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    Herschel Walker: anti-abortion Senate nominee denies media report he paid for abortion in 2009

    Herschel Walker: anti-abortion Senate nominee denies media report he paid for abortion in 2009Republican candidate for US Senate in Georgia who has vehemently opposed abortion rights denies a media report he paid for an abortion for an anonymous former girlfriend in 2009, describing it as ‘a flat out lie’ A Republican nominee for the US Senate, who strongly opposes abortion rights, has denied a Daily Beast report that he paid for an abortion for a former girlfriend in 2009. Herschel Walker, a former American football player who is running for the US Senate in Georgia, called the accusation a “flat-out lie” and says he will sue the news outlet for defamation.The Daily Beast published claims from a woman who says Walker paid for her abortion when they were dating. The woman, who was not named, claimed the allegation was supported by a receipt showing a $575 payment for the procedure, along with a get-well card, purportedly from Walker.According to The Daily Beast, her bank deposit records show the image of a $700 personal check, purportedly from Walker, dated five days after the abortion receipt.The woman claimed in The Daily Beast report that Walker encouraged her to end the pregnancy, saying that the time wasn’t right for a baby.In a statement, Walker said he would file a lawsuit against the news outlet.“This is a flat-out lie and I deny this in the strongest terms possible,” he wrote.Matt Fuller, the politics editor for The Daily Beast, tweeted in response: “I can tell you we stand behind every word and feel very solid about the story.”The allegation against Walker is the latest in a series of stories about the former football star’s past that have rocked the first-time candidate’s campaign in one of the most competitive Senate races in the country. Earlier this year, Walker acknowledged reports that he had three children that he had not previously talked about publicly.As a Senate hopeful, Walker has supported a national ban on abortions with no exceptions for cases involving rape, incest or a woman’s health being at risk.“I’m for life,” Walker has said repeatedly as he campaigns. When asked about whether he’d allow for any exceptions, he has said there are “no excuses” for the procedure.Walker has sidestepped many questions about his earlier support for a national abortion ban, instead trying to turn the issue against his Democratic rival, Senator Raphael Warnock, who supports abortion rights. Walker often characterises abortion as “a woman killing her baby” and says he doesn’t understand how Warnock, a Baptist pastor, can support the procedure being legal.Senator Warnock was dismissive when told of The Daily Beast story and when asked whether it might affect the outcome in Georgia. “I’ll let the pundits decide,” he said.On Monday night, Walker appeared on Fox News where he was asked if he recalled sending a $700 check to a girlfriend.“Well, I sent money to a lot of people,” he said. “I give money to people all the time because I’m always helping people. I believe in being generous. God has blessed me. I want to bless others.”TopicsUS midterm elections 2022Roe v WadeGeorgiaAbortionUS politicsRepublicansnewsReuse this content More

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    Republicans’ lawless leaders at odds with midterm law and order message

