More stories

  • in

    Bill Barr in ‘active discussions’ to testify before Capitol attack panel – live

    We’re still waiting for the final result from Tuesday’s Republican senate primary in Pennsylvania, in which Donald Trump’s endorsed candidate, celebrity TV doctor Mehmet Oz, and former treasury official David McCormick are separated by only a few hundred votes with 99% of the count in.But there was a clear winner in the race to become the Republican nominee for state governor in November’s midterms – Trump loyalist and big lie proponent Doug Mastriano.My colleague Sam Levine has this profile of the extremist, whom critics fear will be in charge of appointing officials to oversee the state’s elections if he wins later this year, and who will theoretically have the power to reject a result he doesn’t like:The Trump loyalist who could be a major threat to US democracyRead moreBill de Blasio, the former mayor of New York city, is running for Congress in a district that includes areas of Manhattan and his home in western Brooklyn.He made the announcement on MSNBC’s Morning Joe on Friday, shortly before his Bill de Blasio for Congress website went live with the campaign slogan: “The only way to save our democracy is to be a part of it”. De Blasio, whose second term as NYC mayor ended last year, is seeking election in New York’s 10th congressional district, currently represented by Democrat Jerry Nadler. Redistricting under the supervision of a New York judge, which Nadler says is unconstitutional, has forced him into a race for the 12th district with another Democratic incumbent, Carolyn Maloney, opening up the 10th for de Blasio’s run.The state’s primary has been pushed back from June to 23 August following legal wrangling over the legality of New York’s maps and a court’s decision last month that Democrats’ original proposals were too heavily in their own favor.De Blasio, 61, toyed with running for governor this year, the Associated Press says, but decided not to challenge incumbent Democrat Kathy Hochul. He also had a short-lived run for president in 2019. There’s more trouble at home for Joe Biden as he ends the first day of his Asian tour: his approval rating has dropped to the lowest point of his presidency.Raging inflation, soaring gas prices, the baby formula shortage and a failure to deliver on campaign promises were cited by respondents in an Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Research study that also reflects deepening pessimism among his own Democratic party.Only 39% of US adults approve of Biden’s performance as president, a further drop from already negative ratings a month earlier.Overall, only about two in 10 adults say the US is heading in the right direction or the economy is good, both down from about three in 10 a month earlier. Those drops were concentrated among Democrats, with just 33% within the president’s party saying the country is headed in the right direction, down from 49% in April.Of particular concern for Biden ahead of the midterm elections, his approval among Democrats stands at 73%, a substantial drop since earlier in his presidency. In AP-NORC polls conducted in 2021, Biden’s approval rating among Democrats never dropped below 82%.The findings reflect a widespread sense of exasperation in a country facing a cascade of challenges ranging from inflation, gun violence, and a sudden shortage of baby formula to a persistent pandemic.“I don’t know how much worse it can get,” Milan Ramsey, a 29-year-old high school counselor and Democrat in Santa Monica, California, told the AP. She said she and her husband had to move into her parents’ house to raise their infant son.“He hasn’t delivered on any of the promises. I think he’s tired and I don’t blame him, I’d be tired too at his age with the career he’s had.”Biden has been attempting to play up his successes at home over improved unemployment figures and his bipartisan infrastructure bill, and the White House sees his tour of Asia, including meetings with the leaders of South Korea and Japan, as an opportunity to market the US abroad.But the trip has already attracted unwelcome headlines. A member of Biden’s advance security detail was arrested for allegedly assaulting a South Korean citizen in Seoul in a dispute over a taxi, and CNN reports that two secret services agents have been sent home.It is not known if it relates to the same incident.Read more:Biden security team member arrested in Seoul over alleged drunken assaultRead moreBill Barr, the former attorney general who says he told Donald Trump his fantasy of a stolen election was “bullshit”, could soon be on the record with the 6 January House panel.Axios is reporting that Barr, who resigned in the waning days of Trump’s single term of office, is in negotiations with the committee to tell what he knows of the days surrounding the deadly insurrection, and Trump’s demand for the justice department to declare the election fraudulent.Details are scant, the committee is refusing to confirm the story, and it’s not known if Barr will be invited to take part in public hearings the panel will be holding this spring.But Axios says it has sources with knowledge of the situation who insist Barr is in “active discussions” to follow up his previous informal conversations with the committee with on-the-record testimony and transcribed interviews.The news comes at an important juncture for the bipartisan inquiry, which wants to complete its work ahead before November’s midterms, when Republicans are expected to win back control of the House and shut it down.What information Barr has to offer remains to be seen. Most of what we already know about his knowledge of Trump’s desperate efforts to stay in power comes from his book, which the Guardian reviewed in March as a “self-serving narrative that ignores tricky truths”. But the pace of the 6 January investigation is undoubtedly picking up as members scramble to complete their work.Separately on Friday, CNN reported that John Eastman, the rightwing attorney and Trump acolyte, was deeply involved in the plot to steal back the election, and has revealed in a court filing that he spoke regularly with, and had handwritten notes from the former president, concerning those efforts.The panel is chasing those documents, and on Thursday wrote to Georgia congressman Barry Loudermilk seeking information about “reconnaissance tours” of the Capitol the Republican is reported to have hosted on 5 January 2021, one day before Trump’s supporters ransacked the building in efforts to stop Congress certifying his defeat. Read more:Congress members led ‘reconnaissance tours’ of Capitol before attack, evidence suggestsRead moreGood morning blog readers, and welcome! We’ve made it to Friday, but as you know, the pace of US politics never winds down!We’re learning that Bill Barr, the former attorney general, is poised to give sworn testimony to the 6 January House committee investigating Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn his 2020 election defeat.Axios reports that Barr, who has already spoken informally to the panel, is in “active discussions” for a formal, transcribed interview. We’ll have more on that coming up, as well as the following:
    Joe Biden is in Seoul, South Korea, talking computer chips at a technology factory with ties to Texas. Meanwhile, his popularity rating back home has taken another dive.
    Vote counting from Tuesday’s Republican senate primary in Pennsylvania is limping towards the finish line, with Trump-endorsed TV doctor Mehmet Oz in a neck-and-neck race with former treasury department official David McCormick.
    Polls suggest Trump is set for a bruising in next week’s Georgia primary, where David Perdue, the former senator Trump wants to replace incumbent Republican governor Brian Kemp, has fallen further behind.
    Covid-19 cases are rising again across the US, and there’s little sign that Congress is willing to fund Biden’s requested $22.5bn relief package for vaccines, testing and therapeutics.
    A decision is expected imminently from a federal judge in Louisiana, who will decide if the Biden administration can proceed with plans to end next Monday the Trump-era Title 42 immigration policy keeping refugees at the border because of the pandemic.
    Stick with us as the days unfolds, and you can also follow developments in the Ukraine conflict in our global live news blog here. More

