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    Could this tough-on-crime billionaire be LA’s next mayor?

    Could this tough-on-crime billionaire be LA’s next mayor?Rick Caruso’s campaign is tapping into fears of rising crime and Angelenos’ frustration with the homelessness emergency A billionaire real estate developer has spent more than $23m on his campaign to become Los Angeles’s next tough-on-crime mayor, and experts say his record-breaking investment is buying him a real chance at victory.Rick Caruso, a real estate magnate who is ranked No 261 on Forbes’ list of richest Americans, entered the crowded race to run America’s second largest city in February with single-digit support and little name recognition.Two months and nearly $10m in advertising spending later, he jumped to first place, polling alongside the previous mayoral frontrunner, congresswoman Karen Bass.‘A metastasizing crisis’: can Karen Bass end street encampments in LA?Read moreCaruso has focused his campaign ahead of the 7 June primary on fears of rising crime and Angelenos’ frustration at an ever-growing homelessness emergency, arguing that the city’s political establishment has been putting residents at risk: “I see my city being torn apart because of bad decisions by leaders,” he said in November.He has pledged, if elected, to hire 1,500 more police officers, and has suggested he would arrest unhoused people who refuse to move into city-run homeless shelters. “You don’t get a choice to stay on the street any more. The minute we have a bed for you, you move into the bed, or otherwise there’s a consequence,” he said in anearly Fox News interview.Caruso is “catching the wave” of some voters’ anxieties about homelessness and crime, but “there’s no way he would be where he was if it wasn’t for the money,” said Fernando Guerra, a political scientist who has studied Los Angeles’ electoral dynamics for decades.The billionaire has spent more in the first months of the race than the city’s current mayor spent during his entire campaign, Guerra said. Caruso’s millions have translated into a flood of campaign ads, mailers and text messages targeted at different groups across the city.“If you watch TV in Los Angeles, you’ll see [his ads] three times an hour,” said Adam Conover, a Los Angeles-based comedian who has become a prominent critic. The ads are very effective, Conover added, “gorgeously shot”, “glossy”, and “completely inescapable”. In them, a sun-tanned Caruso makes a simple pitch: he loves Los Angeles, and he wants to clean it up.“He’s pure Ronald Reagan,” Conover said.A fortune in shopping mallsThe scion of a wealthy family, Caruso made his fortune in real estate. He owns a luxury beach hotel in Montecito, California, where rooms start at $2,000 a night. But he’s perhaps most famous for his outdoor malls, one of which is called the Americana, and which all feature quaint trolleys, giant fountains and speakers playing a rotation of old-fashioned tunes. Caruso’s company likes to tout that the flagship mall in Los Angeles, the Grove, gets more daily visitors than Disneyland.Caruso has never held public office, but over the years he has served on a series of high-profile public boards, from the department of water and power commission to the Los Angeles police commission and the University of Southern California’s board of trustees, which he chaired in the midst of a sprawling campus sexual abuse scandal.He has received glowing, high-profile endorsements – from Gwyneth Paltrow, his neighbour in the posh neighbourhood of Brentwood; Bill Bratton, the former police chief and champion of “broken windows” policing; and the rapper Snoop Dogg, who endorsed Caruso via a Zoom call.His campaign has highlighted photos of smiling Black and Latino youth who benefited from what it says is a total of $130m in charitable giving, though his opponents instead like to put the spotlight on what they say is his “$100m yacht”, which reportedly has nine bedrooms, a gym, a pool and an elevator. (Influencer Olivia Jade Giannulli was on that same yacht when her mother, actor Lori Laughlin, was charged for paying $500,000 in bribes to get her daughters admitted to USC.)Campaign spokesperson Peter Rangone would not confirm the value of the candidate’s yacht, saying in an email: “It’s too bad that our opponents spend so much time on personal attacks.” The Caruso campaign declined to make Caruso available for an interview, or share any information about in-person campaign events a reporter could attend.Tough-on-crime DemocratAs a real estate billionaire running for office on a law-and-order platform, Caruso has drawn plenty of critical comparisons to Donald Trump. It doesn’t help that Caruso has refused to release his tax returns, providing instead a summary of his finances “so sketchy that it’s insulting”, as one Los Angeles Times columnist put it.The comparison has its limits. Caruso is a lifelong Catholic, lauded by Pope Francis for his service to the church. He is by all accounts a profitable and detail-oriented developer, who continues to operate and fine-tune the properties he builds.“Trump doesn’t remotely know the real estate business like Rick Caruso knows the real estate business,” said Don Luis Camacho, a Caruso supporter and the owner of El Paseo Inn restaurant, a longtime family business based in downtown Los Angeles.What is clear, however, is that his policies lean more conservative than those of the other Democrats running in the race. (Caruso announced he had registered as a Democrat this January, after decades as an independent, and, previously, a Republican.)His campaign says he has “always been pro-choice” and that, with abortion rights under threat nationwide, he plans to spend $1m to support a constitutional amendment guaranteeing the right to abortion in California. But Planned Parenthood called on him this month to apologize for previously donating “nearly $1m to policymakers who put forth legislation that criminalized abortion”. The Caruso Catholic Center at the University of Southern California, which the Caruso family donated at least $6m to build, helped lead the March for Life through the streets of Los Angeles earlier this year.At a time when LA’s homelessness emergency has taken on staggering proportions, with at least 41,000 people unhoused, he has pledged to rid the city’s streets of encampments. He has even suggested that an army camp for undocumented children at the Texas border that has been the subject of multiple whistleblower reports alleging “gross mismanagement, chaos and substandard conditions” is a good model for sheltering the unhoused.“Fort Bliss is very well done. It has its own medical facilities, recreational facilities, its own cafeteria facilities. It has arts and crafts. It’s really an amazing place,” Caruso said in late April, noting the camp was built in “about a month and a half”.Caruso has also been a champion of the Los Angeles police department, once working with LAPD to build a miniature station for “community-based policing” at the heart of his flagship mall. (It was set on fire during the George Floyd protests in 2020.) Police outpost at #TheGrove set on fire…. pic.twitter.com/GdN9OZClX8— Jeff Paul (@Jeff_Paul) May 31, 2020
    And he’s been a critic of some criminal justice reforms designed to reverse mass incarceration. When the Nordstrom store at the Grove was targeted last November as part of a series of smash-and-grab robberies of high-end stores across LA, Caruso called the robbery “a manifestation of ‘We’re going to defund the cops’”. He has blamed a measure that reduced the criminal penalty for certain thefts under $950 for driving the recent string of California luxury store thefts.“We can all agree that stealing a $900 handbag or watch shouldn’t be an offense for which someone is released from custody within hours of being arrested without consequence,” his campaign website notes.He has also claimed that residents are now experiencing “some of the worst crime we’ve had in the history of Los Angeles” and “the most violent crime”. Compared with 1992, when Los Angeles saw 1,094 homicides, the city is substantially safer, according to police department data. The city’s homicide increase over the past two years, part of a troubling national rise in killings nationwide, pushed the number of homicide victims from under 300 a year to 397. Property crimes ticked up in 2021, but were actually down compared with most of the five previous years.“People in LA do not feel safe, that is not fearmongering, it is stating reality,” Rangone, a campaign spokesperson, wrote in an email.Any increases in crime and violence can have a big impact on people’s sense of safety. Among last year’s homicide victims was a beloved, well-known 81-year-old philanthropist, Jacqueline Avant, who was shot to death during a burglary of her house in Beverly Hills. Ted Sarandos, the CEO of Netflix and Avant’s son-in-law, has become a prominent Caruso supporter.‘Unthinkable’Liberal Democrats have dominated Los Angeles’ politics for so long that it would have been “unthinkable” a year or two ago to have someone like Caruso, “who is not from that progressive coalition, on the brink of winning”, Guerra said.But Caruso’s arguments have definitely struck a chord with a much broader swath of voters. Polls this year have found that many residents are deeply concerned about homelessness and public safety and feel the city is going in the wrong direction.Twice in the city’s past, after uprisings against police violence towards Black residents in Watts in 1965 and in South Central and across the city in 1992, majorities of Los Angeles voters rejected a liberal Democrat to elect a Republican, pro-police mayoral candidate, Guerra said.In the wake of intense protests in Los Angeles over the police killing of George Floyd in 2020, Caruso may be the latest conservative police department champion to ride a reactionary wave to the mayor’s office.Some of the traits that Caruso’s more progressive opponents are attacking may actually make him seem more relatable to many Angelenos, Guerra said.The city has the highest total number of Catholics of any US city besides New York, Guerra said, and it’s the center of the largest Catholic diocese in the US, boasting a total of 4.3 million members across the southern California region.For many Catholic voters, watching Caruso struggle with his stance on abortion, saying he’s pro-choice and does not want Roe v Wade overturned but also funding politicians and a Catholic student center that are actively anti-abortion, may feel very familiar, Guerra said.And while the city’s global fame is focused on its film and TV industry, “the number one industry in Los Angeles today, 20 years ago, 50 years, ago, 100 years ago, is land development. Always has been, always will be,” Guerra said.Caruso “captures the aspirations of every single Angeleno who bought that second property and thinks they’re going to be the next monopoly tycoon”, he added.TopicsLos AngelesUS political financingUS policingUS politicsfeaturesReuse this content More

