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    The media is blowing Biden’s documents ‘scandal’ out of proportion | Margaret Sullivan

    The media is blowing Biden’s documents ‘scandal’ out of proportionMargaret SullivanThe news media has greeted the supposed scandal of Biden’s mishandling of classified documents with breathless glee On Sunday morning, NBC’s Chuck Todd hosted the Ohio Republican congressman Jim Jordan on Meet the Press, where the querulous conservative ranted about President Biden’s sloppy handing of classified documents.The Guardian view on Biden’s classified documents: not malign, but a mistake | EditorialRead moreTodd showed more tenacity than usual in challenging this combative guest (he “incinerated” Jordan, applauded the Daily Kos) but Jordan nevertheless managed to drive home his ill-conceived accusations through sheer volume, repetition and speed.Jordan’s real victory was being given the chance to do so, at such length, on national TV. Meanwhile, over on Fox News, the Texas Republican senator Ted Cruz was trying his sneering best to connect Hunter Biden to the document dustup, and the rightwing network was helping by showing various file photos of the president’s troubled and troubling son, always with a crazed look in his eye. And social media, of course, overflowed with memes about Corvettes stuffed with boxes, a not-too-subtle shot at classified papers discovered in Biden’s Delaware garage.Deprived of Trump-style excitement by a mostly competent, sometimes boring president, the news media has greeted the supposed scandal of Biden’s mishandling of classified documents with breathless glee. CNN has devoted hours of coverage to chewing it over. The broadcast networks have, in some cases, led their evening newscasts with it.Finally, all this coverage seems to say, a chance to get back to the false equivalence that makes us what we truly are! And make no mistake, any effort to equate Biden’s sloppy mishandling with former president Trump’s removal of hundreds of classified documents to his Florida hangout at Mar-a-Lago is simply wrong.As Todd pointed out, Biden has cooperated with the justice department’s search for documents, while Trump has obfuscated and resisted. And although much of the news coverage has pointed this out, it has nevertheless elevated the supposed Biden scandal by giving it so much time, attention and prominence.It might even remind you of the media’s appalling obsession with Hillary Clinton’s email practices during the 2016 presidential campaign – an obsession that may have affected the election’s outcome, helping to give us four years of a president with no respect for the democracy he was elected to lead.Why does this keep on happening?No one has described the cause better than two thinktank scholars in a 2012 Washington Post opinion piece (and the italics are mine): “We understand the values of mainstream journalists, including the effort to report both sides of a story. But a balanced treatment of an unbalanced phenomenon distorts reality. If the political dynamics of Washington are unlikely to change any time soon, at least we should change the way that reality is portrayed to the public.”The scholars – one from the conservative American Enterprise Institute, the other from the progressive Brookings Institution – were Norman Ornstein and Thomas Mann, who had written a book, It’s Even Worse Than It Looks, about the rise of Republican party extremism and the resulting threats to American democracy. That movement has only metastasized over the past decade, helped along by Trump’s chaotic term and aftermath.Typical of the media’s “both sides” tendency is this equalizing line in a 2021 Washington Post story about the congressional investigation of the January 6 attack on the US Capitol: “Both parties have attacked the other as insincere and uninterested in conducting a fair-minded examination.” Well, sure, but only one party was consistently resisting efforts to get at the facts and do something about the horrendous attack on American democracy.It’s debatable if Biden’s mishandling of documents – and more recently that of former vice-president Mike Pence – warrants much attention at all, much less the full-bore media blitz it’s getting.“The bigger scandal here,” said Jameel Jaffer, executive director of the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University, is the over-classification of information; the US government puts its classified stamp on 50m documents a year. In an interview with the Guardian’s David Smith last week, Jaffer called that system of secrecy “totally broken in ways that are bad not just for national security, but for democracy”.Even so, Jaffer didn’t intend to let Trump off the hook.As Todd rightly pointed out to his combative guest, Biden and Pence didn’t make a fuss about handing over what they shouldn’t have had. (“They raided Trump’s home. They haven’t raided Biden’s home,” Jordan charged. “Because Biden didn’t defy a subpoena,” Todd aptly shot back.) But such challenges are no match for the vast over-coverage of what isn’t all that much of a story, and which is only getting so much attention because of the media’s defensive desire to appear fair and because of its ratings-driven lust for conflict.Happily, Americans are capable of putting this trumped-up scandal in context, at least according to a recent CBS poll that shows the president’s approval rating unmoved by the wall-to-wall coverage, and in which the vast majority of respondents believe it’s the norm for former office-holders to have classified documents in their homes.The public, it seems, can respond to hyperbole with a yawn. If only the news media could be as wise.
    Margaret Sullivan is a Guardian US columnist writing on media, politics and culture
    TopicsUS politicsOpinionJoe BidencommentReuse this content More

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    Manhattan district attorney to present Trump hush money case to grand jury – as it happened

