Justice Dept. Pauses Federal Executions – The New York Times

Mr. Garland’s ruling reversed the Trump administration’s decision to resume federal executions.
Credit…Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA, via Shutterstock

Attorney General Merrick B. Garland on Thursday imposed a moratorium on federal executions pending a review of the Justice Department’s policies and procedures, reversing the Trump administration’s decision to resume executions of federal death row inmates last year after a nearly two-decade hiatus.

“The Department of Justice must ensure that everyone in the federal criminal justice system is not only afforded the rights guaranteed by the Constitution and laws of the United States, but is also treated fairly and humanely,” Mr. Garland said in a memo to Justice Department leaders. “That obligation has special force in capital cases.”

Mr. Garland said in his memo that the deputy attorney general, Lisa O. Monaco, would supervise a review of Justice Department policies related to federal executions that were implemented by former Attorney General William P. Barr. He asked that several of the department’s divisions, including the Bureau of Prisons, the criminal division and the civil rights division, participate, along with other federal agencies and outside advocacy groups.

After 17 years without executions, the Justice Department under Mr. Barr began to execute federal death row inmates last summer. He argued that the Justice Department under both parties had sought the death penalty and that the government owed “the victims and their families to carry forward the sentence imposed by our justice system.”

The Trump administration ultimately executed 13 people, more than three times the number of people put to death by the federal government in the previous six decades.

Andrew Bates, a White House spokesman, said President Biden approved of Mr. Garland’s decision.

“As the president has made clear, he has significant concerns about the death penalty and how it is implemented, and he believes the Department of Justice should return to its prior practice of not carrying out executions,” Mr. Bates said.

As a candidate, Mr. Biden said that he would work to abolish federal executions and incentivize states to follow suit.

The Supreme Court also said in March that it would review an appeals court’s decision to overturn the death sentence of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who was sentenced to death for his role in the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings.

Should the Biden administration withdraw its support for the death penalty against Mr. Tsarnaev, the Supreme Court case would become moot.

Mr. Garland has asked the department to review policies implemented in the last two years that paved the way to restart federal executions.

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Pelosi Appoints Cheney to Jan. 6 Committee

Speaker Nancy Pelosi appointed Representative Liz Cheney, Republican of Wyoming, to a newly created special committee to investigate the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol. Ms. Cheney’s appointment appeared to be an attempt by Democrats to bring a degree of bipartisanship to the investigation.

“As you can see, I am very proud to be able to announce the members of that committee this morning. Our chairman will be Bennie Thompson — he’s chair of the Homeland Security Committee, and he negotiated the bipartisan commission. And we thank him for his leadership. Chair Zoe Lofgren, House Administration Committee, which is having key hearings as a committee of jurisdiction for the safety of the Capitol. I’m saying this in seniority order. Congresswoman Liz Cheney of the Armed Services Committee has patriotically agreed to serve on the committee. She has a family matter she’s dealing with — may join us depending on how long this takes. But we’re very honored and proud that she has agreed to serve on the committee. Representative Stephanie Murphy of Armed Services Committee, Representative Jamie Raskin, a constitutional scholar, as you all know, Oversight Committee. That is a committee, major committee of jurisdiction. And then, we’re very proud that Elaine Luria, a Navy veteran, captain of the ship — maybe there’s a more technical and better, what was the title?” “Retired commander.” “Retired commander? Oh, my gosh. And a member of the Armed Services Committee. Her interest in this is longstanding in the Congress. She is also a member of the Homeland Security Committee.”

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Speaker Nancy Pelosi appointed Representative Liz Cheney, Republican of Wyoming, to a newly created special committee to investigate the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol. Ms. Cheney’s appointment appeared to be an attempt by Democrats to bring a degree of bipartisanship to the investigation.CreditCredit…Stefani Reynolds for The New York Times

Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Thursday named Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming to a newly created special committee to investigate the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol, choosing a Republican who has blamed former President Donald J. Trump for fomenting the assault to help conduct an inquiry that the rest of her party has fought to block at every turn.

The appointment drew an angry response from the top House Republican, who suggested that Ms. Cheney — already ousted from party leadership for her insistence on calling out Mr. Trump’s election lies — could face fresh retribution for agreeing to help Democrats investigate the deadliest attack on Congress in centuries.

The reaction was the latest bid by Republican leaders to turn public attention away from the assault on the Capitol and punish those who insist on scrutinizing the riot. It came as a fuller picture is emerging of how violent extremists, taking their cues from Mr. Trump, infiltrated the seat of American democracy just as Congress was meeting to validate President Biden’s election.