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    Ginni Thomas urged Arizona Republicans to overturn 2020 result – report

    Ginni Thomas urged Arizona Republicans to overturn 2020 result – reportWife of supreme court justice Clarence Thomas emailed six days after election already called for Joe Biden Ginni Thomas, the wife of the US supreme court justice Clarence Thomas, pressed Republicans in Arizona to overturn Joe Biden’s victory there in 2020, the Washington Post reported.The Trump loyalist who could be a major threat to US democracyRead moreRepeating Donald Trump’s lie that the vote had been marred by fraud, Thomas wrote: “Please stand strong in the face of political and media pressure. Please reflect on the awesome authority granted to you by our constitution. And then please take action to ensure that a clean slate of electors is chosen for our state.”Thomas did not mention Biden or Trump. But, the Post said, “the context was clear”.Biden won Arizona, a swing state vital to the contest, by about 10,000 votes. The call was first made by Fox News, enraging Trump.Ginni Thomas is an activist with deep ties on the Republican far right. Reports of her involvement in Trump’s attempt to hold on to power have led to calls for her husband’s impeachment and removal, or at least recusal from election-related cases.In January, Thomas was the only justice to say Trump should be able to withhold from the House committee investigating the January 6 Capitol attack documents which turned out to include texts sent by his wife to Trump’s chief of staff.On Friday, the Post said Ginni Thomas emailed two Arizona Republicans on 9 November, six days after election day and two days after Biden’s win was called.She also requested a live or online meeting “so I can learn more about what you are doing to ensure our state’s vote is audited and our certification is clean”.One of the lawmakers, Shawnna Bolick, replied, saying, “I hope you and Clarence are doing great!” but deflecting the demand for a meeting.The Post said Thomas replied: “Fun that this came to you! Just part of our campaign to help states feel America’s eyes!!!”The Post also reported that Thomas emailed the same Republicans on 13 December, a day before the electoral college met to confirm Biden’s victory.That email said: “Before you choose your state’s electors … consider what will happen to the nation we all love if you don’t stand up and lead.”The Post said the email contained a link to a video of a man who appeared to be Geoffrey Botkin, an activist, “delivering a message meant for swing-state lawmakers, urging them to ‘put things right’ and ‘not give in to cowardice’ [and saying] ‘You have only hours to act’.”The video is no longer available. Botkin did not comment to the newspaper. Nor did Ginni Thomas. The Post said a supreme court spokesperson did not respond.On 14 December, the day the electoral college confirmed Biden’s win, Bolick signed a letter calling for Arizona’s electoral votes to go to Trump or “be nullified completely until a full forensic audit can be conducted”.In 2021, Arizona Republicans conducted a controversial vote audit. It did not reveal substantial electoral fraud. It did increase Biden’s margin of victory.Time for Clarence Thomas to recuse himself from election cases – his wife’s texts prove itRead moreAlso in 2021, the New Yorker reported that Bolick had introduced a bill that “would enable a majority of the legislature to override the popular vote … and dictate the state’s electoral college votes itself”.Like Trump loyalists elsewhere, Bolick is now running for secretary of state, the office which runs elections.On Friday, the New Yorker reporter Jane Meyer tweeted “one additional detail”, linking Ginni Thomas’s moves in Arizona back to her husband.Clarence Thomas, Meyer said, is godfather “to Clint Bolick’s child, and Bolick’s wife is the Arizona lawmaker who Ginni Thomas pressured to overturn the 2020 election.“No conflicts of interest?”TopicsUS elections 2020Clarence ThomasUS politicsArizonanewsReuse this content More

