Posts tagged with "CNN"

Democrats look to impeachment as Pence demurs at invoking 25th Amendment

January 11, 2021

Representative Katherine Clark of Massachusetts , the assistant speaker of the House, told The New York Times on January 8 that Democrats could vote on impeachment by the middle of next week—just seven days ahead of Joe Biden’s inauguration as POTUS.

Democrats plunged forward on Friday with plans to impeach President Trump over his role in inciting a violent mob attack on the Capitol, picking up some potential Republican support to move as early as next week to try to force Trump from office just as his term is drawing to a close.

Clark, the No. 4 Democrat, said that if Vice President Mike Pence would not invoke the 25th Amendment to forcibly relieve Trump of his duties, Democrats were prepared to act by the middle of next week to impeach him for a second time. Speaker Nancy Pelosi planned to gather Democrats by telephone at noon to discuss the effort.

According to the Times, they were rushing to begin the expedited proceeding two days after the president rallied his supporters near the White House, urging them to go to the Capitol to protest his election defeat; then continuing to stoke their grievances as they stormed the edifice— with Pence and the entire Congress meeting inside to formalize President-elect Joe Biden’s victory— in a rampage that left five dead.

“If the reports are correct and Mike Pence is not going to uphold his oath of office and remove the president and help protect our democracy, then we will move forward with impeachment to do just that,”  Clark said in an interview on CNN.

The prospect of forcing Trump from office in less than two weeks appeared remote given the logistical and political challenges involved, the Times said—given that a two-thirds majority in the Senate would be required. But the push unfolded amid a sense of national crisis following the Capitol siege, as White House resignations piled up and some Republicans appeared newly open to the possibility, which could also disqualify Trump from holding political office in the future.

Senator Ben Sasse, Republican of Nebraska, a frequent critic of Mr. Trump, said he would “definitely consider whatever articles they might move, because I believe the president has disregarded his oath of office.”

“He sworn an oath to the American people to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution — he acted against that,” Sasse said on CBS. “What he did was wicked.”

Research contact: @nytimes

Apple and TikTok remove app used to arrange parties during COVID

December 31, 2020

Vybe Together —an app that enable people to arrange and attend parties that violated COVID-19 safety protocols—has been removed from Apple’s App Store, and its TikTok account has been shut down, CNN reports.

The app used its Instagram account, which remains online, to explain why it disappeared from iPhones and iPads.

“App Store took us down!!! We will be back!!,” the Instagram post said.

The Instagram account suggests using the app to “Find your vybe. Local wine nights, beer pong games, and dancing in an apartment near you.” The app’s slogan is “Get your rebel on. Get your party on.”

Vybe Together, Apple, and TikTok stayed mum when asked for comment.. The action against the app was first reported by The Verge.

Vybe Together had a now-removed FAQ page that suggested it was supporting small gatherings, not large ones, The Verge reported.

“We are aware that COVID is a major health problem to the country, our communities, our friends, and family,” said the FAQ page. “If we all could just be in isolation this could actually go away. Having large scale parties [are] very dangerous. That is why we don’t support that. But Vybe is a compromise, no big parties but small gatherings. We could be living, at least a little during these times with Vybe.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises against holding even small social gatherings that bring together people from different households due to the risk of COVID-19 spread.

“The more people an individual interacts with at a gathering and the longer that interaction lasts, the higher the potential risk of becoming infected with COVID-19 and COVID-19 spreading,” the CDC said in its guidelines. Many local governments also have issued directives banning gatherings, CNN said.

Vybe Together got some flak on social media on Tuesday,  December 29—even before Apple and TikTok took action. Taylor Lorenz, a tech and internet writer for  The New York Times, was among those who came out as critical of the Vybe Together app.

“Some terrible people built a whole app for finding and promoting COVID-unsafe large, indoor house parties and they’re using TikTok to market it to millions of ppl,” he tweeted. “They’re currently in the midst of promoting secret NYE ragers in nyc.”

Lorenz identified a co-founder of Vybe Together, and included the person’s LinkedIn profile page. That page was offline as of Wednesday morning.

