Posts tagged with "The New York Times"

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

Democrats are poised to retake the Senate: Warnock wins, Ossoff leads in Georgia runoffs

January 7, 2021

Democrats appear all but assured of retaking the Senate in with an electrifyingly clear victory in one Georgia runoff election and a likely win in the other, Salon reports.

Indeed, the Associated Press has projected the Reverend Raphael Warnock, pastor of Atlanta’s historic Ebenezer Baptist Church, as the winner of his runoff election against Senator Kelly Loeffler (R); while Democrat Jon Ossoff holds a narrow lead over Republican incumbent Senator David Perdue (R) in their race, with most of the outstanding votes likely to come from heavily Democratic counties.

Warnock was projected to defeat Loeffler at around 2 a.m. (ET), and now holds a lead of around 52,000 votes with 98% of ballots counted, Salon notes.

Warnock holds a 1.2% lead that The New York Times projects to grow closer to 2% once all of the results are in, putting the race well clear of recount territory.

As of midday on Wednesday, the Ossoff race still was too close to call, although the Democrat was in the lead. Compared to Warnock, Ossoff leds Perdue by a much narrower margin of less than 16,000 votes, or 0.36%, although the outstanding votes are expected to push his lead closer to 1%, according to the Times forecast. Perdue can request a recount if the race finishes within 0.5%.

Decision Desk HQ, which provides election data to various news outlets, called the race for Ossoff at around 2 a.m. (ET) but the Associated Press and other major news sources still view the race as too close to call.

According to Salon, the night marks a stark reversal from November’s election and from decades of the state’s electoral history. Although President-elect Joe Biden became the first Democratic presidential candidate to carry the state in nearly 30 years, Perdue led Ossoff by about 88,000 votes in November but just failed to reach the 50% threshold needed to win outright. Biden’s victory margin over President Donald Trump was less than 12,000 votes, and it appears certain that both Democrats in the Senate runoffs will win by significantly more than that.

If Ossoff holds on, the Democrats would control 50 seats in the Senate. That would put them in the majority once Vice President-elect Kamala Harris takes over as president of the Senate and will give Democrats control of both chambers of Congress and the White House for the first time since early in Barack Obama’s first term.

“We were told that we couldn’t win this election,” Warnock said Tuesday in a victory speech delivered remotely on video. “But tonight we proved that with hope, hard work and the people by our side, anything is possible.”

Ossoff’s campaign manager Ellen Foster predicted that “when all the votes are counted we fully expect that Jon Ossoff will have won this election.”

Research contact: @Salon

Amazon Music buys Wondery as podcasting competition heats up

January 5, 2021

Amazon Music, a divison of Amazon, has announced that it intends to acquire Wondery, the company behind podcasts such as Dirty John, Dr. Death, and The Shrink Next Door,” as the race to grab parts of the audio market continues.

According to a report by The New York Times, the deal, announced on Wednesday, December 30, represents the latest bet that media companies are placing on audio —podcasts in particular —as they search for new ways to distinguish themselves in an increasingly crowded streaming video market.

The deal values Wondery, which launched n 2016 and is headquartered in West Hollywood, at roughly $300 million, a person briefed on the matter said. The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because the deal terms were not disclosed.

Podcasts have been exploding in popularity, with nearly one-third of Americans saying at the beginning of 2019 that they listened to at least one monthly. They offer media companies a fast-growing medium and an opportunity to build out their offerings without having to go through powerful interests, like publishers and labels, when licensing music, and studios when licensing films, the Times notes.

Efforts to turn podcasting into its own celebrity universe have attracted the likes of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry..

Indeed, company founder Herman Lopez told The New York Times last year that he had “set out to create a company that could build on bringing to podcasting the skill set of television and movies, both in storytelling and production, as well as marketing.”

Lopez will step down as chief executive when the deal with Amazon closes, and Jen Sargent, Wondery’s chief operating officer, will take over management, according to an Amazon spokesperson.

