Aftermath of the Trump Administration, October – November 2021


My daily chronicle of news about the Trump administration (20 January 2017 – 20 January 2021), Republicans, Democrats, corporations, courts, resistance, and persistence continues to wind down. I am still posting important articles, especially ones that reflect the differences between the Biden administration and the Trump administration and ones that address the toxic legacy of the Trump administration and Republicans. I hope to devote more of my time to posting muckraking articles on my site and to working with my local activist group in pursuit of progressive change and a stronger democracy. Thanks for reading!


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Friday, 1 October 2021:


Political Briefing: Biden Meets With Feuding Democrats and Expresses Confidence a Deal Can Be Reached. President Biden said progressives and centrists could come to an agreement on an infrastructure bill and a sweeping social spending and climate package, but said, ‘It doesn’t matter whether it’s in six minutes, six days, or six weeks.’ The New York Times, Friday, 1 October 2021:

  • Biden puts the infrastructure bill on hold, saying Democrats need to unite on social spending.

  • House approves a stopgap bill to revive transportation programs and end furloughs caused by the voting delay.

  • Railroads, climate resilience, electrical upgrades: Here’s what the infrastructure bill would fund.

  • Sinema, a holdout on the social spending bill, returns to Arizona for a doctor’s visit and a scheduled fund-raiser.

  • Progressive Democrats celebrate delaying the vote on the infrastructure bill.

  • Biden tries to broker a deal among Democrats, with prodding and patience.
  • Why does Washington do so many things at the last minute? It’s complicated.

Biden Pulls Back on Infrastructure Bill, Tying It to Social Policy Measure. After pressing toward a vote, Democratic leaders accepted ‘reality’ that the bill could not pass before a broad climate change and safety net measure comes together. The New York Times, Jonathan Weisman and Emily Cochrane, Friday, 1 October 2021: “President Biden, facing an intraparty battle over his domestic agenda, put his own $1 trillion infrastructure bill on hold on Friday, telling Democrats that a vote on the popular measure must wait until Democrats pass his far more ambitious social policy and climate change package. In a closed-door meeting with Democrats on Capitol Hill, Mr. Biden told Democrats for the first time that keeping his two top legislative priorities together had become ‘just reality.’ And he conceded that reaching a deal between the divided factions on his domestic agenda could take weeks.” See also, Progressives Flex Muscles on Biden Agenda, Adopting New Tactics. Their persistence forced Speaker Nancy Pelosi to delay a planned vote on the $1 trillion infrastructure bill, In the end President Biden sided with their position. The New York Times, Luke Broadwater and Michael D. Shear, Friday, 1 October 2021: “Progressive Democrats in Congress, who have long promoted a bold, liberal agenda but often shied away from using hardball tactics to achieve it, did something unusual this week: They dug in. The nearly 100-member caucus refused to support a $1 trillion infrastructure bill that is a major piece of President Biden’s agenda, seeking leverage for a bigger fight. Their stance forced Speaker Nancy Pelosi to delay a planned vote on the measure and ultimately prompted Mr. Biden to side with them in saying that there could be no vote on the infrastructure legislation until agreement on a far broader, multitrillion-dollar social policy and climate measure. The maneuver drew plaudits from liberal activists who had watched with dismay in the past as their allies in Congress caved to pressure from Democratic leaders and surrendered in policy fights. And it signaled that the progressives enjoyed newfound influence, including the backing of a president long associated with his party’s moderates.” See also, Biden urges Democrats to compromise and have patience as he tries to revive economic agenda, The Washington Post, Tony Romm, Mike DeBonis, and Marianna Sotomayor, Friday, 1 October 2021: “President Biden attempted to quell an internal Democratic rebellion on Friday, pleading with lawmakers to compromise and stay patient as he tried to revive a $1.2 trillion infrastructure proposal and salvage his broader economic agenda from imminent collapse. Biden made the overture during a rare meeting on Capitol Hill in the midst of an intense, acrimonious fight over two pieces of legislation that Democrats were struggling to untangle. The first bill would fix the nation’s roads, bridges, pipes, ports and Internet connections. A second package would authorize roughly $3.5 trillion to expand Medicare, combat climate change and boost a wide array of federal aid programs…. To try to break the logjam, Biden channeled his political roots as a seasoned legislator, huddling with Democrats in an attempt to coalesce them around a shared policy vision. But he also made clear that both of the party’s primary factions had no choice but to compromise equally, as they aim to deliver on the electoral promises that helped them secure Washington majorities in the first place.” See also, Biden Says Democrats Should Delay Infrastructure Vote Until Deal Reached. The party seeks agreement between moderate and progressive wings on separate social-policy and climate package. The Wall Street Journal, Andrew Duehren, Kristina Peterson, and Lindsay Wise, Friday, 1 October 2021: “President Biden called on House Democrats to hold off on voting on a roughly $1 trillion infrastructure bill until after they reach an agreement on a separate social-policy and climate bill, moving to again delay final passage of a central piece of his own agenda in a bid to unify restive Democrats. Even as Mr. Biden endorsed progressives’ push to hold up a vote on the infrastructure bill, however, he acknowledged in a closed-door meeting with House Democrats on Friday that the price tag of the social-policy and climate bill would need to drop substantially below $3.5 trillion to closer to roughly $2 trillion, according to lawmakers and aides.”

U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman presses Texas on ‘very unusual’ abortion ban that uses citizen enforcement of its restrictive state law, The Washington Post, Ann E. Marimow, Friday, 1 October 2021: “A federal judge pressed lawyers for the state of Texas on Friday about the ‘very unusual’ design and legality of a ban on abortion as early as six weeks into pregnancy that makes no exceptions for rape or incest. ‘If the state is so confident in the constitutionality of the limitations on a woman’s access to abortion, then why did it go to such great lengths to create this very unusual’ private enforcement mechanism ‘rather than just simply do it directly?’ U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman asked a lawyer for the Texas attorney general during a federal court hearing. Pitman’s question came as he considered the Biden administration’s request to block enforcement of the most restrictive abortion law in the country, which empowers private citizens, rather than state officials, to take civil action against anyone who helps terminate a pregnancy after cardiac activity is detected, usually around the six-week mark.” See also, Texas’ abortion law is back in court, NPR, Ryan Lucas and Carrie Johnson, Friday, 1 October 2021: “A federal judge is weighing arguments on the Justice Department’s emergency request to block Texas’ controversial new abortion law. Department attorneys and lawyers for the state of Texas made their cases on Friday at a virtual hearing before Judge Robert Pitman of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas. At stake is the ability of women in the country’s second-largest state to get an abortion after about six weeks of pregnancy, a time before which many people don’t realize they’re pregnant. ‘The state resorted to an unprecedented scheme of vigilante justice that was designed to scare abortion providers,’ argued Brian Netter, a lawyer for the Justice Department. ‘So far, it’s working. Women have been left desperate, forced under sometimes harrowing circumstances to get out of Texas, if they even can.'” See also, Federal Judge Hears Arguments Over Texas Abortion Law. The Justice Department said the law was intended to ‘violate the Constitution,’ and asked for it to be suspended while the courts determine if it is legal. The New York Times, Katie Benner and Sabrina Tavernise, Friday, 1 October 2021: “A federal judge heard arguments on Friday from the State of Texas and the federal government on whether a Texas law that bans nearly all abortions in the state should be suspended while the courts decide if it is legal. At issue is a restrictive abortion law that Texas enacted in September that uses a unique legal approach — deputizing private citizens to enforce it, instead of the state. The law, also known as the Texas Heartbeat Act and Senate Bill 8, has had a chilling effect, with most of the state’s roughly two dozen abortion clinics no longer offering abortion services in cases in which cardiac activity is detected, which usually begins at around six weeks of pregnancy. The Justice Department sued Texas last month over the law. Attorney General Merrick B. Garland called the enforcement mechanism ‘an unprecedented’ effort to prevent women from exercising their constitutionally protected right to have an abortion. He said that no matter their stand on abortion, Americans should fear that the Texas law could become a model to restrict other constitutionally protected rights.”

Continue reading Aftermath of the Trump Administration, October-November 2021:

Leaked letter shows Koch-backed group fuels opposition to school mask mandates. A template letter circulated by Independent Women’s Forum offers a glimpse into a well-resourced campaign against public health regulations. The Washington Post, Isaac Stanley-Becker, Friday, 1 October 2021: “The letter sounds passionate and personal. It is motivated, the author explains, by a desire to ‘speak up for what is best for my kids.’ And it fervently conveys the author’s feelings to school leaders: ‘I do not believe little kids should be forced to wear masks, and I urge you to adopt a policy that allows parental choice on this matter for the upcoming school year.’ But the heartfelt appeal is not the product of a grass roots groundswell. Rather, it is a template drafted and circulated this week within a conservative network built on the scaffolding of the Koch fortune and the largesse of other GOP megadonors. That makes the document, which was obtained by The Washington Post, the latest salvo in an inflamed debate over mask requirements in schools, which have become the epicenter of partisan battles over everything from gender identity to critical race theory. The political melee engulfing educators has complicated efforts to reopen schools safely during a new wave of the virus brought on by the highly transmissible delta variant. The document offers a rare glimpse into the inner workings of a well-financed conservative campaign to undermine regulations that health authorities say are necessary to contain the coronavirus. The frustration of many parents who want a greater say is deeply felt, school superintendents say. But their anger is also being fueled by organized activists whose influence is ordinarily veiled.”

New study says killings by police are undercounted by more than half, The Washington Post, Caroline Anders and María Luisa Paúl, Friday, 1 October 2021: “More than half of police killings in the United States over the past 40 years have been mislabeled, according to a new study, leading to a stark undercount of deaths at the hands of officers and a lopsided perception of what experts say is a public health crisis. Researchers from the University of Washington found that from 1980 to 2019, more than 55 percent of 31,000 deaths attributed to police violence were assigned other causes in official federal death data. Black men are killed by police at disproportionately high rates, and their deaths are mislabeled at higher rates than for any other race, according to the study, which was published Thursday in the Lancet, a peer-reviewed medical journal. The study underscores a grim reality: Despite years of scrutiny, criticism, protests and calls for reform, no government agency tracks how often law enforcement officers in America kill people. Since 2015, The Washington Post has been counting how often on-duty police shoot and kill people. But there is no comprehensive federal attempt to keep track of these deaths or other uses of force by law enforcement, including chokeholds and nonfatal shootings. One of the study’s authors called the deaths poorly catalogued and preventable, and an expert said the lack of meaningful tracking of these deaths underscores the deep-rootedness of systemic racism.”


Saturday, 2 October 2021:


John Eastman, the Lawyer Behind the Memo on How Trump Could Stay in Office. John Eastman was a little-known but respected conservative lawyer. Then he became influential with Donald Trump–and counseled him on how to retain power after losing the election [i.e. offered Trump a blueprint for a coup]. The New York Times, Michael S. Schmidt and Maggie Haberman, Saturday, 2 October 2021: “John Eastman’s path from little-known academic to one of the most influential voices in Donald J. Trump’s ear in the final days of his presidency began in mid-2019 on Mr. Trump’s favorite platform: television. Mr. Trump, who had never met Mr. Eastman, saw him on the Fox News talk show of the far-right commentator Mark Levin railing against the Russia investigation. Within two months, Mr. Eastman was sitting in the Oval Office for an hourlong meeting. Soon, Mr. Eastman was meeting face to face at Mr. Trump’s urging with the attorney general, William P. Barr, and telling him how Mr. Trump could unilaterally impose limits on birthright citizenship. Then, after the November election, Mr. Eastman wrote the memo for which he is now best known, laying out steps that Vice President Mike Pence could take to keep Mr. Trump in power — measures Democrats and anti-Trump Republicans have likened to a blueprint for a coup. Mr. Eastman’s memo is among the most alarming of the continuing revelations about the last stages of Mr. Trump’s time in the White House, when he was prompting the Justice Department to find ways to reverse his loss in the election and his top general was worried about the nuclear chain of command. Mr. Eastman’s rise within Mr. Trump’s inner circle in the chaotic final weeks of his administration also  underscores the degree to which Mr. Trump not only relied on, but encouraged, a crew of players from the fringes of politics. They became key participants in his efforts to remain in power as many of his longtime aides and lawyers refused to help him.” See also, January 6 Was Worse Than We Knew, The New York Times, The Editorial Board, Saturday, 2 October 2021: “However horrifying the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol appeared in the moment, we know now that it was far worse. The country was hours away from a full-blown constitutional crisis — not primarily because of the violence and mayhem inflicted by hundreds of President Donald Trump’s supporters but because of the actions of Mr. Trump himself. In the days before the mob descended on the Capitol, a corollary attack — this one bloodless and legalistic — was playing out down the street in the White House, where Mr. Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and a lawyer named John Eastman huddled in the Oval Office, scheming to subvert the will of the American people by using legal sleight-of-hand. Mr. Eastman’s unusual visit was reported at the time, but a new book by the Washington Post journalists Bob Woodward and Robert Costa provides the details of his proposed six-point plan. It involved Mr. Pence rejecting dozens of already certified electoral votes representing tens of millions of legally cast ballots, thus allowing Congress to install Mr. Trump in a second term. Mr. Pence ultimately refused to sign on, earning him the rage of Mr. Trump and chants of ‘Hang Mike Pence!’ by the rioters, who erected a makeshift gallows on the National Mall. The fact that the scheme to overturn the election was highly unlikely to succeed is cold comfort. Mr. Trump remains the most popular Republican in the country; barring a serious health issue, the odds are good that he will be the party’s nominee for president in 2024. He also remains as incapable of accepting defeat as he has ever been, which means the country faces a renewed risk of electoral subversion by Mr. Trump and his supporters — only next time they will have learned from their mistakes. That leaves all Americans who care about preserving this Republic with a clear task: Reform the federal election law at the heart of Mr. Eastman’s twisted ploy, and make it as hard as possible for anyone to pull a stunt like that again.” See also, The revelations about Mike Pence’s role in January 6 attempt to overthrow the legitimately elected incoming Biden government keep getting worse, The Washington Post, Greg Sargent, published on Monday, 4 October 2021: “It has become a ubiquitous question in our politics: How close did Donald Trump come to pulling off an actual coup. Efforts to grapple with this have been trapped largely in the zone of wild speculation. But guess what: We may actually get a real answer to it soon enough. Key to this is the figure who has been portrayed as a hero of this sordid tale, because he refused to use his position as vice president to interrupt the count of electors in Congress: Mike Pence. This remains poorly understood, but the Jan. 6 select committee is not just looking at the mob attack. It will also create a detailed account of how close we came to the unthinkable — to the procedural overthrow of a legitimately elected incoming government. The true contours of this emerge from a New York Times excavation of the role of John Eastman, the lawyer who wrote the Trump coup memo. It outlined how Pence supposedly could exercise unilateral power (that he did not have) over the process to refuse to count President-elect Joe Biden’s electors, throwing the election to Trump. Buried in that piece is an important revelation: Pence apparently went further than previously known in probing whether he could execute a version of Eastman’s scheme. The select committee will be fleshing this out, Rep. Jamie B. Raskin (D-Md.), a member of the committee, suggested in an interview.”

Trump asks court to force Twitter to reinstate his account, The Washington Post, Adela Suliman, Saturday, 2 October 2021: “Former president Donald Trump has asked a court to mandate that Twitter restore his social media account. In a filing late Friday, Trump asked a federal district judge for a preliminary injunction enabling his return to Twitter while his lawsuit against the social media giant continues…. Twitter banned Trump from its platform on Jan. 8, stating that two of his tweets had violated the company’s policies and citing ‘the risk of further incitement of violence.’ The unprecedented move came after the riot on Jan. 6 in which hundreds of Trump’s supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol in an attack that resulted in five deaths and left about 140 police officers injured.”

Rudy Giuliani admits under oath that he got some of his ‘evidence’ of alleged ‘election fraud’ from social media, Business Insider, Alia Shoaib, Saturday, 2 October 2021: “Rudy Giuliani admitted under oath that his ‘evidence’ of voter fraud in the 2020 election came partly from social media and that he did not interview or fact-check his sources. Donald Trump’s former personal lawyer made the comments in a deposition on August 14 in relation to a defamation lawsuit brought by a former Dominion Voting Systems employee, Eric Coomer, first published by The Colorado Sun. Coomer is suing the Trump campaign and others for promoting baseless conspiracy theories that he helped ‘rig’ the election for Joe Biden. In the deposition, Giuliani admitted that he got some of his information about Coomer’s alleged role in the election fraud from his social media posts but couldn’t be sure if it was Facebook or another platform. ‘Those social media posts get [sic] all one to me,’ Giuliani said.”

Steve Bannon fires up ‘shock troops’ for next Republican White House. The former adviser to Trump spoke Wednesday night to a new association of Republican presidential appointees in Washington. NBC News, Jonathan Allen, Saturday, 2 October 2021: “Scores of former Trump political appointees gathered at a GOP social club Wednesday night to hear Steve Bannon detail how they could help the next Republican president reconfigure government. ‘If you’re going to take over the administrative state and deconstruct it, then you have to have shock troops prepared to take it over immediately,’ Bannon said in a telephone interview with NBC News. ‘I gave ’em fire and brimstone.’ Bannon, who ran former President Donald Trump’s first campaign and later worked as a top adviser in the White House, said that Trump’s agenda was delayed by the challenges of quickly filling roughly 4,000 slots for presidential appointees at federal agencies and the steep learning curve for political officials who were new to Washington. He is not alone in that view. His appearance at the Capitol Hill Club came at the invitation of a new organization called the Association of Republican Presidential Appointees, which was formed to create a resource for future GOP officials tapped to fill federal jobs.” See also, Steve Bannon Doubles Down on His ‘Shock Troops’ Government Takeover Threat, HuffPost, Mary Papenfuss, published on Monday, 4 October 2021: “Former White House strategist Steve Bannon on Monday dug in on this threat that Donald Trump-loyal ‘shock troops’ will move to ‘deconstruct’ the federal government the minute a Republican takes over the Oval Office again. ‘We need to get ready now,’ he said on his ‘War Room’ podcast. ‘We control the country. We’ve got to start acting like it. And one way we’re going to act like it, we’re not going to have 4,000 [shock troops] ready to go, we’re going to have 20,000 ready to go.’ Bannon referred to 4,000 ‘shock troops’ in an interview with NBC News on Saturday after the network reported that he had met earlier in the week with the party faithful to exhort them to prepare to ‘reconfigure the government’ once a Republican is in the White House. ‘If you’re going to take over the administrative state and deconstruct it, then you have to have shock troops prepared to take it over immediately,’ Bannon told NBC. ”


Sunday, 3 October 2021:


Progressives Stand Firm on Priorities as Infrastructure Debate Continues. Liberals rejected demands from moderate Democrats to shrink President Biden’s domestic policy agenda by more than half, though they said they were willing to compromise. The New York Times, Luke Broadwater and Chris Cameron, Sunday, 3 October 2021: “After a tumultuous week in Congress, during which deep divisions in the Democratic Party delayed progress on part of President Biden’s economic agenda, debate spilled over into the weekend as the party braced for intense negotiations in the weeks ahead. Progressives on Sunday flatly rejected the latest demands from Senator Joe Manchin III of West Virginia, a key swing vote for Democrats, to shrink President Biden’s domestic policy agenda by more than half and to insert a provision to ensure that the federal government does not fund abortions. Representative Pramila Jayapal, Democrat of Washington and the chairwoman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, said that progressives would not agree to reduce Mr. Biden’s 10-year, $3.5 trillion social safety net and climate bill to $1.5 trillion, as Mr. Manchin requested. ‘That’s not going to happen,’ Ms. Jayapal said on ‘State of the Union’ on CNN. ‘That’s too small to get our priorities in. It’s going to be somewhere between $1.5 and $3.5, and I think the White House is working on that right now.'” See also, Democrats Weigh Cutting Programs or Reducing Their Scope to Trim $3.5 Trillion Build Back Better Bill, The Wall Street Journal, Andrew Duehren, Sunday, 3 October 2021: “Democrats, working to unite around a far-reaching social policy and climate bill, are weighing two different approaches to reduce its overall cost: eliminating proposed programs entirely or cutting their duration. Democrats’ debate over the two options took on fresh urgency this weekend after President Biden said Friday that they would have to shrink the size of the legislation, projected to spend $3.5 trillion over a decade to expand and create education, healthcare, climate and other programs.”

Pandora Papers, A Global Investigation: Billions Hidden Beyond Reach. A trove of secret files details opaque financial universe where global elite shield riches from taxes, probes, and accountability. The Washington Post, Greg Miller, Debbie Cenziper, and Peter Whoriskey, Sunday, 3 October 2021: “A massive trove of private financial records shared with The Washington Post exposes vast reaches of the secretive offshore system used to hide billions of dollars from tax authorities, creditors, criminal investigators and — in 14 cases involving current country leaders — citizens around the world. The revelations include more than $100 million spent by King Abdullah II of Jordan on luxury homes in Malibu, Calif., and other locations; millions of dollars in property and cash secretly owned by the leaders of the Czech Republic, Kenya, Ecuador and other countries; and a waterfront home in Monaco acquired by a Russian woman who gained considerable wealth after she reportedly had a child with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Other disclosures hit closer to home for U.S. officials and other Western leaders who frequently condemn smaller countries whose permissive banking systems have been exploited for decades by looters of assets and launderers of dirty money. The files provide substantial new evidence, for example, that South Dakota now rivals notoriously opaque jurisdictions in Europe and the Caribbean in financial secrecy. Tens of millions of dollars from outside the United States are now sheltered by trust companies in Sioux Falls, some of it tied to people and companies accused of human rights abuses and other wrongdoing. The details are contained in more than 11.9 million financial records that were obtained by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) and examined by The Post and other partner news organizations. The files include private emails, secret spreadsheets, clandestine contracts and other records that unlock otherwise impenetrable financial schemes and identify the individuals behind them.” See also, Key findings from the Pandora Papers investigation, The Washington Post, Washington  Post Staff, Sunday, 3 October 2021: “The Pandora Papers is an investigation based on more than 11.9 million documents revealing the flows of money, property and other assets concealed in the offshore financial system. The Washington Post and other news organizations exposed the involvement of political leaders, examined the growth of the industry within the United States and demonstrated how secrecy shields assets from governments, creditors and those abused or exploited by the wealthy and powerful. The trove of confidential information, the largest of its kind, was obtained by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, which organized the investigation.” See also, The world reacts after secret documents show how the elite shield their riches, The Washington Post, Aaron Gregg, Isabelle Khurshudyan, María Luisa Paúl, and Jennifer Hassan, published on Monday, 4 October 2021: “The Washington Post on Sunday published the first in a series of stories based on more than 11.9 million documents that expose a secretive financial universe that benefits the wealthy and powerful. The vast trove of documents, known as the Pandora Papers, was obtained by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ). The Washington Post collaborated on the investigation, which involved more than 600 journalists in 117 countries and territories, the largest ever organized by the ICIJ. The investigation exposes the offshore system that government leaders, billionaires and criminals often use to hide their assets. For an explanation of how offshore systems work and why people choose to hold their money in these companies, read our overview. In a similar but narrower 2016 ICIJ investigation known as the Panama Papers, documents from an offshore financial services provider in Panama revealed hidden wealth that ignited protests in several countries, forcing two world leaders from power. The Pandora Papers probe is based on documents from 14 providers instead of one. Here’s what we know from our collective reporting:

  • The files in the Pandora Papers detail the activities of nearly 29,000 offshore accounts.
  • Among them are more than 130 people listed as billionaires by Forbes magazine. U.S. states have become central to the global offshore system.
  • Leaders of countries on five continents use the offshore system, as well as 14 current heads of state or government.

Whistle-Blower Says Facebook Chooses Profits Over People and Public Safety. Frances Haugen, a Facebook product manager who left the company in May, revealed that she had provided internal documents to journalists and others. The New York Times, Ryan Mac and Cecilia Kang, Sunday, 3 October 2021: “John Tye, the founder of Whistleblower Aid, a legal nonprofit that represents people seeking to expose potential lawbreaking, was contacted this spring through a mutual connection by a woman who claimed to have worked at Facebook. The woman told Mr. Tye and his team something intriguing: She had access to tens of thousands of pages of internal documents from the world’s largest social network. In a series of calls, she asked for legal protection and a path to releasing the confidential information. Mr. Tye, who said he understood the gravity of what the woman brought ‘within a few minutes,’ agreed to represent her and call her by the alias ‘Sean.’ She ‘is a very courageous person and is taking a personal risk to hold a trillion-dollar company accountable,’ he said. On Sunday, Frances Haugen revealed herself to be ‘Sean,’ the whistle-blower against Facebook. A product manager who worked for nearly two years on the civic misinformation team at the social network before leaving in May, Ms. Haugen has used the documents she amassed to expose how much Facebook knew about the harms that it was causing and provided the evidence to lawmakers, regulators and the news media. In an interview with 60 Minutes that aired Sunday, Ms. Haugen, 37, said she had grown alarmed by what she saw at Facebook. The company repeatedly put its own interests first rather than the public’s interest, she said. So she copied pages of Facebook’s internal research and decided to do something about it.” See also, The Facebook Files: a Wall Street Journal Investigation, The Wall Street Journal, a multi-part series. Part 1 was published on Monday, 13 September 2021: “Facebook Inc. knows, in acute detail, that its platforms are riddled with flaws that cause harm, often in ways only the company fully understands. That is the central finding of a Wall Street Journal series, based on a review of internal Facebook documents, including research reports, online employee discussions, and drafts of presentations to senior management. Time and again, the documents show, Facebook’s researchers have identified the platform’s ill effects. Time and again, despite congressional hearings, its own pledges and numerous media exposés, the company didn’t fix them. The documents offer perhaps the clearest picture thus far of how broadly Facebook’s problems are known inside the company, up to the chief executive himself.” See also, Former Facebook employee Frances Haugen is revealed as ‘whistleblower’ behind leaked documents that plunged the company into scandal, The Washington Post, Cat Zakrzewski and Cristiano Lima, published on Monday, 4 October 2021: “Former Facebook product manager Frances Haugen has been revealed as the source behind tens of thousands of pages of leaked internal company research, which she says show that the company has been negligent in eliminating violence, misinformation and other harmful content from its services, and that it has misled investors about these efforts. In an interview with The Washington Post, Haugen said that while working at Facebook in the company’s civic integrity division, she realized it was not disclosing important information about the harms of its products to the public and the policymakers tasked with regulation, creating a situation she said posed a threat to democracy. ‘Facebook in its current form is dangerous,’ she said. ‘It became necessary to get the public involved.’ For Facebook, the document leak — and the public reveal of the source — represents perhaps the most significant crisis in the company’s history, further deteriorating relationships between the company and Washington politicians. The company is the target of a historic federal antitrust case and is fielding document requests as members of Congress investigate its role in the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol.” See also, Frances Haugen, Facebook’s new whistleblower, is renewing scrutiny of the social media giant, NPR, Jaclyn Diaz, published on Monday, 4 October 2021: “A data scientist named Frances Haugen has revealed herself to be the whistleblower behind a massive exposure of the inner workings at Facebook. Prior to appearing on 60 Minutes on Sunday, Haugen, a former employee at the social media giant, kept her identity a secret after sharing thousands of pages of internal Facebook documents to the media and federal law enforcement. Haugen’s planned testimony this week, as well as the information she shared so far, suggests the company deceived the public and its investors about its ability to deal with hate speech and misinformation on its platform. ‘Facebook over and over again has shown it chooses profit over safety,’ she said during the interview on Sunday. Haugen’s document dump, her testimony scheduled in front of Congress this week, and an ongoing investigative reporting series into the company are potentially pushing Facebook into its biggest crisis yet. The negative spotlight also comes as Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill are increasingly scrutinizing Facebook’s actions.”


Monday, 4 October 2021:


Biden Accuses Republicans of Being ‘Reckless’ Over Debt Limit Increase. The president warned Republicans ‘not to use procedural tricks to block us from doing the job.’ The New York Times, Katie Rogers and Jim Tankersley, Monday, 4 October 2021: “President Biden excoriated Republicans on Monday for blocking his party’s efforts to raise the debt ceiling weeks before a projected government default, calling their tactics ‘reckless’ and ‘disgraceful’ and warning they risked causing ‘a self-inflicted wound that takes our economy over a cliff.’ Mr. Biden, trying to convey the risks to everyday Americans, warned that they could see the effects as early as this week if Senate Democrats were not able to vote to raise the debt limit. That cap dictates the amount of money the government can borrow to fulfill its financial obligations, including paying Social Security checks, salaries for military personnel and other bills. ‘As soon as this week, your savings and your pocketbook could be directly impacted by this Republican stunt,’ Mr. Biden said, cautioning that a failed vote could rattle financial markets, sending stock prices lower and interest rates higher. ‘A meteor is headed for our economy.'” See also, Biden says he can’t guarantee debt ceiling lift due to ‘hypocritical, dangerous, and disgraceful’ Republican opposition, CNN Politics, Kate Sullivan, Monday, 4 October 2021: “President Joe Biden on Monday said he couldn’t guarantee the debt ceiling would be raised in two weeks as he slammed Republicans for opposing efforts to keep the nation from being unable to pay its debts for the first time in its history. In a speech from the White House, Biden put the blame on Republicans for refusing to join with Democrats in raising the debt limit to pay for debts incurred in the past. Congressional Republicans are steadfastly refusing to supply any votes to raise the debt limit, Biden said they should vote on bipartisan basis to pay for bills for which both parties are responsible. ‘Not only are Republicans refusing to do their job, but they’re threatening to use their power to prevent us from doing our job — saving the economy from a catastrophic event. I think quite frankly it’s hypocritical, dangerous and disgraceful,’ Biden said.” See also, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer Sets Up Vote on Debt Ceiling After Saying It Must Be Raised by End of Week, The Wall Street Journal, Kristina Peterson and Alex Leary, Monday, 4 October 2021: “Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer set up a vote by Wednesday on increasing the federal government’s borrowing ceiling, but didn’t lay out how Democrats planned to pass a bill without Republican votes. Mr. Schumer warned earlier Monday that lawmakers must act by the end of the week to avoid any repercussions. ‘Let me be clear about the task ahead of us: we must get a bill to the president’s desk dealing with the debt limit by the end of the week. Period,’ Mr. Schumer (D., N.Y.) wrote in a letter to his Democratic colleagues.” See also, Biden says he cannot promise U.S. will not breach debt-ceiling limit: ‘That’s up to Mitch McConnell,’ The Washington Post, Jeff Stein, Tony Romm, and Sean Sullivan, Monday, 4 October 2021: “A high-stakes standoff between Democrats and Republicans over how to raise the debt ceiling intensified markedly on Monday as President Biden said he could not guarantee that the U.S. government wouldn’t default — and Republicans reiterated their refusal to address the issue. The brinkmanship played out over a series of tersely worded letters and statements between Congress and the White House, with three of the most powerful political leaders in Washington all trying to assign early blame if they do not avoid default in the next two weeks. Democrats and Republicans agree that the consequences of inaction would be financially calamitous, but they are at odds over how to proceed. At the center of the fight is an insistence by Republicans that Democrats alone should be responsible for raising the debt ceiling, with Republicans saying they do not want to help Democrats increase spending. Democrats counter that the debt ceiling must be raised to pay trillions of dollars that have already been promised, bills that increased precipitously during the Trump administration.”

Biden administration reverses Trump rule barring federally funded family planning clinics from abortion referrals, The Washington Post, Amy Goldstein, Monday, 4 October 2021: “The Biden administration has revoked a Trump-era rule that had become a flash point in the abortion wars, saying Monday it would no longer bar clinics that receive federal family planning aid from advising people about ending their pregnancies. The new rule for the half-century-old family planning program known as Title X will allow health centers to receive the federal funds even if they refer patients for abortions. It takes effect Nov. 8. The rule reverses a move initiated in 2018 by President Donald Trump to appeal to the social conservatives crucial to his political base, siding with them in a long-running battle with the Planned Parenthood Federation of America and other family planning groups. ‘Today more than ever, we are making clear that access to quality family planning care includes accurate information and referrals — based on a patient’s needs and direction,’ Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra said in a statement accompanying the revision.” See also, Biden Officials End Ban on Abortion Referrals at Federally Funded Clinics. The change reversed a key piece of abortion policy set under the Trump administration. The New York Times, Noah Weiland, Monday, 4 October 2021: “The Biden administration on Monday reversed a contentious policy set under President Donald J. Trump that barred organizations that provide abortion referrals from receiving federal family planning money. The new rule, set to take effect on Nov. 8, deals with what is known as the Title X family planning program, which is more than a half-century old and subsidizes birth control, cancer screenings and other medical care for millions of low-income patients. ‘Our nation’s family planning clinics play a critical role in delivering health care, and today more than ever, we are making clear that access to quality family planning care includes accurate information and referrals — based on a patient’s needs and direction,’ Xavier Becerra, the health and human services secretary, said in a statement.”

January 6 rioters exploited little-known Capitol weak spots: A handful of unreinforced windows, The Los Angeles Times, Sarah D. Wire, Monday, 4 October 2021: “Four major access points that Jan. 6 rioters used to break into and overtake the U.S. Capitol had something unusual in common: They were among a dozen or so ground-floor windows and glass-paned doors that had not been recently reinforced. The majority of the Capitol’s 658 single-pane windows were quietly upgraded during a 2017-19 renovation of the historic building. The original wooden frames and glass were covered with a second metal frame containing bomb-resistant glass. But planners skipped about a dozen ground-floor windows, including some located in doors, because they were deemed to be low risk in the event of implosion, largely due to their discreet or shielded location, or because the building couldn’t structurally handle the load of the heavier frames. And whether by sheer luck, real-time trial and error, or advance knowledge by rioters, several of those vulnerable windows and two glass-paned doors — protected with only a thin Kevlar film added after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks — became easy entry points for hundreds of Trump supporters who overran and ransacked the building on Jan. 6. Video shows some of the first rioters to break through the police line running past 15 reinforced windows, making a beeline for a recessed area on the Senate side of the building, where two unreinforced windows and two doors with unreinforced glass were all that stood between them and hallways leading to lawmakers inside who had not begun to evacuate. A rioter’s fist cracked the glass of one window, video posted to social media shows. A stolen police riot shield and a wooden pole finished the job. In seconds, the unreinforced glass gave way in a single sheet. Rioters poured through the window. Similar methods were used to break glass in at least three other locations.”

A bipartisan group of former officials and legal heavyweights files complaint with California bar association against John Eastman, lawyer who advised Trump on how to overturn the 2020 election results, The Washington Post, Tom Hamburger and Jacqueline Alemany, Monday, 4 October 2021: “A bipartisan group of former officials and legal heavyweights, including two former federal judges, asked the California bar association Monday to investigate the conduct of John Eastman, the adviser to then-President Donald Trump who mapped out a legal strategy to overturn the 2020 election results. The complaint, also signed by two former justices of the California Supreme Court, cites Eastman’s work in election challenges rejected by the Supreme Court and his speech at a Jan. 6 rally in Washington before a pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol. But the 24-page memo centers on Eastman’s alleged role in pressing Vice President Mike Pence not to count electoral votes on Jan. 6 and certify President Biden as the winner. ‘The available evidence supports a strong case that the State Bar should investigate whether, in the course of representing Mr. Trump, Mr. Eastman violated his ethical obligations as an attorney by filing frivolous claims, making false statements and engaging in deceptive conduct,’ the letter said. ‘There is also a strong basis to investigate whether Mr. Eastman assisted in unlawful actions by his client, Mr. Trump,’ to overturn the results of a legitimate election.” See also, The Legal Architects of Trump’s Failed Coup May Finally Face Real Consequences, Slate, Mark Joseph Stern, published on Tuesday, 5 October 2021: “The intellectual ringleaders of Donald Trump’s failed coup are finally facing the threat of serious consequences for their integral roles in the legal plot to overturn the 2020 election. No lawyers did more than John Eastman and Jeffrey Bossert Clark to try to hand Trump an unearned second term. Eastman developed and promoted the theory that Vice President Mike Pence could reject Joe Biden’s victory, then endorsed it at the Jan. 6 rally that fomented the insurrection. Clark urged his Justice Department superiors to pressure several legislatures into awarding their electoral votes to Trump even though Biden carried their states. Both men remain practicing attorneys. Now, however, their ability to practice law is under threat. On Monday, a bipartisan group of lawyers, including two former federal judges, asked the California bar to investigate Eastman. One day later, a different bipartisan group of lawyers, including two top-ranking Justice Department officials under George H.W. Bush, asked the D.C. Court of Appeals’ disciplinary panel to investigate Clark.”

Court orders Trump to give a deposition in a lawsuit over Summer Zervos’ sexual-assault claims before Christmas, Business Insider, Jacob Shamsian, Monday, 4 October 2021: “A New York state court said that Donald Trump must submit to a deposition by Christmas, moving forward a stalled lawsuit from Summer Zervos, the former ‘Apprentice’ contestant who accused the ex-president of sexual assault. In a virtual court hearing Monday afternoon, Michael Rand, a law clerk for New York State Judge Jennifer Schechter, who is overseeing the lawsuit, instructed lawyers for both Trump and Zervos to complete the factual discovery phase by December 23. That phase includes depositions of both Trump and Zervos…. Zervos filed the lawsuit against Trump in 2017, accusing him of defamation when he publicly denied her accusation of sexual assault and called his accusers liars. Zervos claimed Trump kissed her against her will in 2007 in New York, after she appeared on NBC’s ‘The Apprentice,’ and later groped her in a California hotel. Overall, 26 women have accused Trump of sexual misconduct.”

Judge sentences January 6 rioter to 45 days in jail for misdemeanor to deter others: ‘The country is watching.’ Prosecutors recommended three months of home confinement for Matthew C. Mazzocco. He is the first Capitol attack defendant to receive a jail term when prosecutors had not asked for one. The Washington Post, Tom Jackman, Monday, 4 October 2021: “After a defense lawyer asked for probation, and a federal prosecutor suggested three months of home confinement for a Jan. 6 rioter convicted of illegally demonstrating at the U.S. Capitol, a federal judge on Monday said no to both. If the defendant ‘walks away with probation and a slap on the wrist,’ U.S. District Judge Tanya S. Chutkan said, ‘that’s not going to deter anyone from trying what he did again.’ So Chutkan sentenced Matthew C. Mazzocco to 45 days in jail, 60 hours of community service and $500 restitution for the damage done to the Capitol building. Of 11 defendants sentenced so far, Mazzocco is the first to receive a jail term when prosecutors had not asked for one. Chutkan, a former public defender, said that deterrence weighed heavily on her mind.”


Tuesday, 5 October 2021:


Biden Scales Back His Agenda in Hopes of Bringing Moderates Onboard. The president has conceded that his $3.5 trillion collection of spending programs and tax cuts will need to shrink substantially. The New York Times, Jim Tankersley and Emily Cochrane, Tuesday, 5 October 2021: “President Biden and Democratic leaders in Congress in recent days have slashed their ambitions for a major expansion of America’s social safety net to a package worth $2.3 trillion or less, which will force hard choices about how to scale back a proposal that the president hopes will be transformational. The figure is substantially less than Mr. Biden’s earlier plan, which called for $3.5 trillion in new spending and tax cuts to spur a generational expansion of government in Americans’ lives, including efforts to fight climate change and child poverty, increase access to education and help American companies compete with China. Democratic leaders will probably need to narrow their plans for free community college, child tax credits and universal prekindergarten so they are offered only to lower- and middle-income Americans, according to party members involved in the negotiations. The White House is also debating whether to try to keep as many programs as possible, by cutting their duration or reach, or to jettison some initiatives entirely to keep others largely intact, according to people familiar with the discussions. The cuts represent a blow to Mr. Biden’s agenda, but the remaining plans would still deliver significant benefits to a wide range of Americans. Mr. Biden and his aides have known for months that they would most likely need to reduce the size and scope of his plans to satisfy moderates in his party. But the president has stressed, in public and in private conversations with Democrats, that even a smaller bill could shift the landscape of the American economy and help the party hold power in midterm elections next year.”

Facebook Whistle-Blower Frances Haugen Urges Lawmakers to Regulate the Company. Haugen, who left the social network in May and leaked internal documents, gave senators rare insight into its inner workings. The New York Times, Cecilia Kang, Tuesday, 5 October 2021: “A former Facebook product manager who turned into a whistle-blower gave lawmakers an unvarnished look into the inner workings of the world’s largest social network on Tuesday and detailed how the company was deliberate in its efforts to keep people — including children — hooked to its service. In more than three hours of testimony before a Senate subcommittee, Frances Haugen, who worked on Facebook’s civic misinformation team for nearly two years until May, spoke candidly and with a level of insight that the company’s executives have rarely provided. She said Facebook had purposely hidden disturbing research about how teenagers felt worse about themselves after using its products and how it was willing to use hateful content on its site to keep users coming back. Ms. Haugen also gave lawmakers information on what other data they should ask Facebook for, which could then lead to proposals to regulate the Silicon Valley giant as it increasingly faces questions about its global reach and power.” See also, Key takeaways from Facebook’s whistle-blower hearing, The New York Times, Sheera Frenkel, Tuesday, 5 October 2021. See also, Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen testifies: Five highlights, Associated Press, Barbara Ortutay and David Klepper, Tuesday, 5 October 2021. See also, Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen tells lawmakers that meaningful reform is necessary ‘for our common good,’ The Washington Post, Cat Zakrzewski, Cristiano Lima, Elizabeth Dwoskin, and Will Oremus, Tuesday, 5 October 2021: “Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen on Tuesday told lawmakers that the company systematically and repeatedly prioritized profits over the safety of its users, painting a detailed picture of an organization where hunger to grow governed decisions, with little concern for the impact on society. Her Senate committee testimony — based on her experience working for the company’s civic integrity division and thousands of documents she took with her before leaving in May — sought to highlight what she called a structure of incentivization, created by Facebook’s leadership and implemented throughout the company. By directing resources away from important safety programs and encouraging platform tweaks to fuel growth, these performance metrics dictated operations, Haugen said, a design that encouraged political divisions, mental health harms and even violence.” See also, Whistle-Blower Unites Democrats and Republicans in Calling for Regulation of Facebook, The New York Times, Tuesday, 5 October 2021:

  • Key takeaways from Facebook’s whistle-blower hearing.

  • Whistleblower discusses how Instagram may lead teenagers to eating disorders.

  • Parents sound off on testimony about the harms of Facebook and Instagram.

Justice Department Will Address ‘Disturbing Spike’ in Threats Against School Personnel. The announcement came after groups representing school administrators requested federal help in response to a wave of threats over issues such as mask mandates and teaching about racism. The New York Times, Erica L. Green, Tuesday, 5 October 2021: “The Justice Department, in response to pleas from national groups representing school administrators, is deploying federal law enforcement officials around the country to help address instances where people have threatened and harassed educators over divisive policy issues such as mask mandates and teaching about racism, and possibly pursue prosecutions. Citing a ‘disturbing spike’ in harassment against school personnel in recent months, Attorney General Merrick Garland issued a memo on Monday directing the F.B.I. and U.S. attorneys’ offices to meet with local officials over the next month to coordinate a response to the threats, which he said ‘are not only illegal, they run counter to our nation’s core values.’ ‘While spirited debate about policy matters is protected under our Constitution,’ Mr. Garland wrote, ‘that protection does not extend to threats of violence or efforts to intimidate individuals based on their views.'”


