Posts tagged with "Politico"

Dems find their anti-Rubio warrior in Val Demings

October 19, 2021

A panicked question gripped Florida Democratic insiders this summer as Joe Biden’s approval numbers began to fade and eyes turned toward the midterm election horizon: Where’s Representative Val Demings?

For months, the Florida congresswoman challenging Senator Marco Rubio in 2022 seemed nowhere to be found—eschewing local press and small political events typical for this election off-year, and also avoiding the national media glare in Washington, reports Politico.

Now Demings has an answer for her whereabouts: She has been campaigning almost exclusively on Facebook, growing an army of small-dollar donors across the nation on her way to raising a staggering $8.5 million in the most recent fundraising quarter —$2.4 million more than Rubio reported, and more than any Senate challenger in the country between July and October.

Her fundraising haul provided a sudden burst of hope to Florida’s beleaguered Democrats, who reveled at the idea of a cash-flush Senate nominee whose star power sparked the imagination of Democrats across the country, Politico notes. The problem, however, is that the recent road to the Senate is littered with Democratic candidates whose talent for minting money from national online donors masked weakness back home.

To raise the record sum, Demings had to leave Florida—virtually, that is. She spent nearly 80% of her digital money targeting donors—especially middle-aged and older women—who live outside the state, according to an analysis from Bully Pulpit Interactive, a top Democratic digital firm.

 Since entering the Senate race in early June, the analysis shows, Demings dropped $2.8 million on Facebook ads—more than any other candidate in the nation. Her spending made her the eighth-highest advertiser on the platform overall.

The payout from Demings’ all-in-on-Facebook campaign — the first of its kind for a major Florida candidate—did more than just surprise Republicans and Rubio allies. It also reassured national Democrats that the key swing stat —which has turned a deeper shade of red in recent years—can still command the kind of money that Democrats need to win here statewide.

Demings’ small-donor strategy—her average contribution was $28.45 from 172,000 contributor could entice institutional fundraisers and top donors back, according to Ben LaBolt, a founder of BPI.

“It’s just a very impressive top-line number,” LaBolt said, “and it’s clear donors across the nation have responded to her biography and message, making this a premier race—perhaps more of a premier race than was anticipated before these numbers came out.”

 

Research contact: @politico

Draft report of Arizona sham audit confirms Biden’s win over Trump

September27, 2021

A draft report of a partisan audit of the 2020 presidential election results commissioned by Arizona State Senate Republicans confirms President Joe Biden’s win over Donald Trump in Maricopa County, Arizona’s most populous county—by a larger margin than election results documented, The Arizona Republic first reported Thursday, September 23.

According to HuffPost, the county confirmed the conclusion on Twitter but did not release the text of the three-volume report, led by contractor Cyber Ninjas. Instead, it slammed the report as being

What’s more, not only did the draft report fail to show that the election was “stolen” from Trump, as he has falsely claimed for many months, but it also showed that Biden actually won by a larger margin than the official election results showed, according to The New York Times.

The draft report shows that 99 additional votes were cast for Biden and 261 fewer votes were cast for Trump in Arizona’s largest county, per the Times. 

The official results were set to be presented to the Arizona state Senate on Friday afternoon. Multiple early versions of the report circulated ahead of time and were obtained by various media outlets, also including The Washington Post and Politico.

Maricopa County Board Chair Jack Sellers said in a statement that the results of the draft report demonstrate that the tabulation equipment counted the ballots as they were designed to do. He slammed the audit process.

“I hope those holding on to their anger for the past 10 months will see the truth and put their energy into supporting the democratic process instead of tearing it down,” he said.

On Thursday night, Trump shared a statement ahead of the draft report’s release.

“Everybody will be watching Arizona tomorrow to see what the highly respected auditors and Arizona State Senate found out regarding the so-called Election!” he said.

Even some Republicans who initially backed the “audit” have come to regret it.

