Joe Biden has dramatically raised the ante in the forthcoming US presidential election campaign with an impassioned warning that US democracy is being imperilled by a vengeful Donald Trump, his likely opponent next year. ‘There is something dangerous happening in America,’ he told an audience in Phoenix, Arizona, on Thursday. ‘There is an extremist movement that does not share the basic beliefs of our democracy: the Maga movement.’ He said he did not think all Republicans ascribed to the Maga agenda, but added: ‘There is no question that today’s Republican party is driven and intimidated by Maga Republican extremists’ More
Wednesday was debate night for almost all the Republican candidates for the White House, but once again, the man who chose not to turn up was stealing the headlines for yet another legal issue that went against him.
Ron DeSantis, Mike Pence, Nikki Haley and the others had ample opportunity to bring up the fact that a judge in New York ruled that Donald Trump had committed fraud for years while building a real estate empire. But they didn’t focus on that or any of the other court cases set to interrupt his campaign next year. So what did they all have to say? Did they manage to steal any of the limelight?
This week, Jonathan Freedland speaks to Bill Kristol, the former chief of staff to the vice-president Dan Quayle and top conservative commentator, to get his take on the Republican field
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Joe Biden dramatically raised the ante in the forthcoming US presidential election campaign on Thursday with a stark and impassioned warning that American democracy is imperiled by a vengeful Donald Trump, his likely opponent next year.Faced by stagnant approval ratings and worries about his advanced age, the US president attempted to stir his dormant supporters and animate the undecided by spelling out the dangers he insisted a second Trump presidency would pose to the US’s status as the world’s leading beacon of democratic government.Declaring US history at “an inflexion point”, Biden, 80, said the country’s character and future was threatened by the authoritarian values of Trump’s self-styled Make America Great Again (MAGA) movement.“There is something dangerous happening in America,” he told an audience in Phoenix, Arizona. “There is an extremist movement that does not share the basic beliefs of our democracy: the MAGA movement … History has brought us to a new time of testing.“All of us are being asked right now: What will we do to maintain our democracy?”His voice at times falling to little more than a whisper to stress his message, Biden invoked the late John McCain, a former Republican senator with whom he had a close relationship, to emphasize what he said were the selfless virtues of democracy.He was forced to pause early in his speech when a heckler interrupted to demand why he had not declared a climate emergency, according to reporters in the auditorium.“If you shush up, I will meet with you immediately after this, OK?” the president responded. He then added pointedly: “Democracy never is easy – as you just demonstrated.”Referring to Trump by name just once in his half-hour speech, Biden nevertheless set out to contrast democratic norms and traditions with conduct that appeared to characterize his predecessor.Democracy, he said, “means rule of the people, not rule of the monarchy, not rule of money, not rule of the mighty.“Regardless of party, that means free and fair elections, respecting the outcome, win or lose. It means you cannot love your country only when you win.“Democracy means rejecting and repudiating political violence. Regardless of party, such violence is never, never, never acceptable in America. It’s undemocratic and it must never be normalized to gain political power.”The last comments were an apparent reference to the attack on Capitol Hill on January 6 when a Trump-inspired mob tried to stop the ratification of Biden’s presidential election victory by the US congress.skip past newsletter promotionafter newsletter promotionDespite Trump’s failure to overturn the 2020 election result, Biden warned that the danger had not passed. “Today, democracy is still at risk. This is not hyperbole. It’s a simple truth,” he said.The threat of violence continued unabated, he said, most recently aimed at general Mark Milley, the chair of the US armed forces joint chiefs of staff, whom Trump recently said in a social media post was guilty of “treason”.“Frankly, these MAGA extremists have no idea what the hell they’re talking about,” Biden said.The pro-democracy speech was delivered at an event honoring the memory of McCain, one of Biden’s political adversaries and twice a GOP presidential candidate, who frequently criticized Trump before his death in 2018.Biden depicted his relationship with McCain as a fitting paean to American democracy because the two men frequently engaged in across-the-aisle bipartisan cooperation when they were US senators despite being from different parties, a feature the president said the character of today’s Republican party has all but precluded.“There is no doubt that today’s Republican party is driven and intimidated by MAGA extremists,” he said. “Their extreme agenda, if carried out, would fundamentally alter the institutions of American democracy as we know it.”Biden has reportedly been regularly portraying Trump as a threat to democracy to donors at events to raise funds for next year’s election. Thursday’s speech was the first time he had done so publicly since before last year’s congressional mid-term elections and indicated that he intended to make the theme a central presidential campaign issue. More
