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Impeachment, Oil, Bruce Springsteen: Your Thursday Evening Briefing

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Good evening. Here’s the latest.

1. The impeachment trial moves to the defense.

The House Democrats prosecuting former President Donald Trump, above, rested their case after a day of branding him a clear and present danger to U.S. democracy who could sow new violence if he is not barred from holding office again.

Following up on the harrowing account of the deadly violence at the Capitol presented on Wednesday, they said Mr. Trump had shown no remorse for whipping up thousands of his supporters on Jan. 6 by telling them to “fight like hell.” They also shared video, court documents and interviews in which the rioters defended their actions by citing Mr. Trump’s directives and desires. Watch here.

The prosecutors also argued that Mr. Trump had repeatedly encouraged and celebrated violence — at a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va., in 2017 and at his campaign rallies.

2. More chilling details about the Capitol attack.

The Justice Department filed papers revealing the gravity of plotting against the Capitol by the Oath Keepers militia, which largely draws its membership from former law enforcement and military personnel.

“We plan on going to DC on the 6th” because “Trump wants all able bodied Patriots to come,” wrote a member on Dec. 29. Even before Election Day, the group was discussing bringing heavy weapons into Washington by boat and coordinating with other extremists, according to the filings.

And newly unveiled footage has further burnished the heroism of Eugene Goodman, above, the veteran and Capitol Police officer who lured rioters away from the entrance to the Senate chamber. In the new footage, Officer Goodman, midsprint, warns Senator Mitt Romney of the mob. “I don’t think my family or my wife understood that I was as close as I might have been to real danger,” Mr. Romney told reporters today.

A former Army infantryman known as “Goody” who served in one of the most dangerous parts of Iraq, he is among the Capitol Police officers who will receive the Congressional Gold Medal.


4. “Open season” on vaccinations.

That’s what Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top epidemiologist, forecast for the U.S. by April. “Namely, virtually everybody and anybody in any category could start to get vaccinated,” he said in an interview with Savannah Guthrie on the NBC program “Today.”

The actual vaccinations may still take months. And the stumbles in the country’s rollout remain far too evident. Lacking doses, Los Angeles temporarily closed five of its inoculation sites, including one of the country’s largest, at Dodger Stadium.

Separately, four people familiar with his condition told our reporters that former President Donald Trump was much, much sicker with Covid last October than was publicly acknowledged.


5. A turning point for Shell. And oil.

Royal Dutch Shell said that its “total oil production peaked in 2019” and that it expected a gradual decline of oil production of around 1 percent to 2 percent annually going forward.

Even before the pandemic cratered demand, energy companies were preparing for a gradual flattening in the world’s appetite for oil. Many are now moving toward cleaner energy production, investing more heavily in wind, solar and hydrogen.

In Washington, Vice President Kamala Harris and White House aides met with cabinet secretaries and the acting heads of 21 federal agencies to begin fulfilling President Biden’s promise to mobilize the government to confront climate change. Gina McCarthy, who heads the White House office of climate policy, said the focus was on job creation and setting an aggressive target for cutting emissions. Goals will be announced on April 22.


6. Christian America’s prophets.

Many of them are independent evangelists who do not lead churches or other institutions, operating primarily on social media and making money through book deals, donations and speaking fees. And they are part of the rising appeal of conspiracy theories in Christian settings, echoed by the popularity of QAnon among many evangelicals.

“It’s a symptom of our time,” one sociologist said. “People don’t trust institutions, and people think that all mainstream institutions are corrupt: universities, science, government, the media. They’re searching for real sources of truth.”

Ravi Zacharias, a revered evangelical who died in May and was eulogized by former Vice President Mike Pence, was accused of “sexting, unwanted touching, spiritual abuse, and rape” in a report released by the organization he founded.


7. Ten doses, six hours and a quick decision cost this doctor his job.

At the end of a day of administering vaccinations in late December, a final vial was still nearly full. With the clock ticking down to its expiration, Dr. Hasan Gokal scrambled to find 10 people he could give them to. The last was his wife, who had a lung condition that made her eligible.

Several weeks later he was fired from his government job in Texas and charged with stealing the vaccine.

The tale is an example of the mixed-messaging and at times counterproductive protocols that plague vaccine distribution.


8. Asian-American films dismantle more than stereotypes.

The films are also so different that they underscore the nebulousness of the very notion of identifying as Asian-American, a political term coined in the late 1960s that encompasses a practically borderless stretch of peoples.

We asked seven Asian-American filmmakers about how they navigate Hollywood and issues of identity.

“What’s happening now is that shift where we’re just telling our stories as people and it doesn’t have to be in relation to white America or a majority culture,” said Lee Isaac Chung, above, whose latest film, “Minari,” depicts a Korean-American family in rural Arkansas.


9. The Boss’s D.W.I. charge.

We’ve been trying to get more clarity on what exactly happened when Bruce Springsteen was arrested in November in Sandy Hook, a six-mile-long barrier spit in New Jersey that is part of the Gateway National Recreation Area.

The park ranger’s arrest report said he had watched as the 71-year-old singer downed a shot of Patron. “Springsteen claimed that he had two shots of tequila in the last 20 minutes,” the officer wrote, adding that he smelled “strongly of alcohol,” had “glassy eyes” and performed poorly in field sobriety tests.

Mr. Springsteen, who had driven in on a Triumph motorcycle, was charged with drunken driving, reckless driving and consuming alcohol in a closed area.

Jeep has pulled its ad starring the Boss, a call for national unity that debuted during the Super Bowl.


10. And finally, songs that reveal the mysteries of the deep.

In 2019, a seismologist stumbled upon a fin whale song and discovered the soundwaves could penetrate the rock of the ocean floor, offering a glimpse of as much as 8,200 feet into the crust without adding to the sound pollution humans inflict on the oceans. His study, published this week, details the method.

It may also prove useful to marine ecologists. Just as seismometers on land have been trying to track elephants, oceanic seismometers might help track fin whales, which have been endangered by climate change, habitat loss and the grim legacy of commercial whaling.

“We can use the tools of biology to study seismology,” another scientist said. “And we can use the tools of seismology to study biology.”

Have a serendipitous evening.


Your Evening Briefing is posted at 6 p.m. Eastern.

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