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    Trump pays $110,000 in fines after being held in contempt of court – as it happened

    Former US president Donald Trump has paid the $110,000 in fines he racked up after being held in contempt of court for being slow to respond to a civil subpoena issued by New York’s attorney general, the Associated Press writes.Trump paid the fine Thursday but must still submit additional paperwork in order to have the contempt order lifted, the office of attorney general Letitia James said Friday.A message seeking comment was left Friday with Trump’s lawyer.A Manhattan judge declared Trump in contempt of court on April 25 and fined him $10,000 per day for not complying with a subpoena in James’ long-running investigation into his business practices.Judge Arthur Engoron agreed May 11 to lift the contempt order if, by Friday, Trump paid the fines and submitted affidavits detailing efforts to search for the subpoenaed records and explaining his and his company’s document retention policies.Engoron also required a company hired by Trump to aid in the search, HaystackID, finish going through 17 boxes kept in off-site storage, and for that company to report its findings and turn over any relevant documents. That process was completed Thursday, James’ office said.Engoron told Trump to pay the money directly to James’ office and for the attorney general to hold the money in an escrow account while Trump’s legal team appeals the judge’s original contempt finding.Engoron stopped the fine from accruing May 6, when Trump’s lawyers submitted 66 pages of court documents detailing the efforts by him and his lawyers to locate the subpoenaed records. He warned that he could reinstate it, retroactive to May 7, if his conditions weren’t met.James, a Democrat, has said her three-year investigation uncovered evidence that Trump’s company, the Trump Organization, misstated the value of assets like skyscrapers and golf courses on financial statements for over a decade.Trump, a Republican, denies the allegations.Trump’s lawyers have accused her of selective prosecution. Trump is also suing James in federal court, seeking to shut down her probe.Last week, a lawyer for James’ office said that evidence found in the probe could support legal action against the former president, his company, or both.The lawyer, Andrew Amer, said at a hearing in Trump’s lawsuit against James that:.css-knbk2a{height:1em;width:1.5em;margin-right:3px;vertical-align:baseline;fill:#C70000;}There’s clearly been a substantial amount of evidence amassed that could support the filing of an enforcement proceeding.” A final determination on filing such an action has not been made.That’s it for the US politics blog for the day and the week. Thanks for joining us.Donald Trump’s wallet is a little lighter this weekend after he coughed up $110,000 in contempt of court fines for defying the New York attorney general’s investigation into the former president’s business dealings. Here’s what else we followed today:
    A Florida appeals court reinstated Republican governor Ron DeSantis’s “racist” congressional redistricting map that disenfranchises Black voters.
    With no resolution yet in the Republican senate primary in Pennsylvania, neck-and-neck candidates Mehmet Oz and David McCormick are beefing up their staff with lawyers experienced in vote recounts.
    Virginia “Ginni” Thomas, conservative activist and wife of supreme court justice Clarence Thomas, pressed Arizona lawmakers to set aside Joe Biden’s 2020 victory in the state.
    Joe Biden ended the first day of his Asian tour with the lowest approval rating of his presidency.
    Bill Barr, attorney general in the Trump administration, is reportedly in negotiations to testify before the 6 January House committee investigating Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn his 2020 election defeat by Joe Biden.
    A reminder that you can follow coverage of the Ukraine conflict in our global live news blog here.If you had billionaire tech mogul Larry Ellison on your insurrection bingo card, congratulations. The co-founder and chairman of the software company Oracle was identified by the Washington Post Friday afternoon as a participant in a call of staunch Donald Trump allies trying out ways to keep him in office after his election defeat by Joe Biden.The 14 November 2020 teleconference focused on strategies for contesting the legitimacy of the vote, according to court documents and a participant, the Post said.It included fellow Trump acolytes Lindsey Graham, Republican senator for North Carolina; Sean Hannity, Fox News host; Jay Sekulow, attorney for Trump; and James Bopp Jr, attorney for True the Vote, a nonprofit that has promoted the lie of widespread voter fraud. That Ellison was/is a Trump supporter is not new. He gave significant support to Trump’s 2020 reelection campaign, including hosting a fundraiser at his California mansion.But the Post says Ellison’s reported participation in the call is “the first known example of a technology industry titan joining powerful figures in conservative politics, media and law to strategize about Trump’s post-loss options and confer with an activist group that had already filed four lawsuits seeking to uncover evidence of illegal voting”.He was also among business figures identified by CNBC as distancing themselves from Trump in the wake of the deadly 6 January 2021 Capitol riot.Ellison is the world’s eighth richest person with a net worth of $106bn, according to Forbes.Oracle representatives did not respond to the Post’s request for comment. As Tucker Carlson asked Hunter Biden for help getting his son into an elite Washington university in 2014, the Fox News host’s wife, Susie, reportedly wrote in an email: “Tucker and I have the greatest respect and admiration for you. Always!” Since the 2020 election, however, Carlson has fueled rightwing attacks on Joe Biden’s son, particularly over business affairs in which he allegedly benefited from his father’s position.The existence of emails about getting Buckley Carlson into Georgetown has been known for some time, thanks to a laptop once owned by Hunter Biden that was obtained by Donald Trump’s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, and pushed to media in 2020.On Thursday the Washington Post revealed new emails and said analysis by security experts confirmed their authenticity.The emails, the Post said, “reveal the extent to which Carlson was willing to turn on a former associate as he thrives in a hyper-partisan media world in which conservatives have made Biden a prime target for attack”.“They also show how Carlson once sought to benefit from the elite political circles in Washington that he now regularly rails against as the ‘ruling class’.”Carlson told the Post that in 2014, when Joe Biden was vice-president, “Hunter Biden was my neighbor. Our wives were friends. I knew him well.