“It makes us look like idiots,” State Senator Paul Boyer of suburban Phoenix said in May. “I didn’t think it would be this ridiculous. It’s embarrassing to be a state senator at this point.”

Research contact: @HuffPost

Sources: Val Demings plans to challenge incumbent Marco Rubio for his Florida Senate seat

May 19, 2021

Florida Democratic Representative Val Demings plans to run for the U.S. Senate against Republican Senator Marco Rubio, also of the Sunshine State, in 2022, two sources familiar with the plan told CNN on Tuesday, May 18.

The planned bid by Demmings provides Democrats with a high-profile candidate in a key Senate race against a nationally known—and well-funded—opponent. The Orlando Democratic lawmaker spent the last few months mulling over a statewide race and recently decided on a bid for the Senate over governor, a source close to the congresswoman told CNN.

The congresswoman plans to make her official announcement in the coming weeks, a source said.

“Val is an impressive and formidable candidate whose potential entrance would make the race against Rubio highly competitive,” said a national Democrat with knowledge of the campaign.

The news of Demings’ plans was first reported by Politico.

Demings’ decision to run for Senate frees up the Democratic primary in the gubernatorial race in Florida, with Democratic Representative Charlie Crist (who served one term as Florida governor, from 2007 through 2011) announcing earlier this month he is running to get his old seat back. State Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried also is eyeing a bid for governor—and the prospect of three well-known elected officials running against each other in a primary had worried some top Florida Democrats.

According to CNN, Demings’ decision could put her in a primary fight against Florida Democratic Representative Stephanie Murphy, who also is considering a run against Rubio in 2022.

Demings has seen her national profile surge in recent years, initially rising to prominence while she served as one of the Democratic House impeachment managers charged with making the case against former President Donald Trump during his first impeachment trial.

The Florida congresswoman also was among the contenders to be Joe Biden’s running mate in 2020—a process that both boosted her profile inside the would-be administration and with top Democratic operatives and donors. What’s more, the congresswoman was an outspoken voice during the national reckoning with race that was punctuated by the killing of George Floyd in May 2020.

“I’m not sure I want the job as much as the job may want me,” Demings told CNN during the vice presidential search process. “And I say that because I think that people are chosen, I believe, at certain times to address certain things. And if we look at what is going on in our country right now … I know what discrimination feels like, I know what racism feels like, because I have been subjected to it.”

Demings’ plan bid is already garnering national support, especially among groups like The Collective PAC, an organization aimed at boosting Black representation in elected office.

“Electing a Black woman to the US Senate this cycle is a top organizational priority and we are proud to stand with Val Demings,” said Quentin James and Stefanie Brown James, the co-founders of the organization. “There has never been a more crucial time for us to elect leaders who are committed to criminal justice reform, safeguarding voting rights and ensuring government officials are held accountable for unethical behavior.”

Research contact: @CNN

Justice Department opens broad probe of alleged abuses by Minneapolis police

April 22, 2021

U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland announced on Wednesday, April 21, that the Justice Department will conduct a broad investigation into alleged abuses at the Minneapolis Police Department, examining whether its officers have a “pattern or practice” violating the civil rights of residents, Politico reports.

The move—made public one day after a jury in Minneapolis found former police officer Derek Chauvin guilty in the murder of George Floyd last year—appears to signal a return by the Biden administration to more aggressive and frequent use of such probes aimed at rooting out systemic civil rights abuses in police departments.

“Yesterday’s verdict in the state criminal trial does not address potentially systemic policing issues in Minneapolis,” Garland told reporters in a brief statement at Justice Department headquarters in Washington, D.C. “Public safety requires public trust.”

While Garland’s predecessors in the Trump administration—Jeff Sessions and Bill Barr—rejected the notion of widespread abuses of Black people by police, Garland struck a decidedly different tone Wednesday—and suggested that such abuses are common.