A New York Times visual investigation published this week revealed in vivid detail how members of extremist groups incited others to riot and assault police officers, and underscored how the former president’s words resonated with the mob in real time as it staged the attack.

Representative Kevin McCarthy, Republican of California and the minority leader, responded angrily to Ms. Cheney’s decision to accept the post, calling it “shocking” and implying that she could lose her seat on the Armed Services Committee as payback.

“I don’t know in history where someone would get their committee assignments from the speaker and then expect to get them from the conference as well,” Mr. McCarthy said.

Should he follow through with the threat, it would be a striking move for Mr. McCarthy, who has declined to penalize Republicans who have made anti-Semitic comments, called for the imprisoning of their Democratic colleagues or spread false conspiracy theories about the origins of the assault on the Capitol.

The conventional wisdom among allies of Gov. Gavin Newsom of California has been that he will benefit from a swift decision.
Credit…Jim Wilson/The New York Times

The Republican-led, pandemic-fueled campaign to recall Gov. Gavin Newsom of California got an official election date on Thursday, as the state’s lieutenant governor announced that voters would head to the polls on the issue on Sept. 14.

The date, just 75 days away and the soonest that county officials said they could manage to pull together a special election, was released shortly after the California secretary of state formally certified the recall petition. And it came after Mr. Newsom’s fellow Democrats in the State Legislature decided to expedite the process.

California is overwhelmingly Democratic and Mr. Newsom is widely expected to prevail, particularly as the state has emerged from the coronavirus crisis. The conventional wisdom among his advisers and allies has been that he will benefit from a swift decision, while Californians are still basking in relief from the reopening of the state’s economy, and before the autumn wildfires begin in earnest.

The timeline, set by a fellow Democrat, Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis, also severely restricts the ability of prospective challengers to get onto the ballot, leaving only about two weeks for them to join the race to replace Mr. Newsom. More than 50 candidates are already on the ballot, with a handful of well-funded Republicans seriously campaigning.

Expected to cost some $276 million, the special election will be the second time in state history that Californians have voted on whether to recall a sitting governor. The first resulted in the ouster of Gray Davis and the election of Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2003.

Mr. Newsom and his supporters, who have derided the recall campaign as a last-ditch ploy for relevance by right-wing extremists, said on Thursday that they welcomed the decision of voters.

“This Republican recall is a naked attempt by Trump Republicans to grab control in California — powered by the same Republicans who refused to accept the results of the presidential election,” said Juan Rodriguez, the leader of the governor’s campaign organization.

Kevin Faulconer, the former mayor of San Diego and one of the Republican contenders, countered that “this movement is powered by Californians from every community — Democrats, Republicans and Independents.”

Mr. Faulconer added, “Change is coming for California and retirement is coming for Gavin Newsom.”

Recall attempts are not uncommon in California, with every governor since 1960 facing at least one. But getting a recall onto the ballot is rare.

The campaign against Mr. Newsom languished for months before a series of pandemic-related missteps, judicial decisions and voter fury landed the governor — a liberal in a Democratic state who was elected in 2018 in a landslide — in a perfect political storm.

J.D. Vance speaking with venture capitalists on a bus in Youngstown, Ohio, in 2018.
Credit…Andrew Spear for The New York Times

J.D. Vance, an author and venture capitalist whose best-selling memoir, “Hillbilly Elegy,” focused on the social and economic underpinnings of former President Donald J. Trump’s appeal to the white working class, said on Thursday that he would seek the Republican nomination for the Senate in Ohio.

Mr. Vance, 36, enters the campaign as a well-known and well-financed first-time candidate facing an open field. The Republican incumbent, Senator Rob Portman, is retiring after two terms. The race is one of a few in next year’s midterm elections that could determine which party controls the upper chamber of Congress, which is now split 50-50.

At his campaign kickoff event at a steel parts factory in Middletown, the city north of Cincinnati where he grew up, Mr. Vance made his back story as a son of the Rust Belt central to his identity as a candidate.

He spoke at length about his upbringing, including how his “mamaw” had “kept him on the straight and narrow” as a youth, before diving into his political pitch. He staked out populist positions on issues like inequality and Big Tech and more conservative ones on matters like immigration and abortion.

“If you look at every issue in this country,” Mr. Vance said, “every issue I believe traces back to this fact: On the one hand, the elites in the ruling class in this country are robbing us blind, and on the other, if you dare complain about it, you are a bad person.”