    Manhattan district attorney Alvin Bragg will soon start presenting testimony to a grand jury about Donald Trump’s effort to pay off the adult film actor and producer Stormy Daniels shortly before he won the 2016 presidential election, the New York Times reports.The case is yet another legal threat to the former president, who could face charges in Georgia over his campaign to overturn the state’s vote for Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential election. An Atlanta-area district attorney is considering a grand jury’s report into the effort by Trump and his allies.According to the times, Bragg recently empaneled the grand jury and will soon begin presenting evidence. The paper said it spotted one witness, David Pecker, and his attorney entering the building where the grand jury sits. Pecker is the former publisher of the National Enquirer tabloid, which was involved in arranging the payment to Daniels.However the case is far from a slam dunk, the Times reports, and relies on a legal strategy that may not pan out. Here’s more from their report:.css-cumn2r{height:1em;width:1.5em;margin-right:3px;vertical-align:baseline;fill:#C70000;}The prosecutors have also begun contacting officials from Mr. Trump’s 2016 campaign, one of the people said. And in a sign that they want to corroborate these witness accounts, the prosecutors recently subpoenaed phone records and other documents that might shed light on the episode.
    A conviction is not a sure thing, in part because a case could hinge on showing that Mr. Trump and his company falsified records to hide the payout from voters days before the 2016 election, a low-level felony charge that would be based on a largely untested legal theory. The case would also rely on the testimony of Michael D. Cohen, Mr. Trump’s former fixer who made the payment and who himself pleaded guilty to federal charges related to the hush money in 2018.Donald Trump’s legal trouble have grown even more voluminous, after Manhattan district attorney Alvin Bragg convened a grand jury to look into the hush money payment made to the adult film actor and producer Stormy Daniels before the 2016 election. It’s the latest threat to the former president as he pursues another campaign for the White House, joining the ongoing inquiry in Georgia over his attempts to overturn the state’s vote for Joe Biden in the 2020 election. Meanwhile in Washington, top Republican investigator James Comer outlined his plans to hold the Biden administration to account, while the White House and its allies looked for ways to frustrate him.Here’s what else happened today:
    What does Daniels think of all this? Read her recent interview with the Guardian to get an idea.
    Memphis has relieved a sixth police officer of duty following the death of Tyre Nichols and the indictment of five former officers on murder charges.
    Trump spent the weekend campaigning and bashing his rivals, chief among them Florida’s governor Ron DeSantis.
    A Christian nationalist movement involved in Covid-19 and 2020 election conspiracy theories is expanding nationwide.
    As Democrats sought his tax returns, Trump’s attorneys filed unusual records requests with the Internal Revenue Service. Democrats say they were an attempt to delay the documents’ release.
    It’s not just the properties of ex-presidents and -vice-presidents where classified documents are turning up.The Daily Beast reports that a retired air force lieutenant colonel pleaded guilty last August to charges related to keeping hundreds of classified documents at his Florida home.According to prosecutors, Robert Birchum kept material related to the National Security Agency (NSA) that “could be expected to cause exceptionally grave damage to the national security of the United States” if it had been made public. The air force works closely with the NSA, and the documents “concerned Department of Defense locations throughout the world, detailed explanations of the Air Force’s capabilities and vulnerabilities, and, among other things, the methods by which the Air Force gathers, transmits, and uses information observed by various Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) platforms,” prosecutors said.Here’s more about the case, from the Daily Beast:.css-cumn2r{height:1em;width:1.5em;margin-right:3px;vertical-align:baseline;fill:#C70000;}Birchum pleaded guilty to one count of willful retention of national defense information, a felony carrying up to 10 years in federal prison. It is unclear what, if anything, he was planning to do with the documents he had on hand …
    Cedric Leighton, a retired Air Force Colonel, was attached to the NSA and also spent time assigned to the United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM), of which JSOC—where Birchum worked toward the end of his career—is a subordinate command. Those assigned to JSOC handle “a great deal of extremely sensitive information,” with much of it at the Top Secret/SCI level, Leighton told The Daily Beast.
    “Additionally, much of the intelligence and operational information of these commands is within SAP (Special Access Program) channels, which means the handling requirements for this information are much stricter than they are for TS/SCI,” he said on Monday, noting that these materials are “exceptionally sensitive, from both an operational and an intelligence collection perspective.”
    “I noted with concern that he had briefing slides in his possession that detailed NSA’s special collection capabilities,” Leighton said. “I used to work with those. Revealing them could potentially cause grave damage to our capability to execute military operations and collect information vital to our national security.”During the years Democrats spent trying to access Donald Trump’s tax returns, his lawyers filed public record requests with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) that appeared aimed at delaying the documents’ release, Bloomberg News reports.The technique was unusual, because federal law already gives the president access to some tax information, and also because Trump’s attorneys stated they would be willing to pay $30,000 in processing fees to get the documents, when the IRS usually charges $25.According to Bloomberg, the records requests were filed under the Freedom of Information Act around the time Democrats took control of the House in 2019 and set out to make public the tax returns Trump had refused to release ever since first running for office in 2016. Late last year and days before they ceded control of the chamber to the new Republican majority, Democrats made the returns public, while noting in an accompanying report that they believed the records requests were part of an effort to delay their release. Here more on what Trump’s lawyers were looking for:.css-cumn2r{height:1em;width:1.5em;margin-right:3px;vertical-align:baseline;fill:#C70000;}In response to a FOIA request from Bloomberg News to see Trump’s FOIA requests, the IRS turned over copies of two requests sent in June 2019, drafted for Trump by attorney William F. Nelson, a partner at Morgan Lewis and a former chief counsel at the IRS during the Reagan administration.
    The IRS withheld copies of additional FOIA requests Trump may have filed and declined to share the documents it produced for Trump, if any, on privacy grounds because it involved his tax information.
    Nelson didn’t immediately respond to messages seeking comment.
    In the first request, Lewis asked the IRS for a wide range of communications from IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig, a Trump nominee, and other top IRS officials “in connection with the disclosure or potential disclosure of any taxpayer materials” related to the Democrats’ request.
    Trump’s lawyer also asked for any records the IRS gave to Senator Ron Wyden, the top Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee, about a confidential draft memo the IRS prepared in anticipation of Congress’s requests for Trump’s tax returns. Wyden had earlier sent a letter to the IRS asking if the memo contradicted the Treasury’s Department’s position on disclosure requirements.