Research contact: @CNN

Mitch McConnell publicly acknowledges Biden-Harris win

December 16, 2020

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell finally has acknowledged, in the words of a familiar children’s book, that “The emperor has no clothes.” Although President Donald Trump has yet to concede the election—and is asking his base to fight back against unseen and undocumented voter fraud—on Monday, December 14, following the Electoral College vote, McConnell for the first time acknowledged Joe Biden’s victory and referred to him as President-elect.

“The electoral college has spoken,” McConnell said in remarks from the Senate floor in the U.S Capitol, six weeks after Election Day and amid President Donald Trump’s continued refusal to accept defeat. He added, “Today I want to congratulate President-elect Joe Biden.”

According to a report by CNN, McConnell’s comments are significant given that many Senate Republicans still wouldn’t recognize Biden’s victory on Monday evening—even after the Electoral College had made the win official.

Democrats have criticized Republicans’ refusal to accept the outcome of the election, and highlighted how it took more than 40 days since Americans went to the polls for many GOP members of Congress to speak up.

“The fact that it took six weeks for my colleagues to recognize reality and stop undermining our Democratic process is sad and disappointing,” said Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin in a floor speech Tuesday following McConnell’s remarks.

McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, made the comments, CNN said, after praising the Trump presidency in the past tense, touting his administration’s accomplishments, including the country’s “economic prosperity,” “foreign policy,” judicial appointments, and “bold regulatory changes” in a floor speech.

“It would take far more than one speech to catalog all the major wins the Trump administration has helped deliver for the American people,” he said. “The outsider who swore he would shake up Washington and lead our country to new accomplishments, both at home and abroad, proceeded to do exactly that. President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence deserve our thanks and our gratitude for their tireless work and their essential roles in all these victories and in many more.”

In his floor remarks, McConnell also congratulated Vice-President elect Kamala Harris for the first time.

“I also want to congratulate the vice president-elect, our colleague from California, Senator Harris,” he said. “Beyond our differences, all Americans can take pride that our nation has a female vice president-elect for the very first time.”

McConnell said that, while millions wished the election would have yielded a different result, “our system of government has processes to determine who will be sworn in on January the 20th. The Electoral College has spoken.”

Research contact: @CNN

Biden asks Fauci to be his chief medical advisor—and Fauci says yes ‘on the spot’

December 7, 2020

Following their first meeting on Thursday, December 3, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), immediately agreed to be President-elect Joe Biden’s chief medical advisor when the new administration takes over on January 20.

Biden told CNN on Thursday that he had asked Fauci to take on the role. Fauci told NBC’s “Today” show on Friday that he had said yes “on the spot.”

Biden’s coronavirus team met with Fauci for the first time Thursdayand at that time, Biden told CNN, “I asked him to stay on the exact same role he’s had for the past several presidents, and I asked him to be a chief medical adviser for me as well, and be part of the COVID team.”

Biden unveiled his 13-person coronavirus advisory board in November. The panel will be led by three chairs: Vivek Murthy, a former surgeon general; Marcella Nunez-Smith, an associate professor of medicine at Yale University; and David Kessler, the former Food and Drug Administration commissioner.

Although the relationship between Fauci and President Donald Trump went south after the POTUS refused to take action on delivering PPE to the medical community or testing the American population during the pandemic-but he is expected to play a pivotal role on Biden’s team.

Trump has been reluctant to support mask mandates or restrictions that might cause economic damage, and he is said to have not attended a meeting of the coronavirus task force in five months, Fortune says.

Trump also helped stall the presidential transition, making it hard until recently for Biden’s team to communicate with Fauci and other public-health officials.

Fauci spoke out against this in November, saying said it would be “better” for public health if he and other health officials could begin working with the president-elect’s transition team.

Fauci also has accused the Trump campaign of “in effect harassing” him after using a clip of his praising the America’s coronavirus response out of context in a campaign ad.

The United States has recorded the most coronavirus cases and deaths of any country worldwide. Almost 14 million Americans have tested positive for the virus, and more than 273,000 COVID-19 deaths have been reported, according to figures from Johns Hopkins University.

Fauci said Thursday marked the first day of “substantive discussions” about the transition between him and Biden’s team.

Research contact: @CNN

Kwanza Hall wins special election to serve remainder of John Lewis’ term in Congress

December 3, 2020

The remainder of the late U.S. Representative John Lewis’ term will be served by Democrat Kwanza Hall, who won control of the reliably blue seat in a House runoff special election in Georgia on December 1, CNN reports.