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Biden Speaks About Meeting Surfside Condo Victims

President Biden talked on Thursday about meeting with both survivors of the condominium building collapse and relatives of those who died or remain missing.

The whole nation is mourning with these families. They see it every day on television. They’re going through hell, and those who survived the collapse, as well as those who are missing loved ones. I sat with one woman who had just lost her, her husband and her little baby boy. Didn’t know what to do. I sat with another family that lost almost an entire family, cousins, brothers, sisters, and to watch them, their praying and pleading that God, let there be a miracle. Let there be something happen for me that’s good. They had basic heart- wrenching questions. Will I be able to recover the body of my son or daughter, my husband, my cousin, my mom and dad? How can I have closure without being able to bury them? If I don’t get the body, what do I do? Jill and I want them to know that we’re with them. And the country’s with them. Our message today is that we’re here for you as one nation. When I talk to some of the families, some, some of the people who did escape, survived, got out, they talked about watching the building collapse, and watching as they’re in the garage, one floor come down, literally as a whole floor on top of another floor. They know that the chances are, as each day goes by, diminished slightly. But at a minimum, at a minimum, they want to recover the bodies.

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President Biden talked on Thursday about meeting with both survivors of the condominium building collapse and relatives of those who died or remain missing.CreditCredit…Tom Brenner for The New York Times

SURFSIDE, Fla. — President Biden on Thursday offered impassioned remarks in a hotel ballroom filled with the families of some of those who died or remain missing under the rubble of a collapsed condominium building, according to White House officials and those in the room.

Mr. Biden’s meeting with the families, which officials said lasted about three hours, came during a halt in the search for survivors amid concerns about the stability of the part of the building that remains standing.

A video of Mr. Biden posted during the event by one of the family members appeared to show the president talking in somber tones about the grief he felt from the death of his wife and daughter in a car accident that also severely injured his two young boys.

“The waiting, the waiting, is unbearable,” he told the families, many of whom have been waiting for more than a week for word about whether anyone might still be alive under the concrete and steel.

After the meeting, Mr. Biden described the grief and agony he heard from the family members, saying of the people in the room: “They’re going through hell.”

“I sat with one woman who had just lost her husband and her little baby boy, didn’t know what to do,” the president said. “I sat with another family that lost almost the entire family, cousins, brothers, sisters. And to watch them, and they’re praying and pleading and God let there be a miracle.”

Mr. Biden said that many of the family members asked what he called “basic heart-wrenching” questions: Would they be able to recover the bodies of their loved ones so they could bury them? If I don’t get the body back, what do I do?

But at the same time, he said he was surprised by their realism and resilience.

“They know that the chances are, as each day goes by, diminished slightly,” the president told reporters. “But at a minimum, at a minimum, they want to recover the bodies. They want to recover the bodies.”

The president praised emergency workers and local and state officials, saying that the cooperation in the rescue effort was remarkable. Mr. Biden announced that the federal government would pay 100 percent of the first 30 days of the recovery costs.

He said he told the families that “we’re here for you as one nation, as one nation. And that’s the message we communicated.”

A White House official said that during the closed-door session with the families, Mr. Biden walked from table to table to talk with each family seated in the room. The official said that Jill Biden, the first lady, also held individual conversations with family members.

The president was joined by Senator Marco Rubio, Senator Rick Scott, Gov. Ron DeSantis, Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nuñez, Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Mayor Daniella Levine Cava of Miami Dade County.

The official said that Mr. Biden stayed in the room until everyone who wanted to talk with him had the opportunity.

After the meeting with the families, Mr. Biden and Dr. Biden made a brief stop at the makeshift memorial to the victims of the collapse, walking along a chain-link fence adorned with flowers, stopping several times to look closely at photos of those who have died or remain missing.

Dr. Biden placed a large bouquet of white flowers at the base of the fence before the pair returned to the president’s motorcade.

Erick de Moura, a resident of the building who spent the night of the collapse at his girlfriend’s house, praised Mr. Biden as he and other survivors and victims’ families left the ballroom at the St. Regis Bal Harbour Resort.

“For him to take his time like he’s taking right now just walking around and talking to every single family, it’s just an amazing act and we appreciate it very much. It’s comforting for us,” Mr. de Moura said.

Rabbi Daniel Hadar, the head rabbi of Temple Moses Sephardic Congregation of Florida, an Orthodox synagogue in Miami Beach, said that the tone of the meeting signaled a shift from other meetings with families over the last week. Over a dozen people affiliated with the synagogue, just a couple of miles from Champlain Towers, were in the building at the time of the collapse.