There was a commonsense question at the heart of Thursday’s congressional hearing on whether to launch a formal impeachment inquiry against Joe Biden that Republicans are counting on Americans to ask themselves. Would any foreign business hire the president’s son, Hunter, if it were not for his father?Out of that, Republicans on the House of Representatives oversight committee spun a vision of Biden Sr sitting atop a sprawling crime family that would be the envy of the mafia. But, as so often in modern American politics, the spectre of Donald Trump was lurking in the shadows.This was not an impeachment hearing. It was a hearing to decide if there is enough evidence to merit an impeachment inquiry into the president.But it was clear from the moment the Republican committee chair, James Comer, banged his gavel to launch more than six hours of accusation, distraction, attacks on witnesses and grandstanding that, for his party at least, the matter was already settled.Comer promised “a mountain of evidence, revealing how Joe Biden abused his public office for his family’s financial gain”. If so, it wasn’t immediately evident amid the endless flashing of documents and emails on to the committee’s screens, and the convoluted attempts to make connections through supposition and suspicion.At the heart of the Republican case is that foreign business interests in Ukraine, China and beyond only hired Hunter Biden, described by one congressman as a man “addicted to drugs who frequented prostitutes”, because he offered the reward of “influence peddling” with his father going back years to when he was vice-president.Comer then made the leap to claim that, therefore, Joe Biden must have been on the take.“For years, President Biden has lied to the American people about his knowledge of and participation in his family’s corrupt business schemes. The door was wide open to those who purchased what a business associate described as the Biden brand,” he told the hearing.“These business targets include foreign oligarchs who sent millions of dollars to his family. It also includes a Chinese national who wired a quarter of a million dollars to his son.”A YouGov poll last month found that nearly three-quarters of Americans do think Hunter used his father’s position to make money. A little more than half of Democrats agreed, although the findings were blunted by the fact that the poll also said a majority of Americans think the children of all US presidents profit from their parents.But most Americans did not agree that meant Joe Biden was being paid off, although the fact that 43% do and 28% are not sure should worry the White House as evidence that the Republican accusations have some traction.There’s little doubt that Hunter made millions from foreign business deals. In June, he agreed a plea deal admitting that he failed to pay taxes on millions in 2017 and 2018, although that agreement fell apart after a judge blocked it. In August, the attorney general, Merrick Garland, appointed a special counsel to investigate Hunter’s finances.But even the Republicans’ own witnesses would only go so far as to say that, while there was enough evidence for an investigation, it was not enough to establish the president’s guilt.The Republicans called on law professor and Fox News legal analyst, Jonathan Turley, to explain why an impeachment inquiry could not be avoided. He stated as fact that Hunter Biden was corrupt and said the country needed to know if the president was in on it.“The question is, did the president know? Did he encourage this type of corruption? And the key here once again … you have to begin with a recognition that what Hunter Biden and his associates were doing was corrupt. That’s what influence peddling is,” said Turley.Asked if, in that case, Congress was “obligated to have this inquiry”, Turley agreed.skip past newsletter promotionafter newsletter promotion“I believe it’s your duty to determine if the president is involved in what is a known form of corruption,” he said.Still Turley acknowledged that, as things stand, the evidence is not there.“I do not believe that the current evidence would support articles of impeachment. That is something that an inquiry has to establish, but I also do believe that the House has passed the threshold for an impeachment inquiry into the conduct of President Biden,” he said.That would make any impeachment inquiry a fishing expedition. Or at least a distraction from what the Democrats say is really going on.The lone witness for the Democrats, Michael Gerhardt, a professor of jurisprudence at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, told the committee that the evidence did not show that the president was, in effect, in the pay of his son.