Hall, a former Atlanta city councilman, will be sworn in after the election’s results are certified—and will serve for just about a month. He will represent Georgia’s 5th Congressional District until early January, when Representative-elect Nikema Williams takes over control of the seat, which she won in the November general

Although he won’t be in office for long, Hall’s win means he will forever be intertwined with the legacy of Lewis, a civil rights icon and 17-term congressman who died in July. Hall also will have a chance to participate in several upcoming legislative battles, as Congress is set to consider a broad spending bill next week in order to avert a government shutdown, among other business.

Lewis, who served the Atlanta-based district for more than three decades and was viewed “as the conscience of Congress,” was Hall’s friend, neighbor, and mentor.

Lewis’ son, John-Miles Lewis, endorsed Hall in October, calling him the “perfect candidate to complete my father’s term and maintain his legacy, if only for a short time.”

Hall campaigned for the seat vowing to “ensure Lewis’ activism legacy continues” and create a “smooth transition” for Williams, CNN notes.

He received the most votes in September’s special election out of the seven candidates vying for the remainder of Lewis’ term.But because no candidate broke 50% of the vote, Hall and Democrat Robert Franklin advanced to a runoff election weeks later.

Hall will serve until Williams is sworn in for the full two-year term on January 3 along with the rest of the new Congress.

Research contact: @CNN

Biden to face test over access to sensitive information as he inherits Trump’s secret server

December 1, 2020

President-elect Joe Biden soon will have to decide whether to share transcripts of calls to and from foreign leaders with a broad, security clearance-holding audience—or to maintain a lockdown on official transcripts of the calls and other highly sensitive information imposed by the Trump Administration over concerns they might be leaked, CNN reports.

A person close to the Biden transition team told CNN that no decisions have been made about how these sensitive materials will be handled when the President-elect takes office on January 20, and that it’s likely they will maintain the Trump Administration’s close hold on such information, at least at first, until they are settled in and Jake Sullivan, Biden’s pick for national security adviser, can assess their information security needs.

A senior US official said that the Biden team will be given access to a secret server containing sensitive information related to President Donald Trump’s more controversial conversations with foreign leaders on a need-to-know basis and the Trump Administration is prepared to share any information that they deem to be relevant to their future decision-making process.

While Biden’s team will likely aim to be more transparent, much has changed since many of his senior appointees were in government and the politically charged atmosphere in Washington on the heels of the election has some officials urging caution in the early months—to prevent leaks, and assess the needs and boundaries of sharing sensitive information.

Back-to-back leaks of controversial remarks made by Trump during calls with leaders of Mexico and Australia in the early days of the Trump White House resulted from an unusually loose record-distribution policy, several officials tell CNN, prompting them eventually to resort to the use of a secret server to store records of calls involving leaders of Saudi Arabia, Russia, and Ukraine.

When H.R. McMaster took over as Trump’s second national security adviser, a month into the presidency in February 2017, the distribution lists grew smaller, officials told CNN—although a few individuals could still access records from the National Security Council’s traditional computer portal, which handled everything except CIA operational information, one official explained.

White House officials also moved to significantly limit the number of individuals who could listen in on many of Trump’s calls, or who could access the records after those calls were concluded, the people said.

The disclosure last year of a complaint by an unidentified whistleblower revealed concerns among White House officials over all—including the President’s July 2019 discussion with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, which triggered the hearings that led to Trump’s impeachment by the House of Representatives.

“The fact is too many people probably had access when Trump came into office: In some ways it was good, but in some ways it can also be bad,” one former administration official close to the transition team said. “Given the politically charged environment we’re in right now, it’s probably wise to maintain some control over it, although maybe not in the form of a secret server.”

The official said that basic details pertaining to Trump’s conversations with foreign leaders like Russian President Vladimir Putin and Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, only will be shared if they are relevant to a pending policy or national security matter.

“There’s a lot to cover,” the senior US official said. “We are going to share anything that’s relevant for them to come to grips with reality when the keys are theirs. If there was something like that that’s actually of note… things on the covert side, for example, we will highlight them very quickly.”

