Republicans Block Independent Commission on Jan. 6 Riot




Republicans Block Independent Inquiry Into Jan. 6 Capitol Riot

Senate Republicans on Friday blocked the creation of an independent commission to investigate the deadly Jan. 6 storming of the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob. The final vote, 54 to 35, fell short of the 60 senators needed.

“On this vote, the yeas are 54, the nays are 35. Three-fifths of the senators duly chosen and sworn not having voted in the affirmative, the motion is not agreed to.” That of fear or fealty to Donald Trump, the Republican minority just prevented the American people from getting the full truth about Jan. 6. The Republican minority just prevented the Senate from even debating the bill. No opportunity for amendments, no opportunity for debate. Now, this should have been simple. The commission was bipartisan, independent, straight down the middle. House Democrats accepted every change that House leadership requested. Speaker Pelosi and I supported, and still do support, the changes Senator Collins proposed. And we told that to other senators. Senate Republicans for months publicly supported the idea of a commission. But now all of a sudden, the Senate minority and the Senate minority leader waged a partisan filibuster against the bill. This vote has made it official: Donald Trump’s big lie has now fully enveloped the Republican Party. We’ve all lived through the horrors of Jan. 6. I was no further than 30 feet from those white supremacist hooligans. To my Republican colleagues who remember that day — to my Republican colleagues, remember the savage mob calling for the execution of Mike Pence, the makeshift gallows outside the Capitol, men with bulletproof vests and zip ties breaking into the Senate gallery and rifling through your desks? Police officers crushed between doorways — shame on the Republican Party for trying to sweep the horrors of that day under the rug because they’re afraid of Donald Trump. Our democracy has long endured because leaders of good faith, even if they disagreed, even at political cost, shared a fidelity to the truth. Not so today.”

Senate Republicans on Friday blocked the creation of an independent commission to investigate the deadly Jan. 6 storming of the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob. The final vote, 54 to 35, fell short of the 60 senators needed.CreditCredit…Jason Andrew for The New York Times

Republicans on Friday blocked the creation of an independent commission to investigate the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, using their filibuster power in the Senate for the first time this year to doom a full accounting for the deadliest attack on Congress in centuries.

With the vast majority of Republicans determined to shield their party from potential political damage that could come from scrutiny of the storming of the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob, only six G.O.P. senators joined Democrats to support advancing the measure. The final vote, 54 to 35, fell short of the 60 senators needed to move forward.

The vote was a stinging defeat for proponents of the commission, who had argued that it was the only way to assemble a truly comprehensive account of the riot for a polarized nation. Modeled after the inquiry into the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, the proposed panel of experts would have been responsible for producing a report on the assault and recommendations to secure Congress by the end of the year.

The debate played out in the same chamber where a throng of supporters of former President Donald J. Trump, egged on by his lies of a stolen election and efforts by Republican lawmakers to invalidate President Biden’s victory, sought to disrupt Congress’s counting of electoral votes about five months ago.

Top Republicans had entertained supporting the measure as recently as last week. But they ultimately reversed course, and the House approved it with only 35 Republican votes. Leaders concluded that open-ended scrutiny of the attack would hand Democrats powerful political ammunition before the 2022 midterm elections — and enrage a former president they are intent on appeasing.

“I do not believe the additional extraneous commission that Democratic leaders want would uncover crucial new facts or promote healing,” said Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the minority leader. “Frankly, I do not believe it is even designed to do that.”

Though Mr. McConnell said he would continue to support criminal cases against the rioters and stand by his “unflinching” criticisms of Mr. Trump, the commission’s defeat is expected to embolden the former president at a time when he has once again ramped up circulation of his baseless and debunked claims.

In a matter of months, his lies have warped the views of many of his party’s supporters, who view Mr. Biden as illegitimate; inspired a rash of new voting restrictions in Republican-led states and a quixotic recount in Arizona denounced by both parties; and fueled efforts by Republican members of Congress to downplay and reframe the Capitol riot as a benign event akin to a “normal tourist visit.”

