December 6, 2021
In a bolt from the blue, a former member of the Trump Administration has revealed in a new book that former President Donald Trump tested positive for COVID-19 three days before his first general election debate with former Vice President Joe Biden and arrived late for the event so he wouldn’t have to be tested for the virus, reports CNN.
The revelation came in “A Chief’s Chief,” by former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and was first reported by The Guardian. Meadows writes that after Trump tested positive, he then got a negative test—adding that “nothing was going to stop [Trump] from going out there.”
You’ll remember that, according to debate moderator Chris Wallace of Fox News, Trump and his entourage arrived too late on the day of the debate—the afternoon of the 29th—to be tested by an independent party.
As Wallace recounted: “For them to get tested, there wouldn’t have been enough time to have the test and have the debate at 9:00 that night,” he said. “They didn’t show up until 3:00, 4:00, 5:00 in the afternoon. There was an honor system when it came to the people that came into the hall from the two campaigns.”
The honor system isn’t really something that Donald Trump buys into. This is a man who made more than 30,000 — yes, that number is correct—false or misleading claims over the course of his four years, according to The Washington Post.
Trump released a statement on Wednesday morning, December 1, disputing Meadows’ account.
“The story of me having COVID prior to, or during, the first debate is Fake News,” Trump said. “In fact, a test revealed I did not have Covid prior to the debate.”
However, according to CNN, the context around when Trump got sick is not helpful to the former president. The news network says, “He himself openly speculated that he contracted COVID during an event for military families at the White House. In an interview on October 8 on Fox Business, Trump speculated that it was that event where he got the virus.
In that same debate, when the conversation turned to the importance of masking as a way to mitigate the spread of the virus, Trump offered this comparison to Biden: “I don’t wear a mask like him. Every time you see him, he’s got a mask. He could be speaking 200 feet away from him, and he shows up with the biggest mask I’ve ever seen.”
Research contact: @CNN
December 1, 2021
Former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows has agreed to cooperate with the House Select Committee in charge of investigating the January 6 Capitol insurrection, the panel said on November 30, according to a report by Axios.
Committee Chairman Bennie G. Thompson confirmed the news with the following statement: “Mr. Meadows has been engaging with the Select Committee through his attorney. He has produced records to the committee and will soon appear for an initial deposition. The Select Committee expects all witnesses, including Mr. Meadows, to provide all information requested and that the Select Committee is lawfully entitled to receive. The committee will continue to assess his degree of compliance with our subpoena after the deposition.”
With the capitulation of Meadows, the committee has achieved a major win; and Meadows, himself, has possibly staved off prosecution. After rejecting a subpoena to appear for a deposition before the panel, it was believed that Meadows could face contempt charges.
Meadows, who failed to appear before the panel earlier this month, is believed to have insight into former President Donald Trump’s role in efforts to stop the certification of President Joe Biden’s election win.
According to Axios, Meadows became the second person to defy the committee’s subpoena, following former Trump adviser Steve Bannon, who was taken into custody on November 15 on charges of contempt of Congress.
Research contact: @axios
November 30, 2021
A Republican lawmaker who previously served as White House doctor under former presidents Trump and Obama claims Democrats seems to be using the new coronavirus variant, Omicron, to help the GOP cheat in the midterm elections, reports The Hill.
The World Health Organization (WHO) classified the new coronavirus strain as a “variant of concern” on Friday, November 26—due to preliminary evidence suggesting it carries an increased risk of reinfection compared to other variants. WHO officials said the new variant poses a “very high” risk worldwide, but noted that there is still much to learn about the strain.
Representative Ronny Jackson (R-Texas) spoke out on news of the variant of concern Saturday, November 27—saying the strain would serve as a pretext for absentee voting, which Democrats would use to somehow cheat in the 2022 midterm elections.
Jackson was appointed as a White House physician during the George W. Bush administration; and shot to national prominence in 2018, when he gave former President Donald Trump a glowing medical evaluation.
A March report from the Pentagon’s inspector general found that Jackson carried out “inappropriate conduct” during his time as White House doctor. The report said Jackson disparaged, belittled, bullied and humiliated subordinates, creating a toxic work environment. It also found that he used alcohol while on duty.
Jackson has explicitly denied the report’s findings.
Research contact: @thehill
November 29, 2021
Steve Bannon, the former Trump White House adviser, has filed an opposition to the U.S. district court’s standard protective order for discovery, which prohibits either side from releasing documents or evidence publicly, reports The Washington Post.