    Republicans’ lawless leaders at odds with midterm law and order messageRepublicans running in next month’s elections cast their party as tough on crime, despite top party names’ legal scrapes “John Fetterman wants to release convicted murderers from prison,” warns the narrator, as a black-and-white photo of Pennsylvania’s lieutenant governor is shown beside pictures of convicted killers. A caption adds darkly: “Socialist John Fetterman loves free stuff … but we can’t let him free murderers.”The campaign ad from Mehmet Oz, candidate for the US Senate in Pennsylvania, is vintage Republican strategy: casting a Democratic opponent as soft on crime. The party is zeroing in on fears over public safety ahead of November’s midterm elections in an effort to change the conversation from abortion, climate or democracy.But Republicans’ own claim to be the party of law and order is this time undermined, critics say, by the behavior of its party leaders. Former president Donald Trump, who is under myriad criminal, civil and congressional investigations, is not alone. Many senior Republicans have rallied to his defence or displayed their own contempt for the rule of law.“The Republican party is quickly becoming a party of anarchy and lawlessness,” said Larry Jacobs, director of the Center for the Study of Politics and Governance at the University of Minnesota. “This is supposed to be the party of conservative principles, of tradition, of respect for customs and rules that make society governable.“The idea that the law does not apply to Republicans is something that has now become part of the mainstream of the Republican party. We see it in terms of the approach to elections. We see it in terms of the treatment of immigrants. Some of the actions with regard to abortion may approach that level. The Republican party appears to consider the law and the constitution to be optional and to have lost legitimacy.”Over seven years Trump has refashioned the party in ways obvious and subtle. That has included a willingness to defend conduct that, from any other politician, would have been seen as beyond the pale.US intelligence resumes national security review of Mar-a-Lago documents – as it happenedRead moreAfter FBI agents searched his Mar-a-Lago home in Florida in August and seized classified documents, including some marked top secret, Trump could be indicted for violating the Espionage Act, obstructing a federal investigation or mishandling sensitive government records. The former president also faces a state grand jury investigation in Georgia over efforts to subvert that state’s election result in 2020.Last month, Trump and his oldest three children were accused by New York’s top prosecutor of lying to tax collectors, lenders and insurers in a “staggering” fraud scheme that routinely misstated the value of his properties. Despite it all, Trump remains the frontrunner for the party’s presidential nomination in 2024.His chief rival, Florida governor Ron DeSantis, may have violated federal law recently by using more than $600,000 in taxpayer money to lure about 50 Venezuelan asylum seekers on to flights to the small, upmarket island of Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts, and transporting them across state lines with a false reason.Authorities in Massachusetts have requested that the justice department pursue a human trafficking investigation. A sheriff in Texas, where the flights originated, has also opened an investigation into whether DeSantis acted criminally under a Texas penal code that defines the crime of unlawful restraint.The rot goes deep in the party.Republicans won’t commit to honoring vote results this fall. That’s troubling | Robert ReichRead moreNumerous members of the House of Representatives and Senate, as well as midterm candidates seeking to join them, have refused to condemn or have actively supported Trump’s “big lie” that the 2020 presidential election was stolen, siding with the violent mob on January 6 rather than the US Capitol police officers who resisted them.Steve Bannon, a former White House chief strategist, faces up to two years in prison after being convicted on contempt charges for defying a congressional subpoena from the House of Representatives committee investigating the insurrection. Rudy Giuliani, an ex-lawyer to Trump, had his law licence suspended after a court in New York ruled that he made “demonstrably false and misleading statements” while seeking to overturn the results of the election.In addition, Republicans have long been criticised for prioritising laws that protect gun owners over those that protect the victims of gun violence. And since the supreme court overturned the constitutional right to abortion, Republican-led states are accused of legal abuses: the justice department is suing Idaho over a near-total abortion ban.Critics believe that such examples make a mockery of Republican efforts to saddle Democrats with rising homicide rates in Atlanta, New Orleans, Philadelphia and other cities.Tara Setmayer, a senior adviser to the Lincoln Project, an anti-Trump group, said: “The rank hypocrisy of the Republican party trying to use these issues under the auspices of law and order when they continue to support a professional scofflaw in Donald Trump is laughable.“Republicans have turned a blind eye to Trump’s behavior before, during and after his presidency, which is giving a permission structure to other Republican presidential hopefuls like Ron DeSantis to act in potentially extrajudicial ways to accomplish their agenda of fearmongering and ‘owning the libs’.”Trivialising the rule of law extends to party cheerleaders. Last month, Tucker Carlson, a host on the conservative Fox News network, spoke at the funeral of Ralph “Sonny” Barger, the longtime president of the Hells Angels motorcycle club – deemed by the justice department to be linked to organised crime.Self-awareness in short supply as Trump calls for law and order in DCRead moreBrett Favre, an American football star who endorsed Trump for president in 2020, is embroiled in controversy after Mississippi spent millions of dollars in welfare money on his pet project, a university volleyball arena. The state’s then-governor, Republican Phil Bryant, texted Favre in 2019 that federal money for children and low-income adults is “tightly controlled” and “improper use could result in violation of Federal Law”.Yet Republicans have always been quick to accuse Democrats of flouting the law. In 2015 they argued that Barack Obama’s administration acted illegally when it hid a prisoner swap that freed the army sergeant Bowe Bergdahl from the Taliban. Ilya Shapiro, a former vice-president of the Cato Institute thinktank in Washington, wrote that “the Obama administration has been the most lawless in US history”.But Setmayer, a former Republican communications director on Capitol Hill, believes that such comparisons are disingenuous. “These are the same Republicans who ran around with their hair on fire, concerned with what President Obama was doing through executive orders on guns and on immigration. That was nowhere near as legally dubious as what Republicans are doing today.”It was 1968 when presidential candidate Richard Nixon claimed the mantle of “law and order” for the Republican party, promising to fix a nation in disarray: “As we look at America, we see cities enveloped in smoke and flame. We hear sirens in the night.” Six years later, Nixon was forced to resign after breaking the law in his efforts to cover up the Watergate break-in.But Republicans believed they had found a winning message. In 1988, a political action committee supporting George HW Bush’s election campaign funded an ad blaming Democratic rival Michael Dukakis for the case of Willie Horton, an African American convict who committed rape during a furlough from prison. Bush’s campaign manager, Lee Atwater, boasted that he would make Horton “Dukakis’s running mate”.Now, the familiar drumbeat is being heard again in midterm races from Oregon to Pennsylvania, from New Mexico to Washington state. House Republicans just launched a “Commitment to America” manifesto that blamed “defund the police” efforts for law enforcement officers’ tough working conditions, “to say nothing of the liberal prosecutors and district attorneys who fail to do their job and keep criminals off the streets”.Joe Biden and other Democrats have worked hard to disown the “defund the police” slogan, with many Democratic-led cities pouring money into police departments. But the issue remains a vulnerability: voters say they agree more with Republicans on crime and policing by a margin of 10 percentage points, a recent New York Times/ Siena College poll found.Donna Brazile, a former interim chair of the Democratic National Committee, said: “The Republicans are basically using the same playbook that Richard Nixon used. Richard Nixon ran as the candidate of law and order and we all know what happened next: Watergate. This is the same playbook. The Republicans constantly go back to their old playbooks in order to find a new way to reach the electorate. I think voters are smarter.”TopicsRepublicansUS politicsUS midterm elections 2022Donald TrumpRon DeSantisUS crimefeaturesReuse this content More

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    Stacey Abrams helped swing Georgia for the Democrats. So why is she trailing?