“There was something for the first time I’m seeing: consolation,” said Rabbi Hadar. Whereas in previous meetings with officials, Hadar has seen families have expressed anger and frustration with the rescue process, families expressed “peace and appreciation.”

“I think a lot of people are either resigning themselves, or understanding that there is hope, and the best hope is to work with these guys and to hear what they have to say,” Rabbi Hadar added.

Brian Murphy said he was demoted for warning his superiors that the Trump administration had distorted intelligence to align with the president’s political priorities.
Credit…C-Span

The Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general blocked an inquiry into whether senior agency officials demoted an employee who criticized the Trump administration, according to people familiar with the matter and a whistle-blower complaint obtained by The New York Times.

The inspector general, Joseph V. Cuffari, ignored recommendations from his investigators and delayed the inquiry until after the 2020 election, according to officials familiar with the matter and a whistle-blower complaint filed in April.

At issue was whether Brian Murphy, a former intelligence chief at the department, was demoted by its leadership last summer for warning his superiors and Mr. Cuffari’s office that the Trump administration had deliberately withheld reports about the rising threat of domestic extremism — a warning that proved prescient after the Capitol riot on Jan. 6 — and Russia’s attempts to influence the election.

Mr. Murphy filed his own complaint about his reassignment in September. But Mr. Cuffari and his aides delayed looking into his claims for weeks last fall and limited the time investigators had to conduct interviews, according to people familiar with the matter and the separate April complaint, filed by Brian Volsky, a former senior investigator in Mr. Cuffari’s office.

Mr. Volsky’s complaint, dated April 27, was first obtained by the Project on Government Oversight, an independent watchdog group in Washington. The Times confirmed its authenticity with four government officials familiar with the matter. The details add to mounting questions, particularly from lawmakers, about the impartiality of the office conducting oversight of an agency that was at the center of some of former President Donald J. Trump’s more contentious policies, including deploying federal agents to protests in American cities and separating migrant children from their parents at the southwestern border.

Mr. Murphy was reassigned in August, after he included the tweets of journalists — including a New York Times reporter — in intelligence reports during the unrest in Portland, Ore., last summer.

In his complaint last September, Mr. Murphy said he was demoted because he had raised concerns with his superiors and the inspector general on multiple occasions — from March 2018 to August 2020 — that the Trump administration had distorted intelligence to align with the president’s political priorities. Chad F. Wolf, the acting homeland security secretary at the time, and his top aides have repeatedly denied that claim. The investigation into Mr. Murphy’s claims is continuing, according to Mark Zaid, his lawyer.

A 15 percent global minimum tax would end what U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen called a 30-year “race to the bottom” on corporate tax.
Credit…Erin Scott for The New York Times

An international effort to create the most sweeping changes to the global tax system in a century gained significant momentum on Thursday when 130 nations announced they had agreed to a blueprint that would ensure multinational corporations pay a fair share of tax wherever they operate.

The deal, overseen by the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, is intended to end what Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen called a 30-year “race to the bottom” on corporate tax, and includes a 15 percent minimum corporate tax rate put forward by the United States, as well as a crucial new tax system for digital giants like Apple and Amazon.

“Today marks an important step in moving the global economy forward to be more equitable for workers and middle class families in the United States and around the world,” President Biden said in a statement. “With a global minimum tax in place, multinational corporations will no longer be able to pit countries against one another in a bid to push tax rates down and protect their profits at the expense of public revenue.”

The historic agreement would generate an estimated $150 billion in additional tax revenue each year, and could reshape global commerce and shore up public finances that have deteriorated in numerous countries after more than a year of grappling with the pandemic.

It could also end a brewing global trade war over the taxation of companies like Amazon, Google, Facebook and others that earn revenue online in countries where they have little or no physical presence.

It proposes a new system for determining which countries could tax those companies’ profits, and how, and promises to head off what had been an escalating series of nations levying taxes on American technology companies, with both the Trump and Biden administrations threatening retaliatory tariffs in response.

The deal comes after four years of fraught international negotiations and, if enacted, would essentially stop countries from slashing their tax rates, a move that the United States and other high-tax jurisdictions say has deprived them of funding for crucial investments like infrastructure and education.

 Elections officials counting ballots at the Maricopa County Recorder's Office in Phoenix, on Nov. 4, 2020.
Credit…Matt York/Associated Press

The Supreme Court on Thursday upheld voting restrictions in Arizona and signaled that challenges to new state laws making it harder to vote would face a hostile reception from a majority of the justices.