.Bannon, 67, pleaded not guilty on November 17 to contempt-of-Congress charges, and his legal team previously argued that the case would be more complicated by agreeing to the prosecution’s protective order for discovery.
“Members of the public should make their own independent judgment as to whether the U.S. Department of Justice is committed to a just result based upon all the facts,” said a statement provided to The Washington Post on behalf of Bannon.
“In the opposition filed today, Mr. Bannon asked the judge to follow the normal process and allow unfettered access to and use of the documents.”
Assistant U.S. Attorney Amanda R. Vaughn has said that there are “less than 20 documents” to be provided, but Bannon attorney Evan Corcoran told reporters that there was probably going to be a need for the defense to locate more documents and witnesses.
Bannon’s legal team argued that the government offered little reason the documents should be withheld from public view, adding that many of the documents that would be restricted by the proposed protective order in this case are already public.
Bannon has refused to comply with an order from the House select committee investigating the January 6 attack on the Capitol to provide records and testimony about his actions leading up to the attack. The committee is interested in questioning Bannon about activities at the Willard InterContinental Washington Hotel in the week leading up to January 6.
Research contact: @washingtonpost
November 25, 2021
A federal jury in Virginia awarded victims of violence stemming from a 2017 rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, more than $25 million on Tuesday, November 23, after finding prominent white-supremacist leaders and groups liable under state law for injuries suffered during a torchlight march and Unite the Right event, reports The Wall Street Journal.
The jury deadlocked on two federal conspiracy counts.
The events on August 11 and August 12, 2017, were attended by hundreds of members of white-nationalist, neo-Nazi and militia groups from around the nation. Throughout the weekend, violent clashes with counter-protesters left dozens injured and one woman dead, after a white-nationalist demonstrator drove his car into a crowd.
The lawsuit was filed in October 2017 by several people who were injured that weekend. The plaintiffs used a Reconstruction-Era law to attempt to hold liable the leaders and organizers who planned the violence and others who carried it out.
Among the individual and organizational defendants found liable were Jason Kessler, the primary organizer of the Unite the Right rally; Richard B. Spencer, considered a founder of the insurgent white-supremacist movement known as the alt-right; and James Fields Jr., who was sentenced to life in prison for killing a woman when he drove into a crowd of counter-protesters.
The jury also held responsible several other white-supremacist groups whose members promoted and participated in the rallies, including the National Socialist Movement, Vanguard America, and League of the South.
Amy Spitalnick, executive director of Integrity First for America, a nonprofit civil-rights organization funding the lawsuit, said the plaintiffs sought to recover enough money to bankrupt those at the center of the movement
The lawsuit sought compensatory damages between $7 million and $10 million for the four plaintiffs who were hit by the car and between $3 million and $5 million for the other plaintiffs for trauma they suffered, as well as unspecified punitive damages.
Throughout the monthlong trial, jurors heard testimony from at least two dozen witnesses, including many of the defendants.
The two counts that the jury deadlocked on used a Reconstruction Era law—the Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871—which allows victims of racially-motivated violence to sue the people who conspired to attack them.
Jurors deliberated for nearly three days before returning the verdict Tuesday afternoon, holding all defendants responsible for conspiracy under Virginia state law.
The jury also found Fields liable for claims of assault or battery, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. On those counts, jurors awarded the plaintiffs $13.5 million in damages, including $12 million in punitive damages.
Co-lead counsels for the plaintiffs, Roberta Kaplan and Karen Dunn, said, in a statement Tuesday, “The laws of this country will not tolerate the use of violence to deprive racial and religious minorities of the basic right we all share to live as free and equal citizens.”
Research contact: @WSJ
November 24, 2021
The House Select Committee investigating the January 6 attack on the Capitol is charging ahead with subpoenas on some longtime denizens of Trump World: InfoWars head Alex Jones, self-described dirty trickster Roger Stone, and rally promoters Dustin Stockton and Jennifer Lawrence, reports Politico.
The committee is also subpoenaing former President Donald Trump’s current spokesperson, Taylor Budowich.
“The Select Committee is seeking information about the rallies and subsequent march to the Capitol that escalated into a violent mob attacking the Capitol and threatening our democracy,” Committee Chair Bennie Thompson (D-Mississippi) said in a statement. “We need to know who organized, planned, paid for, and received funds related to those events, as well as what communications organizers had with officials in the White House and Congress.”
The panel demanded that all of its subpoena targets turn over relevant documents by December 6. Depositions were scheduled for them the following week.