    Trump also sought all records from the IRS about a May 21, 2019, story in The Washington Post that first disclosed the existence of the draft memo.Congress may be just getting to work, but state legislatures are already well into their sessions nationwide, including Utah, where the Republican-led chamber passed a ban on young people receiving gender-affirming healthcare:Utah’s Republican governor on Saturday signed a bill that bans young people who are transgender from receiving gender-affirming healthcare as other states consider similar legislation.The governor, Spencer Cox, who had not taken a public position on the transgender care measure, signed it a day after the state legislature sent it to his desk. Utah’s measure prohibits transgender surgery for young people and disallows hormone treatments for minors who have not yet been diagnosed with gender dysphoria.Republicans controlling Utah’s legislature made the ban a priority and weighed a first draft of the measure less than two days after the state’s lawmakers opened this year’s legislative session on 17 January.Cox’s signing of the bill comes as lawmakers in at least 18 states consider similar legislation taking aim at young transgender people’s healthcare.In a statement, Cox said that he based his decision to sign the bill on a belief that the safest thing to do was halt “these permanent and life-altering treatments for new patients until more and better research can help determine the long-term consequences”.Utah bans gender-affirming surgery for young trans peopleRead more“It was the most terrifying experience of my life, and that’s saying something because I’ve seen Trump naked.”Readers, #ICYMI, Stormy Daniels did an interview with the Guardian the other day. Now she’s back in the hard news headlines as the scandal around hush money paid to her on behalf of Donald Trump during the 2016 election campaign goes to the next step. Daniels has long claimed she had sexual relations with that man, in the pre-Potus-past, which Trump denies.Daniels, who has said herself that she prefers her stage name to her government name of Stephanie Clifford, is the media gift that keeps on giving.Thank you for the awesome interview! I love pissing off my haters first thing in the morning! https://t.co/aJ3AgHJ4tR— Stormy Daniels (@StormyDaniels) January 27, 2023
    Remember the days of the Daniels-Avenatti double act? Look how that turned out for Michael.Michael Avenatti sentenced to four years for cheating Stormy DanielsRead moreDonald Trump’s legal trouble have grown even more voluminous, after Manhattan district attorney Alvin Bragg convened a grand jury to look into the hush money payment made to the adult film actor and producer Stormy Daniels before the 2016 election. It’s the latest threat to the former president as he pursues another campaign for the White House, joining the ongoing inquiry in Georgia over his attempts to overturn the state’s vote for Joe Biden in the 2020 election. Meanwhile in Washington, top Republican investigator James Comer outlined his plans to hold the Biden administration to account, while the White House and its allies looked for ways to frustrate him.Here’s what else is going on today:
    Memphis has relieved a sixth police officer of duty following the death of Tyre Nichols and the indictment of five former officers on murder charges.
    Trump spent the weekend campaigning and bashing his rivals, chief among them Florida’s governor Ron DeSantis.
    A Christian nationalist movement involved in Covid-19 and 2020 election conspiracy theories is expanding nationwide.
    A few thoughts on the Manhattan district attorney’s investigation into Donald Trump, from former US attorney and current MSNBC contributor Joyce Vance:4/ Neither a prosecution nor a conviction is a sure thing. Michael Cohen’s testimony will be essential but likely not sufficient to prove Trump’s guilt. Prosecutors would like cooperation from Trump’s CFO Alan Weisselberg, who has refused to implicate Trump personally so far.— Joyce Alene (@JoyceWhiteVance) January 30, 2023
    Allen Weisselberg was earlier this month given five months in jail for committing tax fraud, a short sentence that came about after he provided testimony that helped prosecutors secure a conviction of the Trump Organization itself on similar charges.Manhattan district attorney Alvin Bragg will soon start presenting testimony to a grand jury about Donald Trump’s effort to pay off the adult film actor and producer Stormy Daniels shortly before he won the 2016 presidential election, the New York Times reports.The case is yet another legal threat to the former president, who could face charges in Georgia over his campaign to overturn the state’s vote for Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential election. An Atlanta-area district attorney is considering a grand jury’s report into the effort by Trump and his allies.According to the times, Bragg recently empaneled the grand jury and will soon begin presenting evidence. The paper said it spotted one witness, David Pecker, and his attorney entering the building where the grand jury sits. Pecker is the former publisher of the National Enquirer tabloid, which was involved in arranging the payment to Daniels.However the case is far from a slam dunk, the Times reports, and relies on a legal strategy that may not pan out. Here’s more from their report:.css-cumn2r{height:1em;width:1.5em;margin-right:3px;vertical-align:baseline;fill:#C70000;}The prosecutors have also begun contacting officials from Mr. Trump’s 2016 campaign, one of the people said. And in a sign that they want to corroborate these witness accounts, the prosecutors recently subpoenaed phone records and other documents that might shed light on the episode.
    A conviction is not a sure thing, in part because a case could hinge on showing that Mr. Trump and his company falsified records to hide the payout from voters days before the 2016 election, a low-level felony charge that would be based on a largely untested legal theory. The case would also rely on the testimony of Michael D. Cohen, Mr. Trump’s former fixer who made the payment and who himself pleaded guilty to federal charges related to the hush money in 2018.The justice department has again expressed its unwillingness to share details of ongoing investigations with the House GOP.Here’s the department’s letter, obtained by ABC News, in response to the demand for information from judiciary committee chair Jim Jordan and member Mike Johnson:DOJ responds to Chairman Jordan’s request for info on the Biden special counsel probe: “Disclosures to Congress about active investigations risk jeopardizing those investigations and creating the appearance that Congress may be exerting improper political pressure…” 1/2 pic.twitter.com/w5DAtTUuKG— Ben Siegel (@bensiegel) January 30, 2023
    In their letter sent 13 January, Jordan and Johnson requested a range of document from the justice department, including “all documents and communications referring or relating to the appointment of Robert K. Hur as Special Counsel, including but not limited to any memoranda regarding his appointment” – which is exactly the kind of thing the justice department is loath to discuss.The Memphis police department has relieved a sixth officer of duty following the beating death of Tyre Nichols, the Associated Press reports.A police spokeswoman confirmed officer Preston Hemphill was disciplined following Nichols’ 7 January beating, which resulted in his death three days later and the firing and indictment of five officers on murder charges. The city released videos of the attack last week, prompting nationwide protests.It was unclear what role Hemphill played in the assault, but family and community members say they want to know if prosecutors will pursue charges or discipline against other officers who responded when Nichols was beaten following a traffic stop.Christian nationalists who were involved in spreading Covid-19 misinformation and promoting Donald Trump’s attempts to overturn the 2020 election have made a new push to win adherents nationwide, the Guardian’s Peter Stone reports:A far-right project that has helped spread Donald Trump’s false claims about voting fraud in 2020, and misinformation about Covid vaccines, is trying to expand its mission, while facing new criticism from scholars and religious leaders about its incendiary political and Christian nationalist messages.ReAwaken America, a project of the Oklahoma-based entrepreneur Clay Clark, has hosted numerous revival-style political events across the US after receiving tens of thousands of dollars in initial funds in 2021 from millionaire Patrick Byrne, and become a key vehicle for pushing election denialism and falsehoods about Covid vaccines.ReAwaken America also boasts close ties to retired Lt Gen Michael Flynn, who in December 2020 met with Trump, Byrne and others at the White House to plot ways to reverse Trump’s election loss. The meeting happened shortly after Trump pardoned Flynn, who was convicted for lying to the FBI about his contacts with the Russian ambassador before serving briefly as Trump’s national security adviser.Clark’s project also has links to Dr Simone Gold, who served a 60-day jail sentence for illegally entering the Capitol on 6 January and founded America’s Frontline Doctors, an anti-vaccine group that has also touted bogus cures.“Christian nationalism has deep roots in American history and has gained traction at different points,” said Amanda Tyler, the executive director of the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty. “The ReAwaken America Tour taps into the unholy well of Christian nationalism to sow doubt about the US election system and the safety of Covid vaccines while equating allegiance to Trumpism with allegiance to God.”Far-right project that pushed election lies expands mission as Trump ramps up 2024 campaignRead more More