“There have been lots of assumptions, lots of accusations. But the dots have not been connected,” he said.The Democratic congresswoman Melanie Ann Stansbury connected other dots. She said the hearing wasn’t really about Biden at all but a “chilling” attempt to make the dozens of pending criminal charges against Trump seem “like they’re not serious crimes”.“What is this hearing actually about? It’s a campaign strategy. It’s a misuse of official resources. It is this committee and loyalists of Donald Trump doing his bidding to bolster his chances of winning back the White House and securing their majority in the next election,” she said.“I think it’s obvious who the grand puppet master is here.” More
From 4h agoThe House oversight committee’s impeachment hearing is now taking a short break, so let’s tune into the Senate, which just voted to begin debate on a measure that would fund the federal government till 17 November, and prevent the shutdown that will otherwise begin on Sunday:However, House speaker Kevin McCarthy said yesterday he would not consider the legislation, assuming the Senate approves it, instead opting to move ahead with passing longer-term funding measures. The problem with McCarthy’s strategy is it does not appear to be sufficient to stop the government from shutting down, and the bills will likely take time to be approved by both chambers of Congress.The House oversight committee held its first hearing in the impeachment inquiry of Joe Biden, the latest step in a months-long effort investigating the president and his son Hunter Biden’s business dealings that has yet to produce substantial evidence of wrongdoing.Here’s some analysis from our colleague Sam Levine:
Despite investigating Biden for months, Republicans on Thursday largely focused on the financial dealings by Hunter Biden, using innuendos and the suggestion of potential criminal activity to recommend that further investigation was necessary. The strategy appeared to be to lay the groundwork to justify a longer fishing expedition.
Meanwhile, a shutdown loomed even closer, with Democrats and Republicans nowhere closer to an agreement on how to keep the government funded. As the Senate moved forward with a stopgap measure to avert a shutdown, far-right members of the House kept on with their plan to pass a series of appropriation bills that wouldn’t actually stop a shutdown. House leaders are hoping that moving forward with these appropriations bills will cajole the hard-right and convince them to back a House-crafted continuing resolution to temporarily fund the government.Finally, the various legal cases against Donald Trump moved forward.
A New York appeals court has denied Trump’s bid to delay a fraud trial set for Monday. This will allow the case to proceed two days after a judge ruled that Trump and his company routinely and repeatedly deceived banks, insurers and others by massively overvaluing assets and exaggerating his net worth on paperwork. The civil lawsuit is brought by Letitia James, New York’s attorney general.
The federal judge presiding in Donald Trump’s criminal case over his efforts to overturn the 2020 election results rejected his request that she recuse herself on Wednesday.US district judge Tanya Chutkan ruled that the former president failed to show her previous comments about his role in the January 6 Capitol attack meant she could not be impartial.
– Guardian staffHere’s another sign that the Senate’s efforts to pass a short term measure averting shutdown may not get far …Twenty-seven House Republicans, including the chair of the Freedom Caucus are asking speaker Kevin McCarthy to confirm that he plans to pass 12 individual appropriations bills that hard-right members are pushing before even considering the short term measure.A New York appeals court has denied Donald Trump’s bid to delay a fraud trial set for Monday.This will allow the case to proceed two days after a judge ruled that Trump and his company routinely and repeatedly deceived banks, insurers and others by massively overvaluing assets and exaggerating his net worth on paperwork. The civil lawsuit is brought by Letitia James, New York’s attorney general.James is seeking at least $250m in penalties and a ban on Trump doing business in New York.Speaking to his Democratic Senate colleagues in a private meeting, New Jersey’s Bob Menendez again refused to resign despite his indictment on corruption-related charges last week, CNN reports:Prosecutors have alleged Menendez accepted bribes in the form of cash and gold bars from people connected to the Egyptian government, and more than a dozen Democratic senators have called for him to step down, including New Jersey’s Cory Booker.The decision by Menendez, who pleaded not guilty to the charges on Wednesday, is unlikely to affect the balance of power in the Senate. New Jersey leans Democratic, and while the Democrats control the chamber by a mere two seats, it is unlikely that Menendez would be replaced by a Republican.Republicans keep coming to Jonathan Turley, hoping the George Washington University law professor will offer his opinion on if Joe Biden should be impeached.But while he has said he believes Hunter Biden tried to sell access to his father, he has refused to offer his thoughts on if the president acted improperly.The latest Republican to try was Jim Jordan, who asked, “I want you to elaborate on something you said earlier … you said ‘confirmed corrupt influence peddling operation’. Can you elaborate on what you what you think that entails?”