Wednesday, 6 October 2021:


Senate Nears Agreement to Stave Off Debt Crisis Until December. With a default on federal debt as little as 12 days away, Senator Mitch McConnell offered to let Democrats temporarily lift the borrowing limit. The New York Times, Jonathan Weisman and Emily Cochrane, Wednesday, 6 October 2021: “Senate Democrats and Republicans neared agreement as they met into the early morning hours Thursday to temporarily pull the nation from the brink of a debt default. The deal would punt their showdown on raising the federal borrowing limit to December after Republicans bowed to pressure to stave off immediate fiscal calamity. With the threat of a default as little as 12 days off, Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the minority leader, made a tactical retreat on Wednesday and announced that Republicans would allow Democrats to vote on a short-term extension. He did not, however, lift his blockade of a longer-term increase in the debt cap, demanding anew that Democrats eventually use a complicated and time-consuming budget procedure known as reconciliation to lift it into next year or beyond. Democrats declared the offer at least a temporary victory, even as they said they would never capitulate to Mr. McConnell’s longer-term demand. Senators met late into the night to try to iron out the details, though Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the majority leader, adjourned the Senate for the day shortly after midnight Thursday without a firm agreement.” See also, Democrats take Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s offer of a temporary patch to the nation’s borrowing limit, Politico, Burgess Everett, Marianne Levine, and Caitlin Emma, Wednesday, 6 October 2021: “Democrats are planning to accept an offer from Mitch McConnell to let them raise the debt ceiling into December without a GOP filibuster, multiple senators said after a closed-door caucus meeting on Wednesday. Senate leaders were working to finalize the deal on Wednesday night, effectively deciding to kick the can on the stalemate over the nation‘s borrowing limit for the next two months. But even as Democrats accepted part of the Senate minority leader’s entreaties, they pledged to reject his demands that the majority party use the laborious process of budget reconciliation to pass a longer debt ceiling increase.”

Federal Judge Pauses Strict Texas Law Banning Most Abortions. A sharply worded ruling sided with the Justice Department, which sued to block the measure last month after the Supreme Court declined to intervene. The New York Times, Sabrina Tavernise and Katie Benner, Wednesday, 6 October 2021: “A federal judge on Wednesday granted the Justice Department’s request to halt enforcement of the recently passed Texas law that bans nearly all abortions in the state while the legal battle over the statute makes its way through the federal courts. In his 113-page ruling, Robert L. Pitman, a Federal District Court judge in Austin, sided with the Biden administration, which had sued to halt a law that has changed the landscape of the abortion fight and further fueled the national debate over whether abortion will remain legal across the country. Judge Pitman used sharp language to criticize the law, known as Senate Bill 8, which was drafted to make it difficult to challenge in court by delegating enforcement to private individuals, who can sue anyone who performs abortions or ‘aids and abets’ them. ‘From the moment S.B. 8 went into effect, women have been unlawfully prevented from exercising control over their own lives in ways that are protected by the Constitution,’ he wrote in his opinion. ‘This court will not sanction one more day of this offensive deprivation of such an important right,’ he added.” See also, Federal judge blocks enforcement of Texas abortion ban; state will appeal, The Washington Post, Ann E. Marimow and Emily Wax-Thibodeaux, Wednesday, 6 October 2021: “A federal judge in Texas on Wednesday issued an order blocking enforcement of the state’s strict abortion law, which bars the procedure as early as six weeks into pregnancy. U.S. District Judge Robert L. Pitman granted the Biden administration’s request to temporarily halt the law, clearing a path to restore access to abortion in the nation’s second-most populous state. But the Texas attorney general’s office quickly notified the court of its intent to appeal. Pitman called out Texas officials for crafting an ‘unprecedented and aggressive scheme to deprive its citizens of a significant and well-established constitutional right.’ Since the law took effect Sept. 1, Pitman wrote, ‘women have been unlawfully prevented from exercising control over their lives in ways that are protected by the Constitution.'”

Pentagon Warns of National Security Fallout From Debt Ceiling Crisis. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin issued a statement condemning the political gridlock that he says would ‘seriously harm’ troops, contractors, and America’s ability to defend itself. U. S. News & World Report, Paul D. Shinkman, Wednesday, 6 October 2021: “The threat of the U.S. government defaulting on its loans became real enough Wednesday for the Pentagon to wade into the political morass, warning Congress that a failure to act would harm America’s ability to defend itself and take care of its troops. ‘If the United States defaults, it would undermine the economic strength on which our national security rests,’ Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said in a statement Wednesday morning. ‘It would also seriously harm our service members and their families because, as secretary, I would have no authority or ability to ensure that our service members, civilians, or contractors would be paid in full or on time.’ The department may not be able to dole out benefits to 2.4 million military veterans nor issue payments to federal contractors, Austin said. America’s defaulting on its loans would undermine its international reputation, he added, ‘as a reliable and trustworthy economic and national security partner.'”

Trump praises Mike Pence for criticism of January 6 coverage, The Hill, Brett Samuels, Wednesday, 6 October 2021: “Former President Trump on Wednesday praised former Vice President Mike Pence for seeking to downplay the magnitude of the Jan. 6 Capitol riot as a House select committee investigating the insurrection ramps up its activity. Trump embraced his former vice president after Pence went on Fox News on Monday night to attack the Biden administration and was asked by Sean Hannity about his relationship with Trump. ‘I can tell you that we parted amicably at the end of the administration, and we’ve talked a number of times since we both left office,’ Pence said, arguing the focus should be on the future. ‘I know the media wants to distract from the Biden administration’s failed agenda by focusing on one day in January,’ Pence said. ‘They want to use that one day to try and demean the character and intentions of 74 million Americans who believed we could be strong again and prosperous again and supported our administration in 2016 and 2020.’ Pence was referring to the pro-Trump mobs that stormed the Capitol, injuring law enforcement and seeking to stop the certification of President Biden‘s Electoral College win. Some in the crowd chanted for Pence to be hanged after he said he would not reject the results. Trump, who has continued to push false and debunked claims of election fraud in the eight months since he left office, seized on Pence’s comments to attack the House select committee charged with investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection. ‘Vice President Mike Pence’s statement during his interview with the great Sean Hannity very much destroys and discredits the Unselect Committees Witch Hunt on the events of January 6th,’ Trump said in a statement. ‘It will continue anyways, however, because the Fake News doesn’t want to focus on Afghanistan, Russia, Taiwan and China, the Border, inflation, and a failing economy.’ Trump’s statement was one of three he issued on Wednesday morning questioning the election results or attacking the select committee.”

How AT&T helped build far-right One America News (OAN), Reuters Investigates, John Shiffman, Wednesday, 6 October 2021: “One America News, the far-right network whose fortunes and viewership rose amid the triumph and tumult of the Trump administration, has flourished with support from a surprising source: AT&T Inc, the world’s largest communications company. A Reuters review of court records shows the role AT&T played in creating and funding OAN, a network that continues to spread conspiracy theories about the 2020 election and the COVID-19 pandemic. OAN founder and chief executive Robert Herring Sr has testified that the inspiration to launch OAN in 2013 came from AT&T executives. ‘They told us they wanted a conservative network,’ Herring said during a 2019 deposition seen by Reuters. ‘They only had one, which was Fox News, and they had seven others on the other [leftwing] side. When they said that, I jumped to it and built one.’ Since then, AT&T has been a crucial source of funds flowing into OAN, providing tens of millions of dollars in revenue, court records show. Ninety percent of OAN’s revenue came from a contract with AT&T-owned television platforms, including satellite broadcaster DirecTV, according to 2020 sworn testimony by an OAN accountant. Herring has testified he was offered $250 million for OAN in 2019. Without the DirecTV deal, the accountant said under oath, the network’s value ‘would be zero.'”

Biden Administration to Restore Climate Criteria to Landmark Environmental Law. A proposed rule would require agencies to study the climate impacts of new highways, pipelines, and other projects, reversing a Trump-era effort to weaken reviews. The New York Times, Lisa Friedman, Wednesday, 6 October 2021: “The Biden administration on Wednesday announced that it would restore climate change protections to the nation’s bedrock environmental law, the National Environmental Policy Act, which former President Donald J. Trump had weakened in an effort to speed the approval of projects like mines, pipelines, dams and highways. The proposed changes would require the federal government to evaluate the climate change impacts of major new projects as part of the permitting process. They come as Congress is weighing a plan to spend trillions of dollars on infrastructure improvements across the United States. The Trump administration had freed agencies from considering the ways in which proposed new power plants or pipelines, for example, might lead to an increase of greenhouse gas emissions, which are warming the planet to dangerous levels. It required agencies to analyze only ‘reasonably foreseeable’ impacts. Mr. Trump said the change would eliminate ‘mountains and mountains of red tape’ that he said had delayed projects across the country.”


Thursday, 7 October 2021:


Interim Report Prepared by the Senate Judiciary Committee Cites New Details of the Pressure Trump Put on the Justice Department Over the Election. The report fleshes out how Trump pursued his plan to install a loyalist as acting attorney to pursue unfounded reports of election fraud. The New York Times, Katie Benner, Thursday, 7 October 2021: “Even by the standards of President Donald J. Trump, it was an extraordinary Oval Office showdown. On the agenda was Mr. Trump’s desire to install a loyalist as acting attorney general to carry out his demands for more aggressive investigations into his baseless claims of election fraud. On the other side during that meeting on the evening of Jan. 3 were the top leaders of the Justice Department, who warned Mr. Trump that they and other senior officials would resign en masse if he followed through. They received immediate support from another key participant: Pat A. Cipollone, the White House counsel. According to others at the meeting, Mr. Cipollone indicated that he and his top deputy, Patrick F. Philbin, would also step down if Mr. Trump acted on his plan. Mr. Trump’s proposed plan, Mr. Cipollone argued, would be a ‘murder-suicide pact,’ one participant recalled. Only near the end of the nearly three-hour meeting did Mr. Trump relent and agree to drop his threat. Mr. Cipollone’s stand that night is among the new details contained in a lengthy interim report prepared by the Senate Judiciary Committee about Mr. Trump’s efforts to pressure the Justice Department to do his bidding in the chaotic final weeks of his presidency. The report draws on documents, emails and testimony from three top Justice Department officials, including the acting attorney general for Mr. Trump’s last month in office, Jeffrey A. Rosen; the acting deputy attorney general, Richard P. Donoghue, and Byung J. Pak, who until early January was U.S. attorney in Atlanta. It provides the most complete account yet of Mr. Trump’s efforts to push the department to validate election fraud claims that had been disproved by the F.B.I. and state investigators. The interim report, released on Thursday, describes how Justice Department officials scrambled to stave off the pressure during a period when Mr. Trump was getting advice about blocking certification of the election from a lawyer he had first seen on television, and the president’s actions were so unsettling that his top general and the House speaker discussed the nuclear chain of command.” See also, Interim Report by the Senate Judiciary Committee gives new details of Trump efforts to use the Justice Department to overturn 2020 presidential election, The Washington Post, Devlin Barrett, Thursday, 7 October 2021: “A Senate report on President Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election offers new details about an Oval Office confrontation between Trump and the Justice Department, revealing the extent to which government lawyers threatened to resign en masse if the president removed his attorney general. The interim report by the Senate Judiciary Committee was issued Thursday. While Republicans on the panel offered their counter-findings, arguing that Trump did not subvert the justice system to remain in power, the majority report by the Democrats offers the most detailed account to date of the struggle inside the administration’s final, desperate days. The report underscores the gaping political divide that has emerged in this country over one of the most basic functions of government — conducting free and fair elections. Democrats charge Trump nearly provoked a constitutional crisis, but for the steady hands of senior Justice Department officials; Republicans say Trump was ‘faithful’ to his sworn duty as president in seeking assurances about voter integrity. Both parties are bracing for larger fights over a congressional investigation into the Jan. 6 riot by Trump supporters at the U.S. Capitol.” See also, 3 takeaways from the Senate report on Trump’s brazen efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election, The Washington Post, Aaron Blake, Thursday, 7 October 2021. See also, Senate Judiciary Committee issues sweeping report detailing how Trump and a top Department of Justice lawyer attempted to overturn 2020 election, CNN Politics, Katelyn Polantz and Zachary Cohen, Thursday, 7 October 2021: “The Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday released a sweeping report about how former President Donald Trump and a top lawyer in the Justice Department attempted to overturn the 2020 presidential election. Trump directly asked the Justice Department nine times to undermine the election result, and his chief of staff Mark Meadows broke administration policy by pressuring a Justice Department lawyer to investigate claims of election fraud, according to the report, which is based on witness interviews of top former Justice Department officials. The Democratic-led committee also revealed that White House counsel Pat Cipollone threatened to quit in early January as Trump considered replacing then-acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen with Jeffrey Clark, a DOJ lawyer who supported election fraud conspiracies. After the eight-month investigation, the findings highlight the relentlessness of Trump and some of his top advisers as they fixated on using the Justice Department to prop up false conspiracies of election fraud. The committee report, the most comprehensive account so far of Trump’s efforts to overturn the election, described his conduct as an abuse of presidential power.”

Senate Approves Bill to Raise Debt Ceiling and Avert Default, for Now. An agreement struck on Thursday allows the government to cover its expenses through early December, but it does little to address the crux of the partisan stalemate. The New York Times, Emily Cochrane, Thursday, 7 October 2021: “The Senate passed legislation on Thursday to raise the debt ceiling through early December, after a small cluster of Republicans temporarily put aside their objections and allowed action to stave off the threat of a first-ever federal default. The action came the day after Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader, partly backed down from his blockade on raising the debt limit, offering a temporary reprieve as political pressure mounted to avoid being blamed for a fiscal calamity. But the fragile deal to move ahead was in doubt until the very end, with some Republicans reluctant to drop their objections. Mr. McConnell and his top deputies labored into the evening on Thursday to persuade enough members to clear the way for a vote. Ultimately, 11 Republicans joined every Democrat in voting to take up the bill, clearing the 60-vote threshold needed to break the G.O.P. filibuster. The final vote was 50 to 48, with Democrats unanimously in support and Republicans united in opposition. Representative Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland, the majority leader, said the House would return on Tuesday to take up the bill. ‘Republicans played a dangerous and risky partisan game, and I am glad that their brinkmanship did not work,’ said Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the majority leader. ‘What is needed now is a long-term solution so we don’t go through this risky drama every few months.'” See also, Senate passes bill to raise debt ceiling into early December. Short-term reprieve avoids default but only delays a major political clash over the borrowing limit. The Washington Post, Tony Romm, Thursday, 7 October 2021: “The Senate late Thursday adopted a short-term measure to raise the country’s debt ceiling into early December, a move that could pull the federal government back from the fiscal brink even though it risks reigniting the high-stakes battle at the end of the year. Lawmakers adopted the proposal strictly along party lines, with Democrats voting to lift the country’s borrowing cap by $480 billion and Republicans maintaining their steadfast opposition to it. The divide persisted even amid repeated warnings from President Biden this week that inaction threatened to plunge the country into a new recession.”

Trump tells 4 former aides to defy January 6 committee’s subpoena. The House panel investigating the Capitol attack has demanded documents and testimony from the former president’s former aides by Thursday. Politico, Betsy Woodruff Swan, Thursday, 7 October 2021: “Former President Donald Trump is directing a group of his former aides to ignore a subpoena from the House committee probing the Jan. 6 Capitol attack and signaling he will go to court to block their testimony to the investigators. The committee has subpoenaed documents and testimony from four Trump administration alumni: former social media czar Dan Scavino, former Defense Department official Kash Patel, former chief of staff Mark Meadows, and former White House adviser Steve Bannon. The four men were ordered to turn over documents related to Jan. 6 by Thursday and to sit for interviews with investigators next week. But Trump is saying otherwise. In a letter that POLITICO viewed, a Trump lawyer tells them not to cooperate with the probe.” See also, Trump lawyer tells former Trump aides not to cooperate with the House Select Committee investigating the January 6 insurrection, The Washington Post, Jacqueline Alemany, Josh Dawsey, and Amy B Wang, Thursday, 7 October 2021: “An attorney for former president Donald Trump, in a letter reviewed by The Washington Post, instructed former advisers, including Mark Meadows, Kash Patel, Dan Scavino and Stephen K. Bannon, not to comply with congressional investigators who have requested information about their activities related to the Jan. 6 insurrection. The group of former White House aides were subpoenaed last month by the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection, seeking records and testimony by midnight Thursday. The bipartisan panel is investigating the storming of the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob trying to stop the certification of Biden’s electoral college win, an attack that resulted in five deaths and left some 140 members of law enforcement injured. Trump’s legal team argued in the letter, which was first reported by Politico, that records and testimony related to Jan. 6 are protected ‘from disclosure by the executive and other privileges, including among others the presidential communications, deliberative process, and attorney-client privileges.'” See also, Trump Tells Former Aides to Defy Subpoenas From January 6 Panel. The select committee also sent subpoenas to two ‘Stop the Steal’ organizers and a group affiliated with the event that preceded the mob violence. The New York Times, Luke Broadwater and Maggie Haberman, Thursday, 7 October 2021: “Former President Donald J. Trump has instructed his former aides not to comply with subpoenas from the special congressional committee investigating the Capitol riot, raising the prospect of the panel issuing criminal referrals for some of his closest advisers as early as Friday. In a letter reviewed by The New York Times, Mr. Trump’s lawyer asked that witnesses not provide testimony or documents related to their ‘official’ duties, and instead to invoke any immunities they might have ‘to the fullest extent permitted by law.’ The House committee has ordered four former Trump administration officials — Mark Meadows, the White House chief of staff; Dan Scavino Jr., a deputy chief of staff; Stephen K. Bannon, an adviser; and Kash Patel, a Pentagon chief of staff — to sit for depositions and furnish documents and other materials relevant to its investigation. They all faced a Thursday deadline to respond. Representative Bennie Thompson, Democrat of Mississippi and the chairman of the select committee, has threatened criminal referrals for witnesses who do not comply with the subpoenas, and said the panel expected witnesses ‘to cooperate fully with our probe.’ The move amounted to a declaration of war by Mr. Trump on the investigation, and raised legal questions about how far the committee could go in compelling information from a former president and his advisers.” 


Friday, 8 October 2021:


January 6 Panel Threatens to Pursue Criminal Charges Against Steve Bannon. A lawyer for Bannon said he was refusing to comply with a subpoena from the committee on the directive of former president Trump. The New York Times, Maggie Haberman and Luke Broadwater, Friday, 8 October 2021: “The select committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol riot threatened on Friday to pursue criminal charges against Stephen K. Bannon, the former chief strategist to President Donald J. Trump, for refusing to comply with its subpoena, announcing it would consider initiating contempt of Congress proceedings. In a statement after Mr. Bannon informed the panel that he would not cooperate in the inquiry, the panel’s leaders said they would ‘swiftly consider’ a criminal contempt referral, raising the prospect of what could be a prolonged legal battle over what could be crucial evidence in the investigation. The committee has ordered four former Trump administration officials — Mr. Bannon; Mark Meadows, the White House chief of staff; Dan Scavino Jr., a deputy chief of staff; and Kash Patel, a Pentagon chief of staff — to sit for depositions and furnish documents and other materials relevant to its investigation. Mr. Meadows and Mr. Patel have had some communication with the committee, according to the joint statement issued on Friday by Representatives Bennie Thompson, Democrat of Mississippi and the committee’s chairman, and Liz Cheney, Republican of Wyoming and the vice chairwoman. Mr. Scavino had not been served the subpoena until Friday, Politico reported. In a letter to the panel on Thursday, Robert Costello, Mr. Bannon’s lawyer, informed the committee that his client would not comply. Mr. Costello said Mr. Bannon was abiding by Mr. Trump’s directive for his former aides and advisers facing subpoenas to invoke immunity and refrain from turning over documents that might be protected under executive privilege.” See also, Bannon to defy subpoena from January 6 committee, citing Trump’s ‘direction,’ CNN Politics, Sara Murray, Katelyn Polantz, and Ryan Nobles, Friday, 8 October 2021: “Steve Bannon will not cooperate with the House select committee investigating January 6, his lawyer said in an email obtained by CNN that cites former President Donald Trump’s claim of executive privilege. Bannon’s attorney told the committee that ‘the executive privileges belong to President Trump’ and ‘we must accept his direction and honor his invocation of executive privilege.’… The claim that Bannon could be covered by the former President’s privilege is unusual because Bannon was not working for the federal government during the period surrounding the January 6 insurrection. Privilege claims normally apply to close officials around the president and deliberations between government employees, and Bannon was fired from his role as a White House adviser in 2017. Many legal experts say Bannon, as a private citizen, would have no standing to block a subpoena by claiming executive privilege.” See also, January 6 panel could seek criminal contempt for Steve Bannon, Roll Call, Chris Marquette, Friday, 8 October 2021: “Former Trump White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and Kashyap Patel, a former Defense Department official, are ‘engaging’ with the Jan. 6 select committee, but Stephen Bannon, a former Trump adviser, is not complying with requests for documents and testimony, a move that may result in the panel sending a criminal contempt of Congress referral to the Department of Justice. Dan Scavino, the former White House deputy chief of staff for communications, was not mentioned in the committee’s statement Friday, which comes the day after an Oct. 7 deadline for the four Trump allies to produce records. All four were included in the first round of subpoenas sent by the committee in September. Bannon and Patel are directed to testify at depositions on Oct. 14, while Scavino and Meadows are instructed to be deposed on Oct. 15. Bannon, the committee says, has indicated he could invoke executive privilege relating to former President Donald Trump. ‘While Mr. Meadows and Mr. Patel are, so far, engaging with the Select Committee, Mr. Bannon has indicated that he will try to hide behind vague references to privileges of the former President,’ a joint statement from Chairman Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., and Vice Chair Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., said. ‘The Select Committee fully expects all of these witnesses to comply with our demands for both documents and deposition testimony.’ The select committee said it is prepared to quickly advance a criminal contempt of Congress referral to the Department of Justice, which would go to the U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia to decide whether a criminal charge should be filed.”

Biden declines Trump request to withhold White House records from January 6 committee. The White House is authorizing the National Archives to turn over an initial set of documents related to Trump’s activities on January 6. NBC News, Mike Memoli and Pete Williams, Friday, 8 October 2021: “The White House on Friday formally blocked an attempt by former President Donald Trump to withhold documents from Congress related to the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, setting up a legal showdown between the current and former presidents over executive privilege. In a letter to the National Archives obtained by NBC News, White House Counsel Dana Remus rejected an attempt by Trump’s attorneys to withhold documents requested by the House Select Committee regarding the then-president’s activities on Jan. 6, writing that ‘President Biden has determined that an assertion of executive privilege is not in the best interests of the United States, and therefore is not justified as to any of the documents. These are unique and extraordinary circumstances,’ Remus added. ‘Congress is examining an assault on our Constitution and democratic institutions provoked and fanned by those sworn to protect them, and the conduct under investigation extends far beyond typical deliberations concerning the proper discharge of the President’s constitutional responsibilities. The constitutional protections of executive privilege should not be used to shield, from Congress or the public, information that reflects a clear and apparent effort to subvert the Constitution itself.'” See also, Biden rejects Trump’s request to withhold documents from House committee investigating January 6 attack, The Washington Post, Tom Hamburger, Jacqueline Alemany, and Josh Dawsey, Friday, 8 October 2021: “Congress’s quest for definitive answers about what led a mob of Donald Trump’s supporters to attack the Capitol on Jan. 6 appears headed for a historic showdown between the former president and his successor in the White House. The battle lines became more clear Friday, when President Biden rejected Trump’s request to block documents from the House committee investigating the insurrection, citing the gravity of the assault on democracy. ‘The president’s dedicated to ensuring that something like that could never happen again, which is why the administration is cooperating with ongoing investigations,’ White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Friday. Trump swiftly responded by formally claiming executive privilege over about 50 documents requested initially by the select committee and issuing a statement calling Democrats ‘drunk on power’ and insisting that ‘this assault on the constitution and important legal precedent will not work.’ Meanwhile, urged on by Trump, his longtime adviser Stephen K. Bannon told the committee he will not comply with the panel’s sweeping request for documents and testimony.”

Biden restores protections for Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante monuments in southern Utah 4 years after Trump downsized it, NPR, Deepa Shivaram, Friday, 8 October 2021: “President Biden restored the boundaries of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante monuments in southern Utah and added protections for the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts national monuments on Friday. The Bears Ears National Monument, which was created by President Barack Obama shortly before he left office, will go back to 1.36 million acres, and Grand Staircase will be restored to 1.87 million acres. The Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument, off the New England coast, was established by Obama in 2016 as the first marine national monument in the Atlantic Ocean.” See also, Biden expands Bears Ears and other national monuments, reversing Trump cuts. The decision restored full protections to Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante in Utah and reinstated fishing restrictions in a marine monument off New England. The Washington Post, Joshua Partlow, Friday, 8 October 2021: “President Biden on Friday restored full protections to three national monuments that had been slashed in size by former president Donald Trump, including Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante in Utah — known for their stunning desert landscapes and historical treasures of Native American art and settlements, as well as a rich fossil record. Biden used an executive order to protect 1.36 million acres in Bears Ears — slightly larger than the original boundary that President Barack Obama established in 2016 — while also restoring the 1.87 million-acre Grand Staircase-Escalante monument. Biden also reimposed fishing restrictions in the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of New England that Trump had opened to commercial fishing. Biden signed the proclamations in a ceremony outside the White House, in front of tribal leaders and others. He used his authority under the 1906 Antiquities Act.” See also, Biden restores national monuments’ protections stripped away by Trump. Restrictions on Bears Ears, Grand Staircase-Escalante, and Northeast Canyons and Seamounts national monuments had been changed by Trump to allow development. NBC News, Dartunorro Clark and Lauren Egan, Friday, 8 October 2021: “President Joe Biden on Friday restored environmental protections to major national monuments in Utah and New England that had been stripped by the Trump administration. Speaking at an outdoor ceremony at the White House, Biden said that protecting Bears Ears, Grand Staircase-Escalante, and Northeast Canyons and Seamounts national monuments should not become ‘a pendulum that swings back and forth depending on who is in public office. These protections provide a bridge to our past, but they also build a bridge to a safer, more sustainable future,’ he continued. While in office, President Donald Trump gutted or lifted restrictions on all three national monuments, dramatically reducing their size and allowing development, mining, ranching, drilling and fishing to take place on the lands.”

Appeals court reinstates Texas’s six-week abortion ban, two days after it was lifted, The Washington Post, Ann E. Marimow, Friday, 8 October 2021: “A federal appeals court late Friday reinstated the nation’s most restrictive abortion law, which bars the procedure as early as six weeks into pregnancy with no exceptions for rape or incest. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit granted a request filed Friday afternoon by the Texas attorney general to temporarily suspend a judge’s order blocking the law, which has halted most abortions in the state. Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) had asked the appeals court to reverse the injunction by U.S. District Judge Robert L. Pitman, who sided with the Biden administration Wednesday night and characterized the abortion ban as an ‘unprecedented and aggressive scheme to deprive its citizens of a significant and well-established constitutional right.’ A three-judge panel of the conservative-leaning court gave the Justice Department until 5 p.m. Tuesday to respond to the appeal.” See also, Most Abortions in Texas Are Banned Again After Court Ruling. A federal appeals court panel temporarily reinstated the law that bans most abortions after six weeks of pregnancy while it considers a district judge’s ruling. The New York Times, J. David Goodman, Friday, 8 October 2021: “A federal appeals court panel reinstated Texas’ restrictive abortion law late Friday, temporarily restoring a ban on virtually all procedures that had been blocked by a lower court two days earlier in a case brought by the Biden administration. The decision by three judges on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, in a terse two-page ruling granting a stay as it considers an appeal by the state of Texas, had been expected by many abortion providers. While at least six clinics in Texas had begun conducting abortions beyond the limits of the new law this week, most of the state’s roughly two dozen providers had opted not to take that step as the case moved through the courts.” See also, Appeals court allows Texas abortion law to resume, stopping federal judge’s order to block its enforcement. Because of the way the law is written, it appears that clinics and doctors who performed abortions outlawed by the statute even while the block was in effect would now be vulnerable to lawsuits. The Texas Tribune, Reese Oxner, Friday, 8 October 2021: “The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals late Friday temporarily allowed Texas’ near-total abortion ban — the strictest in the nation — to again be enforced after freezing a federal judge’s temporary block of the law. The state appealed the order just two days after it was issued. A panel of 5th Circuit justices restored enforcement of the law hours after Texas asked the court to step into a lawsuit that the U.S. Justice Department filed against the state. Enforcement of the law will be allowed to continue until at least Tuesday, when a response from the Justice Department is due. After the court considers arguments from both sides, the court can decide whether to continue allowing enforcement of the law or allow a lower court to once again temporarily block it. The court would not be determining the overall case’s outcome at this point — but it would decide whether the law could continue to stand while court proceedings unfold.”

International community strikes a ground-breaking tax deal for the digital age, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, Friday, 8 October 2021: “Major reform of the international tax system finalised today at the OECD will ensure that Multinational Enterprises (MNEs) will be subject to a minimum 15% tax rate from 2023. The landmark deal, agreed by 136 countries and jurisdictions representing more than 90% of global GDP, will also reallocate more than USD 125 billion of profits from around 100 of the world’s largest and most profitable MNEs to countries worldwide, ensuring that these firms pay a fair share of tax wherever they operate and generate profits. Following years of intensive negotiations to bring the international tax system into the 21st century, 136 jurisdictions (out of the 140 members of the OECD/G20 Inclusive Framework on BEPS) joined the Statement on the Two-Pillar Solution to Address the Tax Challenges Arising from the Digitalisation of the Economy. It updates and finalises a July political agreement by members of the Inclusive Framework to fundamentally reform international tax rules. With Estonia, Hungary and Ireland having joined the agreement, it is now supported by all OECD and G20 countries. Four countries – Kenya, Nigeria, Pakistan and Sri Lanka – have not yet joined the agreement. The two-pillar solution will be delivered to the G20 Finance Ministers meeting in Washington D.C. on 13 October, then to the G20 Leaders Summit in Rome at the end of the month.” See also, Global Deal to End Tax Havens Moves Ahead as Nations Back 15% Rate. More than 130 countries agreed to set a minimum tax rate of 15 percent as governments look to end a race to the bottom on corporate taxation. The New York Times, Alan Rappeport and Liz Alderman, Friday, 8 October 2021: “The world’s most powerful nations agreed on Friday to a sweeping overhaul of international tax rules, with officials backing a 15 percent global minimum tax and other changes aimed at cracking down on tax havens that have drained countries of much-needed revenue. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, which has been leading the negotiations, said the new minimum tax rate would apply to companies with annual revenue of more than 750 million euros ($866 million) and would generate around $150 billion in additional global tax revenue per year. ‘Today’s agreement will make our international tax arrangements fairer and work better,’ Mathias Cormann, the organization’s secretary general, said in a statement. ‘We must now work swiftly and diligently to ensure the effective implementation of this major reform.'”

Trump baselessly claims Haitian immigrants entering the US ‘probably have AIDS’ and letting them come in ‘is like a death wish,’ Business Insider, Matthew Loh, Friday, 8 October 2021: “Former President Donald Trump lashed out against Haitian immigrants looking to enter the US, saying that hundreds of thousands of them were ‘flowing in’ and ‘probably have AIDS,’ echoing disparaging remarks he made toward Haiti during his tenure as president. Speaking to Fox News host Sean Hannity on Thursday evening, Trump said that allowing Haitians into the US is ‘like a death wish for our country.’ He was likely referring to the thousands of Haitian refugees and migrants seeking asylum at the US-Mexico border in Del Rio, Texas. Many of them fled Haiti after two deadly earthquakes rocked their country and after Haitian President Jovenel Moïse was assassinated in July.… Contrary to his assertions, the prevalence of HIV among Haitian adults aged 15 to 49 is around 1.9%, according to data from the United Nations. While that’s higher than the global rate of 0.7%, reports say Haiti’s HIV prevalence rate has declined significantly in recent decades. In the 1980s, Haitians were stigmatized as a high risk group for AIDS who brought the disease into the US, a false notion that wiped out Haiti’s tourism industry and perpetuated racism.” See also, Trump stirs up new racism storm with fresh attack on immigrants, The Hill, Christian Spencer, published on Saturday, 9 October 2021: “In an appearance on Sean Hannity’s show on Fox News, former President Trump made remarks that have stirred up tension related to Haitian people waiting at the border. Trump, known for his border security policy including building a wall on the Mexican border, said the Haitian asylum-seekers who are expecting to cross the Texas border might have AIDs, which some call a racial stereotype among Haitian people. ‘So, we have hundreds of thousands of people flowing in from Haiti. Haiti has a tremendous AIDS problem. AIDS is a step beyond. AIDS is a real bad problem,’ Trump told Hannity. ‘Many of those people will probably have AIDS and they’re coming into our country. And we don’t do anything about it. We let everybody come in.’… This is not Trump’s first controversial remark about Haitians. As The Hill previously noted, Trump reportedly said that the roughly 15,000 Haitians who received U.S. visas in 2017 ‘all have AIDS,’ something his White House administration denied he said. Trump also reportedly asked at an immigration meeting with lawmakers why immigrants from ‘shithole countries’ are allowed to come into the United States, referring to Haiti, African countries and El Salvador. ‘Why do we need more Haitians?’ Trump reportedly said. ‘Take them out.'”

Nobel Peace Prize Awarded to 2 Journalists, Maria Ressa and Dmitri A. Muratov, Highlighting Fight for Press Freedom. In an era of increasing authoritarianism and swirling misinformation, Maria Ressa and Dmitri A. Muratov, who lead independent news outlets in the Philippines and Russia, were honored for their work to hold leaders to account. The New York Times, Friday, 8 October 2021:

  • Awarding the Nobel to journalists recognizes the growing repression of media.

  • Nobel laureate from Russia says he would have chosen a different Russian.

  • Maria Ressa says of her work as a journalist: ‘Trust is what holds us together.’

  • Nobel announcement draws mixed reactions from Russia, with frustration from Navalny supporters.

  • Maria Ressa is only the 18th woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize.

  • Even as it praises the Russian prize winner, the Kremlin steps up its assault on independent news.

  • Rappler has stood out in a landscape of growing media repression in Asia.

  • Anti-Nobel sentiment has spawned alternative awards over the years.

Biden becomes first president to commemorate Indigenous Peoples’ Day, The Washington Post, Eugene Scott, Friday, 8 October 2021: “President Biden on Friday became the first president to commemorate Indigenous Peoples’ Day, hailing Native Americans’ strength and resilience, while also marking Columbus Day with a proclamation noting the explorer’s accomplishments but also acknowledging the detrimental impact of his pilgrimages on Native Americans. The White House issued two separate statements for Monday’s events. Biden’s recognition of Indigenous Peoples’ Day is a reversal from his predecessor: former president Donald Trump railed against ‘radical activists’ trying to sully Christopher Columbus’s legacy. ‘Since time immemorial, American Indians, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians have built vibrant and diverse cultures — safeguarding land, language, spirit, knowledge, and tradition across the generations,’ Biden wrote in the Indigenous Peoples’ Day proclamation.”

Biden administration is canceling more border wall contracts, CNN Politics, Priscilla Alvarez, Friday, 8 October 2021: “The Biden administration is canceling another slate of border wall contracts — this time, in the Laredo and Rio Grande Valley sectors, the Department of Homeland Security announced Friday. In one of his first actions in office, President Joe Biden had ordered a pause on wall construction and called for a review of projects and funds. Friday’s announcement is the latest in the ongoing effort to cancel contracts geared toward building wall along the US-Mexico border. In late July, US Customs and Border Protection terminated two border wall contracts in the Laredo sector that cover approximately 31 miles. DHS said Friday it will cancel all remaining border barrier contracts in that sector.”

Capitol Police whistleblower accuses Sean Gallagher, the Capitol Police’s acting chief of uniformed operations, and Yogananda Pittman, its assistant chief of police for protective and intelligence operations, of deliberately choosing not to help officers under attack on January 6, Politico, Daniel Lippman and Betsy Woodruff Swan, Friday, 8 October 2021: “A former high-ranking Capitol Police official with knowledge of the department’s response to the Jan. 6 attack has sent congressional leaders a scathing letter accusing two of its senior leaders of mishandling intelligence and failing to respond properly during the riot. The whistleblower, who requested anonymity for privacy reasons and left the force months after the attack, sent the 16-page letter late last month to the top members of both parties in the House and Senate. His missive makes scorching allegations against Sean Gallagher, the Capitol Police’s acting chief of uniformed operations, and Yogananda Pittman, its assistant chief of police for protective and intelligence operations — who also served as its former acting chief. The whistleblower accuses Gallagher and Pittman of deliberately choosing not to help officers under attack on Jan. 6 and alleges that Pittman lied to Congress about an intelligence report Capitol Police received before that day’s riot. After a lengthy career in the department, the whistleblower was a senior official on duty on Jan. 6. The whistleblower’s criticism went beyond Capitol Police leaders to Congress. Without naming specific lawmakers, his letter accuses congressional leaders of having ‘purposefully failed’ to tell the truth about the department’s failures.”

Trump Hotel Lost Money, Despite Lobbyist Spending, Documents Show. House investigators released data revealing that the hotel in Washington lost $74 million from 2016 to 2020, a figure disputed by the Trump Organization. The New York Times, Eric Lipton, Friday, 8 October 2021: “Despite all the Republican-paid political events and big bar tabs from lobbyists, foreign dignitaries and other supporters of President Donald J. Trump, the Trump International Hotel in Washington lost an estimated $74 million between 2016 and 2020, according to data released on Friday by House investigators. The tally came from Mr. Trump’s own auditors, showing losses that generally increased through his tenure in the White House, even as Mr. Trump’s annual financial disclosure reports showed revenues of more than $40 million a year, at least until the pandemic hit. The new account of revenues and annual losses at the hotel — which is in a federally owned landmark known as the Old Post Office building — was released as House Democrats push the Biden administration to turn over additional documents to determine if Mr. Trump broke federal rules by continuing to operate the hotel through his family while serving as president.”


Sunday, 10 October 2021:


Nobel Peace Prize for Maria Ressa and Dmitry Muratov is also a warning to U.S. journalists: Do better. Journalists celebrated when two of their own won a Nobel for defending democracy, but many U. S. reporters are clueless about threats at home. The Philadelphia Inquirer, Will Bunch, Sunday, 10 October 2021: “At a moment when public trust in the media in the United States is at a near-record low, the prizes announced for Maria Ressa of the Philippines, who was convicted of criminal charges for her aggressive reporting on her homeland’s strongman president Rodrigo Duterte, and Russia’s Dmitry Muratov, who’s seen six of his reporters or contributors murdered while reporting on the regime of Vladimir Putin, were a burst of vindication — that journalism is essential to democracy, that reporting is an act of courage, and that truth still matters…. ‘In a battle for facts, in a battle for truth, journalism is activism,’ Ressa told NPR in a 2020 interview. Those last three words should be tattooed on every journalist’s forearm, so they can see it every time they’re lied to by a government official or a climate-denying spin doctor. Although Ressa’s fight has been focused on the massive corruption of the Philippines, she made it clear that her warning was meant for a wider audience. On the criminalization of journalism, she added: ‘This is how you transform a democracy. This is death by a thousand cuts. The same thing is happening in the United States.’… The Nobel honors for Ressa and Muratov came at an especially fraught moment for democracy, both around the world but especially in the United States. The defeat of Trump in the 2020 election and the failure of what we increasingly see was an overt coup attempt on Jan. 6, 2021, hasn’t stopped his massive movement from solidifying around the Big Lie that President Biden’s victory was stolen. It seems increasing clear that not only is Trump running again in 2024 but that he is the strong front-runner for the GOP nomination, and that he is teeing up loyal true believers in key positions or backed by new, antidemocratic legislation to declare him the winner, regardless of the factual outcome. A small but dedicated gaggle of American journalists has been warning about Trump’s slow-motion coup for months. And yet when a late-night comedian, HBO’s Bill Maher, laid out this threat to the American Experiment in a clear and direct eight-minute monologue on Friday night, millions of viewers seemed shocked and alarmed. Clearly they weren’t getting the proper sense of urgency from mainstream elite media in the United States, which has used Biden’s victory as a moment to bathe in the familiar comfort of ‘both sides are to blame’ journalism.”

Global minimum tax on corporations is likely to be included in reconciliation bill, Yellen says. The United States and 135 other countries endorsed the measure last week to combat corporate tax-cutting. The Washington Post, Jeanne Whalen, Sunday, 10 October 2021: “Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen said she is confident that Congress will include provisions for a global minimum tax on corporate profits in reconciliation legislation, days after the United States and 135 other nations endorsed the levy to combat tax-cutting. Each country that signed the deal must pass legislation to enact the measure, which is aimed at limiting corporations’ ability to lower their tax bills by shifting profits to the lowest-tax jurisdictions globally.”


Monday, 11 October 2021:


We Are Republicans. There’s Only One Way to Save Our Party From Pro-Trump Extremists: Vote for Democrats. The New York Times, Miles Taylor and Christine Todd Whitman, Monday, 11 October 2021: “After Donald Trump’s defeat, there was a measure of hope among Republicans who opposed him that control of the party would be up for grabs, and that conservative pragmatists could take it back. But it’s become obvious that political extremists maintain a viselike grip on the national and state parties and the process for fielding and championing House and Senate candidates in next year’s elections. Rational Republicans are losing the party civil war. And the only near-term way to battle pro-Trump extremists is for all of us to team up on key races and overarching political goals with our longtime political opponents: the Democrats.”

I’m no Democrat, but I’m voting exclusively for Democrats to save our democracy, The Washington Post, Max Boot, Monday, 11 October 2021: “I’m a single-issue voter. My issue is the fate of democracy in the United States. Simply put, I have no faith that we will remain a democracy if Republicans win power. Thus, although I’m not a Democrat, I will continue to vote exclusively for Democrats — as I have done in every election since 2016 — until the GOP ceases to pose an existential threat to our freedom. If you want to know why I’m so alarmed about the current state of my former party, look at the dueling documents released last week by the Senate Judiciary Committee about President Donald Trump’s attempt to pressure the Justice Department into helping to overturn the 2020 election.”

Texas Governor Greg Abbott bars Covid vaccine mandates, The New York Times, Ethan Hauser and Azi Paybarah, Monday, 11 October 2021: “Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas issued a broad executive order on Monday that bars virtually any coronavirus vaccine mandate in the state. Mr. Abbott, a Republican, has been among the most vocal political leaders in the United States opposing vaccine mandates. His latest executive order includes private employers, which had been exempt from previous edicts against the mandates. ‘No entity in Texas can compel receipt of a Covid-19 vaccine by any individual, including an employee or a consumer, who objects to such vaccination for any reason of personal conscience, based on a religious belief, or for medical reasons, including prior recovery from Covid-19,’ the order states. ‘I hereby suspend all relevant statutes to the extent necessary to enforce this prohibition.'” See also, American and Southwest Airlines reject the Texas order banning vaccine mandates, The New York Times, Coral Murphy Marcos and Daniel E. Slotnik, published on Tuesday, 12 October 2021: “American Airlines and Southwest Airlines, citing federal requirements, said on Tuesday that they would not comply with an order from the governor of Texas barring private employers from mandating coronavirus vaccines in the state. Gov. Greg Abbott, a strong opponent of vaccine mandates, issued the order on Monday, saying inoculation against the coronavirus should ‘always be voluntary for Texans.'”



Tuesday, 12 October 2021:


House approves debt ceiling extension through early December, CNN Politics, Clare Foran and Kristin Wilson, Tuesday, 12 October 2021: “The House of Representatives approved an extension of the nation’s debt limit through early December after the Senate passed the stopgap measure last week in a bid to avert a catastrophic default and economic disaster. Now that the Democratic-controlled House has passed the short-term extension, it is cleared for President Joe Biden’s signature.” See also, House Approves Bill to Avert U.S. Default, Sending It to Biden. The legislation, which the president is expected to sign quickly, lifts the debt ceiling until early December, when another congressional showdown looms. The New York Times, Emily Cochrane, Tuesday, 12 October 2021: “The House gave final approval on Tuesday to legislation that would raise the debt ceiling into early December, postponing the threat of a first-ever federal default even as Republicans vow to reimpose their blockade on a longer-term solution. The vote was 219 to 206 to pass the bill, clearing it for President Biden, who was expected to swiftly sign it only days before the Oct. 18 date by which the government is set to breach the statutory borrowing limit and be unable to meet its obligations. The legislation lifts the debt ceiling by $480 billion, which the Treasury Department has estimated is enough to last until at least Dec. 3, setting up yet another deadline for Congress to break its logjam over the issue. The temporary extension was necessary because Republicans had blocked Democrats’ legislation to provide a longer-term increase, demanding that they do so through a complex and time-consuming budget maneuver instead of through normal channels.”