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    House Republicans rebuffed in bid to access details of DoJ Biden investigation

    House Republicans rebuffed in bid to access details of DoJ Biden investigationRepublican-controlled judiciary committee told that longstanding precedent prevents disclosures about active investigations The US justice department told top House judiciary committee Republicans on Monday that it would decline to produce confidential information about the special counsel investigation into the recent discovery of classified-marked documents at Joe Biden’s personal home and office.The department said in a letter to the committee reviewed by the Guardian that it would not provide details about the president’s documents case – or any other inquiry – because it could reveal the roadmap of the investigation and risk the appearance of political conflict.Republicans accuse Biden of hypocrisy over classified documents discoveriesRead more“Disclosures to Congress about active investigations risk jeopardizing those investigations and creating the appearance that Congress may be exerting improper political pressure or attempting to influence department decisions,” assistant attorney general Carlos Uriarte wrote.The department also noted that because the attorney general, Merrick Garland, had appointed a special counsel to oversee the Biden documents case, it was bound by the special counsel regulations that allow for certain communications at the start and at the end of investigations.“These regulations govern the department’s conduct in all special counsel investigations and will continue to govern our disclosures in this matter,” wrote Uriarte, a former top adviser to the deputy attorney general who currently leads the division which has been in touch with Congress.The clear refusal from the justice department to open its files to the judiciary committee sets up the prospect of a bitter fight with the new House Republican majority, which has made political investigations into the Biden administration a priority for the next two years.The justice department has come under increasing pressure from top lawmakers in both the House and Senate to brief them on details about the Biden case – as well as the parallel criminal investigation into Donald Trump’s retention of national security materials and obstruction of justice.Garland appointed top former prosecutor Robert Hur as special counsel to oversee the Biden case on 12 January, months after naming another top former prosecutor, Jack Smith, as special counsel to take charge of the January 6 Capitol attack and Mar-a-Lago documents investigations into Trump.The justice department has long refused to provide to Congress confidential information that could compromise investigations or grand jury secrecy rules, as well as deliberative communications like prosecution memos because of the risk of political interference in charging decisions.As the department explained in 2000 in a letter to the then-House rules committee chair, John Linder, its position has been upheld by the supreme court in United States v Nixon (1974) that recognized making such materials public could have an improper “chilling effect”.The so-called Linder letter noted the department had reaffirmed during the Reagan administration that providing congressional committees with briefings on criminal investigations would place Congress in a position to exert power – and undermine the integrity – of those inquiries.The Linder letter also raised the risk of inadvertent or deliberate leaks of materials that could reveal the roadmap of investigations to defendants, who could then use that information to assess the strengths and weaknesses of a potential prosecution.The spokesperson for the judiciary committee Russell Dye criticized the justice department’s response.“Our members are rightly concerned about the justice department’s double standard here,” Dye said in a statement about the Biden documents case. “It’s concerning, to say the least, that the department is more interested in playing politics than cooperating.”Uriarte’s response to the judiciary committee comes a day after he told top lawmakers on the Senate intelligence committee that the department would similarly decline to provide information about the classified-marked documents in the Biden case as well as in the Trump case.TopicsHouse of RepresentativesUS CongressJoe BidenDonald TrumpUS politicsBiden administrationnewsReuse this content More

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    Sixth Memphis police officer removed from duty after Tyre Nichols death