  • in

    Trump loyalist’s primary win prompts election fears in Pennsylvania

    Trump loyalist’s primary win prompts election fears in PennsylvaniaDoug Mastriano promoted Trump’s voter fraud myth – if he becomes governor, could he block a result he doesn’t like? As Donald Trump tried to overturn the results of the 2020 election, there were few officials more willing to help than Doug Mastriano, then a little-known Pennsylvania state senator.Mastriano, a retired army colonel first elected in 2019, regularly communicated with Trump in the weeks after the election. He helped arrange a pseudo-hearing weeks after election day in which the Trump campaign presented baseless claims of fraud. Mastriano helped facilitate a plan to appoint a fake set of electors in Pennsylvania for Trump after Joe Biden won the state by more than 80,000 votes. He embraced and promoted a fringe, anti-democratic legal theory that state legislatures can override the results of an election and appoint its own electors. He was also at the US capitol on January 6, and helped bus supporters there. He pushed an unofficial review of election equipment that prompted the state to decertify election machines in a county. He has been subpoenaed by the January 6 committee. He supported efforts to decertify the election, which is legally impossible.The Republican primaries are a tug-of-war between rightwing and even-righter-wing | Lloyd GreenRead moreThis week, Republican voters in Pennsylvania nominated Mastriano to be their governor.If elected this fall, there seems to be little doubt Mastriano would be willing to use his power to reject the results of a free and fair election in Pennsylvania, a key battleground state in US presidential elections. As governor, he would be responsible for certifying the election, and could refuse to sign off on an outcome he disagrees with. He would also be responsible for appointing a secretary of state, charged with overseeing elections in the state and signing off on the results. (Pennsylvania is one of three states where the secretary of state is appointed, not elected).“We really need voters to be paying attention to how dangerous it is to have someone in a position like the governor who does not believe in the elections or in our system, who has cast so much doubt on the 2020 elections and would be in a great position of power,” said Lizzie Ulmer, senior vice-president for communications at States United Action, which is tracking election deniers running for office across the US. “It’s really important to not fall into that trap of thinking ‘OK, these are really extreme candidates’. Because they’re not fringe candidates, they’re raising money. They’re campaigning on these issues.”David Becker, the executive director of the Center for Election Innovation and Research, said: “If a governor would not certify an election in which his candidate lost, which had been upheld by the courts and election officials throughout the state, that’s incredibly dangerous – period. That’s incredibly dangerous in a state where that governor gets to appoint the chief election official, who might share similar inclinations.”While Becker has said courts would ultimately thwart any effort to block the certification of a lawful election, Becker said he was worried about the confusion that would arise from a governor refusing to accept election results.“I am very concerned about what happens in the meantime. And what messages are used to inflame the base of the losing party to act in a way that is anti-democratic and perhaps violent,” he said. Mastriano is one of a number of candidates who refuse to accept the results of the 2020 election and are seeking elected offices in which they would play a key role in overseeing the 2024 election. Candidates in Michigan, Nevada, and Minnesota have already earned their party’s nomination and there is a closely-watched primary for the top election office in Georgia on Tuesday.“What we’ve seen is that there are a number of elected officials within the Republican caucus that are still advocating or supporting this notion that the 2020 presidential elections were stolen,” said Khalif Ali, the executive director of the Pennsylvania chapter of Common Cause. “We’re not just talking about a gubernatorial race, we’re talking about the very essence of democracy in this state and in this country.”Mastriano has embraced the possibility of getting to overturn an election, saying he already has a secretary of state picked out (he has declined to say who). “I get to appoint the secretary of state, who is delegated from me the power to make the corrections to elections, the voting logs and everything. I could decertify every machine in the state with the stroke of a pen,” he said in a March radio interview.“He’s saying that part out loud,” said Ulmer. “It goes to show just how prevalent and mainstream the far right and the big lie supporters have made this issue. It’s so wild to think about. They really are campaigning, raising money, and generating a lot of interest and support from carrying this thing forward.”Mastriano has also said he might “reset” voter registration in Pennsylvania and “start all over,” something that would likely violate federal law. He has pledged to eliminate the state’s contract with “compromised voting machine companies,” even though there’s no evidence any machines were compromised in 2020. He wants to end no-excuse mail-in voting, which passed the state legislature with Republican support.Mastriano, who grew up in New Jersey, joined the military in 1986, and was deployed to the West-German Czechoslovakia border before being sent to Iraq, according to a New Yorker profile of him last year. A few years ago, he began attending events hosted by the New Apostolic Reformation, a group whose goal it is “to return the United States to an idealized Christian past”, according to the New Yorker. He is often described as a christian nationalist, embracing the belief that America should be a Christian nation.Beyond elections, Mastriano has embraced other extreme policies. He has signaled his support for a complete ban on abortion, with no exceptions for rape or incest. He railed against Covid-19 restrictions, at one point falsely questioning whether mRNA vaccines were actually vaccines. He has supported legislation that would require teaching the Bible in public schools, according to The New Yorker, and allow adoption agencies to discriminate against same-sex couples. If elected, Mastriano has pledged to be more conservative than some of the most conservative governors in the country.“You guys think Ron DeSantis is good? Amateur,” Mastriano cracked, adding: “We love you, Ron, but this is Pennsylvania. This is where the light of liberty was set in 1776, where this nation was born,” he said earlier this month, according to NBC News.He has promoted the QAnon conspiracy theory, and spoke at a conference in April organized by far-right activists who have promoted the movement.Ulmer, from States United and Ali, from Common Cause, both said it would be a mistake to dismiss Mastriano as too extreme to win a statewide election.“I take every candidate who has won their party’s nomination seriously,” Ali said. “He’s made a number of inflammatory statements, and I think we should absolutely believe him and take him seriously as the Republican nominee.”TopicsDonald TrumpPennsylvaniaUS politicsnewsReuse this content More

