Witness Who Testified Against Trump Sues Mike Pompeo

Gordan Sondland testified that President Donald J. Trump told him to pressure Ukrainian officials to conduct investigations into Mr. Trump’s political rivals.
Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

A former top American diplomat who was a key witness against Donald J. Trump during his first impeachment sued former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and the federal government on Monday, demanding they pay his $1.8 million in legal fees from impeachment.

The lawsuit by the former ambassador to the European Union, Gordon Sondland, alleges that Mr. Pompeo had originally told Mr. Sondland the State Department would cover his legal fees but then backed off after Mr. Sondland provided damaging testimony to congressional investigators about Mr. Trump’s dealings with Ukraine in 2019.

Mr. Pompeo, the lawsuit alleges, misled Mr. Sondland about whether the State Department would represent him. Mr. Pompeo’s commitment to pay the fees was “abandoned apparently for political convenience,” lawyers for Mr. Sondland wrote.

“After Pompeo learned what Ambassador Sondland’s testimony was before Congress during the 2019 impeachment inquiry — words that were entirely candid and truthful (but uncomfortable to the Trump administration)— Pompeo reneged on his promise,” according to the suit, filed in federal court in Washington.

A spokesman for Mr. Pompeo said in a statement the lawsuit was “ludicrous.”

“Mr. Pompeo is confident the court will see it the same way,” according to the statement.

Mr. Sondland, a wealthy Oregon-based hotelier who went on to join Mr. Trump’s administration, testified that Mr. Trump told him to pressure Ukrainian officials to conduct investigations into Mr. Trump’s political rivals. He also said that there was a quid pro quo that conditioned a White House meeting for the new Ukrainian president in exchange for the Ukrainians announcing the investigations Mr. Trump wanted.

During impeachment, Mr. Sondland was represented by Robert Luskin, a well-known Washington lawyer who spent weeks preparing Mr. Sondland for his testimony. Although Mr. Sondland gave testimony that hurt Mr. Trump, he faced backlash in Portland, where his businesses were hurt as they became synonymous with Mr. Trump.

Mr. Pompeo may have his own legal bills to contend with. Though the allegations against Mr. Pompeo relate to his conduct during his time as secretary of state, it was not clear whether the Justice Department will defend him. A Justice Department spokesman did not return an email seeking comment.

During the Trump administration, Mr. Sondland submitted his legal bills to the State Department, which agreed to pay only a small sliver of the $1.8 million tab, according to two people familiar with the matter. Mr. Sondland then relayed to Mr. Pompeo that he would sue if the State Department declined to honor what Mr. Sondland claimed was Mr. Pompeo’s initial commitment to pay, one of the people said. Mr. Pompeo maintained that he never committed to having the fees paid by the State Department, the person said.

A name placard was displayed in front of an empty chair after President Donald J. Trump’s former White House counsel did not show up for a congressional hearing in 2019.
Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

President Donald J. Trump’s former White House counsel, Donald F. McGahn II, has agreed to testify privately before the House Judiciary Committee next week about Mr. Trump’s efforts to obstruct the Russia investigation, according to two people familiar with the matter.

Lawyers for House Democrats, the Justice Department and Mr. McGahn had tentatively struck a deal on the testimony earlier in May. But the scheduling was delayed for weeks while they waited to see what Mr. Trump would do.

Mr. McGahn’s agreement to testify was contingent on there being no active legal challenge to his participation, according to the two people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the legal and political sensitivity of the matter.

Under the deal, according to a court filing, there will be strict limits on the testimony Mr. McGahn will provide. He will testify behind closed doors for a transcribed interview, rather than in public.

Immediately after the deal was announced this month, a lawyer for Mr. Trump conveyed that the former president intended to seek a court order blocking Mr. McGahn’s testimony. But late last week, the people said, Mr. Trump’s lawyer — Patrick Philbin, a former deputy White House counsel who is continuing to help handle his post-presidential legal affairs — said that Mr. Trump would not intervene after all.