    Sixth Memphis police officer removed from duty after Tyre Nichols deathBlack lawmakers call for meeting with president to discuss police reform as investigation into Nichols’s death continues A sixth officer involved in the death of Tyre Nichols has been removed from duty, police said, as an influential group of Black elected officials has called for a meeting with Joe Biden to discuss police reform.Officer Preston Hemphill was relieved of duty and put on what is known as administrative leave, Memphis police maj Karen Rudolph said on Monday, according to multiple reports.Rudolph stopped short of saying what role Hemphill had at the scene of Nichols’s deadly beating or whether he would be charged with a crime in connection with the killing as several other officers have been. But Rudolph said that the investigation into Nichols’s death remained ongoing, and “more information will be shared as it develops”.Hemphill’s removal comes as calls for changes to American policing intensify after officers’ deadly beating of Nichols.‘We’re not done’: end of Scorpion unit after Tyre Nichols death is first step, protesters sayRead moreThe chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, Steven Horsford, said the group of 60 members of Congress had asked to meet with the president this week to “push for negotiations on much-needed national reforms to our justice system – specifically, the actions and conduct of our law enforcement”.The appeal to Biden, who has called for Congress to pass police reforms, came as protests prompted by Nichols’s killing continued in Memphis over the weekend.Nichols, a Black man, died on 10 January, three days after Memphis police officers beat him after a traffic stop. Nichols’s parents, who have been invited to attend Biden’s State of the Union speech on 7 February, said the 29-year-old was driving home after photographing the sunset.Video footage released by Memphis officials last week showed officers kicking and punching Nichols and hitting him with a police baton.Five Memphis officers were fired after the attack and have since been charged with second-degree murder, aggravated assault, aggravated kidnapping, official misconduct and official oppression.“No one in our nation should fear interacting with the police officers who serve our diverse communities, large and small,” Horsford, a Democratic congressman from Nevada, said. “We all want to be safe.“Many Black and brown people, however, and many young people in general, are justifiably afraid to interact with law enforcement officials.”Horsford continued: “We are calling on our colleagues in the House and Senate to jumpstart negotiations now and work with us to address the public health epidemic of police violence that disproportionately affects many of our communities.“The brutal beating of Tyre Nichols was murder and is a grim reminder that we still have a long way to go in solving systemic police violence in America.”The Senate judiciary committee’s chairperson, Dick Durbin, said on Sunday that Congress can pass additional policing measures like “screening, training, accreditation, to up the game so that the people who have this responsibility to keep us safe really are stable and approaching this in a professional manner”.Law enforcement primarily falls under the jurisdiction of states, rather than the federal government. But Durbin said that should not “absolve” Congress from acting.“What we saw on the streets of Memphis was just inhumane and horrible,” he said. “I don’t know what created this – this rage in these police officers that they would congratulate themselves for beating a man to death. But that is literally what happened.”Also on Sunday, the civil rights attorney representing the Nichols family, Benjamin Crump, called for Congress to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act.The bill, drafted after a Minneapolis police officer murdered Floyd in May 2020, would ban chokeholds, create national standards for policing ostensibly to increase accountability, and reform qualified immunity, which shields police officers from civil liability for misconduct.The legislation passed the US House – then controlled by Democrats – in March 2021 but stalled in the Senate. With the House now under Republican control, it remains to be seen whether progress can be made on the bill.Crump told CNN there could be further criminal charges brought against Memphis police while Steve Mulroy, the prosecutor handling the case, said in an interview with the news channel that “nothing we did last Thursday [when the five officers were charged] regarding indictments precludes us from bringing other charges later”.“We are going to need time to allow the investigation to go forward and further consideration of charges,” Mulroy said.The Memphis police department on Saturday announced it would disband its “Scorpion” unit, which was tasked with proactively taking on street crime. The five officers charged over Nichols’s death were all part of the unit.Later that night protesters gathered outside Memphis city hall to mark the victory but said it was just the first step.Local community organizer LJ Abraham told the Guardian that organizers are still demanding that Memphis police dismantle other task forces they run – such as the multi-agency gang unit – and transparency in releasing body-camera footage.She showed the Guardian video from 2020 from a woman showing multiple Memphis police kneeling on her husband’s back while they tried to handcuff him, reportedly on his property.“Right now, when somebody is shot by police, we can’t see that video,” Abraham said, adding that four people had been killed by Memphis police since November. “The only reason we got to see Tyre’s footage was because of the manner in which he died.”A New York Times analysis found that police had given Nichols dozens of “contradictory and unachievable orders” during the traffic stop and subsequent beating. In the 13 minutes between officers stopping Nichols and taking him into custody, police shouted at least 71 commands, the Times reported.“Officers commanded Mr Nichols to show his hands even as they were holding his hands,” the Times found. “They told him to get on the ground even when he was on the ground. And they ordered him to reposition himself even when they had control of his body.”TopicsTyre NicholsMemphisUS policingUS politicsJoe BidennewsReuse this content More

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    Biden and Pence documents reveal US crisis of ‘overclassification’, expert says

    AnalysisBiden and Pence documents reveal US crisis of ‘overclassification’, expert saysDavid Smith in WashingtonSystem whereby government classifies 50m documents a year threatens national security and democracy, says Jameel Jaffer Donald Trump was caught with classified documents and Democrats were outraged. Joe Biden was caught with classified documents and Republicans were outraged. Mike Pence was caught with classified documents and it became clear that there might be a bigger problem here.America has a crisis of “overclassification”, critics say. Since the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks, Washington has been overzealous in defining government secrets. Politicians and officials can too easily fall foul of this secrecy-industrial complex but the biggest losers are the American people denied democratic accountability.Pence discovery raises fresh questions over US handling of classified papersRead moreAmong the prominent voices calling for reform is Jameel Jaffer, executive director of the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University in New York. Previously at the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), he fought court battles over landmark post-9/11 cases relating to national security and individual rights.Jaffer makes no excuses for former president Trump, who hoarded about 300 documents with classified markings at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida and resisted justice department efforts to retrieve them. He regards the Biden and Pence cases as different because, as far as is known, they inadvertently left classified material at their respective homes in Delaware and Indiana and willingly turned it over to authorities.Jaffer would have expected the former vice-presidents to be more careful but argues that there is a more fundamental point: the failure of a process in which the government classifies about 50m documents every year – at a cost to taxpayers of approximately $18bn – while not declassifying them at anything like the same rate.“The bigger scandal here is not any particular episode involving the mishandling of classified information but rather the classification system itself, which is totally broken in ways that are bad not just for national security but for democracy,” Jaffer, 51, said this week by phone from Brooklyn, New York.“There’s too much information that’s classified. Too many people have access to the classified secrets. A lot of the information is classified for the wrong reasons because its disclosure would embarrass somebody or it would be inconvenient or would subject government officials to scrutiny that they would rather not have.”Special counsel investigations into Trump and Biden are just the tip of the iceberg.This week the National Archives wrote to representatives of living former presidents and vice-presidents requesting that they check their personal papers in case classified documents are still among them. Former officials from all levels of government discover they are in possession of classified material and turn them over to the authorities at least several times a year, the Associated Press reported.Why all the secrecy? One explanation is incentives. Classification can be useful for a government official seeking to conceal incompetence, preserve a bureaucratic monopoly on a particular set of facts or keep a rival government agency in the dark. Conversely there is no penalty for keeping information – however trivial or unnecessary – secret and no mechanism for declassifying in the public interest.One consequence of this runaway effect is that the national security bureaucracy suffers classification overload: when everything is secret, nothing is secret. Jaffer commented: “That has national security implications because it means that it’s harder to keep track of and protect the secrets that really do need to be secret.“It also breeds a kind of cynicism because people see, on the one hand, senior government officials going on about how sensitive these secrets are and, on the other hand, treating the documents in this kind of careless way.”Republicans accuse Biden of hypocrisy over classified documents discoveriesRead moreThere is a double standard, he added, between the way senior officials and junior employees are treated when they mishandle classified material. “That, too, is bad for national security because it demoralises intelligence community employees.”Rapacious classification also takes a toll on democracy. “A lot of the information that the public needs is unjustifiably kept out of the public domain and, as a result, public debate about important issues like foreign policy and war and counter-terrorism policy is impoverished or, even worse, distorted by needless secrecy.”Jaffer discovered this firsthand at the ACLU, which he had joined as a volunteer to advocate for people detained in raids in immigrant communities around New York in the weeks after September 11. Over the next 14 years he worked on cases relating to CIA black sites, the interrogation and torture of prisoners, indefinite detention, the drone campaign and warrantless wiretapping.He added: “The government made bad decisions in secret and, by the time the public learned of those decisions, it was too late to avoid some of the costs.”September 11 was a turning point after decades in which classification principally related to discreet wars overseas or the development of weapons, including nuclear weapons. The reaction to the attacks on New York and Washington changed the character of government secrets and brought them much closer to home.Jaffer commented: “After 9/11, a lot of this had much more direct implications for individual rights including the constitutional rights of Americans. There’s a difference between what is the government doing in south-east Asia and what is it doing here in New York City.“There’s a difference between keeping secret the specifications for a particular weapon and keeping secret the fact that you’re torturing prisoners in overseas black sites or engaged in dragnet surveillance of Americans’ phone calls and emails. Those are different kinds of secrets: they go to government policy, the scope of government power, the meaning of individual rights. The public has a much stronger interest in an informed public debate about those kinds of questions.”If the system is broken, what can be done to fix it? Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama sought to encourage declassification with limited success. Jaffer would like to see an institution outside the executive branch – perhaps the judiciary – given the authority to make national security information public where the public interest outweighs the need for secrecy.“One foundational flaw in our national security system is that public interest balancing never happens. There is nobody who is tasked with considering the possibility that the government might have some interest in keeping something secret but the public interest in disclosure is greater.“There’s no public interest balancing in the context of the Freedom of Information Act. If you sue for national security information and the government says the information is classified, that’s the end of it. The judges don’t then say, well does it really need to be classified? But they should be empowered to do that. That would be an important reform.”The Espionage Act of 1917 is also long overdue a rewrite, according to Jaffer.In the 20th century only one person, Samuel Loring Morison, was convicted under the act for sharing information with the press (he was pardoned by Clinton in 2001). But after September 11, both Democratic and Republican administrations have used it aggressively to target journalists’ sources including Reality Winner, Terry Albury and Chelsea Manning.More recently the government has invoked the Espionage Act to go after a publisher: Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, whose methods Jaffer likens to those of journalists reporting on national issues. “They communicate confidentially with their sources, protect their sources’ identities, solicit classified information, publish government secrets.“Those are the things that Assange is being prosecuted for and that national security journalists engage in all the time – and have to engage in order to do the work we want them to do. That’s why I see the Assange case as such a threat to press freedom.”Jaffer is not an absolutist who wants to put all information in the public domain. But nor does he accept that the leaking of government secrets is an existential threat.Biden claims ‘no regrets’ but classified papers case could come back to bite himRead more“The much bigger problem is not that sensitive things are being disclosed dangerously but rather that important information crucial to the public’s ability to understand government policy, and crucial to the democratic legitimacy of the government’s policies, is being withheld unjustifiably,” he said.“What we need is a bottom-up reform of the entire classification system including the Espionage Act. I don’t think this is a system that is serving us well. The fact that the system is so broken has very significant costs for our society, and it’s bad not just for public debate and for democracy but even for national security too.”TopicsUS national securityJoe BidenMike PenceDonald TrumpUS politicsanalysisReuse this content More