    She’s Georgia’s great blue hope. Can Stacey Abrams win her crucial race? Georgia in focus: Despite being hailed as architect of Georgia’s political transformation, Abrams is still an underdog in her rematch with Governor Brian Kemp for reasons that make Democrats nervousStacey Abrams was a high school senior the first time she was invited to the Georgia governor’s mansion. It was for a ceremony honoring the state’s class valedictorians, and Abrams was her school’s top academic achiever. At the time, her family did not own a car, so Abrams and her parents rode the bus from their working-class suburb to the stately mansion in downtown Atlanta.When they arrived, Abrams recalls a guard emerging from the security booth. Eyeing the bus, he told them: “This is a private event. You don’t belong here.” Never mind that her invitation was tucked into her mother’s handbag or that her name was second on the list of invitees.Ginni Thomas still believes Trump’s false claim the 2020 election was stolenRead moreA terse exchange ensued between her father and the guard, who grudgingly checked the guest list and let them in.“The thing of it is,” Abrams said at a recent campaign stop in Atlanta, “I don’t remember meeting the governor of Georgia. I don’t remember meeting my fellow valedictorians from 180 school districts … All I remember is a man standing in front of the most powerful place in Georgia, looking at me, telling me I don’t belong.”But the story doesn’t have to end there, Abrams tells supporters as she campaigns to become the first Black female governor in American history. With their help this November, she promises, they will “open those gates wide” and “win the future for Georgia”.Four years ago, Abrams came within a hair of it. She lost the Georgia governorship to Republican Brian Kemp by fewer than 55,000 votes, in a race dominated by allegations of voter suppression, which Kemp, then the secretary of state overseeing the election, denied.In her near-miss, national Democrats saw a promising leader – and the potential to reclaim the southern state that had long ago slipped away. Successive Democratic wins in the years that followed validated her work expanding the electorate, a decade-long project aimed at mobilizing the disillusioned and the marginalized.Abrams was even considered a potential running mate for Joe Biden in 2020, a prospect she welcomed. But she always kept her sights on the governor’s mansion, declining pleas to run for the Senate. Now, her second chance has arrived.Yet Abrams, hailed by Democrats as the architect of Georgia’s political transformation, enters the final weeks of her rematch with Kemp an underdog.Polls consistently show the 48-year-old Democrat trailing Kemp, now a relatively popular governor with the advantage of incumbency. The latest Atlanta Journal-Constitution (AJC) poll found that the governor had significantly expanded his lead over Abrams, 50% to 42%. And while Abrams has stronger support among her base than Kemp, according to a Monmouth University survey, it concluded that her path to victory was “much narrower”.But Abrams is refusing to be counted out. A Yale-educated tax attorney, she says she trusts her math better than the polls. In the fast-growing and diversifying battleground state, she notes that as many as 1.6 million new voters have been added to the rolls since 2018, many times Kemp’s margin of victory that year.“Every success I’ve ever had in politics has been about building the electorate I need – building the electorate we should have, which is an electorate that’s much more reflective of the state,” Abrams said during an interview at a coffee shop in Atlanta.Georgia is nearly evenly divided between the parties, and in many ways, Abrams and Kemp embody the dueling factions of the state’s polarized electorate. Abrams, a former state house minority leader and prominent voting rights advocate, is working to mobilize Black, Latino and Asian American voters along with young people in Atlanta and its sprawling suburbs. While Kemp, a staunch conservative who easily defeated a Trump-backed primary challenge earlier this year, draws overwhelming support from white voters in the rural and exurban parts of the state.“This is 100% the battle of the bases,” said Nsé Ufot, leader of the New Georgia Project, a group founded by Abrams to register and engage young people and voters of color. “And it’s 100% going to be determined by who shows up to vote and whose votes get counted.”Canvassers with the New Georgia Project are pounding the pavement to register and turn out voters this cycle. Their goal is to knock on at least 2m doors by election day. Though some Democrats have expressed doubts about Abrams’ expansion strategy, Ufot said it has already proven effective by paving the way for Biden’s victory in 2020 and the election of two Democratic senators in 2021, which delivered the party control of the chamber.“Now is the time to double down, not to second guess ourselves,” she said.Despite a deeply loyal base, surveys suggest Abrams has become a more polarizing figure since her last campaign. Supporters say it is not surprising, after four years of being vilified by conservatives as a far-left extremist who views the governorship only as a stepping stone to the presidency.But it may be making it harder for Abrams to attract the vanishingly thin slice of independent and moderate Republican voters whose discomfort with Trump pushed them toward Democrats in recent elections. A Marist Poll found that 11% of Georgians who voted for Biden in 2020 plan to back Kemp for governor, while just 5% of Trump voters favor Abrams.“If Abrams looks to be more than a contender and she wants to win,” said Andra Gillespie, a political scientist at Emory University in Atlanta, “she really is going to have to shake the tree and find a few more Democratic voters.”Meanwhile, Trump loyalists who were once wary of Kemp have largely aligned behind him, persuaded by his conservative record and their fear of an Abrams victory.“We definitely cannot have a Stacey Abrams governorship in Georgia,” said Salleigh Grubbs, chair of the Cobb County Republican party, which censured Kemp in 2021. “That’s a very scary proposition.”Kemp’s refusal to overturn Biden’s victory in Georgia during the turbulent weeks after the 2020 election infuriated Trump. In the months that followed, he made Kemp the target of a vengeance campaign, even once musing that Abrams would make a better governor.But since Kemp’s strong primary showing, Trump has mostly stayed away from the governor’s race. And Republican allies say Kemp’s independence will probably help him win back disaffected suburban voters.Abrams is vocal in her view that Kemp deserves no credit for withstanding pressure to subvert a free and fair election.