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President Trump with FCC Chairman Ajit Pai in April. Photo: Tom Brenner/Getty Images


President Donald Trump and FCC Chairman Ajit Pai had lunch at the White House the day the FCC won a major legal battle over its repeal of net neutrality regulations, according to two people familiar with the gathering.

Why it matters: Interactions between FCC leaders and the White House have drawn intense scrutiny because the FCC is an independent agency. Both people described the gathering as a "family" event.

Details: The timing of the Oct. 1 lunch was a coincidence, both people said. The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals that morning upheld most of the FCC’s repeal of the Obama-era net neutrality rules, in a victory for Pai and the telecom industry.

  • Trump on Monday publicly praised Pai and the FCC for having “Just WON the big court case on Net Neutrality Rules!”
  • The federal appeals court also overruled the FCC’s attempt to broadly override state net neutrality regulations, which means many more legal battles ahead for the policy. Net neutrality advocates claimed victory for this part of the judgment.

What they're saying:

"The mere fact that he’s meeting with the chairman is not nefarious, but if the president — who has been known to direct his agency heads to do various and sundry things — directed the chairman to do something and the chairman does it, that’s very troublesome."
— Gigi Sohn, a distinguished fellow at Georgetown Law and former FCC official
  • An FCC spokesman declined comment and the White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Go deeper

DOJ cites discrimination in lawsuit against Texas over voting districts

Attorney General Merrick Garland. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

The Department of Justice on Monday filed a lawsuit against Texas, alleging Republican state lawmakers discriminated against Black and Latino voters and has "again diluted the voting strength of minority Texans" when they approved new redistricting maps.

Why it matters: A DOJ assessment of the new districts found that they violate Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, Attorney General Merrick Garland said at a press conference.

2 hours ago - World

Biden to warn Putin U.S. will add troops in Eastern Europe if Russia invades Ukraine

Putin meets Biden in Geneva. Photo: Peter Klaunzer - Pool/Keystone via Getty

President Biden will warn Russian President Vladimir Putin when they speak on Tuesday that if Russia invades Ukraine, the U.S. is prepared to increase its troop presence, capabilities and military exercises on NATO's "eastern flank," a senior administration official told reporters.

Why it matters: The administration believes it's increasingly likely that Putin will order an invasion.

3 hours ago - World

U.S. announces diplomatic boycott of Beijing Winter Olympics

An Olympic-themed sculpture in Beijing on Dec. 1. Photo: Hou Yu/China News Service via Getty Images

The U.S. announced Monday that it will not send officials to the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics in protest of human rights abuses committed by the Chinese Communist Party.

Why it matters: The diplomatic boycott — which won't prevent American athletes from competing — marks a major escalation between the U.S. and China amid already heightened tensions over the CCP's treatment of Muslim minorities, military threats to Taiwan and economic tariffs.