Posts tagged with "POTUS"

WaPo offers five takeaways from Biden’s forceful January 6 takedown of Trump

January 10, 2022

About a month after the January 6, 2021, U.S. Capitol insurrection and with impeachment suddenly in the rearview, President Joe Biden signaled he was “tired” of talking about Donald Trump. A month later, he responded to a question about the former president by sarcastically saying he missed “my predecessor.”

Indeed, Biden largely has avoided mentioning Trump in the following months, reports The Washington Post.

However, on the anniversary of the January 6 Capitol riot on Thursday, Biden made a huge exception. He delivered a muscular speech aimed at repudiating the former president, whose hold on the Republican Party has proved as strong as ever; according to the Post, as well as the allies who fomented and excused the Capitol riot.

Below are the Post’s takeaways from Biden’s speech.

The Trump focus

Biden’s intention to make his speech not just about the rioters, but also about Trump, was evident from the first minute of his brief speech and continued throughout. After praising those who withstood the attack and marking the somber occasion, Biden almost immediately linked the attack to Trump—and did so repeatedly, with a palpable anger in his voice.

“For the first time in our history, the president had not just lost an election; he tried to prevent the peaceful transfer of power as a violent mob breached the Capitol,” Biden said. “But they failed. They failed.”

Biden added later: “He has done what no president in American history—the history of this country—has ever, ever done: He refused to accept the results of an election and the will of the American people.”

Then Biden went after Trump’s delayed response.

“What did we not see?” Biden said. “We didn’t see a former president who had just rallied the mob to attack, sitting in the private dining room off the Oval Office in the White House, watching it all on television and doing nothing for hours as police were assaulted, lives at risk, the nation’s capital under siege.”

Not just targeting—but goading Trump

Much of Biden’s speech seemed aimed at not just criticizing but also goading Trump. He referred to Trump’s “bruised ego” over losing the 2020 election.

 He’s done so because he values power over principle, because he sees his own interest as more important than his country’s interest and America’s interest, and because his bruised ego matters more to him than our democracy or our Constitution,” Biden said.

Biden also referenced the 81 million people who voted for him—a seeming reference to Trump and his allies’ regular invocations of the 74 million people who voted for Trump, and the idea that not further scrutinizing Trump’s baseless voter-fraud claims was tantamount to disregarding those voters.

Biden also pointed to those who might otherwise be allies who clearly didn’t back up Trump’s claims. “He can’t accept he lost, even though that’s what 93 United States senators, his own attorney general, his own vice president, governors and state officials in every battleground state—have all said he lost,” Biden said. “That’s what 81 million of you did, as you voted for a new way forward.”

Biden punctuated it all toward the end of his speech by labeling Trump what Trump fears perhaps most of all—a loser. “He was just looking for an excuse, a pretext to cover for the truth: that he’s not just a former president; he’s a defeated former president,” Biden said, emphasizing “defeated” and then repeating it—“defeated by a margin of over 7 million of your votes in a full and free and fair election.”

A recognition that being passive doesn’t work

Biden’s speech might have been for a special occasion, but it also seemed to mark a recognition that Trump is going nowhere, and one can’t pretend otherwise.

At the same time, it echoed previous rebukes of Trump, in that Biden avoided saying his name. There was a word curiously missing from Biden’s remarks: “Trump.” [Biden explained afterwards that he avoided politicizing the speech.]

Throughout the speech, Biden merely cited the “former president”—at least 16 times in a little over ten minutes—as if speaking his name was tantamount to legitimizing him, or that something would happen a la saying “Voldemort.”

The undersold rebuke

According to the Post, toward the end, Biden referred to something that hasn’t gotten nearly enough attention: the implicit GOP idea that the presidential election was somehow stolen, but not other races.