  • in

    Trump claims immigrants are voting illegally. The real problem is foreign fatcats funding US campaigns | Robert Reich

    Trump claims immigrants are voting illegally. The real problem is foreign fat cats funding US campaignsRobert ReichNon-Americans – whose interests don’t necessarily align with the interests of the US – assert growing influence over American politics In 2017, Donald Trump repeatedly claimed without evidence that between 3 million and 5 million unauthorized immigrants had voted for Hillary Clinton. In the last few weeks, Trump has resurrected his lie during campaign rallies for Republican primary candidates he has endorsed – whipping up fears of “open borders and horrible elections”, and calling for stricter voter ID laws and proof of citizenship at the ballot box.Trump endorsees and wannabes are amplifying this lie. JD Vance, the Trump-backed winner of last week’s Ohio Republican senate primary, claimed that President Biden’s immigration policy has resulted in “more Democrat voters pouring into this country”.In fact, voter fraud is exceptionally rare, and claims that widespread numbers of undocumented immigrants are voting have been repeatedly discredited.There is a problem of foreigners influencing American elections, however – but it has nothing to do with immigrants or fraudulent voting.It’s foreign money flowing into US campaigns.Some of the flow is clearly illegal. Last October, Lev Parnas, a Florida businessman who helped Rudy Giuliani’s effort to dig up dirt on Joe Biden in Ukraine, was convicted of funneling a Russian entrepreneur’s money to US politicians.The real scandal is how much foreign money flows into US elections legally.The US supreme court’s 2010 decision in Citizens United v Federal Election Commission opened the gates. It allows foreigners to influence US elections through their investments in politically active American corporations.The five-justice conservative majority said that when it comes to political speech, the identity of the speaker is irrelevant, and that more speech is always better.In dissent, Justice John Paul Stevens argued that the logic of the court’s ruling would allow foreign spending on American elections, threatening American interests.Stevens was right. If the identity of the speaker doesn’t matter and more speech is always better, what’s to stop foreign spending on US elections?Non-Americans whose money is now finding its way into American campaigns – mostly benefiting Republican candidates – include Russian oligarchs, the Saudi royal family, European financiers, Chinese corporate conglomerates and many other people and organizations that owe their allegiance to powers other than the United States.The growing problem centers on three realities:First, foreign investors now own a whopping 40% of the shares of American corporations. That’s up from just 5% in 1982.Second, American corporations are spending hundreds of millions of dollars to influence elections – counting their separate corporate political action committees or personal donations by executives and employees. Much of this spending is through dark money channels that opened after the Citizens United decision.Third, by law, corporate directors and managers are accountable to their shareholders, including foreign shareholders – not to America. As the then-CEO of US-based Exxon Mobil unabashedly stated, “I’m not a US company and I don’t make decisions based on what’s good for the US.”The second and third points pose substantial threats to American democracy on their own. Add in the first, and you’ve got a sieve through which non-Americans – whose interests don’t necessarily correspond to the interests of the United States – assert growing influence over American politics.Follow the money. In recent years, Russian billionaire oligarchs have bought significant amounts of Facebook, Twitter and Airbnb. Saudi Arabia owns about 10% of US-based Uber and has a seat on its board.Many of America’s largest corporations with substantial foreign ownership (including AT&T, Comcast and Citigroup) have contributed millions of dollars to the Republican Attorney Generals Association, which in turn bankrolled the pro-Trump rally on the morning of the January 6 insurrection.What to do about this? The Center for American Progress has a sensible proposal: it recommends that no US corporation with 5% or more of its stock under foreign ownership or 1% or more controlled by a single foreign owner be allowed to spend money to sway the outcomes of US elections or ballot measures.Corporate governance experts and regulators agree that these thresholds capture the level of ownership necessary to influence corporate decision-making.OK, but how to get this proposal enacted, when big American-based corporations with significant foreign investment have so much influence over Congress?Democrats should make this an issue in the run-up to the 2022 midterms. While Republicans rail against the utterly fake danger to the United States of undocumented immigrants voting in American elections, Democrats should rail against the real danger to American democracy of foreign money affecting American elections through foreign investments in American corporations.
    Robert Reich, a former US secretary of labor, is professor of public policy at the University of California at Berkeley and the author of Saving Capitalism: For the Many, Not the Few and The Common Good. His new book, The System: Who Rigged It, How We Fix It, is out now. He is a Guardian US columnist. His newsletter is at robertreich.substack.com
    TopicsDonald TrumpOpinionUS politicscommentReuse this content More