“People are just now beginning to understand!” Mr. Trump wrote in a statement on Thursday.

Democrats denounced the vote as a cowardly cover-up. They warned Republicans that preventing an independent inquiry — led by five commissioners appointed by Democrats and five by Republicans — would not shield them from confronting the implications of Mr. Trump’s attacks on the democratic process.

“Do my Republican colleagues remember that day?” Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York and the majority leader, asked moments after the vote. “Do my Republican colleagues remember the savage mob calling for the execution of Mike Pence, the makeshift gallows outside the Capitol?”

“Shame on the Republican Party for trying to sweep the horrors of that day under the rug because they are afraid of Donald Trump,” he added.

The six Republicans who voted to advance debate on the commission included Senators Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, Susan M. Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Rob Portman of Ohio, Mitt Romney of Utah and Ben Sasse of Nebraska. All but Mr. Portman had voted at an impeachment trial in February to find Mr. Trump guilty of inciting the insurrection.

A seventh Republican, Senator Patrick J. Toomey of Pennsylvania, missed the vote but said he would have voted to advance debate on the commission. He was one of 11 senators who missed the vote.

President Biden spoke at Sportrock Climbing Center in Alexandria, Va., on Friday.
Credit…Sarah Silbiger for The New York Times

President Biden’s $6 trillion budget bets on the power of government to propel workers, families and businesses to new heights of prosperity in a rapidly changing economy, by redistributing income and wealth from high earners and corporations to grow the middle class.

The inaugural budget request of Mr. Biden’s presidency reduces spending levels compared to last year, when lawmakers pumped trillions of dollars to people, businesses and local governments to help them survive the pandemic recession. But it sets the nation on a new and higher spending path, with total federal outlays rising to $8.2 trillion by 2031 and deficits running above $1.3 trillion throughout the next decade.

That spending represents an attempt to expand the size and scope of federal engagement in Americans’ daily lives, including guaranteeing four more years of public education, reducing the costs of child care, granting paid leave for workers, sending monthly government payments to parents and paving the way for electric cars and trucks to take over the nation’s highways and cul-de-sacs.

Mr. Biden would borrow trillions over the next decade to fund those programs, swelling the national debt to a record size as a share of the economy, in hopes of putting the country on more solid fiscal footing for decades to come.

“The budget is built around a fundamental understanding of how our economy works and why, for too long and for too many, it has not,” Mr. Biden wrote in an introductory message. “It is a budget that reflects the fact that trickle-down economics has never worked, and that the best way to grow our economy is not from the top down, but from the bottom up and the middle out. Our prosperity comes from the people who get up every day, work hard, raise their family, pay their taxes, serve their nation and volunteer in their communities.”

To invest in those people, Mr. Biden would impose higher taxes on the wealthy and, in particular, large corporations, a move Republicans warn would cripple American companies’ ability to compete globally.

Wind turbines on a farm near Allen, Neb. President Biden’s budget plan includes $14 billion in new money to address climate change.
Credit…Brian Lehmann for The New York Times

President Biden’s first budget request maps out a vision of an expansive federal government in the years to come. Here are some of the notable proposals:

  • Climate change. The budget proposal adds $14 billion in new money across government agencies to policies and programs devoted to addressing climate change.

  • Clean energy. Clean energy technologies, including hydrogen fuels and the next generation of nuclear power, would get more than $800 billion over the next decade in new spending and tax breaks.

  • Southern border. The office that manages migrant children and teenagers who have been arriving alone at the U.S.-Mexican border in record numbers this year would get $3.2 billion.

  • Diplomacy, democracy and refugees. The State Department and international programs would get an increase of $6.3 billion, more than 11 percent above current levels — and almost 50 percent more than the last budget proposed by Mr. Trump.

  • Women and gender rights. The Justice Department’s Violence Against Women Act programs could get $1 billion, nearly double the 2021 amount, to fund existing and new initiatives. The proposed budget also allocates $2.1 billion to address gun violence as a public health crisis.

  • High-poverty schools. High-poverty schools would get a $36.5 billion investment, a $20 billion increase from the previous year.

