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Biden cleared in classified documents case, Supreme Court hears Trump's Colorado ban

MANDEL NGAN
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AFP via Getty Images

Good morning. You're reading the Up First newsletter. Subscribe here to get it delivered to your inbox, and listen to the Up First podcast for all the news you need to start your day.

Today's Top Stories

A special counsel report released yesterday found evidence that President Joe Biden "willfully" retained and disclosed classified material after leaving the vice presidency in 2017 but concluded that "no criminal charges are warranted." The report largely focuses on documents about foreign policy in Afghanistan and Biden's personal writings.

  • Special counsel Robert Hur said in a 300-plus-page report that the evidence does not support bringing charges against Biden. He outlined the reasons why the jury was likely not to convict Biden for the missteps uncovered in the investigation.
  • Although the report clears him legally, NPR's Ryan Lucas tells Up First that the report's characterization of Biden's mental acuity could spell political trouble for him. The report said he came across as an "elderly man with a poor memory." Biden pushed back, saying his memory was "fine" and that he had not willfully retained classified material. He also expressed outrage that Hur had suggested he could not remember when his son had died.


The Supreme Court seemed skeptical of the idea that Colorado can exclude former President Donald Trump from the state's primary ballot. Conservative Justice Brett Kavanaugh brought up the national consequences of allowing a state to decide who is eligible for national office. Justice Elena Kagan, a liberal-leaning justice, expressed similar doubts.

  • The plaintiffs are relying on Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, passed after the Civil War to keep Confederates out of office. Trump's lawyers said Congress needs to pass a law that answers questions about how to enforce that part of the 14th Amendment. 
  • The Supreme Court hasn't offered a timetable for its decision, but some legal experts think the justices could rule before the Super Tuesday primaries, in early March. Moving forward, the Supreme Court could either decide to disqualify Trump, leave it up to lawmakers and voters, or keep him on the ballot.


Former President Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil attempted to overturn the country's 2022 presidential election, according to accusations by the Brazilian federal police. Yesterday, police raided dozens of properties, seized his passport and arrested his close aides. An investigation also detailed what they say was a vast conspiracy by the right-wing leader and his aides to plot a coup. At one point, the report said Bolsonaro personally edited a proposed order to arrest a Supreme Court justice.

  • NPR's Carrie Kahn spoke with Brazilian political scientist Guilherme Casarões on Up First, who said the fact that "democratic institutions have worked and have been able to save democracy from a complete meltdown" should be seen as a cause for hope.

Deep Dive

Omar El Qattaa / NPR
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NPR

In the months since the Oct. 7 Hamas attacks on Israel, more than half of Gaza's buildings have been damaged or destroyed by Israel's military response. Some researchers and human rights advocates say the destruction amounts to "domicide," or systematic destruction of homes.

  • Domicide can also refer to the symbolic destruction of identity, belonging, security and safety that comes with the loss of homes.
  • More than 650,000 displaced people in Gaza don't have homes to return to, the U.N. estimates. Gaza's reconstruction will be a herculean task. Even if the war ended today, the housing shortage could last for several years.
  • The destruction of homes was a part of South Africa's accusations that Israel is committing genocide. South Africa argued that Israel's actions inflicted upon Palestinians "conditions of life intended to bring about their destruction as a group."

Weekend Picks

David Lee / David Lee/Prime Video
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David Lee/Prime Video

Check out what NPR is watching, reading and listening to this weekend:

Movies: Agent of Happinessis a documentary about Bhutan's approach to measuring its own "gross national happiness." The film follows one not-especially-happy agent who gathers the data.

TV: Mr. & Mrs. Smith are back. Donald Glover and Maya Erskine play the titular spy couple in a new show that's part thriller, part romantic comedy.

Books: If you're neither a football or Taylor Swift lover/fan, you can still get into the Super Bowl mood with some football-based fiction.

Music: NPR Music's Hazel Cills and Sheldon Pearce choose their favorite tracks of the week, including Billy Joel's surprising new single.

Quiz: More than one famous woman made a surprise appearance this week. Plus, what's new in food colors?

Before You Go

/ Royal Caribbean/@amike_oosthuizen @brooklyntravelstheworld @spendingourkidsmoney @angielinderman @cooljul1 @aditaml2759 @drjennytravels @marcsebastianf @yourdatingtipbestie @whimsysoul/LA Johnson/NPR
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Royal Caribbean/@amike_oosthuizen @brooklyntravelstheworld @spendingourkidsmoney @angielinderman @cooljul1 @aditaml2759 @drjennytravels @marcsebastianf @yourdatingtipbestie @whimsysoul/LA Johnson/NPR

  1. Many Kansas City Chiefs and the San Francisco 49ers fans won't be able to join the millions of Americans expected to spend a record amount of money on Super Bowl sports bets. That's because California and Missouri haven't legalized sports gambling.
  2. Once nearly extinct, the California sea otter population has made a remarkable comeback in the last century. Scientists discovered the otters' return had the surprising effect of revitalizing their declining coastal habitat.
  3. They boarded a nine-month cruise around the world. They went viral. Passengers on board the Royal Caribbean's  "Ultimate World Cruise" tell NPR what they want their TikTok fans to know about the reality of life on board.

This newsletter was edited by Majd Al-Waheidi. Suzanne Nuyen contributed.

Copyright 2024 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Anandita Bhalerao
[Copyright 2024 NPR]