Trump’s never-ending parade of election falsehoods, The Washington Post, Glenn Kessler, Tuesday, 12 October 2021: “During a nearly two-hour speech Saturday night, filled with his usual falsehoods, the former president devoted more than 20 minutes to claiming, in detail, how the 2020 presidential election supposedly was stolen from him. This is a claim that has failed to be proven in recounts, in the courts, in state investigations and in repeated audits demanded by his supporters. Yet the former president remains undeterred. We’ve largely ignored Trump’s rallies since he left office. But given that nearly a year has passed since he lost the election, we figured it would be useful for readers to see whether he’s saying much new about it. Trump’s technique from the start has been to overwhelm his listeners with details — usually irrelevant details — to leave an impression of an election system that is highly suspicious and fraudulent.”

Biden Ends Workplace Immigration Raids, Reversing Trump Policy. The change comes during a labor shortage in the United States, offering reassurance that undocumented workers are not at risk of being deported en masse. The New York Times, Eileen Sullivan, Tuesday, 12 October 2021: “The Biden administration announced on Tuesday that it would not conduct mass arrests of undocumented workers during enforcement operations at U.S. businesses, a reversal from Trump administration policies and the latest signal to millions of immigrants that they were not priorities for deportation. Known as work-site raids, such arrests have long been criticized by immigration advocates for spreading fear and dissuading workers from reporting labor violations out of concern that they would be arrested. So far, these raids have not been a fixture during the Biden administration. Alejandro N. Mayorkas, the homeland security secretary, said in a statement that enforcement efforts at work sites would instead focus on ‘unscrupulous employers who exploit unauthorized workers, conduct illegal activities or impose unsafe working conditions.’ He also asked for recommendations from the department’s immigration agencies over the next 60 days to identify policies and agreements that affected the enforcement of labor laws and how to ‘alleviate or mitigate’ concerns and fear that undocumented workers had about exploitative employers.”

Biden signs off on Colorado’s expansion of transgender-related health coverage, The Washington Post, Dan Diamond, Tuesday, 12 October 2021: “Under a groundbreaking decision by state and federal officials, many private health plans sold in Colorado will soon be required to cover hormone therapy, genital reconstructive services and other procedures sought by transgender patients. The change, which would take effect on Jan. 1, 2023, would mark the first time the federal government has approved a requirement for transition-related coverage in individual and small-group health plans. More than a dozen states, including Colorado, already cover such services in their Medicaid plans. Biden officials cited discrimination facing transgender patients and predicted the Colorado decision would serve as a road map for other states seeking to broaden such coverage. They also said the approval helps fulfill the president’s campaign pledge to expand access to coverage for LGBTQ Americans, including requiring insurers to cover care related to transitions.”


Wednesday, 13 October 2021:


Biden Administration Plans Wind Farms Along Nearly the Entire U.S. Coastline. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland announced that her agency will formally begin the process of identifying federal waters to lease to wind developers by 2025. The New York Times, Coral Davenport, Wednesday, 13 October 2021: “The Biden administration announced on Wednesday a plan to develop large-scale wind farms along nearly the entire coastline of the United States, the first long-term strategy from the government to produce electricity from offshore turbines. Speaking at a wind power industry conference in Boston, Interior Secretary Deb Haaland said that her agency will begin to identify, demarcate and hope to eventually lease federal waters in the Gulf of Mexico, Gulf of Maine and off the coasts of the Mid-Atlantic States, North Carolina and South Carolina, California and Oregon, to wind power developers by 2025. The announcement came months after the Biden administration approved the nation’s first major commercial offshore wind farm off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts and began reviewing a dozen other potential offshore wind projects along the East Coast. On the West Coast, the administration has approved opening up two areas off the shores of Central and Northern California for commercial wind power development. Taken together, the actions represent the most forceful push ever by federal government to promote offshore wind development.”

January 6 House Panel Subpoenas Jeffrey Clark, Former Justice Department Official. The committee asked for testimony and documents from the little-known former official who pressed his colleagues to pursue Donald Trump’s election fraud claims. The New York Times, Luke Broadwater, Wednesday, 13 October 2021: “The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol riot issued a subpoena on Wednesday to Jeffrey Clark, a former Justice Department official under President Donald J. Trump who was involved in Mr. Trump’s frenzied efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election. The subpoena seeks testimony and records from Mr. Clark, a little-known official who repeatedly pushed his colleagues at the Justice Department to help Mr. Trump undo his loss. The panel’s focus on him indicates that it is deepening its scrutiny of the root causes of the attack, which disrupted a congressional session called to count the electoral votes formalizing President Biden’s victory. ‘The select committee needs to understand all the details about efforts inside the previous administration to delay the certification of the 2020 election and amplify misinformation about the election results,’ Representative Bennie Thompson, Democrat of Mississippi and the committee chairman, said in a statement. ‘We need to understand Mr. Clark’s role in these efforts at the Justice Department and learn who was involved across the administration.'” See also, January 6 House committee subpoenas former Department of Justice official Jeffrey Clark who pushed election fraud lie and interviews another, acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen,  who pushed back, CNN Politics, Annie Grayer, Ryan Nobles, Zachary Cohen, and Whitney Wild, Wednesday, 13 October 2021: “The House select committee investigating the January 6 insurrection has subpoenaed Jeffrey Clark, a Justice Department official who was integral to helping then-President Donald Trump in his efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election, the committee announced Wednesday. And former acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen met in-person with the committee for about eight hours on Wednesday, according to a person familiar with the matter. Rosen served in the role during the final days of the Trump administration. Both moves underscore the panel’s interest in learning more about how Trump attempted to pressure top officials to investigate claims of election fraud during the former President’s final days in office — an issue the committee has said is a focal point of its sweeping probe into the events around January 6. Clark and Rosen were featured heavily in a recent report issued by Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee that highlighted the relentlessness of Trump and some of his top advisers as they fixated on using the Justice Department to prop up false conspiracy theories about the election.” See also, January 6 House committee is preparing to aggressively enforce subpoenas and targets former Trump Department of Justice Official Jeffrey Clark, The Washington Post, Jacqueline Alemany, Tom Hamburger, and Josh Dawsey, Wednesday, 13 October 2021: “The House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack is planning to ramp up its efforts to force Trump administration officials to cooperate with its inquiry, and on Wednesday it issued a subpoena for a former Justice Department official panel members view as key to the examination of the former president’s efforts to overturn election results. The committee said it is seeking records and testimony from Jeffrey Clark, a Trump-era Justice Department official who sought to deploy department resources to support President Donald Trump’s false claims of massive voting fraud in the 2020 election.”

The Biden administration proposes reversing Trump-era rules on socially conscious investing, The New York Times, Tara Siegel Bernard, Wednesday, 13 October 2021: “The Labor Department proposed rule changes on Wednesday that would make it easier for retirement plans to add investment options based on environmental and social considerations — and make it possible for such options to be the default setting upon enrollment. In a reversal of a Trump-era policy, the Biden administration’s proposal makes clear that not only are retirement plan administrators permitted to consider such factors, it may be their duty to do so — particularly as the economic consequences of climate change continue to emerge. Martin J. Walsh, the secretary of labor, said that the department consulted consumer groups, asset managers and others before writing the proposed rule, and that the change was considered necessary because the old one appeared to have a ‘chilling effect’ on using environmental, social and governance factors — better known as E.S.G. — when evaluating investments.”


Thursday, 14 October 2021:


January 6 House committee will move to hold former Trump aide Steve Bannon in criminal contempt for not complying with subpoena, The Washington Post, Jacqueline Alemany, Tom Hamburger, and Mariana Alfaro, Thursday, 14 October 2021: “The House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol announced on Thursday that it will move to hold Stephen K. Bannon in criminal contempt for not complying with its subpoena as it seeks to force former Trump administration officials to cooperate with its inquiry. Chairman Bennie G. Thompson (D-Miss.) said the panel will meet Tuesday when the House returns to Washington to vote to adopt a contempt report. ‘The Select Committee will use every tool at its disposal to get the information it seeks, and witnesses who try to stonewall the Select Committee will not succeed,’ Thompson said in a statement. The decision to pursue a criminal complaint signals the committee’s aggressive approach as it tries to avoid the standoffs that bedeviled congressional Democrats during the Trump administration. At the time, drawn-out legal battles frustrated attempts to scrutinize the Trump White House and federal agencies.” See also, January 6 House committee pursues criminal contempt referral for Bannon, CNN Politics, Melissa Macaya, Melissa Mahtani, Meg Wagner, and Veronica Rocha, Thursday, 14 October 2021:

  • The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol attack is moving to hold former Trump adviser Steve Bannon in criminal contempt for refusing to comply with a subpoena.
  • Bannon was scheduled to appear for a deposition today. The committee agreed to short postponements for Trump allies Mark Meadows, Kash Patel and Dan Scavino, who were also scheduled for depositions this week, according to a source.
  • Committee members were unified on Tuesday in stating that criminal contempt should be the next step for anyone who defies their subpoena.

Judge says Trump must give videotaped deposition in protest lawsuit, ABC News, Aaron Katersky, Thursday, 14 October 2021: “Former President Donald Trump must sit for a videotaped deposition next week as part of a lawsuit involving his anti-immigrant rhetoric, a judge in the Bronx ordered. A group of Mexican protesters said they were assaulted during a rally outside Trump Tower in September 2015 over the then-candidate’s comments that Mexican immigrants were criminals and rapists. The lawsuit named Trump, his campaign, his former head of security Keith Schiller, and others.”

U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit Lets Texas Continue to Enforce Near-Total Abortion Ban While the Federal Courts Weigh Its Constitutionality, The New York Times, Katie Benner, Thursday, 14 October 2021: “A federal appeals court said on Thursday that a near-total ban on abortions in Texas can remain in effect while the courts decide whether the law violates the Constitution. The ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit kept in place its own previous order last week that had temporarily allowed the law to be enforced again after a federal district judge had blocked it. The decision, which was 2 to 1 by a three-judge panel, is expected to be appealed to the Supreme Court.”

Trump asserts his dominance inside the Republican Party, Pushing Republicans to embrace his false claims of fraud, The Washington Post, Josh Dawsey and Michael Scherer, Thursday, 14 October 2021: “Former president Donald Trump has in the past week threatened electoral defeat for Republicans who dismiss his election falsehoods, inserted himself into the Virginia governor’s race to the delight of Democrats, and promised to root out disloyal GOP officials in legislative primaries in Arizona and Michigan. With more than a year to go before the midterm elections, the former president is leaving no corner of the party untouched as he moves to assert his dominance, both in public and behind the scenes. His stepped-up efforts create a conundrum for many of the party’s strategists and lawmakers, who believe they could have a banner election year in 2022 if they keep the focus on President Biden and his agenda. But Trump has repeatedly turned the focus back onto the 2020 election. He moved into new territory Wednesday when he released a statement threatening the GOP with ballot-box repercussions if candidates do not embrace his false claims that the White House race was rigged.”

Texas Removed an L.G.B.T.Q. Resource Page After a Candidate Complained. Don Huffines, who is challenging Governor Greg Abbott in next year’s Republican primary, said the content on the state web page was ‘offensive.’ It was quickly removed. The New York Times, Maria Cramer, Thursday, 14 October 2021: “The State of Texas removed a web page that offered resources to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender youth after one of Gov. Greg Abbott’s Republican primary challengers said its content was ‘offensive’ and out of line with ‘Texas values.’ The removal occurred shortly after the candidate, Don Huffines, denounced the website in a video that he shared on Twitter. ‘They are promoting transgender sexual policies to Texas youth,’ Mr. Huffines said. ‘I mean, really? This is Texas. These are not Texas values. These are not Republican Party values. But these are obviously Greg Abbott’s values.'”


Friday, 15 October 2021:


Justice Department to Ask Supreme Court to Block Texas’ Near-Total Abortion Ban as Legal Fights Continue. The Texas law prohibits most abortions after about six weeks, before many women are even aware they are pregnant. The New York Times, Katie Benner and Adam Liptak, Friday, 15 October 2021: “The Biden administration will ask the Supreme Court to block a Texas law that bans most abortions after six weeks of pregnancy while a challenge to it moves forward, a spokesman for the Justice Department said on Friday. Last month, in a separate case brought by abortion providers, the Supreme Court allowed the law to go into effect in a bitterly divided decision. The new challenge — from a different party and based on different legal theories — will let the justices take a fresh look at the law, known as Senate Bill 8. The vote in the earlier case was 5 to 4, with Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. joining the court’s three liberal members in dissent. ‘The Justice Department intends to ask the Supreme Court to vacate the Fifth Circuit’s stay of the preliminary injunction against Texas Senate Bill 8,’ the spokesman, Anthony Coley, said in a statement. It is not clear when the department will file its emergency application in the Supreme Court. Based on their usual practices, the justices are likely to move fairly quickly once the application has been filed and could render a decision in a week or so.” See also, Justice Department will ask Supreme Court to block Texas abortion law while legal fights play out, The Washington Post, Robert Barnes and Ann E. Marimow, Friday, 15 October 2021: “The Justice Department said Friday that it will ask the Supreme Court for an emergency halt to the Texas law that has restricted abortion access in the nation’s second-largest state to an extent not seen in 50 years. The announcement followed a decision by a federal appeals court Thursday night that allowed the law to remain in effect. A lower-court judge last week said the law was unconstitutional. The department’s announcement means the high court will be asked for the second time to put the law on hold while legal challenges to it continue. In a divisive 5-to-4 decision last month, the court allowed the law to take effect, though even the majority said it raised constitutional concerns.”

US Capitol Police officer indicted on obstruction of justice charges in connection with January 6 insurrection at the US Capitol, CNN Politics, Katelyn Polantz, Christina Carrega, and Jessica Schneider, Friday, 15 October 2021: “A US Capitol Police officer was indicted on obstruction charges in connection to the January 6 insurrection at the US Capitol. According to the indictment, Michael A. Riley told a contact online to remove posts showing the person was in the Capitol building that day. Riley’s arrest is notable among the more than 600 Capitol riot cases in that he becomes the first police officer on duty on Capitol Hill on January 6 charged with allegedly attempting to help a rioter. The 50-year-old was arrested Friday and appeared in court on a video feed from a holding cell. He has not yet entered any plea and is not being detained pending trial, but will be barred from possessing any guns as he awaits trial. He is scheduled to be arraigned on Tuesday.” See also, Capitol Police Officer Charged With Obstructing Justice in January 6 Case. Michael A. Riley, a veteran of the force, encouraged a man in the Capitol during the riot to delete social media posts showing he was there, according to the indictment. The New York Times, Luke Broadwater, Friday, 15 October 2021: “A U.S. Capitol Police officer was arrested Friday on charges that he obstructed justice by telling a man who had entered the Capitol illegally during the Jan. 6 riot to delete evidence of his actions that day from his social media accounts. Michael A. Riley, 50, a member of the agency’s K-9 unit with more than 25 years on the force, is the first officer charged with a crime in connection with the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, when scores of his fellow officers were beaten, bloodied and injured by a pro-Trump mob spurred on by the lie of widespread election fraud. He was released pending an Oct. 26 hearing.”

Adding justices or term limits sparks sharp debate on Supreme Court commission, The Washington Post, Robert Barnes and Ann E. Marimow, Friday, 15 October 2021: “Liberal members of President Biden’s commission to evaluate potential reform of the Supreme Court pushed back Friday against what they said was an overly negative review of the pros and cons of adding seats to the high court. The left flank of the Democratic Party is demanding that Congress add justices to restore ‘balance’ to a court that now has six conservatives and three liberals — in part because of Republican maneuvering during the last year of President Barack Obama’s term. Critics say increasing the number of justices would be court-packing, and would set off a tit-for-tat response by whichever political party is in charge. Draft materials released Thursday by the Presidential Commission on the Supreme Court of the United States indicated a consensus that expanding the court was a legal option, but would bring a host of problems. At a public meeting of the commission on Friday, some said the evaluation went too far. ‘Dismissing the most salient and most viable intervention on the table cannot help but send a message that the underlying problem the intervention is trying to address is neither urgent nor serious,’ said Harvard law professor Andrew Manuel Crespo. ‘Suffice to say there are a great many people who disagree with that conclusion, including multiple elected leaders at the federal level, multiple leading scholars, numerous witnesses to our commission, and millions of our fellow citizens.’ Expanding the court would be dramatic, said constitutional law expert Laurence Tribe. At the same time, he added: ‘Many people, and I include myself in this, believe we are indeed in a ‘break-the-glass’ moment.’ Sherrilyn Ifill, president of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, said the report’s discussion dwelt too much on the partisan considerations of adding seats and not enough on the value that could come with additional justices.”

Biden says Justice Department should prosecute those who refuse January 6 committee’s subpoenas, The Washington Post, Amy B Wang, Friday, 15 October 2021: “President Biden said Friday that the Justice Department should prosecute those who defy subpoenas from the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection, the most he has weighed in on possible consequences for aides of former president Donald Trump who have refused to comply with the panel’s demands. ‘I hope the committee goes after them and holds them accountable,’ Biden told reporters Friday evening, when asked what should happen to those who defy subpoenas from the congressional committee. The bipartisan panel is investigating the storming of the U.S. Capitol by a pro-Trump mob trying to stop the certification of Biden’s electoral college win, an attack that resulted in five deaths and left some 140 members of law enforcement injured.”

Key to Biden’s Climate Agenda Is Likely to Be Cut Because of Senator Manchin’s Opposition. The West Virginia Democrat told the White House he is firmly against a clean electricity program that is the muscle behind the president’s plan to battle climate change. The New York Times, Coral Davenport, Friday, 15 October 2021: “The most powerful part of President Biden’s climate agenda — a program to rapidly replace the nation’s coal- and gas-fired power plants with wind, solar and nuclear energy — will likely be dropped from the massive budget bill pending in Congress, according to congressional staffers and lobbyists familiar with the matter. Senator Joe Manchin III, the Democrat from coal-rich West Virginia whose vote is crucial to passage of the bill, has told the White House that he strongly opposes the clean electricity program, according to three of those people. As a result, White House staffers are now rewriting the legislation without that climate provision, and are trying to cobble together a mix of other policies that could also cut emissions.” See also, Clean energy program is likely to be dropped because of Senator Manchin’s objections. Decision isn’t final yet, but spending bill negotiators are working on other ways to achieve cuts in greenhouse gas emissions. NBC News, Josh Lederman, Sahil Kapur, and Leigh Ann Caldwell, published on Saturday, 16 October 2021: “The Clean Energy Performance Program, the linchpin of President Biden’s proposed climate change legislation, is likely to be dropped from the Democrats’ spending bill because of opposition from Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., multiple sources have told NBC News. The sources say that the program will most likely be removed from the massive spending package known as the ‘reconciliation bill’ that Democrats plan without Republican support, but that negotiations are ongoing and that no final decision has been made. The $150 billion program, known as the CEPP, is the most sweeping climate measure in the reconciliation bill, and the Biden administration has been counting on it to achieve the bulk of the greenhouse gas emissions reductions in the measure. The carrot-and-stick approach would pay electric utility companies that switch from fossil fuels to renewable or clean energy sources and fine those that don’t.”


Saturday, 16 October 2021:


90 Seconds of Rage at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, The New York Times, Dan Barry, Alan Feuer, and Matthew Rosenberg, Saturday, 16 October 2021: “The American flag became a blunt instrument in the bearded man’s hands. Wielding the flagpole like an ax, he swung once, twice, three times, to beat a police officer being dragged down the steps of a United States Capitol under siege. Other officers also fell under mob attack, while the rest fought to keep the hordes from storming the Capitol and upending the routine transfer of power. Sprayed chemicals choked the air, projectiles flew overhead and the unbridled roars formed a battle-cry din — all as a woman lay dying beneath the jostling scrum of the Jan. 6 riot. Amid the hand-to-hand combat, seven men from seven different states stood out. Although strangers to one another, they worked as if in concert while grappling with the phalanx of police officers barring entry to the Capitol. The moment was a flicker in the chaotic panorama, a 90-second flash of unhinged violence overshadowed by the high drama inside, where rioters menaced in packs, legislators hid in fear and a protester was shot to death. Now, nine months removed from the mayhem, Republicans bound to former President Donald J. Trump’s unfounded assertion that the 2020 election was stolen from him have all but wished the day away: blocking the creation of a bipartisan investigative commission; blaming antifa, or Democrats, or the Federal Bureau of Investigation; and minimizing the overwhelming video evidence. Even so, a reckoning is underway, as prosecutors and congressional investigators seek to understand how a political rally devolved into an assault on the citadel of American democracy and those who guard it. They are drilling down on whether the riot was organized and what roles were played by far-right extremist groups, various Trump supporters and Mr. Trump himself. But it may also help to slow down the video evidence, linger on those 90 seconds on the Capitol steps and trace back the roots of the violence and its perpetrators. Doing so provides a close-up view of how seemingly average citizens — duped by a political lie, goaded by their leaders and swept up in a frenzied throng — can unite in breathtaking acts of brutality.”

Democratic Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia accepted over $400,000 from energy companies and Republican donors in the third quarter, Business Insider, Emily Walsh, Saturday, 16 October 2021: “Senator Joe Manchin raised over $400,000 from donors in the energy industry in the third quarter, including some from donors that normally give to Republicans, according to his latest filing with the Federal Election Commission. Manchin has opposed certain climate-related stipulations within the Democrats’ proposed $3.5 trillion infrastructure bill. The legislation also includes expanded safety net programs for workers and families, lower prescription drug prices, and billions of dollars toward healthcare benefits for seniors. Democrats have been trying to rein in certain aspects of the bill — including its overall cost — to appease moderates like Manchin, as well as Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, according to Bloomberg. Manchin, who is from West Virginia, also owns millions of dollars in coal stocks. West Virginia is the second-largest producer of coal in the US, according to the West Virginia Office of Energy. ”

Democratic Senator Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona received the legal maximum of donations from several known Republican donors, new Federal Election Commission (FEC) filings show, Business Insider, Connor Perrett, Saturday, 16 October 2021: “Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, a Democrat, received the maximum donation allowed by law by several longtime GOP donors, according to a campaign fundraising report filed Friday with the Federal Election Commission. According to the FEC data, first reported by Mother Jones, Sinema raised $1.1 million between July and September this year, about the same amount she raised in previous fundraising cycles, according to the report, despite growing frustration among Arizona Democrats. Included in the FEC disclosure are several GOP donors who have previously supported efforts to elect former President Donald Trump and to help Republicans get the majority in the Senate. The maximum individual contribution limit is $2,900 per election, with a maximum of $5,800 in a two-year period, according to FEC guidelines.”


Monday, 18 October 2021:


Justice Department Asks Supreme Court to Block Texas Abortion Law. Saying the law is ‘plainly unconstitutional,’ the department also asked the court to add the case to its docket in its current term. The New York Times, Adam Liptak, Monday, 18 October 2021: “In a forceful brief filed Monday, the Biden administration urged the Supreme Court to temporarily block a Texas law that bans most abortions in the state while a legal challenge moves forward, calling the law ‘plainly unconstitutional.’ Leaving the law in effect, the brief said, would allow Texas to flout half a century of Supreme Court precedents that forbid states from banning abortions before fetal viability, or about 22 to 24 weeks into a pregnancy. The challenged law, called Senate Bill 8, has been in force since the beginning of September and effectively bars abortions after around six weeks of pregnancy. ‘It virtually eliminated access to abortion in Texas after six weeks of pregnancy,’ the brief said. ‘Texas has, in short, successfully nullified this court’s decisions within its borders.'” See also, Justice Department asks Supreme Court to stop Texas abortion law, The Washington Post, Robert Barnes, Monday, 18 October 2021: “The Justice Department asked the Supreme Court on Monday for an emergency halt to what it called a ‘plainly unconstitutional’ Texas law that has practically stopped access to abortion in the nation’s second-largest state. The action means the court will again have to confront the controversial law, Texas S.B. 8, which generally outlaws the procedure after six weeks of pregnancy. In a divisive 5-to-4 decision last month, the court allowed the law to go into effect, although dissenters said it violated the nearly 50-year-old precedent in Roe v. Wade that guaranteed a right to abortion before fetal viability. The Biden administration raises different arguments in its filing, and says the court must intervene to prevent an end run around its authority and the Constitution. ‘Texas designed S.B. 8 to violate the Constitution, as interpreted by this Court, and to thwart judicial review,’ Acting Solicitor General Brian H. Fletcher wrote in his filing. He added, ‘That proposition is as breathtaking as it is dangerous.'”

Trump sues to keep White House records secret, claiming executive privilege, CNN Politics, Katelyn Polantz and Tierney Sneed, Monday, 18 October 2021: “Former President Donald Trump filed a lawsuit Monday in DC District Court against the House select committee investigating the January 6 insurrection and the National Archives in an effort to keep records from his presidency secret by claiming executive privilege. The lawsuit from Trump is an attempt to block the work of the House committee as it investigates his actions before and during the siege of the Capitol. The court action also marks his latest effort in a long and thorny fight against subpoenas from the Democratic-controlled US House. The Biden administration has declined to assert executive privilege over a first tranche of Trump-era records, and Trump is currently opposed to the release of about 40 documents.” See also, Trump Sues to Block Release of White House Papers to the House Committee Investigating the January 6 Insurrection by Trump Supporters. The case raises novel constitutional questions about the scope of an ex-president’s executive privilege powers if the current president disagrees. The New York Times, Charlie Savage and Luke Broadwater, Monday, 18 October 2021: “Former President Donald J. Trump sued Congress and the National Archives on Monday, seeking to block the disclosure of White House files related to his actions and communications surrounding the Jan. 6 Capitol riot. In a 26-page complaint, a lawyer for Mr. Trump argued that the materials must remain secret as a matter of executive privilege. He said the Constitution gives the former president the right to demand their confidentiality even though he is no longer in office — and even though President Biden has refused to assert executive privilege over them. The lawsuit touches off what is likely to be a major legal battle between Mr. Trump and the House committee investigating the attack, in which a mob of his supporters stormed the Capitol seeking to disrupt Congress’s counting of electoral votes to formalize Mr. Biden’s victory. Its outcome will carry consequences for how much the panel can uncover about Mr. Trump’s role in the riot, pose thorny questions for the Biden administration and potentially forge new precedents about presidential prerogatives and the separation of powers.” See also, Trump sues to block White House records requested by January 6 House committee, The Washington Post, Jacqueline Alemany, Tom Hamburger, and Josh Dawsey, Monday, 18 October 2021: “Former president Donald Trump is suing to block the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol from receiving records for its inquiry into the events of that day as well as Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election results. Trump and his attorneys argue that the records requests are overly broad and have no legislative purpose, and they criticize President Biden for not asserting executive privilege to block the handover of those documents…. The suit against the committee and the National Archives was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.”

January 6 House committee lays out legal arguments against Bannon’s subpoena defiance in private letter to his attorney, The Washington Post, Tom Hamburger and Jacqueline Alemany, Monday, 18 October 2021: “The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol sent Stephen K. Bannon’s lawyer a stern letter Friday informing him that the panel rejected his arguments for failing to cooperate — and would probably proceed to vote on holding the adviser to former president Donald Trump in contempt of Congress. Bannon has said that he should not have to comply with a subpoena from the panel because Trump is asserting executive privilege to shield his activities and those of his aides and allies from congressional scrutiny. ‘The Select Committee believes that this willful refusal to comply with the Subpoena constitutes a violation of federal law,’ Committee Chairman Bennie G. Thompson (D-Miss.) wrote in a previously undisclosed letter sent Friday to Bannon’s lawyer, Robert Costello. The emphatic tone of the letter and legal arguments it lays out underscore the committee’s desire to move quickly and aggressively to combat any attempts to slow down or scuttle its investigation. The panel is scheduled to meet Tuesday evening to vote on the contempt charge against Bannon, which it is expected to approve, and it is possible the vote could be taken up by the full House as early as this week. The matter would then go to the Justice Department.”

Biden Administration Seeks to Accelerate Cleanup of Toxic ‘Forever Chemicals.’ Concerns mount over health toll of substances used to make everything from cellphones to medical devices. The Wall Street Journal, Katy Stech Ferek, Monday, 18 October 2021: “The Biden administration said it is moving forward on regulations to limit the spread of several toxic chemicals that public-health advocates say are harmful to humans and should become the target of a widespread cleanup effort. White House officials said Monday that they are working on a proposal to designate some chemicals classified as perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, as hazardous substances under 1980 federal law, a status that could make manufacturers and other distributors of the chemicals liable for cleaning up contaminated sites. PFAS are commonly called ‘forever chemicals’ because they take so long to break down.” See also, Biden administration moves to curtail toxic ‘forever chemicals.’ ‘This is a really bold set of actions for a big problem,’ EPA Administrator Michael Regan said, even as some advocates remain wary. The Washington Post, Brady Dennis and Darryl Fears, Monday, 18 October 2021: “The Biden administration moved Monday to regulate a group of long-lasting, human-made chemicals that pose health risks to millions of Americans, even as they continue to be used in an array of products such as cosmetics, dental floss, food packaging, clothing and cleaning supplies. The Environmental Protection Agency said it will move with urgency to set enforceable drinking water limits on certain polyfluoroalkyl and perfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, more commonly known as ‘forever chemicals,’ which do not break down naturally and have turned up in the water supplies of communities across the country. In 2016 the Obama administration put in place a recommended, but unenforceable, health advisory limit of 70 parts per trillion for certain PFAS chemicals in drinking water — a level that scientists have said is insufficient to protect public health. Once mandatory standards come into effect — which will take years — local water utilities will face penalties if they fail to meet them. EPA also will require manufacturers to provide detailed data about entire classes of compounds they produce, and plans to designate some of them as hazardous chemicals under the nation’s Superfund law.” See also, A Move to Rein In Cancer-Causing ‘Forever Chemicals.’ Michael Regan, the E.P.A. administrator, wants to limit a class of chemicals that has been linked to cancer and is found in everything from drinking water to furniture. The New York Times, Lisa Friedman, Monday, 18 October 2021: “The Biden administration on Monday said it would require chemical manufacturers to test and publicly report the amount of a family of chemicals known as PFAS that is contained in household items like tape, nonstick pans and stain-resistant furniture, the first step toward reducing their presence in drinking water. Perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl compounds, or PFAS refers to more than 4,000 man-made chemicals that are often called ‘forever chemicals’ because they don’t break down in the environment. Exposure to the chemicals has been linked to certain cancers, weakened immunity, thyroid disease, and other health effects. Michael S. Regan, the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, said in an interview that regulating PFAS has been one of his priorities. He previously served as the top environmental regulator in North Carolina where startlingly high concentrations of the chemicals were found in several sources of public drinking water.”

Trump faces a pile of civil lawsuits as depositions begin. The former president is defending himself in at least 10 civil suits alleging fraud and defamation to incitement of violence. NBC News, Dareh Gregorian, Monday, 18 October 2021: “Former President Donald Trump has been ordered to answer questions under oath in a lawsuit Monday, and his attorneys could soon set a date for a deposition in another case, as well. The lawsuits, involving allegations that his security guards roughed up protesters outside Trump Tower in New York and allegations of defamation by former ‘Apprentice’ contestant Summer Zervos, respectively, are just two cases in the mass of civil litigation Trump faces post-presidency. At least 10 civil cases are pending against Trump, whose ability to delay them has been curtailed since he left office in January. Trump had argued in some of the cases that as a sitting president he was immune from civil lawsuits. His office didn’t respond to a request for comment on the cases.” See also, Trump questioned for four hours in lawsuit from protesters allegedly assaulted by his guards, The Washington Post, David A. Fahrenthold and Shayna Jacobs, Monday, 18 October 2021: “Former president Donald Trump was questioned for four and a half hours Monday by lawyers for a group of protesters who have sued him, alleging that Trump’s security guards assaulted them in 2015, one of the lawyers said. Trump’s testimony was recorded on video so that it could be played at a trial in the suit. That arrangement allowed Trump to avoid testifying in person. ‘We can report at this time that Donald John Trump sat for approximately four and half hours under oath and answered questions concerning the events that occurred outside of Trump Tower on September 3, 2015,’ Benjamin N. Dictor, an attorney for the four protesters, said in a written statement. Dictor said that Trump largely answered his questions — though he said Trump declined to answer ‘a handful.’ Dictor said he would ask the judge in the suit, Doris M. Gonzalez, to order Trump to answer those questions later. Dictor declined to give details about his questions or Trump’s answers.”

Texas bill banning transgender students in school sports heads to governor’s desk. Governor Greg Abbott has said he will sign the bill, which would make Texas the 10th state with such a law. NBC News, Dan Avery, Monday, 18 October 2021: “Texas Gov. Greg Abbott is poised to sign a bill barring transgender youth from participating on school sports teams that align with their gender identity. The measure requires public schools from elementary to collegiate levels to assign athletes based on the sex noted on their birth certificates ‘at or near the time of birth.’ A trans sports ban bill cleared the Republican-controlled House 76-54 on Thursday, then went to the state Senate on Friday, where it passed 19-12. After returning to the House for reconciliation, it was approved a final time 76-61.”

Supreme Court reaffirms police protection by qualified immunity, a legal doctrine targeted in protests, The Washington Post, Kimberly Kindy, Monday, 18 October 2021: “The U.S. Supreme Court sided with police Monday in two separate rulings on qualified immunity, a legal doctrine shielding officers from lawsuits that has been at the center of protests and debates in Congress and state legislatures across the country since the murder of George Floyd. The rulings signaled that the Supreme Court is not retreating from its support of a doctrine it created in the 1960s, which provides broad protections to officers accused of violating civil rights, legal experts said.” See also, In Two Rulings, Supreme Court Bolsters Legal Shield for Police. The unsigned decisions, without noted dissents, indicated that the court continued to support the widely criticized doctrine of qualified immunity. The New York Times, Adam Liptak, Monday, 18 October 2021: “In two unsigned decisions without noted dissents, the Supreme Court on Monday ruled in favor of police officers accused of using excessive force. The rulings were a signal that the court continues to support the doctrine of qualified immunity, which can shield police misconduct from lawsuits seeking damages. The doctrine has been the subject of criticism across the ideological spectrum, and it became a flash point in the nationwide protests last year over police brutality, with activists and lawmakers calling for its reconsideration. The doctrine requires plaintiffs to overcome a daunting hurdle. They must not only show that the official accused of misconduct violated a constitutional right, but also that the right had been ‘clearly established’ in a previous ruling. The Supreme Court has generally required a tight factual fit between an earlier ruling and challenged conduct.”


Tuesday, 19 October 2021:


January 6 House committee approves Steve Bannon criminal contempt report, setting up key vote later this week in the House of Representatives, CNN Politics, Zachary Cohen, Ryan Nobles, and Annie Grayer, Tuesday, 19 October 2021: “The House committee investigating the January 6 attack on the US Capitol formally approved holding Steve Bannon, one of former President Donald Trump’s closest allies, in contempt of Congress on Tuesday night, setting up a key House vote later this week. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer announced that the full House would vote on the criminal contempt report Thursday, and following passage in the chamber, it would then get referred to the Justice Department. The criminal contempt report was approved and moves to the floor without any opposition from the committee members and marks a critical milestone in the investigation as the panel hopes even the remote threat of jail time inspires more Trump-aligned witnesses to cooperate. On Tuesday night, members of the committee blasted Bannon for refusing to cooperate with the panel’s probe and said he is ‘isolated’ in doing so as other witnesses are working with the panel. During Tuesday’s committee meeting where lawmakers formally declared Bannon should face criminal contempt charges, Thompson and the vice chairwoman, Republican Rep Liz Cheney of Wyoming, once again rejected Bannon’s claim of executive privilege. Cheney, during her opening remarks, went further, telling members that Bannon and Trump’s executive privilege arguments suggest the former President was ‘personally involved’ in the planning and execution of January 6.” See also, House Panel Recommends Contempt Charge Against Bannon. The committee scrutinizing the January 6 Capitol riot said the former White House counselor had ‘multiple roles relevant to this investigation.’ The New York Times, Luke Broadwater, Tuesday, 19 October 2021: “One day before a mob of former President Donald J. Trump’s supporters stormed the Capitol, Stephen K. Bannon, a former top adviser to Mr. Trump, made a prediction to listeners of his radio show. ‘Now we’re on, as they say, the point of attack — the point of attack tomorrow,’ Mr. Bannon said on Jan. 5 as he promoted a plan hatched by Mr. Trump and far-right Republican lawmakers to try to overturn President Biden’s victory the next day, when Congress would meet to formalize the election results. ‘It’s going to kick off. It’s going to be very dramatic.’ It is because of comments like that, which foreshadowed the violence that played out during the Capitol riot, that the House committee investigating the assault is interested in questioning Mr. Bannon. But the former counselor to Mr. Trump has refused to cooperate with the inquiry, citing the former president’s claim of executive privilege. The panel voted unanimously on Tuesday to recommend charging Mr. Bannon with criminal contempt of Congress for defying its subpoena, sending the issue to the House. Representative Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland, the majority leader, said members would hold a vote on Thursday. The chamber is expected to approve the move and hand the matter over to the Justice Department for prosecution. ‘The rule of law remains under attack right now,’ said Representative Bennie Thompson, Democrat of Mississippi and the chairman of the committee. ‘If there’s no accountability for these abuses — if there are different sets of rules for different types of people — then our democracy is in serious trouble. Mr. Bannon will comply with our investigation,’ he added, ‘or he will face the consequences.'” See also, House January 6 committee votes to hold Steve Bannon in contempt, The Washington Post, Jacqueline Alemany, Tom Hamburger, and Spencer S. Hsu, Tuesday, 19 October 2021: “Lawmakers on the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol unanimously voted in support of holding Stephen K. Bannon in contempt on Tuesday. The seven Democrats and two Republicans tasked with investigating the insurrection all supported the resolution recommending that the House find the former adviser to Donald Trump in criminal contempt of Congress for refusal to comply with a subpoena issued by the committee. The vote could be taken up by the full House as early as this week. The matter would then be referred to the Justice Department. Contempt of Congress is a misdemeanor criminal offense that can result in up to one year in prison and a fine of up to $100,000.” See also, Liz Cheney says Steve Bannon not cooperating suggests Trump may have been ‘personally involved in the planning and execution’ of the January 6  insurrection, Business Insider, Charles Davis, Tuesday, 19 October 2021: “Former White House advisor Steve Bannon’s refusal to cooperate with the investigation into the January 6 insurrection suggests that he and former President Donald Trump worked together to plan the day’s actions, Rep. Liz Cheney charged Tuesday. The comments came during a meeting of the House Select Committee looking into the January 6 attack, which sought to prevent the certification of President Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 election. ‘Based on the committee’s investigation, it appears that Mr. Bannon had substantial advanced knowledge of the plans for January 6 and likely had an important role in formulating those plans,’ Cheney, a Republican from Wyoming, said at the meeting. A day before the unrest, Bannon promised viewers of his online show that ‘all hell is going to break loose,’ as detailed in a report released this month by the committee. ‘It’s not going to happen like you think it’s going to happen,’ he continued, adding that ‘it’s going to be quite extraordinarily different. All I can say is, strap in.'”

Trump’s Pentagon Chief Quashed Idea to Send 250,000 Troops to the Mexican Border. Top national security aides to former President Trump also talked him out of launching military raids against drug cartels inside Mexico. The New York Times, David E. Sanger, Michael D. Shear, and Eric Schmitt, Tuesday, 19 October 2021: “President Trump’s defense secretary thought the idea was outrageous. In the spring of 2020, Mark T. Esper, the defense secretary, was alarmed to learn of an idea under discussion at a top military command and at the Department of Homeland Security to send as many as 250,000 troops — more than half the active U.S. Army, and a sixth of all American forces — to the southern border in what would have been the largest use of the military inside the United States since the Civil War. With the coronavirus pandemic raging, Stephen Miller, the architect of Mr. Trump’s immigration agenda, had urged the Homeland Security Department to develop a plan for the number of troops that would be needed to seal the entire 2,000-mile border with Mexico. It is not clear whether it was officials in homeland security or the Pentagon who concluded that a quarter of a million troops would be required. The concept was relayed to officials at the Defense Department’s Northern Command, which is responsible for all military operations in the United States and on its borders, according to several former senior administration officials. Officials said the idea was never presented formally to Mr. Trump for approval, but it was discussed in meetings at the White House as they debated other options for closing the border to illegal immigration. Mr. Esper declined to comment. But people familiar with his conversations, who would speak about them only on condition of anonymity, said he was enraged by Mr. Miller’s plan. In addition, homeland security officials had bypassed his office by taking the idea directly to military officials at Northern Command. Mr. Esper also believed that deploying so many troops to the border would undermine American military readiness around the world, officials said. After a brief but contentious confrontation with Mr. Miller in the Oval Office, Mr. Esper ended consideration of the idea at the Pentagon. Mr. Trump’s obsession with the southern border was already well known by that time. He had demanded a wall with flesh-piercing spikes, repeatedly mused about a moat filled with alligators, and asked about shooting migrants in the leg as they crossed the border. His aides considered a heat-ray that would make migrants’ skin feel hot. Around the same time that officials considered the huge deployment to the American side of the border with Mexico, Mr. Trump also pressed his top aides to send forces into Mexico itself to hunt drug cartels, much like American commandos have tracked and killed terrorists in Afghanistan or Pakistan, the officials said.”

Iowa Democratic Chair Says He Received Lynching Threat After Criticizing Trump. Ross Wilburn, the first Black person to lead Iowa’s Democratic Party, said he received several racist messages after writing a column in The Des Moines Register. The New York Times, Neil Vigdor, Tuesday, 19 October 2021: “Iowa’s Democratic Party chair said on Tuesday that he received a lynching threat and several other racist phone and email messages after he wrote a column in the state’s largest newspaper denouncing former President Donald J. Trump and Republicans. The party chairman, Ross Wilburn, the first Black person to lead the Democratic Party in Iowa, the presidential proving grounds, said that he turned the messages over to the police in Ames, Iowa, and planned to press charges if the people who sent the messages were identified. Speaking to reporters over Zoom, Mr. Wilburn, a state representative from Ames, said that the threatening messages were in response to an Oct. 8 opinion article that he wrote in The Des Moines Register titled, ‘Iowa Republicans put loyalty to Trump over helping Iowans.'” See also, Iowa Democratic Party chair receives multiple threats, including one of lynching, after criticizing Trump, The Washington Post, Mariana Alfaro, Tuesday, 19 October 2021: “Iowa authorities are investigating multiple threats — including one of lynching — that Iowa Democratic Party Chairman Ross Wilburn received soon after writing an op-ed critical of former president Donald Trump. Wilburn, the state party’s first Black chairman, wrote the opinion piece published in the Des Moines Register ahead of Trump’s Oct. 9 rally at the Iowa State Fairgrounds. It ran online Oct. 8 and in print the following day and, in it, Wilburn accused Iowa Republicans of putting their loyalty to Trump ahead of Iowans’ needs.”