  • Tax cheats. The I.R.S. would get $13.2 billion to ramp up enforcement activity.

A New York Police Department officer exited the apartment building of Rudolph W. Giuliani in Manhattan after federal investigators executed a search warrant last month.
Credit…Jeenah Moon for The New York Times

A federal judge in Manhattan on Friday ordered the appointment of a so-called special master to review whether materials seized from Rudolph W. Giuliani’s apartment and office during an F.B.I. search in April are protected by attorney-client privilege.

The searches were part of a criminal investigation into whether Mr. Giuliani broke lobbying laws in his dealings in Ukraine before the 2020 presidential election. Mr. Giuliani was President Donald J. Trump’s personal lawyer at the time.

Mr. Giuliani was seeking to uncover damaging information on President Biden, then a leading presidential candidate. The authorities are examining whether Mr. Giuliani was also lobbying the Trump administration on behalf of Ukrainian officials who were assisting him in his dirt-digging mission, The New York Times has reported.

Mr. Giuliani has not been accused of any wrongdoing. He has said he never lobbied on behalf of the Ukrainians.

The judge, J. Paul Oetken of Federal District Court in Manhattan, said the appointment of the special master — usually a retired judge or magistrate — was “warranted here to ensure the perception of fairness.”

The special master would conduct a review to determine whether any of the material seized from Mr. Giuliani’s cellphones and computers was potentially covered by attorney-client privilege and should be made off-limits to prosecutors.

In response to the ruling, one of Mr. Giuliani’s lawyers, Robert J. Costello, said, “We knew that a special master was inevitable, which is why we did not oppose it, so this ruling comes as no surprise to us.”

The U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan, which had sought the appointment of the special master, declined to comment.

Judge Oetken also denied Mr. Giuliani’s request for copies of the confidential government documents detailing the basis for the warrants issued in support of the searches in April, and an earlier search of Mr. Giuliani’s iCloud account. Typically, such records are only made available to defendants after they are indicted and before a trial.

Mr. Giuliani was “not entitled to a preview of the government’s evidence in an ongoing investigation before he has been charged with a crime,” the judge said.

Judge Oetken asked that the parties submit to the court proposed candidates for special master by next Friday.

Ben Protess contributed reporting.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer had hoped to approve the China measure before the Senate departed for its weeklong Memorial Day break.
Credit…Al Drago for The New York Times

An expansive, $195 billion bill aimed at bolstering the nation’s competitive edge against China hit a snag in the Senate on Friday, after a small group of Republicans objected to its swift passage, pushing a vote on the bipartisan legislation until next month.

Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York and the majority leader, who had pressed to approve the measure before the Senate departed for its weeklong Memorial Day break, abruptly changed course on Friday in the face of the Republican objections, saying he would move to complete the measure in early June. The bill, which Mr. Schumer co-authored with Senator Todd Young, Republican of Indiana, is expected to pass overwhelmingly with bipartisan support.

The legislation had moved swiftly through the Senate, powered by rising fears among members of both parties that the United States is losing its economic and technological edge against China. But the last-minute delay followed nearly 24 hours of legislative disarray, beginning with an intensive round of closed-door haggling in which senators made significant changes to the sprawling bill, and ending with a midnight airing of grievances from a small group of conservative senators who complained they had not had time to review its contents.

Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, joined by a small group of Republicans, gummed up the legislative process late Thursday night with an objection, blocking Democrats from moving ahead with the bill. Speaking from the Senate floor early Friday morning, he complained that senators had not been given enough time to look through the legislation, and that none of his favored priorities — specifically one to fund a wall at the southern border — had been included.

Other Republicans who joined his objection argued that the cost of the bill — which would also allocate $52 billion to a previously created program to subsidize the semiconductor industry — was simply too high.

“We have been fiscally irresponsible, quite frankly, and every opportunity we now have to call it to the American people’s attention needs to be used,” said Senator Cynthia Lummis, Republican of Wyoming. “There are concepts in this bill which I find compelling, but now it’s over $200 billion.”