“I know that nothing can fill the void that the loved ones of George Floyd have experienced since his death. My heart goes out to them and to all those who have experienced similar loss,” Garland said. “I know such wounds have deep roots and that too many communities have experienced those wounds first-hand.”

Under President Donald Trump, the Justice Department announced only one pattern-and-practice probe of a police department: an inquiry into policing in Springfield, Massachusetts. Sessions and Barr said they believed such investigations tended to demonize and stigmatize police and that most officers’ conduct was free of racial bias. They also complained that the consent decrees that often resulted from such investigations effectively tied the hands of officers and sometimes led to increases in crime.

But critics, including civil rights groups, said the reluctance to open such broad inquiries left unchecked broad failures in training and accountability that predictably resulted in tragedies like Floyd’s death, which occurred after Chauvin pinned Floyd’s neck to the pavement with his knee for more than nine minutes.

Under the Obama Administration, the Justice Department opened about two dozen pattern-or-practice investigations. The law allowing for such reviews was passed by Congress in 1994 in the wake of the videotaped beating of motorist Rodney King by Los Angeles police.

“I know that justice is sometimes slow, sometimes elusive, and sometimes never comes. The Department of Justice will be unwavering in its pursuit of equal justice under law,” Garland added. “We undertake this task with determination and urgency, knowing that change cannot wait.”

The pattern-or-practice probe will be separate from a criminal investigation into Floyd’s death that the Justice Department launched last year, Garland said. Federal criminal charges related to the episode appear unlikely in light of Chauvin’s conviction for murder, but three other officers on the scene are facing lesser charges in a future trial.

Garland’s announcement indicated that Justice Department officials have done some preliminary work to assess potential deficiencies with Minneapolis police.

“It will include a comprehensive review of Minneapolis police policies training and use-of-force investigations,” the attorney general said, adding that the investigation also will look at excessive use of force against protesters and whether police act improperly towards citizens with “behavioral health disabilities.”

Garland took no questions following his statement, which was his first appearance in the department’s media briefing room before journalists since being sworn in a little over a month ago.

Research contact: @politico

Siena poll: Just 35% of New York voters want Cuomo to resign

March 16, 2021

Most New York State voters are satisfied with Governor Andrew Cuomo’s response to the sexual harassment allegations made against him—and barely one-third want him to resign, according to findings of a Siena College Research Institute poll released on Monday morning, March 15, Politico reports.

The governor’s overall popularity has taken a hit over the past month, however. Only 43% of New Yorkers now view him favorably, while 45% view him unfavorably.

“Voters appear to be able to compartmentalize how they feel about Cuomo,” Siena spokesperson Steve Greenberg said in a statement. “While their views on him generally—favorability, job performance, re-elect—took a significant hit this month, voters’ views on Cuomo’s handling of the pandemic remain largely positive, except for his handling of nursing home death data.”

Cuomo’s numbers had already been gradually declining from the stratospheric highs they hit last spring. He’s now back around where he was before the pandemic; he polled at 44-50 favorable in a Siena poll in February 2020.

But as the governor fights back rapidly-spreading calls for him to leave office, it’s safe to assume that the numbers which will resonate the most are those finding that most voters aren’t ready for him to go.

A total of 57% of respondents say they’re “satisfied with the way Cuomo has addressed the allegations,” while 32% say they are “not satisfied.,” Politico reports.

And 48% of voters think he can “effectively do his job.” That compares to 34% who say he “cannot.” On the resignation question, 35% of voters think he should leave office, 50% say he should not,and 15% are undecided.

 “Nearly two-thirds of Republicans say Cuomo should resign, however, 61% of Democrats and 46% of Independents, a plurality, say he should not,” Greenberg said.

Research contact: @Politico

Biden to allow migrant families separated under Trump to reunite in the USA

March 3, 2021

Families separated at the border during former President Donald Trump’s time in office will be allowed to reunite and settle in the United States, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas announced on March 1.