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    Biden speaks with Tyre Nichols’s parents ahead of video release – latest updates

    Joe Biden spoke with the parents of Tyre Nichols, according to the Washington Post.The paper released a brief clip of the conversation, where the president mentions how Nichols’ father is “devastated” by the death of his son, and invokes his own experience of losing a child:🚨President Biden just called Tyre Nichols’ parents. He talked to them for more than 10 minutes.”He actually tattooed my name on his arm,” his mom told Biden.”That’s what you call something special,” Biden replied. We were in the room for the call. Here’s a snippet. pic.twitter.com/0gpfU1wmv6— Emily Davies (@ELaserDavies) January 27, 2023
    Earlier, the White House press secretary, Karine Jean-Pierre, said Biden had been briefed on the video of Nichols’ beating that will be released later today, but has not seen it:.@PressSec on Tyre Nichols video expected to be released tonight says @POTUS has “been briefed, but he has not seen the video, nor has anyone at the White House seen the video.”— Allie Raffa (@AllieRaffa) January 27, 2023
    Acclaimed author and anti-racism activist Ibram X Kendi has condemned the beating and death of Tyre Nichols while criticizing police brutality on Friday.In a statement on Twitter, Kendi wrote:.css-cumn2r{height:1em;width:1.5em;margin-right:3px;vertical-align:baseline;fill:#C70000;}“Tyre Nichols should be with us skateboarding and looking up and admiring the sunset. But instead the sadistic scourge of police violence claimed its latest innocent victim.
    “The history of the police is the racist history of violence. Cops of all races have been empowered and socialized to brutalize and terrorize and exploit and sexually assault and harass and lynch people, particularly Black people with near total impunity.
    “There’s no reforming an inherently violent institution with a pervasively violent history. How many more Black people have to be brutally killed before we realize the obvious? How many more? How many more?”Several groups are organizing rallies across the country tonight as Memphis police prepares to release footage of Tyre Nichols this evening. According to the Instagram accounts of various chapters of the political party PSL, or Party for Socialism and Liberation, rallies titled “Justice for Tyre Nichols” are scheduled in major cities including New York, Detroit, San Francisco, Asheville and Chicago. Meanwhile, the Youth Communist League is scheduled to host a rally in Philadelphia tonight. Other rallies are set to be held in Dallas and Washington DC. The White House has released more details of Joe Biden’s call with the family of Tyre Nichols.“President Biden spoke with Mrs RowVaughn Wells and Rodney Wells, Tyre Nichols’ mother and stepfather, this afternoon to directly express his and Dr Biden’s condolences for Tyre Nichols’ death. During the conversation, the president commended the family’s courage and strength,” a readout of the call said.The Guardian’s Maya Yang is now taking over this blog to cover the latest developments in this story.Former vice-president Mike Pence said he takes “full responsibility” for the secret materials found at his residence, CNN reports:Former Vice President Mike Pence, speaking to a crowd in Miami, says he was not aware classified documents were at his house. But he adds: “Those classified documents should not have been in my personal residence. Mistakes were made. And I take full responsibility.”— Manu Raju (@mkraju) January 27, 2023
    Pence’s disclosure this week that documents dating from his time in the White House under Donald Trump were discovered in his Indiana home came after both Joe Biden and Trump were found to have similar materials in their possession. Attorney general Merrick Garland has appointed two special counsels to handle the investigations of the current and ex-presidents’ documents, but hasn’t done the same for Pence.A network of racial justice activist groups is asking the public not to share footage of Tyre Nichols’ fatal beating at the hands of police, which is scheduled for release at 6 pm eastern time.Here is the message from Movement for Black Lives:Today a video of Tyre Nichols’ murder will be released. Do not share it. Do not traumatize our people further by putting it in front of us. We feel the overwhelming rage and grief without subjecting ourselves to a video of his life being taken.To protect yourself online: ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/EytQUlWvQ0— Movement 4 Black Lives (@Mvmnt4BlkLives) January 27, 2023
    Separately, the Republican National Committee re-elected Ronna McDaniel as its chair, overcoming concerns about her leadership after the party underperformed in last November’s midterm elections.McDaniel’s main challenger was Harmeet Dhillon, a lawyer for Donald Trump who handled his challenge to a subpoena from the January 6 committee. Conspiracy theorist Mike Lindell and former congressman Lee Zeldin were also on the ballot, which McDaniel won easily:RNC Chair Election First Ballot Results:167 votes cast. 84 needed to win. Ronna McDaniel – 111Harmeet Dhillon – 51 Mike Lindell – 4Lee Zeldin – 1Ronna McDaniel reelected RNC Chair.Watch LIVE on C-SPAN2 https://t.co/uYWdF9rUK2— CSPAN (@cspan) January 27, 2023
    Joe Biden spoke with the parents of Tyre Nichols, according to the Washington Post.The paper released a brief clip of the conversation, where the president mentions how Nichols’ father is “devastated” by the death of his son, and invokes his own experience of losing a child:🚨President Biden just called Tyre Nichols’ parents. He talked to them for more than 10 minutes.”He actually tattooed my name on his arm,” his mom told Biden.”That’s what you call something special,” Biden replied. We were in the room for the call. Here’s a snippet. pic.twitter.com/0gpfU1wmv6— Emily Davies (@ELaserDavies) January 27, 2023
    Earlier, the White House press secretary, Karine Jean-Pierre, said Biden had been briefed on the video of Nichols’ beating that will be released later today, but has not seen it:.@PressSec on Tyre Nichols video expected to be released tonight says @POTUS has “been briefed, but he has not seen the video, nor has anyone at the White House seen the video.”— Allie Raffa (@AllieRaffa) January 27, 2023
    From the Capitol, Punchbowl News reports Nancy Pelosi told journalists she will not be watching the video of the attack on her husband:Nancy Pelosi says “she has absolutely no intention” of watching the attack on Paul Pelosi pic.twitter.com/vG5HMkb3XQ— Max Cohen (@maxpcohen) January 27, 2023
    The top Democrat in the House, Hakeem Jeffries, reacted to the release of video showing the attack on Paul Pelosi.Jeffries took over from Nancy Pelosi as the party’s leader in Congress’s lower chamber at the start of this year. Here’s what he had to say:.css-cumn2r{height:1em;width:1.5em;margin-right:3px;vertical-align:baseline;fill:#C70000;}The violent attack on Paul Pelosi was unconscionable and his assailant must be brought to justice. We live in dangerous times of unprecedented extremism and political violence which have no place in our democracy or in the everyday lives of elected officials and their loved ones. The prayers of the Caucus, the Congress and the Country are with Paul, Speaker Emerita Pelosi and their wonderful family. May God watch over Paul in his continued recovery.Hello US live blog readers, we are continuing to follow developments in the news relating to the death of Tyre Nichols in Memphis after a fatal encounter with the police – and political reaction to that and related developments in Washington, DC, and elsewhere. Please stick around as we take you into the afternoon and evening, ahead of the release later tonight of police video of what’s described as a brutal police beating of Nichols.Here’s where things stand:
    Tyre Nichols’ mother, RowVaughn Wells, said at a press conference in Memphis that ended a little bit ago that she has not been able to bring herself to watch the video of her son’s beating by five police officers earlier this month, following which he died in hospital, but she’s been told it’s “very horrific” and she urged carers not to let children watch it when police release footage tonight.
    FBI director Christopher Wray said he was “appalled” by video of Nichols’s beating at the hands of Memphis police, and that the bureau has opened a civil rights investigation into the fatal incident.
    Footage was released of the brutal hammer attack last year on Paul Pelosi, the husband of California congresswoman and then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi last October. A right-wing, allegedly politically-motivated intruder broke into their home in San Francisco, with the stated intent of kidnapping Nancy, who was in Washington, DC. Instead he found Paul and attacked him.
    Joe Biden sent condolences to the family of Tyre Nichols in a statement released yesterday, while issuing a vague call for “meaningful reform” of policing, an issue on which he has had mixed success during the first two years of his presidency. The US president appealed for calm at protests that are expected in several cities tonight after the video of Nichols’s beating is released.
    Police body-camera video was released on Friday afternoon of the brutal hammer attack last October on Paul Pelosi, the husband of Democratic congresswomen and then House speaker Nancy Pelosi.The shocking footage shows officers arriving at the front door of the Pelosi residence in San Francisco and knocking loudly on the door.Paul Pelosi opens the door and can be seen with an intruder as the two wrestle over a hammer. Police can be heard asking “What’s going on, man?”, then they tell the suspect to drop the hammer. But he says “Nope”, then manages to grab it and swing it and, just off camera, hits Pelosi in the head.Police charge in to find Pelosi collapsed on the floor, unconscious and struggling to breathe, as they grapple with the suspect, who has fallen on the floor partially on top of Pelosi, then arrest him.Pelosi, 82, suffered a skull fracture and injuries to his hand and arm in the attack, requiring him to undergo surgery. He remained hospitalized for nearly a week as he recovered.The video was released Friday, after a state judge dismissed efforts by the San Francisco district attorney’s office to keep the footage sealed from the public. The suspect in the attack, David Wayne DePape of Canada, faces state and federal criminal charges of attempted murder and assault with a deadly weapon, among others. DePape has pleaded not guilty to the charges.DePape’s comments to authorities in the wake of the attack indicated that his actions were politically motivated. In court testimony last month, a San Francisco police investigator recounted how DePape claimed there was “evil in Washington” and described his initial plans to kidnap the House speaker.She was in Washington, DC, at the time and swiftly flew back to California to be with her husband.Democrats performed better than expected last November’s midterm elections, but Republicans narrowly won control of the House of Representatives and, after a fraught election earlier this month at the start of the 118th Congress, California congressman Kevin McCarthy took over the speakership.Pelosi had announced after the midterms that she would step down from her leadership role while continuing to represent her district in Washington, and she effectively handed the baton to New York Democrat Hakeem Jeffries, who became House minority leader in the new congress.Memphis police chief Cerelyn Davis explained that the decision to release the video of Tyre Nichols on Friday evening is to reduce the impact it may have on the surrounding communities and schools. “Friday evening will be a good time to try to get people home, try to have our children safe and have a means of being able to manage any type of response,” Davis told NBC. She added that police will be monitoring parts of Memphis and that they have increased their staffing. “We don’t want to overreact. But the reality is, is that there are individuals that may want to exercise their First Amendment right and come out and protest,” she told the outlet. “My son is looking down smiling because, you know, it’s funny, he always said he was going to be famous one day. I didn’t know this was what he meant,” RowVaughn Wells, Tyre Nichols’s mother said.“I‘ve never seen the video. But what I’ve heard is very horrific, very horrific. And any of you who have children, please don’t let them see it,” she added.“To the five police officers that murdered my son, you also disgraced your own families when you did this but … I’m going to pray for you and your families, because at the end of the day, this shouldn’t have happened. This just shouldn’t have happened. We want justice for my son, justice for my son,” she added.“We’re very satisfied with the charges,” said Tyre Nichols’s stepfather, Rodney Wells, referring to the second-degree murder charges against the five officers.“More importantly, we want peace. We do not want any type of uproar, we do not want any type of disturbance. We want peaceful protests. That’s what the family wants, that’s what the community wants,” Wells said ahead of the planned protests across the country later today as the footage of Tyre Nichols gets released.“We want to know, where are the unions? Where does the fraternal order of police unions stand on this? We want to hear…that you condemn the savagery…heinousness…brutality of this attack?” said Antonio Romanucci, one of the attorneys representing the family of Tyre Nichols. Romanucci also called upon Memphis police chief Cerelyn Davis to disband the specialized police unit known as the ‘Scorpion’ unit which the five police officers were a part of. “The intent of the Scorpion unit has now been corrupted. It cannot be brought back to center with any sense of morality and dignity, and most importantly, trust in this community. How will the community ever, ever, trust a Scorpion unit?” he said. “Officers have a duty to intervene in crimes being committed, even if it’s intervening with their own officers,” Crump said, calling for legislation to be passed which would require police officers to intervene when they see their colleagues exercising excessive force.“We have never seen swift justice like this,” said Crump, referring to the five officers who have since been charged with murder. “We want to proclaim that this is the blueprint going forward for any time any officers, whether they be Black or white, will be held accountable. No longer can you tell us we got to wait six months to a year,” he added. “It is the culture that allows them to think that they can do this to Tyre,” Crump said, saying that it does not matter if the officers were Black, Hispanic or any other ethnicity. “Call out the culture, call out the culture,” he said, as family members of Nichols chanted back. “It is the institutionalized police culture that is on trial today,” he added. More

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    Biden vows to veto Republican plans that threaten economic ‘chaos’ – as it happened