Their complaints mirrored broader discontent within their party, with Republican senators expressing annoyance at how quickly the measure had barreled through the chamber. But the aim of the legislation — competing with China — as well as a host of parochial items that were added to the bill to bulk up support won over a large swath of conservatives, many of whom were annoyed that their colleagues’ antics had kept them in Washington.

The Republican support underscored a broader shift in the party that has followed the lead of Donald J. Trump, with an increasing number of conservatives backing federal interventions to shore up American manufacturing, citing a rising threat from China.


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President Biden addressed military members at Joint Base Langley-Eustis in Virginia on Friday, honoring the sacrifices of combat veterans and looking toward the planned withdrawal from Afghanistan later this year.CreditCredit…Kenny Holston for The New York Times

President Biden delivered an emotional speech on Friday honoring the sacrifice of combat veterans ahead of the planned withdrawal later this year from Afghanistan — and recalled his many trips to a battle-scarred country he called “God-forsaken.”

The president, addressing service members in a hangar at Joint Base Langley-Eustis in Virginia, set out to honor the troops ahead of the Memorial Day weekend. He singled out the contributions of soldiers who served repeated tours overseas, and their families, whom he described as the “backbone” of the military.

But he frequently wandered off script, settling on the subject most prone to pull him from a teleprompter: his late son Beau Biden, who was awarded the Bronze Star for bravery in Iraq.

“I shouldn’t be talking so much about my son, but I’m not going to apologize,” said Mr. Biden.

The president’s speech came a day after the Pentagon confirmed that United States troops and their NATO allies intend to be out of Afghanistan by early to mid-July, well ahead of Mr. Biden’s Sept. 11 withdrawal deadline to end America’s longest war.

“I’ve been in and out of Iraq and Afghanistan over 20, I think 25 times, and I’ve seen — I wish everyone could see — what you do when you’re there,” he said. “So my message to all of you is quite simple. Thank you. Thank you.”

Mr. Biden then offered a bittersweet recollection of his own experiences in Afghanistan, saying he had “the pleasure, as they say” of visiting the whole country, from forward operating bases in the north, to poppy fields in the south.

“It’s all one God-forsaken landscape, but you all just showed up and did your job,” he told the service members and their families.

Mr. Biden leavened his otherwise somber delivery on Friday with a couple of lighter moments.

The president likes fast cars — and fast planes — and he groused about not being able to hitch a ride on an F-22 Raptor, a stealth fighter plane housed at Langley-Eustis.

“God, I’d love to go for a ride in one of those,” he told the audience. “I’m your commander in chief, why the hell can’t I command you let me go up?”


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Vice President Kamala Harris became the first female commencement speaker in the United States Naval Academy’s nearly 175-year history on Friday. Her speech focused on the challenges and opportunities of the modern era.CreditCredit…Julio Cortez/Associated Press

Vice President Kamala Harris achieved another first for women on Friday when she addressed the graduating class of the United States Naval Academy, becoming the first female commencement speaker in the school’s nearly 175-year history.

The vice president’s speech focused on some of the Biden administration’s most urgent challenges, like the coronavirus pandemic, climate change and a host of increasingly sophisticated cybersecurity threats — occurrences she called “warning shots” that would require a military trained to counter them.

“A gang of hackers can disrupt the fuel supply of a whole seaboard,” Ms. Harris said. “One country’s carbon emissions can threaten the sustainability of the whole earth. This, midshipmen, is the era we are in — and it is unlike any era that came before.”

The vice president’s speech at the Naval Academy, in Annapolis, Md., was her first to focus on the military, and it came as the Biden administration accelerated its withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan, well ahead of the Sept. 11 deadline President Biden set in April.

Ms. Harris has said that she was the last person in the room before the president made the decision to pull troops from the country, nearly two decades after they were first deployed.

Ms. Harris told the graduates that the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attack had “shaped your entire life, and it shaped our entire nation.” She said that the pandemic had similarly redefined American life.

“If we weren’t clear before, we know now: The world is interconnected. Our world is interdependent. And our world is fragile.”