“[The Biden Administration is] hoping to reunite the families either here or in the country of origin,” Mayorkas said at the White House press briefing, according to a report by Politico.

He added, “We hope to be in a position to give them the [option] and, if, in fact, they seek to reunite here in the U.S., we will explore lawful pathways for them to remain in the United States—and to address the family needs, so we are acting as restoratively as possible.”

According to Politico, This represents “a significant step for the Biden Administration; as it seeks to undo the damage done by Trump’s ‘zero tolerance’ policy, which allowed U.S. officials to forcibly separate children from their parents at the border.”

More than 5,500 families were separated under the Trump administration, and Biden entered office with the parents of more than 600 children still having not been located.

So far, the task force has made headway in reuniting those families. Mayorkas said approximately 105 families have been recently reunited.

ACLU Executive Director Anthony D. Romero was quick to welcome Mayorkas’ announcement, but cautioned that “the devil is in the details and Secretary Mayorkas has to shed all the caveats and qualifications around his announcement and follow through with everything that’s necessary to right the wrong.”

“These separated families suffered unfathomably because of what our government did, and we owe them restitution. This includes a permanent pathway to citizenship, care, and resources to help them,” Romero said.

The task force involves a coordinated effort between the U.S., governments of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, as well as various non-governmental organizations, immigration attorneys and community groups. Michelle Brané, formerly with the Women’s Refugee Commission, has been selected to serve as executive director of the task force, Mayorkas said.

“This is not only an all-of-government but an all-of-society effort to do what is right,” Mayorkas said.

Mayorkas also used his turn at the White House briefing to outline why it will take time for the Biden Administration to create a new system for handling migrant arrivals at the border. Currently, the vast majority of migrants arriving at the border are being immediately expelled under a Trump-era pandemic emergency rule.

“We are not saying: ‘Don’t come.’ We are saying: ‘Don’t come now,’ because we will be able to deliver a safe and orderly process as quickly as possible,” Mayorkas said, adding that “we are working around the clock seven days a week.”

Research contact: @politico

Mikie Sherrill says unidentified lawmakers led ‘reconnaissance’ tours ahead of Capitol attack

January 13, 2021

Was the insurrection an inside job? Did lawmakers join with President Donald Trump to aid and abet the rioters? Representative Mikie Sherrill (D-New Jersey) revealed on Tuesday, January 12, that she had witnessed Congressional colleagues escorting people through the Capitol on January 5 for what she described as “reconnaissance” ahead of the next day’s violent insurrection that left five dead, Politico reports.

In a 13-minute Facebook video billed as an address to her constituents about the House’s efforts to hold President Donald Trump accountable for inciting the riot, Sherrill included the allegation as part of a call to hold Trump’s allies in Congress accountable as well.

“I also intend to see that those members of Congress who abetted [the outgoing president]—those members of Congress who had groups coming through the capitol that I saw on Jan. 5 for reconnaissance for the next day—those members of Congress who incited the violent crowd, those members of Congress that attempted to help our president undermine our democracy, I’m going see that they’re held accountable,” Sherrill said.

Sherrill did not identify the lawmakers she was referring to, how she was able to describe their activities as “reconnaissance,” or how she knew they were connected to the riots that consumed the Capitol the following day. She told Politico on Wednesday that she’s referred her information to authorities.

“We’re requesting an investigation right now with certain agencies,” she said.

The startling allegation comes as lawmakers are still seeking answers about the extent of planning and coordination behind the January 6 Trump rally that became the violent assault on the Capitol. Federal investigators say they’re pouring enormous resources into unearthing details of a potential “seditious conspiracy” and that some of the undisclosed evidence about what happened inside the Capitol will be “shocking.”

Some Democrats, like Sherrill, are also calling for punishment for the Republicans who —like Trump —delivered incendiary remarks that preceded the violence at the Capitol, as well as others who joined Trump’s effort to delegitimize the 2020 presidential election.