“It’s now in my view, at least largely unassailable, even people that have long been critical of some of the investigations have acknowledged recently, particularly after the Archer interview, that this was an influence peddling effort,” Turley said, referring to an interview with Biden’s former business partner Devon Archer.But Turley declined to go further than that:
Whether it was an illusion or not is part of the task for the inquiry. But it seems to be abundantly clear from these emails and statements, and now sworn testimony, that Hunter Biden, his associates, were selling access to Joe Biden, and the question is whether any of that effort resulted in decisions and changes being made by Joe Biden and also the degree to which he knew of it, directed it, encouraged it. That’s all the subject of an inquiry that has to be determined. It can be disproven or proven, but that’s what lays ahead of you.
“As a former director of emergency management, I know a disaster when I see one,” Democratic congressman Jared Moskowitz said, as he kicked off remarks in which he condemned the impeachment hearing.It’s what you would expect from a Joe Biden ally, but the more worrying aspect for Republicans is that many in their party feel the same way, as Punchbowl News reports:Marjorie Taylor Greene, one of the most extreme rightwing House lawmakers, took the hearing deep into conspiracy land by claiming Hunter Biden was engaged in sex trafficking.She then displayed a placard that appeared to show naked bodies, drawing a protest from Democrats.“Our colleague from Georgia has introduced before pornographic exhibits and displayed things that are really not suitable for children who might be watching,” Democratic ranking member Jamie Raskin said. “I would like the member to be instructed to not introduce any pornography today.”“A bathing suit is not pornography,” Greene shot back.“You are submitting a naked woman’s body,” Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said.Greene again insisted she was showing a picture of someone wearing a bathing suit, then asked Ocasi-Cortez, “Glasses, do you wear them or not?”“I have contacts,” the Democrat replied. “Congratulations,” was Greene’s response.Democrat Jasmine Crockett took issue with Republicans’ propensity for using the word “if”.Arguing that the GOP and their three witnesses had spent the hearing dabbling in hypotheticals, she asked Democratic witness Michael J. Gerhardt how many times they’d said “if”.Gerhardt replied that he’d been keeping a tally, and the GOP has used the word 35 times.“Thank you so much for that because, honestly, if they would continue to say if or Hunter and we were playing a drinking game, I would be drunk by now,” Crockett said.After a lengthy speech in which he referred to the impeachment inquiry against Joe Biden as a “disgrace,” Democrat Greg Casar declared, “It is my firm belief that Hunter and Trump should both face trial and, if guilty, be held accountable for the crimes they’ve been accused of.”Then he asked committee members to raise their hands if they agree. “Please raise your hand if you believe both Hunter and Trump should be held accountable for any of the indictments against them, if convicted by a jury of their peers,” Casar said.Democrats held their hands high, but few, if any, Republicans did the same.“I think it is worse than embarrassing that Republicans won’t raise their hands. They refuse to say that equal justice under the law should apply to everyone,” Casar said.“This double standard insults the institutions of Congress that people fought and died to build. This impeachment hearing clearly is not about justice. We cannot say equal justice under the law for everyone, except for the guy who holds the leash.”Throughout the House oversight committee’s impeachment hearing, which just resumed, the White House has repeatedly sent reporters this statement.So far, the Guardian has received the statement nine times, and each message has been essentially the same, with one exception: the time to the government’s funding expiring keeps counting down.In the most recent message, we are 57 hours and 55 minutes away.The House oversight committee’s impeachment hearing is now taking a short break, so let’s tune into the Senate, which just voted to begin debate on a measure that would fund the