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Former President Obama — a day after the news broke that he'll be paid $400,000 to speak at a September health-care conference run by the Wall Street firm Cantor Fitzgerald — was paid the same amount for a "History Makers" luncheon speech at the A&E Networks advertising upfront yesterday in New York, per the N.Y. Post's Claire Atkinson:

  • "He was interviewed over 90 minutes ... by presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin in front of the cable network's advertisers."
  • "Obama, who got a standing ovation when he entered the room, asked about what he missed most about the White House, said it was sitting on the Truman balcony on summer nights and gazing at the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial."
  • "Obama also told the crowd that in his three months out of office he has not yet been behind the wheel of a car ... [H]e's learning how to use the coffee machine in the Obamas' new home in Washington."
  • "Goodwin asked Obama how, while president, he handled frustrating moments. She mentioned Lincoln would write angry letters and then put them in a desk and not mail them. Obama responded: 'For starters, by not having a Twitter account.'"

Michelle Obama made her paid-speaking debut yesterday in Orlando at American Institute of Architecture's annual conference, the WashPost's Krissah Thompson writes in the Style section lead, "For Obamas, paid-speaking circuit can pose risks to their brand":

  • "She spoke with authority about her experience as a lawyer and executive — topics she often seemed reluctant to address in her husband's administration."
  • "She shared a story about her emotional final day at the White House. Her daughters were in tears as they said goodbye to the staff, and she felt herself choke up, too — but she resolved to keep her emotions hidden before the Inauguration Day cameras. 'I didn't want to have tears in my eyes because people would swear I was crying because of the new president,' she said, as the crowd laughed."

Go deeper

CDC director warns "now is not the time" to lift COVID restrictions

CDC director Rochelle Walensky warned states on Monday that "now is not the time" to lift public health restrictions, as the recent dramatic declines in coronavirus cases and deaths "appear to be stalling."

Why it matters: While the average of 70,000 new infections and 2,000 daily deaths is nowhere near the extremely high levels recorded at the start of 2021, the figures are still a poor baseline to "stop a potential fourth surge" — especially with the threat posed by more contagious new variants, Walensky warned.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren introduces "ultra-millionaire" wealth tax bill

Photo: Greg Nash-Pool/Getty Images

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) on Monday introduced a bill in the Senate that would impose a new tax on the assets of America's wealthiest individuals.

Why it matters: The plan, which Warren introduced along with Reps. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) and Brendan Boyle (D-Pa.) is similar to a proposal that was the centerpiece of Warren's campaign for the presidency in 2020.

3 hours ago - World

Former French President Sarkozy sentenced to jail for corruption

Nicolas Sarkozy, 2011. Photo: XINHUA/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

A court in Paris on Monday sentenced former French President Nicolas Sarkozy to one year in prison and a two-year suspended sentence after he was found guilty of trying to bribe a magistrate, AP reports.

Driving the news: Sarkozy, who was president from 2007 to 2012, is the first president in France’s modern history to have gone on trial for corruption, per AP. He was charged with corruption and influence-peddling.