Biden tells Democrats that package of up to $1.9 trillion should be new target of talks. The president met with key party members as they race to secure a pact. The Washington Post, Tony Romm, Marianna Sotomayor, Seung Min Kim, and Jeff Stein, Tuesday, 19 October 2021: “President Biden told Democrats during a private meeting Tuesday that he believed they could secure a deal on a new tax-and-spending proposal between $1.75 trillion and $1.9 trillion, far less than some in the party initially sought, even as some lawmakers later maintained it still would allow them to accomplish broad swaths of their vast economic agenda. The early outline — shared at least with liberal lawmakers in the House — appeared to offer one potential avenue for the White House to broker a truce among Democrats’ warring left-leaning and moderate factions. Four people familiar with Biden’s comments confirmed the early details, requesting anonymity to describe the negotiations. The potential new price range marks a significant reduction from the $3.5 trillion that some Democrats initially pursued under a budget agreement chiefly brokered by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) earlier this year. But it is closer to the number that centrists, especially Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.), had outlined in recent months as they sought steep cuts to Democrats’ spending plans. Manchin and Sanders met Tuesday for the second time in two days after the two sparred with each other over the weekend.”


Wednesday, 20 October 2021:


Senate Republicans Block Voting Rights Bill, Leaving Its Fate in Doubt. The third filibuster of such a measure underscored how the legislation is unlikely to move forward without a change in Senate rules. The New York Times, Carl Hulse, Wednesday, 20 October 2021: “Republicans on Wednesday blocked action for the third time this year on legislation to bolster voting rights, leaving Democrats few options to advance the bill outside of changing the Senate filibuster rule and passing it over G.O.P. opposition. All 50 Democrats and independents supported bringing the Freedom to Vote Act to the floor, but all 50 Republicans voted against doing so, maintaining a stalemate over a proposal that Democrats say is needed to counter efforts in Republican-controlled states to impose new restrictions on voting in the aftermath of the 2020 elections.” See also, All eyes on Senator Joe Manchin after Republicans again block voting rights legislation, The Washington Post, Mike DeBonis, Wednesday, 20 October 2021: “Democrats’ months-long drive for muscular new federal voting rights legislation hit a new roadblock Wednesday, with options for progress dwindling as Senate Republicans remained united in blocking debate on the issue. Outwardly, key lawmakers and advocates have continued to elevate the political stakes, calling federal legislation essential to protecting American democracy from the efforts of Republican state legislatures and election officials to restrict voting access following former president Donald Trump’s false claims of rampant fraud in the 2020 presidential election. But the realities of the Senate — with a razor-thin Democratic majority and a united Republican minority empowered by the long-standing filibuster rule requiring a 60-vote supermajority to advance most legislation — continue to make progress difficult and wholly dependent on the willingness of key Democratic senators to change their views on modifying the Senate’s rules.”

U.N. Report Warns Fossil Fuel Drilling Plans Undermine Climate Pledges. Countries are planning to produce more than twice as much oil, gas, and coal through 2030 as would be needed if governments want to limit global warming to Paris Agreement goals. The New York Times, Brad Plumer, Wednesday, 20 October 2021: “Even as world leaders vow to take stronger action on climate change, many countries are still planning to dramatically increase their production of oil, gas and coal in the decades ahead, potentially undermining those lofty pledges, according to a United Nations-backed report released Tuesday. The report looked at future mining and drilling plans in 15 major fossil fuel producing countries, including the United States, Saudi Arabia, Russia, Canada, China, India and Norway. Taken together, those countries are currently planning to produce more than twice as much oil, gas and coal through 2030 as would be needed if governments want to limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) above preindustrial levels. Scientists and world leaders increasingly say that holding global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius is crucial if humanity wants to avoid the most catastrophic consequences of climate change, such as ever-deadlier heat waves, large scale flooding and widespread extinctions. The world has already heated up roughly 1.1 degrees since the Industrial Revolution. But the planned global expansion of fossil fuel extraction clashes sharply with those climate goals, the report found.”

Trump Organization, Already Under Indictment, Faces New Criminal Inquiry. The investigation, by the Westchester County district attorney’s office, increases the legal scrutiny of the former president and his family business. The New York Times, William K. Rashbaum and Ben Protess, Wednesday, 20 October 2021: “Former President Donald J. Trump’s family business, which is already under indictment in Manhattan, is facing a criminal investigation by another prosecutor’s office that has begun to examine financial dealings at a golf course the company owns, according to people with knowledge of the matter. In recent months, the district attorney’s office in suburban Westchester County, N.Y., has subpoenaed records from the course, Trump National Golf Club Westchester, and the town of Ossining, which sets property taxes on the course, a sprawling private club that is perched on a hill north of New York City and boasts a 101-foot waterfall. The full scope of the investigation could not be determined, but the district attorney, Mimi E. Rocah, appears to be focused at least in part on whether Mr. Trump’s company, the Trump Organization, misled local officials about the property’s value to reduce its taxes, one of the people said.” See also, Trump faces new criminal investigation into New York golf club, The Washington Post, David A. Fahrenthold, Wednesday, 20 October 2021: “The district attorney in suburban Westchester County, N.Y., has subpoenaed property-tax records related to one of former president Donald Trump’s golf clubs, signaling a previously unknown criminal inquiry into the Trump Organization. The town of Ossining, N.Y., which sets property tax rates for the course, received a subpoena from Westchester District Attorney Miriam ‘Mimi’ Rocah (D) several weeks ago, according to an Ossining official. The town ‘has been fully cooperative,’ said the official, who declined to be named because the subpoena was not public. A spokeswoman for Rocah declined to comment Wednesday. The Westchester inquiry was first reported by the New York Times. The Trump Organization had challenged the property valuation for its Westchester club for every year since 2015. That process — used by many real estate companies — typically requires a company to submit data about its property’s financial performance, as evidence that it is worth less than the initial assessment.”

ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) sues Oklahoma, saying law restricting teaching of gender and race theories is unconstitutional, The Washington Post, Bryan Pietsch, Wednesday, 20 October 2021: “An Oklahoma law that educators say restricts discussions of race and sex in classrooms is unconstitutional, the American Civil Liberties Union alleged in a lawsuit filed Tuesday. The civil rights organization and groups of students and educators say in the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma against the state’s governor, attorney general and top education officials that the law violates students’ and educators’ First and 14th Amendment rights. They are seeking a preliminary injunction that would block the law from being enforced. The law, which went into effect in July, is one of a handful passed by Republican-controlled states that are seen by many as seeking to ban discussion of critical race theory, an academic framework used to examine the way policies and laws perpetuate systemic racism. But the broad language in Oklahoma’s law leaves educators with an ‘impossible’ and unconstitutional choice: ‘avoid topics related to race or sex in class materials and discussions or risk losing their teaching licenses for violating the law,’ the ACLU said, adding that the suit is the first challenge in federal court to one of the bans.”

Trump, still barred from Twitter and Facebook, to launch social network in ‘fight back’ against Big Tech, The Washington Post, Bryan Pietsch, Wednesday, 20 October 2021: “Banished from Twitter and Facebook, former president Donald Trump is setting out — again — to create a platform where he can communicate easily with his base and the rest of the world. Trump announced late Wednesday that his company, Trump Media and Technology Group, would be launching a new social media platform called Truth Social. The media company and platform were created, Trump said in a statement, to ‘stand up to the tyranny of Big Tech.’… The site was briefly accessible to the public on Wednesday night, allowing people to create accounts and claim usernames. One account under the handle ‘donaldjtrump’ posted a photo of a pig defecating.”


Thursday, 21 October 2021:


Climate change Poses a Widening Threat to National Security. Intelligence and defense agencies issued reports warning that the warming planet will increase strife between countries and spur migration. The New York Times, Christopher Flavelle, Julian E. Barnes, Eileen Sullivan, and Jennifer Steinhauer, Thursday, 21 October 2021: “Worsening conflict within and between nations. Increased dislocation and migration as people flee climate-fueled instability. Heightened military tension and uncertainty. Financial hazards. The Biden administration released several reports Thursday about climate change and national security, laying out in stark terms the ways in which the warming world is beginning to significantly challenge stability worldwide. The documents, issued by the departments of Homeland Security and Defense as well as the National Security Council and director of national intelligence, mark the first time that the nation’s security agencies collectively communicated the climate risks they face.” See also, White House, intelligence agencies, and the Pentagon issue reports warning that climate change threatens global security, The Washington Post, Shane Harris and Michael Birnbaum, Thursday, 21 October 2021: “As the United States and nations around the world struggle to blunt the effects of rising temperatures and extreme weather, sweeping assessments released Thursday by the White House, the U.S. intelligence community and the Pentagon conclude that climate change will exacerbate long-standing threats to global security. Together, the reports show a deepening concern within the U.S. security establishment that the shifts unleashed by climate change can reshape U.S. strategic interests, offer new opportunities to rivals such as China, and increase instability in nuclear states such as North Korea and Pakistan. The reports emerge as world leaders prepare to gather in Glasgow, Scotland, next month for crucial U.N. climate talks. And the assessments suggest that the Biden administration is preparing to take on the national security consequences of global warming after four years of inaction under President Donald Trump. During his presidency, climate-related security assessments were routinely suppressed because they did not match his administration’s skeptical stance toward climate science.”

House Finds Steve Bannon in Contempt for Defying January 6 Inquiry Subpoena. The vote came after a bitterly partisan debate over the Capitol attack and as Republicans sought to deflect questions about Donald J. Trump’s role in the violence. The New York Times, Luke Broadwater, Thursday, 21 October 2021: “The House voted on Thursday to find Stephen K. Bannon in criminal contempt of Congress for stonewalling the investigation into the Jan. 6 Capitol attack, pressing for information from a close ally of Donald J. Trump even as Republicans moved to insulate the former president from accountability. The vote of 229 to 202, mostly along party lines, came after Mr. Bannon refused to comply with a subpoena from the House select committee investigating the assault, declining to provide the panel with documents and testimony. The action sent the matter to the Justice Department, which now must decide whether to prosecute Mr. Bannon and potentially set off a legal fight that could drag on for months or years. But what was clear on Thursday was that nine months after the deadliest attack on the Capitol in two centuries, many Republicans in Congress remain bent on whitewashing, ignoring or even validating what took place as their party continues to embrace the lie of a stolen election. Only nine Republicans joined Democrats in voting to enforce the panel’s subpoena. The rest followed the lead of Mr. Trump, who in a statement before the vote derided the election he lost as a crime and praised the mob attack — which injured 140 police officers and claimed several lives — as a legitimate response. ‘The insurrection took place on Nov. 3, Election Day,’ Mr. Trump wrote. ‘Jan. 6 was the protest!'” See also, House votes to hold Trump ally Steve Bannon in criminal contempt for defying subpoena, CNN Politics, Clare Foran, Zachary Cohen, and Ryan Nobles, Thursday, 21 October 2021: “The House of Representatives voted on Thursday to hold Steve Bannon, one of former President Donald Trump’s closest allies, in criminal contempt of Congress after he defied a subpoena from the committee investigating the January 6 attack on the US Capitol. The vote was 229-202. Nine Republicans voted with all 220 Democrats to pass the resolution: House Select Committee Vice Chair Liz Cheney, Reps. Adam Kinzinger, Nancy Mace, Fred Upton, Peter Meijer, John Katko, Brian Fitzpatrick, Anthony Gonzalez of Ohio, and Jaime Herrera Beutler. Rep. Greg Pence — the brother of former Vice President Mike Pence, who was presiding over the electoral vote count on January 6 — did not vote. The action marks a significant escalation in how far Democrats are willing to go to rebuke individuals who refuse to cooperate as the House select committee investigates the violent attack that sought to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election. The vote by the full House to hold Bannon in criminal contempt of Congress sets up a referral to the Department of Justice, which would then have to decide whether to prosecute.”

Liz Cheney calls out Republican Representative Jim Banks for falsely signing letter as the ranking member of January 6 committee, CNN Politics, Annie Grayer and Zachary Cohen, Thursday, 21 October 2021: “GOP Rep. Jim Banks lamented on the House floor that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi prevented him from serving on the House committee investigating the January 6 attack on the US Capitol on Thursday. And yet, Banks sent a letter to at least one government agency falsely claiming that he is ranking member of the committee in his signature. Fellow Republican Liz Cheney, who serves as vice chair of the committee, called Banks out for his actions on the House floor as the House began debate on the criminal contempt referral of Steve Bannon, a Trump ally, for evading a subpoena. ‘He noted that the Speaker had determined that he wouldn’t be on the committee’ Cheney said. ‘So I would like to introduce for the record a number of letters the gentleman of Indiana has been sending to federal agencies.’ According to a letter provided to CNN, Banks wrote to the Department of the Interior on September 16 asking to be provided with any information the department turns over to the House committee. ‘I ask that you provide me any information that is submitted to the Select Committee. Additionally, please include me on any update or briefing that you provide,’ Banks wrote. Banks signed the letter as ranking member of the committee, while admitting that Pelosi blocked his appointment.”

Justice Department Adds Two Top Prosecutors to Matt Gaetz Case. The move by the department is a sign of the complex and high-stakes nature of the sex trafficking investigation into Representative Gaetz, a close ally of Donald Trump. The New York Times, Michael S. Schmidt and Katie Benner, Thursday, 21 October 2021: “The Justice Department has added two top prosecutors from Washington to the child sex trafficking investigation of Representative Matt Gaetz, according to two people briefed on the matter, a sign of the complex and high-stakes nature of the inquiry into Mr. Gaetz, a Florida Republican who is one of former President Donald J. Trump’s closest congressional allies. The prosecutors — one a public corruption investigator with an expertise in child exploitation crimes, and the other a top leader of the public corruption unit — have been working on the Florida-based investigation for at least three months, the people said. It is not unusual for prosecutors from the Justice Department in Washington to be added to local teams of federal investigators in high-profile cases that require a deep and specific expertise like sex crimes.”

CNN town hall with President Biden, CNN Politics, Meg Wagner and Mike Hayes, Thursday, 21 October 2021: “President Biden answered a range of questions during a CNN town hall in Baltimore this evening. The town hall came at a critical time for Biden as his administration continues to sell his ambitious legislative agenda to members of Congress and the nation.… [H]ere’s a look at some of the highlights from tonight:

  • On the infrastructure bill deal: Biden expressed optimism that Democrats in Congress would eke out a deal on his administration’s bipartisan infrastructure package and a budget reconciliation bill aimed at what he called ‘the care economy,’ telling CNN’s Anderson Cooper ‘I do think we’ll get a deal.’
  • On the spending plan — and what’s NOT in it: Biden laid out in the most specific terms to date what will and won’t be included in a compromise budget measure that contains the bulk of his sweeping domestic agenda. He said a paid leave provision had been whittled down to four weeks, down from Biden’s goal of twelve weeks. And he said it would a ‘reach’ to include dental, vision and hearing coverage to Medicare, a key priority for progressives, saying it was opposed by Sen. Joe Manchin — and that he believed Sen. Kyrsten Sinema was against it as well. Instead, he said he was working to include an $800 voucher for dental coverage, and was still negotiating vision coverage.
  • On the filibuster: Biden acknowledged in his strongest terms to date that filibuster reform will be necessary to pass key items like voting rights legislation and debt limit increases, but that doing so now would hamper his ability to pass his economic agenda. Asked whether he would entertain the notion of getting rid of the filibuster for voting rights legislation, Biden said ‘maybe more.’
  • On the supply chain crisis: Biden said he’s considering deploying the National Guard to help ease stress on the US supply chain as it prompts growing concern about the economy. ‘Yes, absolutely, positively. I will do that,’ Biden said.
  • On Covid-19 vaccine mandates: Pressed if police officers and other first responders who refuse the Covid-19 vaccine should be forced to stay at home or be let go, President Joe Biden told Cooper, ‘Yes, and yes.’ Biden also lamented misinformation surrounding vaccines, ‘like what they’re saying about my buddy Colin Powell — and he was my friend — who passed away.’ Powell, who was vaccinated, died Monday of Covid-19 complications, but was immunocompromised while seeking treatment for multiple myeloma.

Biden expresses optimism about deal on expansive domestic policy agenda, The Washington Post, Amy B Wang, Meryl Kornfield, Mariana Alfaro, Dan Diamond, and John Wagner, Thursday, 21 October 2021: “President Biden expressed optimism Thursday about working out an agreement with Democrats on his multitrillion-dollar domestic policy agenda while he spelled out the elements of the package opposed by Sens. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.). The president fielded several questions on a range of topics at a CNN town hall event before a live audience in Baltimore. Biden got questions about both a bipartisan infrastructure bill and a recently scaled-back package that includes an array of Democratic priorities, including expansion of Medicare, introduction of universal prekindergarten and billions of dollars to address climate change.

  • Democrats braced for cuts to a paid leave program as they whittled down Biden’s economic package.
  • Biden said he “absolutely” would consider using the National Guard to address supply-chain issues. The White House later clarified that use of the Guard at the state level is the purview of governors.
  • Biden said he is open to fundamentally altering — and perhaps doing away with — the filibuster when it comes to certain issues, but that his current priority is his economic agenda.

Biden Is Open to Scrapping the Filibuster for Voting Rights Bill ‘and Maybe More.’ The president said any push to ‘fundamentally alter’ the Senate’s 60-vote threshold would have to wait until after Congress passed his vast spending agenda. The New York Times, Michael D. Shear and Emily Cochrane, Thursday, 21 October 2021: “President Biden said on Thursday that he was open to ending the Senate filibuster so Democrats could pass voting rights legislation, raise the federal debt limit and possibly enact other parts of his agenda that had been blocked by Republicans. Speaking at a CNN town hall meeting, the president also expressed optimism about passage of his infrastructure and social safety net bills even as he offered candid descriptions of closed-door negotiations with two Democratic holdouts. Mr. Biden had previously said that changing the filibuster rules to allow a debt limit vote was ‘a real possibility,’ but his remarks on Thursday evening suggested that he was ready to pursue broader changes to bypass Republican opposition. At the town hall, he said ending the filibuster — a Senate tradition that allows the minority party to kill legislation that fails to garner 60 votes — would have to wait until after he secured passage of his spending bills, which are under negotiation on Capitol Hill. The president said he would lose ‘at least three votes’ on his social policy bill if he pushed an end to the filibuster. He did not say which senators he would lose. But Mr. Biden was blunt about his intentions once the debate over the spending bills was over. He said the need to pass sweeping voting rights legislation favored by Democrats is ‘equally as consequential’ as the debt limit vote, which protects the full faith and credit of the United States.”

Five military veterans advising Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema resign, calling her one of the ‘principal obstacles to progress,’ CNN Politics, Veronica Stracqualursi, Thursday, 21 October 2021: “Five military veterans on Sen. Kyrsten Sinema‘s advisory board resigned from their roles this week, slamming the Arizona Democrat as one of the ‘principal obstacles to progress.’ In a letter to Sinema, the veterans expressed frustration with her refusal to change the Senate filibuster to protect voting rights, failure to support prescription drug negotiations, her opposition to parts of the Democrats’ sweeping budget reconciliation package that make up President Joe Biden’s agenda and criticized her for not voting on the January 6 commission. ‘You have become one of the principal obstacles to progress, answering to big donors rather than your own people,’ the veterans wrote. ‘We shouldn’t have to buy representation from you, and your failure to stand by your people and see their urgent needs is alarming. We do not know who has your ear, but it clearly isn’t us or your constituents,’ they added. The criticism from the five veterans, whose resignations were effective Wednesday, adds to the growing backlash within the Democratic Party and from Arizona activists against Sinema for not backing elements of Biden’s Build Back Better plan.” See also, Calling Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema an Obstacle to Progress, 5 Military Veterans Quit Her Advisory Council. The furious members accused the Arizona Democrat of ‘answering to big donors rather than your own people,’ in the latest sign of the political pressure she faces. The New York Times, Catie Edmondson and Luke Broadwater, Thursday, 21 October 2021: “Five veterans tapped to advise Senator Kyrsten Sinema, an Arizona Democrat, resigned from their posts on Thursday, publicly accusing her of ‘hanging your constituents out to dry’ in the latest sign of growing hostility toward a centrist who has emerged as a key holdout on President Biden’s agenda. In a scathing letter obtained by The New York Times, the veterans took Ms. Sinema to task for her refusal to abolish the filibuster and her opposition to parts of Mr. Biden’s multitrillion-dollar social safety net, education, climate and tax plan, stances that have stymied some of his top priorities. ‘You have become one of the principal obstacles to progress, answering to big donors rather than your own people,’ the veterans wrote in a letter that is to be featured in a new advertisement by Common Defense, a progressive veterans’ activist group that has targeted Ms. Sinema.”

Representative Liz Cheney’s Consultants Are Given an Ultimatum: Drop Her, or Be Dropped. The message, delivered by a lobbyist close to the House minority leader, Kevin McCarthy, has already led one Republican firm to cut ties. The New York Times, Jonathan Martin, Thursday, 21 October 2021: “A prominent Washington lobbyist close to Kevin McCarthy, the House minority leader, is warning Republican political consultants that they must choose between working for Representative Liz Cheney or Mr. McCarthy, an ultimatum that marks the full rupture between the two House Republicans. Jeff Miller, the lobbyist and a confidant of Mr. McCarthy’s dating to their youthful days in California politics, has conveyed this us-or-her message to Republican strategists in recent weeks, prompting one fund-raising firm to disassociate itself from Ms. Cheney, a Republican from Wyoming.”

Capitol riot defendant sentenced to 14 months for Parler threat: ‘Lets hunt these cowards down,’ The Washington Post, Spencer S. Hsu, Thursday, 21 October 2021: “A Texas man charged in the Capitol riot was sentenced to 14 months of incarceration Thursday after pleading guilty to a felony count of making an interstate threat based on social media posts from his Washington hotel room on Jan. 6 and 7. Troy Smocks, 59, was the second person to be sentenced among the 15 felony defendants who have pleaded guilty to charges related to the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol by a pro-Trump mob. Smocks, of Dallas, admitted posting a message on Parler as ‘ColonelTPerez’ the day after the riot that was viewed at least 54,000 times, stating: ‘Prepare our weapons, and then go get’em. Lets hunt these cowards down like the Traitors that each of them are. This includes RINOS, Dems, and Tech Execs. We now have the green light.'”

Texas Governor Greg Abbott Appoints Former Trump Lawyer to Oversee Election Review. The selection of a new secretary of state arrives as Abbott is facing pressure to allow an expanded 2020 election audit in Texas. The New York Times, J. David Goodman, Thursday, 21 October 2021: “Amid pressure from former President Donald J. Trump to support a broad review of the 2020 election in Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott on Thursday appointed as secretary of state a lawyer who briefly joined Mr. Trump’s challenge to the 2020 results in Pennsylvania. The new secretary of state, John Scott, will oversee Texas elections at a time when a new law imposing further restrictions on voting and a Republican redistricting plan have raised alarm among voting rights advocates that the state’s growing nonwhite population would not be fairly represented. More immediately, Mr. Scott, a Fort Worth lawyer who worked for Mr. Abbott when he was the state’s attorney general, will take charge of a limited review of the 2020 election results that Mr. Abbott, a Republican, ordered last month for four of the most populous counties in Texas.”


Friday, 22 October 2021:


Supreme Court Again Refuses to Block Texas Abortion Law. But the court said it would hear arguments on November 1 on challenges to the law from the Biden administration and abortion providers in the state. The New York Times, Adam Liptak, Friday, 22 October 2021: “The Supreme Court on Friday once again refused to immediately block a Texas law that bans most abortions after six weeks. But in an unusual move, the justices agreed to fast-track their consideration of appeals from the Justice Department and abortion providers in Texas, scheduling arguments for Nov. 1. The justices will now be grappling with two high-profile abortion cases in the space of a month. The case from Texas will require them to sort through complex procedural questions prompted by a novel law drafted to avoid review in federal court — an approach to restricting abortion that other states are also considering. Then, on Dec. 1, the court will hear a challenge to a Mississippi law that bans abortions after 15 weeks and that anti-abortion activists hope will lead the court’s expanded conservative majority to overturn or undermine the constitutional right to abortion established by Roe v. Wade in 1973. The court’s decision not to bar enforcement of the Texas law was at least a short-term victory for anti-abortion forces. As a practical matter, it means that the procedure will remain all but unavailable for now in the state despite the court’s own precedents forbidding states from banning abortion before fetal viability, at around 23 weeks. The longer-term fate of the Texas law remains unclear. The questions the justices agreed to decide concern whether Texas can insulate the law from review in federal court through a unique structure that delegates enforcement of the abortion ban to the general public rather than to state officials. The justices did not agree to consider the constitutionality of the Texas law, known as Senate Bill 8. But if they allow the federal government or abortion providers to sue, lower courts would presumably strike down the law under the Supreme Court’s precedents.” See also, Supreme Court won’t block Texas abortion law but grants expedited review for November 1, The Washington Post, Robert Barnes, Friday, 22 October 2021: “The Supreme Court on Friday accelerated the country’s debate over reproductive rights, leaving in place Texas’s most-restrictive-in-the-nation abortion law but scheduling a hearing in just 10 days to consider its future. The court granted an expedited review of what is called S.B. 8, and juggled its docket to hear arguments Nov. 1. The Biden administration in a filing Friday said the law ‘has virtually eliminated abortion in Texas after six weeks of pregnancy.’ The court’s action sets up a momentous term for abortion rights. The justices on Dec. 1 will consider a Mississippi law that bans most abortions after 15 weeks, far earlier than the court’s precedents currently allow. Abortion opponents have urged the court to use that case to loosen precedents that say states may not prohibit abortion before fetal viability, generally thought to be around 22 to 24 weeks. Mississippi’s state government and abortion opponents have asked the court to use the case to overturn Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which first established a constitutional right to abortion in 1973 and reaffirmed it in 1992, respectively. The court skirted a similar request in the Texas case. Instead, the court will focus on the law’s unique enforcement policy, which authorizes individual citizens to sue anyone who helps a woman obtain an abortion after cardiac activity is noted in the embryo, as early as about six weeks.”

Senator Kyrsten Sinema’s Blockade on Tax Rates Prods Democrats Toward Billionaires’ Tax. Her refusal to raise rates on high earners and major corporations has led Democrats to consider proposals once championed only by the party’s most liberal flank. The New York Times, Jonathan Weisman, Friday, 22 October 2021: “Senator Kyrsten Sinema, Democrat of Arizona and one of her party’s only holdouts on President Biden’s sprawling budget bill, has cultivated a profile in Congress as a business-minded centrist. But her refusal to raise tax rates on high earners and major corporations to pay for Mr. Biden’s plan is pushing Democrats toward wealth taxation and other measures once embraced only by the party’s left flank. The frenzied search for new paths around Ms. Sinema’s tax-rate blockade has cheered liberals but raised serious qualms among more moderate Democrats, who now openly say they hope that Ms. Sinema’s business allies will pressure her to relent once they — and she — see the details of the alternatives that she is forcing on her colleagues to pay for about $2 trillion in spending on social programs and anti-climate-change initiatives.” See also, White House signals Biden and congressional Democrats are closer to finalizing a social safety net spending package, NBC News, Haley Talbot, Rebecca Shabad, and Shannon Pettypiece, Friday, 22 October 2021: “The White House on Friday signaled Democrats are closer to securing a deal on legislation that would enact the administration’s social safety net agenda after President Joe Biden met with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer earlier in the day. ‘We’re getting closer, we’re into the nitty gritty details. There is agreement about some fundamental investments in our society,’ White House press secretary Jen Psaki said during a briefing. She said Biden would prefer to get a deal before he leaves for an overseas trip late next week, and that he will continue making calls over the weekend with members of Congress.”

Former Department of Justice official Jeffrey Clark, who pushed baseless election fraud claims, is expected to testify before January 6 committee, CNN Politics, Katelyn Polantz, Ryan Nobles, Paula Reid, and Zachary Cohen, Friday, 22 October 2021: “The House select committee investigating the US Capitol insurrection is planning for former Justice Department official Jeffrey Clark to testify next Friday — teeing him up to be the first Trump administration official to comply with a subpoena for an interview with the panel, two sources familiar with the committee’s inquiry told CNN. Clark’s testimony could be a major step forward for Democrats as they attempt to determine what former President Donald Trump, Republican members of Congress and his advisers did and said behind closed doors about overturning the results of the 2020 election before January 6.”

Lev Parnas found guilty on campaign finance charges, CNN Politics, Lauren del Valle, Friday, 22 October 2021: “Rudy Giuliani‘s former associate Lev Parnas was convicted on six counts related to ‘influence buying’ campaign finance schemes. A jury of eight men and four women found Parnas guilty of scheming with co-conspirators to use a Russian backer’s money to fund political contributions they hoped to trade for political favor for their budding joint cannabis venture. The Ukrainian businessman was also convicted for using money from Igor Fruman – who previously pleaded guilty — and a fake company to funnel hundreds of thousands in political contributions to GOP and pro-Donald Trump committees and then lying about it to the Federal Election Commission.” See also, Lev Parnas, Ex-Giuliani Ally, Is Convicted of Campaign Finance Charges. A federal jury found that Mr. Parnas and a second man funneled a Russian tycoon’s money to U.S. candidates to win favorable treatment for a marijuana business. The New York Times, Colin Moynihan, Friday, 22 October 2021: “Lev Parnas and his business partner, Igor Fruman, had climbed to prominent places in the orbit of President Donald J. Trump when they were arrested at Dulles International Airport near Washington in 2019 while holding one-way tickets to Frankfurt. The two Soviet-born businessmen were accused of funneling a Russian tycoon’s money into American political campaigns. But in the two years that followed, Mr. Parnas’s role in events connected to Mr. Trump’s first impeachment slowly emerged. He acknowledged participating in an effort by Rudolph W. Giuliani to pressure Ukrainian officials to investigate Joe Biden, who was then a leading Democratic presidential candidate. Even as Mr. Parnas’s profile grew, though, the campaign finance charges against him loomed. On Friday, in Federal District Court in Manhattan, Mr. Parnas and an associate, Andrey Kukushkin, were convicted on all counts. Mr. Fruman and a fourth defendant, David Correia, had pleaded guilty previously. In a statement, Damian Williams, the U.S. attorney in Manhattan, said Mr. Parnas and Mr. Kukushkin had conspired to manipulate the American political system to enrich themselves.” See also, Former Giuliani associate Lev Parnas found guilty of unlawful campaign donations, ABC News, Aaron Katersky, Friday, 22 October 2021: Soviet-born businessman Lev Parnas, a former associate of Rudy Giuliani, was found guilty Friday of making unlawful campaign donations totaling more than $350,000 to two pro-Trump super PACs and a GOP congressman in 2018, acting as a straw donor for a wealthy Russian who wanted to enter the burgeoning marijuana market in the United States…. The illegal donations overlapped with Giuliani’s quest in Ukraine to unearth information that could damage then-presidential candidate Joe Biden, an effort in which Parnas allegedly positioned himself as a middleman.”


Saturday, 23 October 2021:


Ahead of January 6, the Willard hotel in downtown D.C. was a Trump team ‘command center’ for effort to deny Biden the presidency, The Washington Post, Jacqueline Alemany, Emma Brown, Tom Hamburger, and Jon Swaine, Saturday, 23 October 2021: “They called it the ‘command center,’ a set of rooms and suites in the posh Willard hotel a block from the White House where some of President Donald Trump’s most loyal lieutenants were working day and night with one goal in mind: overturning the results of the 2020 election. The Jan. 6 rally on the Ellipse and the ensuing attack on the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob would draw the world’s attention to the quest to physically block Congress from affirming Joe Biden’s victory. But the activities at the Willard that week add to an emerging picture of a less visible effort, mapped out in memos by a conservative pro-Trump legal scholar and pursued by a team of presidential advisers and lawyers seeking to pull off what they claim was a legal strategy to reinstate Trump for a second term. They were led by Trump’s personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani. Former chief White House strategist Stephen K. Bannon was an occasional presence as the effort’s senior political adviser. Former New York City police commissioner Bernard Kerik was there as an investigator. Also present was John Eastman, the scholar, who outlined scenarios for denying Biden the presidency in an Oval Office meeting on Jan. 4 with Trump and Vice President Mike Pence. They sought to make the case to Pence and ramp up pressure on him to take actions on Jan. 6 that Eastman suggested were within his powers, three people familiar with the operation said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to describe private conversations. Their activities included finding and publicizing alleged evidence of fraud, urging members of state legislatures to challenge Biden’s victory and calling on the Trump-supporting public to press Republican officials in key states. The effort underscores the extent to which Trump and a handful of true believers were working until the last possible moment to subvert the will of the voters, seeking to pressure Pence to delay or even block certification of the election, leveraging any possible constitutional loophole to test the boundaries of American democracy. ‘I firmly believed then, as I believe now, that the vice president — as president of the Senate — had the constitutional power to send the issue back to the states for 10 days to investigate the widespread fraud and report back well in advance of Inauguration Day, January 20th,’ one of those present, senior campaign aide and former White House special assistant Boris Epshteyn, told The Washington Post. ‘Our efforts were focused on conveying that message.'”

Prosecutors in Detroit uncover massive money-laundering operation between the US and Dubai, Detroit Free Press and Stars and Stripes, Paul Egan, Saturday, 23 October 2021: “Federal prosecutors in Detroit have seized about $12 million in cash they allege was part of a massive money-laundering operation, called ‘The Shadow Exchange,’ operating between the U.S. and the United Arab Emirates. A forfeiture complaint unsealed this week in federal court in Detroit alleges that some of the laundered money was used to buy armored vehicles for an illegal drug trafficking operation based in Michigan. The shell companies involved in the scheme, mostly located in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, used fake invoices and other methods to disguise the origins of money, sent to banks — including major U.S. banks — using dozens of wire transfers, the complaint alleges. ‘An organized group of individuals operated an unregistered U.S. dollar money transmitting and money laundering business (the ‘Shadow Exchange’) based in Dubai,’ the complaint alleges. ‘The Shadow Exchange provided services to persons seeking to transfer U.S. dollars in a manner calculated to avoid anti-money laundering measures of the financial system and the scrutiny of international law enforcement.’ Also, ‘customers of the Shadow Exchange also included at least one international criminal organization.'”


Sunday, 24 October 2021:


January 6 Protest Organizers Say They Participated in “Dozens’ of Planning Meetings With Members of Congress and White House Staff. Two sources are communicating with House investigators and detailed a stunning series of allegations to Rolling Stone, including a promise of a ‘blanket pardon’ from the Oval Office. Rolling Stone, Hunter Walker, Sunday, 24 October 2021: “As the House investigation into the Jan. 6 attack heats up, some of the planners of the pro-Trump rallies that took place in Washington, D.C., have begun communicating with congressional investigators and sharing new information about what happened when the former president’s supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol. Two of these people have spoken to Rolling Stone extensively in recent weeks and detailed explosive allegations that multiple members of Congress were intimately involved in planning both Trump’s efforts to overturn his election loss and the Jan. 6 events that turned violent. Rolling Stone separately confirmed a third person involved in the main Jan. 6 rally in D.C. has communicated with the committee. This is the first report that the committee is hearing major new allegations from potential cooperating witnesses. While there have been prior indications that members of Congress were involved, this is also the first account detailing their purported role and its scope. The two sources also claim they interacted with members of Trump’s team, including former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, who they describe as having had an opportunity to prevent the violence. The two sources, both of whom have been granted anonymity due to the ongoing investigation, describe participating in ‘dozens’ of planning briefings ahead of that day when Trump supporters broke into the Capitol as his election loss to President Joe Biden was being certified. ‘I remember Marjorie Taylor Greene specifically,’ the organizer says. ‘I remember talking to probably close to a dozen other members at one point or another or their staffs.’… Along with Greene, the conspiratorial pro-Trump Republican from Georgia who took office earlier this year, the pair both say the members who participated in these conversations or had top staffers join in included Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.), Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.), Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.), Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-N.C.), Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), and Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas).”

Biden Meets with Senators Manchin and Schumer as Democrats Race to Finish Social Policy Bill. Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she hoped to pass an infrastructure bill and have a deal in hand on the social policy bill by the end of the week. The New York Times, Catie Edmondson and Emily Cochrane, Sunday, 24 October 2021: “President Biden huddled with key Democrats on Sunday to iron out crucial spending and tax provisions as they raced to wrap up their expansive social safety net legislation before his appearance at a U.N. climate summit next week. Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California said Democrats were close to completing the bill, displaying confidence that the negotiations over issues like paid leave, tax increases and Medicare benefits that have bedeviled the party for months would soon end. ‘We have 90 percent of the bill agreed to and written. We just have some of the last decisions to be made,’ Ms. Pelosi said on CNN’s ‘State of the Union,’ adding that she hoped to pass an infrastructure bill that had already cleared the Senate and have a deal in hand on the social policy bill by the end of the week. ‘We’re pretty much there now.'”


Monday, 25 October 2021:


Democrats haggle over Medicare and other spending priorities as Biden enters critical week, The Washington Post, Tony Romm and Tyler Pager, Monday, 25 October 2021: “Congressional Democrats returned to work Monday for what may be one of the most decisive weeks of Biden’s presidency, as they near a deal that could dislodge roughly $3 trillion in stalled economic spending initiatives. The immediate task facing party lawmakers is a proposal to overhaul the nation’s health care, education, climate and tax laws. A war over the package’s price tag and policy scope has precluded its progress for months, though meetings between President Biden and top Democrats continued into the weekend, raising fresh hopes that they could strike an agreement imminently. Lawmakers continued to wrestle with some of the core elements of their still-forming bill, including Democrats’ plans to try to expand Medicare to cover dental, vision and hearing benefits. Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.) reiterated his opposition to that proposal on Monday and a related effort to try to expand Medicaid coverage, even as he told reporters that he thinks Democrats can finalize the broad contours of the spending package this week.” See also, Biden’s Budget Bill: As Democrats Race to Strike a Budget Deal This Week, Senator Joe Manchin Expresses Optimism. Lawmakers are negotiating core elements of the expansive social spending and climate bill, including expanding access to health care. President is set to travel to Europe at the end of the week for the Group of 20 summit and a climate conference, and he hopes to secure a deal before he departs. The New York Times, Monday, 25 October 2021:

  • Biden and Democrats push for a social policy deal this week.

  • Manchin pushes for more climate cuts from the budget bill.

  • Manchin says Democrats are still working through budget issues but a compromise is in reach.

  • Biden’s visit to New Jersey highlights a debate over SALT.

  • Democrats narrow which medications could be negotiated under Medicare.

Senator Joe Manchin pushes for more climate cuts from the budget bill, The New York Times, Coral Davenport, Monday, 25 October 2021: “Senator Joe Manchin III of West Virginia has pushed Democrats to drop or weaken a second major climate change provision from the sweeping social policy and environmental spending bill that the White House hopes to finalize this week, according to two people familiar with the matter. Mr. Manchin, a centrist Democrat from one of the country’s top coal- and gas-producing states, wants to remove or modify a provision that would impose a fee on emissions of methane, a powerful planet-warming pollutant that leaks from oil and gas wells. He has already effectively succeeded in stripping the bill of its most powerful climate change provision, a program that would have rapidly shut down coal and gas-fired power plants and replaced them with wind and solar power.”

A whistleblower’s power: Key takeaways from the Facebook Papers. Interviews with dozens of current and former employees and a trove of internal documents show how the social media company inflamed real-world harms. The Washington Post, Cristiano Lima, Monday, 25 October 2021: “A personal decision by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg leads to a crackdown on dissent in Vietnam. Measures to suppress hateful, deceptive content are lifted after the American presidential election in 2020, as pro-Trump groups disputing the legitimacy of the election experience ‘meteoric’ growth. A dummy test account on Facebook in India is flooded with violent anti-Muslim propaganda — which remains visible for weeks on the real account of a frightened Muslim college student in northern India. A trove of internal Facebook documents reveals that the social media giant has privately and meticulously tracked real-world harms exacerbated by its platforms, ignored warnings from its employees about the risks of their design decisions and exposed vulnerable communities around the world to a cocktail of dangerous content. Disclosed to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission by whistleblower Frances Haugen, the Facebook Papers were provided to Congress in redacted form by Haugen’s legal counsel. The redacted versions were reviewed by a consortium of news organizations, including The Washington Post, which obtained additional internal documents and conducted interviews with dozens of current and former Facebook employees. A mix of presentations, research studies, discussion threads and strategy memos, the Facebook Papers provide an unprecedented view into how executives at the social media giant weigh trade-offs between public safety and their own bottom line. Some of the documents were first reported by the Wall Street Journal. [This article includes some] key takeaways from The Post’s investigation.”

Biden White House rejects more executive privilege claims by Trump, CNN Politics, Kaitlan Collins and Paul LeBlanc, Monday, 25 October 2021: “President Joe Biden has once again refused to assert executive privilege over more documents that former President Donald Trump has sought to keep out of the hands of the committee investigating the January 6 attack on the US Capitol. According to a letter obtained by CNN, White House counsel Dana Remus informed National Archivist David Ferriero on Monday that Biden would not assert privilege over additional materials that Trump requested remain secret as a matter of executive privilege. The former President has already filed a lawsuit to stop the National Archives, the custodian of his administration’s White House records, from giving documents to Congress that he believes are privileged, and the latest documents will likely become part of that lawsuit. The National Archives is set to begin turning over records to the House on November 12, unless Trump gets a court order.”

House Oversight report shows inadequate discipline for border agents connected to offensive Facebook groups, CNN Politics, Priscilla Alvarez, Monday, 25 October 2021: “US Customs and Border Protection determined that 60 CBP agents ‘engaged in misconduct and were subject to discipline’ in a review of controversial Facebook posts, a new congressional report says, but many only received light final penalties from the agency and remain in their posts. The agency conducted 135 investigations into personnel affiliated with a controversial Facebook group called ‘I’m 10-15,’ which reportedly contained vulgar and offensive posts, and other similar groups, according to the House Oversight Committee report. The group, ‘I’m 10-15,’ had more than 9,500 members, the report says. The 60 employees found to have committed misconduct violated CBP’s Standards of Conduct, like posting offensive and threatening content and ‘disclosing agency information without authorization.’ Of those, 43 people were suspended without pay. Only two employees were removed. One Border Patrol agent who posted ‘a sexually explicit doctored image and derogatory comments about a Member of Congress’ was put on a 60-day suspension, instead of being removed, and was awarded back pay, the report says. ‘I am deeply troubled by CBP’s broken disciplinary process that allowed for significant reductions in discipline and allowed agents to resume work with migrants and children after engaging in serious misconduct,’ House Oversight Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney, a New York Democrat, said in a statement. ‘CBP’s failure to prevent these violent and offensive statements by its own agents or impose adequate discipline creates a serious risk that this behavior will continue.'” See also, House investigation finds border agents who made violent, lewd Facebook posts faced flawed disciplinary process at CBP (Customs and Border Protection), The Washington Post, Maria Sacchetti and Nick Miroff, Monday, 25 October 2021: “A U.S. Customs and Border Protection internal affairs office found that 60 agents ‘committed misconduct’ by sharing violent and obscene posts in secret Facebook groups, but the agency fired only two — far fewer than an internal discipline review board had recommended, according to a House Oversight and Reform Committee report released Monday. The report found ‘significant shortcomings’ in the agency’s handling of the incidents and said most agents who engaged in misconduct are back on the job working with migrant adults and children. They include a Border Patrol agent who posted a ‘sexually explicit doctored image’ about a member of Congress, and a supervisor who ‘improperly’ shared an internal video of a migrant falling off a cliff to their death, according to the report. ‘These outcomes were the result of a number of failings at CBP, including an inconsistent disciplinary process, a failure to train on and enforce social media policies, and senior leadership’s failure to take appropriate actions despite knowledge of these Facebook groups,’ said the report, which was prepared by staff from the committee’s Democratic majority.”