    “They’re threatening to have us default on the American debt, the debt that has been accumulated for over 230 years … we’ve never ever done that,” Biden said, referring to fiscal policies proposed by Republicans.“Why in God’s name would Americans give up the progress we made for the chaos they’re suggesting? I don’t get it … I will not let that happen, not on my watch,” he said.“I will veto everything they send,” he added.It’s slightly past 4pm in Washington DC. Here’s where things stand:
    Former transportation secretary Elaine Chao has spoken out against former president Donald Trump who has repeatedly issued racist remarks towards her. Chao, who is Asian American, told Politico, “When I was young, some people deliberately misspelled or mispronounced my name…He doesn’t seem to understand that, which says a whole lot more about him than it will ever say about Asian Americans,” she added.
    In an address in Springfield, Virginia on Thursday, president Joe Biden hit back against Republican fiscal policies and vowed to not let a national debt default happen. “They’re threatening to have us default on the American debt, the debt that has been accumulated for over 230 years … we’ve never ever done that…Why in God’s name would Americans give up the progress we made for the chaos they’re suggesting? I don’t get it … I will not let that happen, not on my watch,” he said.
    Biden also reaffirmed his administration’s fight against global warming by “finally making sure the biggest corporations just begin to pay a little bit. The days are over where corporations pay zero in federal taxes.”
    San Francisco superior court judge Stephen Murphy has ordered footage of the attack on former House speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband to be released. In addition to home surveillance footage, Murphy ordered the public release of police body camera footage, 911 audio calls, as well as audio from police interviews with David DePape, the suspect who broke into Pelosi’s San Francisco home last October in attempts to kidnap the former speaker.
    Florida governor Ron DeSantis called for a change in leadership of the Republican National Committee in an interview on Thursday morning. “I think we need a change, and I think we need to get some new blood in the RNC. I like what Harmeet Dhillon has said about getting the RNC outside of DC – why would you want to have your headquarters in the most Democrat city in America?,” DeSantis said on the Charlie Kirk Show, referring to the lawyer who is currently the foremost challenger of RNC chairwoman Ronna McDaniel’s position.
    The National Archives has officially requested that former US presidents and their vice presidents check to establish whether they have any classified documents or other presidential records. The request comes amid the ongoing but increasingly surreal scandal tangling up Donald Trump, Joe Biden and Mike Pence.
    Hard right congresswoman and conspiracy-booster Marjorie Taylor Greene, of Georgia, has “no chance” of being stated-2024 presidential candidate Donald Trump’s vice presidential choice, despite aspiring to it, a source tells Guardian US.
    Meta, Facebook and Instagram’s owner, is reportedly ready to allow Trump to post on the platforms his ongoing attacks on the results of the 2020 presidential election, where he lost to Joe Biden but claims he really won. But if Trump posts misinformation about upcoming elections, including the 2024 presidential, it will take some unspecified action to restrict his messaging. Meta has reinstated Trump to the platforms after a two-year ban, but he hasn’t posted yet.
    The decision to allow Trump back onto Facebook and Instagram is infuriating many, including some civil rights groups (though not the ACLU) and Democratic politicians. The move has been called dangerous by some.
    That’s it from me, Maya Yang, as we wrap up today’s US politics blog. Thank you for following along. We’ll be back on Friday. Former transportation secretary Elaine Chao has spoken out against former president Donald Trump who has repeatedly issued racist remarks towards her. Chao, who is Asian American, told Politico, “When I was young, some people deliberately misspelled or mispronounced my name… Asian Americans have worked hard to change that experience for the next generation.”“He doesn’t seem to understand that, which says a whole lot more about him than it will ever say about Asian Americans,” she added. Earlier this week, Trump wrote on Truth Social, “Does Coco Chow have anything to do with Joe Biden’s Classified Documents being sent and stored in Chinatown?” he wrote. “Her husband, the Old Broken Crow, is VERY close to Biden, the Democrats, and, of course, China,” he added. Trump has also previously referred to Chao, who is married to Mitch McConnell, as “China’s loving wife.”“We have more work to do but we’re on the right track… I’ve never been more optimistic about America’s future than I am today…and nothing is beyond our capacity if we work together,” said Biden in his closing remarks. “Unemployment is the lowest it’s been in 50 years,” said Biden since taking office two years ago. “We created nearly 11 million jobs, including 750,000 manufacturing jobs…the unemployment rate is near record lowest for Black and Hispanic workers and the lowest ever recorded for people with disabilities,” he added.“If you don’t think we have a climate crisis, come travel with me around the country,” says Biden, adding, “We have enormous drought, now we have these super storms in the west…folks, there is a thing called global warming and it’s real but we can do something about it.”“Families are going to save more than $1,000 on tax credits on these [energy efficient] vehicles when they purchase one, and energy efficient appliances like refrigerators and washing machines…and we’re paying for all of this by finally making sure the biggest corporations just begin to pay a little bit. The days are over where corporations pay zero in federal taxes,” he added. “They’re threatening to have us default on the American debt, the debt that has been accumulated for over 230 years … we’ve never ever done that,” Biden said, referring to fiscal policies proposed by Republicans.“Why in God’s name would Americans give up the progress we made for the chaos they’re suggesting? I don’t get it … I will not let that happen, not on my watch,” he said.“I will veto everything they send,” he added.“We’re moving in the right direction, now we have to protect those gains…from the MAGA Republicans… This ain’t your father’s Republican party… They want to pass legislation to do the following things…they want to raise your gas prices…cut taxes of your billionaires…and they want to impose a 30% national sales tax on food…clothing…house, cars… They want to eliminate the income tax system,” Biden said. “We’ve achieved a lot…economic growth is up, stronger than experts expected…jobs are the highest in American history and wages are up. In the past six months, inflation has gone down each month,” Biden said in his address at Springfield, Virginia. San Francisco superior court judge Stephen Murphy has ordered footage of the attack on former House speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband to be released. In addition to home surveillance footage, Murphy ordered the public release of police body camera footage, 911 audio calls, as well as audio from police interviews with David DePape, the suspect who broke into Pelosi’s San Francisco home last October in attempts to kidnap the former speaker.Unable to find Nancy Pelosi, the alleged perpetrator instead beat her 82-year old husband with a hammer. Murphy’s decision comes amid calls from numerous news agencies that seek the release of the footage and evidence. “You don’t eliminate the public right of access just because of concerns about conspiracy theories,” said Thomas Burke, a lawyer who represented the Associated Press and other media organizations in their attempt to gain access to the footage, the AP reports. Florida governor Ron DeSantis called for a change in leadership of the Republican National Committee in an interview on Thursday morning. .css-cumn2r{height:1em;width:1.5em;margin-right:3px;vertical-align:baseline;fill:#C70000;}“I think we need a change, and I think we need to get some new blood in the RNC. I like what Harmeet Dhillon has said about getting the RNC outside of DC – why would you want to have your headquarters in the most Democrat city in America?,” DeSantis said on the Charlie Kirk Show, referring to the lawyer who is currently the foremost challenger of RNC chairwoman Ronna McDaniel’s position. He added: .css-cumn2r{height:1em;width:1.5em;margin-right:3px;vertical-align:baseline;fill:#C70000;}“We’ve had three substandard election cycles in a row – ’18, ’20, and ’22 – and I would say of all three of those, ’22 was probably the worst given the political environment of a very unpopular President in Biden.”DeSantis’s comments come amid growing concerns from some RNC members that McDaniel has not done enough to push back against Donald Trump from forming a third political party if he does not secure the Republican presidential nomination during the next election cycle. Hello again, US politics live blog readers. It’s been a lively day in the news from Washington so far and there’ll be more to come. Joe Biden is due to leave the White House shortly en route to a union office in Springfield, Virginia, where he’s scheduled to give a speech at 2.45pm ET on the economy (and what he sees as Republican plans to block his economic agenda).Here’s where things stand:
    The National Archives has officially requested that former US presidents and their vice presidents check to establish whether they have any classified documents or other presidential records, amid the ongoing but increasingly surreal scandal tangling up Donald Trump, Joe Biden and Mike Pence.
    Hard right congresswoman and conspiracy-booster Marjorie Taylor Greene, of Georgia, has “no chance” of being stated-2024 presidential candidate Donald Trump’s vice presidential choice, despite aspiring to it, a source tells Guardian US.
    Meta, Facebook and Instagram’s owner, is reportedly ready to allow Trump to post on the platforms his ongoing attacks on the results of the 2020 presidential election, where he lost to Joe Biden but claims he really won. But if Trump posts misinformation about upcoming elections, including the 2024 presidential, it will take some unspecified action to restrict his messaging. Meta has reinstated Trump to the platforms after a two-year ban, but he hasn’t posted yet.
    The decision to allow Trump back onto Facebook and Instagram is infuriating many, including some civil rights groups (though not the ACLU) and Democratic politicians. The move has been called dangerous by some.
    At a press briefing with the US attorney general Merrick Garland earlier, FBI director Christopher Wray warned, amid the scandal of classified documents turning up in the possession of Donald Trump and Joe Biden, that people with access to such material should be more “conscious of the rules.”“Obviously I can’t comment on any specific investigation, but we have had, for quite a number of years, any number of mishandling investigations,” Wray told reporters at the briefing that was chiefly called to talk about the Department of Justice seizing a website used by a ransomware outfit.“That is, unfortunately, a regular part of our counterintelligence division, counterintelligence programs work,” Wray added. “And people need to be conscious of the rules for classified information and appropriate handling of it. Those rules are there for a reason,” Wray said.Today FBI Director Christopher Wray weighed in on the classified doc drama, I believe for the first time, saying in part, “people need to be conscious of the rules regarding classified information and appropriate, handling of them…those rules are there for a reason.”— Evan Lambert (@EvanLambertTV) January 26, 2023
    It’s hard to know whether to laugh or cry at this point. But, again, there is a vast difference between what appears to be a careless oversight by Joe Biden, followed by an infuriating and outrageous information blackout before the public were told, and the case of Trump, who refused to hand over boxes of classified and secret documents to the government after leaving the White House and had to be raided by the FBI last summer.The National Archives has officially requested that former US presidents and their vice presidents do a sweep or a re-sweep, if they’ve checked before, to establish whether they have any classified documents or other presidential records among their personal records, amid the rumbling scandal, CNN reports. The call comes as Donald Trump is being investigated by a special counsel appointed by the Department of Justice (DoJ) for withholding many boxes of material, including top secret documents, Joe Biden is being investigated by a separate special counsel after it was discovered that there were a few classified documents outstanding from his time as vice president, which he’s handed over, and that Mike Pence had some documents, too.The National Archives and Records Administration is an independent federal agency within the executive branch. The agency sent a letter today to representatives of former presidents and vice presidents from, according to CNN, the last six administrations covered by the Presidential Records Act (PRA).“The letter, which was reviewed by CNN, requests that they check their files to ensure that material thought to be personal does not “inadvertently” contain presidential records that are required by law to be turned over to the Archives,” the cable news channel reports.The report continues: “The Archives sent the letter to representatives for former Presidents Trump, Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush and Ronald Reagan, and former Vice Presidents Pence, Biden, Dick Cheney, Al Gore and Dan Quayle.Representatives for the four former presidents have all so far told CNN they do not have any classified records in their possession.”Here again, FYI, is the Guardian’s great explainer on the fundamental differences between the Trump and Biden cases.Obama, Dubya, Clinton, Cheney, Gore, Quayle (and president Jimmy Carter, aged 98, who hasn’t been mentioned in this latest sweep), are still alive.NBC News made a splash on Wednesday with a report that said Marjorie Taylor Greene wants to be Donald Trump’s pick for vice-president in 2024.Greene, from Georgia, is a far-right controversialist and conspiracy theorist who was barred from House committees by Democrats but is now suddenly strongly allied with Republican leaders, after supporting Kevin McCarthy through his 15-vote ordeal to be elected speaker.Steve Bannon, Trump’s former campaign chair and White House strategist, now a far-right media figure (and accused fraudster), told NBC Greene saw herself “on the short list for Trump’s VP”.An unnamed source “who has advised Greene said her ‘whole vision is to be vice president’.”So the Guardian asked its own anonymous source, a veteran Trumpworld insider, if there was any chance Trump would pick Greene.The source said: “No chance. She might want it but it’s not real.”So there’s that.There’s also this, an interview with Robert Draper of the New York Times about his fascinating book about Republican dysfunction and, in particular, the rise of Marjorie Taylor Greene:‘A nutso proposition’: Robert Draper on Trump, Republicans and January 6 Read moreThe Guardian’s David Smith earlier this month ran through some of Trump’s options in the veepstakes, including Taylor Greene. You can read it here. More