The McGahn case stems from the House Judiciary Committee’s desire in 2019 to question him about matters related to his role as a key witness in Robert S. Mueller III’s account of efforts by Mr. Trump to impede the Russia investigation.

President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris meeting with Republican senators and cabinet members this month to discuss the administration’s infrastructure plan.
Credit…T.J. Kirkpatrick for The New York Times

President Biden and Senate Republicans face what could be a make-or-break week in their efforts to find bipartisan agreement on a bill to build or repair America’s infrastructure, with an informal deadline barreling close and a wide gap remaining between the parties on how much to spend, what to spend it on and how to raise the money to pay for it.

Both sides have talked of Memorial Day as a point at which they will know whether any agreement is possible, or if negotiations will break down. That would leave Democrats to try to go it alone to advance Mr. Biden’s $4 trillion economic agenda via the budget reconciliation process, which allows certain tax and spending measures to bypass a Senate filibuster. After weeks of discussions, the administration and Republicans have moved slightly closer to each other. But their fundamental dynamic remains unchanged.

Democrats still want to spend far more than Republicans do, on a much wider range of initiatives. Conservatives in the Senate want to confine the bill to a few areas that have enjoyed bipartisan appeal — at least rhetorically — in Washington in recent years, including spending on highways, bridges and broadband internet.

Mr. Biden wants to go further. In a counteroffer to Republicans on Friday, his administration laid out nine areas where they said Republicans needed to be willing to spend, or spend more than they have offered, in order to make a deal. That includes money for clean energy investments that could help combat climate change and for part of what the administration calls “human infrastructure”: home health care for older and disabled Americans.

Republicans are pushing Mr. Biden to trim his ambitions. “We, Republicans, tend to define infrastructure in terms of roads, bridges, seaports and airports and broadband,” Senator Susan Collins, Republican of Maine, told ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday. “The Democratic definition seems to include social programs that have never been considered part of core infrastructure.”

Business groups have been urging the administration to drop some spending plans — while pushing Republicans to go further than they have been willing to thus far. But even if the sides agree on a spending scope for the bill, they will then need to figure out how to pay for it.

Mr. Biden has proposed tax increases on corporations to fund his jobs plan, which Republicans say are a nonstarter. Some Republicans and business leaders have been surprised by Mr. Biden’s refusal to consider their proposed alternative: raising the gas tax, or other fees assessed on people who use improved infrastructure. Mr. Biden has said he considers such increases a violation of his pledge not to raise taxes on people earning less than $400,000 a year.

An alternative that neither side has embraced fully in negotiations, but that some business leaders have pushed, is to simply fund the spending through government borrowing. That would be the case if, as Republicans want, Mr. Biden agreed to repurpose some of the money from his deficit-financed $1.9 trillion economic stimulus bill to fund infrastructure — or if, as some Democrats have suggested, Mr. Biden were to reverse his promise to pay for the spending and instead take advantage of low government borrowing costs to fund any deal.

Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken will focus on bolstering the cease-fire between Israel and the militant group Hamas in Gaza, a goal experts described as difficult in its own right.
Credit…Stefani Reynolds for The New York Times

Wading into the intractable conflict between Israel and Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip, Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken will travel to the Middle East this week to try to bolster a tenuous cease-fire — but he intends to steer well clear of longer-term peace talks that currently have almost zero chance of success.

When he lands in Israel on Tuesday, Mr. Blinken will also be faced with a humanitarian crisis in Gaza that will require international support for a massive reconstruction effort, as well as simmering violence among Arab and Jewish residents of Israel.

“We have to deal with making this turn from the violence — we got the cease-fire — and now deal with the humanitarian situation, deal with reconstruction, and deepen our existing engagement with Palestinians and with Israelis alike,” Mr. Blinken said on Sunday on the ABC News show “This Week.”

But he said he would not use two days of talks — in Jerusalem, Ramallah, Cairo and Amman — as an opening to restart years-dormant peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, which administers parts of the West Bank but not Gaza.