How a secretive conservative group influenced Trump’s tax cuts. Recordings from a 2019 panel discussion of the Council for National Policy reveal tax cuts were sparked by personal conversations. The Guardian, Jason Wilson, Monday, 25 October 2021: “Documents and recordings obtained by the Guardian shed new light on a powerful and secretive rightwing network and the influence it was able to exert on Trump administration policies favoring the super-rich. The recordings include speeches given to the Council for National Policy (CNP) by conservative media stars including Dennis Prager, emerging Republican power players such as Charlie Kirk, and close economic advisers to Donald Trump. Some of the previously published recordings appear to no longer be publicly available. The Guardian’s independently sourced recordings offer an insight into how conservative economic thinkers – from bodies representing the interests of some of the richest individuals in the country – were able to exert influence on the supposed populist Trump.” See also, God, Trump, and the Closed-Door World of a Major Conservative Group. What internal recordings and documents reveal about the council for National Policy–and the future of the Republican Party. The Washington Post, Robert O’Harrow Jr., Monday, 25 October 2021: “In October 2015, Donald Trump was still a laugh line for right-wing Christian activists. By their lights he was a failed casino owner and thrice-married playboy. He had no apparent principles, no policy blueprint and no grasp of the Bible. He didn’t even understand free-market theory, something they consider to be a fountainhead of American liberty. Yet here he was in a conference room at the Ritz-Carlton in McLean, Va., soliciting support from a closed-door group of conservative leaders called the Council for National Policy. Trump looked the part. He wore a blue suit, white shirt and shiny blue tie. But he seemed to lose his way during the pitch and began riffing about his hair. He turned his head to various angles for the crowd. ‘It looks pretty good back here,’ Trump said, as CNP’s president, Bill Walton, would later recall during a confidential talk captured on video. It was too much for Marjorie Dannenfelser, an antiabortion activist also in the crowd. ‘This is insulting,’ Dannenfelser said, according to her recorded recollection. She pulled on Walton’s sleeve. ‘Can you believe what is happening here?’ she asked. For months after the event, Dannenfelser and some other CNP members were determined to stop Trump. While he solidified his lead as GOP front-runner, they denounced him as a ‘charlatan’ in the conservative magazine National Review, blasted his prior support of abortion rights and implored Republican voters to choose another candidate. ‘America will only be a great nation when we have leaders of strong character who will defend both unborn children and the dignity of women,’ Dannenfelser and other women wrote in an open letter to Iowa voters in January 2016. ‘We cannot trust Donald Trump to do either.’ Then came a great swerve that would upend politics in America: Millions of conservatives — Dannenfelser and other CNP members among them — got firmly behind Trump. Today, the Republican Party has been transformed, and Trump or one of his ideological heirs is likely to be the GOP nominee in 2024.”


Tuesday, 26 October 2021:


Election ‘distracted’ Trump team from pandemic response, Deborah Birx tells Congress, saying more than 130,000 people died unnecessarily, The Washington Post, Dan Diamond, Tuesday, 26 October 2021: “The Trump administration was ‘distracted’ by last year’s election and ignored recommendations to curb the pandemic, the White House’s former coronavirus response coordinator told congressional investigators this month. ‘I felt like the White House had gotten somewhat complacent through the campaign season,’ said Deborah Birx, whom President Donald Trump chose to steer his government’s virus response, according to interview excerpts released by the House select subcommittee on the pandemic. Birx, who sat for interviews with the subcommittee on Oct. 12 and 13, also detailed advice that she said the White House ignored late last year, including more aggressively testing younger Americans, expanding access to virus treatments and better distributing vaccine doses in long-term care facilities. More than 130,000 American lives could have been saved with swifter action and better coordinated public health messages after the virus’s first wave, Birx told investigators.” See also, Deborah Birx testifies that Trump’s White House failed to take steps to prevent more virus deaths, The New York Times, Michael D. Shear, Tuesday, 26 October 2021: “Dr. Deborah Birx, who helped run the coronavirus pandemic response for former President Donald J. Trump, told congressional investigators earlier this month that Mr. Trump’s White House failed to take steps that could have prevented tens of thousands of deaths. In closed-door testimony before the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis, Dr. Birx said that tens of thousands of deaths could have been prevented after the initial phase of the pandemic if Mr. Trump had pushed mask-wearing, social distancing and other efforts to slow the spread of the virus. ‘I believe if we had fully implemented the mask mandates, the reduction in indoor dining, the getting friends and family to understand the risk of gathering in private homes, and we had increased testing, that we probably could have decreased fatalities into the 30 percent less to 40 percent less range,’ Dr. Birx testified, according to excerpts provided by the committee.”

At least five former Trump White House staffers are talking to the House January 6 committee, CNN Politics, Kaitlan Collins, Tuesday, 26 October 2021: “At least five former Trump administration staffers have voluntarily spoken with the House committee investigating the January 6 attack on the US Capitol, CNN has learned. Those discussions come as lawyers working for the committee have also reached out to a range of other Trump aides to inquire whether they would be interested in speaking with the committee voluntarily, without the threat of a subpoena. The five former staffers who have had conversations with the committee have done so with either members or their staff. Some believe they have information worth sharing, while others are hoping to avoid being legally compelled to talk to the committee. ‘I’ve got good reason to believe a number of them are horrified and scandalized by what took place on January 6th and they want to do their legal duty and their civic duty by coming forward to explain exactly what happened,’ Rep. Jamie Raskin, a Democratic member of the committee, said on CNN’s ‘The Lead with Jake Tapper’ Tuesday. ‘We’re going to continue to encourage everybody who has relevant information to come and talk.'”

The three men shot by Kyle Rittenhouse can’t be called ‘victims’ during trial; the judge rules they can be called ‘rioters’ and ‘looters’ and ‘arsonists,’ NBC News, Dennis Romero and Smaira Puskar, Tuesday, 26 October 2021: “The three men Kyle Rittenhouse shot during a protest against police brutality in Wisconsin can be labeled rioters, looters or arsonists if the teenager’s defense team has evidence to support the characterizations — but they shouldn’t be called victims, the judge in his murder trial ruled this week. The decision was among the ground rules Kenosha County Judge Bruce E. Schroeder set Monday for the trial, which is expected to begin Nov. 1. Rittenhouse, 18, was charged with homicide and attempted homicide after he fatally shot Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, and Anthony Huber, 26, and wounded Gaige Grosskreutz in Kenosha during protests that followed the shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black man, by a white police officer…. Assistant District Attorney Thomas Binger had asked the judge to prohibit the defense from describing the men who were shot with pejorative language. On Monday, Schroeder reiterated his reportedly long-held policy against allowing the word ‘victim’ in his criminal trials until there is a conviction. He said the word is ‘loaded’ with prejudgment. Binger, the prosecutor, argued that the words ‘rioters,’ ‘looters’ and ‘arsonists’ are ‘loaded, if not more loaded,’ than ‘victim.’ ‘You’ve not let me call someone a victim when it was proven,’ he told Schroeder.” See also, Before Kyle Rittenhouse’s Murder Trial, a Debate Over Terms Like ‘Victim.’ Legal experts said the term ‘victim’ could appear prejudicial during self-defense cases. Mr. Rittenhouse shot three men, killing two, during protests against police violence in Kenosha, Wisconsin. The New York Times, Julie Bosman and Dan Hinkel, published on Wednesday, 27 October 2021: “A judge’s decision that the word “victim” generally could not be used in court to refer to the people shot by Kyle Rittenhouse after protests in Kenosha, Wis., last year drew widespread attention and outrage this week. But legal experts say that determining who should be considered a victim — in a case that hinges on Mr. Rittenhouse’s assertion of self-defense — is at the center of what jurors must decide in his trial, expected to begin next week.”

Texas House committee to investigate school districts’ books on race and sexuality. State Representative Matt Krause, a candidate for state attorney general, asked school superintendents to confirm whether any books on a list of 850 titles are in their libraries and classrooms. The Texas Tribune, Brian Lopez, Tuesday, 26 October 2021: “A Republican state lawmaker has launched an investigation into Texas school districts over the type of books they have, particularly if they pertain to race or sexuality or ‘make students feel discomfort.’ State Rep. Matt Krause, in his role as chair of the House Committee on General Investigating, notified the Texas Education Agency that he is “initiating an inquiry into Texas school district content,” according to an Oct. 25 letter obtained by The Texas Tribune. Krause’s letter provides a 16-page list of about 850 book titles and asks the districts if they have these books, how many copies they have and how much money they spent on the books. His list of titles includes bestsellers and award winners alike, from the 1967 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel ‘The Confessions of Nat Turner’ by William Styron and ‘Between the World and Me’ by Ta-Nehisi Coates to last year’s book club favorites: ‘Hood Feminism: Notes from the Women that a Movement Forgot’ by Mikki Kendall and Isabel Wilkerson’s ‘Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents.’ But race is not the only thing on the committee chair’s list. Other listed books Krause wants school districts to account for are about teen pregnancy, abortion and homosexuality, including ‘LGBT Families’ by Leanne K. Currie-McGhee, ‘The Letter Q: Queer Writers’ Notes to their Younger Selves’ edited by Sarah Moon, and Michael J. Basso’s ‘The Underground Guide to Teenage Sexuality: An Essential Handbook for Today’s Teens and Parents.’ Krause, a Fort Worth lawmaker and founding member of the House Freedom Caucus, is running for state attorney general against Ken Paxton. Krause declined to comment and no explanation was given as to how these books were chosen.” See also, Texas State Representative Matt Krause launches investigation of books on race and sexuality used in school districts, The Washington Post, Mariana Alfaro, published on Wednesday, 27 October 2021: “A Texas Republican lawmaker has launched an investigation into some of the state’s school districts’ libraries, demanding in a letter that educators say whether their schools own books named in a list of 850 titles, many of which cover issues of race and sexuality. State Rep. Matt Krause, who is running for Texas attorney general, sent the inquiry to the Texas Education Agency and some school superintendents as part of his role as chair of the Texas House Committee on General Investigating. In the letter, Krause said that some school districts around the state have recently ‘removed books from libraries and/or classrooms after receiving objections from students, parents, and taxpayers.’ In his letter, first reported by the Texas Tribune, Krause requests that school districts say how many copies of the 850 books listed their schools own, as well as how much money the districts spent on copies of these titles. Krause also wants superintendents to identify ‘any other books or content’ in their districts that may ‘address or contain’ topics of human sexuality, STDs, AIDS, HIV or material that might make students ‘feel discomfort, guilt, anguish, or other form of psychological distress because of their race or sex or convey that a student, by virtue of their race or sex, is inherently racist, sexist, or oppressive.’ Books that touch on these subjects violate the state’s H.B. 3979, a law that went into effect last month that limits how race-related subjects are taught in the state’s schools. It is known as the ‘critical race theory law.’ In December, this law will be superseded by S.B. 3, which establishes that teachers can’t be forced to discuss current controversial topics in their classrooms. Critical race theory is an intellectual movement that examines the way policies and law perpetuate systemic racism that has recently caused controversy in conservative circles. Public school teachers at elementary and high schools around the country say they are not teaching critical race theory, a concept largely confined to some colleges and law schools, yet conservative state lawmakers are pushing to ban a nonexistent issue from K-12 schools. Fox News and other right-leaning news organizations have been heavily covering the critical race theory dispute.”


Wednesday, 27 October 2021:


Democrats Race to Figure Out How to Pay for Social and Climate Programs. President Biden leaves for Europe on Thursday, but lingering disputes over how to finance the plan may prevent Democrats from uniting around a framework. The New York Times, Wednesday, 27 October 2021:

  • A paid family leave program is likely to be dropped from the social policy bill at Manchin’s urging.

  • Facing challenges to pay for their domestic policy bill, Democrats signal a deal is not at hand.

  • Jayapal, a leading progressive, calls for the text of the domestic policy bill before an infrastructure vote.

  • Manchin denounces the Democrats’ plan to tax billionaires as divisive.

  • Ahead of a U.N. climate summit, Democrats push to secure policies Biden can promote.

  • Shut out on the budget bill, Republicans are taking shots from the sidelines.

  • Democrats are trying to use budget reconciliation. Here’s how that works.

New Guidance from the Biden Administration Bars Immigration Enforcement in ‘Protected Areas.’ The Biden administration included schools, hospitals, parades, and places of worship on a list of areas off limits to immigration arrests or other types of enforcement. The New York Times, Miriam Jordan, Wednesday, 27 October 2021: “The Biden administration on Wednesday designated the nation’s schools and hospitals, as well as a wide array of other locations, off limits to immigration enforcement, the latest sign that it is committed to protecting millions of undocumented residents from deportation while efforts to offer them a path to legalization remain stalled in Congress. The new guidelines, effective immediately, list ‘protected areas’ where immigration agents are to refrain from making arrests, conducting searches, serving subpoenas or carrying out other enforcement actions. The sites include schools and university campuses; hospitals, clinics and other medical facilities, in addition to Covid-19 testing and vaccination sites; places of worship; and sites where children gather, such as playgrounds, day care centers and foster care facilities. The new list is significantly longer and more specific than the one put in place during the Obama administration in 2011, which barred enforcement actions at schools and churches. President Donald J. Trump largely ignored that policy, often leading to indiscriminate arrests.”

America ‘on fire’: Facebook watched as Trump ignited hate, Associated Press, Amanda Seitz, Wednesday, 27 October 2021: “The reports of hateful and violent posts on Facebook started pouring in on the night of May 28 last year, soon after then-President Donald Trump sent a warning on social media that looters in Minneapolis would be shot. It had been three days since Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin kneeled on the neck of George Floyd for more than eight minutes until the 46-year-old Black man lost consciousness, showing no signs of life. A video taken by a bystander had been viewed millions of times online. Protests had taken over Minnesota’s largest city and would soon spread throughout cities across America. But it wasn’t until after Trump posted about Floyd’s death that the reports of violence and hate speech increased ‘rapidly’ on Facebook across the country, an internal company analysis of the ex-president’s social media post reveals. ‘These THUGS are dishonoring the memory of George Floyd and I won’t let that happen,’ Trump wrote at 9:53 a.m. on May 28 from his Twitter and Facebook accounts. ‘Any difficulty and we will assume control but, when the looting starts the shooting starts!’ The former president has since been suspended from both Twitter and Facebook. Leaked Facebook documents provide a first-hand look at how Trump’s social media posts ignited more anger in an already deeply divided country that was eventually lit ‘on fire’ with reports of hate speech and violence across the platform. Facebook’s own internal, automated controls, meant to catch posts that violate rules, predicted with almost 90% certainty that Trump’s message broke the tech company’s rules against inciting violence. Yet, the tech giant didn’t take any action on Trump’s message. Offline, the next day, protests — some of which turned violent — engulfed nearly every U.S. city, big and small. ‘When people look back at the role Facebook played, they won’t say Facebook caused it, but Facebook was certainly the megaphone,’ said Lanier Holt, a communications professor at Ohio State University. ‘I don’t think there’s any way they can get out of saying that they exacerbated the situation.’ Social media rival Twitter, meanwhile, responded quickly at the time by covering Trump’s tweet with a warning and prohibiting users from sharing it any further.”

Attorney General Merrick Garland, under Republican attack, defends memo on violent threats against school board officials, ABC News, Alexander Mallin, Wednesday, 27 October 2021: “A Senate hearing grew heated on Wednesday as Republicans repeatedly demanded Attorney General Merrick Garland retract and apologize for a memo he issued earlier this month aimed at addressing a rise in threats against school board officials around the country. In an oversight hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Garland defended the intent of the memo that had called for the FBI and U.S. Attorney’s Offices around the country to convene meetings with local officials to discuss strategies aimed at addressing the increase in threats. ‘All it asks is for federal law enforcement to consult with, meet with local law enforcement to assess the circumstances, strategize about what may or may not be necessary, provide federal assistance if it is necessary,’ Garland said. Republicans, though, sought to characterize Garland’s directive as an order for FBI agents to investigate and pursue parents voicing concerns at school board meetings — which in recent months have been venues of intense debate over issues like policies to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and the teaching of race issues in American history.” See also, Attorney General Merrick B. Garland Rejected Republicans’ Criticisms That the Justice Department’s Initiative to Address Threats Against Educators Was an Effort to Intimidate Parents Who Were Concerned About Issues Like Curriculums and Mask Mandates, The New York Times, Katie Benner, Wednesday, 27 October 2021: “Republicans berated Attorney General Merrick B. Garland on Wednesday over the Justice Department’s initiative to address threats of violence and harassment directed at school administrators, teachers and school board members, incidents that have increased as education has become a culture war battleground. The barrage of criticism from Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee came one week after Mr. Garland faced similar sharp questions from Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee. Republicans have cast the Justice Department effort as an attack on the right of parents to voice their concerns on issues like mask mandates and the teaching of themes related to race, seeking to turn it into an issue that they hope will resonate with voters. At issue was a memo that Mr. Garland issued on Oct. 4, directing the F.B.I. and the 94 U.S. attorney’s offices to meet with local law enforcement agencies by early November to discuss how to address the threats and to open ‘dedicated lines of communication for threat reporting, assessment, and response.’ Mr. Garland said in his memo that there had been a ‘disturbing spike’ in harassment, intimidation and threats against public school employees and board members. ‘While spirited debate about policy matters is protected under our Constitution, that protection does not extend to threats of violence or efforts to intimidate individuals based on their views,’ Mr. Garland wrote. Mr. Garland has also issued memos announcing initiatives to address harassment of election workers, as well as the rise in hate crimes against Asian people. He made clear during his testimony that his schools directive was meant only to address violence and threats of violence. And he said numerous times that the Supreme Court and the First Amendment prevent the department from cracking down on free speech, even when very heated.”

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell endorses Herschel Walker, solidifying Republican establishment support for Senate candidate in Georgia, The Washington Post, Amy B Wang and Eugene Scott, Wednesday, 27 October 2021: “Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has endorsed Senate candidate Herschel Walker in Georgia, backing a former football star who once gave the GOP pause over allegations that he threatened the lives of two women, including his ex-wife, and embellished his business record. McConnell’s support means the leaders of the party’s establishment have just about fully thrown its weight behind Walker, who entered the race with former president Donald Trump’s blessing…. Walker, a 59-year-old former University of Georgia running back and National Football League Hall of Famer, officially entered the race in August and has since received support from a number of high-profile Republicans despite having no significant experience in politics, as well as questions about his personal behavior, business record and residency. Cindy Grossman, Walker’s ex-wife, claimed in divorce filings that her former husband was physically abusive and threatened to kill her, forcing her to secure a protective order against him that alleged violent and controlling behavior. She told ABC News in 2008 that Walker had pointed a pistol at her head before saying: ‘I’m going to blow your f—ing brains out.’ The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported in August that Myka Dean, Walker’s ex-girlfriend, told police in 2012 that when she tried to end her relationship with Walker, he threatened to ‘blow her head off/ and then kill himself.”

An Open Letter in Defense of Democracy. The future of democracy in the United States is in danger. The Bulwark, Todd Gitlin, Jeffrey C. Isaac, and William Kristol, Wednesday, 27 October 2021: “We are writers, academics, and political activists who have long disagreed about many things. Some of us are Democrats and others Republicans. Some identify with the left, some with the right, and some with neither. We have disagreed in the past, and we hope to be able to disagree, productively, for years to come. Because we believe in the pluralism that is at the heart of democracy. But right now we agree on a fundamental point: We need to join together to defend liberal democracy. Because liberal democracy itself is in serious danger. Liberal democracy depends on free and fair elections, respect for the rights of others, the rule of law, a commitment to truth and tolerance in our public discourse. All of these are now in serious danger. The primary source of this danger is one of our two major national parties, the Republican Party, which remains under the sway of Donald Trump and Trumpist authoritarianism. Unimpeded by Trump’s defeat in 2020 and unfazed by the January 6 insurrection, Trump and his supporters actively work to exploit anxieties and prejudices, to promote reckless hostility to the truth and to Americans who disagree with them, and to discredit the very practice of free and fair elections in which winners and losers respect the peaceful transfer of power. So we, who have differed on so much in the past—and who continue to differ on much today—have come together to say: We vigorously oppose ongoing Republican efforts to change state election laws to limit voter participation. We vigorously oppose ongoing Republican efforts to empower state legislatures to override duly appointed election officials and interfere with the proper certification of election results, thereby substituting their own political preferences for those expressed by citizens at the polls. We vigorously oppose the relentless and unending promotion of unprofessional and phony ‘election audits’ that waste public money, jeopardize public electoral data and voting machines, and generate paranoia about the legitimacy of elections. We urge the Democratic-controlled Congress to pass effective, national legislation to protect the vote and our elections, and if necessary to override the Senate filibuster rule. And we urge all responsible citizens who care about democracy—public officials, journalists, educators, activists, ordinary citizens—to make the defense of democracy an urgent priority now. Now is the time for leaders in all walks of life—for citizens of all political backgrounds and persuasions—to come to the aid of the Republic.”


Thursday, 28 October 2021:


Biden’s Budget Bill: Crucial Elements of Spending Plan Remain in Flux After Biden’s Appeal to Democrats. President Biden went to the Capitol to lobby for a revised social spending and climate package, telling Democrats in private, ‘We badly need a vote.’ The plan leaves out several major proposals, including paid family leave and lowering drug costs. The New York Times, Thursday, 28 October 2021:

  • Biden calls on Democrats to embrace his framework for a social policy and climate bill.

  • As Biden hails his framework, major elements remain up in the air.

  • Here’s what’s in Biden’s $1.85 trillion plan.

  • Progressives withhold their support for the $1 trillion infrastructure bill, demanding more tangible progress.

  • An immigration overhaul is part of Biden’s $1.85 trillion plan.

  • Health coverage would be expanded under the Democrats’ spending plan.

  • Biden’s spending plan leaves out a proposal that would have lowered prescription drug costs.

  • Today’s civics lesson: A framework is not a bill.

Biden’s Budget Bill: Climate Change Became the Largest Part of Biden Spending Bill. As paid family leave and other priorities were taken out of the president’s plan, the largest piece became a $555 billion plan to fight climate change. The New York Times, Coral Davenport, Thursday, 28 October 2021: “Climate has emerged as the single largest category in President Biden’s new framework for a huge spending bill, placing global warming at the center of his party’s domestic agenda in a way that was hard to imagine just a few years ago. As the bill was pared down from $3.5 trillion to $1.85 trillion, paid family leave, free community college, lower prescription drugs for seniors and other Democratic priorities were dropped — casualties of negotiations between progressives and moderates in the party. But $555 billion in climate programs remained. It was unclear on Thursday if all Democrats will support the package, which will be necessary if it is to pass without Republican support in a closely divided Congress. Progressive Democrats in the House and two pivotal moderates in the Senate, Joe Manchin III of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, did not explicitly endorse the president’s framework. But Mr. Biden expressed confidence that a deal was in sight. If enacted, it would be the largest action ever taken by the United States to address climate change. And it would enshrine climate action in law, making it harder to be reversed by a future president.” See also, Biden’s scaled-down spending bill has big upsides for climate fight, NBC News, Denise Chow, Thursday, 28 October 2021: “Many climate activists are applauding the $1.75 trillion spending bill unveiled Thursday by President Joe Biden, a move that experts say will be crucial to staving off the worst effects of global warming and building a more livable future. Biden’s proposed framework includes $555 billion in clean energy investments, incentives and tax credits that would help the country meet its goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by at least 50 percent by 2030. If passed, environmental experts said it’s the type of legislation that could create much-needed momentum to slash pollution levels and address the climate crisis in the United States and on the global stage.” See also, How Biden’s $2 Trillion in Tax Increases Target Companies and the Rich. The proposal to fund the president’s sprawling spending plan mostly turns up the dial on more conventional tax policies, while trying to curb maneuvers that allow tax avoidance. The New York Times, Alan Rappeport. Thursday, 28 October 2021: “President Biden’s new plan to pay for his climate change and social policy package includes nearly $2 trillion in tax increases on corporations and the rich. But many of the more contentious and untested proposals that Democrats have been considering in recent weeks were left on the cutting-room floor. The latest proposal reflects the reality that moderate Democrats are unwilling to back certain ideas aimed at raising money, including taxing the unrealized capital gains of billionaires and giving the Internal Revenue Service more insight into the finances of taxpayers. Ultimately, the package of tax increases mostly turns up the dial on more conventional tax policies, while adding some new wrinkles to curb maneuvers that allow tax avoidance. ‘I think in terms of who they’re targeting, they did decide to target the larger population of very rich people and not just get the money from a very small group of superrich people,’ said Howard Gleckman, a senior fellow at the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center.” See also, Biden unveils $1.75 trillion spending plan, but divisions delay economic agenda, The Washington Post, Tony Romm, Sean Sullivan, and Tyler Pager, Thursday, 28 October 2021: “President Biden on Thursday unveiled a new $1.75 trillion package to overhaul the country’s health-care, education, climate and tax laws, muscling through a slew of policy disagreements and internecine political feuds that had stalled his economic plans for months. But the long-awaited proposal did not prove enough to advance his broader agenda, including a second, separate $1.2 trillion package to improve the country’s roads, bridges, pipes, ports and Internet connections.” See also, A Social Policy ‘Framework’ Fails to Secure a Biden Victory. President Biden went to the capitol to detail a compromise on social safety net and climate legislation, but he couldn’t break the liberal blockade on another priority, infrastructure. The New York Times, Jonathan Weisman and Emily Cochrane, Thursday, 28 October 2021: “President Biden on Thursday unveiled his outline for a $1.85 trillion social safety net and environmental bill, imploring Democrats to put aside their differences and embrace a plan to provide universal prekindergarten, generous support for child care costs and the largest investment ever to combat climate change. But his appeal for Democrats to unite and hand him a long-delayed victory on his domestic agenda fell flat, as liberals demanded assurances that the package would survive before they would agree to an immediate vote on a separate $1 trillion infrastructure bill. That left Mr. Biden empty-handed as he departed for Europe, where he had hoped to point to progress on both measures as proof that American democracy still works. By Thursday evening, with Mr. Biden heading for Rome aboard Air Force One, the House Progressive Caucus had slammed the door shut on prospects of a quick win. ‘Members of our caucus will not vote for the infrastructure bill without the Build Back Better Act,’ the group said in a joint statement, using the name of the president’s social policy and climate bill.”

Big Oil CEOs testify before House Oversight Committee, The Washington Post, Maxine Joselow and Dino Grandoni, Thursday, 28 October 2021: “Top executives from some of the world’s biggest oil companies testified before Congress on Thursday about the fossil fuel industry’s alleged efforts to mislead the public about climate change. Lawmakers on the House Committee on Oversight and Reform brought in executives from ExxonMobil, BP, Chevron and Royal Dutch Shell to grill them about what Democrats say is their decades-long history of sowing doubt about the effects their products are having on Earth’s temperature and the stability of its climate system.” See also, Oil Executives Grilled Over Industry’s Role in Climate Disinformation. In a historic hearing, the leaders of some of the most powerful energy companies in the world appeared before a House panel to face questioning on climate change. The New York Times, Hiroko Tabuchi and Lisa Friedman, Thursday, 28 October 2021: “At a heated hearing on Thursday, Democrats had some big questions for the chief executives of Exxon Mobil, Chevron, BP and Shell: Would they pledge to stop lobbying against efforts to reduce emissions? And were they willing to tell their powerful trade groups to stop working against electric vehicles? None of the executives agreed. Instead, the leaders of the four major oil and gas companies touted their support for a transition to clean energy and said they had never engaged in campaigns to mislead the public on the role of fossil fuel emissions in global warming. All four acknowledged that the burning of their products was driving climate change, but also told lawmakers that fossil fuels are not about to disappear. ‘Oil and gas will continue to be necessary for the foreseeable future,’ said Darren Woods, C.E.O. of Exxon Mobil. ‘We currently do not have the adequate alternative energy sources.’ Democrats responded with forceful language in the more than six-hour hearing. ‘Some of us actually have to live the future that you all are setting on fire for us,’ Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York told the executives. Democrats had hoped to recapture the drama of the tobacco hearings of the 1990s, where lawmakers put the C.E.O.s of cigarette companies on the hot seat and each executive told the country that smoking was not addictive. There was shouting, shaming, and one demonstration involving a jar of M&Ms to make the point that the companies were investing relatively little in renewables, about 1 percent of their total capital expenditure, according to the International Energy Agency. But the executives — Mr. Woods of Exxon Mobil, Gretchen Watkins of Shell, Michael K. Wirth of Chevron and David Lawler of BP — seemed to have learned from the tobacco hearings as well, sticking to their scripts, emphasizing their concerns over global warming and citing their internal targets for cutting emissions.”

At Least 12 Republicans Who Participated in January 6 riot at the US Capitol Are Running for Office Next Week. Many more people who were a part of the insurrection will be on the ballot in 2022. BuzzFeed News, Sarah Mimms, Thursday, 28 October 2021: “At least twelve Republicans who came to Washington for Jan. 6 will be on the ballot next week, less than a year after trying to overthrow the last election. The candidates include state legislators running for reelection, as well as local officials and candidates seeking statehouse seats. The races are concentrated in New Jersey and Virginia, which hold local off-year elections. Election Day is Tuesday. While nine of these candidates went to the Capitol on Jan. 6, all have either denied entering the building or not spoken about their involvement. None has been charged for their activities on Jan. 6. The other three candidates have said they solely attended the ‘Stop the Steal’ rally that preceded the insurrection and did not go to the Capitol. But that rally was explicitly premised on attempting to overturn the 2020 election. And whatever law enforcement’s preparation for the day, the potential for violence was clear, with some Trump supporters openly planning for it online. At the rally itself, Trump told his supporters to ‘fight like hell’ and go to the Capitol, and several other speakers encouraged rallygoers not to accept the election results and to fight.”

North Carolina Senator Richard Burr’s Brother-in-Law Called Stock Broker One Minute After Getting Off the Phone With the Senator. According to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Senator Richard Burr of North Carolina, then chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, had material nonpublic information about coronavirus impact. He and his brother-in-law dumped stock before the market dropped in March 2020. ProPublica, Robert Faturechi, Thursday, 28 October 2021: “After Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina dumped more than $1.6 million in stocks in February 2020 a week before the coronavirus market crash, he called his brother-in-law, according to a new Securities and Exchange Commission filing. They talked for 50 seconds. Burr, according to the SEC, had material nonpublic information regarding the incoming economic impact of coronavirus. The very next minute, Burr’s brother-in-law, Gerald Fauth, called his broker. ProPublica previously reported that Fauth, a member of the National Mediation Board, had dumped stock the same day Burr did. But it was previously unknown that Burr and Fauth spoke that day, and that their contact came just before Fauth began the process of dumping stock himself. The revelations come as part of an effort by the SEC to force Fauth to comply with a subpoena that the agency said he has stonewalled for more than a year, and which was filed not long after ProPublica’s story. In the filings, the SEC also revealed that there is an ongoing insider trading investigation into both Burr and Fauth’s trades. It had previously been reported that federal prosecutors had decided not to charge Burr.”

The Kyle Rittenhouse Trial: What to Know About the Trial of Kyle Rittenhouse. Mr. Rittenhouse will stand trial for the shootings of three men, two of whom died, in the aftermath of demonstrations in Kenosha, Wisconsin, in August 2020. The New York Times, Julie Bosman, Thursday, 28 October 2021: “Kyle Rittenhouse, an 18-year-old from Antioch, Ill., will stand trial on Nov. 1 for the shootings of three men — two of whom died — in the aftermath of demonstrations in Kenosha, Wis., in August 2020. The protests in Kenosha erupted after Rusten Sheskey, a Kenosha police officer, shot and wounded Jacob Blake. The episode was captured on cellphone video and came only months after the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis set off protests nationally about police abuse of Black Americans. Kenosha, a former industrial hub of 100,000 people on the western shore of Lake Michigan, experienced widespread looting, arson and property destruction in the days after the police shooting. The shootings by Mr. Rittenhouse, which he contends were committed in self-defense, occurred on the third night of protests. Mr. Rittenhouse faces six counts, including homicide charges.” See also, Reconstructing the Rittenhouse Shootings: How Kenosha Echoed Polarization in the U.S., The New York Times, Visual Investigation, Ainara Tiefenthäler, Haley Willis, Yousur Al-Hlou, and Drew Jordan, Thursday, 28 October 2021. “In the months leading up to Kyle Rittenhouse’s trial for killing two people, we analyzed hours of footage and interviewed key witnesses from that fatal night in Kenosha, Wisconsin, to understand how the country’s polarization set the scene for violence.” See also, Kyle Rittenhouse and the New Era of Political Violence. What brought the teenager and so many others to the streets of Kenosha, Wisconsin, equipped for war? The New York Times, Charles Homans, published on Tuesday, 26 October 2021.


Friday, 29 October 2021:


Supreme Court to Consider the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) Authority to Limit Carbon Emissions From Power Plants. Coal companies and some states challenge lower-court ruling that gave the EPA broad latitude to regulate. The Wall Street Journal, Brent Kendall and Jess Bravin, Friday, 29 October 2021: “The Supreme Court on Friday agreed to consider the scope of the Environmental Protection Agency’s authority to restrict greenhouse-gas emissions from power plants, taking on a case that could have a significant impact on future regulations from the Biden administration. The court said it would hear appeals from Republican-led states and coal companies that are challenging a lower-court ruling that said the EPA had broad latitude to craft such regulations. That decision, issued in January, tossed out industry-friendly Trump administration rules on the grounds that they interpreted the Clean Air Act too narrowly.” See also, Supreme Court will hear cases that could undercut Biden’s goals on climate and immigration, The Washington Post, Robert Barnes and Dino Grandoni, Friday, 29 October 2021: “The Supreme Court on Friday took up cases that could limit the Biden administration’s ambitions on climate change and immigration policy. The court granted a request from the coal industry and Republican-led states challenging the Environmental Protection Agency’s authority to limit greenhouse gases from power plants, which could threaten a key plank of President Biden’s climate agenda. And it said it would hear a case that would allow conservative states to defend a Trump-era limitation on issuing green cards to noncitizens who may rely too heavily on government aid, which the law calls ‘public charges.’ In both cases, the Biden administration’s solicitor general had asked the court not to intervene.”

During January 6 riot at the US Capitol, Trump attorney John Eastman told Vice President Mike Pence’s team that the vice president’s inaction caused the attack on the Capitol, The Washington Post, Josh Dawsey, Jacqueline Alemany, Jon Swaine, and Emma Brown, Friday, 29 October 2021: “As Vice President Mike Pence hid from a marauding mob during the Jan. 6 invasion of the Capitol, an attorney for President Donald Trump emailed a top Pence aide to say that Pence had caused the violence by refusing to block certification of Trump’s election loss. The attorney, John C. Eastman, also continued to press for Pence to act even after Trump’s supporters had trampled through the Capitol — an attack the Pence aide, Greg Jacob, had described as a ‘siege’ in their email exchange. ‘The siege is because YOU and your boss did not do what was necessary to allow this to be aired in a public way so that the American people can see for themselves what happened,’ Eastman wrote to Jacob, referring to Trump’s claims of voter fraud. Eastman sent the email as Pence, who had been presiding in the Senate, was under guard with Jacob and other advisers in a secure area. Rioters were tearing through the Capitol complex, some of them calling for Pence to be executed. Jacob, Pence’s chief counsel, included Eastman’s emailed remarks in a draft opinion article about Trump’s outside legal team that he wrote later in January but ultimately chose not to publish. The Washington Post obtained a copy of the draft. Jacob wrote that by sending the email at that moment, Eastman ‘displayed a shocking lack of awareness of how those practical implications were playing out in real time.'” See also, Trump Lawyer John Eastman Blamed Vice President Mike Pence for Violence as Rioters Stormed the U.S. Capitol on January 6. Eastman, the author of a memo that some in both parties liken to a blueprint for a coup, sent a hostile email to the vice president’s chief counsel as the mob attacked. The New York Times, Luke Broadwater, published on Saturday, 30 October 2021: “As a mob was attacking the Capitol chanting ‘Hang Mike Pence,’ a lawyer who plotted with President Donald J. Trump and his allies to try to overturn the 2020 election sent a hostile message to the vice president’s top lawyer, blaming Mr. Pence for the violence. The email, reported by The Washington Post and confirmed by a person briefed on its contents, shows the extent to which Mr. Trump and his advisers sought to pressure the vice president, who was presiding over the certification of the election, to defy the will of the voters and keep Mr. Trump in office…. Mr. Pence and Mr. Jacob were in a secure room at the Capitol when Mr. Eastman sent the message, The Post said. Outside, rioters were storming the building where Congress was meeting to certify Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s election, erecting a gallows, hunting for Speaker Nancy Pelosi and forcing lawmakers to evacuate in a scene of violence and mayhem. Police officers recovered guns, knives, Tasers, Molotov cocktails, explosive devices and zip ties in the area.”

Bipartisan group of 66 former members of Congress file brief opposing Trump’s attempt to block the release of records connected to the January 6 attack on the Capitol by a mob of his supporters, The Washington Post, Mariana Alfaro, Friday, 29 October 2021: “A bipartisan group of 66 former members of Congress filed a brief Thursday night urging the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to dismiss a lawsuit from former president Donald Trump that seeks to block the release of records connected to the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol by a mob of his supporters. Earlier this month, Trump filed a lawsuit against the House committee investigating the insurrection and the National Archives in an attempt to stop the committee from receiving records into the events of that day as well as his efforts to overturn the 2020 election results. In his filing, Trump and his attorneys argue that the records requests are too broad and have no legislative purpose, saying the committee’s actions undermined the Constitution, and that the committee isn’t giving Trump’s team enough time to review the records requests…. In their amicus brief, the bipartisan group of retired lawmakers urges the D.C. court to deny Trump’s request for a preliminary injunction so that the committee can continue its investigation. They argue that the Jan. 6 insurrection was the real attack on democracy and the Constitution, ‘not the document requests necessary to investigate such an armed attack on our democracy.’ The former lawmakers — 22 Republicans and 44 Democrats — also dismiss Trump’s argument that the committee’s work serves no legislative purpose by arguing that Congress ‘has broad legislative powers grounded in multiple constitutional clauses to enact legislation to respond to the heretofore unimagined vulnerabilities in our constitutional system illustrated by last winter’s events. It is vital that Congress have the ability to exercise those constitutional authorities now before the lives of Senators, Representatives, and the Vice President of the United States — along with their staffs and the law enforcement officers charged with protecting the Capitol and its inhabitants — are ever again threatened or the peaceful transfer of power is again imperiled,’ they state in the brief.”

Attorney General Merrick Garland Revives Effort to Expand Access to Legal Aid. He acted to reverse a Trump administration decision to cut off funding for the Office for Access to Justice, an Obama-era program to give poor defendants legal representation. The New York Times, Katie Benner, Friday, 29 October 2021: “The Justice Department on Friday revived an Obama-era office that was created to make legal aid accessible to citizens who cannot afford it, more than three years after it was essentially shuttered under the Trump administration. Attorney General Merrick B. Garland said the restoration of the Office for Access to Justice was part of the department’s mission to deliver on its promise to ensure equal justice. When it was created under the Obama administration in 2010, the office’s stated mission was to ‘deliver outcomes that are fair and accessible to all, irrespective of wealth and status.’ And it sought to ‘increase access to counsel and legal assistance’ for people who could not afford legal representation. ‘There can be no equal justice without equal access to justice,’ Mr. Garland said in a statement. ‘And because we do not yet have equal access to justice in America, the task before us is urgent.'”

Supreme Court rejects Maine health care workers’ effort to block COVID-19 vaccine mandate, CBS News/Associated Press, Friday, 29 October 2021: “The Supreme Court has rejected an emergency appeal from health care workers in Maine to block a COVID-19 vaccine mandate that went into effect Friday. Three conservative justices noted their dissents. The state is not offering a religious exemption to hospital and nursing home workers who risk losing their jobs if they are not vaccinated. Only New York and Rhode Island also have vaccine mandates for health care workers that lack religious exemptions. Both are the subject of court fights and a court has allowed workers in New York to seek religious exemptions while the lawsuit plays out. The high court has previously turned away students at Indiana University and teachers in New York City who objected to being vaccinated. Both the university and city allow people to seek religious exemptions.” See also, Supreme Court Won’t Block Maine’s Vaccine Mandate for Health Care Workers. A state regulation that does not allow exemptions on religious grounds was challenged by workers who said taking a coronavirus vaccine was at odds with their faith. The New York Times, Adam Liptak, Friday, 29 October 2021: “The Supreme Court on Friday refused to block Maine’s requirement that health care workers be vaccinated against the coronavirus notwithstanding their religious objections. As is the court’s custom in rulings on emergency applications, its brief order gave no reasons. But the three most conservative members of the court — Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel A. Alito Jr. and Neil M. Gorsuch — issued a lengthy dissent, saying the majority had gone badly astray…. The court had earlier rejected challenges to vaccination requirements at Indiana University and for personnel in New York City’s school system. Those rulings were issued by just one justice, which can be a sign that the legal questions involved were not considered substantial. But those earlier rulings did not involve religion. The court has in other settings been quite protective of religious practices, even when they seemed at odds with public health. It has, for instance, repeatedly blocked state shutdown orders that treated houses of worship less favorably than what the justices in the majority said were comparable secular activities.”

Biden Administration Tries Again to End Trump’s ‘Remain in Mexico’ Policy. A court ordered the administration in August to reinstate the program, which forces some migrants to wait in Mexico while their asylum cases are pending. The New York Times, Eileen Sullivan, Friday, 29 October 2021: “The Biden administration is making another attempt to end a Trump-era immigration program that a court ordered be reinstated, offering a more detailed description about the ‘benefits and cost’ of forcing some asylum seekers to wait in Mexico while their cases are pending. ‘I have concluded that there are inherent problems with the program that no amount of resources can sufficiently fix,’ Alejandro N. Mayorkas, the homeland security secretary, wrote in the new justification for ending the program, released on Friday. Republicans have said the program, known as the Migrant Protection Protocols, or M.P.P., stemmed illegal migration, while human rights advocates have assailed it as inhumane. While the administration is still following the court order to restart the program, it is hoping that the new memo addresses the issues raised by a federal judge in Texas, who ruled in August that the seven-page justification Mr. Mayorkas provided in June for ending the program was ‘arbitrary and capricious.’ The new justification, which includes a summary and a detailed explanation, is more than 40 pages. Condemning the program while simultaneously having to put plans in place to restart it illustrates how difficult it has been for the Biden administration to fulfill one of President Biden’s biggest campaign promises: reversing some of the restrictive immigration policies put in place by former President Donald J. Trump.”


Saturday, 30 October 2021:


Pressure Grows on G20 Nations to Get Covid Vaccines to the Poor. The world’s leaders are focusing on preventing future pandemics, but experts say rich nations are not doing enough to help the poor survive the current one. The New York Times, Katie Rogers, Jim Tankersley, and Jason Horowitz, Saturday, 30 October 2021: “From the opening moments of the Group of 20 summit on Saturday, the leaders of the world’s largest economies wanted to send a strong message about ending the coronavirus pandemic: During an unconventional group photograph, they were joined on the dais by doctors in white coats and first responders from the Italian Red Cross. In his remarks opening the meeting — the first gathering in person for the group since the pandemic struck — Prime Minister Mario Draghi of Italy pointed to the stark disparity in access to vaccines between richer and poorer countries…. [A]s the leaders gathered to discuss plans to protect against future pandemics, health experts and activists expressed concerns that the world’s richest nations were still not doing enough to help people in poor nations survive the current one.”