  • in

    US primary elections: Dr Oz tied with McCormick in test of Trump’s influence on Republicans – as it happened

    The Republican primary for Senate in Pennsylvania between heart surgeon-turned-TV celebrity Mehmet Oz and former hedge fund CEO David McCormick remains neck-and-neck, with thousands of absentee ballots still left to be tallied.
    Jake Sullivan, the US national security adviser, took to the podium today for the White House press briefing to preview the meeting tomorrow between Joe Biden and the president of Finland and the prime minister of Sweden. This comes as these traditionally neutral countries submit their applications for Nato membership.
    Sullivan also previewed Biden’s first trip to Asia as president, in which he will be visiting South Korea and Japan, and meeting with the South Korean president and Japanese prime minister. Biden will not, however, be making a visit to the DMZ this trip.
    Sullivan on North Korea: “Our intelligence does reflect the genuine possibility that there will be either a further missile test…or a nuclear test-or frankly both- in the days leading into…the President’s trip to the region.””We are preparing for all contingencies,” he says— Olivia Gazis (@Olivia_Gazis) May 18, 2022

    Biden visited Joint Base Andrews in Maryland to receive a briefing from his senior leadership team on efforts to prepare for and respond to hurricanes this season.
    The House is moving on the nationwide infant formula shortage, with two bills scheduled for a vote tonight. In addition, a bipartisan group of 20 members is urging the president to invoke the Defense Production Act to boost formula production.
    First daughter Ashley Biden has tested positive for Covid-19 and will not be traveling with the first lady, Jill Biden, to Ecuador, Panama and Costa Rica.
    Congresswoman Lucy McBath made an impassioned pro-choice speech on the floor today in the aftermath of the leak of a draft opinion that essentially strikes down the protections enshrined by Roe v Wade.McBath spoke about the trauma and heartbreak of suffering three miscarriages, and how the treatment for miscarriage sometimes requires the same abortion drugs that some states are advocating to make illegal. “It’s hard to describe the agony of a miscarriage: it’s heartbreaking, it’s helplessness, it’s pain, and it’s profound sadness,” McBath said. “Millions of women suffer from them, and I’ve heard from many who felt guilty like I did, who felt as though we weren’t worthy of having a child. Those are the same feelings that crept through my mind and every time I’ve had these difficult discussions with other women, I remind them that they are strong and they are powerful beyond measure and their worth is far more than their ability to procreate, however it may seem that those in support of this ruling may disagree.” McBath’s voice cracked as she described the circumstances of her third miscarriage: a stillbirth. “My doctor felt it would be safer to end the pregnancy naturally,” she said. “For two weeks, I carried my dead fetus and waited to go into labor. For two weeks, people passed me on the street, telling me how beautiful I looked, asking how far along I was, and saying they were so excited for me and my future with my child. For two weeks, I carried a lost pregnancy and the torment that came with it. I never went into labor on my own. When my doctor finally induced me, I faced the pain of labor without hope of a living child.”She ended her testimony by declaring that though this was uniquely her story, her story was not unique. “Millions of women in America, women in this room, women at your home, women you love and cherish, have suffered a miscarriage.“So I ask, on behalf of these women, after which failed pregnancy should I have been imprisoned? Would it have been after the first miscarriage, after doctors used what would have been an illegal drug to abort the lost fetus?” “Would you have put me in jail after the second miscarriage? Perhaps that would have been the time, forced to reflect in confinement at the guilt I felt, at the guilt so many women feel after losing their pregnancies. Or would you have put me behind bars after my stillbirth, after I was forced to carry a dead fetus for weeks?” McBath continued: “The same medicine used to treat my failed pregnancies is the same medicine that states like Texas would make illegal. I ask because if Alabama makes abortion murder, does it make miscarriage manslaughter? I ask because I want to know if the next woman who has a miscarriage at three months, if she will be forced to carry her dead fetus to term.” “After which failed pregnancy should I have been imprisoned?”@RepLucyMcBath suffered from a string of miscarriages. It is a heartbreaking story. pic.twitter.com/pZF1QjFk0G— House Judiciary Dems (@HouseJudiciary) May 18, 2022
    Stephanie Grisham, the former White House press secretary and chief of staff for Melania Trump, is reportedly appearing again today before the House select committee tasked with investigating the 6 January attack on the US Capitol. Stephanie Grisham, the former White House Press Secretary & Chief of Staff to Melania Trump, is appearing today for a second time before the Jan. 6 committee, sources tell me & @Santucci— Katherine Faulders (@KFaulders) May 18, 2022
    Elon Musk said he will no longer vote Democratic and will now vote Republican. In the past I voted Democrat, because they were (mostly) the kindness party.But they have become the party of division & hate, so I can no longer support them and will vote Republican.Now, watch their dirty tricks campaign against me unfold … 🍿— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 18, 2022
    We’ve entered a new world of campaigning: Mullet caucus shows up in a Ryan for Senate fundraising email: pic.twitter.com/JVvFUOYvn2— Nicholas Wu (@nicholaswu12) May 18, 2022
    Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer will force a procedural vote on the domestic terrorism prevention act, which would create federal offices focused on domestic terrorism: Schumer says he will force a procedural vote next week on the Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act, which is expected to pass the House today. The bill, which creates federal offices focused on domestic terrorism, is opposed by House Rs who contend it gives DOJ too much power— Manu Raju (@mkraju) May 18, 2022