In fact, a few days before January 6, this comparison was pushed by none other than Republican Representative Chip Roy (Texas), who had been Senator Ted Cruz’s (R-Texas) former chief of staff. If the election results were suspect, Roy argued, why wouldn’t his fellow Republicans have objected to the seating of members who were elected on the same ballots? So Roy forced a vote, and all but two Republicans voted to seat the members.

What happens now

The question in the aftermath of Biden’s speech is what it means. Was this just about reminding people of an assault on democracy—one day only—or was it about spurring further action?

Democrats have pushed for revamping the nation’s voting laws, citing Republican efforts to rewrite them in the states, but that doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. Democrats have also shunned GOP leaders’ suggestions that the two sides could meet in the middle, by reviewing the Electoral Count Act that Trump sought to exploit January 6. Democrats have suggested this is a wholly insufficient step.

An alternate political explanation is that Biden understands his agenda probably isn’t going anywhere. That argument suggests that voters must be reminded of what happened in 2020 ahead of the 2022 election—when Democrats’ majorities are severely imperiled—and perhaps ahead of a potential 2024 rematch with Trump (or another Democrat running against Trump).

When the calendar turns to an election year, after all, the Post notes, legislation tends to grind to a halt, and those concerns take precedence. Biden’s goading of Trump certainly doesn’t discount this theory.

Either way, though, it’s a significant entry in the long-standing fight over democracy. And it was the most significant entry on that front from Biden to date.

Research contact: @washingtonpost

Democrats ponder dumping Iowa’s caucuses as the first presidential vote

October 12, 2021

President Biden is not a big fan. Former Democratic National Committee chair Tom Perez is openly opposed. And elsewhere in the Democratic inner sanctum, disdain for Iowa’s first-in-the-nation presidential caucus has been rising for years, The Washington Post reports.

Now the day of reckoning for Iowa Democrats is fast approaching, as the DNC starts to create a new calendar for the 2024 presidential nomination that could remove Iowa from its privileged position for the first time since 1972, when candidates started flocking to the state for an early jump on the race to the White House.

According to the Post, the caucuses’ reputation has been damaged a number of factors—among them:

  • High barriers to participation,
  • A dearth of racial diversity,
  • The rightward drift in the state’s electorate, and
  • A leftward drift in the Democratic participants.

The Iowa state party’s inability to count the results in 2020 only deepened dismay in the party.

Biden, who handily won the party’s nomination in 2020, noted the lack of diversity in the caucus during the campaign—“It is what it is,” he said of the calendar—and called his fourth-place finish in the state a “gut punch.”

“We have to be honest with ourselves, and Iowa is not representative of America,” Perez said Friday in an interview with the Post. “We need a primary process that is reflective of today’s demographics in the Democratic Party.”

Others in Biden’s extended orbit have come to similar conclusions about the caucuses, for varied reasons.

“It is not suited to normal people, people that actually have daily lives,” South Carolina State Senator Dick Harpootlian, a former chairman of that state’s Democratic Party and a longtime Biden ally, said of the caucuses. He described the laborious process of participating, over multiple hours, in person, on a weeknight, as far more restrictive than the requirements of a new voter law in Texas that Democrats universally oppose.

“I just think the caucus process as it exists in Iowa is not suitable in 21st-century America,” he said.

Those views are broadly held among party officers, even though Democratic National Committee Chairman Jaime Harrison, a former South Carolina party chair, says no decisions have been made. He intends to “let the process play out,” according to a statement to the Post. That process will be controlled by Biden and a small group of his allies, following the party’s tradition of granting the sitting president control over party decisions.

The first step took place Saturday, when the party met to accept a slate of at-large members and committee assignments that had been put forward by senior Democratic officials, in consultation with Biden aides. The number coming from Delaware, Biden’s home state, will bump to five from one; and the number of members from Washington, D.C., will rise from 15 to 20, which has angered some state parties that are losing representation.

A subgroup of those members, who sit on the Rules and Bylaws Committee, also were be confirmed. That group, little changed from the past cycle, has been charged with setting the calendar, with an expected decision as soon as the first half of next year, according to people involved.