The vote was 6 to 3, with the court’s three liberal members in dissent.

The decision was the court’s first consideration of how a crucial part of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 applies to voting restrictions that have a disproportionate impact on members of minority groups, and it was issued as disputes over voting rights have taken center stage in American politics.

As Republican-controlled state legislatures increasingly seek to impose restrictive new voting rules, Democrats and civil rights groups have turned to the courts to argue that Republicans are trying to suppress the vote, thwart the will of the majority and deny equal access to minority voters. The decision suggested that Supreme Court would not be inclined to strike down many of the measures.

After the ruling, President Biden said in a statement that “the court has now done severe damage” to two important provisions of the Voting Rights Act.

“After all we have been through to deliver the promise of this Nation to all Americans, we should be fully enforcing voting rights laws, not weakening them,” he said. “Yet this decision comes just over a week after Senate Republicans blocked even a debate — even consideration — of the For the People Act that would have protected the right to vote from action by Republican legislators in states across the country.”

“While this broad assault against voting rights is sadly not unprecedented, it is taking on new forms,” Mr. Biden said. “It is no longer just about a fight over who gets to vote and making it easier for eligible voters to vote. It is about who gets to count the vote and whether your vote counts at all.”

Demonstrators gathered in Washington on Saturday to protest for equal voting rights.
Credit…Kenny Holston for The New York Times

The Supreme Court on Thursday upheld voting restrictions in Arizona and signaled that challenges to new state laws making it harder to vote would face a hostile reception from a majority of the justices.

The 6-3 ruling left voting rights activists on the defensive, grappling with a ruling that seemed to indicate an uphill battle for those using the Voting Rights Act to challenge these laws in court.

The ruling established a series of “guideposts” for what could potentially constitute a violation under the act, appearing to limit the paths for mounting legal challenges to new measures being proposed and passed in Republican-controlled states.

“The test is more difficult to meet than Congress intended when it passed the act,” said Chad Dunn, the co-founder of the Voting Rights Project at the University of California, Los Angeles, and a former election lawyer. “So on that point, I think the dissenting justices got it exactly right: The test is too restrictive.”

There are other legal avenues to challenge restrictive voting laws besides the Voting Rights Act, including under the First, 14th and 15th Amendments to the Constitution.

But the act has been the paramount tool for voting rights groups seeking to rein in laws that could disproportionately affect communities of color, and the decision could threaten some of the legal strategies that these groups and election lawyers have been drafting to challenge some of the new laws.

President Biden said he was “deeply disappointed” in the court’s ruling and said it would cause “severe damage” to the federal government’s ability to protect voting rights. He again urged Congress to enact new protections for voting.

“The court’s decision, harmful as it is, does not limit Congress’s ability to repair the damage done today,” Mr. Biden said. “It puts the burden back on Congress to restore the Voting Rights Act to its intended strength.”

Amtrak trains sitting on tracks in the station in Philadelphia, Penn., in April.
Credit…Stefani Reynolds for The New York Times

The House on Thursday narrowly approved a five-year, $715 billion transportation and drinking water bill that would do more to combat climate change than the Senate’s bipartisan infrastructure agreement embraced by President Biden, laying down its marker for negotiations on the package.

Democratic leaders see the bill as a baseline for high-stakes talks with the Senate aimed at producing the largest investment in infrastructure since Dwight D. Eisenhower began the interstate highway system. The House measure, which would authorize a 50-percent increase over current spending levels, passed by a vote of 221-201, largely along party lines.

The bill would devote $343 billion to roads, bridges and safety measures. It contains $109 billion for transit, which would increase federal spending by 140 percent. It envisions spending $168 billion for wastewater and drinking water, and it includes a new program to forgive unpaid water bills and then to help pay bills in the future, much as the government helps pay home heating and air conditioning costs.

With heat records rising from Arizona to Seattle, House Democrats emphasized the billions that would go toward measures aimed at climate change. It would spend money on electric car and truck charging stations, zero-emission transit vehicles and shoring up roads, bridges, tunnels and rail lines to withstand severe weather and rising seas. Funding for Amtrak would be tripled, to $32 billion, and planning for high-speed rail projects would be underwritten.

“We have to rebuild in ways that we never even thought about before,” said Representative Peter DeFazio of Oregon, chairman of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, adding, “This is the moment. We have to be bold.”