Amazon would not “predict” when the Wondery deal was expected to close, the Amazon spokesperson said, noting it is subject to “customary closing conditions.”

Research contact: @nytimes

Why Pence cannot ‘save’ Trump on January 6

January 31, 2020

Vice President Mike Pence has come under heavy pressure from President Donald Trump to back an unconstitutional scheme to overturn his Electoral College defeat (306-232) in a joint session of Congress on January 6. According to multiple reports, advisers have repeatedly had to explain to the president that the vice president’s role is merely ceremonial, Salon reports.

In addition to losing the general election by 7 million votes, Trump has lost every legal challenge after failing to show evidence of widespread fraud or irregularities and is now “laser-focused” on January 6, Igor Derysh of Salon notes.

Indeed, the outgoing president views the joint session of Congress as his “last stand for overturning the electoral outcome,” multiple administration officials told The New York Times’ Maggie Haberman. Trump has demanded that Pence “act” to stop the ratification of the Electoral College, according to CNN.

Trump has raged at Pence and top White House officials in recent days as they have pushed back on his doomed scheme and would view Pence carrying out his constitutional duty and validating the election result as “the ultimate betrayal,” according to Axios’ Jonathan Swan.

This pressure arguably puts Pence in a bind, since legally he cannot do anything to affect the result. The vice president reportedly plans to flee Washington for his first overseas trip since the coronavirus pandemic began right after the session.

“Pence’s constitutional role is to ‘open’ the certificates. That’s it,” said Harry Litman, a former Justice Department official and constitutional law expert at UCLA. “Not to certify. Not even technically to count. He has no way even to purport to change the count. It’d be like saying the Oscar presenters get to decide who wins best picture.”

Research contact: @Salon

Trump and friends got ‘special treatment’—COVID care that many Americans cannot access

December 11, 2020

HUD Secretary Ben Carson, former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, and President Donald Trump are not the strongest candidates to survive the coronavirus: They are older, in some cases overweight, male, and not particularly fit. Yet all seem to have come through COVID-19—thanks to access to an antibody treatment that is in such short supply that some hospitals and states are doling it out by lottery, The New York Times reports.

Now RudyGiuliani, the latest member of President Trump’s inner circle to contract the coronavrius, has acknowledged that he received at least two of the same drugs the president received. He even conceded that his “celebrity” status had given him access to care that others did not have.

“If it wasn’t me, I wouldn’t have been put in a hospital frankly,” Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer, told WABC radio in New York. “Sometimes when you’re a celebrity, they’re worried if something happens to you they’re going to examine it more carefully, and do everything right.”

According to the Times report, Giuliani’s candid admission once again exposes that COVID-19 has become a disease of the haves and the have-nots. The treatment given to President Trump’s allies is raising alarms among medical ethicists as state officials and health system administrators grapple with gut-wrenching decisions about which patients get antibodies in a system that can only be described as rationing.

We should not have Chris Christie and Ben Carson—and in the case of Carson, with intervention by the president—get access,” said Arthur Caplan, a medical ethicist who works with drug companies on how to ration scarce medicines, referring to the secretary of housing and urban development’s admission that the president “cleared” him for the therapy. “That is not the way to secure public support for difficult rationing systems.”

The treatments — a monoclonal antibody developed by Eli Lilly and a cocktail of two monoclonal antibodies developed by Regeneron — won emergency use authorization, or an E.U.A., from the Food and Drug Administration last month for outpatients with “mild to moderate” disease who are at high risk for progressing to severe disease or for being hospitalized.

With cases soaring, the pool of potential patients is vast.

“One of the challenges is the E.U.A. criteria really are so broad, it could be half of the people with COVID could qualify, but there is clearly not enough,” Erin Fox, the senior pharmacy director for University of Utah Health, who has helped her state draft criteria to determine who is eligible for the drugs, told the Times. “Unfortunately, that leaves each hospital or each state to develop their own rationing criteria.”

