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The new bombshell report about Trump's DOJ is all part of a familiar pattern

First Read is your briefing from "Meet the Press" and the NBC Political Unit on the day's most important political stories and why they matter.
Image: FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Trump campaigns for Republican U.S. senators Perdue and Loeffler during a rally in Valdosta, Georgia
President Donald Trump holds a campaign event for Republican Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler in Valdosta, Ga., on Dec. 5, 2020.Jonathan Ernst / Reuters file

WASHINGTON — On Thursday night, the New York Times published the kind of jaw-dropping story that use to come out weekly — and sometimes even daily — during the Trump Era.

The former president’s Justice Department, the Times reports, subpoenaed the phone records of at least two Democratic congressmen, including records from family members and one minor.

All in an effort to hunt for the sources behind news reports of Trump associate contacts with Russia.

"It violates, I think, the separation of powers, but it also makes the Department of Justice a fully owned subsidiary of the president's personal legal interests," Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., one of the targets of the reported subpoenas, told MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow last night.

And it’s not the first time that we’ve learned how the former president tried to use — or abuse — his powers, even if those efforts never came to fruition.

Remember when he asked Ukraine’s president to look into dirt on Joe Biden and his son? (“There's a lot of talk about Biden's son, that Biden stopped the prosecution and a lot of people want to find out about that so whatever you can do with the Attorney General would be great.”)

Or when he asked Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to find him the votes needed to overturn the presidential election results in that state? “All I want to do is this. I just want to find 11,780 votes.”)

Or when he pressed his Justice Department to investigate the election in a related effort to try to overturn a contest he lost?

It would be one thing to view these different stories — including last night’s New York Times report — under the perspective that Trump had exited the political stage, never to return again like Richard Nixon after his resignation.

But it’s an entirely different thing to look at them with Trump remaining the de-facto leader of the GOP and his party’s presidential frontrunner in 2024 if he decides to run again.

Because we’ve yet to have a thorough reckoning of exactly how the former president tried to use his powers.

Congress, ball is in your court.

Roadblocks to the new infrastructure deal

“A bipartisan group of 10 senators said Thursday that they had reached a tentative infrastructure deal, but skepticism from Republicans and impatience from Democrats left its prospects uncertain as lawmakers departed for the weekend,” per NBC News.

“The deal includes $579 billion in new spending for a total of $1.2 trillion in infrastructure funding over eight years, according to two sources familiar with the talks, who requested anonymity to share details.”

And here are the major roadblocks to the deal:

  • Can it get support from more than five Republicans to avoid a GOP filibuster? (The bipartisan group of 10 is split between five Dems and five Republicans.)
  • Are Democratic senators going to scuttle it if it doesn’t include climate provisions?
  • And if a gas-tax hike is really one of the pay-fors, is the Biden White House going to toss the deal into the trash bin?

In fact, here was the statement the White House released on Thursday: "The president appreciates the senators' work to advance critical investments we need to create good jobs, prepare for our clean energy future and compete in the global economy.”

But: "Questions need to be addressed, particularly around the details of both policy and pay-fors, among other matters."

Data Download: The numbers you need to know today

About 5 percent: The inflation rate in the last year.

$215 million: The preliminary projected cost of the recall effort against California Gov. Gavin Newsom.

Two points: Democrat Terry McAuliffe’s lead over Republican Glenn Youngkin, per an internal poll the Youngkin camp released Thursday (the poll was taken before McAuliffe won the Dem nomination).

1: The number — now — of Muslim-American judges in the history of the federal judiciary after the first one was confirmed by the Senate yesterday.

33,591,112: The number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in the United States, per the most recent data from NBC News and health officials. (That’s 11,843 more than yesterday morning.)

602,536: The number of deaths in the United States from the virus so far, per the most recent data from NBC News. (That’s 419 more than yesterday morning.)

305,687,618: The number of vaccine doses administered in the U.S.

39.3 percent: The share of all Americans who are fully vaccinated, per NBC News.

53.4 percent: The share of all American adults over 18 who are fully vaccinated, per CDC.

Tweet of the day

ICYMI: What else is happening in the world

Biden wants to show the world that the U.S. is back. But has the rest of the world moved on?

Al Gore is lobbying the president to keep the pressure on for new climate initiatives.

Trump-friendly Republicans from at least seven states have “toured” the site of Arizona’s 2020 election audit.

The Texas Democrats who blocked (for now) the new restrictive voting bill in Texas are meeting with Vice President Kamala Harris.

Pennsylvania Republicans are out with their initial voting overhaul proposal.

A federal judge is siding with plaintiffs who sued over the Biden administration’s effort to assist farmers of color with debt relief.

Arizona’s Republican attorney general is running for Senate.

What’s going on with Republicans in Idaho?