Research contact: @CNN

Trump tells associate he’s trying to ‘get back at Dems’ for questioning legitimacy of his own election

November 23, 2020

President Donald Trump has admitted to a confidant that he knows he lost the election, but that he delaying the transition process—and is aggressively trying to sow doubt about the election results— in order to get back at Democrats for questioning the legitimacy of his own election in 2016, CNN reported on November 19..

The President’s refusal to concede, as CNN has previously said, stems in part from his perceived grievance that Hillary Clinton and former President Barack Obama undermined his own presidency by saying Russia interfered in the 2016 election and could have impacted the outcome, people around him have said.

Trump continues to hold a grudge against those who he claims undercut his election by pointing to Russian interference efforts, and he has suggested it is fair game not to recognize Joe Biden as the President-elect, even though Clinton conceded on election night in 2016 and the Trump transition was able to begin immediately.

Trump is also continuing to process the emotional scars of losing to a candidate he repeatedly said during the campaign was an unworthy opponent. He again made no public appearances on Thursday, skipping the first coronavirus task force briefing at the White House in more than six months.

Trump has heard from a multitude of friends and business associates who have been urging him to at least let the transition begin, even if he doesn’t want to concede, another source who is also familiar with the President’s thinking told CNN. His answer: No. You’re wrong. “Absolutely wrong,” according to one source.

“The most important thing we need to keep in mind is that Donald is in a unique position for him,” said Mary Trump, the President’s niece who wrote a damning account of his family life. “He’s never in his life been in a situation that he can’t get out of either through using somebody else’s money, using connections, using power. And not only is he in a unique position, he’s in a position of being a loser, which in my family, certainly, as far as my grandfather was concerned, was the worst possible thing you could be.”

The President, this source said, “doesn’t see” how bad the aftermath of all of this could be for the country, and for democracy itself. As usual, he’s focused on himself—not COVID-19,  or the transition.

Research contact: @CNN

Georgia elections official says Lindsey Graham pressured him to toss out legal ballots

November 18, 2020

Georgia’s top elections official said on November 16 that Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina)—who has served as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee since 2019—pressured him during a November 13 phone call to toss out legally mailed ballots, as the recount of the presidential election continues in that state.

Indeed, Politico reports, Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said that he has heard from a number of Republicans, who are seeking to sway election results in President Donald Trump’s favor.

Speaking with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on Monday evening, Raffensperger said that Graham asked whether he could check signatures on mail-in ballots during Georgia’s recount and use a high frequency of mismatches to justify throwing away mail-in ballots in certain counties.

Raffensperger said he took Graham’s comments as “an implication of look hard and see how many ballots you could throw out.”

When contacted by Politico, Graham denied pressuring Raffensperger to throw away legal ballots,saying that he had a “very pleasant” conversation about the state’s signature verification process.

The Washington Post first reported the conversation, which reportedly took place last Friday—on the same day a Georgia lawyer sympathetic to Trump filed a lawsuit to prevent the state from certifying the election until all signatures could be verified. When presented with Graham’s denial on CNN, Raffensperger pointed out that the lawsuit sought to use a tactic similar to the one Graham proposed to stop the inclusion of absentee ballots in the state.

Georgia wound up being one of the key battlegrounds of the 2020 presidential election, with a razor-thin margin that eventually tipped in Democrat Joe Biden’s favor. But Trump has refused to concede and has gone after election officials in critical states — including Georgia — with conspiracy theories that the race was stolen from him.

During his CNN interview, Raffensperger balked at the idea of tossing legally cast ballots, and rejected the notion that election workers were not thoroughly verifying votes.

“We feel confident the election officials did their job,” Raffensperger said.

Raffensperger also said he was surprised by the vitriol from his fellow Republicans toward his performance verifying the election. His wife has received menacing messages on her cellphone relating to the election, he told Blitzer. Raffensperger and his wife have been isolating after she was diagnosed with coronavirus.

“You always think, I’m on this side of the aisle, obviously, and you always think your side wears the white hats,” Raffensperger said. “But people are really upset about this.”

He added: “I’m going to probably be disappointed because I was rooting for the Republicans to win,

Research contact: @politico

Moderna announces vaccine nearly 95% effective

November 17, 2020

The new vaccine from Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Moderna, the biotechnology company, is 94.5% effective against coronavirus, according to a release from the company on November 16—making it the second vaccine to look promising enough to hit the market soon in America, Yahoo reports in an article picked up from the blog, Eat This, Not That.