“That, I don’t think, is something necessarily for today,” Mr. Blinken said, given that any attempt at “shuttle diplomacy” between the two sides would be unlikely to yield anything positive.

Nonetheless, the visit will kick-start a new phase of American-Palestinian diplomacy after years of disconnect under the Trump administration. Experts said the delegation could identify steps to move forward, such as revamping an American aid program and a plan to reopen a consulate in Jerusalem that had been Washington’s main point of contact with the Palestinians.

But more immediately, Mr. Blinken will focus on cementing the pause in cross-border hostilities with Gaza, which experts described as a task that will be difficult in its own right.

Senator Bernie Sanders wants to attach strings to what he called “corporate welfare” in an industrial policy bill.
Credit…Stefani Reynolds for The New York Times

Senator Bernie Sanders, independent of Vermont, said on Monday that he would seek tight restrictions on companies that benefit from a $53 billion government fund for the semiconductor sector that is part of a sprawling industrial policy bill churning through the Senate.

Mr. Sanders’s proposal, reviewed by The New York Times, would attach strings to what he said was “corporate welfare” in a $120 billion bill that aims to increase competitiveness with China. The measure, which would fund research and development into emerging sciences and manufacturing, includes $53 billion for the semiconductor industry amid a global chip shortage that has shuttered American automobile factories and slowed the delivery of consumer electronics.

The restrictions Mr. Sanders is proposing are similar to those imposed in the bipartisan CARES Act, the first coronavirus relief law enacted last year. Semiconductor companies that received the federal assistance could not buy back their own stock, outsource jobs overseas or pay their chief executives in excess of 50 times more than their median worker. They also could not benefit from the fund unless they gave the government partial ownership in the form of equity interest.

“Some of these companies are extremely profitable corporations,” Mr. Sanders said in an interview, pointing to semiconductor giants including Intel. “So I would hope my colleagues, both Republican and Democrat, say yes, we should go forward with rebuilding the semiconductor industry, but we don’t do it through massive amounts of corporate welfare.”

Some of Mr. Sanders’s Democratic colleagues with constituents hit hard by auto factory closures, including Senators Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock of Georgia and Gary Peters of Michigan, have lobbied intensively for the fund. Semiconductor industry groups have also clamored for it.

But Mr. Sanders’s measure points to some skepticism in both parties about bailouts similar to the one after the 2008 financial crisis. Mr. Sanders said he would be inclined to vote against the legislation in its current form without restrictions.

He also said he would try to remove a provision that appeared tailored to benefit Jeff Bezos’ space venture, Blue Origin, which — along with the defense contractor Dynetics — lost out on a contract in April to build NASA’s lunar lander. NASA had planned to award contracts to two companies, but ultimately said it could only afford one and chose SpaceX.

When the Senate Commerce Committee considered the bill this month, senators agreed to add $10 billion for NASA’s Artemis program and call on the agency to award a second contract.

Mr. Sanders has called the provision a “Bezos bailout.”

“The idea that in a bill, we are authorizing $10 billion to a company owned by the wealthiest guy in America, does not make a lot of sense to me,” he said.

As one of the few pieces of legislation regarded as likely to become law this year, the bill has become a magnet for lawmakers’ unrelated items and the target of a frenzied effort by lobbyists to insert provisions favorable to individual industries. So far, proponents have largely been able to beat back divisive measures that would have sunk the bill.

Xavier Becerra, the secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, speaking this month at a convention center in California that is being used as a temporary shelter for unaccompanied migrant children.
Credit…Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

Xavier Becerra, the secretary of health and human services, defended the Biden administration’s response to the record number of migrant children who have arrived alone at the southern border this year, saying the government is “getting the job done” with its mission to house the children.

“We’ve made tremendous progress in being able to care for all the kids that are coming into our custody,” Mr. Becerra said.