“While I’m glad that he didn’t commit treason, that is not a reason to lionize him,” she said in the interview. “He simply did not do one thing and he has used that to cloak every other bad behavior.”Kemp, Abrams argues, has been relatively silent on Trump’s efforts to overturn the election, even as the former president’s stolen-election myth continues to resonate deeply with conservatives in the state. He also backed an overhaul of the state’s voting laws that critics said was rooted in Trump’s groundless claims of widespread fraud.“Kemp is a Maga Republican who has done everything in his power to align himself with not only Trump’s values but Trump’s behavior,” she added. “He has just done it in a more subtle way.”In Georgia, like elsewhere, Democrats face a challenging political environment. Voters have soured on the president amid widespread economic malaise and anxiety about the rising cost of living.With the economy top of mind for voters, Kemp has sought to tie Abrams to Biden and warned that her economic plans would deepen inflation. At the same time, he is campaigning as a steward of Georgia’s bustling economy, which includes record-low unemployment and a record $21.2bn in state-tracked business investments.According to the AJC poll, Georgians were significantly more pessimistic about the direction of the country than the direction of their state. On the campaign trail, Kemp attributes the rosier outlook to his decision to reopen businesses after they closed during the earliest months of the pandemic. He also approved of popular policies that boosted teacher pay, provided tax rebates to families and suspended the state’s gas tax.“The courage that we have seen from Governor Brian Kemp has been extraordinary,” said Nikki Haley, the former Republican governor of South Carolina, during a campaign appearance with Kemp at a burger joint in Atlanta. “First state in the country to open up after Covid – he was vilified for it, and it turns out that he’s the one that saved the economy, saved our businesses … and allowed people to get back to work.”Abrams has sought to paint a starkly different picture of the economy under Kemp, one in which the wealthiest have profited while the poor have been left behind. At the center of her economic agenda is a plan to fully expand Medicaid, which she argues is critical to stopping a wave of hospital closures across the state, including a major trauma center in Atlanta that has become a flashpoint in the campaign.But it is a brewing national backlash to the supreme court decision overturning the federal right to an abortion that Abrams and Democrats believe could change the tide. In ads and on the campaign trail, Abrams has lashed Kemp for signing a 2019 law that bans abortion as early as six weeks in Georgia, before many women know they are pregnant. The law was allowed to take effect in the aftermath of the high court’s ruling.According to recent polling, most voters in Georgia disagree with the supreme court decision in Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organization and more than half say the state’s abortion laws are too strict.“The No 1 issue that people talk about when I’m on the campaign trail is abortion rights,” said Nabilah Islam, the Democratic nominee for a competitive state senate seat in Gwinnett county.Islam, who has put abortion access at the center of her campaign, pointed to the rise in voter registration among women since the Dobbs decision. “There’s a feeling of helplessness,” she said, “but also hope because people are so angry that they’re organizing at levels unseen before.”Abrams is also working to shore up her base. Black voters are the cornerstone of the Democrats coalition in Georgia. While they still overwhelmingly prefer Democrats, there are some signs the party is struggling to motivate Black voters at the levels needed to win in Georgia.The trend is particularly pronounced among Black men, who have edged toward Republicans in recent years. In several polls, Kemp has notably improved his standing among Black voters from 2018.Ron DeSantis changes with the wind as Hurricane Ian prompts flip-flop on aidRead moreAbrams says she is taking no vote for granted. As part of her campaign’s outreach to Black men, she has hosted a series of conversations called “Stacey and the Fellas” to discuss how her initiatives on issues like healthcare and housing will benefit their communities.At one such event over the summer, she was blunt: “If Black men vote for me, I will win Georgia.”Andrekay Askew is among the roughly one in 10 Black voters who remain undecided in the state. The 27-year-old said he is skeptical of Democrats’ economic policies but was open to learning more about Abrams’s platform.Ultimately, he said, his decision would be guided by: “Who is better with the money?”Listening from the porch, his mother shook her head in disagreement. Laqua Askew, who works in special education, is a lifelong Democrat who voted for Abrams in 2018 and plans to do so again this year. She is worried about a lack of public school funding, as well as gun violence and crime, all of which she said takes a heavy toll on the low-income students she works with.“Kemp had the opportunity to make a change but he hasn’t,” she said. “We’ve got to try something else.”In a state as closely divided as Georgia, much could still change before election day. Kemp and Abrams will face off in a public debate that could help sway the critical few undecided voters. And if neither candidate wins a majority of the vote, the contest proceeds to a runoff election.Speaking at the AFL-CIO Labor Day picnic last month, Abrams asked supporters to spend the final weeks of the campaign focused on the “unfinished business” before them.“I can’t get this job if you all don’t show up,” she said. “I can get this job if you all do what you did in 2018.”
    Joan E Greve contributed to this report from Atlanta.
    TopicsUS midterm elections 2022AtlantaGeorgiaStacey AbramsUS politicsDemocratsnewsReuse this content More