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    US National Archives asks ex-presidents to check for classified papers

    US National Archives asks ex-presidents to check for classified papersEx-presidents and vice-presidents including Obama, Bush, Cheney and Gore receive letters on reviewing their personal records The US National Archives has asked representatives for former presidents and vice-presidents on Thursday to review their personal records for any classified-marked documents in their possession after a series of such discoveries at the homes of Joe Biden, Donald Trump and Mike Pence.The archives sent letters to the presidents and vice-presidents in the previous six administrations that are covered under the Presidential Records Act, which requires materials from their time in the White House to be turned over to the agency when they leave office.“We request that you conduct an assessment of any materials held outside of Nara [National Archives and Records Administration] to determine whether bodies of materials previously assumed to be personal in nature might inadvertently contain Presidential or Vice Presidential records,” the letters said.The requests are understood to have gone to representatives for former presidents including Barack Obama, George W Bush and Bill Clinton, as well as former vice-presidents Dick Cheney, Al Gore and Dan Quayle, according to a source familiar with the matter.The archives did not respond to a request for comment.what we know about classified recordsRepresentatives for the four former presidents have said that they had not retained any classified-marked documents after leaving the White House, though Pence himself also claimed he had returned everything to the government until a recent search of his home found otherwise.The requests, earlier reported by CNN, come after lawyers to Biden and then Pence reported that a search of their private properties turned up classified-marked documents, months after the FBI searched Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in August and seized about 100 such documents.The most recent spate of discoveries started with the revelation that Biden’s personal lawyer had found a number of classified-marked documents on 2 November, when he was clearing out his office last November at the University of Pennsylvania Biden Center for Diplomacy in Washington.Some of the documents at the UPenn Biden Center, the Guardian previously reported, included papers marked as classified at the Top Secret/Secret Compartmented Information level that were immediately reported to the National Archives, which in turn alerted the US justice department.The attorney general, Merrick Garland, asked US attorney John Lausch on 14 November to conduct a review of the matter. After the additional papers were found late last year, Lausch recommended on 5 January that Garland appoint a special counsel to take over the inquiry.Garland appointed Robert Hur, a top former Trump justice department official to serve as special counsel in the Biden documents case on 10 January, seeking to insulate the department from possible accusations of political conflicts after he named a special counsel to investigate Trump.The Biden documents case last week prompted close aides to Pence to search the former vice-president’s home in Indiana out of an abundance of caution, where they found a number of classified-marked documents, Pence’s counsel Greg Jacob said in a letter to the National Archives on 18 January.The letter added that the aide who searched the property could not specify anything more about the documents – including the content, dates and classification level, which remain unclear – because he stopped looking as soon as he saw the classified markings.The discovery of classified-marked documents is an embarrassing development for Pence after he confidently told ABC News last year that he had not improperly removed any materials from the White House. “I did not,” Pence said in November last year.Trump – Pence’s former boss – has been under federal investigation for more than a year over whether he wilfully retained national security documents at his Mar-a-Lago resort, and whether he obstructed efforts by the justice department to secure their return starting in May last year.Compared with Biden, and now Pence, who moved quickly to return documents to the government, Trump’s resistance to handing over materials at his Florida property led to the justice department turning his case into a criminal investigation.The department has typically pursued cases of mishandled classified documents criminally when they involve a combination of four aggravating factors: wilful mishandling of classified information, vast quantities of materials to suggest misconduct, disloyalty to the United States and obstruction.The investigation into Trump touches on at least two of those elements – obstruction, where a person conceals documents with an intent to impede a government agency, and the volume of classified materials at Mar-a-Lago.TopicsUS politicsJoe BidenDonald TrumpMike PencenewsReuse this content More