Lawmakers, lawyers and child advocates have raised concerns about the conditions and staffing shortages at some of these shelters where children have been staying for more than a month, on average, before they are discharged to family members or others sponsors in the country. One shelter in Dallas had been reporting for weeks a need for mental health clinicians, internal documents show.

“I’d love to see the kids that folks are saying are having traumatic experiences at any of these sites,” Mr. Becerra said on Monday during a call with reporters.

He toured the Fort Bliss shelter in El Paso, Texas, on Sunday, his second visit to an emergency shelter since his confirmation in mid-March. He visited a shelter in Long Beach, Calif., on May 13.

“They face trauma, but they’re getting to sleep in a bed,” he said. “They’ve had medical checkups, they’re being fed good meals, they’re able to have recreational activity, and they’re being provided professional assistance if they do have behavior health issues, which is more than they have before they came into our hands.”

Because of a shortage of shelter space overseen by the Department of Health and Human Services, the crush of migrant children were being held in jail-like cells run by Customs and Border Protection, in far worse conditions and for far longer than is legally allowed. The situation became one of President Biden’s earliest challenges. In a matter of weeks, the Department of Homeland Security helped Health and Human Services set up a dozen emergency shelters.

Two of the emergency shelters, one in Houston and another in Erie, Pa., were shut down just weeks after they opened because of poor living conditions for the children.

“We proactively closed the Erie and Houston facilities because they didn’t meet our standard of care, and we are working tirelessly with contractors to ensure those standards are met at sites operating today,” Sarah Lovenheim, a spokeswoman for Health and Human Services, said last week.

Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida last year. He said the new law meant state residents would be “guaranteed protection against the Silicon Valley elites.”
Credit…Anna Moneymaker for The New York Times

Florida on Monday became the first state to regulate how companies like Facebook, YouTube and Twitter moderate speech online, by imposing fines on social media companies that permanently bar political candidates for statewide office.

Florida’s new law, signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis on Monday, is a direct response to Facebook’s and Twitter’s decisions to ban former President Donald J. Trump after the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.

The law makes it illegal to bar a candidate for state office for more than 14 days, and companies would be fined $250,000 per day for cases where they barred a candidate for statewide office. The fine is lower for candidates seeking other offices.

Mr. DeSantis said the law would protect Floridians “against the Silicon Valley elites.”

The measure is part of a broader push in conservative state legislatures to crack down on tech companies’ ability to manage posts on their platforms. Lawmakers have echoed Mr. Trump’s accusations that the companies are biased against conservative personalities and publications, even though those accounts often thrive online.

More than a hundred bills targeting social media companies’ moderation practices have been filed this year, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Many of them have died, but a proposal is still being debated in Texas.

Democrats, libertarian groups and tech companies all say the Florida law violates the tech companies’ First Amendment rights to decide how to handle content on their own platforms. It also may prove impossible to bring complaints under the law because of Section 230, the legal protections for web platforms that Mr. Trump has attacked.

“It is the government telling private entities how to speak,” said Carl Szabo, the vice president at NetChoice, a trade association that includes Facebook, Google and Twitter as members. “In general, it’s a gross misreading of the First Amendment.”

Ernest Johnson, a death row inmate in Missouri, argued that the way the state planned to execute him would cause excruciating pain.
Credit…Stefani Reynolds for The New York Times

Over the dissents of its three liberal members, the Supreme Court on Monday refused to hear an appeal from a death row inmate in Missouri who said the way the state planned to execute him would cause him excruciating pain. The inmate, Ernest Johnson, had asked to instead be put to death by a firing squad.

As is the court’s custom, it gave no reasons for refusing to hear the case. Mr. Johnson was convicted of murdering three people during a 1994 robbery of a gas station. He later learned he had a brain tumor and underwent surgery to address it, leaving him with a seizure disorder.

Mr. Johnson sued to challenge Missouri’s execution protocol, which uses a lethal injection of pentobarbital, saying it would very likely cause him to suffer intense and painful seizures. As required by Supreme Court precedent, he proposed alternative methods of execution, starting with nitrogen gas, a method contemplated by state law but never used.