“Given the unrepresentative nature of the electorate, the caucus procedures that make it virtually impossible for many people to participate, and the disaster in reporting this year, it’s hard to see how anyone can make the case for keeping it first with a straight face,” said one Democratic strategist involved in the calendar conversations, who like others spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe private deliberations.

Another Democrat put Iowa’s situation in even more stark terms: “Iowa had no friends before the 2020 race, or it had very few friends. And it certainly doesn’t have any friends after the 202o race.”

In 2020, the Iowa caucuses kicked off the presidential nominating contest on February 3, after enjoying months of bus tours and advertising attention from the candidates. New Hampshire held the first primary on February11; followed by two more racially diverse states:  a caucus in Nevada and a primary in South Carolina.

Iowa Democratic Party chairman Troy Price said on February 7, 2020, that he had

Leaders in Nevada, with the support of former Senate majority leader Harry M. Reid (D), recently changed state law to transition from a caucus to a primary and schedule the date on the first Tuesday in February in a bid to increase the state’s importance.

Representative James E. Clyburn (D-South Carolina), a longtime Biden ally, has like Reid been critical of the demographics of New Hampshire and Iowa. Ninety-one percent of Democratic caucus goers in Iowa were White in 2020, according to entry polls.

Among the possible solutions is a party ban on allowing convention delegates to be nominated in any early caucuses in the 2024 cycle. Perez has advocated allowing multiple states, possibly including South Carolina, Nevada and New Hampshire, to vote on the same day, forcing campaigns to split their early campaign resources more broadly in the early parts of their campaign.

There remains broad concern about giving larger states too much say in the party’s decision, as Democrats say they do want to allow for a process that encourages meeting with voters and gives less-well-funded or known candidates a chance to win on their merits.

“Iowa’s position is really in danger. On the other hand, I have got to say, when you look at the early states, you can’t have a big state. You don’t want people to be priced out,” said Jeff Weaver, a presidential campaign adviser to Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont). “With California, Texas, Florida and New York as the first four, you would know who the nominee is before you even started.”

None of that means pushing Iowa to the side will be easy. Attempts by DNC commissions in 1978 and 1981 to change the date of the Iowa caucuses ultimately failed.

state law in Iowa requires the parties to hold their nominating caucuses at least eight days before any other state caucus or primary, and the state law in New Hampshire requires that its primary be at least a week before any other state. Republicans, who control government in both states, have made it clear that they plan to stick to tradition for their party in 2024.

Research contact: @washingtonpost

Biden Administration works with industry to develop COVID-19 vaccination ‘passports’

March 30, 2021

Along with private technology and travel companies, the Biden Administration is working to develop credentials—referred to as passports, health certificates or travel passes—showing proof of vaccination as individuals and businesses emerge from lockdown, The Washington Post reports.

The effort has gained momentum amid President Joe Biden’s pledge that the nation will start to regain normalcy this summer; and with a growing number of companies—from cruise lines to sports teams—saying they will require proof of vaccination before opening their doors again.

The Administration’s initiative has been driven largely by efforts of the Department of Health and Human Services, including an office devoted to health information technology, said five officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the effort. The White House this month took on a bigger role managing government agencies involved in the work, led by Coronavirus Coordinator Jeff Zients, with a goal of announcing updates in coming days, said one official.

 “Our role is to help ensure that any solutions in this area should be simple, free, open source, accessible to people both digitally and on paper, and designed from the start to protect people’s privacy,” Zients said at a March 12 briefing.

According to the Post, the passports offer a glimpse of a future after months of COVID-19 restrictions. Officials say getting vaccinated and having proper documentation will smooth the way to travel, entertainment and other social gatherings in a post-pandemic world. But it also raises concerns about dividing the world along the lines of wealth and vaccine access—creating ethical and logistical issues for decision-makers around the world.