    The White House hemmed a bit when asked about this legislation, listing a variety of actions that the Biden administration has taken to combat domestic terrorism but not quite committing to saying whether they support the actual legislation. “It’s a growing and evolving threat, and one that the Biden administration has taken very seriously since our first day in office,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said. “We have said we have been studying the details of different proposals and there are a range of ideas that have been proposed in Congress that could improve our ability to respond to these threats.”Joe Biden will not be visiting the DMZ on this trip to Asia, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said. At today’s White House press briefing, Jake Sullivan, national security advisor, previewed Joe Biden’s first trip as president to Asia. Biden will head to South Korea first, where he will meet with president Yoon Suk-yeol and “engage with technology and manufacturing leaders”, as well as meet with US armed forces stationed out there. After South Korea, Biden will travel to Japan and meet with prime minister Fumio Kishida. “We believe the US-Japan alliance, at this moment, under these two leaders, is at an all-time high,” Sullivan said. “This visit can take us even higher.”“On this trip, [Biden will] have the opportunity to reaffirm and reinforce two vital security alliances, to deepen two vibrant economic partnerships, to work with two fellow democracies to shape the rules of the road for the 21st century and to thank his allies in Korea and Japan for their remarkable and in some ways unexpected contributions to support Ukraine and hold Russia accountable,” Sullivan said. Jake Sullivan, national security adviser, took the podium for today’s White House press briefing to preview the meeting tomorrow between Joe Biden and Sauli Niinistö, the president of Finland, and Magdalena Andersson, prime minister of Sweden, one day after their countries applied for Nato membership. “This is a historic event, a watershed moment in European security,” Sullivan said. “Two nations with a long tradition of neutrality will be joining the world’s most powerful defensive alliance and they will bring with them strong capabilities and a proven track record as security partners.”Joe Biden is at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland to receive a briefing from his senior leadership team on efforts to prepare for and respond to hurricanes this season. He noted that 2021 “was the third most active hurricane season ever recorded”, and amid the climate crisis, they would only get worse. “Given the climate crisis, we expect another tough hurricane season,” Biden said. “Storms are going to be more intense. We’re going to have shorter notice … That’s why the work of these women and men are so important.”Biden continued: “This isn’t about red states or blue states. It’s about helping communities prepare, having their back when a hurricane strikes and being there to help clear the road, rebuild the main streets so families can get back to their lives.”The House is moving on the nationwide infant formula shortage, with two bills scheduled for a vote tonight: The House is slated to vote on 2 bills tonight to address the infant formula shortage: one to increase flexibility on which formulas WIC recipients can buy, and one to give the FDA an additional $28 billion for more inspectors and resources to keep fraudulent products off shelves— Rebecca Kaplan (@RebeccaRKaplan) May 18, 2022
    …and use the logistics capabilities of the federal government to get formula on shelves faster. The WIC bill looks poised to pass with bipartisan support.— Rebecca Kaplan (@RebeccaRKaplan) May 18, 2022
    Meanwhile, a bipartisan group of 20 House members is urging Joe Biden to invoke the Defense Production Act to boost formula production. The way the 1950 law works is that it authorizes the federal government to direct the private sector to increase production of certain goods in response to national emergencies – Axios reports that most recently, Biden has used the law to boost the production of critical minerals. Today, I’m leading a group of 20 in the House to urge the President to invoke the Defense Production Act to boost baby formula production & ensure it gets to all regions of the nation.No baby should go hungry & no mother or father should have to struggle to feed their child. pic.twitter.com/JpOVQ5mTXI— Rep Josh Gottheimer (@RepJoshG) May 18, 2022
    Vice-president Kamala Harris was at the US Coast Guard Academy today, delivering the commencement address to graduates about the “critical work” they will do in an “unsettled” world where “long-established principles now stand on shaky ground”.“Around the world, we see additional attempts to undermine the rules-based order: nations that threaten the freedom of the seas. Criminal gangs and traffickers who skirt the rule of law, and fuel corruption and violence. Those that manipulate and undermine the foundations of international commerce,” she said. Harris spoke about the Russian invasion of Ukraine, as well as the mass shooting in Buffalo, New York. “Every single American – in addition to you cadets – has a role to play in bettering our nation,” Harris said.First daughter Ashley Biden has tested positive for Covid-19 and will not be traveling with the first lady, Jill Biden, to Ecuador, Panama and Costa Rica. Per pool, First Daughter Ashley Biden has tested positive for COVID and will not be traveling with @FLOTUS to Ecuador, Panama, and Costa Rica.Ashley missed the First Lady’s trip to Europe earlier this month out of an abundance of caution after she had a close COVID contact.— Sally Bronston Katz (@sbronstonkatz) May 18, 2022
    Via pool: Ashley Biden is not considered a close contact of @POTUS or @FLOTUS per spox @MichaelLaRosa46— Sally Bronston Katz (@sbronstonkatz) May 18, 2022
    It’s been a lively morning in US political news and there’s more to come in the next few hours.Right now, here’s where things stand:
    The race for the Republican nomination for the US Senate seat in Pennsylvania is neck-and-neck between Mehmet Oz, the celebrity physician better known as Dr Oz, and Dave McCormick, a former hedge fund boss. Oz is endorsed by Donald Trump. John Fetterman won the Democratic primary.
    Freshman congressman Madison Cawthorn lost his seat in the House last night after failing to beat back a challenge from state legislator Chuck Edwards in the North Carolina Republican primary. Republican congressman Adam Kinzinger called Cawthorn’s loss “good for the country”.
    Sean Patrick Maloney, the New York Democratic congressman, has purportedly angered his colleagues by immediately jumping into the primary race for a newly drawn district, that would threaten a fellow Democratic incumbent.
    Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer announced that the Senate will likely approve tomorrow $40bn in funding for Ukraine.
    Joe Biden welcomed Sweden and Finland’s applications to join Nato and said the leaders of those two Nordic countries will visit Washington tomorrow and meet with him. More