Presidents and vice presidents deliver commencement speeches to the different service academies on a rotating basis, and Ms. Harris was the first to return to the Naval Academy since President Donald J. Trump took the stage in 2018 and declared that, after his election, the United States was “respected again.”

While Mr. Trump was focused on the military earning the respect and fear of its global adversaries — he told the graduates in 2018 that the military was “the most powerful and rightful force on the planet” — the current administration has emphasized what Mr. Biden has said repeatedly:he believes that democracy is reaching an inflection point.

“No class gets to choose the world into which he graduates,” Mr. Biden told a class of Coast Guard graduates this month. “The challenges you’re going to face in your career are going to look very different than those who walked these halls before.”

John Ismay contributed reporting.

Housing Secretary Marcia Fudge will announce a plan to increase down payments for F.H.A. loans, targeted to assist Black home buyers.
Credit…Michelle Gustafson for The New York Times

Housing Secretary Marcia Fudge is planning a broad new effort to fight housing discrimination that includes a $100 million initiative intended to spur Black homeownership in areas historically off-limits to minorities, administration officials briefed on the plan said.

The pilot program, part of the $6 trillion budget request planned to be released by President Biden on Friday, would pay for increased down payments from recipients of Federal Housing Administration loans, giving borrowers instant ownership equity comparable to that of their more affluent neighbors and white homeowners.

The increased down payments, up to 10 percent from roughly 3 percent, may not seem like a major change, but recent studies have shown that even this small boost is often the difference between a marginal owner succeeding or failing to keep up with mortgage payments.

Houses represent the main sources of wealth for Black families, and rates of homeownership have been declining in recent years despite rising incomes.

The housing agency’s plan, drafted by administration officials recruited from the Urban Institute, a Washington-based policy think tank quietly emerging as a major player in the Biden White House, would target “redlined” neighborhoods that have been subject to biased local zoning laws or discrimination by banks, the officials said.

The administration sees the effort as part of a bigger push to address the persistence of racial discrimination in housing. Ms. Fudge has already signaled her intention to renew an Obama-era program intended to reverse segregation in the suburbs while taking steps to beef up enforcement of existing fair housing laws.

And the department’s embattled fair housing division will see a roughly 20 percent funding increase under Mr. Biden’s budget, allowing the hiring of about 150 new employees, according to agency planning documents.

This is a 180-degree change. Ms. Fudge’s predecessor Ben Carson gutted enforcement of fair housing laws and supported former President Donald J. Trump’s contention during the 2020 campaign that Democratic attempts to integrate segregated neighborhoods were a war on white suburbanites.

Ms. Fudge, a former congresswoman from Ohio, is also presiding over one of the most significant reboots, in terms of funding, of any government agency.

President Biden is requesting a $9 billion increase in the budget for the Housing and Urban Development Department, the biggest year-to-year boost in the agency’s funding in over two decades. That 15 percent increase comes on top of the $27.4 billion in new assistance included in the pandemic relief bill passed earlier this year, which is administered by the Treasury Department.

Ms. Fudge’s top funding priority, according to two officials who briefed her during the transition, was an increase in rental assistance — vouchers that can be used by tenants to bridge the gap between their incomes and market-rate rents.

The budget released on Friday includes an additional 200,000 vouchers in addition to the 2.3 million families already receiving the aid. That alone would account for a $5.4 billion increase in the agency’s annual budget.

Microsoft announced on Thursday it has detected a State Department agency email network hack.
Credit…Carlo Allegri/Reuters

Hackers linked to Russia’s main intelligence agency surreptitiously seized an email system used by the State Department’s international aid agency to burrow into the computer networks of human rights groups and other organizations of the sort that have been critical of President Vladimir V. Putin, Microsoft Corporation disclosed on Thursday.

Discovery of the breach comes only three weeks before President Biden is scheduled to meet Mr. Putin in Geneva, and at a moment of increased tension between the two nations — in part because of a series of increasingly sophisticated cyberattacks emanating from Russia.