We Now Know Which Files Trump Is Trying to Hide from the January 6 Committee. A new court filing reveals Trump wants to hide his daily presidential diaries, schedules, activity and call logs, draft speeches and files from top White House staffers related to the Capitol insurrection. Rolling Stone, Peter Wade, Saturday, 30 October 2021: “Overnight a court filing from the National Archives revealed which documents former President Donald Trump is trying to hide from the Jan. 6 select committee, including his daily presidential diaries, schedules, activity and call logs, draft speeches, as well as files from top White House staffers. ‘These records all relate to the events on or about Jan. 6, and may assist the Select Committee’s investigation into that day, including what was occurring at the White House immediately before, during and after the Jan. 6 attack,’ Justice Department lawyers wrote in the court filing submitted late Friday night on behalf of the National Archives. Trump has been trying to block the committee from obtaining 750 pages of documents out of almost 1,600 that have been identified as relevant to the investigation.” See also, Court filing shows Trump is seeking to block hundreds of pages of documents from the House select committee investigating the January 6 insurrection, The Washington Post, Amy B Wang, Saturday, 30 October 2021: “Former president Donald Trump is trying to withhold nearly 800 pages of documents from the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection, according to a court filing made Saturday in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. In the filing, a National Archives and Records Administration director outlined the specific documents Trump is seeking to block from the House select committee, which months ago ordered the former president to provide records of all his actions and activities on Jan. 6. The bipartisan panel is investigating the storming of the U.S. Capitol by a pro-Trump mob trying to stop the certification of President Biden’s electoral college win, an attack that resulted in five deaths and left some 140 members of law enforcement injured. According to a sworn declaration from John Laster, director of the White House liaison division at NARA, Trump is trying to assert executive privilege over 46 pages of records from the files of former chief of staff Mark Meadows, former senior adviser Stephen Miller, former deputy counsel Patrick Philbin and Brian de Guzman, the former director of White House information services. Those records include ‘daily presidential diaries, schedules, appointment information showing visitors to the White House, activity logs, call logs, and switchboard shift-change checklists showing calls’ to Trump and former vice president Mike Pence; they also include drafts of speeches about Jan. 6 and three handwritten notes about Jan. 6 from Meadows, the filing stated.” See also, New January 6 court filings reveal what Trump is trying to keep secret from Congress, CNN Politics, Katelyn Polantz, Saturday, 30 October 2021: “Specifics about former President Donald Trump’s efforts to keep secret the support from his White House for overturning his loss of the 2020 election were revealed in late-night court filings that detail more than 700 pages of handwritten notes, draft documents and daily logs his top advisers kept related to January 6. The National Archives outlined for the first time in a sworn declaration what Trump wants to keep secret. And the US House has told a federal court that Trump has no right to keep confidential more than 700 documents from his presidency, citing a committee’s need to reconstruct Trump’s efforts to undermine the 2020 election and his actions on January 6. The court filings are in response to a lawsuit Trump brought nearly two weeks ago in which he is attempting to block congressional investigators from accessing hundreds of pages of records they requested from the National Archives, which inherited Trump’s presidential papers. The House presents itself as in agreement with the Biden administration, in an unusual show of inter-branch alignment, to oppose Trump.” See also, Court Filing Lists Documents Trump Seeks to Withhold From January 6 Inquiry. The National Archives says the former president is asserting executive privilege over phone logs, notes and other records concerning the attack on the Capitol. The New York Times, Luke Broadwater, Saturday, 30 October 2021: “Former President Donald J. Trump is seeking to block from release a wide range of documents related to the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, the National Archives said Saturday in an early-morning federal court filing detailing what Mr. Trump is fighting to keep secret. In the filing, in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, John Laster, the director of the National Archives’ presidential materials division, laid out for the first time exactly which documents Mr. Trump was asserting executive privilege over. The former president is hoping to prevent the documents from being reviewed by the House committee empowered to investigate the mob violence at the Capitol.”

Trump looks to 2024, commanding a fundraising juggernaut, as he skirts social media bans, The Washington Post, Michael Scherer and Josh Dawsey, Saturday, 30 October 2021: “Facebook has banned former president Donald Trump from posting on its platform, and he is barred by law from using his current fundraising to finance another campaign for the White House. But Trump has found a way around both barriers as he rebuilds his political operation to clear the way for a potential 2024 presidential campaign. His primary political action committee, Save America, has been spending more than $100,000 a week this month on Facebook ads, according to the company, many of which seek donations with deceptive claims about corruption in the last election and public support for the belief that ‘Trump is the true president.’Facebook allows the ads because Trump is not posting them personally through his suspended account and the ads do not speak in Trump’s ‘voice,’ according to a company spokeswoman. The money raised can be used to finance his current political operation — his staff, his rallies, his travel — until he announces another campaign. At that point, he would have to start fresh with a new account, but with a significant advantage: Advisers may rent back the updated list of donors that Save America has collected to give him a head start. And advisers say he could transfer the money to another outside group that buttresses his bid. The gambit is one of several ways Trump is blowing up the traditional path for a president after leaving office, reaping millions for his political efforts in the process. Rather than shrink from the scene to focus on the blueprints of a presidential library or philanthropy, he is attempting to build one of the largest operations in American politics by continuing many of the tactics that dominated his two presidential campaigns.”


Sunday, 31 October 2021:


The insurrection that took place on January 6 at the United States Capitol was one of the most consequential moments in US history. Letter from Washington Post Executive Editor Sally Buzbee about The Post’s January 6 investigation of the insurrection. The Washington Post, Sally Buzbee, Sunday, 31 October 2021: “The insurrection that took place on Jan. 6 at the United States Capitol was one of the most consequential moments in American history. The events of that day led to an expansive federal investigation that has already resulted in 650 arrests and triggered an ongoing congressional inquiry. Yet nearly 10 months after the attack, key questions remain: What did law enforcement officials know in advance? How did President Donald Trump respond to the deadly clash that day? What has been the fallout for Americans’ faith in their elections. Throughout much of this year, a team of 75 Washington Post journalists has been working to produce a definitive account of Jan. 6 — its causes, its costs and its aftermath? The result of that investigation, a three-part series being published today, makes clear that the violence that day was neither a spontaneous act nor an isolated event. ‘The Attack: Before, During and After’ lays out in striking detail the red flags that went unheeded in advance of Jan. 6, the consequences of Trump’s inaction as his supporters laid siege to the Capitol and the continuing threats to American democracy. It provides intimate accounts of why rioters joined the siege, the unsettling threats faced by local election officials around the country, and the pain and trauma that Capitol Police officers still suffer. The Post began this project in late spring, after efforts in Congress to create a bipartisan panel to examine the Jan. 6 attack collapsed. We launched more than 25 reporters from across the newsroom to examine different aspects of what led to the Capitol siege and its implications. Our photo, video, audio and design teams spent months mapping out a gripping presentation for the project. The series’s findings are based on interviews with more than 230 people and thousands of pages of court documents and internal law enforcement reports, along with hundreds of videos, photographs and audio recordings. The Post is proud to publish this revelatory project examining the Capitol attack and what it means for the future of our nation.” Part 1, Before: Red Flags. As Trump propelled his supporters to Washington, law enforcement agencies failed to heed mounting warnings about violence on January 6. The Washington Post. Reported by Hannah Allam, Devlin Barrett, Aaron C. Davis, Josh Dawsey, Amy Gardner, Shane Harris, Rosalind S. Helderman, Paul Kane, Dan Lamothe, Carol D. Leonnig, Nick Miroff, Ellen Nakashima, Ashley Parker, Beth Reinhard, Philip Rucker, and Craig Timberg. Written by Aaron C. Davis. Sunday, 31 October 2021. Part 2, During: Bloodshed. For 187 harrowing minutes, the president watched his supporters attack the Capitol–and resisted pleas to stop them. The Washington Post. Reported by Jacqueline Alemany, Hannah Allam, Devlin Barrett, Emma Brown, Aaron C. Davis, Josh Dawsey, Peter Hermann, Paul Kane, Ashley Parker, Beth Reinhard, Philip Rucker, Marianna Sotomayor, and Rachel Weiner. Written by Philip Rucker. Sunday, 31 October 2021. Part 3, After: Contagion. Threats and disinformation spread across the country in the wake of the Capitol siege, shaking the underpinnings of US democracy. The Washington Post. Reported by Devlin Barrett, Aaron C. Davis, Josh Dawsey, Amy Gardner, Tom Hamburger, Rosalind S. Helderman, Peter Hermann, Spencer S. Hsu, Paul Kane, Ashley Parker, Beth Reinhard, Philip Rucker, and Cleve R. Wootson Jr. Sunday, 31 October 2021.

U.S. Military Jury Condemns U.S. Torture of Terrorist and Urges Clemency. Seven senior officers rebuked the government’s treatment of an admitted terrorist in a handwritten letter from the jury room at Guantánamo Bay. The New York Times, Carol Rosenberg, Sunday, 31 October 2021: “In a stark rebuke of the torture carried out by the C.I.A. after the Sept. 11 attacks, seven senior military officers who heard graphic descriptions last week of the brutal treatment of a terrorist while in the agency’s custody wrote a letter calling it ‘a stain on the moral fiber of America.’ The officers, all but one member of an eight-member jury, condemned the U.S. government’s conduct in a clemency letter on behalf of Majid Khan, a suburban Baltimore high school graduate turned Qaeda courier. They had been brought to the U.S. Navy base at Guantánamo Bay to sentence Mr. Khan, who had earlier pleaded guilty to terrorism charges. They issued a sentence of 26 years, about the lowest term possible according to the instructions of the court. At the behest of Mr. Khan’s lawyer, they then took the prerogative available in military justice of writing a letter to a senior official who will review the case, urging clemency. Before sentencing, Mr. Khan spent two hours describing in grisly detail the violence that C.I.A. agents and operatives inflicted on him in dungeonlike conditions in prisons in Pakistan, Afghanistan and a third country, including sexual abuse and mind-numbing isolation, often in the dark while he was nude and shackled. ‘Mr. Khan was subjected to physical and psychological abuse well beyond approved enhanced interrogation techniques, instead being closer to torture performed by the most abusive regimes in modern history,’ according to the letter, which was obtained by The New York Times. The panel also responded to Mr. Khan’s claim that after his capture in Pakistan in March 2003, he told interrogators everything, but ‘the more I cooperated, the more I was tortured,’ and so he subsequently made up lies to try to mollify his captors. ‘This abuse was of no practical value in terms of intelligence, or any other tangible benefit to U.S. interests,’ the letter said. ‘Instead, it is a stain on the moral fiber of America; the treatment of Mr. Khan in the hands of U.S. personnel should be a source of shame for the U.S. government.'”

Biden seizes on G-20 summit to reverse Trump’s approach to world problems, The Washington Post, Annie Linskey, Chico Harlan, and Seung Min Kim, Sunday, 31 October 2021: “President Biden sought to reverse key policies and approaches of former president Donald Trump during this weekend’s summit of the Group of 20, and attempted to ensure those reversals would stay in place even if there is a change in American leadership. Biden lifted steel and aluminum tariffs enacted by Trump that had caused friction between the U.S. and the European Union. He huddled with allies on how to reinvigorate talks aimed at preventing Iran from securing a nuclear weapon, which the last administration had abandoned. He forged an agreement aimed at ensuring corporations pay more taxes. And he struck a deal with other nations to end government funding of new coal-fired power plants, part of a broader agenda to curtail climate change and reclaim international leadership on a topic Trump eschewed.”


Monday, 1 November 2021:


As high-stakes climate summit begins, Biden apologizes for U.S. withdrawal from Paris accord, The Washington Post, Karla Adam, Brady Dennis, and Annie Linskey, Monday, 1 November 2021: “A global summit convened in Glasgow, Scotland, widely seen as the most important international climate negotiations since the landmark 2015 Paris climate accord, began on Monday with speeches by world leaders, including President Biden, who warned that climate change is ‘ravaging the world.’ In remarks at a smaller meeting just after his formal speech, he apologized for the U.S. withdrawal from the Paris climate accord under former president Donald Trump. ‘I guess I shouldn’t apologize, but I do apologize,’ he said.

  • The overarching goal of the summit, known as COP26, is to put the world on a path to aggressively cut greenhouse gas emissions and slow Earth’s warming. Negotiations will take place over two weeks, but the two-day leaders’ summit begins Monday, with about 120 heads of state and government scheduled to attend.
  • In a show of force — after the Trump administration was virtually invisible at international climate talks — the vast majority of Biden’s Cabinet is in Glasgow, along with a sizable delegation of career officials.
  • Chinese leader Xi Jinping offered no new commitments in a written statement. Xi, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan are not attending the negotiations in person.
  • Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in remarks delivered Monday, committed India to ‘net zero’ emissions by 2070, two decades later than many advocates had hoped.

COP26: Key Moments From Day 1 of the COP26 Climate Change Summit. Meeting in Glasgow, Scotland, President Biden and a host of other world leaders sounded dire warnings, but hopes for breakthrough action are muted. The New York Times, Monday, 1 November 2021:

  • ‘Digging our own graves’: With the planet in peril, leaders appeal for urgent action.

  • Biden calls for tougher action on emissions and promises job gains worldwide.

  • U.S. officials assail an absent China as the summit kicks off.

  • Narendra Modi says India will sharply increase renewable energy.

  • The U.N. leader warns that the world faces a ‘climate catastrophe.’

  • From the Amazon to Glasgow: An Indigenous activist says ‘we have no more time.’

  • Tiny island nations, most at risk from warming, rebuke big countries that could decide their fate.

  • Greta Thunberg joins a protest in Glasgow.

COP26 Climate Summit: Biden calls for tougher action on emissions and promises job gains worldwide, The New York Times, Jim Tankersley, Monday, 1 November 2021: “President Biden told world leaders on Monday that ‘we only have a brief window before us to raise our ambitions’ to fight climate change, warning that climate disasters were already imposing trillions of dollars of economic costs but offering hope that a shift to lower-emission energy sources could create millions of jobs around the world. ‘Glasgow must be the kickoff of a decade of innovation and ambition to preserve our shared world,’ Mr. Biden said in a speech that lasted just over 11 minutes, near the beginning of a session with fellow leaders at the U.N. summit on climate change, known as COP26. Badly undercut by domestic politics, Mr. Biden arrived in Glasgow with a weaker hand than he had hoped for. Opposition in Congress has forced him to abandon the most powerful mechanism in his climate agenda: a program that would have quickly cleaned up the electricity sector by rewarding power companies that migrated away from fossil fuels and penalizing those that did not. His fallback strategy is a bill that would provide $555 billion in clean energy tax credits and incentives. It would be the largest amount ever spent by the United States to tackle global warming but would cut only about half as much pollution.”

COP26 Climate Summit: Global Leaders Pledge to End Deforestation by 2030. The measure reflects a growing recognition of nature’s role in helping mitigate global warming. The New York Times, Catrin Einhorn and Chris Buckley, Monday, 1 November 2021: “Leaders of more than 100 countries, including Brazil, China, Russia and the United States, vowed on Tuesday at climate talks in Glasgow to end deforestation by 2030, seeking to preserve forests crucial to absorbing carbon dioxide and slowing the rise in global warming. The pledge will demand ‘transformative further action,’ the countries’ declaration said, and it was accompanied by several measures intended to help put it into effect. But some advocacy groups criticized them as lacking teeth, saying they would allow deforestation to continue. The pact encompasses about 85 percent of the world’s forests, officials said.”

Senator Joe Manchin III of West Virginia Raises Doubts on Safety Net Bill, Complicating Path to Quick Vote. Manchin, a crucial Democratic swing vote, demanded more time to evaluate the economic and fiscal impact of the $1.85 trillion bill. The New York Times, Emily Cochrane, Jonathan Weisman, and Margot Sanger-Katz, Monday, 1 November 2021: “Senator Joe Manchin III of West Virginia raised new doubts on Monday about an emerging compromise on a $1.85 trillion climate change and social safety net bill, warning that he had serious reservations about the plan and criticizing liberals in his party for what he called an ‘all or nothing’ stance on it. Mr. Manchin’s broadside, delivered during an appearance in the Capitol, threatened to upend the Democratic Party’s ambitions to vote this week on President Biden’s top two legislative priorities, even as lawmakers were gathering for what was supposed to be a momentous week for the president’s ambitious domestic agenda. It came as congressional negotiators were closing in on a final deal on the social policy and climate legislation, which progressives have called a prerequisite to supporting a separate, $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill.”

Pennsylvania Senate candidate Sean Parnell’s wife testified that he choked her and hit their children. The testimony by Laurie Snell cast a harsh light on Sean Parnell, a leading Republican candidate endorsed by Donald Trump. The Philadelphia Inquirer, Jonathan Tamari, Monday, 1 November 2021: “The estranged wife of Republican Senate candidate Sean Parnell testified under oath Monday that he choked her until she bit him to escape, that he hit their young children, and that he lashed out at her with obscenities and insults. In tearful testimony, Laurie Snell told a family court judge that her husband once called her a ‘whore’ and a ‘piece of s—’ while pinning her down. On another occasion, she said, Parnell slapped one child hard enough to leave fingerprint-shaped welts through the back of the child’s T-shirt. And she said he once got so angry he punched a closet door with such force it swung into a child’s face and left a bruise. She said Parnell told his child: ‘That was your fault.’ She also testified that after a Thanksgiving trip in 2008, he briefly forced her out of their vehicle alongside a highway after raging at her, telling her to ‘go get an abortion.’ In a statement released by his campaign, Parnell, a decorated Army veteran who served in Afghanistan and was endorsed this summer by former President Donald Trump, vigorously disputed his wife’s claims, calling a number of them ‘lies’ and said he was looking forward to rebutting them when he presents his case next week.” See also, In sworn testimony, wife of Pennsylvania Senate candidate Sean Parnell says he strangled her and abused their children, The Washington Post, Felicia Sonmez, Monday, 1 November 2021: “The wife of Pennsylvania Senate candidate Sean Parnell said Monday that Parnell once strangled her until she bit him to get free and another time slapped one of their children so hard that he left welts on the child’s body. Laurie Parnell made the statements in sworn testimony during a court hearing in Butler, Pa., as part of child custody proceedings that began Monday in their divorce case, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. Her testimony came after her husband twice sought and was denied a gag order that would have prevented her from publicly discussing the case. Sean Parnell is running in the Republican primary to succeed retiring Sen. Patrick J. Toomey (R-Pa.), in what is likely to be one of the most hotly contested Senate races of 2022. He has been endorsed by former president Donald Trump, who said in a September statement that Parnell will ‘make Pennsylvania very proud.'”

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger says Trump’s call to him to ‘find votes’ was a threat, Associated Press, Jeff Amy, Monday, 1 November 2021: “Donald Trump was threatening Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger when he asked him to help ‘find’ enough votes to overturn his loss in Georgia to Democratic President Joe Biden, Raffensperger writes in a new book. The book, ‘Integrity Counts,’ was released Tuesday. In it, Raffensperger depicts a man who defied pressure from Trump to alter election results, but also reveals a public official settling political scores as he seeks to survive a hostile Republican primary environment and win reelection in 2022. An engineer who grew wealthy before running for office, Raffensperger recounts in his book the struggle in Georgia that followed Biden’s narrow victory, including death threats texted to his wife, an encounter with men who he says may have been staking out his suburban Atlanta home, and being escorted out of the Georgia capitol on Jan. 6 as a handful of right-wing protesters entered the building on the same day many more protesters stormed the U.S. Capitol. The book climaxes with the phone call, which was recorded and then given to multiple news organizations. Raffensperger — known as a conservative Republican before Trump targeted him — writes that he perceived Trump as threatening him multiple times during the phone call. ‘I felt then — and still believe today — that this was a threat,’ Raffensperger writes. ‘Others obviously thought so, too, because some of Trump’s more radical followers have responded as if it was their duty to carry out this threat.'” See also, Georgia elections official Brad Raffensperger says Trump’s call to ‘find 11,780 votes’ to overturn Joe Biden’s victory in the state was a threat to his safety, The Guardian, Martin Pengelly, published on Tuesday, 2 November 2021: “The Georgia Republican responsible for running elections considered an infamous call in which Donald Trump told him to ‘find’ enough votes to overturn Joe Biden’s victory in the state a ‘threat’ to his safety and that of his family. Biden’s victory in Georgia was a narrow but vital part of his national win. No Democratic presidential candidate had taken the state since Bill Clinton in 1992. Trump called Brad Raffensperger, the Georgia secretary of state, nearly two months after election day, on Saturday 2 January. Telling him ‘it’s pretty clear we won,’ the then president said: ‘I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have [to get]’ to surpass Biden’s total. Raffensperger, a conservative who supported Trump, resisted the president’s demands. That prompted Trump to suggest the refusal to expose mass voter fraud in Georgia – on which Trump insisted but which did not exist, as in all other states – could be a ‘criminal offense. That’s a big risk to you,’ Trump said. ‘That’s a big risk.'”

Supreme Court Appears Open to Letting Providers Challenge Texas Abortion Law. The Supreme Court heard two challenges on Monday to the law, which bars most abortions in Texas after about six weeks of pregnancy. The first was brought by abortion providers in Texas, and the second was brought by the Justice Department. The New York Times, Monday, 1 November 2021:

  • The Supreme Court hints that it may allow a challenge to the Texas abortion law.

  • Top lawyers dueled over Texas’ novel anti-abortion law.

  • What is Ex Parte Young, much-discussed in the Texas abortion case?

Biden administration asserts ‘no constitutional right is safe’ if Texas abortion law is allowed to stand, The Washington Post, John Wagner, Ann E. Marimow, and Mariana Alfaro, Monday, 1 November 2021: “The Supreme Court on Monday heard two challenges to Texas’s new abortion law, the most restrictive in the nation, that abortion providers and the Justice Department argue conflicts with a constitutional right established nearly 50 years ago in the landmark Roe v. Wade case. Elizabeth B. Prelogar, the U.S. solicitor general, argued that ‘no constitutional right is safe’ if justices allow the Texas law to stand. But conservative judges sharply questioned Prelogar about the rationale for the administration’s request to block the law. Judd E. Stone II, the Texas solicitor general, argued that the federal government and abortion providers do not have legal grounds to sue the state in federal court, a focus of Monday’s hearing. Earlier, Marc A. Hearron, an attorney for the providers, argued that the Texas law has created a ‘chilling effect’ by providing ‘bounties’ to private citizens to enforce it.

  • The challengers say the court must intervene to stop an unconstitutional law designed to avoid judicial scrutiny. The Texas law is enforced by private citizens, who are empowered to sue anyone who helps a woman get an abortion.
  • The law has effectively halted access to abortion in the nation’s second-largest state and sent Texas patients across state lines to terminate their pregnancies.
  • The cases Monday center on legal procedural questions. Next month, the justices will review a Mississippi law that bans most abortions after 15 weeks. In that case, abortion opponents are seeking to overturn Roe and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which reaffirmed the right to abortion in 1992.
  • A dozen states have passed laws similar to the six-week ban in Texas, which prohibits the procedure after cardiac activity is detected in the embryo. Federal judges preemptively blocked state officials from enforcing the other laws.


Tuesday, 2 November 2021:


What Happened on Day 2 of the COP26 Climate Change Summit. President Biden headed home from Glasgow with agreements to cut methane emissions and deforestation, and he rebuked the leaders of China and Russia for not attending. The New York Times, Tuesday, 2 November 2021:

  • Biden hails two big agreements at COP26 and scolds Russia and China.

  • As Biden leaves Glasgow with progress on climate change, the most important goals remain elusive.

  • The U.S. says $100 billion a year in climate aid for developing nations is within reach.

  • Global leaders announce new efforts to curb methane emissions.

  • Wednesday’s lineup for The NYT Climate Hub: Greta Thunberg and Al Gore.

  • A pledge to end deforestation aims to protect ‘the lungs of our planet.’

  • Why curbs on methane are crucial to slowing global warming.

  • The billions set aside in Glasgow to save forests represent a fraction of spending to support fossil fuels.

Biden Administration Moves to Limit Methane, a Potent Greenhouse Gas.The new rule was announced at a U.N. summit where the United States is facing skepticism about its commitment to addressing climate change. The New York Times, Lisa Friedman, Tuesday, 2 November 2021: “The Biden administration said Tuesday that it would heavily regulate methane, a potent greenhouse gas that spews from oil and natural gas operations and can warm the atmosphere 80 times as fast as carbon dioxide in the short term. For the first time, the Environmental Protection Agency intends to limit the methane coming from roughly one million existing oil and gas rigs across the United States. The federal government previously had rules that aimed to prevent methane leaks from oil and gas wells built since 2015, but they were rescinded by the Trump administration. Mr. Biden intends to restore and strengthen them, aides said. Older oil and gas rigs tend to leak more methane than new systems. The announcement came as more than 100 nations around the world joined together at a United Nations climate change summit here to promise to curb global emissions of methane 30 percent by 2030. If they succeed, that will be the equivalent of eliminating emissions from every car, truck, airplane and ship, said Fatih Birol, executive director of the International Energy Agency.” See also, White House announces new methane regulations, kicking off global pledge. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rules target, in particular, methane leaks and instances when methane gas is purposefully vented, or flared, during the production process. NBC News, Denise Chow, Tuesday, 2 November 2021: “The Biden administration on Tuesday announced plans to introduce some of the nation’s strongest regulations against methane emissions from oil and gas drilling, part of a broader push to tackle climate change that White House officials are unveiling at the United Nations Climate Change Conference. The new rules, proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency, aim to curb methane emissions for new and existing oil and gas infrastructure, thereby reducing a significant source of pollution from fossil fuel companies. The regulations target methane leaks and instances when methane gas is purposefully vented, or flared, during the production process. Methane is a potent greenhouse gas that is released into the atmosphere when coal, oil and natural gas are mined and transported, but microbes also emit methane in low-oxygen environments. Methane emissions have been responsible for roughly 30 percent of global warming since preindustrial times, according to the U.N. Environment Program. An estimated 75 percent of the country’s methane emissions will be covered by the new EPA rules, according to senior administration officials.”

Democrats Add Drug Cost Curbs to Social Policy Plan, Pushing for Vote. The provision would, for the first time, allow the government to negotiate prices for some medicines covered by Medicare. The New York Times, Jonathan Weisman and Emily Cochrane, Tuesday, 2 November 2021: “House Democrats reached a deal on Tuesday to add a measure to curb prescription drug costs to President Biden’s $1.85 trillion social safety net plan, agreeing to allow the government for the first time to negotiate prices for medications covered by Medicare as they pushed for a quick vote on the bill. Negotiators were also pushing for a costly agreement to reinstate a federal deduction, capped in the 2017 tax cuts signed by President Donald J. Trump, for state and local taxes, which would benefit people in high-income states like New York and New Jersey. The prescription drug deal is limited. Starting in 2023, negotiations could begin on what Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon called the most expensive drugs — treatments for cancer and rheumatoid arthritis, as well as anticoagulants. Most drugs would still be granted patent exclusivity for nine years before negotiations could start, and more complex drugs, called biologics, would be protected for 12 years. But for the first time, Medicare, the federal health insurance program for people 65 or older and for disabled people, would be able to step in after those periods, even if drug companies acquire patent extensions or otherwise game the patent system.”

Republican Glenn Youngkin wins Virginia governor’s race in blow to Democrats. The Republican victory came in a state President Joe Biden won by 10 percentage points, sending a warning to Democrats about their midterm election prospects. NBC News, Alex Seitz-Wald and Henry J. Gomez, Tuesday, 2 November 2021: “Republican Glenn Youngkin defeated Democrat Terry McAuliffe in Virginia‘s high-profile election Tuesday for governor, NBC News projected, flipping control of a state that President Joe Biden won handily just a year ago. Potentially even more concerning for Democrats, the race in New Jersey remained too close to call, even though Gov. Phil Murphy had been expected to cruise to re-election…. The results there and in other states holding off-year elections sent a warning shot to Democrats, suggesting that trouble may be brewing ahead of next year’s midterm elections.”

Michelle Wu is Boston’s first female and first person of color elected mayor, NPR, Vanessa Romo, Tuesday, 2 November 2021: “Boston voters have elected City Councilor Michelle Wu as mayor, the city’s first woman and person of color elected to the post. Wu, whose parents immigrated to the U.S. from Taiwan broke a 199-year streak of white, male city leaders. She moved to the city from Chicago and attended Harvard University and Harvard Law School. She defeated fellow Democratic City Councilor Annissa Essaibi George, a self-described first-generation Arab-Polish American who was born and raised in the city. The contest between the two candidates marked a turning point in Boston politics, which has a history of fraught racial tensions and forced desegregation. It also reflected an increasingly diverse city where Black, Latino and Asian residents now make up more than half of the population and white groups continue to shrink. For many, the race came down to competing visions of the future with Essaibi George’s version cast as more of the old guard and Wu’s perceived as new-school Boston. Since her election to the city council in 2013, Wu has become a darling of the progressive wing of the party. Throughout the campaign she championed climate change policies in line with the Green New Deal, rent control and rent stabilization, which was narrowly voted down in the mid 1990s, eliminating fares on the metropolitan area’s public transit system, and abolishing the Boston Planning and Development Agency, arguing that it’s time to ’empower a planning dept to create a master plan for updated zoning and clear, consistent rules.’ Meanwhile, Essaibi George emphasized her family roots in the city and ran on a more moderate platform. She opposed Wu’s rent control ideas and pledged to overhaul the city’s police department by adding more officers who will reflect the changing demographics, and boosting resources.” See also, Michelle Wu makes history as first person of Color and woman to be elected Boston mayor, The Washington Post, Joanna Slater and Adela Suliman, published on Tuesday, 2 November 2021: “Democrat Michelle Wu became the first woman and person of color to be elected mayor of Boston, winning a pathbreaking victory that promises a new era of liberal politics in the city. Wu, 36, the daughter of Taiwanese immigrants, defeated fellow Democrat Annissa Essaibi George, 47, in a landslide in Tuesday’s mayoral contest…. Wu is a liberal Democrat in the mold of her self-described mentor, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) She has promised to fight for free public transportation, a citywide ‘Green New Deal’ to tackle climate change and rent control measures to rein in the soaring cost of housing. The sweeping nature of Wu’s win reflects Boston’s changing demographics and marks the culmination of a methodical and tenacious campaign launched by Wu more than a year ago, experts said.”


Wednesday, 3 November 2021:


Election News: Governor Philip Murphy Wins Re-Election in New Jersey, Staving Off a Second Major Democratic Loss. The Republican candidate, Jack Ciattarelli, mounted an unexpectedly strong challenge, and his loss came after a fellow Republican claimed Virginia’s governorship for the first time in more than a decade. The New York Times, Wednesday, 3 November 2021:

  • Several races are still undecided. Here’s where some of them stand.

  • India Walton says she’s unlikely to beat the write-in incumbent, Byron Brown, in the Buffalo mayor’s race.

  • A scare in New Jersey and a loss in Virginia offered Democrats a warning.

  • Jacob Frey, who oversaw Minneapolis when George Floyd was murdered, wins a second term as mayor.

  • For progressives, Michelle Wu points to a way forward in Boston.

  • Brooklyn is home to all three citywide officials in New York City.

  • Voters appear to have rejected the most far-reaching calls for reinventing the police.

  • A Republican candidate holds a large lead for a citywide office in Seattle.

  • A 97-year-old mayor wins re-election in New Jersey.

Here are some unanswered questions about the January 6 attack. The Post investigation into the assault and its aftermath unveiled many new findings, but gaps remain as Trump seeks to block congressional inquiries. The Washington Post, Washington Post Staff, Wednesday, 2 November 2021: “The Washington Post’s investigation into the Jan. 6 attack and its aftermath unveiled many new findings about the assault on the U.S. Capitol. But journalists do not have the power of Congress to subpoena documents and compel testimony from government officials and other key figures. Former president Donald Trump has filed a lawsuit in an attempt to block the House select committee on Jan. 6 from obtaining government documents related to the attack and has instructed some of his aides and advisers to stonewall congressional investigators by claiming executive privilege. A number of critical questions still need to be answered to understand what happened: 1. How far did Trump go in his efforts to overturn the election?… 2. What else did Trump do and say during his 187 minutes of inaction?… 3. Who was responsible for specific actions at and around the Capitol?… 4. Why were federal law enforcement agencies not better prepared for violence?…”

At least seven January 6 rallygoers won public office on Election Day, The Washington Post, Amy B Wang and Mariana Alfaro, Wednesday, 3 November 2021: “At least seven people who attended the pro-Trump rally on Jan. 6 in Washington that preceded the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol were elected to public office Tuesday. BuzzFeedNews first reported last week that at least 13 Republicans who traveled to Washington on Jan. 6 to protest the results of the 2020 election were running for office this year. None were charged with crimes, and all denied being part of the pro-Trump mob that stormed the Capitol to try to stop the certification of President Biden’s electoral college win. The attack resulted in five deaths and left some 140 members of law enforcement injured.”

Key Moments From Day 3 of the COP26 Climate Summit. World leaders finished their speeches at the Glasgow conference on Tuesday. Attention now shifts to behind-the-scenes talks, and how to finance proposals to address climate change. The New York Times, Wednesday, 3 November 2021:

  • On Day 3 of the climate summit, Big Money makes a pledge.

  • Poland and 17 other countries to announce a major deal to end coal.

  • A new $10.5 billion fund aims to spur green energy projects in poor countries.

  • Organizers blame the pandemic as frustrations grow over long waits and other glitches at the climate conference.

  • Satellite monitoring of emissions from countries and companies ‘changes everything,’ Al Gore says.

  • A protest outside the main summit venue calls out ‘greenwashing’ by big companies.

  • Sadiq Khan, London’s mayor, makes the case for cities as climate leaders: National governments ‘can’t do it by themselves.’

  • What is the Paris Agreement and how is it related to COP26?

  • ‘The planet is in serious trouble,’ says Scotland’s leader, Nicola Sturgeon.

Senate Republicans block debate on a third major voting rights bill, The Washington Post, Mike DeBonis, Wednesday, 3 November 2021: “Republican senators on Wednesday voted to block debate on the third major voting rights bill that congressional Democrats have sought to pass this year in response to the state-level GOP push to restrict ballot access following former president Donald Trump’s false claims of a stolen 2020 election. Wednesday’s vote on the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act — named after the civil rights icon and former congressman who died last year — fell short of the 60 votes necessary to proceed, 51-49. Only one Republican, Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, voted to advance it. After the vote, Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) accused the Senate GOP of ‘implicitly endorsing these partisan Republican actions to suppress the vote and unravel our democracy’ and pivoted to attacking the filibuster, the 60-vote supermajority rule that allowed the minority to prevail.” See also, Republicans Block a Second Voting Rights Bill in the Senate. Democrats hope that a filibuster of a measure named for former Representative John Lewis of Georgia, the civil rights icon, will help build momentum for a change in Senate rules. The New York Times, Carl Hulse, Wednesday, 3 November 2021: “Senate Republicans on Wednesday blocked legislation to restore parts of the landmark Voting Rights Act weakened by Supreme Court rulings, making it the second major voting bill to be derailed by a G.O.P. filibuster in the past two weeks. Despite receiving majority support, the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, named for the civil rights activist and congressman who died last year, fell nine votes short of the 60 required to advance over Republican opposition. In the aftermath of the defeat, Senate Democrats said they would intensify internal discussions about altering filibuster rules or making other changes to allow them to move forward on voting rights legislation despite deep resistance by Republicans, who have now thwarted four efforts to take up such measures.” See also, Senate Republicans block John Lewis voting rights bill in key vote, CNN Politics, Clare Foran, Wednesday, 3 November 2021: “Senate Republicans blocked the John Lewis Voting Rights Act from advancing on Wednesday when the Senate took a procedural vote on whether to open debate on the legislation. The final tally was 50 to 49 with GOP Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska voting with Democrats in favor. The John Lewis voting bill that the Senate considered is aimed at fighting voter suppression and restoring and updating key parts of the landmark Voting Rights Act, originally passed in 1965. The measure is named in honor of the civil rights icon and late Rep. John Lewis of Georgia.”

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis calls for new Florida police force to go after election crimes, Politico, Gary Fineout, Wednesday, 3 November 2021: “Gov. Ron DeSantis vowed on Wednesday to create a fully-staffed statewide law enforcement office whose sole job would be to crack down on election crimes, despite previously praising Florida’s smooth 2020 elections and rebuffing calls by members of his own party for an audit. DeSantis, who is running for reelection and is considered a potential 2024 presidential contender, is also pressing state lawmakers to increase the criminal penalty for violating new restrictions on collecting mail-in ballots. He also wants to enact a tight new 100-day deadline on when local election officials must scrub their voter rolls for those who died, moved or been convicted of a felony.”

Smartmatic Sues Newsmax and One America News Network, Claiming Defamation. Smartmatic, an election technology company that faced baseless accusations of rigging the 2020 election, has filed a similar lawsuit against Fox News. The New York Times, Jonah E. Bromwich and Michael M. Grynbaum, Wednesday, 3 November 2021: “The legal battle against disinformation from right-wing media outlets is expanding. Smartmatic, an election technology firm that became a target of pro-Trump conspiracy theories about the 2020 presidential race, sued Newsmax and One America News Network on Wednesday for defamation, demanding that the conservative cable networks face jury trials for spreading falsehoods about the company. The new lawsuits add to a growing suite of litigation by Smartmatic and another election technology provider, Dominion, which found itself mired in the same conspiracy theories. In February, Smartmatic sued Rupert Murdoch’s Fox Corporation and several Fox anchors on similar grounds, as well as two of Mr. Trump’s lawyers, Sidney Powell and Rudolph W. Giuliani. ‘We are holding them accountable for what they tell their audience,’ J. Erik Connolly, a lawyer for Smartmatic, said in an interview. Dominion has sued FoxNewsmax, One America NewsMs. PowellMr. Giuliani, and Mike Lindell, the chief executive of MyPillow.”

Lawmakers Ask Biden to Rescind Medals for Wounded Knee Massacre. Seventeen members of Congress said they believed it was within President Biden’s authority to revoke Medals of Honor ‘when appropriate.’ The New York Times, Mark Walker, Wednesday, 3 November 2021: “More than a dozen members of Congress have called on President Biden to use his executive authority to revoke Medals of Honor awarded for the killings of members of the Lakota Sioux tribe, including unarmed women and children, at Wounded Knee, S.D., in the 19th century. In a letter coordinated by Senator Elizabeth Warren, Democrat of Massachusetts, 16 Democrats and Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, an independent, called the awards ‘a persistent shame on the nation.’ While a bill to rescind the awards appears stalled, the lawmakers said they believed it was within Mr. Biden’s authority ‘to confer with the secretary of defense and the secretaries of the military departments and revoke these honors when appropriate. For the families and descendants of those massacred, the revocation of these 20 Medals of Honor would have a profound and lasting impact — as has the federal government’s ongoing choice to allow these wrongly bestowed honors to stand,’ the lawmakers wrote in the letter, which was sent Tuesday.”


Thursday, 4 November 2021:


Justice Department Sues Texas Over Voting Restrictions. The department argued that a major voting law passed by Republicans would disenfranchise several groups of vulnerable Texans, including voters who do not speak English and those with disabilities. The New York Times, Reid J. Epstein, Nick Corasaniti, and Katie Benner, Thursday, 4 November 2021: “The Justice Department on Thursday sued Texas over the state’s new voting law, arguing that the Republican-led measure would disenfranchise Texans who do not speak English, people with disabilities, older voters and those who live outside the United States. The department argues that the law violates the Voting Rights Act by limiting the help that poll workers can provide to voters. It also contends that the law runs afoul of the Civil Rights Act by requiring mail-in ballots to be thrown out if they fail to include a voter’s current driver’s license number, an election identification number or part of a Social Security number. The Texas voting law, which was signed by Gov. Greg Abbott in September, includes measures barring election officials from sending voters unsolicited absentee ballot applications and from promoting the use of mail voting, as well as further limiting the use of drop boxes. The law also greatly expands the authority of partisan poll watchers.” See also, Justice Department files lawsuit against Texas’s new voting restrictions, The Washington Post, Amy B Wang, Thursday, 4 November 2021: “The Department of Justice has filed a lawsuit over Texas’s new voting restrictions, alleging they disenfranchise eligible voters — including older Americans and people with disabilities — and that they violate the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The lawsuit was filed against the state of Texas and the Texas secretary of state over Senate Bill 1, which Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) signed into law in September. The bill imposed new criminal penalties for violating voting laws, banned 24-hour and drive-through voting and allowed more access for partisan poll watchers. ‘Our democracy depends on the right of eligible voters to cast a ballot and to have that ballot counted,’ Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a statement Thursday. ‘The Justice Department will continue to use all the authorities at its disposal to protect this fundamental pillar of our society.'” See also, The Justice Department is suing Texas over its new voting law, NPR, Ashley Lopez, Thursday, 4 November 2021: “The Biden administration is suing Texas over the state’s restrictive voting law that was signed into law in September and is set to go into effect Dec. 2. The U.S. Department of Justice filed a lawsuit in a federal court Thursday claiming that the Republican-led law contains several provisions that ‘will disenfranchise eligible Texas citizens who seek to exercise their right to vote.’ Justice officials say those people include ‘voters with limited English proficiency, voters with disabilities, elderly voters, members of the military’ who are deployed and American citizens who are out of the country. ‘These vulnerable voters already confront barriers to the ballot box,’ the DOJ says, ‘and SB 1 will exacerbate the challenges they face in exercising their fundamental right to vote.'”

Manhattan District Attorney convenes new grand jury in Trump Organization case to weigh potential charges, The Washington Post, Shayna Jacobs, David A. Fahrenthold, and Jonathan O’Connell, Thursday, 4 November 2021: “The Manhattan district attorney has convened a second long-term grand jury to hear evidence about the Trump Organization’s financial practices and potentially to vote on criminal charges, according to people with knowledge of the matter. An earlier grand jury — convened this spring in Manhattan — returned felony indictments against two Trump companies and Trump’s longtime chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg, charging them with tax evasion. It is unclear whether that grand jury is still hearing evidence about the Trump Organization. The new grand jury is assigned to meet three days a week over six months, people familiar with the matter said. It was expected to hear evidence on Thursday, meeting in Manhattan’s Surrogate’s Court — usually a forum for disputes over the estates of the deceased — because the criminal court buildings are jammed with a rush of post-pandemic trials.”

Giuliani investigators home in on 2019 plan to advance Ukraine interests in the US. Prosecutors believe Giuliani and two others may have violated law over agreement that would have seen them win lucrative contracts. The Guardian, Murray Waas, Thursday, 4 November 2021: “The high-profile federal criminal investigation of Rudy Giuliani in recent days has zeroed in on evidence that in the spring of 2019 three Ukrainian government prosecutors agreed to award contracts, valued in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, to Giuliani and two other American attorneys as a way to gain political and personal influence with the Trump administration. Federal investigators believe Giuliani and two attorneys who worked closely with him, Victoria Toensing and Joe DiGenova, probably violated federal transparency laws that require Americans working for foreign governments or interests to register as foreign agents with the US justice department and fully disclose details of each such action they undertook on behalf of the foreign interests. Federal prosecutors in the southern district in New York have compiled a list of more than two dozen specific acts by Giuliani, Toesning and DiGenova as to how to advance the personal and political interests of a group of Ukrainian prosecutors and political factions in Ukraine with which they were aligned, the Guardian has learned. Prosecutors consider each one of those acts to be crucial evidence of a potential violation of law, according to sources close to the investigation. In a previously undisclosed episode, the Guardian has learned that federal investigators have uncovered extensive, detailed plans devised by one Ukrainian prosecutor, Yuriy Lutsenko, and approved by Giuliani, by which they would announce and promote an investigation of Joe Biden and his son Hunter, in Ukraine, to help boost Trump’s chances of re-election.”

Trump attorneys Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell testified under oath that they had done little to verify debunked claims of fraud in the 2020 election before spreading them on the national stage, according to tapes of their depositions obtained exclusively by CNN, CNN Politics, Devan Cole and Tierney Sneed, Thursday, 4 November 2021: “The new footage of sworn testimony from Trump attorneys Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell animates the behind-the-scenes movements of the two in their effort to sow doubt about the integrity of the presidential election results. The video details responses from the Trump allies as a lawyer representing former Dominion Voting Systems executive Eric Coomer in his defamation case against them peppers them with questions about their allegations. Dominion has denied repeatedly that its vote-counting services allowed for fraud, and since the election, state and US authorities have repeatedly found no widespread fraud in the 2020 vote.”