Even some top officials at the F.D.A —both career employees and political appointee —have privately expressed concern in recent months that people with connections to the White House appeared to be getting access to the antibody treatments, according to three senior administration officials.

Giuliani, 76, appeared unaware of the scarcity issues, telling interviewers that politicians have taken masks and business closures too far now that COVID-19 is “a treatable disease.”

Research contact: @nytimes

Margaret Keenan, 90, is first in Britain to receive Pfizer vaccination

December 9, 2020

With the typical British “stiff upper lip,” at 6:31 a.m. local time on Tuesday, December 8, Margaret Keenan, 90, of Coventry, England, rolled up the sleeve of her Merry Christmas tee-shirt to receive the first shot worldwide of the COVID-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer-BioNTech.

Her tranquil and composed image quickly became a symbol of vaccine acceptance—and of the global effort to end a pandemic that already has killed 1.5 million people globally.

According to a report by The New York Times, Britain has become the first nation to begin a mass inoculation campaign using a clinically authorized, fully tested vaccine— kicking off an international effort to fight COVID-19. Doctors, nurses, certain people aged 80 or over, and nursing home workers will be among the first to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

“I feel so privileged to be the first person vaccinated against COVID-19,” said Keenan, adding, “It means I can finally look forward to spending time with my family and friends in the new year after being on my own for most of the year.”

British regulators leapt ahead of their American counterparts last week to authorize a coronavirus vaccine—upsetting the White House and setting off a spirited debate about whether Britain had moved too hastily, or if the United States was wasting valuable time as the virus was killing about 1,500 Americans a day.

President Trump planned on Tuesday to issue an executive order proclaiming that other nations will not get U.S. supplies of its vaccine until Americans have been inoculated—a directive that appeared to have no teeth, but nevertheless was indicative of the heated race to secure shipments of doses.

For the people receiving vaccinations in Britain, among them doctors and nurses who have fortified the country’s National Health Service this year, the shots were an early glimpse at post-pandemic life.

Besides Ms. Keenan, none attracted as much attention as William Shakespeare, who was second in line for a shot in Coventry and who, the National Health Service confirmed, really is named William Shakespeare.

Research contact: @nytimes

Trump fires Christopher Krebs, CISA director who disputed election fraud claims

November 19, 2020

President Donald Trump fired his administration’s most senior cybersecurity official—responsible for securing the presidential election—on Tuesday night, November 17, in the latest of a recent string of ousters via Tweet.

According to a report by The New York Times, in recent days, Christopher Krebs—director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency in the Department of Homeland Security since November 2018—had systematically disputed Trump’s false declarations that the presidency was stolen from him through fraudulent ballots and software glitches that changed millions of votes.

Indeed, the news outlet said, the president “seemed set off by a statement released by the Department of Homeland Security late last week, the product of a broad committee overseeing the elections, that declared the 2020 election “the most secure in American history.”

“The recent statement by Chris Krebs on the security of the 2020 Election was highly inaccurate,” Trump wrote a little after 7 p.m. on his Twitter feed, “in that there were massive improprieties and fraud — including dead people voting, Poll Watchers not allowed into polling locations, ‘glitches’ in the voting machines which changed votes from Trump to Biden, late voting, and many more.” He said Krebs “has been terminated” as director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, a post to which. Trump himself had appointed him.

Krebs, 43, a former Microsoft executive, has been hailed in recent days for his two years spent preparing the states for the challenges of the vote, hardening systems against Russian interference and setting up a “rumor control” website to guard against disinformation. The foreign interference so many feared never materialized; instead, the disinformation ultimately came from the White House.

The firing stirred an immediate backlash in the national security community and on Capitol Hill.

“Of all the things this president has done, this is the worst,” said Senator Angus King, Independent of Maine, who led a commission on improving cyberdefenses. “To strike at the heart of the democratic system is beyond anything we have seen from any politician.”

He said Krebs was one of the most competent people he had met in the government. “In this administration, the surest way to get fired is to do your job,” King said.