The newly disclosed attack was also particularly bold: By breaching the systems of a supplier used by the federal government, the hackers sent out genuine-looking emails to more than 3,000 accounts across more than 150 organizations that regularly receive communications from the United States Agency for International Development. Those emails went out as recently as this week, and Microsoft said it believes the attacks are ongoing.

The email was implanted with code that would give the hackers unlimited access to the computer systems of the recipients, from “stealing data to infecting other computers on a network,” Tom Burt, a Microsoft vice president, wrote on Thursday night.

Last month, Mr. Biden announced a series of new sanctions on Russia and the expulsion of diplomats for a sophisticated hacking operation, called SolarWinds, that used novel methods to breach at least seven government agencies and hundreds of large American companies.

Microsoft identified the Russian group behind the most recent attack as Nobelium, and said it was the same group responsible for the SolarWinds hack. Last month, the American government explicitly said that SolarWinds was the work of the S.V.R., one of the most successful spinoffs from the Soviet-era K.G.B.

A ballot box at a mobile van drop site for early voting in Lake Worth Beach, Fla., in November.
Credit…Saul Martinez for The New York Times

The scope of the Republican-led effort to overhaul voting regulations in states across the country now makes it one of the most significant restrictions of access to the ballot in a generation, according to a report released on Friday by the Brennan Center for Justice, a research institute.

As of May 14, lawmakers had passed 22 new laws in 14 states to make the process of voting more difficult, according to the group. The laws vary, including both minor alterations to procedures and major election overhaul bills that have passed in Georgia, Florida, Iowa and other states.

“Americans’ access to the vote is in unprecedented peril,” the report said.

The provisions making it harder to vote include new limits to absentee voting, limiting early voting hours, expanding purges of voter rolls and reducing polling location availability. The report also highlights legislative trends such as expanding access and autonomy for partisan poll watchers, granting more authority over election administration to state legislatures, and new and harsher punishments for election officials.

Though many of the largest, most significant battleground states controlled by Republicans have already passed their most ambitious voting measures, more new laws are still likely to come.

According to the Brennan Center, bills with restrictions on voting have advanced in at least 18 state legislatures that are still in session.

One of those states is Texas, a major battleground both in national politics and the field of voting rights, where a sweeping new bill that contains a host of restrictions on voting is being finalized behind closed doors in what is known as a conference committee.

And legislators in Texas are running short on time. While they still haven’t agreed on a final version of the bill, the Legislature must adjourn in Texas by Monday, leaving only a few days to complete the bill, known as S.B. 7., and bring it to both chambers for a final vote.

Democratic governors in some states are expected to veto some of the voting bills still being discussed. Two states with Republican-controlled legislatures and Democratic governors — Michigan and Wisconsin — have multiple voting bills that are unlikely to be immediately signed into law.

Michigan Republicans, however, have highlighted a possible workaround of a potential veto by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, in which a signature petition drive could put any voting provisions before the state’s residents as a ballot initiative, bypassing the governor.

Republicans passing the laws have said that they are strengthening the security of elections in the state, under a banner of “election integrity,” and many say that they are working to restore confidence in the electoral process, though courts, recounts and election officials across the nation have found no evidence of widespread fraud.

“Florida took action this legislative session to increase transparency and strengthen the security of our elections,” Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida said in a statement after signing the state’s new voting law. “Floridians can rest assured that our state will remain a leader in ballot integrity.”

Before this legislative season, the last major national sweep of new laws restricting access to voting was in 2011, according to the Brennan Center, after the Tea Party wave that swept conservative lawmakers into statehouses around the country.

But the Brennan Center report also highlights a move to expand access to voting in other states. According to the report, at least 28 bills with expansive provisions have been signed into law in 14 states. These new laws include provisions such as allowing for longer early voting periods, expanding access to voting by mail and restoring voting rights for former felons.

A QAnon flag appeared in a crowd on the National Mall for a July 4 celebration in 2019.
Credit…Samuel Corum for The New York Times

As hopes fade for a bipartisan inquiry into the Capitol riot on Jan. 6, it’s increasingly clear that the Republican base remains in thrall to the web of untruths spun by Donald J. Trump — and perhaps even more outlandish lies, beyond those of the former president’s making.