Last week, New York City-based Pfizer’s vaccine was found to be more than 90% effective.

“This is a pivotal moment in the development of our COVID-19 vaccine candidate,” Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel said in a statement. “Since early January, we have chased this virus with the intent to protect as many people around the world as possible. All along, we have known that each day matters.”

Bancel emphasizes, “This positive interim analysis from our Phase 3 study has given us the first clinical validation that our vaccine can prevent COVID-19 disease, including severe disease.”

On hearing the news, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease doctor commented to CNN, “These are obviously very exciting results …. It’s just as good as it gets—94.5% is truly outstanding.”

Regarding the timetable, Fauci said of the Pfizer vaccine the following, which could also apply to Moderna: “What will happen is that,” after the emergency authorization is approved, “at the end of November, the beginning of December, if that goes through—and again, I don’t want to get ahead of the FDA, if they’re going to dot all the I’s and cross all the T’s—but I believe with the impressive nature of the data that that should go through smoothly, that by the time we get into December, we’ll be able to have doses available for people who are judged to be at the highest priority to get.”

As for logistics, “about getting the supply chain intact with the cold requirements”—the vaccine needs to be shipped at a certain low temperature—”that’s all been anticipated and part of Operation Warp Speed, particularly on the general, Gus Perna, the general from the army who has been responsible for making sure this goes smoothly. We anticipate, although they’re all logistic challenges that it will be done successfully.”

As for who gets these vaccines first, Fauci said: “What we have well-established in this country is that the ultimate decision of the distribution in priority, or it goes with the CDC, their advisory committee on immunization practices, traditionally over the years for other vaccines has been responsible for advising them as to the prioritization of the distribution.”

Regular folks with no underlying conditions might have theirs by April.

Research contact: @Yahoo

ABC’s Raddatz: ‘Is the president planning a military operation?’

November 12, 2020

Could Trump possibly be planning to go down fighting? ABC’s Chief Global Affairs Correspondent Martha Raddatz has questioned whether outgoing President Donald Trump is “planning a military operation” amid a flurry of Pentagon resignations, The Hill reports.

“No one has seen anything like this. There is concern about what this means,” Raddatz told ABC’s David Muir on World News Tonight, asking, “Is the president planning a military operation or the use of federal troops, which [former Defense Secretary Mark] Esper opposed?”

The resignations came Tuesday, November 10,  from the Pentagon’s top policy official James Anderson, the agency’s top intelligence official Joseph Kernan; and Jen Stewart, chief of staff to Defense Secretary Mark Esper before Trump fired him Monday.

Raddatz echoed sentiments expressed by President-elect Joe Biden, who has said Trump’s refusal to concede “will not help the president’s legacy.”

According to The Hill, she pointed towards other GOP members voicing support for Esper’s role as defense secretary despite Trump’s removal of him on Monday.

“Even Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) praised Esper today, and Republican John Cornyn (Texas), a member of the Senate GOP leadership, said of Trump’s decision to fire Esper, ‘I don’t think it helps him and I don’t think it helps the country.'”

Esper’s firing by Trump also comes as the president has indicated to allies that FBI Director Christopher Wray and CIA Director Gina Haspel stand as the next officials in line for removal. However, he has yet to take action.

Experts in national security are concerned any further disruptions of administrative roles in the Department of Defense, FBI. and CIA could create a problematic and disjointed transfer of power when Biden is slated to take the Oval Office on January 20.

Max Stier, director of the Partnership for Public Service, a nonprofit and nonpartisan group that oversees the Center for Presidential Transition, told CNN the importance of a swift and stable transition of power from presidents post-inauguration, citing the George W. Bush and Al Gore White House race of 2000.

“You look back to 9/11 and the 9/11 Commission. It was very clear, looking back, that some of the delays that then-President George W. Bush experienced during the transition resulted in his delaying getting his national security team in place. And that hurt us,” Stier said, citing the 9/11 Commission report.

“What’s at stake, really, is our security, our safety. And with the world we’re in today, with economic challenges that are incredibly severe, we have a lot that we should be worried about,” said Stier.

Research contact: @thehill