“I talked to him many times about addiction, something I know a lot about. And I’ve said that. I think that Hunter Biden is an addict and that’s why his life is falling apart, and I feel bad for him. I’ve said that many times, and I mean it.”Read more:Tucker Carlson tried to use Hunter Biden to get his son into GeorgetownRead moreWith no resolution yet in the Republican senate primary in Pennsylvania, neck-and-neck candidates Mehmet Oz and David McCormick are beefing up their staff with lawyers experienced in vote recounts, the Associated Press reports.A few hundred votes separated the candidates on Friday afternoon, with 99% of the count completed. Barring a surprise surge in the remaining votes one way or the other, an automatic recount is all but certain.Both campaigns have hired Washington-based lawyers to lead their recount efforts, and both have hired Philadelphia-based campaign strategists who helped lead the operation to observe vote-counting on election day for Donald Trump’s presidential campaign in 2020, the AP says.The two campaigns already had dozens of lawyers and volunteers fanned out around the presidential battleground state as election workers and election boards toiled through the remaining ballots.A recount would mean that the outcome of the race might not be known until 8 June, the deadline for counties to report their results to the state.Oz, the celebrity TV doctor endorsed by Trump, led McCormick, a former treasury department official, by 1,092 votes, or 0.08%, out of 1,338,399 ballots counted by midday Friday. Pennsylvania’s department of state, which oversees elections, said there were almost 28,000 mail-in and absentee ballots still to count.A see-saw legal battle over Florida’s “racist” redestricting of its congressional maps has tilted back in favor of Republican governor Ron DeSantis.An appeals court on Friday removed a block on the new maps that a circuit judge – one appointed by DeSantis himself – had imposed.It means that, for now at least, the governor’s hand-drawn redistricting stands. It effectively removes Black representation from areas in the state’s north by dividing Florida’s Black majority fifth district into four smaller ones where the vote will be diluted.Although Florida’s Republican controlled legislature should have been the body to draw up the maps, it abrogated the responsibility to DeSantis then obediently gave the governor’s proposal swift approval at a hastily convened special legislative session last month.That sparked a lawsuit from voting rights groups, and the hold put on DeSantis’s map by circuit court judge Layne Smith last week that the 1st District Court of Appeals overturned today. “Based on a preliminary review, the court has determined there is a high likelihood that the temporary injunction is unlawful, because by awarding a preliminary remedy to the appellees [plaintiffs] on their claim, the order ‘frustrated the status quo, rather than preserved it,’” the appeals court said.In simple terms, the court indicated it was fine with DeSantis carving up the congressional map however he saw fit.Michael Li, a redistricting expert at the Brennan Center for Justice, said of DeSantis last month:.css-knbk2a{height:1em;width:1.5em;margin-right:3px;vertical-align:baseline;fill:#C70000;}This is a deeply racist move that targets Black political power. What he’s doing in the Florida fifth just seems gratuitous. It seems mean-spirited. Read more:‘Democracy in Florida is not functioning.’ Governor’s rigged maps rob Black voters of power Read moreIt’s been a lively morning and there’s more to come in the next few hours so please stay tuned for live updates in US political news.Here’s where things stand:
    Former US president Donald Trump has paid the $110,000 in fines he racked up after being held in contempt of court for being slow to respond to a civil subpoena issued by New York’s attorney general Letitia James.
    Virginia “Ginni” Thomas, the conservative activist and wife of supreme court justice Clarence Thomas, pressed Arizona lawmakers to set aside Joe Biden’s 2020 victory in the state, the Washington Post reports.
    There’s more trouble at home for Joe Biden as he ends the first day of his Asian tour: his approval rating has dropped to the lowest point of his presidency.
    Bill Barr, attorney general in the Trump administration, is reportedly in negotiations to testify before the special House committee investigating the events on and surrounding the insurrection at the US Capitol by extremist supporters of Donald Trump on January 6, 2021, who were intent on overturning Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 election.
    Former US president Donald Trump has paid the $110,000 in fines he racked up after being held in contempt of court for being slow to respond to a civil subpoena issued by New York’s attorney general, the Associated Press writes.Trump paid the fine Thursday but must still submit additional paperwork in order to have the contempt order lifted, the office of attorney general Letitia James said Friday.A message seeking comment was left Friday with Trump’s lawyer.A Manhattan judge declared Trump in contempt of court on April 25 and fined him $10,000 per day for not complying with a subpoena in James’ long-running investigation into his business practices.Judge Arthur Engoron agreed May 11 to lift the contempt order if, by Friday, Trump paid the fines and submitted affidavits detailing efforts to search for the subpoenaed records and explaining his and his company’s document retention policies.Engoron also required a company hired by Trump to aid in the search, HaystackID, finish going through 17 boxes kept in off-site storage, and for that company to report its findings and turn over any relevant documents. That process was completed Thursday, James’ office said.Engoron told Trump to pay the money directly to James’ office and for the attorney general to hold the money in an escrow account while Trump’s legal team appeals the judge’s original contempt finding.Engoron stopped the fine from accruing May 6, when Trump’s lawyers submitted 66 pages of court documents detailing the efforts by him and his lawyers to locate the subpoenaed records. He warned that he could reinstate it, retroactive to May 7, if his conditions weren’t met.James, a Democrat, has said her three-year investigation uncovered evidence that Trump’s company, the Trump Organization, misstated the value of assets like skyscrapers and golf courses on financial statements for over a decade.Trump, a Republican, denies the allegations.Trump’s lawyers have accused her of selective prosecution. Trump is also suing James in federal court, seeking to shut down her probe.Last week, a lawyer for James’ office said that evidence found in the probe could support legal action against the former president, his company, or both.The lawyer, Andrew Amer, said at a hearing in Trump’s lawsuit against James that:.css-knbk2a{height:1em;width:1.5em;margin-right:3px;vertical-align:baseline;fill:#C70000;}There’s clearly been a substantial amount of evidence amassed that could support the filing of an enforcement proceeding.” A final determination on filing such an action has not been made.The Washington Post said Friday it had obtained emails showing that Virginia “Ginni” Thomas, the conservative activist and wife of supreme court justice Clarence Thomas, pressed Arizona lawmakers to set aside Joe Biden’s 2020 victory in the