Senator Richard M. Burr (R-North Carolina) issued a statement calling Krebs “a dedicated public servant who has done a remarkable job during a challenging time.”

“I’m grateful for all Chris has done,” Burr said.

Only two weeks ago, the Times notes, on Election Day, Krebs’s boss, Chad F. Wolf, the acting secretary of Homeland Security, had praised Krebs’s work, including the “rumor control” effort. But behind-the-scenes efforts by some administration officials to keep Trump from firing Krebs apparently failed.

Research contact: @nytimes

At late-night Miami rally, Trump threatens to boot Fauci ‘after the election’

November 3, 2020

President Trump revealed at a rally early Monday morning that he was leaning toward firing America’s leading infectious disease expert—Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)—after Election Day, further escalating the tension as the number of new coronavirus cases in the United States reaches record highs.

His supporters did not seem to have a problem with that plan—chanting, “Fire Fauci! Fire Fauci!” after Trump revealed his intentions. The president listened in silence for a few moments before remarking: “Don’t tell anybody, but let me wait until a little bit after the election. I appreciate the advice,” The New York Times reports.

The president spoke well past midnight at the Miami-Opa Locka Executive Airport in Florida at his fifth and final rally of the day. Indeed, his comments about Dr. Fauci  came toward the end of what was a whirlwind day of campaigning across five states — Michigan, Iowa, North Carolina, Georgia and Florida—nd he spoke even as a local curfew aimed at curbing the spread of the coronavirus took effect at midnight.

 On Friday, more than 99,000 coronavirus infections were reported across the country, a single-day record. Nonetheless, the Times noted, Trump has maintained without citing evidence that the United States has “turned the corner” in fighting the virus, a point he reiterated at the rally early Monday.

That assertion is strongly disputed by Dr. Fauci, who told the The Washington Post in an interview published on October 31 ththe United States “could not possibly be positioned more poorly” as it heads into at winter. A White House spokesman later called Dr. Fauci’s comments “unacceptable.”

By contrast, former Vice President Joe Biden, the Democratic nominee, has said repeatedly that if he were to win the presidency, he is hopeful Dr. Fauci would remain in his role and serve in his administration.

According to the Times, Trump’s quip about Dr. Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, was part of an hourlong mix of meanspirited jokes, misstatements, hyperbole, self-congratulation, and occasional on-script arguments he made for his re-election.

Mr. Trump has adopted Florida as his home turf, and it is a swing state that he desperately needs to win to open paths to another four-year term. Although he narrowly prevailed there in 2016, polls, including one released November 1 by The New York Times and Siena College, have shown him trailing Mr. Biden in a tight race.

Research contact: @nytimes

Embracing racist stereotype, Kushner questions whether Black Americans ‘want to be successful’

October 29, 2020

In a Fox & Friends interview on October 26, President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner played into a racist stereotype by seeming to question whether Black Americans “want to be successful”—despite everything he claims that the Administration had done for them, The New York Times reports.

President Trump repeatedly has bragged about what he has done for Black America—pointing to Administration’s funding for Black colleges and universities, the creation of so-called opportunity zones, and criminal justice reform.

But on Monday, Kusher commented, “One thing we’ve seen in a lot of the Black community, which is mostly Democrat, is that President Trump’s policies are the policies that can help people break out of the problems that they’re complaining about,” Mr. Kushner said in an interview with “Fox & Friends,” the president’s favorite morning cable show. “But he can’t want them to be successful more than they want to be successful.”

In the interview, Kushner said that, after the killing in May of George Floyd, a Black man in police custody—an event that set off global protests about systemic racism, and that Kushner referred to as the “George Floyd situation”—a lot of people were more concerned with what he called “virtue signaling” than in coming up with “solutions.”

“They’d go on Instagram and cry, or they would put a slogan on their jersey or write something on a basketball court,” he said, an apparent reference to N.B.A. players like LeBron James who joined national protests over the issue of police brutality. “And quite frankly, that was doing more to polarize the country than it was to bring people forward,” he said. “You solve problems with solutions.”