Just how the House Democratic vision of infrastructure will be melded with the deal struck by five Republicans and five Democrats in the Senate is anything but clear. The House bill and the Senate deal are not far apart in spending on traditional infrastructure. Both efforts take up Mr. Biden’s call to replace all of the country’s lead drinking water pipes.

But the Senate framework only lays down broad categories of spending, while the House bill would extend surface transportation policies and revenues from user fees that are set to expire Oct. 1. It would also establish new policies like Buy-American requirements and a pilot program to give low-income people better access to transit.

Another wrinkle: It is the first bill in a decade to include funds for projects in lawmakers’s home districts, known as earmarks. There are 1,473 of them totaling nearly $5.7 billion. House members in both parties will be reluctant to lose them.

One major thing missing in the House bill, however, is Republican support — even from those who won coveted projects for their districts. Only two G.O.P. lawmakers crossed party lines to support it.

House Republicans criticized the legislation as overly political, too expensive and slanted toward social engineering measures that would outstrip the funds available from gas and diesel taxes and other user fees long dedicated to infrastructure spending. Republican leaders called the bill the “Green New Deal and Inflation Transportation Act.”

With many House Republicans denying the established science of climate change and rural lawmakers feeling shortchanged by the shift toward mass transit and rail, the bill is not expected to draw the broad support usually afforded to such measures.

The climate provisions are substantial. The bill includes $4 billion for electric-vehicle charging stations, $8.3 billion to reduce carbon pollution and $6.2 billion to make infrastructure resistant to extreme weather. Answering Mr. Biden, it would dedicate $3 billion to tearing down bridges and overpasses that separate many poor communities, most of them Black and Latino, from their cities.

To avoid breaking Mr. Biden’s pledge not to raise taxes on middle-income Americans, House Democrats would not raise the gas tax to cover the increased spending.

Mr. DeFazio said the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee would produce separate legislation later to pay for the infrastructure spending, but House approved the spending without having seen the other side of the ledger.

Britney Spears has said that she was drugged, compelled to work against her will and prevented from removing her birth control device over the course of her 13-year conservatorship.
Credit…Allison Zaucha for The New York Times

Democratic Senators Elizabeth Warren and Bob Casey are calling on federal agencies to increase oversight of the country’s conservatorship systems, following testimony from the pop star Britney Spears that she had been abused under her conservatorship.

The senators, in a letter to Xavier Becerra, the health secretary, and Merrick B. Garland, the attorney general, asked for more data within the next two weeks on conservatorships in the United States, and how their agencies interact with the state programs. The move could signal the beginning of a legislative effort to overhaul the system.

“Ms. Spears’s case has shined a light on longstanding concerns from advocates who have underscored the potential for financial and civil rights abuses of individuals placed under guardianship or conservatorship,” Ms. Warren of Massachusetts and Mr. Casey of Pennsylvania wrote.

The senators also highlighted previous efforts to study and change the conservatorship system that they said had fallen short.

Ms. Warren, in a separate statement, described a system with “longstanding gaps that can strip people of basic rights.”

Both the Departments of Justice and Health and Human Services “have previously stepped in to provide federal support for guardianship reforms and establish national reporting as it relates to older Americans,” she said. “But the lack of federal data on the prevalence of conservatorships and guardianships of all kinds has made it difficult to enact policy changes.”

The National Center for State Courts estimates that there are 1.3 million active conservatorships in the United States overseeing at least $50 billion in assets, but the group notes that the estimate is based on a “handful” of states that provide reasonably reliable data on conservatorships. Each state manages its own system of conservatorship, and data collection varies widely from state to state.

In particular, the senators highlighted a lack of data on the potential for discrimination in the conservatorship system on the basis of “race and ethnicity, age, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, and type of disability of those subject to a guardianship.”

That assessment is supported by independent government agencies who have studied conservatorships. A report by the Government Accountability Office in 2016 noted that “the extent of elder abuse by guardians nationally is unknown.” The National Council on Disability said in 2018 that it “cannot say for sure whether guardianship is a growing trend or if its popularity is waning,” adding that the lack of data makes it difficult to recommend policy changes.

Ms. Spears told a Los Angeles judge last week that she had been drugged, compelled to work against her will and prevented from removing a birth control device during the 13-year conservatorship.

On Thursday, a wealth management firm that was set to become a co-conservator of Ms. Spears’s estate requested to withdraw from the arrangement. In the request to the court, the firm said it had been told that Ms. Spears’s conservatorship was voluntary.