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    The ‘all-out’ effort to overcome Georgia’s new restrictive voting bill

    The ‘all-out’ effort to overcome Georgia’s new restrictive voting billSB202 is forcing officials and voting rights groups to use every resource to ensure elections run smoothly In 2021, the Election Integrity Act sent shockwaves across Georgia as citizens learned of new restrictions, such as curbing the way churches could provide pizza and water to voters. However, there are much broader effects of the bill being felt across the state as communities across Georgia prepare for midterm elections, the first major election since the signing of the controversial bill.The 98-page bill, also called SB202, impacts a litany of election elements ranging from voter ID laws to the distance at which food and water can be distributed to voters waiting in line. Election officials say they are being forced to use every resource at their disposal to navigate the bill and ensure this election season runs smoothly. But there is widespread concern that the new law will create fresh barriers to voters of color and the changing Georgia electorate.Kamala Harris says ‘everything on the line’ in midterm elections Read more“Internally, we are taking a multifaceted approach, strengthening leadership and expertise throughout departments, and working to beef up skillsets,” said Dele Lowman Smith, chair of the Dekalb county voter registration and election board. “Externally, we are expanding poll worker training and modernizing it to help better address voter concerns when they come up.”Lowman Smith, who was appointed to the position in July 2021, said it will take an all-out approach to ensure elections run smoothly in her county of more than 500,000 active voters.Although there were once 31 ballot drop boxes across the county in the 2020 election season, they are now allowed only six for the entire county as the bill prescribes one drop box per 100,000 voters. The time to request and return absentee ballots has dropped from 176 days to 59 days – more than 50% – forcing election officials to contend with a much quicker turnaround. Additionally, rather than completing absentee ballot applications solely online, voters must now include an original signature on their application, requiring access to a printer.Liza Conrad, deputy executive director of Fair Fight, a voting rights organization based in Georgia, said SB202 significantly burdens voters. “For voters who wish to vote by mail, many are now overcoming these barriers while attempting to make their voices heard,” she said. “If we look back to Georgia’s primary election in May, the rate of rejected vote by mail applications was much higher than that of 2020.”And while voter education once focused on civic engagement and political education, voting rights organizers such as Helen Butler, executive director of the Georgia Coalition for the People’s Agenda, says engaging voters now has to include education around technology and intricacies of the law out of necessity.“What we have to do now is canvassing to really educate people about the process. We are trying to make sure people are still able to exercise their right to vote,” said Butler. “Every little thing seems to have had some kind of change. Even the secretary of state ‘my voter’ page [website] has changed, and now voters have to navigate through tabs instead of just having it all on one page, so we’re having to train voters on that now too.”Conrad, Butler, and Lowman Smith all think it is critical to note that the full breadth of the law goes well beyond absentee ballots, voter IDs and drop boxes. SB202 also limits poll workers’ ability to work at polls outside their county, limiting the capacity of many counties in Georgia as they struggle to find an adequate number of already dwindling poll workers.Shanice Amira Bennerson worked as a precinct manager for multiple elections between 2020 and 2022. However, after witnessing the impact SB202 changes had on voters during the May primaries, Bennerson decided not to continue her work as a poll worker.“Trying to help voters who were just so confused and dejected is heartbreaking. When you have limited precincts and voters who are confused by these changes, some voters just left. Tensions are high, and voters were understandably frustrated,” said Brennerson. “When you couple this with all of the new rules from [SB202] and the limited training we get, it almost feels like a disaster waiting to happen.”Voting organizations such as the Georgia Coalition for the People’s Agenda and Fair Fight have sought ways to engage and encourage poll workers and election boards across the state to address capacity and education on a larger scale. Fair Fight is hosting a “Vote Gold Georgia” tour calling for intentional and expanded voting sites and voting times.Still, some voting rights organizations hope to call attention to the many changes prompted by SB202 by highlighting the voters most impacted by the law.“Anti-voter bills like SB202 are a response to Black, brown and young voters turning out and claiming their power in 2020,” says Conrad. “And so, we are working to continue to make sure that these communities continue to participate and make their voices heard and that the poll workers who keep our democracy functioning are empowered and protected.”Meredyth Yoon, litigation director for Asian Americans Advancing Justice Atlanta, also thinks the bill unjustly targets voters of color, and hopes to bridge the gap in access it could create.Her group is reallocating resources and shifting its voter education approach to fully educate its communities around changes in timelines, requirements and other recent election changes.“Overall, the impact of the bill is on voters of color, and it was not an accident or unknown to legislators that these communities would ultimately be affected,” says Yoon. “These sorts of tactics are traditionally the types of restrictions that are intended to impact voters of color on the assumption of how voters of color will vote.”TopicsGeorgiaUS voting rightsUS midterm elections 2022RaceUS politicsnewsReuse this content More

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    US intelligence resumes national security review of Mar-a-Lago documents – as it happened