  • in

    The Republican primaries are a tug-of-war between rightwing and even-righter-wing | Lloyd Green

    The Republican primaries are a tug-of-war between rightwing and even-righter-wingLloyd GreenTrump’s claim that the 2020 election was ‘stolen’ is now entrenched as Republican Gospel, and the candidates he endorsed have – mostly – done well in the primaries Donald Trump’s sway over the Republican party continues. On Tuesday, Republicans again paid heed to the ex-president’s endorsements even as they declined to march in lockstep. Flecks of daylight emerged across the primary battlegrounds. Still, Trump has little to worry about. His fantastical claim that the 2020 election was stolen is firmly entrenched as Republican Gospel.Trump still won’t shut up. He’s doing Democrats running for office a huge favor | Robert ReichRead moreIn North Carolina, Representative Ted Budd received Trump’s seal of approval, and won the Republican nod for US senator with nearly 60% of the vote. Budd was a Trump loyalist when it counted most.In January 2021, the congressman sided with the majority of his House Republican colleagues. He voted to deprive Joe Biden of his win. Before Budd received Trump’s endorsement, he had been trailing – just like JD Vance in Ohio.Over in Pennsylvania, Trump is the reason that Mehmet Oz is still standing. Right now, “Dr Oz” holds a 0.2% lead over David McCormick, a hedge fund titan who Trump savaged as a China-loving globalist. Fewer than 2,700 votes separate the pair. Kathy Barnette, a conservative commentator with a murky résumé and described by Trump as unelectable, has third place, all to herself.The race has not yet been called. A recount is almost certain. If Oz loses, he can blame Barnette, who exposed him as a latecomer to the Maga-verse. Once upon a time, the doctor was a Harvard-educated, pro-choice physician who served in Turkey’s army. America First, not so much.To be sure, Oz is an acquired taste who suffered from a popularity deficit heading into the primary. Among Republicans, his favorability stood underwater, 37%–48%.Significantly, Oz led among those who cast their ballots on primary day itself, as opposed to early voters. At the beginning of the evening, McCormick actually held a double-digit lead thanks to mail-in ballots, an advantage which evaporated as the night wore on.Beyond that, Oz showed particular strength in Trump’s Pennsylvania strongholds. To illustrate, he ran well in Luzerne county, a so-called “pivot county”. Nestled in the north-east part of the state, Luzerne went for Barack Obama by five points in 2012.Four years later, Luzerne delivered a nearly 20% margin to Trump, and with it the Keystone state. On Tuesday, Oz captured 41% of Luzerne’s Republican primary vote, and ran ahead of McCormick there by better than 10 points.The falcon heard the call of the falconer. Elsewhere, not so much. Oz failed to win the counties in and around Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.Out west, in Idaho, Brad Little, the incumbent Republican governor, beat back a challenge from Janice McGeachin, Idaho’s Trump-endorsed lieutenant governor, and a favorite of the far right.On the issues, McGeachin managed to surpass Little’s hostility toward mask mandates. She also advocated increased in-state production of weapons and ammunition, and delivered a video address to the America First Political Action Conference.Some perspective is in order. Nick Fuentes, a white nationalist, organized the conference. McGeachin wore it as a badge of pride.Significantly, Idaho’s outcome stands as a harbinger for the upcoming Georgia governor’s race. Brian Kemp, the incumbent, faces a challenge from David Perdue, a former US senator who is Trump’s designated attack dog.Trump loathes Kemp and Brad Raffensperger, Georgia’s secretary of state. In 2020, the pair refused to “find” Trump votes after his defeat. Right now, Kemp is favored over Perdue, who lies about the outcome of November election and his own recent defeat. Meanwhile, a grand jury is examining Trump’s post-election conduct.And then there is Madison Cawthorn, North Carolina’s over-the-top congressman. He went down to defeat after videos of his alleged nude antics hit the internet. Republicans were unamused. By contrast, Cawthorn’s earlier visit to Hitler’s vacation home did not move the needle.In the hours and days ahead, expect Oz and McCormick to garner continued media attention. But come November, another contest in Pennsylvania will also grab its share of the spotlight – the race for governor.Douglas Mastriano is now the Republican gubernatorial candidate. Unlike Oz and McCormick, Mastriano truly believes the Maga message. It is a tenet of faith. As a candidate, he championed Christian nationalism, espoused election denialism and flipped the bird at efforts to curb Covid’s spread.A Pennsylvania state senator and a retired colonel, Mastriano has pledged to appoint a Maga secretary of state to oversee Pennsylvania’s election machinery. He also vowed that his secretary of state would “reset” the voter rolls.Fittingly, Mastriano attended the 6 January rally. He and his wife watched as a rioter stormed a police barricade. They did not enter the building, but the House select committee has subpoenaed him. The fact that Mastriano recently attended a Qanon rally did not deter the Republican Governors Association from eventually backing him.Mastriano makes some Pennsylvania Republicans nervous. They predict his presence may cost the Republican party control of the governor’s mansion and the Senate.Then again, inflation still rages, the possibility of a recession looms, the stock market wobbles. Populist rage propelled Trump to the White House. History can repeat itself. If empowered, Mastriano will do all that he can to make it happen.
    Lloyd Green is an attorney in New York. He was opposition research counsel to George HW Bush’s 1988 campaign and served in the Department of Justice from 1990 to 1992
    TopicsUS politicsOpinionRepublicansDonald TrumpPennsylvaniaOhioIdahoGeorgiacommentReuse this content More

