Here are some of the legal news stories making headlines this week:

The January 6th Committee held its seventh public hearing.

  • The hearing focused on the connections between former President Donald Trump and the far-right extremist groups that stoked much of the violence on January 6th. It featured live testimony from Jason Van Tatenhove, a former national spokesman for the Oath Keepers, and Stephen Ayres, a convicted Capitol rioter, as well as pre-recorded testimony from numerous Trump aides, including former Trump White House counsel Pat Cipollone.
  • Cipollone testified that he believed Trump should have conceded the election and that he disagreed with the proposal for the federal government to seize voting machines. “That’s not how we do things in the United States. There’s no legal authority to do that. There is a way to contest elections. You know, that happens all the time. But the idea that the federal government could come in and seize election machines – I don’t understand why I would even have to tell you why that’s a bad idea for the country. That’s a terrible idea,” Cipollone said.
  • The Committee also highlighted Trump’s December 2020 tweet in which he said, “Statistically impossible to have lost the 2020 Election. Big protest in D.C. on January 6th. Be there, will be wild!” Rep. Stephanie Murphy, a member of the Committee, said that the post was “a call to action, and in some cases as a call to arms, for many of President Trump’s most loyal supporters.”
  • At the end of the hearing, Committee Vice Chair Rep. Liz Cheney revealed that, in the past two weeks, Trump attempted to contact a Committee witness, and that the Committee alerted the Department of Justice. “After our last hearing, President Trump tried to call a witness in our investigation, a witness you have not yet seen in these hearings. That person declined to answer or respond to President Trump’s call, and instead alerted their lawyer to the call. Their lawyer alerted us. And this Committee has supplied that information to the Department of Justice. Let me say one more time, we will take any effort to influence witness testimony very seriously,” Cheney said.

The Biden administration is taking steps to protect reproductive rights following the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.

  • President Joe Biden recently issued an executive order aimed at preserving access to reproductive healthcare services. According to the administration, the order will, among other things, promote access to medication abortion and contraception, safeguard patient privacy, and ensure the safety of patients and abortion providers. 
  • Administering many of the initiatives will be the job of  Xavier Becerra, the Secretary of Health and Human Services. But Becerra recently said that “there is no magic bullet” to protect abortion access.
  • HHS released new guidance for hospitals that requires them to provide abortion services to patients whose lives are at risk. “If a physician believes that a pregnant patient presenting at an emergency department, including certain labor and delivery departments, is experiencing an emergency medical condition…and that abortion is the stabilizing treatment necessary to resolve that condition, the physician must provide that treatment,” the guidelines state. Becerra also emphasized that this mandate preempts any state law that might prohibit abortions.
  • The Department of Justice launched a task force to identify ways to protect reproductive rights while monitoring state and local legislation that infringe on these rights. Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta will lead the group. Gupta said that “the Court abandoned 50 years of precedent and took away the constitutional right to abortion, preventing women all over the country from being able to make critical decisions about our bodies, our health, and our futures. The Justice Department is committed to protecting access to reproductive services.”

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