In a separate case from Missouri in 2019, Bucklew v. Precythe, the Supreme Court ruled that nitrogen gas was not a feasible alternative. After the 2019 case was decided, Mr. Johnson sought to amend his lawsuit to ask for a firing squad. The United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, in St. Louis, denied the request, saying it had come too late.

In dissent from the Supreme Court’s decision not to hear Mr. Johnson’s appeal, Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote that the appeals court’s action was unfair and unseemly.

“Despite the risk of severe pain rising to the level of cruel and unusual punishment,” she wrote, “the Eighth Circuit has ensured that no court will ever review the evidence in support of Johnson’s Eighth Amendment claim.”




White House Confirms That Justice Dept. Can’t Seize Reporters’ Records

Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, said on Monday that President Biden “won’t allow the abuse of power to intimidate journalists.”

“Friday, President Biden said he would not allow the Justice Department to seize the records of reporters. Has he communicated that to Attorney General Garland? And if so, how did he communicate that?” “Well, I don’t have any private conversations to read out for you between the president and his attorney general. What I can convey is that the president spoke clearly that he won’t allow the abuse of power to intimidate journalists. And he is alarmed by the reports of numerous abuses of power regarding the previous — how the previous administration used the powers of the Department of Justice, and thought it was right to speak out. I don’t have further specifics beyond that.” “But without revealing any private conversations, is the Justice Department aware that they are not to seize the records of reporters?” “Well, again, I think the president was, always believes that we should always be refining and improving our approaches. The president made those comments quite publicly. So everyone, I think, is aware.”

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Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, said on Monday that President Biden “won’t allow the abuse of power to intimidate journalists.”CreditCredit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

A White House spokeswoman appeared to confirm on Monday that the Biden administration would not permit federal prosecutors to seize reporters’ phone and email records in leak investigations, a major change that President Biden had promised in a seemingly off-the-cuff remark last week.

The Justice Department recently notified The Washington Post and CNN that under President Donald J. Trump, it had secretly subpoenaed their reporters’ communications records. Against that backdrop on Friday, a CNN reporter asked Mr. Biden whether he would prevent the department from going after journalists’ data.

After joking with the reporter, the president became serious, saying: “Absolutely, positively — it’s wrong. It’s simply, simply wrong. I will not let that happen.”

Under recent presidents from both parties, including Barack Obama, the Justice Department has used subpoenas and other forms of legal compulsion to hunt for reporters’ sources. That raised the question of whether administration officials would try to walk back Mr. Biden’s statement to preserve flexibility for prosecutors in future leak investigations.

But at a briefing on Monday, Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, said the president believed that the Trump-era Justice Department had abused its power “to intimidate journalists.”

While Ms. Psaki would not say whether Mr. Biden had spoken to Attorney General Merrick B. Garland to convey his vow as a policy directive, she said, “The president made those comments quite publicly, so everyone, I think, is aware.”

Rafael Grossi, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, says Iran will extend access to monitoring cameras at its nuclear facilities until June 24.
Credit…Michael Gruber/Getty Images

Iran agreed on Monday to a one-month extension of an agreement with international inspectors that would allow them to continue monitoring the country’s nuclear program, avoiding a major setback in the continuing negotiations with Tehran.

Under the agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency, Iran will extend access to monitoring cameras at its nuclear facilities until June 24, Rafael Mariano Grossi, the agency’s director general, told reporters in Vienna.

The extension prevents a new crisis that could derail talks among world powers, including the United States, aimed at bringing Washington back to the 2015 nuclear deal that President Donald J. Trump withdrew from three years ago. Restoring the deal, including a commitment from Iran to resume all its obligations under the agreement, is a top priority for President Biden.

Appearing on “This Week” on ABC on Sunday, Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken said that the talks had made progress but suggested that Tehran was delaying further headway.