  • in

    US sues casino mogul Steve Wynn to compel him to register as an agent of China

    US sues casino mogul Steve Wynn to compel him to register as an agent of ChinaJustice department says Wynn lobbied the Trump administration for China to protect his business interests in Macau The US Department of Justice on Tuesday sued Steve Wynn, the billionaire former casino mogul and senior Republican fund raiser, to compel him to register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act as an agent of China.The department said Wynn, 80, had contacted then-US president Donald Trump and members of his Republican administration in 2017 to convey China’s request to cancel the visa of or otherwise remove a Chinese businessperson who had sought political asylum in the United States.In a statement the Department of Justice said it was seeking to compel Wynn to register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (Fara) as the agent of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and a senior official of the PRC’s Ministry of Public Security (MPS).“The filing of this suit – the first affirmative civil lawsuit under Fara in more than three decades – demonstrates the department’s commitment to ensuring transparency in our democratic system,” said assistant attorney general Matthew Olsen of the justice department’s national security division. “Where a foreign government uses an American as its agent to influence policy decisions in the United States, Fara gives the American people a right to know.”‘Sinkhole of corruption’: Trump Organization sells Washington hotelRead moreAccording to the complaint, in June and August 2017 Wynn contacted Trump and members of his administration to “convey the PRC’s request to cancel the visa or otherwise remove from the United States a Chinese businessperson who left China in 2014, was later charged with corruption by the PRC and sought political asylum in the United States”.The Wall Street Journal reported earlier that the person was Chinese businessman Guo Wengui, who has been accused by the Chinese authorities of a range of criminal offenses including bribery and sexual assault, charges he has denied. Guo has said he is the subject of a witch hunt after accusing senior PRC figures of having corrupt ties with China’s business leaders.The complaint alleges that Wynn engaged in these efforts at the request of Sun Lijun, then-vice minister of the MPS. “Wynn conveyed the request directly to the then-president over dinner and by phone, and he had multiple discussions with the then-president and senior officials at the White House and National Security Council about organizing a meeting with Sun and other PRC government officials,” according to the justice department.Wynn’s company owned and operated casinos in Macau, a special administrative region in the PRC and the department alleges that “Wynn acted at the request of the PRC out of a desire to protect his business interests in Macau”.Wynn’s lawyers denied the charges.“Steve Wynn has never acted as an agent of the Chinese government and had no obligation to register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act. We respectfully disagree with the Department of Justice’s legal interpretation of Fara and look forward to proving our case in court,” said a statement from his attorneys, Reid Weingarten and Brian Heberlig.In 2018, Wynn resigned as finance chair of the Republican National Committee, a day after it was reported that he faced multiple of allegations of sexual misconduct.Days later he resigned from his luxury casino and hotel company, Wynn Resorts. He denied the allegations of sexual harassment and assault.In 2020, Elliott Broidy, a venture capitalist and former deputy finance chairman of the Republican National Congress, pleaded guilty of acting as an unregistered foreign agent, accepting millions of dollars to lobby the Trump administration for Malaysian and Chinese interests. Broidy admitted to working with Chinese officials attempting to return Guo to his home country.The complaint alleges Wynn was drawn into the lobbying effort by Broidy. Broidy was later pardoned by Trump.Agencies contributed reporting.TopicsChinaGamblingDonald TrumpTrump administrationUS politicsnewsReuse this content More