“A chaotic and ineffective vaccine credential approach could hamper our pandemic response by undercutting health safety measures, slowing economic recovery, and undermining public trust and confidence,” reads one slide at a March 2  conference prepared by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology.

There are several private-sector initiatives creating passports. Among them is the trade group for global airlines, the International Air Transport Association, which is testing a version it calls Travel Pass.

It is not clear, however, whether any of the passports under development will be accepted broadly around the world, and the result could be confusion among travelers and disappointment for the travel industry.

Vaccine passports will be most common on international flights. Some countries already require proof of vaccination for diseases such as yellow fever, and the United States now requires a negative test for COVID-19 to enter the country.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention still recommends against travel even as the agency has relaxed other guidelines for people who have been vaccinated.

The Vaccination Credential Initiative is a coalition trying to standardize tracking data of vaccination records in an attempt to speed up a return to normal, Fox News reports.

“The busboy, the janitor, the waiter that works at a restaurant, [want] to be surrounded by employees that are going back to work safely—and [want] to have the patrons ideally be safe as well,” said Brian Anderson, a physician at Mitre, a company helping lead the initiative. “Creating an environment for those vulnerable populations to get back to work safely—and to know that the people coming back to their business are ‘safe,’ and vaccinated— would be a great scenario.”

Research contact: @washingtonpost

GOP state senator derides Trump’s tweet on ‘united’ party: ‘Republicans ALL OVER want you impeached’

December 16, 2019

Keeping the Republicans in line for an anti-impeachment vote may be as easy as herding cats, according to some GOP politicians. Nebraska State Senator John McCollister—a Republican— derided a tweet that President Donald Trump posted on Monday, in which Trump accused the Democratic Party and media outlets of making life “difficult” for “the United Republican Party” as he faces impeachment. The  Hill reported. 

“’United Republican Party?’ No,” McCollister tweeted. “There are Republicans ALL OVER the country who want you impeached. We don’t fall for some cult of personality.”

The Nebraska Republican also retweeted a number of posts from Twitter users who identified as Republicans in support of Trump’s impeachment — and others who said they left the party when Trump became president, The Hill said.

McCollister did get some pushback from Trump supporters over his comments criticizing the president, including one who called him a “RINO,” or “Republican In Name Only.” 

“So you only want to hear from ‘Republicans’ who want Trump impeached?” the Twitter user said. “Why not hear from ALL Republicans including those who love our @POTUS ?  Because you’re a RINO pure & simple. Go change parties; you belong with haters.”

McCollister responded shortly after, taking aim aim at another tweet , which Trump had sent earlier on Monday attacking Democrats and the “Fake News Media” after the House Judiciary Committee released a report laying out the impeachment charges against him.

“READ THE TRANSCRIPTS!,” the president urged, adding, “The Impeachment Hoax is the greatest con job in the history of American politics! The Fake News Media, and their partner, the Democrat Party, are working overtime to make life for the United Republican Party, and all it stands for, as difficult as possible!”

This is not the first time that the Nebraska state senator has caused a dither within his own party. McCollister captured widespread attention earlier this year after he accused his own party of helping to enable white supremacy in the wake of two mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio.

At the time, the state senator, who took office in 2015, accused the party of being “COMPLICIT to obvious racist and immoral activity inside our party,” The Hill noted.

Research contact: @thehill

Is the POTUS ‘obstructing justice’ by demanding declassification of Mueller probe documents?

September 19, 2018

The POTUS is treading a thin line, between obstruction of justice and presidential privilege.

On September 17, President Donald Trump directed the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the Department of Justice to immediately declassify portions of the June 2017 FISA court application regarding former Trump campaign adviser Carter W.Page, according to a report by the Huffington Post.