“Iran, I think, knows what it needs to do to come back into compliance on the nuclear side. And what we haven’t yet seen is whether Iran is ready and willing to make a decision to do what it has to do,” he said. “That’s the test, and we don’t yet have an answer.”

Iran has steadily expanded its nuclear program since Mr. Trump’s withdrawal from the deal. Its government said on Monday that the stockpile of enriched uranium at higher levels had increased in the past four months.

The agreement announced on Monday will allow for other methods of continued international visibility into the nuclear program, but neither Iran nor the agency have publicly provided full details about their compromise.

“I want to stress this is not ideal,” Mr. Grossi said. “This is like an emergency device that we came up with in order for us to continue having these monitoring activities.”

A village in Toksook Bay, Alaska. The programs that will receive funding aim to combat domestic violence in areas where families are geographically isolated.
Credit…Gregory Bull/Associated Press

The Biden administration has begun to distribute hundreds of millions of dollars in funds to support victims of domestic abuse, a group that faced greater hardships and more danger while sheltering at home during the pandemic.

The Department of Health and Human Services said Monday that it will award $200 million to help abuse victims get counseling, emergency and transitional housing and help with safety planning and other resources.

The programs that will receive funding also aim to combat domestic violence in Alaskan villages, where families are geographically isolated, and help children who have witnessed violence receive counseling and other mental health services.

“Gender-based violence and the risk factors that contribute to it, like unemployment and isolation, have risen during the pandemic,” Rosie Hidalgo, a senior adviser at the White House Gender Policy Council, said in a statement.

The awards are funded by the American Rescue Plan, the $1.9 trillion pandemic relief package that Congress passed in March. The plan included funding for organizations dedicated to curtailing domestic violence and housing vouchers for people who could not otherwise flee violence at home.

As a senator, Mr. Biden sponsored the bill that became the Violence Against Women Act, the first federal legislation intended to end domestic violence. As vice president, he created a position to coordinate federal efforts around abuse and sexual assault, and he oversaw that work.

And as president, Mr. Biden asked Ms. Hidalgo to focus on gender violence in her work on the Gender Policy Council, ensuring that the issue would be a key focus of the newly formed council.

The $200 million in funding will be distributed through the Family and Youth Services Bureau at the Administration for Children, Youth and Families, a division of the Health and Human Services Department.

The funding will provide 296 supplemental grant awards that will be awarded to states, territories, tribes, state domestic violence coalitions, national resource centers and hotlines, and services for abused parents and children.

Grantees will have flexibility in how they use the funding to provide shelter, temporary housing, counseling, rental assistance and other services and supplies.

President Biden visited the Federal Emergency Management Agency headquarters in Washington on Monday.
Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

The Biden administration will spend $1 billion to help communities prepare for worsening disasters, doubling the size of a Federal Emergency Management Agency program that gives money to state and local governments to, for example, build sea walls or relocate flood-prone homes.

With this year’s Atlantic hurricane season expected to be more intense than normal and California already experiencing an early start to its wildfire season, the administration’s goal is to “use every lever we have in government, in coordination with local and state authorities, to make sure we’re as prepared as we possibly can be,” Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, said on Monday.

The new money is less than what some disaster experts say is needed given that climate change is making disasters both more frequent and more destructive. The formula that determines funding would have allowed the administration to put as much as $10 billion toward the program, which FEMA officials considered in the early days of Mr. Biden’s presidency.

But cities and states might have struggled to spend that much money on climate resilience projects, according to Craig Fugate, who led FEMA under President Barack Obama and led President Biden’s transition team.

Anique Houpe bakes cakes and cupcakes in her kitchen for her startup business, The Munchie Shopp Bakery, in Stone Mountain, Ga., in March.
Credit…Audra Melton for The New York Times

Over the past year, multiple stimulus measures from the federal government have helped American families buy groceries, pay rent and build a financial cushion. The aid may have also helped start a new era of entrepreneurship.