state and choose “a clean slate of electors”.Thomas wrote to two unidentified lawmakers on 9 November 2020, the newspaper says, six days after the general election, arguing they needed to intervene because the vote had been marred by fraud. The emails came two days after media organizations declared Biden the victor in Arizona, and nationally.Thomas urged the lawmakers to “stand strong in the face of political and media pressure”, the Post says, telling them responsibility to choose electors to present Arizona’s result to Congress for certification was “yours and yours alone” and that they had the “power to fight back against fraud”.In Arizona, as in the rest of the country, there was no evidence of widespread fraud.Yet in sending the emails, the newspaper noted, Thomas played a significant role in Donald Trump’s scheming to substitute the will of Republican-controlled legislatures for the will of voters.Thomas has come under increasing scrutiny for her activities since the election and support of Trump’s big lie that it was stolen from him.In March, the Post obtained text messages between Thomas and Trump’s then chief of staff Mark Meadows, also sent in the days following the election, calling on him to do anything he could to subvert the democratic result. Ginni Thomas texts spark ethical storm about husband’s supreme court roleRead moreEither Joe Biden is having a very late night, or somebody on his staff is. It’s after 1.30 in the morning in Seoul, South Korea, and the president’s official Twitter account has burst back into life with news and photos from the first day of his Asia tour (this after a lengthy two-stage flight late Thursday into Friday morning from Washington DC to Seoul, via Alaska):The United States and the Republic of Korea work together to make the best, most advanced technology in the world. This factory is proof. And that gives us both a competitive edge in the global economy if we can keep our supply chains resilient, reliable, and secure. pic.twitter.com/l9NgV9zC9b— President Biden (@POTUS) May 20, 2022
    In a week when a teenager shot dead 10 Black people in Buffalo, New York, apparently motivated by the ‘great replacement’ theory, Jonathan Freedland speaks to Michael Harriot and Anne Applebaum about why this racist ideology has become mainstream in rightwing circles in the US, and why we shouldn’t be surprised.Listen to the Guardian’s latest Politics Weekly America podcast here:Politics Weekly AmericaWill Republicans drop the ‘great replacement’ theory? Politics Weekly AmericaSorry your browser does not support audio – but you can download here and listen https://audio.guim.co.uk/2020/05/05-61553-gnl.fw.200505.jf.ch7DW.mp300:00:0000:36:22Donald Trump appears to be engaged in a hasty retreat from next week’s Republican governor’s primary in Georgia, in which his vendetta against the incumbent Brian Kemp looks about to blow up in his face.The former president went all in on the candidacy of former senator David Perdue, convinced his hand-picked choice was certain to oust Kemp from the governor’s mansion.Kemp angered Trump by refusing to bend to his demands to overturn his 2020 defeat by Joe Biden.However, after a bright start in the polls, Perdue – a recent convert to Trump’s big lie of a stolen election – appears to have lost his luster and now trails Kemp by a seemingly unassailable margin, according to RealClearPolitics.Accordingly, Trump is washing his hands of Perdue, according to NBC News, which said on Friday he’s given up the Perdue campaign for dead and won’t be making any more appearances or offering any further support.Trump, the article says, citing anonymous insiders, “has groused about what he believes is a lackluster campaign effort from Perdue”.It also quoted Kemp’s lieutenant governor Geoff Duncan, who said Trump had engaged in “a very shallow attempt at trying to unseat a perfectly fit conservative governor”:.css-knbk2a{height:1em;width:1.5em;margin-right:3px;vertical-align:baseline;fill:#C70000;}At the end of the day, Donald Trump doesn’t care about David Perdue winning. He just cared about Brian Kemp losing.Defeat for Perdue would be a particularly bloody nose for Trump, who likes to boast about the power of his endorsements. Former president Mike Pence, with whom Trump has also feuded in recent months, campaigned for Kemp.Regardless of the outcome of the Kemp v Perdue race, Georgia is unlikely to be a total dead loss for Trump. His pick for the Republican senate nomination, former NFL star Herschel Walker, enjoys a huge lead, more than 60% in some polls, over rivals.Joe Biden has been talking microchips in South Korea, touring a factory that could become the model for a similar facility in Texas he says will keep the US at the forefront of new technology.The president also promised closer cooperation between the US and South Korea in an address with the country’s leader Yoon Suk Yeol.“It’s emblematic of the future of cooperation and innovation that our nations can and must build together,” Biden said of the Samsung semiconductor plant in Pyeongtaek.The company he said, was investing $17bn in US operations, including the new factory in Texas he said would create 3,000 new jobs:.css-knbk2a{height:1em;width:1.5em;margin-right:3px;vertical-align:baseline;fill:#C70000;}So much of the future of the world is going to be written here, in the Indo Pacific, over the next several decades. This is the moment, in my view, to invest in one another to deepen our business ties, to bring our people even closer together. It’s past midnight now in Seoul, so we’re not expecting any more news from the president’s first Asian visit of his presidency in the next few hours.But we do know that the bill passed by the US Senate on Thursday approving $40bn in new military, economic and humanitarian aid for Ukraine is being flown to South Korea for Biden’s urgent signature. Here’s the video of Biden’s address from Friday night:Tune in as I deliver remarks with President Yoon Suk Yeol of the Republic of Korea. https://t.co/vnkjCXQQfw— President Biden (@POTUS) May 20, 2022
    We’re still waiting for the final result from Tuesday’s Republican senate primary in Pennsylvania, in which Donald Trump’s endorsed candidate, celebrity TV doctor Mehmet Oz, and former treasury official David McCormick are separated by only a few hundred votes with 99% of the count in.But there was a clear winner in the race to become the Republican nominee for state governor in November’s midterms – Trump loyalist and big lie proponent Doug Mastriano.My colleague Sam Levine has this profile of the extremist, whom critics fear will be in charge of appointing officials to oversee the state’s elections if he wins later this year, and who will theoretically have the power to reject a result he doesn’t like:The Trump loyalist who could be a major threat to US democracyRead moreBill de Blasio, the former mayor of New York city, is running for Congress in a district that includes areas of Manhattan and his home in western Brooklyn.He made the announcement on MSNBC’s Morning Joe on Friday, shortly before his Bill de Blasio for Congress website went live with the campaign slogan: “The only way to save our