federal government till 17 November, and prevent the shutdown that will otherwise begin on Sunday:However, House speaker Kevin McCarthy said yesterday he would not consider the legislation, assuming the Senate approves it, instead opting to move ahead with passing longer-term funding measures. The problem with McCarthy’s strategy is it does not appear to be sufficient to stop the government from shutting down, and the bills will likely take time to be approved by both chambers of Congress.Reports are emerging that Republicans are not happy with how the first hearing of Joe Biden’s impeachment inquiry has gone today. The party’s operatives are dissatisfied with their three witnesses, who refused to definitively say the president broke the law, as well as oversight committee chair James Comer’s management of the session.Here’s more, from CNN and the Messenger: More
Questioning witnesses in the first impeachment hearing staged by House Republicans, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez prompted each to say they were not presenting “firsthand witness accounts” of crimes committed by Joe Biden.The New York Democrat also accused Republicans of fabricating supposed evidence of corruption involving the president and his surviving son, Hunter Biden.Republicans on the House oversight committee called three witnesses, Democrats one.Ocasio-Cortez questioned the Republican witnesses first.Turning to Jonathan Turley, a law professor at George Washington University and well-known conservative commentator, she said: “In your testimony today, are you presenting any firsthand witness account of crimes committed by the president of the United States?”“No, I’m not,” said Turley, who had already made headlines by saying he did “not believe that the current evidence would support articles of impeachment”.Ocasio-Cortez asked the same question of Eileen O’Connor, a former assistant attorney general in the justice department tax division who worked for Donald Trump’s transition team and is a member of the rightwing Federalist Society.“No, I’m not,” said O’Connor, who was also called out during the hearing for omitting the word “Hunter” when referring to the title of a piece she wrote for the Wall Street Journal in July, namely: “You’d go to prison for what Hunter Biden did.”Ocasio-Cortez asked the same question of Bruce Dubinsky, a forensic accountant:“As the third and final Republican witness in this hearing, have you in your testimony presented any firsthand witness account of crimes committed by the president of the United States?”“I have not,” he said.Ocasio-Cortez said she would “assume the same” of the sole witness called by Democrats, Michael J Gerhardt, a University of North Carolina law professor.He said: “I’m not a fact witness. Correct.”Widely known as AOC, the congresswoman has a passionate following among progressives and an equally passionate legion of haters among conservatives. Her questioning duly made a splash on social media.skip past newsletter promotionafter newsletter promotionTurning to an item of actual evidence presented by Republicans, she accused them of making it up.Referring to Byron Donalds, she said: “Earlier today, one of our colleagues, the gentleman from Florida, presented up on the screen something that … appeared to be a screenshot of a text message containing or insinuating an explosive allegation.“That screenshot of what appeared to be a text message was a fabricated image.”Donalds showed text messages he claimed indicated that Hunter Biden engaged in fraud and money laundering, to the benefit of his father.“I don’t know where it came from,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “I don’t know if it was the staff of the committee, but it was not the actual direct screenshot from that phone.”She added: “What was brought out from that fabricated image excluded critical context that changed the underlying meaning and allegation that was presented up on that screen, by this committee and by members of this committee.”Ocasio-Cortez also noted that only the witnesses in the hearing were under oath and therefore bound to tell the truth. In contrast, members of Congress could say whatever they wanted. More
Republicans struggled to put forward any evidence of wrongdoing by Joe Biden during a hearing on Thursday that’s part of a newly launched impeachment inquiry.The hearing did not go well for Republicans, who control the US House and allege Biden was connected to his son’s business dealings that could have resulted in bribery and corruption. They have been investigating the matter for months and have yet to produce evidence linking the president to his son’s financial affairs. They failed to do so again on Thursday. Instead, the strategy appeared to be to lay the groundwork to justify a longer fishing expedition.The three Republican witnesses who testified on Thursday all conceded they did not have firsthand knowledge of any criminal activity by Biden. Two of those witnesses, Jonathan Turley, a conservative law professor, and Bruce Dubinsky, a forensic accountant, acknowledged that the information put forward so far by the committee did not amount to corruption.