Research contact: @politico

House has majority needed to impeach Trump for inciting Capitol riots

January12, 2021

Speaker Nancy Pelosi is on the cusp of majority support in the House to impeach President Donald Trump—part of a two-front effort to punish and remove him from office for inciting the violent and deadly insurrection at the U.S. Capitol last week, Politico reports.

Key members of the House Judiciary Committee introduced a single article of impeachmentincitement of insurrection—on Monday, January 11. The resolution already has at least 218 cosponsors and a House majority, according to a congressional aide involved in the process.

Pelosi signaled Sunday night that the House would vote on that article if Trump refuses to resign and Vice President Mike Pence won’t initiate other procedures to remove him.

“Because the timeframe is so short and the need is so immediate and an emergency, we will also proceed on a parallel path in terms of impeachment,” Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Maryland) told reporters Monday. “Whether impeachment can pass the United States Senate is not the issue.”

“There may well be a vote on impeachment on Wednesday,” he said, according to Politico.

At a brief House session on Monday morning, the House formally accepted the resignation of Sergeant-at-Arms Paul Irving, who was partly responsible for the failed security arrangements on January 6. And moments later, Representative Alex Mooney (R-West Virginia.) blocked unanimous consideration of a resolution from Representative Jamie Raskin (D-Maryland) that would have urged Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment process to remove Trump from power. The House intends to vote on the resolution Tuesday.

Politico notes that, although some Democrats have voiced worry that impeaching Trump with just days left in his term could hamstring President-elect Joe Biden’s early weeks in office, momentum has only grown as new and disturbing footage of the violence wrought by the rioters has emerged. That footage included the beating of a Capitol Police officer, yanked out of the building by a crowd of Trump supporters. The officer in the video has not been identified, but it surfaced after the news that at least one officer, Brain Sicknick, died of injuries sustained during the onslaught.

Every new indication that the rioters included a more sophisticated contingent of insurrectionists has inflamed the House anew, even as Republicans have continued to express wariness, if not outright opposition, to impeachment.

“I’ve heard a lot of people say, Is it the right thing politically to impeach this president? … Will it harm the Democratic Party?” Representative Dan Kildee (D-Michigan) said in a press conference Monday. “In terms of whether it could harm the Democratic party, I could not care less.”

Though some Democrats have also floated the notion of impeaching Trump but delaying transmitting the article to the Senate—a move that would forestall a Senate trial until after Biden’s early term plans and nominees are in place—a top Pelosi ally, Representative Adam Schiff (D-California), indicated Monday he favors an immediate trial.

“If we impeach him this week … it should immediately be transmitted to the Senate and we should try the case as soon as possible,” Schiff said on “CBS This Morning.” “Mitch McConnell has demonstrated when it comes to jamming Supreme Court justices through the Congress, he can move with great alacrity when he wants to.”

Research contact: @politico

Trump knuckles under, signs stimulus package

December 29, 2020

While many Americans spent the holiday weekend worrying or grieving about sick friends and relatives, trying to get work, and eating food bank provisions, a peevish President Donald Trump partied and played golf at his private Palm Beach club, Mar-a-Lago.

But even Air Force One couldn’t get him far enough away from the problems he had created in the nation’s capital. Both Democratic and Republican party leaders pressured Trump to sign two bills he had left on his desk and threatened to veto—a major coronavirus stimulus package and an annual spending bill.

Trump had not participated in the talks leading up to passage of the COVID-19 aid legislation, but had indicated to his surrogate, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, that he would approve a bill that offered direct stimulus checks of $600 to the American people.

Indeed, Mnuchin promised that, once the bill passed, the $600 stimulus checks could be expected to reach Americans by this week. Meanwhile, unemployment programs established earlier this year expired on Saturday night.

But it didn’t happen. According to a report by Politico, Trump spent the weekend railing against the current package, tweeting that he wanted to “increase payments to the people, get rid of the ‘pork’” and “$2000 + $2000 plus other family members. Not $600. Remember, [COVID] was China’s fault!”