Judge sharply questions Trump’s effort to block records from January 6 investigators. The judge’s comments suggest she’s likely to rule against the former president’s effort to stop the National Archives from furnishing the records to Congress. Politico, Kyle Cheney, Thursday, 4 November 2021: “A federal judge on Thursday sharply questioned former President Donald Trump’s effort to block the congressional Jan. 6 select committee from obtaining his White House records, casting doubt on the notion that the former president can overrule his successor’s decision to release them to investigators. ‘There is only one executive,’ said District Court Judge Tanya Chutkan during a hearing on Trump’s lawsuit seeking to stymie the committee. Chutkan repeatedly seemed incredulous at Trump’s legal effort to block Congress from obtaining the documents, noting that this is a rare case in which Congress and the current White House are in ‘harmony’ about the decision to release them. And Trump, she said, as a former president, has no authority over either branch of government.” See also, Federal judge skeptical of Trump’s efforts to block release of presidential documents, CNN Politics, Katelyn Polantz and Marshall Cohen, Thursday, 4 November 2021: “A federal judge expressed deep skepticism of former President Donald Trump’s arguments that he can keep documents from his White House secret during an historic court hearing on Thursday related to the January 6 riot. Judge Tanya Chutkan pressed Trump’s lawyers on why, as a former President, he has any right to control the public access to hundreds of pages of records, especially as the House of Representatives investigates the insurrection. ‘Are you really saying that the President’s notes, talking points, telephone conversations, on January 6, have no relation to the matter on which Congress is considering legislation?’ Chutkan asked. ‘The January 6 riot happened in the Capitol. That is literally Congress’ house.'” See also, Judge Questions Trump’s Grounds for Keeping January 6 Documents Secret. In a hearing on Thursday, a federal judge voiced skepticism about the former president’s claim that hundreds of pages of documents related to the riot should be shielded by executive privilege. The New York Times, Luke Broadwater, Thursday, 4 November 2021: “A federal judge on Thursday expressed skepticism about Donald J. Trump’s attempt to block from release a wide range of documents related to the Capitol riot, signaling that she might be open to allowing a congressional committee scrutinizing the violence to pore over hundreds of files that the former president wants to keep secret. At a hearing by video conference, Judge Tanya S. Chutkan of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia repeatedly asked pointed questions about the legal basis for Mr. Trump’s claim that at least 770 pages of documents related to the mob attack must be shielded by executive privilege.” See also, U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan appears set to reject Trump bid to block records requested by January 6 committee, The Washington Post, Spencer S. Hsu, Thursday, 4 November 2021: “A federal judge appeared ready to side Thursday with Congress and the Biden White House against former president Donald Trump’s effort to block the release of hundreds of pages of White House records sought by a House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. U.S. District Judge Tanya S. Chutkan said she might curb some ‘unbelievably broad’ requests for records about Trump’s activities and communications leading up to the attempt by rioting Trump supporters as lawmakers met to confirm the 2020 presidential election, such as polling and campaign communication dating to April. But the judge indicated the power to assert executive privilege claimed by Trump to withhold the records from Congress ultimately rests with the current president, Joe Biden, who has waived privilege and approved their release. When a current and former president disagree, courts ought to defer to the incumbent, she suggested.”

Authorities Arrest Analyst Who Contributed to Steele Dossier. Igor Danchenko, a Russia analyst who worked with Christopher Steele, the author of a dossier of rumors and unproven assertions about Donald J. Trump, was indicted as part of the Durham investigation. The New York Times, Adam Goldman and Charlie Savage, Thursday, 4 November 2021: “An analyst who was a key contributor to Democratic-funded opposition research into possible links between Donald J. Trump and Russia was arrested on Thursday and charged with lying to the F.B.I. about his sources. The analyst, Igor Danchenko, was a primary researcher for claims that went into the so-called Steele dossier, a compendium of rumors and unproven assertions suggesting that Mr. Trump and his 2016 campaign were compromised by and conspiring with Russian intelligence officials to help him defeat Hillary Clinton. In a 39-page indictment obtained by the special counsel, John H. Durham, a grand jury accused Mr. Danchenko of five counts of making false statements to the F.B.I. about his sources for certain claims in the dossier. The indictment showed that two and a half years after then-Attorney General William P. Barr appointed him to scour the Trump-Russia investigation for any wrongdoing, and a year after Mr. Trump lost re-election, Mr. Durham continues to press ahead.” See also, Igor Danchenko arrested and charged with lying to the FBI about information in the Steele dossier, The Washington Post, Devlin Barrett and Tom Jackman, Thursday, 4 November 2021: “An analyst who was a primary source for a 2016 dossier of allegations against Donald Trump has been arrested on charges that he repeatedly lied to the FBI about where and how he got his information, officials said Thursday. Igor Danchenko’s role in providing information to British ex-spy Christopher Steele, who compiled the accusations about Trump in a series of reports, has long been a subject of scrutiny from internal Justice Department investigators and special counsel John Durham, according to people familiar with the investigations. Steele presented the dossier to the FBI, and it was part of the basis for secret surveillance court orders targeting former Trump adviser Carter Page as the FBI investigated possible ties between the 2016 Trump presidential campaign and Russia. A 2019 report by the Justice Department inspector general found major problems with the accuracy of Danchenko’s information. But the 39-page indictment unveiled Thursday paints a more detailed picture of claims that were allegedly built on exaggerations, rumors and outright lies. The indictment is likely to buttress Republican charges that Democrats and FBI agents intentionally or accidentally turned cheap partisan smears into a high-stakes national security investigation of a sitting president.”

Macroeconomic Consequences of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act & Build Back Better Framework, Moody’s Analytics, Mark Zandi and Bernard Yaros, Thursday, 4 November 2021: “Lawmakers in Washington DC continue to work feverishly on another massive fiscal plan, including a more than $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure deal and a $1.75 trillion package of social spending and tax breaks to lower- and middle-income households that the Biden administration and congressional Democrats hope to pass into law via the budget reconciliation process. While the legislation remains in flux, it is similar in spirit to the Build Back Better agenda President Biden proposed earlier this year. If this is close to what becomes law, it will strengthen long-term economic growth, the benefits of which would mostly accrue to lower- and middle-income Americans. The legislation is more-or-less paid for on a static basis and more than paid for on a dynamic basis through higher taxes on multinational corporations and the well-to-do and several other pay-fors (see Chart 1). Concerns that the plan will ignite undesirably high inflation and an overheating economy are overdone, as the fiscal support it provides will ensure the economy only returns to full employment from the recession caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Unemployment claims drop to 269,000, another pandemic low, Associated Press, Paul Wiseman, Thursday, 4 November 2021: “The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits fell to a fresh pandemic low last week, another sign the job market is healing after last year’s coronavirus recession. Jobless claims dropped by 14,000 to 269,000 last week. Since topping 900,000 in early January, the weekly applications have fallen more or less steadily ever since and are gradually moving toward pre-pandemic levels of around 220,000 a week. Overall, 2.1 million Americans were collecting unemployment checks the week of Oct. 23 — down from 7.1 million a year earlier when the economy was still reeling from the coronavirus outbreak.”

North Carolina Republican-controlled legislature approves congressional maps which have boundaries likely to give Republicans an advantage there for the next decade, CNN Politics, Kelly Mena, Thursday, 4 November 2021: “The state gained a 14th congressional seat after the 2020 census. Ten of the 14 seats will lean Republican, according to the non-partisan Princeton Gerrymandering Project. Republicans currently hold eight of 13 seats. In North Carolina, the legislature is responsible for redistricting, and it doesn’t need approval from the governor for the maps to become law. That means Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper is unable to veto the maps….[T]he maps were immediately met with backlash from voting rights advocates, who claimed they were gerrymandered and a partisan power grab. ‘North Carolinians made it clear at the start of the redistricting process that they wanted to end partisan gerrymandering. Instead of listening to the people, Republican legislators did the opposite today by passing maps that are heavily manipulated in favor of their party and that will deny real political power to the most populous and diverse areas of the state,’ said former US attorney general Eric Holder, who is now the chairman of the National Democratic Redistricting Committee. Other critics said the new maps are harmful to Black voters in the state. ‘We are troubled that these districts would especially hurt Black voters, harmfully split communities and undermine the freedom of North Carolinians to have a voice in choosing their representatives,’ said Bob Phillips, executive director of Common Cause North Carolina.”

Gerrymandering, Heather Cox Richardson, Thursday, 4 November 2021: “Republican state legislatures are gerrymandering districts to elect members to the House of Representatives. The results are extreme. According to voting expert Ari Berman, in Ohio, where former president Trump got 53% of the vote in 2020, the new maps would give Republicans 86% of seats. In North Carolina, where Trump won 49.9% of the vote, Republicans would take 71–78% of seats, which translates to a 10–4 advantage if the voters split the vote evenly. In Wisconsin, where Trump won 49% of the vote, the new maps give Republicans 75% of the seats. In Texas, where Trump got 52% of the vote, Republicans would take 65% of the seats. Skewing election results toward Republicans plays to former president Donald Trump, who tried to steal the 2020 election by using the power of the federal government to hamstring his Democratic opponent.”


Friday, 5 November 2021:


House Passes $1 Trillion Infrastructure Bill, Putting Social Policy Bill on Hold. Progressives who had threatened to sink the measure agreed to support it after extracting a promise from moderates that they would ultimately back the social safety net and climate bill. The New York Times, Jonathan Weisman, Emily Cochrane, and Catie Edmondson, Friday, 5 November 2021: “The House passed a $1 trillion bill on Friday night to rebuild the country’s aging public works system, fund new climate resilience initiatives and expand access to high-speed internet service, giving final approval to a central plank of President Biden’s economic agenda after a daylong drama that pitted moderate Democrats against progressives. But an even larger social safety net and climate change bill was back on hold, with a half-dozen moderate-to-conservative Democrats withholding their votes until a nonpartisan analysis could tally its price tag. For Mr. Biden, passage of the infrastructure bill fulfilled a marquee legislative goal that he had promised to deliver since the early days of his presidency: the largest single investment of federal resources into infrastructure projects in more than a decade, including a substantial effort to fortify the nation’s response to the warming of the planet…. The drubbing Democrats took in off-year elections on Tuesday had given new urgency to the president’s demand for legislative action. On Friday, Mr. Biden put his credibility on the line, pleading with liberals to end their monthslong blockade and send him the public works measure immediately without passage of their priority, the social safety net measure. He backed passage of a rule for debating the social policy bill, called the Build Back Better Act, as a tangible sign that it, too, would soon pass.” See also, The House has passed the $1 trillion infrastructure plan, sending it to Biden’s desk, NPR, Friday, 5 November 2021: “After months of tense negotiations, the House of Representatives has passed a $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill, 228-206, fulfilling a major priority for President Biden’s domestic agenda and cementing a political victory for Democrats. The measure includes significant investments in roads, bridges, railways and broadband internet. It passed late Friday night largely along party lines, with 13 Republicans joining 215 Democrats in support of the legislation. But the bill also saw six progressive Democrats vote against it because a larger social spending measure failed to secure enough support for a floor vote on Friday. The late night vote on infrastructure followed an agreement between factions of the Democratic Party, as moderate members issued further assurances that they would pass the larger spending bill when it comes up for a vote. ‘We commit to voting for the Build Back Better Act, in its current form … as expeditiously as we receive fiscal information from the Congressional Budget Office — but in no event later than the week of November 15th — consistent with the toplines for revenues and investments’ in the White House framework, a key group of five moderates — Reps. Ed Case, D-Hawaii, Josh Gottheimer, D-N.J., Stephanie Murphy, D-Fla., Kathleen Rice, D-N.Y., and Kurt Schrader, D-Ore. — said in a statement. The group added that if the CBO score is inconsistent with the White House framework, they ‘remain committed to working to resolve any discrepancies in order to pass Build Back Better legislation.’ A short time later, the chair of the progressive caucus, Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., issued a statement saying her caucus had reached agreement with ‘our colleagues … to advance both pieces of President Biden’s legislative agenda.’ Biden was involved in the final negotiations, issuing a statement Friday night urging all House Democrats to back final passage of the infrastructure bill. He added he was ‘confident that during the week of November 15, the House will pass the Build Back Better Act.’ The infrastructure bill, which passed the Senate in August with strong bipartisan support, includes nearly $550 billion in new spending above what Congress was already planning to allocate for infrastructure over the next eight years.” See also, House approves $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill, sending the measure to Biden for enactment, The Washington Post, Tony Romm, Marianna Sotomayor, and Mike DeBonis, published on Saturday, 6 November 2021: “House lawmakers late Friday adopted a roughly $1.2 trillion measure to improve the country’s roads, bridges, pipes, ports and Internet connections, overcoming their own internecine divides to secure a long-sought burst in federal investment and deliver President Biden a major legislative win. The bipartisan 228-to-206 vote marked the final milestone for the first of two pieces in the president’s sprawling economic agenda. The outcome sends to Biden’s desk an initiative that promises to deliver its benefits to all 50 states, a manifestation of his 2020 campaign pledge to rejuvenate the economy in the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic and ‘build back better.’ The path to passage proved littered with political conflict, pushing to the limits a fractious party with still-widening ideological fissures. Democrats initially hoped to approve the infrastructure bill on Friday along with a separate, roughly $2 trillion proposal to overhaul the nation’s health care, education, immigration, climate and tax laws. Doing so would have advanced two spending initiatives that have been stalled on Capitol Hill for months. Instead, House Democrats started only to debate, but did not finalize, the $2 trillion tax-and-spending package. Facing new delays, that bill remained bogged down in the broader war between liberals, who are eager to spend now that they are in the majority, and moderates, who continue to question the fiscal impacts of the bill.” See also, Democrats clear procedural hurdle for Biden’s $1.75 trillion social spending bill. The vote came after a deal between progressive and centrist Democrats to pass the infrastructure bill and move forward on the ‘Build Back Better’ act. NBC News, Sahil Kapur, Leigh Ann Caldwell, and Rebecca Shabad, Friday, 5 November 2021: “The House voted 221 – 213 to clear a procedural hurdle for President Joe Biden’s $1.75 trillion safety net package after a chaotic day that included passage of a separate infrastructure bill. The vote came after weeks of missed deadlines and then hours of wrangling between Democrats that ended in a pact between progressives and centrists. Progressives agreed to pass the bipartisan physical infrastructure bill and centrists promised to vote for the Build Back Better bill after an estimate about the bill’s price is completed. While a date for a vote on the $1.75 trillion bill hasn’t been set yet, Biden said he felt confident it would happen over the next two weeks.”

House Democrats Push Forward on Infrastructure but Delay Social Spending Plan. House leaders said they would hold a procedural vote that would allow a vote on the $1.85 trillion social spending and climate bill sometime in the future, with hopes of passing it by Thanksgiving. The New York Times, Friday, 5 November 2021:

  • With moderates balking, Democrats put their the social policy bill on hold but push forward on infrastructure.

  • Biden asks House lawmakers to vote yes on two bills making up his agenda.

  • At Colin Powell’s funeral, Washington unites to pay tribute.

  • Here’s what to watch for in the House on Friday.

  • Democrats are using budget reconciliation to move the social policy and climate bill. Here’s how that works.

  • Here’s what’s in the $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure plan.

  • The House held the longest vote in its modern history as Democrats hunt for votes.

Timeline of Trump’s attempted coup: How Trump tried to weaponize the Justice Department to overturn the 2020 election, CNN Politics, Marshall Cohen, Friday, 5 November 2021: “A full year after the 2020 presidential election, new details are still emerging about former President Donald Trump’s unprecedented effort to overturn the results. Many of Trump’s actions were done in public view, including dozens of ill-fated lawsuits and tweets that undermined the electoral process. But congressional inquiries and news reports have shed new light on what happened behind the scenes as Trump tried to cling to power. Perhaps the most disturbing aspect of Trump’s attempted coup was how he relentlessly tried to weaponize the Justice Department to nullify President Joe Biden’s victory. The Democratic-run Senate Judiciary Committee investigated Trump’s conduct and concluded in a recent report that he ‘grossly abused the power of the presidency.’ [In this article is] a big-picture breakdown of the attempted coup, along with a day-by-day timeline of Trump’s efforts to co-opt the Justice Department to help his campaign.”

Hiring grows in the U.S. as employers add 531,000 jobs, beating expectations. The unemployment rate in October fell to 4.6 percent, down from 4.8 percent in September. NBC News, Martha C. White, Friday, 5 November 2021: “The economy added 531,000 jobs in October, blowing past economists’ predictions of 450,000, and the unemployment rate fell to 4.6 percent from 4.8 percent. Friday’s release from the Bureau of Labor Statistics followed a disappointing September report in which a mere 194,000 jobs were added, compared to the half million expected by economists. ‘America is getting back to work. Our economy is starting to work for more Americans,’ President Biden said in remarks at the White House on Friday. ‘Before we passed the Rescue Plan, forecasters said it would take until the end of 2023 to get to 4.6 unemployment rate. Today, we’ve reached that rate two years before forecasters thought it was possible.'”

Jeffrey Clark, the Trump Department of Justice official who aided the effort to overturn the 2020 presidential election, declines to answer January 6 questions. The chair of the House select panel probing the Capitol riot said a contempt of Congress referral for Jeffrey Clark is ‘on the table.’ Politico, Betsy Woodruff Swan and Kyle Cheney, Friday, 5 November 2021: “A top Trump Justice Department official who aided the former president’s quest to overturn the 2020 election refused to answer substantive questions in a meeting with congressional investigators on Friday. The former official, Jeffrey Clark, instead delivered a 12-page letter from his attorney — a lawyer who worked on a post-election lawsuit aimed at overturning the results in Georgia — defending his refusal to testify. The attorney, Harry MacDougald, wrote that Clark intended to wait at least until courts resolve Trump’s own lawsuit challenging the Jan. 6 select committee’s access to his White House records. The Jan. 6 panel’s chair, Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), told POLITICO that Clark’s refusal to testify could lead to a referral to the Justice Department for contempt of Congress. ‘That’s on the table,’ Thompson said. The committee has voted to hold just one other witness, former Trump advisor Steve Bannon, in contempt. That referral, which the full House passed last month, is pending before the Justice Department.” See also, Trump Justice official Jeffrey Clark, who pushed election fraud claims, stonewalls House January 6 committee, CNN Politics, Zachary Cohen and Katelyn Polantz, Friday, 5 November 2021: “Former Justice Department official Jeffrey Clark on Friday stonewalled the House select committee investigating January 6, responding to a subpoena demanding he appear for an interview with the panel, but not answering questions posed to him, sources familiar with his appearance told CNN. Instead, Clark provided a letter from his attorney Harry MacDougald that claimed he could not provide testimony until a court declares that his interactions with former President Donald Trump are not protected under attorney-client privilege or executive privilege. CNN has not obtained a copy of the letter, first reported by Politico, but confirmed its contents through a source with knowledge of the letter. Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson said in a statement later Friday that he had considered and rejected Clark’s claim that he didn’t have to answer questions under subpoena. ‘He has a very short time to reconsider and cooperate fully,’ the Mississippi Democrat said. ‘We need the information that he is withholding and we are willing to take strong measures to hold him accountable to meet his obligation. It’s astounding that someone who so recently held a position of public trust to uphold the Constitution would now hide behind vague claims of privilege by a former President, refuse to answer questions about an attack on our democracy, and continue an assault on the rule of law,’ Thompson said. MacDougald, an Atlanta-based attorney, previously worked on the pro-Trump lawsuits that pushed unfounded claims of election fraud.” See also, January 6 committee warns Trump Department of Justice official Jeffrey Clark he must cooperate with investigation or it will move aggressively against him, The Washington Post, Jacqueline Alemany, Friday, 5 November 2021: “The House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol warned former Justice Department official Jeffrey Clark that it will take more aggressive steps to compel his testimony after he refused to answer questions Friday during a closed-door interview with the panel. In a statement released after Clark’s appearance, Chairman Bennie G. Thompson (D-Miss.) said Clark has ‘a very short time to reconsider and cooperate fully’ before the committee moves to ‘take strong measures to hold him accountable to meet his obligation.'”

People Tied to Project Veritas Scrutinized in Theft of Diary From Biden’s Daughter. The F.B.I. carried out search warrants in New York as part of a Justice Department investigation into how pages from Ashley Biden’s journal came to be published by a right wing website. The New York Times, Michael S. Schmidt, William K. Rashbaum, Precious Fondren, and Adam Goldman, Friday, 5 November 2021: “The Justice Department searched two locations associated with the conservative group Project Veritas as part of an investigation into how a diary stolen from President Biden’s daughter, Ashley, came to be publicly disclosed a week and a half before the 2020 presidential election, according to people briefed on the matter. Federal agents in New York conducted the court-ordered searches on Thursday — one in New York City and one in suburban Westchester County — targeting people who had worked with the group and its leader, James O’Keefe, according to two of the people briefed on the events. The investigation is being handled by F.B.I. agents and federal prosecutors in Manhattan who work on public corruption matters, the people said. After this article was initially published online on Friday, Mr. O’Keefe put out a video confirming that current and former Project Veritas employees had their homes searched on Thursday. He said the group had recently received a grand jury subpoena and acknowledged that Project Veritas had been involved in discussions with sources about the diary. But he offered a lengthy defense of his group’s handling of the diary, saying that he and his colleagues had been operating as ethical journalists.” See also, FBI searches Project Veritas associates in probe over diary purportedly belonging to Biden’s daughter, The Washington Post, Amy B Wang and Devlin Barrett, Friday, 5 November 2021: “The Federal Bureau of Investigation has conducted two searches at the homes of people tied to the right-wing activist group Project Veritas, as part of an investigation into the circumstances surrounding a diary reportedly belonging to President Biden’s daughter, the contents of which became public just before the 2020 election, according to people familiar with the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss an ongoing investigation. The searches, first reported by the New York Times, took place Thursday, one at an apartment on East 35th Street in New York City and another at a home in Mamaroneck, N.Y., the FBI confirmed Friday. James O’Keefe, the founder and CEO of Project Veritas, also released a lengthy video Friday railing against the searches, saying he had ‘awoke to the news that apartments and homes of Project Veritas journalists, or former journalists, had been raided by FBI agents.’ At the center of the matter is a right-wing website’s publication in late October 2020 of several images from a handwritten diary purportedly belonging to Biden’s 40-year-old daughter, Ashley Biden. According to the website, a digital copy of the diary was provided by ‘a Project Veritas whistleblower’ a week-and-a-half before the Nov. 3, 2020, presidential election. Project Veritas, which bills itself as a journalism nonprofit, is known for using undercover tactics to expose what it says is liberal bias in the mainstream news media. The group unsuccessfully attempted to infiltrate The Washington Post in 2017, approaching the newspaper with a false story about then-Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore.”


Saturday, 6 November 2021:


Georgia Grand Jury Looms in Trump Inquiry. An Atlanta District Attorney is said to be likely to impanel a special grand jury in her criminal investigation of election interference by the former president and his allies. The New York Times, Danny Hakim and Richard Fausset, Saturday, 6 November 2021: “As the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol riot fights to extract testimony and documents from Donald J. Trump’s White House, an Atlanta district attorney is moving toward convening a special grand jury in her criminal investigation of election interference by the former president and his allies, according to a person with direct knowledge of the deliberations. The prosecutor, Fani Willis of Fulton County, opened her inquiry in February and her office has been consulting with the House committee, whose evidence could be of considerable value to her investigation. But her progress has been slowed in part by the delays in the panel’s fact gathering. By convening a grand jury dedicated solely to the allegations of election tampering, Ms. Willis, a Democrat, would be indicating that her own investigation is ramping up. Her inquiry is seen by legal experts as potentially perilous for the former president, given the myriad interactions he and his allies had with Georgia officials, most notably Mr. Trump’s January call to Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, urging him to ‘find 11,780 votes’ — enough to reverse the state’s election result. The Georgia case is one of two active criminal investigations known to touch on the former president and his circle; the other is the examination of his financial dealings by the Manhattan district attorney.”

Biden’s COVID-19 vaccine rules for big businesses temporarily blocked by federal appeals court. The order followed a joint petition filed by a handful of states, including Texas, several businesses and advocacy groups that argued overreach by the administration. The Texas Tribune, Kailyn Rhone, Saturday, 6 November 2021: “Texas Republicans on Saturday claimed an early victory after a U.S. federal appeals court temporarily blocked the Biden administration from mandating that companies with more than 100 employees require workers to get coronavirus vaccines or submit to weekly testing. In a two-page order, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit cited ‘grave statutory and constitutional issues’ with the federal COVID-19 vaccine rules developed by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. The court did not provide details. The vaccine requirement would apply to about 84 million workers across the country and go into effect Jan. 4. The decision followed a joint petition filed by a handful of states, including Texas, several businesses and advocacy groups that argued overreach by the administration. The safety measures could, in some cases, preempt state and local laws, including Gov. Greg Abbott’s ban on vaccine mandates…. Seema Nanda, the chief legal officer for the U.S. Department of Labor, said in a statement that the government is prepared to defend the rule in court. The Biden administration has until Monday to respond to the request by opponents for a permanent injunction. ‘The Occupational Safety and Health Act explicitly gives OSHA the authority to act quickly in an emergency where the agency finds that workers are subjected to a grave danger and a new standard is necessary to protect them,’ Nanda said.”

F.B.I. Searches James O’Keefe’s Home in Ashley Biden Diary Theft Inquiry. Authorities carried out a court-ordered search at the New York apartment of the Project Veritas founder two days after searching the homes of his associates. The New York Times, Michael S. Schmidt, William K. Rashbaum, Adam Goldman, and Ben Protess, Saturday, 6 November 2021: “Federal authorities on Saturday searched the home of James O’Keefe, the founder of the conservative group Project Veritas, according to witnesses and people briefed on the matter, a day after Mr. O’Keefe acknowledged that the group was under investigation by the Justice Department in connection with a diary reported to have been stolen from Ashley Biden, President Biden’s daughter. The F.B.I. carried out a court-ordered search of Mr. O’Keefe’s apartment in Mamaroneck, N.Y., early on Saturday morning, after having searched the homes of two associates of Mr. O’Keefe on Thursday as part of the investigation. An F.B.I. spokesman on Saturday said that agents had ‘performed law enforcement activity’ at the building, but would not discuss the investigation. Mr. O’Keefe did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Saturday. But in a video statement on Friday, he said that his group had recently received a grand jury subpoena and acknowledged that Project Veritas had been involved in discussions with sources last year about the diary.”


Monday, 8 November 2021:


House Select Committee Subpoenas Additional Witnesses Tied to Efforts to Overturn 2020 Presidential Election Results, January 6th House Committee Press Release, Monday, 8 November 2021: “Chairman Bennie G. Thompson today announced that the Select Committee has issued subpoenas to six individuals involved in efforts to promote false claims of election fraud or overturn the results of the 2020 election. The Select Committee is demanding records and testimony from witnesses including staff members of the former President’s campaign and individuals associated with the so-called ‘war room’ that drove efforts to halt the counting of electoral votes in the runup to the violence of January 6th. Chairman Thompson issued the following statement: ‘In the days before the January 6th attack, the former President’s closest allies and advisors drove a campaign of misinformation about the election and planned ways to stop the count of Electoral College votes. The Select Committee needs to know every detail about their efforts to overturn the election, including who they were talking to in the White House and in Congress, what connections they had with rallies that escalated into a riot, and who paid for it all. The Select Committee expects all witnesses to cooperate with our investigation as we work to get answers for the American people, recommend changes to our laws that will strengthen our democracy, and help ensure nothing like January 6th ever happens again.’ The Select Committee issued subpoenas to the following individuals for records and subpoena testimony: William Stepien served as manager of the Trump 2020 reelection campaign. The campaign reportedly urged state and party officials to affect the outcome of the November 2020 election by asking states to delay or deny certification of electoral votes and by sending multiple slate of electoral votes to the United States Congress. Jason Miller, a Senior Advisor to former President Trump’s 2020 reelection campaign, spread the false claim that the November 2020 election had been tainted by widespread fraud…. Angela McCallum, national executive assistant to former President Trump’s 2020 re-election campaign, reportedly participated in efforts to spread false information about alleged voter fraud in the November 2020 election and to encourage state legislatures to alter the outcome of the November 2020 election…. John Eastman reportedly advised President Trump and others that Vice President Pence could reject electors from certain states in order to deny Joe Biden a majority of the Electoral College vote…. Michael Flynn reportedly attended a December 18th, 2020 meeting in the Oval Office during which participants discussed seizing voting machines, declaring a national emergency, invoking certain national security emergency powers, and continuing to spread the false message that the November 2020 election had been tainted by widespread fraud…. Bernard Kerik reportedly participated in the January 5th, 2021 meeting at the Willard Hotel in Washington, D.C. Mr. Kerik reportedly paid for rooms and suites in Washington, D.C. hotels that served as election-related command centers, and also worked with Mr. Rudolph Giuliani to investigate allegations of voter fraud and promote baseless litigation and ‘Stop the Steal’ efforts.” See also, The House Committee Investigating the January 6 Attack on the Capitol Issued Subpoenas on Monday for Six Allies of Former President Donald Trump as It Moved Its Focus to an Orchestrated Effort to Overturn the 2020 Election, The New York Times, Luke Broadwater, Monday, 8 November 2021: “The subpoenas reflect an effort to go beyond the events of the Capitol riot and delve deeper into what committee investigators believe gave rise to it: a concerted campaign by Mr. Trump and his network of advisers to promote false claims of voter fraud as a way to keep him in power. One of the people summoned on Monday was John Eastman, a lawyer who drafted a memo laying out how Mr. Trump could use the vice president and Congress to try to invalidate the election results. In demanding records and testimony from the six Trump allies, the House panel is widening its scrutiny of the mob attack to encompass the former president’s attempt to enlist his own government, state legislators around the country and Congress in his push to overturn the election.” See also, House January 6 committee issues subpoenas to 6 top Trump advisers, including pair involved in Willard hotel ‘command center,’ The Washington Post, Jacqueline Alemany, Tom Hamburger, and Josh Dawsey, Monday, 8 November 2021: “The House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection issued subpoenas Monday to six top advisers to former president Donald Trump, including two who were active in the Willard hotel ‘command center’ where Trump’s loyal backers oversaw efforts in January to overturn the 2020 election. Those subpoenaed to provide testimony and documents include scholar John Eastman, who outlined a legal strategy in early January to delay or deny Joe Biden the presidency, and former New York City police commissioner Bernard Kerik, who led efforts to investigate voting fraud in key states. Both were present at the Willard during the first week in January. The list also includes three members of the Trump reelection campaign: campaign manager Bill Stepien; Jason Miller, a senior adviser to the campaign; and Angela McCallum, the national executive assistant to Trump’s campaign. The committee also issued a subpoena for Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael Flynn.” See also, House January 6 committee issues 6 subpoenas to top Trump campaign associates, including Michael Flynn and John Eastman, CNN Politics, Zachary Cohen, Ryan Nobles, and Annie Grayer, Monday, 8 November 2021: “The House select committee investigating the deadly January 6 riot on Capitol Hill announced Monday it is issuing six additional subpoenas to top Trump campaign associates as it continues to seek testimony and documents from key witnesses in the sweeping probe. With this round of subpoenas, the committee is targeting top individuals from former President Trump’s reelection campaign who the panel says were involved in promoting the lie that the presidential election was stolen…. All six individuals are being asked to supply the committee with documents on November 23, with depositions scheduled spanning the last week of November into mid December.”

US seizes $6 million in ransom payments and charges Ukrainian over major cyberattack, CNN Politics, Christina Carrega and Sean Lyngaas, Monday, 8 November 2021: “Law enforcement officials seized an estimated $6 million in ransom payments and federal prosecutors charged a suspect from Ukraine over a damaging July ransomware attack on an American company in a breakthrough for the Biden administration’s pursuit of cybercriminals, the Justice Department announced Monday. Yaroslav Vasinskyi, a Ukrainian national who was arrested in Poland last month, is accused of deploying ransomware known as REvil, which has been used in hacks that have cost US firms millions of dollars. Vasinskyi conducted a ransomware attack over the Fourth of July weekend on Florida-based software firm Kaseya that infected up to 1,500 businesses around the world, according to an indictment unsealed Monday. Vasinskyi and another alleged REvil operative, Russian national Yevgeniy Polyanin, are charged with conspiracy to commit fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering, among other charges. As part of the investigation, authorities seized at least $6 million in funds allegedly linked to ransom payments received by Polyanin, US officials said…. The law enforcement bust is one of the most impactful actions yet in the Biden administration’s multipronged fight against ransomware, which accelerated after a series of hacks hampered US critical infrastructure firms this year. While some ransomware groups have continued to breach US companies and demand payment, others have gone quiet in recent months.” See also, Justice Department Brings New Charges in Ransomware Attacks. The department said it had charged a Russian national in one attack and recovered $6.1 million in ransom, It also arrested a Ukrainian man for another attack. The New York Times, Katie Benner and Nicole Perlroth, Monday, 8 November 2021: “The Justice Department said on Monday that it had brought charges against a Russian national whom it accused of conducting ransomware attacks against American government entities and businesses, including one that temporarily shut down the meat supply giant JBS. In the Biden administration’s latest crackdown on cybercrime, the Justice Department also announced that it had seized $6.1 million in ransom paid to the Russian man, Yevgeniy Polyanin, 28, who was accused in court documents of deploying ransomware known as REvil against businesses and government offices in Texas in 2019. Mr. Polyanin, who is believed to be abroad, has not been taken into custody by American authorities and the prospects of him facing trial in the United States remain unclear. The department also unsealed a separate indictment on Monday accusing a Ukrainian national, Yaroslav Vasinskyi, 22, with conducting multiple ransomware attacks, including the July 2021 assault on the technology company Kaseya. The attack on Kaseya, which manages internet technology infrastructure for other companies, allowed hackers to infect the systems of Kaseya’s hundreds of customers, including Swedish pharmacies and grocery chains. Mr. Vasinskyi was arrested last month by authorities in Poland as he crossed into that country, and the Justice Department is seeking his extradition to stand trial in the U.S.”

Big Bird got ‘vaccinated’ against COVID-19, drawing outrage from Republicans, NPR, Rachel Treisman, Monday, 8 November 2021: “Big Bird ruffled some conservatives’ feathers this weekend by announcing that he had been vaccinated against COVID-19. The beloved Muppet tweeted on Saturday that he had gotten the shot, which is newly available for Americans between the ages of 5 and 11. Big Bird has been a fixture of children’s television since 1969 but is officially 6 years old. ‘My wing is feeling a little sore, but it’ll give my body an extra protective boost that keeps me and others healthy,’ he wrote. Twitter users sounded off in the comments, with many thanking the character for doing his part to keep Sesame Street safe and set a positive example for kids. President Biden and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky were among those who offered their thanks and praise. Others were not as appreciative. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, decried Big Bird’s tweet as ‘government propaganda.’ Fox News contributor Lisa Boothe accused the Muppet of ‘brainwashing children,’ while Newsmax host and former Trump adviser Steve Cortes slammed the announcement as ‘evil’ propaganda. Both made false claims that children are not at risk of COVID-19. While most children infected with the virus exhibit only mild symptoms, experts say vaccines can prevent many infections and hospitalizations, as well as disruptions to schooling.”

Mitch McConnell spent decades chasing power. Now he heeds Trump, who mocks him and wants him gone. How one of Washington’s longtime Republican power players succumbed to the preeminence of Trump. The Washington Post, Michael Kranish, Monday, 8 November 2021: “As President Donald Trump’s supporters stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell was whisked to a secret location and cloistered with a handful of other top lawmakers. The senator from Kentucky had spent the past four years as one of Trump’s chief enablers, boosting his election by keeping a Supreme Court seat open, pushing through his agenda with party-line votes and standing by for weeks as Trump falsely claimed the 2020 election was stolen. But their marriage of political convenience had abruptly shattered three weeks earlier, when Trump exploded at McConnell for acknowledging Joe Biden’s victory. Safely huddled with Democratic leaders as they watched video of police battling Trump supporters in the Capitol, McConnell reacted with anger and revulsion, according to Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.), who was also in the secure location…. But when it came time to hold Trump to account, McConnell backed off. While seven GOP senators voted to convict Trump following his impeachment by the House for inciting an insurrection, McConnell supported acquittal, ensuring Trump would face no formal penalty for inciting an insurrection. Ten months later, Trump is once again dominating the Republican Party, expected to run again in 2024 — and utterly disdainful of the Senate leader who helped save him. Trump dismissed McConnell as a ‘stupid person’ and suggested his favored 2022 Senate candidates should oust McConnell from his leadership post when they get to Washington. McConnell is not a ‘real leader’ because ‘he didn’t fight for the presidency,’ Trump said in an interview with The Washington Post.”

In his new book, Jonathan Karl writes that on his final day as president Trump told the chairwoman of the Republican National Committee that he was leaving the Republican Party and creating his own political party, ABC News, Will Steakin, Monday, 8 November 2021: “In an angry conversation on his final day as president, Donald Trump told the chairwoman of the Republican National Committee he was leaving the GOP and creating his own political party — and that he didn’t care if the move would destroy the Republican Party, according to a new book by ABC News Chief Washington Correspondent Jonathan Karl. Trump only backed down when Republican leaders threatened to take actions that would have cost Trump millions of dollars, Karl writes his upcoming book, ‘Betrayal: The Final Act of the Trump Show.’… With just hours left in his presidency, Trump was telling the Republican Party chairwoman that he was leaving the party entirely…. ‘I’m done,’ Trump told McDaniel. ‘I’m starting my own party.’ ‘You cannot do that,’ McDaniel told Trump. ‘If you do, we will lose forever.’ ‘Exactly. You lose forever without me,’ Trump responded. ‘I don’t care.’ Trump’s attitude was that if he had lost, he wanted everybody around him to lose as well, Karl writes. According to a source who witnessed the conversation, Trump was talking as if he viewed the destruction of the Republican Party as a punishment to those party leaders who had betrayed him — including those few who voted to impeach him and the much larger group he believed didn’t fight hard enough to overturn the election in his favor…. Following the tense conversion, McDaniel informed RNC leadership about Trump’s plans, spurring a tense standoff between Trump and his own party over the course of the next four days. While Trump, ‘morose in defeat and eager for revenge, plotted the destruction of the Republican Party … the RNC played hardball,’ according to the book. ‘We told them there were a lot of things they still depended on the RNC for, and that if this were to move forward, all of it would go away,’ an RNC official told Karl. According to the book, ‘McDaniel and her leadership team made it clear that if Trump left, the party would immediately stop paying legal bills incurred during post-election challenges. But, more significant, the RNC threatened to render Trump’s most valuable political asset worthless,’ Karl writes, referring to ‘the campaign’s list of the email addresses of forty million Trump supporters. It’s a list Trump had used to generate money by renting it to candidates at a steep cost,’ says the book. ‘The list generated so much money that party officials estimated that it was worth about $100 million.’ Five days after revealing plans that could have destroyed his own political party on that last flight aboard Air Force One, Karl writes, Trump backed down, saying he would remain a Republican after all.”

Florida Republican Senator Rick Scott, chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, declines to say if Trump-backed Senate hopeful Sean Parnell who is accused of strangling his wife is the right candidate for the job, The Washington Post, John Wagner, Monday, 8 November 2021: “Sen. Rick Scott, who heads the group that works to elect Senate Republicans, declined Monday to say whether Sean Parnell, a GOP hopeful in Pennsylvania who has been accused of strangling his wife and abusing his children, is the right candidate for the job. Scott, who serves as chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, was asked about the candidacy of Parnell, who has been endorsed by former president Donald Trump, during an interview on CNN. Scott maintained that in his role as NRSC chairman he should remain neutral in primaries, except in the cases of GOP incumbents.”

Republican Arizona Representative Paul Gosar tweets altered anime video showing him killing Representative Ocasio-Cortez and attacking President Biden, The Washington Post, Felicia Sonmez, Monday, 8 November 2021: “Rep. Paul A. Gosar (R-Ariz.) shared an altered, animated video that depicts him killing Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and swinging two swords at President Biden, prompting condemnation and calls for his Twitter and Instagram accounts to be suspended. Ocasio-Cortez responded Monday night after arriving in Glasgow, Scotland, as part of a congressional delegation. Gosar, she said, will probably ‘face no consequences’ because House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) ‘cheers him on with excuses.’… A Twitter spokesperson said late Monday that a ‘public interest notice’ had been placed on Gosar’s tweet because it violates the company’s policy against hateful conduct.”


Tuesday, 9 November 2021:


House Select Committee investigating the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol subpoenas more Trump aides, including Stephen Miller, Kayleigh McEnany, and John McEntee, The Washington Post, Jacqueline Alemany and Josh Dawsey, Tuesday, 9 November 2021: “The House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol issued subpoenas Tuesday to 10 Trump administration officials, including some of former president Donald Trump’s closest advisers who were in the White House that day. Those subpoenaed to provide testimony and documents include John McEntee, the former White House personnel director; Ben Williamson, a former deputy assistant to the president and senior adviser to Chief of Staff Mark Meadows; and Nicholas Luna, the former president’s personal assistant. Others close to the president who were subpoenaed include Molly Michael, the Oval Office operations coordinator to Trump. Michael still works for Trump and was in the White House for much of Jan. 6. McEntee, according to the committee’s statement, was ‘in the White House on January 6th and was with former President Trump when he traveled to the Ellipse and spoke at the “Stop the Steal” rally.’ McEntee was a key figure in hiring of Trump loyalists across the government during the final stretch of Trump’s presidency…. Trump loyalists and top advisers including Kayleigh McEnany, the White House press secretary, and Stephen Miller, the senior adviser to the former president, and Cassidy Hutchinson, a special assistant to Trump for legislative affairs, have also been asked to provide depositions and documents.” See also, The January 6 House Panel Widens Its Net. What went on at the five-star Willard Hotel near the White House the day before the riot could be a window into how a Trump-directed plot to upend the election ended in violence at the U.S. Capitol. The New York Times, Luke Broadwater and Mark Mazzetti, 9 November 2021: “What unfolded at the Willard Hotel in the hours before the Capitol riot has become a prime focus of the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack as the panel intensifies its scrutiny into whether there was any coordination or tie between those pushing a legal strategy to overturn the election results and those who stormed the Capitol that day as Congress met to count the electoral votes to formalize Mr. Biden’s victory. This week, the committee issued subpoenas to several of Mr. Trump’s advisers who gathered there — including Mr. Flynn, Mr. Eastman and Mr. Kerik — and communications with Mr. Giuliani and Mr. Stone are among the materials investigators have demanded from the former president, who is stonewalling the inquiry. On Tuesday, the committee announced 10 new subpoenas that seemed to expand the aperture of the inquiry even further, seeking information from top officials in Mr. Trump’s White House including Stephen Miller, his senior adviser; Keith Kellogg, the national security adviser to Vice President Mike Pence; Johnny McEntee, the former president’s personnel chief; and others. In the past two days alone, the panel has nearly doubled the number of subpoenas it has issued, bringing the total to 35.” See also, House Select Committee Subpoenas 10 Former Officials With Close Ties to Former President Trump, January 6th House Committee Press Release, Tuesday, 9 November 2021: “Chairman Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS) today announced that the Select Committee has issued subpoenas to ten former administration officials as part of its investigation into the January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol and its causes. The committee is demanding records and testimony from witnesses including individuals who served as White House officials at the time of the January 6th attack on the Capitol. Chairman Thompson issued the following statement: ‘The Select Committee wants to learn every detail of what went on in the White House on January 6th and in the days beforehand. We need to know precisely what role the former President and his aides played in efforts to stop the counting of the electoral votes and if they were in touch with anyone outside the White House attempting to overturn the outcome of the election. We believe the witnesses subpoenaed today have relevant information and we expect them to comply fully with the Select Committee’s investigation as we work to get answers for the American people, make recommendations on changes to the law to protect our democracy, and help ensure that nothing like January 6th ever happens again.’ The Select Committee issued subpoenas for records and testimony to the following individuals: Nicholas Luna, who served as the former President’s personal assistant, was reportedly in the Oval Office the morning of January 6th, 2021, when the former President was on a phone call to Vice President Pence pressuring him not to certify the results of the 2020 presidential election. Molly Michael, who served as Special Assistant to the President and Oval Office Operations Coordinator, was involved in sending information about alleged election fraud to various individuals at the direction of President Trump, according to information obtained by the Select Committee. Benjamin Williamson, who served as Deputy Assistant to the President and Senior Advisor to Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, was reportedly contacted by a former White House official during the attack on the U.S. Capitol who urged him and Mr. Meadows, without success, to have the former President issue a statement addressing the attack and condemning the violence. Christopher Liddell, former White House Deputy Chief of Staff, was in the White House on January 6th and reportedly considered resigning on that day but stayed on ‘after a great deal of persuasion.’ John McEntee, former White House Personnel Director, was reportedly present in the Oval Office when Rudolph Giuliani, Justin Clark, the former President, and former Vice President Pence discussed the audit process in Georgia and listened as Mr. Giuliani suggested seizing Dominion voting machines because of alleged fraud. Mr. McEntee was also reportedly involved in communications with officials in various federal agencies regarding loyalty to President Trump and specifically discouraged a number of individuals from seeking employment after the election as it would appear to be a concession of President Trump’s defeat. In addition, according to reports, Mr. McEntee was in the White House on January 6th and was with former President Trump when he traveled to the Ellipse and spoke at the ‘Stop the Steal’ rally. Keith Kellogg, who served as Vice President Pence’s National Security Advisor, reportedly participated in at least one January 2021 meeting with the former President and Pat Cipollone during which the former President insisted that former Vice President Pence not certify the election. He was reportedly in the White House with the former President as he watched the January 6th attack unfold and has direct information about the former President’s statements about and reaction to the insurrection. During that day, it is reported that Lt. Gen. Kellogg met with the former President and others before the rally at the Ellipse and then, after the rally, he urged the former President to send out a tweet to his supporters at the U.S. Capitol to help control the crowd. Kayleigh McEnany, former White House Press Secretary, made multiple public statements from the White House and elsewhere about purported fraud in the November 2020 election. For example, in the first White House press conference after the election, Ms. McEnany claimed that there were ‘very real claims’ of fraud that the former President’s reelection campaign was pursuing, and said that mail-in voting was something that ‘we have identified as being particularly prone to fraud.’ At another press conference, Ms. McEnany accused Democrats of ‘welcoming fraud’ and ‘welcoming illegal voting.’ In addition, Ms. McEnany was reportedly present at times with the former President as he watched the January 6th attack. Stephen Miller, who served as Senior Advisor to the former President, by his own account participated in efforts to spread false information about alleged voter fraud in the November 2020 election, as well as efforts to encourage state legislatures to alter the outcome of the November 2020 election by appointing alternate slates of electors. Cassidy Hutchinson, who served as Special Assistant to the President for Legislative Affairs, reportedly was at the White House on January 6th and was with the former President when he spoke at the ‘Stop the Steal’ rally that day. She also reportedly reached out directly via email and phone to Georgia Deputy Secretary of State Jordan Fuchs relating to a trip to Georgia by White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows to attend an election audit. Kenneth Klukowski, former Senior Counsel to Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey Clark, was involved in drafting a letter that urged legislatures in certain states to delay certification of the election, according to the report recently released by the Senate Committee on the Judiciary. The report also states that Mr. Clark contacted Mr. Klukowski to prepare for an Oval Office meeting with the former President that took place on January 3rd, 2021.”