    Biden is hitting back at House Republicans and the Commitment to America plan they announced today, calling it “a thin series of policy goals” and saying the GOP’s true goal is banning abortion nationwide.He cited the words of rightwing supreme court justice Samuel Alito, who wrote in his opinion overturning Roe v Wade that the decision “allows women on both sides of the abortion issue to seek to affect the legislative process by influencing public opinion.”“I don’t believe Maga Republicans have a clue about the power American women,” Biden said to applause in his speech stumping on behalf of the Democratic National Committee.Referring to the plan announced by top House Republican Kevin McCarthy, Biden said, “Here’s a few of the things we didn’t hear. We didn’t hear mentioned the right to choose. We didn’t hear mentioned Medicare. We didn’t hear mentioned social security.”He went on to link the upcoming midterms to continuing availability of abortion in America, saying, “In 46 days, America is going to choose Republicans when control the Congress and abortion will be banned. And by the way, it will be initially banned but if they went Congress, I will veto it.”With an eye to reclaiming their majority, House Republicans have released their Commitment to America – which is not to be confused with 1994’s Contract with America or 2010’s Pledge to America unveiled before the party won the chamber in those years’ midterms. Joe Biden responded to the plan by hammering the “Maga Republicans” he said want to ban abortion nationwide and slash social security.Here’s what else happened today:
    A Twitter whistleblower whose anonymous testimony was made public by the January 6 committee warned of the peril facing America’s democracy in an interview with The Washington Post.
    US intelligence agencies have restarted their assessment of the risk to national security posed by the documents found at Mar-a-Lago.
    White House officials are said to be mulling an effort to oust the Trump-installed World Bank president after he quibbled over whether humans caused climate change.
    Former supreme court justice Stephen Breyer expressed remorse over its decision ending Roe v Wade.
    Lawyers for Donald Trump are citing legal privilege to try to stop former White House officials from answering questions before a federal grand jury investigating his attempts to meddle with the 2020 election, CNN reports.The effort shows how attorneys for Trump hope to seize on both executive privilege conferred on presidents as well as attorney-client privilege to frustrate the investigation by the grand jury in Washington. His attorneys had made similar claims when they successfully petitioned a judge to appoint a special master to review documents seized from Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort, in a ruling that also temporarily halted the justice department’s probe into the materials found there.Here’s more from CNN’s story:.css-knbk2a{height:1em;width:1.5em;margin-right:3px;vertical-align:baseline;fill:#C70000;}Former President Donald Trump‘s attorneys are fighting a secret court battle to block a federal grand jury from gathering information from an expanding circle of close Trump aides about his efforts to overturn the 2020 election, people briefed on the matter told CNN.
    The high-stakes legal dispute — which included the appearance of three attorneys representing Trump at the Washington, DC, federal courthouse on Thursday afternoon — is the most aggressive step taken by the former President to assert executive and attorney-client privileges in order to prevent some witnesses from sharing information in the criminal investigation events surrounding January 6, 2021.
    The court fight over privilege, which has not been previously reported and is under seal, is a turning point for Trump’s post-presidency legal woes.
    How the fight is resolved could determine whether prosecutors can tear down the firewall Trump has tried to keep around his conversations in the West Wing and with attorneys he spoke to as he sought to overturn the 2020 election and they worked to help him hold onto the presidency.Michael Avenatti was once a firebrand attorney and darling of those who loathed Donald Trump. Now he’s been disgraced by a series of criminal convictions, and today was ordered to pay restitution to former client Stormy Daniels, who claimed to have had an affair with the former president.Reuters reports that a Manhattan court ordered Avenatti to pay Daniels $148,750 after his conviction earlier this year on wire fraud and aggravated identity theft charges for embezzling her book proceeds.He was sentenced to four years in prison in that case, and is also awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty to five federal charges in California.Michael Avenatti sentenced to four years for cheating Stormy DanielsRead moreAmerican intelligence agencies have again begun their review of the national security risks of classified documents found at Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort after an appeals court overturned a judge’s order that had temporarily blocked it, Politico reports.The review is one of two that director of national intelligence Avril Haines said would be done of the documents the FBI found at Trump’s Florida resort last month: one focused on their classification levels, the other on what would happen if their contents were made public.Trump-appointed federal judge Aileen Cannon had granted a request from the former president to halt the review of the seized material, but that was thrown out by an appeals court earlier this week.Court lifts hold on classified records seized from Mar-a-Lago in Trump inquiryRead moreMore on Sinema: a recent poll on the senator found that she was viewed unfavorably by all political parties and across all demographic categories. A poll conducted by AARP Arizona on the current political environment found that a majority of voters in both political parties did not view Sinema favorably, including across all age categories, genders, as well as racial and ethnic demographics. The poll results can be viewed here.In other news, Senator Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona will be giving a talk on Monday at the McConnell Center, an institution named after Republican senator Mitch McConnell that connects young people in Kentucky with political leaders. The center advertised the talk on Twitter, writing: .css-knbk2a{height:1em;width:1.5em;margin-right:3px;vertical-align:baseline;fill:#C70000;}This Monday, Sept. 26, the McConnell Center is excited to welcome U.S. Senator Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) to give a talk titled “The Future of Political Discourse and the Importance of Bipartisanship.” Join via livestream at http://McConnellCenter.org at 10 AM.This Monday, Sept. 26, the McConnell Center is excited to welcome U.S. Senator Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) to give a talk titled “The Future of Political Discourse and the Importance of Bipartisanship.” Join via livestream at https://t.co/F7epAlno78 at 10 AM. #Leadership pic.twitter.com/t0LO0ZazOi— McConnell Center (@ULmCenter) September 23, 2022
    Reaction to Sinema’s upcoming talk was somewhat negative, as users criticized the first-time senator for agreeing to give a talk at McConnell’s namesake institution given McConnell’s voting record. With an eye to reclaiming their majority, House Republicans have released their Commitment to America – which is not to be confused with 1994’s Contract with America or 2010’s Pledge to America unveiled before they reclaimed the chamber in those years’ midterms. Joe Biden responded to the plan by hammering the “Maga Republicans” he said want to ban abortion nationwide and slash social security.Here’s what else has happened today:
    A Twitter whistleblower whose anonymous testimony was made public by the January 6 committee warned of the peril facing America’s democracy in an interview with The Washington Post.
    White House officials are said to be mulling an effort to oust the Trump-installed World Bank president after he quibbled over whether humans caused climate change.
    Former supreme court justice Stephen Breyer expressed remorse over its decision ending Roe v Wade.
    This speech has amounted to a point-by-point rebuttal of House Republicans’ Commitment to America, and as he wrapped up the speech, he turned to its call to “increase accountability in the election process”.“And finally, with a straight face, Kevin McCarthy says that Maga Republicans will restore faith in our elections. As we say in my faith, bless me father for I have sinned,” said Biden, a practicing Catholic. “Maga Republicans refused to accept the results of the 2020 election and the will of the people.“You can’t let the integrity of elections be undermined,” Biden said. “When one side believes there’s only two outcomes in an election, either they win or they were cheated, that’s not democracy. And that’s where the mass majority of Maga Republicans are today. They don’t understand what every patriotic American knows: you can’t love your country only when you win.”Biden is hitting back at House Republicans and the Commitment to America plan they announced today, calling it “a thin series of policy goals” and saying the GOP’s true goal is banning abortion nationwide.He cited the words of rightwing supreme court justice Samuel Alito, who wrote in his opinion overturning Roe v Wade that the decision “allows women on both sides of the abortion issue to seek to affect the legislative process by influencing public opinion.”“I don’t believe Maga Republicans have a clue about the power American women,” Biden said to applause in his speech stumping on behalf of the Democratic National Committee.Referring to the plan announced by top House Republican Kevin McCarthy, Biden said, “Here’s a few of the things we didn’t hear. We didn’t hear mentioned the right to choose. We didn’t hear mentioned Medicare. We didn’t hear mentioned social security.”He went on to link the upcoming midterms to continuing availability of abortion in America, saying, “In 46 days, America is going to choose Republicans when control the Congress and abortion will be banned. And by the way, it will be initially banned but if they went Congress, I will veto it.”We’re about to hear from President Joe Biden at an event hosted by the Democratic National Committee, where he’ll no doubt stump for the party and potentially respond to House Republicans’ Commitment to America plan announced today.You can follow the event at the headquarters of the National Education Association here.“Without intervention we really are on this path to catastrophe.” Those are the chilling words of former Twitter employee Anika Collier Navaroli, whose anonymous testimony to the January 6 committee was shared last July, and who has now made her name public in an interview with the Washington Post.She recounted how the platform relished the attention brought by Trump as he turned Twitter into a bully pulpit to rival all others, and downplayed her concerns that he was inciting violence:.css-knbk2a{height:1em;width:1.5em;margin-right:3px;vertical-align:baseline;fill:#C70000;}After Trump told the Proud Boys, a far-right group with a history of violence, at a September 2020 presidential debate to “stand back and stand by,” Navaroli pushed for the company to adopt a stricter policy around calls to incitement.
    Trump “was speaking directly to extremist organizations and giving them directives,” she told the committee. “We had not seen that sort of direct communication before, and that concerned me.”
    She had also seen how his tweets were quickly sparking replies from other accounts calling for “civil war.” After Trump’s “will be wild” tweet in December, she said, “it became clear not only were these individuals ready and willing, but the leader of their cause was asking them to join him in … fighting for this cause in D.C. on January 6th.”
    The company, however, declined to take action, she told the committee. She pleaded with managers, she said, to face the “reality that … if we made no intervention into what I saw occurring, people were going to die.”In the interview with the Post, Navaroli called on other whistleblowers to come forward while warning that America’s democracy may be irrevocably damaged:.css-knbk2a{height:1em;width:1.5em;margin-right:3px;vertical-align:baseline;fill:#C70000;}“My fear within the American context is that we have seen our last peaceful transition of power,” Navaroli said. But “the same playbook,” she added, is being used around the world, “teeing up the idea that if an election is not in someone’s favor, it’s been rigged. Without intervention we really are on this path to catastrophe.” More