democracy is to be a part of it”. De Blasio, whose second term as NYC mayor ended last year, is seeking election in New York’s 10th congressional district, currently represented by Democrat Jerry Nadler. Redistricting under the supervision of a New York judge, which Nadler says is unconstitutional, has forced him into a race for the 12th district with another Democratic incumbent, Carolyn Maloney, opening up the 10th for de Blasio’s run.The state’s primary has been pushed back from June to 23 August following legal wrangling over the legality of New York’s maps and a court’s decision last month that Democrats’ original proposals were too heavily in their own favor.De Blasio, 61, toyed with running for governor this year, the Associated Press says, but decided not to challenge incumbent Democrat Kathy Hochul. He also had a short-lived run for president in 2019. There’s more trouble at home for Joe Biden as he ends the first day of his Asian tour: his approval rating has dropped to the lowest point of his presidency.Raging inflation, soaring gas prices, the baby formula shortage and a failure to deliver on campaign promises were cited by respondents in an Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Research study that also reflects deepening pessimism among his own Democratic party.Only 39% of US adults approve of Biden’s performance as president, a further drop from already negative ratings a month earlier.Overall, only about two in 10 adults say the US is heading in the right direction or the economy is good, both down from about three in 10 a month earlier. Those drops were concentrated among Democrats, with just 33% within the president’s party saying the country is headed in the right direction, down from 49% in April.Of particular concern for Biden ahead of the midterm elections, his approval among Democrats stands at 73%, a substantial drop since earlier in his presidency. In AP-NORC polls conducted in 2021, Biden’s approval rating among Democrats never dropped below 82%.The findings reflect a widespread sense of exasperation in a country facing a cascade of challenges ranging from inflation, gun violence, and a sudden shortage of baby formula to a persistent pandemic.“I don’t know how much worse it can get,” Milan Ramsey, a 29-year-old high school counselor and Democrat in Santa Monica, California, told the AP. She said she and her husband had to move into her parents’ house to raise their infant son.“He hasn’t delivered on any of the promises. I think he’s tired and I don’t blame him, I’d be tired too at his age with the career he’s had.”Biden has been attempting to play up his successes at home over improved unemployment figures and his bipartisan infrastructure bill, and the White House sees his tour of Asia, including meetings with the leaders of South Korea and Japan, as an opportunity to market the US abroad.But the trip has already attracted unwelcome headlines. A member of Biden’s advance security detail was arrested for allegedly assaulting a South Korean citizen in Seoul in a dispute over a taxi, and CNN reports that two secret services agents have been sent home.It is not known if it relates to the same incident.Read more:Biden security team member arrested in Seoul over alleged drunken assaultRead moreBill Barr, the former attorney general who says he told Donald Trump his fantasy of a stolen election was “bullshit”, could soon be on the record with the 6 January House panel.Axios is reporting that Barr, who resigned in the waning days of Trump’s single term of office, is in negotiations with the committee to tell what he knows of the days surrounding the deadly insurrection, and Trump’s demand for the justice department to declare the election fraudulent.Details are scant, the committee is refusing to confirm the story, and it’s not known if Barr will be invited to take part in public hearings the panel will be holding this spring.But Axios says it has sources with knowledge of the situation who insist Barr is in “active discussions” to follow up his previous informal conversations with the committee with on-the-record testimony and transcribed interviews.The news comes at an important juncture for the bipartisan inquiry, which wants to complete its work ahead before November’s midterms, when Republicans are expected to win back control of the House and shut it down.What information Barr has to offer remains to be seen. Most of what we already know about his knowledge of Trump’s desperate efforts to stay in power comes from his book, which the Guardian reviewed in March as a “self-serving narrative that ignores tricky truths”. But the pace of the 6 January investigation is undoubtedly picking up as members scramble to complete their work.Separately on Friday, CNN reported that John Eastman, the rightwing attorney and Trump acolyte, was deeply involved in the plot to steal back the election, and has revealed in a court filing that he spoke regularly with, and had handwritten notes from the former president, concerning those efforts.The panel is chasing those documents, and on Thursday wrote to Georgia congressman Barry Loudermilk seeking information about “reconnaissance tours” of the Capitol the Republican is reported to have hosted on 5 January 2021, one day before Trump’s supporters ransacked the building in efforts to stop Congress certifying his defeat. Read more:Congress members led ‘reconnaissance tours’ of Capitol before attack, evidence suggestsRead moreGood morning blog readers, and welcome! We’ve made it to Friday, but as you know, the pace of US politics never winds down!We’re learning that Bill Barr, the former attorney general, is poised to give sworn testimony to the 6 January House committee investigating Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn his 2020 election defeat.Axios reports that Barr, who has already spoken informally to the panel, is in “active discussions” for a formal, transcribed interview. We’ll have more on that coming up, as well as the following:
    Joe Biden is in Seoul, South Korea, talking computer chips at a technology factory with ties to Texas. Meanwhile, his popularity rating back home has taken another dive.
    Vote counting from Tuesday’s Republican senate primary in Pennsylvania is limping towards the finish line, with Trump-endorsed TV doctor Mehmet Oz in a neck-and-neck race with former treasury department official David McCormick.
    Polls suggest Trump is set for a bruising in next week’s Georgia primary, where David Perdue, the former senator Trump wants to replace incumbent Republican governor Brian Kemp, has fallen further behind.
    Covid-19 cases are rising again across the US, and there’s little sign that Congress is willing to fund Biden’s requested $22.5bn relief package for vaccines, testing and therapeutics.
    A decision is expected imminently from a federal judge in Louisiana, who will decide if the Biden administration can proceed with plans to end next Monday the Trump-era Title 42 immigration policy keeping refugees at the border because of the pandemic.
    Stick with us as the days unfolds, and you can also follow developments in the Ukraine conflict in our global live news blog here. More

