk on Twitter.

The poll may be a tacit acknowledgment of Twitter’s recent chaos. In the weeks since Musk bought Twitter for $44 billion in late October, he’s carried out mass layoffs and executives have resigned. Hate speech has also risen on the platform.

Outrage mounted last week after the accounts of several journalists were suspended, then reinstated. On Sunday, Twitter users exploded in anger again after Musk tried to prevent them from sharing links to rival platforms.

Context: Musk’s ownership of Twitter may be interfering with his other ventures. Since he bought Twitter, the value of Tesla has sunk.

After micromanaging the coronavirus strategy for nearly three years, China’s leader, Xi Jinping, has suddenly left the populace to improvise.

When China abruptly abandoned its “zero Covid” policy this month, Xi and the Communist Party had no plan for a measured retreat from the restrictions. Now, people are bewildered as outbreaks seed uncertainty and disarray.

“They feel at a loss about what to do,” a psychological counselor said. “There are even some who hope that the government will restore controls.”

Messaging: State-run media has tried to frame the pivot as a stressful but well-considered return to good economic times. Officials say that the Omicron variant is generally mild, and The People’s Daily argued that waiting to reopen saved many lives.

Twitter bots: Bots pushing adult content drowned out posts from people protesting Covid restrictions, a Times investigation found.

Over the past 15 years, new long-distance hiking trails have been developed in Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt and the occupied West Bank.

Their creators are trying to bring tourists and jobs to distressed villages, using hiking to dispel negative perceptions of the region and help preserve long-overlooked natural wonders.

It may be hard to recall, but when “Avatar” came out in 2009, it was a bona fide blockbuster. It brought in more than $2.8 billion in ticket sales worldwide, becoming the highest-grossing movie of all time. Now the first of several long-awaited sequels is out in theaters across the globe.

“Avatar: The Way of Water” hits some familiar beats but once again dazzles with inventive visuals, A.O. Scott writes in his review. The whole thing carries an air of nostalgia, he writes: “Even the anticipation of seeing something genuinely new at the multiplex feels like an artifact of an earlier time, before streaming and the Marvel Universe took over.”

The film represents a milestone for visual effects with its use of a technique called underwater performance capture. Only two shots in the entire film contain no visual effects.

In international markets, “The Way of Water” had a healthy opening total of $300.5 million, with ticket sales highest in China. In North America, opening-weekend ticket sales fell short of expectations, collecting about $134 million over the first three days.


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