According to the Times report, Kushner’s remarks prompted a scathing response from Representative Gwen Moore, a Black Democrat from Wisconsin. She tweeted: “Trust fund baby slumlord Kushner who has enriched himself in the WH takes the silver spoon out of his mouth long enough to insert his foot with a racist trope about Black people and success.”

The Democratic National Committee was equally harsh: “According to the Trump administration, when African-Americans find fault in policies that have led to historic unemployment for Black families, an explosion of racial inequities and wealth gaps, and an uncontained global pandemic that has taken the lives of over 45,000 Black Americans, it means that we just don’t want to be successful badly enough,” said Brandon Gassaway, the national press secretary for the committee. “This dismissive approach to the issues that Black voters care about is indicative of Trump’s callousness and disregard for the lives of Black people.”

Kayleigh McEnany, the White House press secretary, defended Kushner by saying his remarks were taken out of context. She accused unnamed “internet trolls” for trying to “distract from President Trump’s undeniable record of accomplishment for the Black community.”

Trump’s frequent references to what he has claimed to have done for Black America have often been accompanied by one of the most patently false claims he has made since moving into the White House—that has done more for Black Americans than any president with the possible exception of Abraham Lincoln.

 

Research contact: @nytimes

Outside the box: Trump campaign draws rebuke for videotaping Philly voters at ballot drop boxes

October 26, 2020

The Trump campaign has been videotaping Philadelphia voters while they deposit their ballots in drop boxes—leading Pennsylvania’s attorney general, Josh Shapiro, to warn last week that the campaign’s actions fall outside of permitted poll watching practices and could amount to illegal voter intimidation.

The campaign made a formal complaint to city officials on October 16, saying a campaign representative had surveilled voters depositing two or three ballots at drop boxes, instead of only their own. The campaign called the conduct “blatant violations of the Pennsylvania election code,” according to a letter from a lawyer representing the Trump campaign that was examined by The New York Times. The campaign included photos of three voters who it claimed were dropping off multiple ballots.

“This must be stopped,” a local lawyer for the Trump campaign, Linda A. Kerns, wrote in the letter, adding that the actions “undermine the integrity of the voting process.”

Both the Trump and Biden campaigns are focused on Pennsylvania, seen as one of the most important swing states in the election and where polls show Joe Biden with a seven-point lead.

The Trump campaign’s aggressive strategy in Philadelphia suggests its aim is to crack down on people dropping off ballots for family members or anyone else who is not strictly authorized to do so.

According to the Times reports, Kerns demanded that the names of all voters who had used a drop box in front of Philadelphia’s City Hall on October 14 be turned over to the campaign, and insisted that the city station a staff member around every drop box “at all times.” She also asked for footage from municipal cameras around City Hall.

But city officials rejected the assertion that the voters who had been photographed had necessarily done something improper. The city’s lawyers forwarded the campaign’s complaints to the local district attorney, but did not make a formal referral and cast doubt on the assertions. They also said they do not track which voters use which drop box.

“Third party delivery is permitted in certain circumstances,” Benjamin H. Field, a deputy city solicitor and counsel to the city Board of Elections, wrote in a letter sent to Kerns on October 19. “The Board cannot agree with your conclusion on the basis of the information you provided. Nor can the Board, in exercising its duties, assume that an individual is violating the Election Code when that person can act as an agent for a voter who required assistance.”

Under Pennsylvania law, voters are allowed to deliver only their own ballots to drop boxes, unless they are assisting a voter with a disability or who otherwise needs help. But voting has been upended by the pandemic and many voters are unfamiliar with the rules around drop boxes, which they may be using for the first time.

Earlier this month, a Trump campaign official told The Times that the campaign would be videotaping drop boxes but was only interested in people who were dumping large numbers of ballots — not in those bringing an extra ballot or two. That assertion appears to have been false.

Research contact: @nytimes