There has been a surge in start-ups in the United States a that experts have yet to fully explain. But a new study, using data that allows researchers to more precisely track new businesses across time and place, finds that the surge coincides with federal stimulus, and is strongest in Black communities.

Across a number of states, the pace of weekly business registrations more than doubled in the months after the CARES Act was signed in March 2020. Business registrations rose again by 60 percent around the time the supplementary aid package was signed in December.

And after the third wave of stimulus in March, weekly business registrations have been up by 20 percent, though the data is less complete.

The pandemic may signal the end of a slump in entrepreneurship that has lasted for several decades. Steep job losses, a widespread shift in how people work and a big influx of federal spending could prompt the kind of disruption that changes how people think about work and what they want to do with their lives.

Senator Amy Klobuchar wants to ban political campaigns from defaulting donors into recurring donations.
Credit…Anna Moneymaker for The New York Times

The chair of the Senate Rules Committee, Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, is set to introduce legislation on Monday to ban political campaigns from guiding online donors into recurring donations by default, a practice that has drawn criticism for luring supporters into making unintended gifts that sometimes total in the thousands of dollars.

The bill’s planned introduction follows a bipartisan recommendation from the Federal Election Commission that Congress act to rein in the practice of prechecking boxes that automatically enlist donors into making repeated donations. The F.E.C. voted unanimously, 6-0, to recommend the change, after a New York Times investigation into the practice showed it led to a surge of refunds and fraud claims from contributors to former President Donald J. Trump.

Ms. Klobuchar, who leads the rules committee that oversees the administration of federal elections, is calling the bill the RECUR Act for “Rescuing Every Contributor from Unwanted Recurrences.” For now, she has only Democratic co-sponsors, including Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois, who is the No. 2 Democrat in the Senate leadership and the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

The Times investigation found that Mr. Trump’s political operation, short on cash, had steered his online contributors into becoming unwitting repeat donors by prechecking a box to withdraw additional donations as often as every week last fall; their solicitations also featured a second prechecked box that was termed a “money bomb.” Over time, the campaign added text, sometimes in bold or all-caps type, that obscured the opt-out language. Soon, banks and credit card companies experienced a flood of fraud complaints.

All told, the Trump operation with the Republican Party refunded $122.7 million to donors who gave through the online processing site WinRed — more than 10 percent of every dollar raised. In contrast, the online refund rate for President Biden’s campaign with the party had been 2.2 percent on ActBlue, the equivalent Democratic processing site.

While the practice of prechecking boxes is currently far more common among Republicans, Democrats have also previously used the tactic. Some prominent Democratic Party committees continue to deploy it. And Mr. Trump has continued the practice in his post-presidency.

Ms. Klobuchar’s legislation would require that all political committees receive “affirmative consent” to take donations, and it explicitly says that prechecked boxes do not meet that requirement.

Senator Rand Paul, a Republican, in March. The F.B.I. and Capitol Police are investigating a suspicious package that was sent to his home in Bowling Green, Ky.
Credit…Anna Moneymaker for The New York Times

The F.B.I and Capitol Police are investigating a package that was sent to Senator Rand Paul’s home in Bowling Green, Ky., on Monday.

According to Politico, which first reported the story, the large envelope contained white powder and is currently being investigated for harmful substances. The sender has not yet been identified.

“I take these threats immensely seriously,” Mr. Paul said in a statement on Twitter. “As a repeated target of violence, it is reprehensible that Twitter allows C-list celebrities to encourage violence against me and my family.”

The senator also called out a recent tweet from the pop singer-songwriter Richard Marx that referenced a 2017 incident in which Mr. Paul was attacked by his then-neighbor, Rene Boucher.

“I’ll say it again: If I ever meet Rand Paul’s neighbor I’m going to hug him and buy him as many drinks as he can consume,” Mr. Marx tweeted.

Mr. Paul suffered five broken ribs and bruises to his lungs following the altercation. Mr. Boucher has since pleaded guilty to assaulting a member of Congress.