“I have previously stated that, while I believe that an impeachment inquiry is warranted, I do not believe that the evidence currently meets the standard of a high crime and misdemeanor needed for an article of impeachment,” Turley said in prepared testimony. Still, Turley argued that there were signs of influence-peddling and that the committee should investigate further.Republicans were reportedly caught off-guard by Turley’s conclusion and an unnamed Republican aide told CNN the hearing was an “unmitigated disaster” for the effort.“I am not here today to even suggest that there was corruption, fraud, or any wrongdoing. In my opinion, more information needs to be gathered and assessed before I would make such an assessment,” Dubinsky, the forensic accountant, said in his opening statement.Thursday’s hearing, led by the House oversight committee, is titled The Basis for an Impeachment Inquiry of President Joseph R Biden Jr. The other Republican witness was Eileen O’Connor, a former assistant attorney general in Department of Justice’s tax division, who wrote an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal criticizing the investigation into Hunter Biden’s finances. O’Connor served on Trump’s 2016 transition team for the treasury department, the Washington Post reported.The impeachment inquiry appears to be a thinly veiled effort to try to muddy the waters as Donald Trump, who leads the Republican primary field, faces four different criminal cases after being twice impeached.With little concrete evidence to work with, Republicans instead relied on Hunter Biden’s business transactions and text messages to try to cast aspersions on the president. They offered no connection to Joe Biden.“The dots are not connected. The name that’s been mentioned the most often in this hearing is Hunter Biden, not President Biden,” Michael Gerhardt, the lone Democratic witness and a law professor at the University of North Carolina, said several hours into the hearing.“The problem is when you sling mud, you have to have mud,” Representative Jared Moskowitz of Florida said at one point.The White House essentially ignored the hearing. Instead, its press office blasted out several versions of the same statement throughout the day with a countdown until the government shuts down for lack of funding.“There are 60 hours and 55 minutes until the government shuts down because of extreme House Republicans’ chaos and inability to govern. The consequences for the American people will be very damaging – from lost jobs, to troops working without pay, to jeopardizing important efforts to fight fentanyl, provide food assistance, and more. Nothing can distract from that,” one such statement read on Thursday morning.With little substance to debate, and no fact witnesses to testify, the hearing often turned theatrical. At one point, Greg Casar, a representative of Texas, asked members to raise their hands if they thought both Hunter Biden and Donald Trump should be tried, and held accountable for their actions if convicted. All of the Democrats present raised their hands, but no Republicans did.“I think it is worse than embarrassing that Republicans won’t raise their hands. They refuse to say that equal justice under the law should apply to everyone,” he said.Democrats also rebuked Republicans for moving forward with an impeachment inquiry absent a full vote from the US House authorizing it. It is not clear whether there is enough GOP support for impeachment in the House for it to survive a full vote.The New York Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez also accused Republicans of presenting a fabricated text message between Jim and Hunter Biden – the president’s brother and son, respectively – that she pointed out omitted critical context. Representative Byron Donalds of Florida displayed a selectively edited exchange between the two in the format of iMessages, which was not how the committee originally received the communication.skip past newsletter promotionafter newsletter promotionIn his opening statement, Representative James Comer, the Republican chairman of the House oversight committee, claimed the panel had obtained a “mountain of evidence” showing corruption.“He lied by telling the American people that there was an ‘absolute wall’ between his official government duties and his personal life. Let’s be clear: there was no wall. The door was wide open to those who purchased what a business associate described as ‘the Biden Brand’,” he said.But the New York representative Daniel Goldman, a Democrat, pointed to the fact that Republicans had declined to call Devon Archer, Hunter Biden’s business partner to testify. He noted that, in an interview with the committee, Archer had said Joe Biden “never discussed business with Hunter Biden and his associates, he got nothing from the businesses, and never took any official acts related to the businesses”.Republicans also rejected at least two efforts to subpoena Rudy