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    Fetterman’s health at center of US Senate race in Pennsylvania as Oz fights to close gap

    Fetterman’s health at center of US Senate race in Pennsylvania as Oz fights to close gapDemocratic nominee says he hopes supporters don’t ‘have a doctor in your life making fun of it’ amid questions over stroke Amid questions over his recovery from a stroke and demands he release his medical records, John Fetterman, the Democratic nominee for US Senate in Pennsylvania, asked supporters if they had faced health challenges themselves.‘Women are the reason we can win,’ John Fetterman says at Pennsylvania rallyRead moreHe added: “I truly hope for each and every one of you you didn’t have a doctor in your life making fun of it.”The former mayor of Braddock, now lieutenant governor, was speaking at a campaign rally in Blue Bell. He suffered a stroke in May.His Republican opponent is Mehmet Oz, a heart surgeon who became famous on morning TV, admitted in Senate testimony to promoting diet pills that do not work, insists he does not actually live in New Jersey and is endorsed by Donald Trump.The Oz campaign has repeatedly mocked Fetterman’s health problems. Doctored videos which seem to show Fetterman struggling to speak have spread on social media.Fetterman still leads in polling but the gap has closed as Fetterman’s health has become a campaign issue.Democrats insist their candidate is fine.“I was with him Saturday in Scranton,” Bob Casey, the serving Democratic US senator in Pennsylvania, told NBC News. “He had 1,000 people! … that connection is very strong. The other side is trying to break that and they’re having real trouble because they don’t have that same connection. That’s what the race is about.”Pat Toomey, the retiring Republican whose seat is up for grabs, told the same outlet: “If John Fetterman were elected to the Senate, and he’s not able to communicate effectively, if he’s not able to engage with the press, if he’s not able to engage with colleagues, he will not be able to do the job.”Oz has pressured Fetterman to commit to campaign debates. Earlier this month, the Republican told reporters: “John Fetterman is either healthy and he’s dodging the debate because he does not want to answer for his radical left positions, or he’s too sick to participate in the debate.”Fetterman then said he would debate Oz once. The event is set for 25 October.Oz has now released his medical records. According to the Associated Press, a New York City doctor found the 62-year-old to be in “excellent health” after an annual check-up on Thursday. The AP said the Fetterman campaign did not immediately comment.Pointing out that Pennsylvania could decide control of the Senate, now split 50-50, the Washington Post editorial board called for Fetterman to release his records.The board wrote: “Mr Fetterman is asking voters for a six-year contract without giving them enough information to make sound judgments about whether he’s up for such a demanding job.“We have called for full disclosure of health records from candidates for federal office in both parties, including Donald Trump and Joe Biden, and we believe Mr Fetterman should release his medical records for independent review.”The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has also called for Fetterman to release his records, to “reassure the public”.The Washington Post also said Fetterman should commit to more than one debate.It said: “Since returning to the campaign trail, Mr Fetterman has been halting in his performances. He stammers, appears confused and keeps his remarks short. He has held no news conferences.“Mr Fetterman acknowledges his difficulties with auditory processing, which make it hard for him to respond quickly to what he’s hearing. He receives speech therapy – and we wish him a speedy, full recovery – but the lingering, unanswered questions about his health, underscored by his hesitation to debate, are unsettling.”Speaking to NBC, the Fetterman adviser Rebecca Katz said: “John is communicating effectively with the people of Pennsylvania and running one of the best Senate campaigns in the country.“We don’t need to speculate about whether he can be an effective leader in January, after he’s had four more months to recover. He’s effective right now.”TopicsPennsylvaniaUS midterm elections 2022US politicsnewsReuse this content More

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    Alarm as Koch bankrolls dozens of election denier candidates