Monday’s batch of subpoenas focuses on the funding and organization of rallies on January 5 and January 6, as well as the march from the rally at the Ellipse to the Capitol.
“I don’t know how this is all going to end, but if they want to fight, they better believe they’ve got one,” Jones told a crowd at Freedom Plaza in Washington the night before the attack, as PBS detailed.
The Wall Street Journal reported that Jones helped secure funding for the January 6 rally. Jones has said he tried to de-escalate the riot and stop people from breaking into the Capitol, the Journal added.
For Jones, the committee’s demand is just the latest in a series of legal issues. A court last week found him liable for defamation in a lawsuit brought by parents of children killed in the 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
In August, a group of Capitol Police officers sued him and a host of other defendant—including Trump himself—alleging civil rights violations. The suit accused Stone of actively participating in “Trump’s strategy to disseminate false claims of election fraud,” and of helping popularize the #StopTheSteal slogan. A process server presented Stone with the lawsuit on September 15 while he was on a talk radio show.
“This is a big, big stack of papers, which is good because we’re out of toilet paper today,” Stone told the hosts.
He later called the suit “baseless, groundless, and unsubstantiated” in an email to CNN.
Stone said in a statement that he had not yet been served by the committee, nor had he seen the details of the information requested, but that he would determine his course of action after reviewing the requests with his lawyer.
“I have said time and time again that I had no advance knowledge of the events that took place at the Capitol on that day,” he said. “Any statement, claim, insinuation, or report alleging, or even implying, that I had any involvement in or knowledge, whether advance or contemporaneous, about the commission of any unlawful acts by any person or group in or around the U.S. Capitol or anywhere in Washington, D.C., on January 6, 2021, is categorically false.”
Research contact : @politico
November 23, 2021
Representative Peter Welch (D), Vermont’s sole House member, announced on Monday. November 22, that he is moving forward with a widely expected bid to succeed Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont), who said last week that he would not seek a ninth term in 2022, reports The Washington Post.
In a statement, Welch promised to fight for progressive values if elected to a chamber now evenly divided among Democrats and Republicans.
“We are at a pivotal moment,” Welch said. “Vermont families are struggling through multiple crises: a global pandemic, the consequences of climate change, and a racial reckoning generations in the making. The result of this election will determine control of the Senate and with it, what we can accomplish for Vermont families.”
Welch, 74, enters the race as the front-runner to replace Leahy, 81, the longest-serving member in the Senate. Welch has served in the House since 2007 and is considered one of its more liberal members.
Welch has a long history in Vermont politics, having previously served as president pro tempore of the state Senate. During a news conference last week announcing his retirement, Leahy praised Welch as “remarkable.”
Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) swiftly endorsed Welch on Monday, saying that Welch “has the knowledge and experience to fight for a government that works for all, not just the wealthy few.”
Welch pledged in his statement to work to expand access to child care and paid family leave, pass a Green New Deal, lower healthcare and prescription drug costs, protect abortion rights, and safeguard voting rights.
Research contact: @washingtonpost
November 22, 2021
It took 10 months, 16 days, and an eight-and-a-half-hour speech from Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy but House Democrats finally passed their $1.75 trillion social welfare spending bill on Friday morning, November 19, reports The Daily Beast.
By a vote of 220-213, Democrats passed the bill with just one Democrat joining all Republicans in opposition to the Build Back Better (H.R. 5376) legislation: Representative. Jared Golden of Maine.
It was a victory on multiple levels for Democrat— most notably on a policy note. The bill would provide $550 billion for climate change, $400 billion for child care and universal preschool, $150 billion each for affordable housing and Medicaid’s home-care program, expanded child tax credits, and expanded Medicare provisions and subsidies, among other priorities.
But the victory was made sweeter on a personal level, after McCarthy’s antics late Thursday night and early Friday morning. The California Republican was able to delay the vote by taking advantage of the so-called “Magic Minute”—a courtesy extended to the leaders of both parties that allow them to speak for as long as they want with it only counting as one minute toward the allotted time for debate.
By the time McCarthy ended at 5:10 a.m., all but a handful of Republicans who sat behind McCarthy as a C-SPAN backdrop had departed the Capitol. Democrats swiftly recessed, and gaveled back in at 8 a.m. on Friday.
At that point, members continued their few final minutes of debate and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) took her turn at the podium. She quipped at the start of her remarks, “With respect to those who work in this Capitol and as courtesy to my colleagues, I will be brief.”
