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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

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.

3 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.

4 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.