A federal judge warned in an opinion on Wednesday that Mr. Trump’s insistence on the “big lie” — that the November election was stolen from him — still posed a serious threat. Presiding over the case of a man accused of storming Congress on Jan. 6, Judge Amy Berman Jackson of the United States District Court in Washington wrote: “The steady drumbeat that inspired defendant to take up arms has not faded away. Six months later, the canard that the election was stolen is being repeated daily on major news outlets and from the corridors of power in state and federal government, not to mention in the near-daily fulminations of the former president.”

But it’s not just the notion that the election was stolen that has caught on with the former president’s supporters. QAnon, an outlandish and ever-evolving conspiracy theory spread by some of Mr. Trump’s most ardent followers, has significant traction with a segment of the public — particularly Republicans and Americans who consume news from far-right sources.

Those are the findings of a poll released Thursday by the Public Religion Research Institute and the Interfaith Youth Core, which found that 15 percent of Americans say they think that the levers of power are controlled by a cabal of Satan-worshiping pedophiles, a core belief of QAnon supporters. The same share said it was true that “American patriots may have to resort to violence” to depose the pedophiles and restore the country’s rightful order.

And fully 20 percent of respondents said that they thought a biblical-scale storm would soon sweep away these evil elites and “restore the rightful leaders.”

“These are words I never thought I would write into a poll question, or have the need to, but here we are,” Robby Jones, the founder of P.R.R.I., said in an interview.

Mr. Jones said he was struck by the prevalence of QAnon’s adherents. Overlaying the share of poll respondents who expressed belief in its core principles over the country’s total population, “that’s more than 30 million people,” he said.

“Thinking about QAnon, if it were a religion, it would be as big as all white evangelical Protestants, or all white mainline Protestants,” he added. “So it lines up there with a major religious group.”

A caribou calf in a portion of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska that was approved for oil and gas development during the Trump administration.
Credit…Christopher Miller for The New York Times

Despite President Biden’s pledge to aggressively cut the pollution from fossil fuels that is driving climate change, his administration has quietly taken actions this month that will guarantee the drilling and burning of oil and gas for decades to come.

The clash between Mr. Biden’s pledges and some of his recent decisions illustrates the political, technical and legal difficulties of disentangling the country from the oil, gas and coal that have underpinned its economy for more than a century.

On Wednesday, the Biden administration defended in federal court the Willow project, a huge oil drilling operation proposed on Alaska’s North Slope that was approved by the Trump administration and is being fought by environmentalists.

Weeks earlier, it backed former President Donald J. Trump’s decision to grant oil and gas leases on federal land in Wyoming. Also this month, it declined to act when it had an opportunity to stop crude oil from continuing to flow through the bitterly contested, 2,700-mile Dakota Access pipeline, which lacks a federal permit.

The three decisions suggest the jagged road that Mr. Biden is following as he tries to balance his climate agenda against practical and political pressures.

Mr. Biden “can’t afford to take a pure position on the climate” because he lacks strong majorities in Congress, said William A. Galston, a senior fellow in governance studies at the Brookings Institution, a Washington think tank. “That is the backdrop against which this president and the administration will be making trade-offs on every single issue.”

After successfully campaigning on a pledge to address global warming, Mr. Biden hit the pause button on any new gas or oil leases on federal lands and waters, returned the United States to the Paris Agreement on climate change and squashed the controversial proposal to build the Keystone XL pipeline — all on his first day in office.

But he is also trying to provide a safety net for people employed in the oil, gas and coal sectors, including union workers, and ease the transition into wind, solar and other renewables.

As important, Mr. Biden is trying to avoid alienating a handful of moderate Republicans and Democrats from oil, gas and coal states who will decide the fate of his legislative agenda in Congress.

Among them is Lisa Murkowski, the Republican senator from Alaska for whom the Willow project is a top priority and who grilled Deb Haaland about it during Ms. Haaland’s confirmation hearing for interior secretary in February.

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