Giuliani, a close ally of Donald Trump who was instrumental in spreading allegations of improprieties by Hunter Biden. Hunter Biden is currently suing Giuliani for the “total annihilation” of his data privacy.For years, Republicans have sought to link Hunter Biden’s business dealings with foreign companies to Joe Biden. But after reviewing thousands of pages of Hunter Biden’s financial records, they have yet to turn up any kind of substantial evidence, according to the New York Times. GOP lawmakers hope to build enough of a case of bribery and abuse of power by Biden.The hearing comes as Republicans have struggled to pass a spending plan to keep the US government open. Democrats have seized on the Thursday hearing to accuse Republicans of being unserious about passing a spending plan.Jason Smith, a Missouri Republican who chairs the House ways and means committee, also said Biden was connected to his son’s business dealings, something Republicans have been unable to prove. “Whether it was lunches, phone calls, White House meetings or official foreign trips, Hunter Biden cashed in by arranging access to Joe Biden, the family brand,” Smith said in his opening remarks.In a lengthy response, Representative Jamie Raskin, the ranking Democrat on the committee, blasted Republicans for focusing on impeachment days before the US government was set to shut down due to lack of funding.“We’re 62 hours away from shutting down the government of the United States of America and Republicans are launching an impeachment drive based on a long debunked and discredited lie,” he said. “They don’t have the votes because dozens of Republicans recognize what a futile and absurd process this is.”Republicans have said they will move forward with impeachment, even if the government shuts down. 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A government shutdown appeared all but inevitable as the House speaker, Kevin McCarthy, dug in on Thursday, vowing he will not take up Senate legislation designed to keep the federal government fully running despite House Republicans’ struggle to unite around an alternative.Congress is at an impasse just days before a disruptive federal shutdown that would halt paychecks for many of the federal government’s roughly 2 million employees, as well as 2 million active-duty military troops and reservists, furlough many of those workers and curtail government services.But the House and Senate are pursuing different paths to avert those consequences, even though time is running out before government funding expires after midnight on Saturday.The Senate is working toward passage of a bipartisan measure that would fund the government until 17 November as longer-term negotiations continue, while also providing $6bn for Ukraine and $6bn for US disaster relief.The House, meanwhile, has teed up votes on four of the dozen annual spending bills that fund various agencies in hopes that would cajole enough Republicans to support a House-crafted continuing resolution that temporarily funds the government and boosts security at the US border with Mexico. It’s a long shot, but McCarthy predicted a deal.“Put your money on me; we’re going to get this done,” he said in a CNBC interview. “I think we can work through the weekend. I think we can figure this out.”Lawmakers were already weary from days of late-night negotiating. The strain was evident at McCarthy’s closed-door meeting with Republicans on Thursday morning, which was marked by a tense exchange between the speaker and Florida congressman Matt Gaetz, according to those in the room.Gaetz, who has taunted McCarthy for weeks with threats to oust him from his post, confronted the speaker about conservative online influencers being paid to post negative things about him. McCarthy shot back that he wouldn’t waste his time on something like that, Gaetz told reporters as he exited the meeting.McCarthy’s allies left the meeting fuming about Gaetz’s tactics.With his majority splintering, McCarthy is scrambling to come up with a plan for preventing a shutdown and win Republican support. The speaker told Republicans he would reveal a Republican stopgap plan, known as a continuing resolution, or CR, on Friday, according to those in the room, while also trying to force Senate Democrats into giving some concessions.But with time running out, many GOP lawmakers were withholding support for a temporary measure until they had a chance to see it. Others are considering joining Democrats, without McCarthy’s support, to bring forward a bill that would prevent a shutdown.With his ability to align his conference in doubt, McCarthy has little standing to negotiate with Senate Democrats. He has also attempted to draw Joe Biden into negotiations, but the Senate majority leader, Chuck Schumer, said Congress and the White House had already worked out top-line spending levels for next year with an agreement this summer that allowed the government to continue borrowing to pay its bills.McCarthy was deviating from that deal and courting a shutdown by catering to Republicans who said it didn’t do enough to cut spending, he said.“By focusing on the views of the radical few instead of the many, speaker McCarthy has made a shutdown far more likely,” Schumer said.Biden also sought to apply more pressure on McCarthy, urging him to compromise with Democrats even though that could threaten his job.“I think that the speaker is making a choice between his speakership and American interests,” Biden said.The White House, as well as the Department of Homeland Security, notified staff on Thursday to prepare for a shutdown, according to emails obtained by the Associated Press. Employees who are furloughed would have four hours on Monday to prepare their offices for the shutdown. More