  • in

    House panel not planning to seek Trump’s testimony on Capitol attack

    House panel not planning to seek Trump’s testimony on Capitol attackAfter months of uncertainty, chairman says it is ‘not our expectation’ that investigators will summon former president The House select committee investigating the January 6 attack on the Capitol is not expecting to call Donald Trump to testify about potentially unlawful schemes to stop the certification of Joe Biden’s election win, its chairman said on Tuesday.The panel has been weighing for months whether to seek voluntary cooperation or subpoena the former president in its wide-ranging inquiry in an effort to obtain his insight into unlawful schemes to overturn the results of the 2020 election.But Bennie Thompson, the chairman of the select committee, told reporters on Capitol Hill that it was “not our expectation” to demand testimony from Trump.Subpoenas of Trump allies by January 6 panel set up high-stakes showdownRead moreThe chairman indicated that the panel had decided – at least for now – against demanding cooperation from the former president given it remained unclear whether Trump would provide information that could help advance the inquiry.“We’re not sure that the evidence that we receive can be any more validated with his presence,” Thompson said. “I think the concern is whether or not he would add any more value with his testimony.”Thompson did not completely rule out the prospect of seeking written or oral testimony from Trump. He added that discussions continued about calling the former vice-president Mike Pence to appear before the select committee.The skepticism about demanding cooperation from the “principals” in the investigation, such as Trump and Pence, comes in large part because the panel is not convinced the benefits outweigh the political headaches of such a move.Trump would almost certainly attempt to turn a request for cooperation from the panel into a political circus, and if Trump asserted the fifth amendment or said he could not recall the answers to questions in a deposition, that would waste valuable time and resources in the investigation.Meanwhile, the Department of Justice has asked the panel for transcripts of its witness interviews, the New York Times reported on Tuesday afternoon.The newspaper, citing unnamed sources, noted that the move suggested a further sign that US attorney general Merrick Garland is intensifying his department’s separate investigation into events on and around January 6 last year.TopicsUS Capitol attackUS politicsDonald TrumpnewsReuse this content More

  • in

    Trump promises to depress readers with big lie book: ‘I don’t think you’ll enjoy it’

    Trump promises to depress readers with big lie book: ‘I don’t think you’ll enjoy it’Former president trumpets work in progress on his false claims about electoral fraud in 2020 Donald Trump says he is writing a book – which will “depress” readers – about his lie that electoral fraud caused his defeat by Joe Biden in 2020.Former Trump official Kash Patel writes children’s book repeating false claim over Steele dossierRead moreSpeaking in Austin, Texas, on Saturday, Trump said: “This is the greatest hoax, heist. This is one of the greatest crimes in the history of our country. And sadly, the prosecutors don’t want to do anything about it.“This is the crime of the century. I’m actually writing a book about it called The Crime of the Century.“I don’t think you’ll enjoy it. You’ll be very depressed when you read it, but we want to have it down for historic reasons.”On Monday, Winning Team Publishing – an imprint co-founded by Donald Trump Jr which has put out a picture book about Trump’s presidency – announced the new book on Twitter.“NEW BOOK ALERT: CRIME OF THE CENTURY by President Donald J Trump!” the tweet shouted, promising details soon.The tweet linked to a website where copies of the picture book, Our Journey Together, were on sale for $74.99 (unsigned) and $229.99 (signed). A copy signed by Donald Trump Jr was priced at $199.99.Most presidents sign book deals. Trump’s predecessor, Barack Obama, has published one volume of memoirs after netting more than $60m for his work and that of his wife, Michelle.Trump has published a number of books under his own name, using ghostwriters. But he left office in disgrace, having been impeached twice, the second time for inciting the deadly Capitol attack of 6 January 2021. There has been no memoirs deal.In June last year, Trump claimed to have “turned down two book deals, from the most unlikely of publishers” because he did “not want a deal right now”. But he added: “I’m writing like crazy anyway, however, and when the time comes, you’ll see the book of all books.”At the same time, citing staff protests at Simon & Schuster over a deal for Mike Pence, Trump’s vice-president, publishing insiders said no mainstream house would touch a Trump memoir.“It would be too hard to get a book that was factually accurate,” Politico quoted one insider as saying. “That would be the problem. If he can’t even admit that he lost the election, then how do you publish that?”‘Emperor has no clothes’: man who helped make Trump myth says facade has fallenRead moreBooks about Trump, his time in power and his refusal to admit defeat continue to be bestsellers. But Keith Urbahn, an agent behind many such books, told Politico: “It doesn’t matter what the upside on a Trump book deal is – the headaches the project would bring would far outweigh the potential in the eyes of a major publisher.“Any editor bold enough to acquire the Trump memoir is looking at a factchecking nightmare, an exodus of other authors and a staff uprising.”Winning Team Publishing has no such problems. It did face controversy, however, when the New York Times reported that Trump stopped his White House photographer using images which were then included in his own book.Our Journey Together was reported to have made $20m in just two months on sale.TopicsBooksDonald TrumpUS politicsRepublicansPolitics booksAutobiography and memoirnewsReuse this content More