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

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

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    Man who sat in Pence’s Senate chair amid Capitol attack pleads guilty

    Man who sat in Pence’s Senate chair amid Capitol attack pleads guiltyChristian Secor, 23, was a UCLA student at the time who had founded a far-right conservative student group, authorities say A California man who stormed the US Capitol, opened the doors to other rioters and sat in the Senate chair of Mike Pence pleaded guilty to a federal charge on Thursday.Christian Secor, 23, of Costa Mesa, entered the plea in a Washington court to obstructing an official proceeding.Congress members led ‘reconnaissance tours’ of Capitol before attack, evidence suggestsRead moreMore than 100 police officers were injured on 6 January 2021, when a mob of supporters of Donald Trump attacked the Capitol while Congress was holding a joint session to certify now-President Joe Biden’s 2020 electoral victory.Secor was a University of California, Los Angeles student at the time who had founded a far-right conservative student group called America First Bruins, authorities said.According to court documents, Secor sent a text message on the day of the 2020 election stating: “We’re gonna win bigly and if we don’t we’re taking this ship down in flames,” the US Department of Justice said in a statement.He sent another message on 5 January 2021, telling an acquaintance that he had brought a gas mask to Washington and “wouldn’t be surprised if conservatives just storm the police and clobber antifa and the police but that’s wishful thinking”.In his plea agreement, Secor acknowledged that the next day, he joined a mob that poured on to Capitol grounds, climbed scaffolding to reach an upper terrace, entered and walked through the building, including the offices of the speaker, Nancy Pelosi, helped other rioters push open doors barred by three police officers so others could enter, and ended up by sitting in the vice-president’s Senate chamber seat before leaving.He later tweeted that “one day accomplished more for conservatism than the last 30 years”.He was arrested on 16 February.In return for his plea, federal prosecutors agreed to drop other charges, including assaulting a police officer.Secor technically could face up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000 when he is sentenced in October.However, sentencing guidelines call for 21 to 27 months in prison, or 53 to 61 months in prison if Secor is found to have caused injuries or property damage, according to the plea agreement.More than 790 people have been charged with federal crimes related to the Capitol riot. Nearly 300 of them have pleaded guilty, mostly to misdemeanors. Over 170 of them have been sentenced.More than a dozen defendants have pleaded guilty to felonies and they have been sentenced to prison terms ranging from six months to five years and three months.TopicsUS Capitol attackCalifornianewsReuse this content More

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    Conservatives want to make the US more like Hungary. A terrifying thought | Andrew Gawthorpe

    Conservatives want to make the US more like Hungary. A terrifying thoughtAndrew GawthorpeFor the US right, Orbán’s Hungary – unconstrained by an independent media, democratic institutions or racial diversity – isn’t a cautionary tale, but an aspiration Long a safe space where conservatives could say what they really thought, this year the Conservative Political Action Conference (Cpac) is hosting an event in Budapest, its first ever on the European continent. Attendees will be treated to panels about “western civilization under attack” and be addressed by American conservative luminaries including the former Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows and media figures like Tucker Carlson and Candace Owens. That Hungary has become an authoritarian state whose leader, Viktor Orbán, has deconstructed Hungarian democracy and become a close ally of Vladimir Putin doesn’t seem to faze anyone involved. In fact, it’s the whole point.Ending Roe v Wade is just the beginning | Thomas ZimmerRead moreThe embrace of Orbán as a role model by many on the right seems at first glance puzzling. After all, conservatives are not known for welcoming lessons from Europeans on how America ought to be run. But it becomes more explicable when you realize that for years, Orbán has been playing out the fantasies of Cpac’s attendees, unconstrained by the independent institutions, impartial media and racial diversity which American conservatives see as their foils at home. Where Orbán has gone, American conservatives want to follow. And increasingly, they are doing so.Central to Orbán’s appeal is that he is a fighter who has turned his country into, according to the organizers of Cpac, “one of the engines of Conservative resistance to the woke revolution”. In some ways Orbán resembles Trump, but in the eyes of many conservatives he’s better understood as the man they wished Trump would be. Where Trump was a thrice-married playboy who boasted of sleeping with porn stars and managed to lose the 2020 election, Orbán seems both genuinely committed to upholding conservative cultural values and has grimly consolidated control over his country, excluding the left from power indefinitely.Among the terrifying implications of the American right’s embrace of Orbán is that it shows that the right would be willing to dismantle American democracy in exchange for cultural and racial hegemony. Many of Orbán’s admirers come from the “post-liberal right”, a group of intellectuals and politicians who see “traditional American culture” as so far degenerated that it may be necessary to wrest power away from a corrupted people in order to make America great again. They count among Orbán’s victories his clampdown on gay and transgender rights and his refusal to allow Muslim refugees to enter Hungary. Upholding a particular set of “Christian” (actually nationalistic and bigoted) values is seen as worth the damage to democracy – the latter might even be necessary for the former.Things get even more sinister when we consider that America is a vast continent-sized country of enormous cultural and racial diversity. Imposing a conservative monoculture on such a country could only be achieved through one means – governmental coercion. The desirability of doing just that is now openly discussed on the right. Over the past several years, many have been advocating “common-good constitutionalism” – an idea put forward by the conservative legal thinker Adrian Vermeule which holds that America should embrace a new interpretation of the constitution focused on, among other things, a “respect for hierarchy” and a willingness to “legislate morality”. As surely as such ideas underpinned the Jim Crow south, such ideas mesh easily with, indeed are required by, any attempt to bring Orbánism to the United States as a whole.Far from being limited to the trolls at Cpac or obscure writers, such an approach to governing is already being implemented by conservatives up and down the country. State laws which ban teaching about race or gender issues in schools have passed in many states, and Republicans have continued their assault on businesses which speak out on these issues. In Florida, Governor Ron DeSantis has moved to use the power of the state to punish Disney for its stance on gay rights. In the face of cultural change which conservatives dislike, the principle of free speech has gone out of the window, and the heavy hand of the state is knocking at the door.The recently leaked US supreme court decision overturning Roe v Wade is perhaps the clearest indication of the danger that this trend poses. By removing a fundamental individual right and once again enabling conservatives to impose their own moral views on women’s bodies, the decision – if passed as written – will be seen on the right as a landmark in how the power of the state can be used to discipline a degenerated culture and regulate morality. Further crackdowns are sure to follow. Locked out of power on the supreme court and facing steep challenges to winning power in America’s unbalanced electoral system, defenders of liberalism will struggle to fight back.It’s no exaggeration to say that Orbánism, with its rejection of democracy and its willingness to use coercion to enforce a narrow cultural and religious agenda, defines the danger posed by modern American conservatism. The danger is greatest when the two elements come together. Unable to win the approval of the people on whom they wish to force their values, conservatives will be tempted to proceed further and further down an undemocratic path. That path has already taken them all the way to Budapest. The fear now is that they will ultimately bring Budapest back to America.
    Andrew Gawthorpe is a historian of the United States at Leiden University and the host of the podcast America Explained
    TopicsRepublicansOpinionUS politicsCPACHungaryViktor OrbánEuropecommentReuse this content More

