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Political Notebook

Student loans for 78,000 public service workers forgiven

People walked on the campus of the University of Southern California on Thursday. The Biden administration announced it will forgive $6 billion in student loan debts for 78,000 public service workers.Mario Tama/Getty

WASHINGTON — Another 78,000 Americans are getting their federal student loans canceled through a program that helps teachers, nurses, firefighters, and other public servants, the Biden administration announced Thursday.

The Education Department is canceling the borrowers’ loans because they reached 10 years of payments while working in public service, making them eligible for relief under the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program.

“These public service workers have dedicated their careers to serving their communities, but because of past administrative failures, never got the relief they were entitled to under the law,” President Biden said in a statement.

Congress created the program in 2007, but rigid rules and missteps by student loan servicers left many borrowers unable to get the cancellation they were promised. The Biden administration loosened some of the rules and retroactively gave many borrowers credit toward their 10 years of payments.


Through those actions, the Biden administration has canceled loans for more than 871,000 public service workers. Previously, about 7,000 borrowers had successfully gotten their loans canceled.

The latest round of forgiveness will cancel about $5.8 billion in federal student loans.

Starting next week, those receiving the forgiveness will get an email from Biden congratulating them on their relief. A message from the Democratic president, who’s running for reelection, will also be sent to 380,000 borrowers who are within two years of forgiveness under the program.

Associated Press

Manhattan DA downplays documents in Trump case

NEW YORK — The Manhattan district attorney’s office said in court papers Thursday that a large cache of newly disclosed documents contained little that might influence or delay the criminal trial of Donald Trump, which is scheduled to begin in mid-April.

In a surprising move, the district attorney, Alvin Bragg, agreed last week to allow a short delay in the trial to give Trump’s lawyers time to review the records. The documents had been turned over by federal prosecutors who had previously investigated Michael Cohen, the former president’s longtime fixer who is expected to be a key witness in Bragg’s prosecution.


Trump’s lawyers had cast the documents as a potential game-changing development in the intensely litigated case, which had been set to go to trial March 25. But in Thursday’s filing, Bragg’s office downplayed the documents’ import, although it said its review was continuing.

“The people now have good reason to believe that this production contains only limited materials relevant to the subject matter of this case and that have not previously been disclosed to defendant,” the office said in the filing, adding, “The overwhelming majority of the production is entirely immaterial, duplicative or substantially duplicative of previously disclosed materials.”

It said that the trial’s currently scheduled start date — now set for April 15 — provides “a more than reasonable amount of time for defendant to review the information provided.”

Trump’s lawyers have asked the judge in the case, Juan Manuel Merchan, to dismiss the charges entirely or delay the trial until the summer and sanction the district attorney. A hearing before Merchan is scheduled for Monday.

New York Times

Valet recalled warning from Trump to Pence

WASHINGTON — The threat from President Donald Trump to his vice president, Mike Pence, was clear and direct: If you defy my effort to overturn the 2020 election by certifying the results, your future in Republican politics is over.

“Mike, this is a political career killer if you do this,” Trump told Pence by phone on the morning of Jan. 6, 2021, according to the White House valet who was with the president for much of the day and told Congress he had overheard the conversation.


The testimony of Trump’s valet, provided to the now-defunct House Jan. 6 Committee in 2022 but not previously released publicly, offers a rare firsthand look into the former president’s behavior in the hours before, during, and after a mob of his supporters stormed the Capitol seeking to halt the certification of Joe Biden’s victory.

In the valet’s account, laid out in a transcript obtained by The New York Times, an agitated Trump pressured Pence to overturn the election and stewed about Pence’s refusal for hours after violence engulfed Congress. Told that a civilian had been shot outside the House chamber amid the mob attack, he recalled, Trump appeared unconcerned.

“I just remember seeing it in front of him,” the valet said of a note card Trump was given bearing news of the casualty as he watched the riot unfold on television. “I don’t remember how it got there or whatever. But there was no, like, reaction.”

As unflattering as portions of the aide’s testimony were to Trump, he did not confirm some of the more graphic and damning claims made by witnesses in front of the Jan. 6 committee.

For instance, the valet said he did not remember hearing Trump use vulgar language in describing his view that Pence was a coward, or agree with rioters who were chanting for Pence to be hung. And he did recall hearing the president ask about contacting top officials about dispatching the National Guard to Capitol Hill — although there is no indication that he ever followed through.


“Did you hear the president say that?” a staff investigator for the House Jan. 6 committee asked the valet, inquiring about reports that Trump had called Pence an expletive meant to refer to a wimp.

“I did not — no, sir,” the valet responded.

Trump himself has not disputed using that language, and Ivanka Trump’s chief of staff testified that Ivanka Trump had told her that Donald Trump had an “upsetting” conversation with Pence and that the president had accused him of cowardice, using “the ‘p’ word.” The valet also acknowledged that he wasn’t with the president at all times, and that he had left the Oval Office during a portion of Trump’s call with Pence.

New York Times

Biden’s stutter cited by both sides in race

President Biden recently sent out a video of a meeting with a 9-year-old with a stutter, telling the young boy, “Don’t let anybody tell you that you can’t do anything.”

He wrote about having “struggled with a stutter all my life,” an unusual nod to the ongoing nature of his battle. And in interviews, he has spoken at length about the childhood trauma and embarrassment of struggling to speak.

Donald Trump has mocked Biden in recent weeks by falsely claiming that the president is stuttering during his speeches, and he has parodied the purported stammer on occasion, but Biden has been relying on a longtime centerpiece of his personal and political biography, embracing it to sell himself as the candidate of compassion for the 2024 presidential rematch.


The election may ultimately be decided by sweeping issues like the economy, immigration, abortion, and democracy. But the early phase has also been marked by a discussion, in ways both crass and subtle, of a far more personal topic — Biden’s stutter. That back-and-forth reflects the candidates’ sharply differing views of disability and struggle, and their role in a divided political culture that can reward ridicule more than acceptance.

“We don’t even talk about what is ‘presidential’ anymore,” said Ted Kaufman, a longtime confidant and friend of Biden’s. “But if you look at Joe Biden’s reaction and you look at Trump’s reaction, one is presidential and one is not.”

He insisted that Trump’s attacks don’t get under Biden’s skin — “He’s been through worse things than that in his life” — and said the stutter highlights a core part of the president’s past and “an example of how he overcame things.”

Trump’s aides contend that he ridicules Biden’s competence, not his stutter. “President Trump has never mocked Joe Biden’s speech impediment,” said adviser Jason Miller. “He’s simply called out the fact Biden is a cognitively impaired, low-IQ individual.”

There is no evidence that Biden is cognitively impaired, and Miller declined to say how he squares his assertion with Trump, for example, telling a crowd after one Biden speech earlier this year: “Did you see him? He was stuttering through the whole thing.”

Washington Post