WASHINGTON — If it’s Thursday ... President Biden, in Virginia, speaks on the economy. ... NBC’s Courtney Kube, Carol E. Lee and Abigail Williams explain the administration’s reversal on sending U.S. tanks to Ukraine. ... Donald Trump gets his Facebook and Instagram accounts reinstated. ... Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., says he’s running for re-election, NBC’s Marc Caputo reports. ... And meet 2022’s leading vote-getter (who just happened to lose his race).
But first: Donald Trump is about to be back on Facebook and Instagram after the social-media giant Meta announced it would reinstate his accounts in the coming weeks.
And if you want to know how we got here — even after Jan. 6 and the former president’s social-media posts on that day — the answer is pretty simple.
Trump faced few consequences from his party for the very conduct that got him suspended from Facebook and Twitter in the first place.
The Republican Party welcomed Trump back, GOP midterm candidates competed for his endorsement, thousands of voters attended his rallies, and Trump launched another presidential bid.
Where he’s the frontrunner for Republican presidential nomination — or a co-frontrunner, at the very least.
“The public should be able to hear what their politicians are saying — the good, the bad and the ugly — so that they can make informed choices at the ballot box,” Meta said. “But that does not mean there are no limits to what people can say on our platform. When there is a clear risk of real world harm — a deliberately high bar for Meta to intervene in public discourse — we act.”
Bottom line: A social-media company might have continued to ban an ostracized ex-president.
But it was always going to be harder to ban an active and official presidential candidate.
And there is something to Meta’s statement that the public should be able to hear what their politicians are saying.
As it turns out, unless you’re a journalist who gets his press statements or a voter who logs on to his “Truth Social” network, you HAVE been missing what Trump has been saying since he left the White House.
That includes Trump’s racist attacks on Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s wife, Elaine Chao, who served as Trump’s Transportation secretary.
(“When I was young, some people deliberately misspelled or mispronounced my name. Asian Americans have worked hard to change that experience for the next generation,” Chao told Politico. “He doesn’t seem to understand that, which says a whole lot more about him than it will ever say about Asian Americans.”)
Yet with Trump soon to be back on Facebook, Instagram and (very likely) Twitter, more Americans will hear what he’s been saying.
Data Download: The number of the day is … 55%
That’s the decline in the number of veterans experiencing homelessness in America since 2010 (including an 11% decline since January of 2020), as the Department of Veterans Affairs says it eclipsed its 2022 housing goals too.
While the agency set out to house 38,000 veterans by the end of 2022, it exceeded that goal by more than 6%, housing 40,401.
“We at VA will not rest until the phrase ‘homeless Veteran’ is a thing of the past,” Veterans Affairs Secretary Denis McDonough said in a statement.
Read more on NBCNews.com.
Other numbers to know
31: The number of Abrams tanks the Biden administration will send to Ukraine, along with the necessary resources and training to operate them.
16.3 million: That’s how many Americans signed up for health insurance plans using marketplaces from the Affordable Care Act this year, setting a new record, per the New York Times.
48%: The rate of effectiveness against symptomatic infection of updated Covid boosters against an omicron subvariant that accounts for half of new Covid cases in the U.S..
One-quarter: The portion of mass attackers motivated by hateful ideologies or conspiracy theories, according to a new Secret Service report released in the wake of a string of mass shootings in California.
121: The number of burial plots in Ukraine allocated for members of the Wagner Group, Russia’s notorious mercenary, up from 17 in November, according to satellite images that hint at the scale of the losses in the war.
3: The number of times that a Newport News school was warned a six-year-old had a gun before he shot a teacher, according to the New York Times.
$2.6 billion: About how much dark money groups have spent on elections since the Citizens United Supreme Court ruling in 2010, per an OpenSecrets analysis.
600 square miles: The size of an iceberg that broke off of an ice shelf near Antarctica on Sunday in an event scientists say is not linked to climate change.
Eyes on 2024: Who wants to be a senator?
Before former Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels locks in his final answer as to whether or not he’s running for the Hoosier State’s open Senate race, he wanted to talk to some Republican senators.
“I’m not the least bit worried, honestly, about losing an election. I’m worried about winning it and regretting it for six years,” Daniels told Politico after he met with Sen. Todd Young, R-Ind., in D.C. on Wednesday. “I say this with great respect for those who do it. But you know, that doesn’t mean it fits me or fits me at this time of my life. So that’s what this field trip’s about.”
The conservative group Club for Growth, which is backing GOP Rep. Jim Banks in the race, has already pledged to spend millions against Daniels if he runs.
GOP Rep. Victoria Spartz is still not ruling out a run, telling Meet the Press NOW that she also still has to decide if she’d run for her House seat again.
“For me it sounds crazy to be here for eight more years. I don’t know how people spend their lives. People shouldn’t be– it should be the tour of duty that you do for the republic and then go back and live the laws that you legislated,” Spartz said.
“So I’ll keep options open just because they have some people that really want me to consider that,” Spartz said of a potential Senate run. “I know the Senate is broken.”
In other campaign news:
MTG for VP?: Controversial Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., is aiming to be Trump’s running mate in 2024, NBC News’ Jonathan Allen reports. A Greene spokesman said, “Her work on Oversight, Homeland Security, and the COVID Select committee is her priority and people shouldn’t get wrapped up into rumors.
Butti-mentum?: A University of New Hampshire Granite State Poll found Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg topping a list of potential presidential contenders, with 23% of likely Democratic primary voters backing him, while 18% backed Biden, 18% backed Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and 18% supporters Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.
Ruben’s run: Rep. Ruben Gallego, D-Ariz., acknowledged in a CNN interview that his Senate run presents a “sticky situation” for his party with the potential that independent Kyrsten Sinema could run for re-election. Gallego said he has not discussed the race with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chairman Gary Peters. But Gallego did pick up an endorsement from Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz.,
Fruits of their labor: Union leaders in Chicago are making their case that the city should host the next Democratic National Convention, launching a new digital ad describing the city as the “hometown of the labor movement” that’s home to union-friendly hotels and event centers, NBC News’ Natasha Korecki reports.
Beshear starting strong: A new Mason-Dixon Kentucky poll finds Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear with a 61% approval rating, and well-positioned in head-to-head matchups against four GOP candidates. The poll also surveyed likely GOP primary voters and found Attorney General Daniel Cameron leading the field by double digits.
Arrested development: Former President Donald Trump’s potential primary opponents are shying away from announcing their presidential campaigns, hoping that jumping into the race won’t instantly end their chances, Politico reports.
Hawley takes on TikTok: Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., who is up for re-election next year, said he plans to introduce legislation banning the social media app TikTok.
ICYMI: What else is happening in the world
GenBioPro, a company that manufactures abortion pills, is suing West Virginia, alleging that the state’s ban on abortion pills is unconstitutional.
Republican state lawmakers are pushing a growing wave of bills restricting transgender and LGBTQ rights, the New York Times reports.
Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said embattled Rep. George Santos, R-N.Y., will be removed from office if the House Ethics Committee finds that Santos has broken the law.