James P. Spears, Ms. Spears’s father who oversees the singer’s finances, called for an investigation into her claims. His lawyers have requested an evidentiary hearing and called into question the actions of both Ms. Spears’s current personal conservator, who replaced Mr. Spears in the position in 2019, and her court-appointed lawyer.

President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin met last month in Geneva, Switzerland.
Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

Two weeks after President Biden met President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia and demanded that he rein in the constant cyberattacks directed at American targets, American and British intelligence agencies on Thursday exposed the details of what they called a global effort by Russia’s military intelligence organization to break into government organizations, defense contractors, universities and media companies.

The operation, described as crude but broad, is “almost certainly ongoing,” the National Security Agency and its British counterpart, known as GCHQ, said in a statement. They identified the Russian intelligence agency, or G.R.U., as the same group that hacked into the Democratic National Committee and released emails in an effort to influence the 2016 presidential election in favor of Donald J. Trump.

Thursday’s revelation is an attempt to expose Russian hacking techniques, rather than any specific new attacks, and it includes pages of technical detail to enable potential targets to identify that a breach is underway. Many of the actions by the G.R.U. — including an effort to get into data stored in Microsoft’s Azure cloud services — have already been documented by private cybersecurity firms.

But the political significance of the statement is larger: It is a first challenge to Mr. Putin since the summit in Geneva, where Mr. Biden handed him a list of 16 areas of “critical infrastructure” in the United States and said that it would not tolerate continued Russian cyberattacks.

“We’ll find out whether we have a cybersecurity arrangement that begins to bring some order,” Mr. Biden said at the end of that meeting, only minutes after Mr. Putin declared that the United States, not Russia, was the largest source of cyberattacks around the world.

A social worker listened to a young victim at a center for victims of child trafficking in Soubre, Ivory Coast, in May.
Credit…Sia Kambou/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Predators worldwide took advantage of pandemic restrictions last year to draw more people into forced labor and sex trafficking, including children who spent their days online under government-imposed stay-at-home orders, according to a new State Department report.

In India and Nepal, young girls were sold into marriage to help families that otherwise had no income because they could not leave home to work or sell their crops.

In Persian Gulf countries, migrants who had no choice but to live at their workplaces were increasingly prohibited from taking time off.

In the United States, tenants who could not afford to pay rent were pressured into having sex with their landlords.

“While the number of individuals at risk of trafficking grew during the pandemic, so did the conditions under which traffickers thrive,” concluded the State Department’s annual Trafficking in Persons Report, released on Thursday.

It found that victimization grew as law enforcement and other resources were diverted to managing public health measures at the height of the pandemic.

In particular, the number of cases of online sex exploitation appeared to skyrocket as people turned to their computers during lockdowns. The report found that predators increasingly recruited and groomed children — who were spending more time online, often without supervision — for sex trafficking and sexually explicit material.

The Supreme Court building in Washington on Tuesday.
Credit…Stefani Reynolds for The New York Times

The Supreme Court ruled on Thursday that California may not require charities soliciting contributions in the state to report the identities of their major donors.

The vote was 6 to 3, with the court’s three liberal members in dissent.

The requirement was challenged by Americans for Prosperity Foundation, a group affiliated with the Koch family, and the Thomas More Law Center, a conservative Christian public-interest law firm. They argued that the requirement violated the First Amendment’s protection of the freedom of association by subjecting donors to possible harassment.

The disputed measure requires charities to file with the state a copy of a federal tax form that identifies major donors. Under federal law, the Internal Revenue Service must keep the form confidential. California also promised to keep the forms secret, but it has not always done so.

According to court papers, the challengers discovered in 2015 that the state had displayed about 1,800 forms on its website. State officials said that the disclosures were inadvertent and promptly corrected and that the state had imposed new security measures.

The Congressional Budget Office predicts the economy will grow by 6.7 percent for the year.
Credit…Joshua Bright for The New York Times

WASHINGTON — The U.S. economy is rebounding from the pandemic downturn faster than expected and is on track to regain all the jobs lost during the coronavirus by the middle of next year, partly as a result of enormous amounts of federal spending that will push the budget deficit to $3 trillion for the 2021 fiscal year, the Congressional Budget Office said on Thursday.

New forecasts that incorporate the $1.9 trillion stimulus package that President Biden signed into law in March give little credence to warnings by Republican lawmakers and some economists that runaway inflation from all that spending could cripple the economy. Instead, the budget office predicted that a recent spike in prices for cars, airline tickets and other products would be temporary and begin to recede this year.