Hoping go change his mind and convince him to sign off on the legislation, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and several Republican senators, including Senators David Perdue (R-Georgia) and Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina.), spoke to Trump multiple times through Sunday night.

Lawmakers were preparing for catastrophe amid Trump’s threats, and House members were prepared on Monday, December 28, to vote on a short-term funding bill to avert a midnight shutdown.

But on Sunday evening after days of being lobbied by allies and warned that he would decimate his own political legacy , Trump decided to sign the bill and not leave office amid a maelstrom of expired benefits and a government shutdown, Politico said.

He said he will insist on reductions in spending in parts of the bill, though Congress does not have to go along.

“I will sign the omnibus and COVID package with a strong message that makes clear to Congress that wasteful items need to be removed. I will send back to Congress a redlined version, item by item, accompanied by the formal rescission request to Congress insisting that those funds be removed from the bill,” Trump said on Sunday night.

The president also said the Senate would soon begin work on ending legal protections for tech companies, examining voter fraud and boosting the check size for direct payments. The current Congress ends in six days.

The House will move ahead with a vote Monday on boosting direct payments to $2,000, forcing Republicans to go on the record against the president.

“I applaud President Trump’s decision to get hundreds of billions of dollars of crucial COVID-19 relief out the door and into the hands of American families as quickly as possible,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in a statement that did not mention the commitments Trump said the Senate has made.

Research contact: @politico

Pence prepares to confirm Trump’s loss—and then leave town

December 18, 2020

On January 6, Vice President Mike Pence will oversee final confirmation of President-elect Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory. Then he’ll likely skip town, Politico predicts.

As vice president, Pence has the awkward, but unavoidable, duty of presiding over the session of Congress that will formalize Biden’s win—a development that is likely to expose him (and other Republicans) to the wrath of GOP voters who still believe President Donald Trump’s false claim that the election was stolen from him.

Worse yet, that single act by Pence will be one of the only times he has crossed President Donald Trump during his four-year term—and it is sure to be greeted with anger in the Oval Office.

But, Politico notes, Pence could dodge their ire by leaving Washington immediately for the Middle East and Europe. According to three U.S. officials familiar with the planning, the vice president is eyeing a foreign trip that would take him overseas for nearly a week prior to the Inauguration, starting on January 6.

Although Pence aides have declined to confirm details of the trip, which remains tentative, a U.S. government document seen by Politico shows the vice president is due to travel to Bahrain, Israel, and Poland, with the possibility of more stops being added. A pre-advance team of Pence aides and other U.S. officials left earlier this week to visit the planned stops in preparation for the multi-country tour, which would be Pence’s first trip abroad since last January; when he traveled to Rome and Jerusalem on a whirlwind two-day sojourn.

On the surface, the trip is part of a push to underscore the Trump Administration’s role in brokering a series of diplomatic agreements to normalize relations between Israel and a handful of Arab countries, including Bahrain. But for Pence, visiting these countries is also a way to bolster already-strong credentials with the Christian right, which strongly supports Israel. And it allows Pence — once again — to put distance between himself and Trump’s complaints about the election outcome; which are likely to intensify after Congress affirms Biden’s win.

It’s a tactic Pence has used to navigate the final days of Trump’s presidency: Stay out of the spotlight and insulate himself from his boss’s baseless election-fraud crusade, all while still finding ways to burnish his own credentials and technically toe the party line, Politico notes.

Pence has promoted Trump in his work as head of the government’s coronavirus task force and while boosting two GOP Senate candidates facing runoff races in Georgia. But he’s declined to publicize his minimal involvement in the president’s election-fraud strategy..

“I suspect the timing is anything but coincidental,” one Pence ally said of his tentative travel plans.

A senior administration official said the trip has not been confirmed and was proposed for early January because it was the first available date following the holidays and other obligations that Pence has committed to.

Research contact: @politico