The president also demanded the public release of text messages exchanged by former FBI employees Peter Strzok and Lisa Page. Trump’s defenders on Capitol Hill and in the conservative media have routinely used the Strzok-Page text messages to undermine the Mueller probe and suggest that the FBI is biased against Trump, the news outlet said.

In immediate response to the order, Representative Adam Schiff (D-California-28th District), ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, sent out a tweet at 8:08 p.m. on September 17, remarking: “President Trump has intervened again in a pending investigation by ordering the selective disclosure of classified materials he believes to be helpful to his defense. The DOJ and FBI have previously informed me that release of some of this information would cross a ‘red line.’”

In a statement picked up by MSN, Schiff characterized the president’s order as “a clear abuse of power,” suggesting that Trump  “has decided to intervene in a pending law enforcement investigation by ordering the selective release of materials he believes are helpful to his defense team and thinks will advance a false narrative.”

Representative Gerry Connolly (D-Virginia-11th District) also came out against the release of documents, tweeting shortly after 8 p.m. on September 17, “More obstruction from the President.”

And Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-New Hampshire) tweeted on September 18,”The President is trying to undermine an active investigation through reckless declassification. We need an independent DOJ to do everything possible to protect sources and methods.”

The FBI previously had released a heavily redacted version of the Page FISA application in July. Trump also ordered the public release of texts messages sent by former FBI Director James Comey, former Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, as well as Justice Department official Bruce Ohr. The president also ordered the release of notes on meetings with Ohr, who relayed information to the FBI collected by former British spy Christopher Steele about Trump’s relationship with Russia.

According to the Huffington Post, a Justice Department spokesperson said late on September 17 that the DOJ and FBI were “already working with the Director of National Intelligence to comply with the President’s order.”

The president’s order, the spokesperson said, triggered “a declassification review process that is conducted by various agencies within the intelligence community, in conjunction with the White House Counsel, to seek to ensure the safety of America’s national security interests.”

Research contact: ryan.reilly@huffingtonpost.com

TrumpTally

POTUS Approval Ratings
(Approval/disapproval of President Trump by U.S. adults, as established by key nationwide polling organizations)

 

June 2018

June 4-8 June 11-15 June 18-22 June 25-29

Polling Organization

Gallup 41/55 42/54 45/50 41/55
Economist/You.Gov 42/54 45/51 44/50 43/52
Rasmussen 49/49 49/49 48/50 46/53
Reuters/Ipsos 39/55 40/55 41/53 45/51

View Past Months

The ‘real dirt’ on your money

January 15, 2018

While estimates vary, more Americans than ever before are germaphobes—people for whom a handshake may be a risky transaction, to be counteracted immediately by hand washing or hand sanitizing. Indeed, according to an article by The Free Dictionary, 42% of Millennials, 27% of Generation Xers and 21% of Baby Boomers fear exposure to germs.

Perhaps the most famous germaphobe at the moment is President Donald Trump, who has admitted to avoiding “contamination” by using a straw to drink out of a glass and preferring not to shake hands, when possible.  According to results of a recent study, maybe the POTUS, who says he is a billionaire, also should fear money.

Covered by Time magazine in late 2017, the findings of the study add to a growing body of research that has established that paper money can harbor thousands of microbes from every environment it touches—whether that’s someone’s fingers, a waiter’s apron, a vending machine or the dingy area under someone’s mattress.

During the course of the study, first published in the journal PLOS ONE last April, researchers swabbed $1 bills from a bank in New York City to see what was growing and subsisting on paper currency. They found hundreds of species of microorganisms. The most abundant were ones that cause acne, as well as plenty of harmless skin bacteria. They also identified vaginal bacteria, microbes from mouths, DNA from pets and viruses.

Other research has shown that some bank notes and coins are home to pathogens such as E. coli, salmonella and staphylococcus aureus, which can lead to serious illness.

Cash also is often streaked with drugs, according to the Journal of Analytical Toxicology. In a study of ten $1 bills from cities nationwide, nearly 80% of them showed traces of cocaine.