It was John Fetterman, the Democratic senator for Pennsylvania with a penchant for “unapologetically wearing shorts” while on duty in the Senate, who seems to have broken the system. Last week, when the majority leader, Chuck Schumer, announced a relaxing of the dress code on the Senate floor, he didn’t mention Fetterman. But nobody was fooled. For weeks, Fetterman has been attracting attention in his baggy shorts, shapeless hoodie and massive, scruffy trainers – and now look what he’s done. Stepping up to provide journalists with the mandatory quote on these sorts of occasions, Republican senator Roger Marshall observed gravely that it was “a sad day in the Senate”.When questioned on the matter, Fetterman remarked that the clothes, which he started wearing after a spell in hospital for depression earlier this year, made him more comfortable. There’s probably a pandemic hangover at work here, too – and possibly, given the state of the world, some fiddling-while-Rome-burns displacement. Traditionally, the Senate’s sergeant-at-arms would pull up male senators for appearing tieless on the floor, and out of respect they would vote from the doorways. The understanding is that, from now on, they may be emboldened to take their place alongside colleagues in something more casual.All of which falls into the familiar and pleasing category of the slipping-standards-it-wasn’t-like-that-in-my-day outrage, other iterations of which include people wearing jeans to the theatre, going hatless at weddings and running multibillion-dollar companies from inside an oversized hoodie. If there is a single, pivotal influence at work it is the last one: the uniform of the tech industry, where suits have come to be associated with small-minded, non-disruptive thinking, while dorm room sweats and sneakers, or at the very most jeans and a white shirt, signify the visionary.I find it hard to pick a side in this debate, operating as I am from the disadvantage of working in an industry where formal attire means finding a T-shirt that doesn’t have a stain down the front. And I’ve shifted positions over the years. For example, having once been strongly in favour of school uniforms, the experience of having kids in a US school – one of them sits all day wearing a baseball cap backwards and the other, occasionally, shows up in pyjama bottoms – has conditioned me out of it. British uniform requirements that legislate down to the socks and hair accessories look prissy and pointless in comparison.I also find myself thinking that definitions of what constitutes formal attire need to change. I have to go to dinner on a fancy ship soon and the dress code stipulates no jeans or sneakers. I’m willing to argue the toss on jeans. But sneakers, come on. This overlooks the sheer breadth of the trainer spectrum, which ranges from Fetterman’s sloppy workout shoes to Virgil Abloh’s Off-White for Nike sneakers that are more expensive and greater works of art, if you want to look at it that way, than what would be considered the more appropriate attire of (in my opinion) dumbass Manolos and their brethren.Anyway, what a time to be alive in the Senate. Colleagues of Fetterman’s fell into line for or against him largely along partisan lines, although that division wasn’t entirely uniform. It was noted that Josh Hawley, Republican senator for Missouri, rocked up in jeans, boots and no tie last week, an outfit he says he normally wears at the start of the week when he flies in from his home state and was reportedly very happy not to have to change out of.Republican senator Susan Collins of Maine, meanwhile, joked: “I plan to wear a bikini tomorrow to the Senate floor,” prompting various unsisterly thoughts that had to be immediately quashed. As one of a minority of women in the Senate, there’s a decent feminist point Collins might have made about all this, although, of course, she didn’t; no one looks to Collins – who voted to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the supreme court because he gave her his word he wouldn’t challenge Roe v Wade – to defend the interests of women. The fact remains: had either she or one of her 24 female colleagues pulled a number like Fetterman and turned up, as he himself characterised it, looking like “a slob”, I have a hunch the response might not have been so indulgent and jovial.
Emma Brockes is a Guardian columnist More