Administration officials downplayed the deficit projections and focused instead on the predictions for economic growth, saying the strong numbers validate Mr. Biden’s push to douse the economy in stimulus and reinforce their view that inflation poses little threat to the recovery.

The budget office, which is nonpartisan, predicted the economy would grow 6.7 percent for the year, after adjusting for inflation. That would be the fastest annual growth in the United States since 1984. It is significantly faster than the budget office and the Biden administration had each projected this year.

The unemployment rate is also estimated to fall below 4 percent next year and remain historically low for years to come, signaling a significant acceleration in job gains from what the office predicted in February. The C.B.O. said then that unemployment would not fall below 4 percent until 2026.

Budget office officials said the uptick in growth and employment forecasts stemmed in large part from aggressive government stimulus. But the economy is also benefiting from consumers, who are rapidly spending savings they built up during the pandemic. Households were buttressed by multiple rounds of stimulus, including direct checks, passed under President Donald J. Trump, and by a faster-than-anticipated return to normalcy in the economy as vaccinations have spread.

Mr. Biden’s aides claimed credit for many of those developments. They said the president’s push to accelerate vaccine production and distribution had fueled the reopening of the economy. David Kamin, a deputy director of the White House National Economic Council, said in an interview that Mr. Biden’s stimulus package, the American Rescue Plan, was intended to drive a more rapid return to low unemployment, and that the budget office’s projections were evidence it was succeeding.

“This report really goes to the very theory of the case as to why we pursued a rescue plan,” he said.

Administration officials also heralded updated projections from the International Monetary Fund, released Thursday afternoon, which predicted the U.S. economy would grow 7 percent in 2021 after adjusting for inflation. In April, the I.M.F. forecast 4.6 percent growth for the year in the United States.

Mr. Biden’s stimulus plan will push the federal budget deficit near record highs for the fiscal year, the budget office projected, but it will eventually leave the country in slightly better fiscal shape.

The spending approved by Mr. Biden is projected to increase the deficit by $1.1 trillion for the fiscal year, which ends in September. The total deficit of $3 trillion would be the second-largest since 1945, in nominal terms and as a share of the economy, behind the 2020 fiscal year.

But the increased growth that is accompanying the larger deficit this year will slightly improve the country’s fiscal outlook over the next decade, with the total deficit falling by about 1 percent, the budget office said.

“Projected revenues over the next decade are now higher because of the stronger economy and consequent higher taxable incomes,” it wrote in its report.

Mr. Biden’s rescue plan included direct payments of $1,400 each to low- and middle-income Americans, $350 billion to help states and municipalities patch what were expected to be budget shortfalls and hundreds of billions of dollars to accelerate vaccines and more widespread coronavirus testing. It also extended supplemental federal payments of $300 a week to unemployed workers through September, a benefit that Republican governors across the country have ended early as business owners complain of difficulties finding workers.

The budget office cited those benefits as “dampening the supply of labor,” along with workers’ health concerns. It said the expiration of the benefits, along with less worry about contracting the virus, would help bolster employment growth in the second half of this year.

Inflation, which has been a big topic in Washington, is projected to moderate in the months to come. The office forecast inflation rising above recent trends to hit 2.6 percent for the year, which is stronger growth than the February projection, yet officials see those price pressures subsiding in the second half of the year, as a variety of supply constraints ease in areas like lumber and automobiles.

The forecasters expect economic growth to continue at a strong pace in 2022, hitting 5 percent in real terms. But they see it declining quickly in the years to follow, as the labor force grows more slowly than is typical. Budget office officials said that reflected, in part, the effects of more restrictive immigration policies adopted under Mr. Trump. By 2023, the office predicts, growth will slow to 1.1 percent.

That forecast does not account for any additional economic policies Mr. Biden might enact in the intervening time. He is currently pushing Congress to approve as much as $4 trillion in spending and tax cuts meant to create jobs and aid growth by improving the productivity of workers and the broader economy, like repairing bridges and subsidizing child care costs to help more parents, particularly women, work additional hours.

Fiscal hawks said the report’s long-term deficit projections underscored the need for any additional economic investments to be fully paid for, and not financed with federal borrowing. Debt held by the public rises to nearly $36 trillion by 2031, the budget office now predicts. That would be slightly larger — by just over 6 percent — than the size of the total American economy that year.

“While it made sense to borrow to weather the pandemic and jumpstart the recovery,” said Maya MacGuineas, the president of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget in Washington, “the strong economic growth projections from C.B.O. show that it is time to pivot away from further deficit-financing and towards paying for things and, ultimately, decreasing the national debt from its current path.”