What’s more, the environment of paper money is welcoming to whatever is going around. The $1 bill is 75% cotton and 25% linen, according to the Bureau of Engraving and Printing—which offers a soft environment into which microbes can settle.

However, there is no reason to panic, whether you are a germaphobe or not: Cash doesn’t typically have the right temperature or moisture conditions to allow microbes to grow and proliferate. Its porous surface actually helps it hold on to most of the germs it’s carrying, so not many microbes wipe off on your hands—meaning money is not very good at transmitting diseases.

Experts say to wash your hands after touching currency and before eating.

There also has been some thought given to changing the materials that money is made with. Some research has shown that plastic polymer bank notes, like those used in Australia and Canada, are “cleaner” than American bills, according to the Time report.

Research contact: @AbigailAbrams

54% of Americans want bipartisan cooperation in Congress

January 12, 2018

At a planning retreat at Camp David attended by Congressional leaders, White House aides and the POTUS last weekend, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell made a plea for teamwork and harmony, stating, “We hope that 2018 [will] be a year of more bipartisan cooperation,” and predicting that a “significant number of Democrats” would be interested in supporting Trump’s agenda.

This burst of bipartisan sentiment certainly fits with the wishes of the American people, based on findings of a recent Gallup poll of 1,052 U.S. adults.

Indeed, 54% of Americans want political leaders in Washington to compromise to get things done, according to respondents nationwide.

The polling organization commented, “This far outpaces the 18% [of respondents] who would prefer that leaders stick to their beliefs even if little gets done, while the views of 28% fall somewhere in between. The gap between compromise and sticking to principles is the widest in Gallup’s trend [reporting to date].”

Those who want the parties to stick to their own guns are led by Republican conservatives, the polling organization said.

If bipartisan cooperation occurs— spurred on partly by the looming government shutdown deadline on January 19— it could begin to ameliorate, at least to a degree, the public’s sense that government itself is the top problem facing the nation today.

In addition, of course, it could help improve the low job approval ratings Americans give Congress (and Trump) and the negative top-of-mind reactions Americans have when they hear the words “federal government.”

Research contactdatainquiry@gallup.com

Most Americans think Trump is obstructing justice

December 19, 2017

The majority of Americans believe U.S. President Donald Trump is trying to obstruct the investigation of Special Counsel Robert Mueller—which already has brought charges against four of his campaign advisers and increasingly appears to be focused on the POTUS’s inner circle.

Indeed, 40% of Americans think the president has done something illegal when it comes to Russia, while an additional 30% say he’s at least done something unethical.

What’s more, 68% disapprove of his response to the investigations, based on poll results released by The Associated PressNORC Center for Public Affairs Research on December 15.

It is no surprise that Democrats are far more likely than Republicans to be concerned about Trump’s actions, or to feel invested in what the probes uncover, the poll, covered by Georgia radio station WDUN, noted. Overall, the poll found, 62% of Democrats say they think Trump has done something illegal, while just 5% of Republicans think the same. Among Republicans, 33% think he’s done something unethical, while 60% think he’s done nothing wrong at all.

But, specifically, did Trump obstruct the investigations into whether his campaign had Russian ties? According to the survey, 86% of Democrats, 67% of Independents and 24% of Republicans say he did.

But, Americans also are unsure of how fair and impartial Mueller’s investigation is turning out to be. Of the special counsel’s investigation, just 26%t say they’re very or extremely confident that it will be fair and impartial, while an additional 31% are moderately confident.

Opinions about the possibility of a fair and impartial congressional investigation are even lower, with just 13% saying they’re very or extremely confident in that happening and 32 % saying they are moderately confident.

The AP-NORC poll surveyed 1,020 adults in early December using a sample drawn from NORC’s probability-based AmeriSpeak panel, which is designed to be representative of the U.S. population.

Research contact: gentile-claudia@norc.org