    Alarm as Koch bankrolls dozens of election denier candidates Election watchdogs say Koch’s about face after pledging change following January 6 is disturbing given the threats to democracy Fossil fuel giant Koch Industries has poured over $1m into backing – directly and indirectly – dozens of House and Senate candidates who voted against certifying Joe Biden’s win on 6 January 2021.Koch, which is controlled by multibillionaire Charles Koch, boasts a corporate Pac that has donated $607,000 to the campaigns or leadership Pacs of 52 election deniers since January 2021, making Koch’s Pac the top corporate funder of members who opposed the election results, according to OpenSecrets, which tracks campaign spending.In addition, the Super Pac Americans for Prosperity Action to which Koch Industries has given over $6m since January 2021, has backed some election deniers with advertising and other communications support, as well as a few candidates Donald Trump has endorsed who tried to help him overturn the 2020 election, or raised doubts about the final results.A top official with AFP Action told Politico after the January 6 insurrection by Donald Trump supporters that it planned to “weigh heavily” future spending and back “policy makers who reject the politics of division”.Altogether, 139 House members and eight senators voted against certifying Biden’s win in Arizona or Pennsylvania.Election and campaign finance watchdogs say that the financial support for candidates who were election deniers by Koch’s Pac and the Super Pac AFP Action is very disturbing given the threats to democracy posed by election deniers. “There’s a unique danger in having politicians who cast doubt on the validity of the last election results play a role in certifying the next election,” said Ian Vandewalker, a senior counsel for the Democracy program at the Brennan Center for Justice.“Even if they don’t take any overt action to reject the will of the voters, the election denial message itself harms voter confidence in the system. Democracy requires the losing side to accept the results – without that we could see civil unrest on a much larger scale than January 6.”Although the Koch-funded Super Pac AFP Action had suggested it would not back election deniers after 6 January, analysts aren’t shocked given Koch’s lobbying and legislative priorities, which include fighting various tax and regulatory measures related to fossil fuel issues including climate change that affect the company’s bottom line. Koch spent $12.2m last year on lobbying – more than any other oil and gas company during 2021.“Like other corporations pledging change following January 6, Koch Industries has returned to business as usual,” said Sheila Krumholz, who leads OpenSecrets.” Without repercussions and continued public attention, companies will go back to funding politicians who support their agenda.”“Like many big business spenders, Koch seems more interested in their favored party controlling Congress than the characteristics of specific members,” Vandewalker added.To be sure, the Koch Pac’s support for 52 election deniers included a number of members whose votes are often helpful to fossil fuel interests.Senator John Kennedy of Louisiana, who is often a staunch ally of fossil fuel interests, received $20,000 from Koch’s Pac, a sum only matched by the corporate Pac of Capital One. Kennedy teamed up with other senators in January 2021 on a statement that claimed the 2020 election was “rife with allegations of fraud and irregularities that exceed any in our lifetimes”.Senator Roger Marshall of Kansas, where Koch is headquartered, also voted against certifying Biden’s election and has received support from Koch’s Pac. Marshall is not up for re-election this year.Separately, Americans for Prosperity Action, to which Koch has donated $6m, has spent almost $20m on ads and other communications much of which has gone to support some election deniers running for the Senate and House, plus Senate candidates who tried to help Trump reverse the 2020 election results or who have raised doubts about its outcome.For instance, House member Ted Budd, who voted against certifying Biden’s win on 6 January, and now hopes to win a Senate seat in North Carolina, has benefited from almost $3.1m that AFP Action has spent to help him win the seat of the retiring senator Richard Burr. Budd has also told CNN that he had “constitutional concerns” about the election while acknowledging that Biden is president.Similarly, two House members who opposed certifying Biden’s victory, Kat Cammack of Florida and Steve Chabot of Ohio, have both attracted backing from AFP Action. AFP Action has spent $369,750 to help Cammack and $287,902 to help Chabot.Moreover, AFP Action has spent $4.9m to boost the Missouri attorney general, Eric Schmitt, who filed a lawsuit in December 2020 in tandem with the Texas attorney general to overturn the election results, and is running for an open seat.The Wisconsin senator Ron Johnson also has benefited from $4.2m spent by AFP Action to help him in what seems to be a tight re-election race. According to revelations at a House January 6 committee hearing in June, an aide to Johnson reportedly helped promote efforts to substitute fake electors for Trump for legitimate ones that Biden won in the run up to 6 January when Congress certified the election results.And Mehmet Oz, the GOP Senate candidate in Pennsylvania, whose campaign has been backed by over $2m of ad and other support from AFP Action, told Fox News in September that “lots more information” was needed to assess whether Trump won the 2020 election, contradicting prior Oz remarks that he would have certified Biden’s election if he was senator.Election objectors won substantial donations from other corporate Pacs besides Koch’s. OpenSecrets reported in August that altogether members who voted against certifying Biden’s win received a whopping $22m post-January 6 from the Pacs of 700 corporations. Besides Koch’s Pac, the other top corporate Pacs were those of Home Depot and Boeing that respectively ponied up $593,000 to 44 members and $520,000 to 27 members.Still, at least one veteran of a thinktank that Charles Koch co-founded and has helped fund says that the company’s ongoing support for election deniers is very troubling.“When the only elected officials who will carry your political water are proto-fascists, what is one to do?” said Jerry Taylor, a former vice-president at the Cato Institute in DC where he oversaw climate and energy issues. “Charles Koch has made his choice. This self-proclaimed voice of freedom and liberty has apparently decided that advancing the public policies he desires is more important than democracy.“His choice is not unlike the choices that most German industrialists made in the Weimar Republic.”TopicsUS elections 2020Koch brothersUS politicsUS midterm elections 2022newsReuse this content More

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    Poppy Noor has been looking into how the US Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v Wade back in June might influence midterm elections this November.
    She tells Jonathan Freedland that after Kansas voters chose to keep abortion legal in their state in a surprise result last month, she spoke to three people in Michigan about why they’re canvassing to get more voters registered before a similar ballot on reproductive rights.

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