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    Trump loyalist’s primary win prompts election fears in Pennsylvania

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

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    Viktor Orbán tells CPAC the path to power is to ‘have your own media’

    Viktor Orbán tells CPAC the path to power is to ‘have your own media’Hungarian leader also tells Republicans at Budapest conference that shows like Tucker Carlson’s should be broadcast ‘24/7’ The Hungarian leader, Viktor Orbán, has told a conference of US conservatives that the path to power required having their own media outlets, calling for shows like Tucker Carlson’s to be broadcast “24/7”.Orbán, recently elected to a fourth term, laid out a 12-point blueprint to achieving and consolidating power to a special meeting of the US Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), under the slogan of “God, Homeland, Family”, held in Budapest.Orbán and US right to bond at Cpac in Hungary over ‘great replacement’ ideologyRead moreThe Hungarian prime minister said that with his fourth electoral victory on 3 April, Hungary had been “completely healed” of “progressive dominance”. He suggested it was time for the right to join forces.“We have to take back the institutions in Washington and Brussels. We must find allies in one another and coordinate the movements of our troops,” Orbán said.He told Republicans in the Balnaconference centre on the banks of the Danube that media influence was one of the keys to success. In Hungary, the prime minister and his allies have effective control of most media outlets in Hungary, including state TV.“Have your own media. It’s the only way to point out the insanity of the progressive left,” he said. “The problem is that the western media is adjusted to the leftist viewpoint. Those who taught reporters in universities already had progressive leftist principles.”He portrayed the US media as being dominated by Democrats, who he claimed were being “served” by CNN, the New York Times and others.“Of course, the GOP has its media allies but they can’t compete with the mainstream liberal media. My friend, Tucker Carlson is the only one who puts himself out there,” he said. “His show is the most popular. What does it mean? It means programs like his should be broadcasted day and night. Or as you say 24/7.”Carlson had been billed as a key speaker at the CPAC conference, but the Fox News talk show host sent only a 38 second video message, in which he extolled Hungary under the Orbán government as a model for the US.“I can’t believe that you’re in Budapest and I am not,” he said. “What a wonderful country. And you know why you can tell it’s a wonderful country? Because the people who turned our country into a much less good place are hysterical when you point it out.”“The last thing they want is any kind of signpost to a better way, and Hungary certainly provides that,” Carlson added. “A free and decent and beautiful country that cares about its people, their families, and the physical landscape.”Journalists from international media outlets were denied access to the event, including the New Yorker, Vox Media, Vice News, Rolling Stone, and the Associated Press, despite months of requests. The organizers either ignored their requests for accreditation or told them to “watch the event online”.Matt Schlapp, chairman of the American Conservative Union that runs CPAC, said the Central-European country is the right place to start a conversation about Europe.Hungary: where editors tell reporters to disregard facts before their eyesRead moreOrbán’s 12-point action plan also included points on faith, “because the absence of faith is dangerous” and the importance in countering “LGBT-propaganda” which was “still new in our country but we have already destroyed it”.The second day of the CPAC conference on Friday is billed to start with a “surprise video message” that some speculate will be from Donald Trump, who was also invited to the event. The schedule also features Candace Owens, described as “Trump’s favorite influencer’, video messages from Mark Meadows, Trump’s former White House chief of staff, Santiago Abascal, president of Spain’s Vox party, and Zsolt Bayer, a pro-Orbán pundit who formerly called Roma people “animals”, referred to Jewish people as “stinking excrement” and used racist slurs for Black people during the BLM protests.Marine Le Pen, the presidential candidate from the French far right National Rally, was announced as a speaker on Monday, but the post disappeared from the organizers’ Facebook after a couple of hours, and her name was deleted from CPAC Hungary’s website.TopicsCPACViktor OrbánHungaryUS politicsEuropeRepublicansnewsReuse this content More