And she was. Pelosi spoke for just over 10 minutes, hitting on the usual Democratic talking points about the substance of the bill and suggesting the legislation will be a “pillar of health and financial security in America.”
Instead of passing the bill late Thursday night, all that McCarthy accomplished was pushing the vote to the daylight hours of Friday morning.
House passage now offloads the BBB burden to the Senate, where time will tell whether Democratic problem children, Democratic Senators Kyrsten Sinema (Arizona) and Joe Manchin (West Virginia) are ready to push the measure through. Any changes to the bill in the upper chamber, including a likely removal of paid leave provisions, would send the BBB back to the House in a game of legislative ping pong.
But that’s if the bill can ever pass the Senate. Manchin and Sinema have yet to sign on, even with a topline cost that largely hews to their demands, The Daily Beast says.
The Congressional Budget Office said Thursday in a preliminary analysis that the bill would cost $367 billion over 10 years, but they didn’t add in a key offset to the legislation. They said increased IRS enforcement would bring in an additional $207 billion over the next decade, bringing the total cost to $160 billion—and that’s with an estimate that the White House believes is overly pessimistic.
The Biden administration thinks increased IRS enforcement—essentially making people pay their taxes—would bring in $400 billion. That means that some Democrats believe the $1.75 trillion bill would ultimately have a positive budgetary impact on the debt. Or, at least, a minimal cost.
Democrats accomplish offsetting the new provisions by implementing a number of new corporate taxes. There’s a 15% minimum tax for large corporations, a 1% tax on corporate stock buybacks, a new tax on income above $10 million and $25 million, and new limits on what deductions businesses can take for losses—among other corporate tax law changes.
But for Republicans, the cost of the bill was simply unacceptable. Even before McCarthy’s eight-and-a-half hour rant, GOP lawmakers made it clear they thought the bill spent recklessly and without consideration for future generations.
Still, Democrats were more than happy to pass the bill and give themselves a long list of accomplishments to run on in 2022, including popular provisions like capping monthly insulin costs at $35 a month.
As the end of the vote neared, Democrats rallied near the front of the chamber—cheering and applauding the tally. Republicans, meanwhile, insisted on order in the chamber to announce proxy votes for colleagues who hadn’t showed up to the House floor Friday morning.
One of the Republicans insisting on quiet was Representative Kat Cammack of Florida. She announced that she and other Republicans would be voting “Hell no” on the “Build Back Broke” legislation and she offered Democrats an ominous sign-off.
“Good luck in the Senate,” she said.
Research contact: @thedailybeast
November 18, 20
Representative Gary Palmer (R-Alabama) this week touted a provision in the bipartisan infrastructure law—the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (H.R. 3684)—that President Joe Biden signed on Monday, November 15, despite the fact that he voted against the legislation, reports The Hill.
“This is the opportunity we have been working for as a region and a state,” Palmer said. “Now is the time for us to take advantage of it and complete the work by finishing the Northern Beltline and building a better future for the Birmingham metro area and central Alabama.”
Palmer’s statement drew criticism on Twitter from Democratic lawmakers—among them, Senaator Brian Schatz (Hawaii) and Representative Eric Swalwell (California)—who noted that he voted against the infrastructure package.
“You mean the funding you voted against? That funding?” Swalwell tweeted.
Palmer spokesperson Elizabeth Hance said in a statement that the congressman would have voted for standalone legislation he authored that included funding for the Northern Beltline. Hance also said that Palmer noted his support for funding the Alabama project in his statement about his vote against the infrastructure package.
“Had they brought the bill he authored to the floor as a stand-alone piece of legislation, or even a package that was truly paid-for infrastructure, he would have supported the overall bill. They did not,” Hance said. “It should not be surprising that he supports a provision that he authored and that was noted in [Palmer’s] initial [statement] about the infrastructure bill.”
“The bill was full of problems, including items not related to traditional infrastructure,” she added. “The overall bill will increase energy costs, drive up the debt, and pave the way for more wasteful spending.”
In his November 6 statement about the vote on the infrastructure bill, Palmer said that “Democrats have shown they are willing to recklessly push through a bill that costs over a trillion dollars with only about 10% going to roads and bridges.” He added that “at least the bill includes legislation which I introduced with Representative David Trone (D-Maryland) that includes funding for the Birmingham Northern Beltline.”
Only 13 House Republicans voted for the infrastructure law, while nearly every Democratic House member backed the measure
Research contact: @thehill