Government Watchdog Agency Finds Thirteen Trump Officials Illegally Campaigned While in Office. Mr. Trump’s son-in-law and his chief of staff are among those accused of violating a law designed to prevent federal employees from abusing their power. The New York Times, Michael D. Shear, Tuesday, 9 November 2021: “Thirteen of President Donald J. Trump’s most senior aides — including his son-in-law and his chief of staff — campaigned illegally for Mr. Trump’s re-election in violation of a law designed to prevent federal employees from abusing the power of their offices on behalf of candidates, a government watchdog agency said Tuesday. Henry Kerner, who heads the Office of Special Counsel, made the assertion in a withering report that followed a nearly yearlong investigation into ‘myriad’ violations of the law, known as the Hatch Act. ‘Senior Trump administration officials chose to use their official authority not for the legitimate functions of the government, but to promote the re-election of President Trump in violation of the law,’ the report concluded. Investigators in Mr. Kerner’s office said Trump administration officials purposely violated the law prohibiting political activity during the final few weeks of the administration, when they knew that the Office of Special Counsel would not have time to investigate and issue findings before Election Day.” See also, Federal investigation finds at least 13 Trump officials illegally campaigned while in office, The Washington Post, Lisa Rein, Tuesday, 9 November 2021: “At least 13 senior Trump administration officials illegally mixed governing with campaigning before the 2020 election, intentionally ignoring a law that prohibits merging the two and getting approval to break it, a federal investigation released Tuesday found. A report from the office of Special Counsel Henry Kerner describes a ‘willful disregard for the law’ known as the Hatch Act that was ‘especially pernicious,’ given that many officials abused their government roles days before the November election. President Donald Trump — whose job it was to discipline his political appointees — allowed them to illegally promote his reelection on the job despite warnings to some from ethics officials, the report says. ‘This failure to impose discipline created the conditions for what appeared to be a taxpayer-funded campaign apparatus within the upper echelons of the executive branch,’ investigators wrote in the scathing 60-page report.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi calls for investigations of Arizona Republican Representative Paul Gosar’s video that depicts him killing New York Democratic Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, The Washington Post, Felicia Sonmez and John Wagner, Tuesday, 9 November 2021: “House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Tuesday called for multiple investigations into the posting of an animated video by Rep. Paul A. Gosar (R-Ariz.) that depicts him killing Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and swinging two swords at President Biden. In a tweet, Pelosi urged House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) to join in condemning the ‘horrific video’ and supporting investigations by the House Ethics Committee and law enforcement. ‘Threats of violence against Members of Congress and the President of the United States must not be tolerated,’ Pelosi said. Gosar later issued a statement Tuesday night in which he defended the video as ‘a symbolic portrayal of a fight over immigration policy’ and said he does not ‘espouse violence or harm towards any Member of Congress or Mr. Biden.’ McCarthy’s office did not immediately respond Tuesday to a request for comment on Pelosi’s request and did not respond Monday to questions about the video.”

U.S. District Judge Tanya S. Chutkan rules Trump White House records can be turned over to House January 6 investigative committee, The Washington Post, Spencer S. Hsu, Tuesday, 9 November 2021: “A federal judge in Washington ruled late Tuesday that hundreds of pages of Trump White House records can be turned over to a congressional committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol despite the former president’s objections. The decision by U.S. District Judge Tanya S. Chutkan clears the way for the release of government records requested by Congress beginning Friday. Attorneys for former president Donald Trump immediately appealed and moved to bar release of the documents by the National Archives pending a ruling by the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. The House panel and the Justice Department ‘contend that discovering and coming to terms with the causes underlying the January 6 attack is a matter of unsurpassed public importance because such information relates to our core democratic institutions and the public’s confidence in them,’ Chutkan wrote in a 39-page opinion. ‘The court agrees. The court holds that the public interest lies in permitting—not enjoining—the combined will of the legislative and executive branches to study the events that led to and occurred on January 6, and to consider legislation to prevent such events from ever occurring again,’ the judge wrote. House Democrats are probing Trump’s communications and activities leading up to and during the riot by a mob of his supporters that contributed to at least five deaths and forced the evacuation of Congress as it met to certify the 2020 presidential election results.” See also, U.S. District Court Judge Tanya S. Chutkan Rejects Trump’s Bid to Keep Papers Secret in the January 6 House Inquiry. But a Trump lawyer has signaled an intent to appeal the ruling, which raises novel issues about an ex-president’s executive privilege powers. The New York Times, Charlie Savage, Tuesday, 9 November 2021: “A federal judge on Tuesday night rejected a bid by former President Donald J. Trump to keep secret papers about his actions and conversations leading up to and during the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol by his supporters. In a 39-page ruling, Judge Tanya S. Chutkan of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia held that Congress’s constitutional oversight powers to obtain the information prevailed over Mr. Trump’s residual secrecy powers — especially because the incumbent, President Biden, agreed that lawmakers investigating the Jan. 6 riot should see the files. Mr. Trump ‘does not acknowledge the deference owed to the incumbent president’s judgment. His position that he may override the express will of the executive branch appears to be premised on the notion that his executive power ‘exists in perpetuity,’’ Judge Chutkan wrote. ‘But presidents are not kings, and plaintiff is not president.’ Mr. Trump retained the right to assert that his records were privileged, she added, but Mr. Biden was not obliged to honor that assertion. The incumbent president, she said, is better situated to protect executive branch interests, and Mr. Trump ‘no longer remains subject to political checks against potential abuse of that power.’ The ruling does not necessarily mean that the National Archives will turn over the materials to the House committee investigating Jan. 6 any time soon. The case raises novel issues about the scope and limits of a former president’s executive privilege authority, and it is likely that it will ultimately be resolved by the Supreme Court.”

In New Hampshire, Wyoming Republican Representative Liz Cheney says Trump is ‘at war’ with the Constitution, The Hill, Scott Wong, Tuesday, 9 November 2021: “Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) on Tuesday ripped into former President Trump for being ‘at war’ with the Constitution and condemned GOP leaders who have failed to show courage and reject his lies that the 2020 election was stolen from him. Americans are ‘confronting a domestic threat that we’ve never faced before: a former president who’s attempting to unravel the foundations of our Constitutional Republic, aided by political leaders who have made themselves willing hostages to this dangerous and irrational man,’ Cheney said at a speech in New Hampshire. On Monday night, she said, Trump was invited by Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and other GOP leaders to keynote the House GOP’s annual fundraising dinner. Trump reportedly said that the true ‘insurrection was on Nov. 3,’ election day, and that the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol was merely a ‘protest.’ ‘Political leaders who sit silent in the face of these false and dangerous claims are aiding a former president who is at war with the rule of law and the Constitution,’ Cheney said.”

A Reuters Special Report: Reuters unmasks Trump supporters who terrified U.S. election officials. Law enforcement has taken little action as backers of Donald Trump aim stark threats at election officials. Reuters tracked down nine of the harassers. Most were unrepentant. Reuters Investigates, Linda So and Jason Szep, Tuesday, 9 November 2021: “In Arizona, a stay-at-home dad and part-time Lyft driver told the state’s chief election officer she would hang for treason. In Utah, a youth treatment center staffer warned Colorado’s election chief that he knew where she lived and watched her as she slept. In Vermont, a man who says he works in construction told workers at the state election office and at Dominion Voting Systems that they were about to die. ‘This might be a good time to put a f‑‑‑‑‑‑ pistol in your f‑‑‑‑‑‑ mouth and pull the trigger,’ the man shouted at Vermont officials in a thick New England accent last December. ‘Your days are f‑‑‑‑‑‑ numbered.’ The three had much in common. All described themselves as patriots fighting a conspiracy that robbed Donald Trump of the 2020 election. They are regular consumers of far-right websites that embrace Trump’s stolen-election falsehoods. And none have been charged with a crime by the law enforcement agencies alerted to their threats. They were among nine people who told Reuters in interviews that they made threats or left other hostile messages to election workers. In all, they are responsible for nearly two dozen harassing communications to six election officials in four states. Seven made threats explicit enough to put a reasonable person in fear of bodily harm or death, the U.S. federal standard for criminal prosecution, according to four legal experts who reviewed their messages at Reuters’ request.”


Wednesday, 10 November 2021:


13 House Republicans Who Backed Infrastructure Bill Face Vicious Backlash From Their Colleagues and Constituents, The New York Times, Catie Edmondson, Wednesday, 10 November 2021: “One caller instructed Representative Adam Kinzinger of Illinois to slit his wrists and ‘rot in hell.’ Another hoped Representative Don Bacon of Nebraska would slip and fall down a staircase. The office of Representative Nicole Malliotakis of New York has been inundated with angry messages tagging her as a ‘traitor.’ Investing in the nation’s roads and bridges was once considered one of the last realms of bipartisanship in Congress, and President Biden’s infrastructure bill drew ample support over the summer from Republicans in the Senate. But in the days since 13 House Republicans broke with their party leaders and voted for the $1 trillion legislation last week, they have been flooded by menacing messages from voters — and even some of their own colleagues — who regard their votes as a betrayal. The vicious reaction to the passage of the bill, which was negotiated by a group of Republicans and Democrats determined to deliver on a bipartisan priority, reflects how deeply polarization has seeped into the political discourse within the Republican Party, making even the most uncontroversial legislation a potentially toxic vote. The dynamic is a natural outgrowth of the slash-and-burn politics of former President Donald J. Trump, who savaged those in his party who backed the infrastructure bill as ‘RINOs’ — Republicans in name only — who should be ‘ashamed of themselves.’ Mr. Trump’s frequent threats and insults directed at Republicans whom he considers insufficiently loyal have created powerful incentives for the party’s lawmakers to issue similarly bellicose statements.”

Inflation puts the White House on the defensive as Senator Joe Manchin once again raises concerns about new spending, The Washington Post, Seung Min Kim, Jeff Stein, and Tyler Pager, Wednesday, 10 November 2021: “The White House was thrown on the defensive Wednesday by an inflation report that showed the largest annual increase in prices in three decades, triggering fresh criticisms of President Biden’s legislative plans on Capitol Hill and raising questions about what the administration can do to stem the politically perilous tide of rising prices…. In an appearance at the Port of Baltimore to promote his freshly passed bipartisan infrastructure bill, Biden took a distinctly sympathetic tone, noting the pain that consumers feel when they see rising costs for a gallon of gas or a loaf of bread. He suggested his agenda is the best way to lower costs for American families…. But in the meantime, inflation presents a growing political problem. Polling suggests voters are anxious over growing costs. Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.) — whose vote, like that of 49 other Senate Democrats, is key to enacting Biden’s social spending bill — cited rising inflation as a reason to pause on some parts of the White House’s agenda. ‘By all accounts, the threat posed by record inflation to the American people is not “transitory” and is instead getting worse,’ Manchin said in a statement Wednesday.”

Federal Judge Tanya Chutkan rejects another Trump attempt to slow down documents from going to House January 6 committee, CNN Politics, Katelyn Polantz, Wednesday, 10 November 2021: “A federal judge on Wednesday night said she would not help former President Donald Trump as he attempts to buy time in his argument to keep secret records from his presidency, pointing him instead to an appeals court to seek help. Judge Tanya Chutkan‘s latest decision comes a day after she ruled against Trump in a historic case regarding access to records from his presidency sought by the House select committee investigating the January 6 attack on the US Capitol. Trump, the judge said, cannot ‘do an end run around’ her decisions to try to win the case by forcing a delay, just because he’s appealing. Chutkan has stood by her decision that documents from Trump’s presidency should be given to the House panel. She also found that Trump, as a former President, cannot claim the documents are covered by executive privilege, when the current President supports their release. With the National Archives set to send records to the House on Friday, Trump is scrambling in court for even a temporary hold. Chutkan declined to grant the pause, dealing the former President his second loss in two days. That means Trump will now need to ask an appeals court for emergency help to keep the documents secret while he pursues appeals.”

Secretary of State Antony Blinkin says the US is concerned Russia may be ‘attempting to rehash’ 2014 invasion of Ukraine, CNN Politics, Nicole Gaouette, Natasha Bertrand, Kylie Atweed, and Jim Sciutto, Wednesday, 10 November 2021: “US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Wednesday that the United States is ‘concerned by reports of unusual Russian military activity’ and the possibility that Russia may be ‘attempting to rehash’ its 2014 invasion of Ukraine. Blinken’s comments came a week after Russia’s powerful security chief did not deny that Moscow was moving troops or assuage the US’ concerns about Russia’s intentions during a meeting with CIA director Bill Burns, according to four people briefed on the discussion. Speaking alongside Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba at the State Department, Blinken said that the US is ‘concerned by reports of unusual Russian military activity,’ and is ‘monitoring very closely’ the Russia activity…. The top US diplomat also reiterated the US’ commitment to Ukraine’s sovereignty and independence, calling it ‘ironclad.'” See also, Secretary of State Antony Blinken Warns Russia Against Making a ‘Serious Mistake’ in Ukraine. Appearing with Ukraine’s foreign minister, Blinken said the intentions behind Moscow’s latest military buildup were unclear. The New York Times, Michael Crowley, Wednesday, 10 November 2021: “Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken said on Wednesday that Russia’s intentions behind its latest military buildup along Ukraine’s eastern border were unclear, but that Moscow would be making a ‘serious mistake’ by committing new aggression against its embattled neighbor. ‘We don’t have clarity into Moscow’s intentions, but we do know its playbook,’ Mr. Blinken said at a joint news conference at the State Department with Ukraine’s foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba. ‘Any escalatory or aggressive actions would be of great concern to the United States,’ Mr. Blinken added.”

Judge rules Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s ban on school mask mandates violates federal law. The lawsuit, brought by families of disabled students, argued that Abbott’s order denied children with pre-existing conditions equal access to a safe education. NBC News, Dartunorro Clark, Wednesday, 10 November 2021: “A federal judge in Texas ruled Wednesday that Gov. Greg Abbott’s executive order banning mask mandates in schools violates the Americans with Disabilities Act, setting the stage for school districts in the state to decide whether they want to impose mask rules. U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel wrote in a 29-page ruling that the ADA, a federal law enacted in 1990, supersedes Abbott’s July order banning facial coverings in schools. ‘The spread of COVID-19 poses an even greater risk for children with special health needs. Children with certain underlying conditions who contract COVID-19 are more likely to experience severe acute biological effects and to require admission to a hospital and the hospital’s intensive-care unit,’ Yeakel said. ‘This includes children with conditions including Down syndrome, organ transplants, lung conditions, heart conditions, and weakened immune systems.’ Yeakel added, ‘The evidence presented by Plaintiffs establishes that Plaintiffs are being denied the benefits of in-person learning on an equal basis as their peers without disabilities.’ The ruling also prohibits Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton from enforcing the governor’s order, which imposes a fine of up to $1,000 for any entity that issues a mask mandate.” See also, Texas schools can again set their own face mask rules after federal judge overrules Governor Greg Abbott’s ban. The judge said the govern’r’s order impedes children with disabilities from the benefits of public schools’ programs, services and activities, in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The Texas Tribune, Brian Lopez, Wednesday, 10 November 2021: “A federal judge ruled Wednesday that Gov. Greg Abbott’s executive order prohibiting mask mandates in schools violates the Americans with Disabilities Act — freeing local officials to again create their own rules. The order comes after a monthslong legal dispute between parents, a disability rights organization and Texas officials over whether the state was violating the 1990 law, known as the ADA, by not allowing school districts to require masks. U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel barred Attorney General Ken Paxton from enforcing Abbott’s order.”

Man Sentenced to 41 Months for Assaulting Officer in Capitol Riot. The sentence given to Scott Fairlamb, a former New Jersey gym owner, is the most severe so far for any of the more than 650 people charged in the January 6 attack. The New York Times, Alan Feuer, Wednesday, 10 November 2021: “A former New Jersey gym owner who was the first person to plead guilty to assaulting a police officer during the attack on the Capitol in January was sentenced on Wednesday to 41 months in prison, the most severe punishment given so far to any of the more than 650 people charged in the riot. The gym owner, Scott Fairlamb, admitted in August to breaking into the Capitol and then after he left, approaching a group of officers outside as they were making their way through a large and angry group of pro-Trump protesters. A hulking, bearded man who once competed as a mixed martial artist, Mr. Fairlamb could be heard on video shouting at the officers: ‘Are you an American? Act like it!’ Then, unprompted, Mr. Fairlamb shoved one of them and punched him in the face. At a hearing in Federal District Court in Washington, Mr. Fairlamb apologized in halting tones to his family, saying he had tarnished the name that ‘they had built up’ with his ‘completely reckless’ actions. His father once worked for the New Jersey State Police and his brother is a Secret Service agent who was formerly assigned to Michelle Obama.”


Thursday, 11 November 2021:


A Federal Appeals Court Issues Brief Hold on Release of Trump Files in January 6 Inquiry. Congress had been set to receive the first batch of Trump White House files from the National Archives on Friday, a move that the former president had fought. The New York Times, Charlie Savage and Luke Broadwater, Thursday, 11 November 2021: “A federal appeals court issued a short-term injunction on Thursday blocking the National Archives from turning over to Congress documents from the Trump White House related to the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, a day before the House committee investigating the attack was set to receive the first batch. The move, by a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, will preserve the status quo while lawyers for former President Donald J. Trump, Congress and the Biden administration submit briefs over the next two weeks. The briefs will address whether the court should further block any transfer of papers as the litigants turn to arguing over the merits of the case, which raises novel issues about an ex-president’s executive privilege powers. The court will then hold arguments on Nov. 30. The Jan. 6 committee has demanded detailed records about Mr. Trump’s movements and meetings on the day of the assault, when Mr. Trump led a ‘Stop the Steal’ rally and his supporters then stormed the Capitol in an attempt to block Congress from certifying President Biden’s Electoral College victory. Mr. Trump has invoked executive privilege over the first set of archival materials from his White House. But Mr. Biden has declined to echo that assertion, instead instructing the National Archives to turn over those materials on Friday if there were no court order to do otherwise. The order came as the committee threatened to consider contempt proceedings against Mark Meadows, Mr. Trump’s former chief of staff, for refusing to comply with its subpoena. Through his lawyer, Mr. Meadows said he felt ‘duty bound’ to follow Mr. Trump’s instructions to defy the committee’s demands for records and testimony, citing executive privilege. The committee’s chairman, Representative Bennie Thompson, Democrat of Mississippi, said Mr. Meadows had ‘no valid legal basis’ for not submitting to questioning. He noted Mr. Meadows had previously told the committee that he was searching for documents to comply with its records request.” See also, Federal appeals court temporarily bars release of Trump White House records to House January 6 committee, The Washington Post, Spencer S. Hsu, Thursday, 11 November 2021: “A federal appeals court on Thursday blocked the imminent release of records of President Donald Trump’s White House calls and activities related to the Jan. 6 Capitol attack after a lower court found that President Biden can waive his predecessor’s claim to executive privilege. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit granted a temporary injunction while it considers Trump’s request to hold off any release pending appeal, and fast-tracked oral arguments for a hearing Nov. 30. The order came after U.S. District Judge Tanya S. Chutkan of Washington on Tuesday cleared the way for the handover of documents to a House investigative committee, ruling that an ex-president’s claim to a residual right to withhold records from Congress after leaving office does not continue in perpetuity.”

House Democrats introduce resolution to censure Arizona Representative Paul Gosar over animated video that depicted him killing New York Representative Ocasio-Cortez, The Washington Post, Felicia Sonmez, Thursday, 11 November 2021: “A group of House Democrats is introducing a resolution to censure Rep. Paul A. Gosar (R-Ariz.) for posting an altered, animated video that depicts him killing Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and swinging two swords at President Biden. ‘For a Member of Congress to post a manipulated video on his social media accounts depicting himself killing Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and attacking President Biden is a clear cut case for censure,’ the Democrats said in a statement. ‘For that Member to post such a video on his official Instagram account and use his official congressional resources in the House of Representatives to further violence against elected officials goes beyond the pale.’… The resolution marks the latest Democratic backlash against Gosar over the video. On Tuesday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) called for multiple investigations into Gosar’s posting of the video and urged House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) to join in condemning the ‘horrific video.’ McCarthy has not responded to multiple requests for comment.”


Friday, 12 November 2021:


Stephen K. Bannon, a Former Top Aide to Donald Trump, Was Indicted by a Federal Grand Jury on Friday on Two Counts of Contempt of Congress, The New York Times, Katie Benner and Luke Broadwater, Friday, 12 November 2021: “Mr. Bannon, 67, had refused last month to comply with subpoenas for information issued by the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol riot. The House then voted to hold Mr. Bannon in criminal contempt of Congress after he declined to testify or provide documents sought by the committee, a position taken by a number of former aides to Mr. Trump. Mr. Trump has directed his former aides and advisers to invoke immunity and refrain from turning over documents that might be protected under executive privilege. After holding Mr. Bannon in contempt, the House referred the matter to the U.S. attorney’s office in Washington, D.C., for a decision on whether to prosecute him. A Justice Department spokesman said Mr. Bannon was expected to turn himself in to authorities on Monday, and make his first appearance in Federal District Court in Washington later that day. A lawyer for Mr. Bannon did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The politically and legally complex case was widely seen as a litmus test for whether the Justice Department would take an aggressive stance against one of Mr. Trump’s top allies in a matter that legal experts said was not settled law.” See also, Steve Bannon is indicted after refusal to comply with January 6 House committee subpoena, The Washington Post, Devlin Barrett, Jacqueline Alemany, and Spencer S. Hsu, Friday, 12 November 2021: “Former White House adviser Stephen K. Bannon was charged Friday with two counts of contempt of Congress after refusing to comply with a subpoena from the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. He was indicted by a grand jury in Washington — a rare move by the Justice Department to escalate the consequences of a dispute involving Congress. Court records indicate only three such cases have been filed in D.C. since 1990. The charges against Bannon each carry a maximum sentence of one year in jail and may serve as a warning to others seeking to avoid or defy the Jan. 6 committee. Attorney General Merrick Garland in a news release said the charges reflect the Justice Department’s commitment to ‘show the American people by word and deed that the department adheres to the rule of law, follows the facts and the law and pursues equal justice under the law.'” See also, Federal grand jury indicts former Trump adviser Steve Bannon for contempt of Congress, CNN Politics, Hannah Rabinowitz, Jessica Schneider, Evan Perez, Paula Reid, and Zachary Cohen, Friday, 12 November 2021: “A federal grand jury has returned an indictment against former Donald Trump adviser Steve Bannon for contempt of Congress, the Justice Department announced Friday. Attorney General Merrick Garland has been under tremendous political pressure to indict Bannon since the House referred the Trump ally to the Justice Department for contempt on October 21…. Bannon, 67, was charged with one count related to his refusal to appear for a deposition and another related to his refusal to produce documents. Each count carries a minimum of 30 days and a maximum of one year in jail, the Justice Department said. Without an indictment, critics have said, there’s doubt over how much power the House January 6 select committee has to compel cooperation from former White House and Trump administration officials. Friday, former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows failed to appear for a deposition, sources familiar with the investigation told CNN, setting up a potential showdown that could lead to the panel beginning a criminal referral process against him as well. And last week, former Trump Justice Department official Jeffrey Clark, who had been subpoenaed, appeared before the committee for more than an hour but declined to answer questions.”

Former President Donald Trump, in a taped interview with Jonathan Karl of ABC News that was shared with Axios, defended, quite extensively, supporters who threatened to ‘hang’ former Vice President Mike Pence. Why it matters: Well, it is unprecedented for a former president to openly say it was OK to threaten the life of his vice president. Axios, Mike Allen, Friday, 12 November 2021: Jonathan Karl: Were you worried about [Pence] during that siege? Were you worried about his safety? Trump: No, I thought he was well-protected, and I had heard that he was in good shape. No. Because I had heard he was in very good shape. But, but, no, I think —  Karl: Because you heard those chants — that was terrible. I mean —  Trump: He could have — well, the people were very angry. Karl: They were saying ‘hang Mike Pence.’ Trump: Because it’s common sense, Jon. It’s common sense that you’re supposed to protect. How can you — if you know a vote is fraudulent, right? — how can you pass on a fraudulent vote to Congress? How can you do that? And I’m telling you: 50/50, it’s right down the middle for the top constitutional scholars when I speak to them. Anybody I spoke to — almost all of them at least pretty much agree, and some very much agree with me — because he’s passing on a vote that he knows is fraudulent. How can you pass a vote that you know is fraudulent? Now, when I spoke to him, I really talked about all of the fraudulent things that happened during the election. I didn’t talk about the main point, which is the legislatures did not approve — five states. The legislatures did not approve all of those changes that made the difference between a very easy win for me in the states, or a loss that was very close, because the losses were all very close.” See also, Trump says it was ‘common sense’ for January 6 rioters to chant ‘Hang Mike Pence!’ The Washington Post, John Wagner, Friday, 12 November 2021: “Former president Donald Trump said he considered it ‘common sense’ for his supporters to chant ‘Hang Mike Pence!’ during the Jan. 6 insurrection but that he never feared for his vice president’s safety. Audio of Trump’s comments to ABC News’s Jonathan Karl were published Friday by Axios in advance of a forthcoming book by Karl. In the exchange, Trump again took issue with Pence for not intervening to change the results as he presided over the count of electoral college votes by Congress. The count was ultimately interrupted after rioters breached the Capitol and Pence was whisked out of the chamber amid threats on his life.” See also, Trump defends threats to the life of Vice President Mike Pence on January 6 in new audio, CNN Politics, Veronica Stracqualursi and Gabby Orr, Friday, 12 November 2021: “Former President Donald Trump appeared to defend the threats made against then-Vice President Mike Pence during the January 6 insurrection in a new audio recording released Friday. ‘Well, the people were very angry,’ Trump can be heard telling ABC News’ Jonathan Karl during a taped interview for Karl’s new book, ‘Betrayal: The Final Act of the Trump Show.’ The former President, whose campaign to pressure Pence into halting Congress’ certification of the 2020 Electoral College votes ultimately failed, said he thought his vice president was ‘well protected’ as hundreds of pro-Trump protesters stormed the halls of Congress. At the time, some rioters could be heard shouting, ‘hang Mike Pence,’ who was at the Capitol that day presiding over the Senate’s counting of the votes…. Trump did not contact Pence while the insurrection was unfolding to confirm his safety, and the two men ultimately went days without speaking after police had cleared the building and Congress proceeded to certify the election results — a process that was overseen by Pence.” See also, Trump defends January 6 rioters’ ‘hang Mike Pence’ chant in new audio. The audio captured part of an interview ABC News’ Jonathan Karl conducted with Trump at Mar-a-Lago in March for Karl’s upcoming book. NBC News, Jesse Redriguez and Rebecca Shabad, Friday, 12 November 2021: “Former President Donald Trump defended rioters’ chants of “hang Mike Pence” during the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, saying it was understandable because they were angry the election hadn’t been overturned, according to audio released Friday of an interview with the former president in March. The audio came from an interview with ABC News’ Jonathan Karl conducted at Mar-a-Lago in March for an upcoming book, ‘Betrayal: The Final Act of the Trump Show.’ The excerpt was obtained Friday by NBC News from ABC News’ ‘This Week.'”

Former Trump White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows did not appear for a deposition on Friday in front of the House select committee investigating the January 6 insurrection by Trump supporters, CNN Politics, Zachary Cohen and Annie Grayer, Friday, 12 November 2021: “Former Trump White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows did not appear for a deposition on Friday in front of the House select committee investigating January 6, sources familiar with the investigation tell CNN, setting up a potential showdown that could lead to the panel beginning a criminal referral process against him. Committee staffers had been prepared to go forward with the interview and waited in a room on Capitol Hill with a stenographer, but started to file out of the room nine minutes after the deadline passed. Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson, a Mississippi Democrat, and Vice Chairwoman Liz Cheney, a Wyoming Republican, said in a statement on Friday that Meadows’ actions force the panel to consider criminal contempt of Congress, but they stopped short of saying that is the path they will officially pursue.” See also, Former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows did not appear for scheduled appearance before the House select committee investigating the January 6 attack on the Capitol by Trump supporters, The Guardian, Hugo Lowell, Friday, 12 November 2021: “Former Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows is facing a criminal referral to the justice department for contempt of Congress after he failed to appear for an immediate deposition on Friday morning before the House select committee investigating the Capitol attack. The move to threaten criminal prosecution for Meadows amounts to an abrupt and sharp escalation for the select committee as it seeks to enforce its subpoena against one of Donald Trump’s closest aides first issued in September.”

The House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis releases new evidence from investigation into Trump administration interference with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) during the Covid-19 pandemic, CNN Politics, Jamie Gumbrecht and Jessica Small, Friday, 12 November 2021: “The House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis released to CNN on Friday new evidence showing how US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials were pressured by Trump administration officials to alter scientific guidance and prevented from communicating directly with the public. In new excerpts of transcribed interviews, Dr. Nancy Messonnier, the former director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said she was made aware that then-President Donald Trump was angered by a February 25, 2020, briefing during which she warned the public about the dangers of the coronavirus. Messonnier says in the transcript she had calls with former CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield and former US Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar after the briefing, and that she was ‘upset’ after her conversation with Azar. In the transcripts, other CDC officials described how requests to hold briefings about mask guidance and pediatric Covid-19 cases and deaths were denied. When asked about a CNN report that CDC officials felt ‘muzzled,’ Dr. Anne Schuchat, CDC’s former principal deputy director, said, ‘That is the feeling that we had, many of us had.’ CDC officials also appeared to take issue with invoking a public health authority to expel migrants.” See also, The Trump administration repeatedly interfered with efforts by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) last year to issue warnings and guidance about the evolving coronavirus pandemic, six current and former health officials told congressional investigators in recent interviews, The Washington Post, Dan Diamond, Friday, 12 November 2021: “One of those officials, former CDC senior health expert Nancy Messonnier, warned in a Feb. 25, 2020, news briefing that the virus’s spread in the United States was inevitable — a statement that prompted anger from President Donald Trump and led to the agency’s media appearances being curtailed, according to interview excerpts and other documents released Friday by the House select subcommittee on the pandemic. The new information, including statements from former White House coronavirus coordinator Deborah Birx, confirms prior reporting and offers additional detail on how the pandemic response unfolded at the highest levels of government. ‘Our intention was certainly to get the public’s attention about the likelihood … that it was going to spread and that we thought that there was a high risk that it would be disruptive,’ Messonnier told the panel in an Oct. 8 interview. But her public warning led to private reprimands, including from then-Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, she said.”

Lawyer for Man Accused of Killing Ahmaud Arbery Draws Scrutiny. Kevin Gough argued that the Reverend Al Sharpton’s presence in court was intimidating to the jury. ‘We don’t want any more Black pastors coming in here,’ he said. The New York Times, Richard Fausset, Friday, 12 November 2021: “When Kevin Gough, a lawyer for one of the three men accused of murdering Ahmaud Arbery, said that the presence of the Rev. Al Sharpton in the courtroom this week had been ‘intimidating’ to jurors — and then added, ‘We don’t want any more Black pastors coming in here’ — Mr. Sharpton, like many others, seemed equally offended and astonished. ‘I’ve been through a lot of trials over the decades,’ Mr. Sharpton, the 67-year-old civil rights veteran and TV personality, said in an interview with TMZ. ‘I’ve never had a lawyer ask that I not be able to come to court.’ Mr. Gough’s call on Thursday for Judge Timothy R. Walmsley to ban what Mr. Gough called ‘high-profile members of the African American community’ from the Brunswick, Ga., courtroom has been widely condemned.”

Appeals Court Extends Block on Biden’s Vaccine Mandate for Employers. A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit held that challengers were likely to succeed in their claim that the mandate was an unlawful overreach. The New York Times, Charlie Savage, Friday, 12 November 2021: “A federal appeals court has kept its block in place against a federal mandate that all large employers require their workers to get vaccinated against the coronavirus or submit to weekly testing starting in January, declaring that the rule “grossly exceeds” the authority of the occupational safety agency that issued it. In a 22-page ruling issued on Friday, a three-judge panel on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, in New Orleans, held that a group of challengers to the mandate issued by the Biden administration was likely to succeed in its claim that it was an unlawful overreach, and barred the government from moving forward with it…. In a filing asking the Fifth Circuit to withdraw its stay this week, the Justice Department argued that requiring large employers to force their workers to get vaccinated or submit to weekly testing was well within the authority granted by Congress to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA. It also said blocking the mandate would have dire consequences. Keeping the mandate from coming into effect ‘would likely cost dozens or even hundreds of lives per day, in addition to large numbers of hospitalizations, other serious health effects and tremendous costs,’ the Justice Department said in its filing. ‘That is a confluence of harms of the highest order.’ The ruling by the panel of the Fifth Circuit is unlikely to be the final word. Some challenges to the mandate are in other circuits, and the cases will be consolidated before a randomly chosen one of those jurisdictions. The Supreme Court is expected to eventually decide the matter.” See also, Federal appeals court halts Biden administration’s vaccine requirement, delivering the policy a major blow, The Washington Post, Eli Rosenberg and Ann E. Marimow, Friday, 12 November 2021: “A federal appeals court in New Orleans has halted the Biden administration’s vaccine or testing requirement for private businesses, delivering another political setback to one of the White House’s signature public health policies. A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit, helmed by one judge who was appointed by President Ronald Reagan and two others who were appointed by President Donald Trump, issued the ruling Friday, after temporarily halting the mandate last weekend in response to lawsuits filed by Republican-aligned businesses and legal groups.”


Saturday, 13 November 2021:


Glasgow climate pact adopted despite last-minute intervention by India to water down language on phasing out dirtiest fossil fuel, The Guardian, Fiona Harvey, Damian Carrington, and Libby Brooks, Saturday, 13 November 2021: “Countries have agreed to a deal on the climate crisis that its backers said would keep within reach the goal of limiting global heating to 1.5C, the key threshold of safety set out in the 2015 Paris agreement. The negotiations carried on late into Saturday evening, as governments squabbled over provisions on phasing out coal, cutting greenhouse gas emissions and providing money to the poor world. The ‘Glasgow climate pact’ was adopted despite a last-minute intervention by India to water down language on ‘phasing out’ coal to merely ‘phasing down.’ The pledges on emissions cuts made at the two-week Cop26 summit in Glasgow fell well short of those required to limit temperatures to 1.5C, according to scientific advice. Instead, all countries have agreed to return to the negotiating table next year, at a conference in Egypt, and re-examine their national plans, with a view to increasing their ambition on cuts.” See also, Negotiators Strike a Climate Deal, but World Remains Far From Limiting Warming. Some activists called the agreement in Glasgow disappointing, but it established a clear consensus that all countries need to do much more. The New York Times, Brad Plumer and Lisa Friedman, Saturday, 13 November 2021: “Diplomats from nearly 200 countries on Saturday struck a major agreement aimed at intensifying global efforts to fight climate change by calling on governments to return next year with stronger plans to curb their planet-warming emissions and urging wealthy nations to ‘at least double’ funding to protect poor nations from the hazards of a hotter planet. The new deal will not, on its own, solve global warming, despite the urgent demands of many of the thousands of politicians, environmentalists and protesters who gathered at the Glasgow climate summit. Its success or failure will hinge on whether world leaders now follow through with new policies to cut greenhouse gas emissions. And the deal still leaves vulnerable countries far short of the funds they need to cope with increasing weather disasters. The talks underscored the complexity of trying to persuade scores of countries, each with its own economic interests and domestic politics, to act in unison for the greater good. But the agreement established a clear consensus that all nations must do much more, immediately, to prevent a harrowing rise in global temperatures. And it set up transparency rules to hold countries accountable for the progress they make or fail to make.” See also, Conference of Parties (COP) 26 Climate Summit: 6 takeaways from the U.N. climate conference, The New York Times, Saturday, 13 November 2021: “Before it started, the United Nations global climate summit in Glasgow known as COP26 was billed by its chief organizer as the ‘last, best hope’ to save the planet. Halfway through, optimistic reviews of its progress noted that heads of state and titans of industry showed up in force to start the gathering with splashy new climate promises, a sign that momentum was building in the right direction. The pessimistic outlook? Gauzy promises mean little without concrete plans to follow through. The Swedish activist Greta Thunberg accused the conference of consisting of a lot of ‘blah, blah, blah.’ On Saturday, diplomats from nearly 200 countries struck a major agreement aimed at intensifying efforts to fight climate change, by calling on governments to return next year with stronger plans to curb their planet-warming emissions and urging wealthy nations to ‘at least double’ funding by 2025 to protect the most vulnerable nations from the hazards of a hotter planet.” See also, Conference of Parties26 (COP26) U.N. climate summit: At COP26, nations speed climate action but leave world still headed for dangerous warming. As negotiators praised the compromise, the minister from the low-lying Maldives noted, ‘It will be too late’ for her nation and others most vulnerable to climate impacts. The Washington Post, Brady Dennis and Sarah Kaplan, Saturday, 13 November 2021: “Exhausted negotiators from nearly 200 nations struck a deal Saturday intended to propel the world toward more urgent climate action, but without offering the transformative breakthrough scientists say must happen if humanity is to avert disastrous planetary warming. Two weeks of high-profile talks yielded a package that pushes countries to strengthen near-term climate targets and move away from fossil fuels faster. It insists that wealthy countries fulfill a broken promise to help vulnerable nations cope with the rising costs of climate change. And it cracks open the door to future payments developed nations might make for damage already done. Saturday’s agreement, however, does not achieve the most ambitious goal of the 2015 Paris accord — to limit Earth’s warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 Fahrenheit) above preindustrial levels. Instead, delegations left Glasgow with the Earth still on track to blow past that threshold, pushing toward a future of escalating weather crises and irreversible damage to the natural world.”


Sunday, 14 November 2021:


In his upcoming book, Jonathan Karl says memo from Trump attorney Jenna Ellis outlined how Pence could overturn the presidential election, ABC News, Libby Cathey, Sunday, 14 November 2021: “In a memo not made public until now, then-White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows emailed to Vice President Mike Pence’s top aide, on New Year’s Eve, a detailed plan for undoing President Joe Biden’s election victory, ABC News’ Chief Washington Correspondent Jonathan Karl reports. The memo, written by former President Donald Trump’s campaign lawyer Jenna Ellis, is reported for the first time in Karl’s upcoming book, ‘Betrayal: The Final Act of the Trump Show’ — demonstrating how Pence was under even more pressure than previously known to overturn the results of the 2020 election. Ellis, in the memo, outlined a multi-step strategy: On Jan. 6, the day Congress was to certify the 2020 election results, Pence was to send back the electoral votes from six battleground states that Trump falsely claimed he had won. The memo said that Pence would give the states a deadline of ‘7pm eastern standard time on January 15th’ to send back a new set of votes, according to Karl.”

Former Trump Adviser Michael Flynn says U.S. Should ‘Have One Religion,’ Slate, Daniel Politi, Sunday, 14 November 2021: “Michael Flynn, who was briefly national security adviser under former President Donald Trump, said the United States should have a single religion. ‘If we are going to have one nation under God, which we must, we have to have one religion,’ Flynn said during a speech at the ‘Reawaken America’ conference in San Antonio, Texas on Saturday night. ‘One nation under God, and one religion under God.’ Flynn has recently taken to talking about his Christian faith as a way to refute claims by QAnon followers that he worships Satan.”


Monday, 15 November 2021:


Biden signs $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill, fulfilling campaign promise and notching achievement that eluded Trump, The Washington Post, Seung Min Kim, Felicia Sonmez, and Amy B Wang, Monday, 15 November 2021: “President Biden on Monday signed a sweeping $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill to upgrade the nation’s roads, bridges, water systems and broadband, touting the measure’s passage as evidence for his insistence that bipartisanship can work even in a bitterly polarized time. ‘Here in Washington, we’ve heard countless speeches, promises and white papers from experts — but today, we’re finally getting this done,’ Biden said, adding, ‘The bill I’m about to sign into law is proof that despite the cynics, Democrats and Republicans can come together and deliver results.’ The event was carefully choreographed to back up that point, with congressional Republicans who helped negotiate the bill sprinkled throughout the hundreds of seats. GOP leaders including Sens. Mitt Romney (Utah), Bill Cassidy (La.) and Susan Collins (Maine) mingled before the event.” See also, Biden signs infrastructure bill into law at rare bipartisan gathering, CNN Politics, Betsy Klein and Kate Sullivan, Monday, 15 November 2021: “President Joe Biden on Monday signed into law a $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure package and marked the major legislative victory at a White House event with lawmakers from both parties…. The legislation will deliver $550 billion of new federal investments in America’s infrastructure over five years, including money for roads, bridges, mass transit, rail, airports, ports and waterways. The package includes a $65 billion investment in improving the nation’s broadband infrastructure and invests tens of billions of dollars in improving the electric grid and water systems. Another $7.5 billion would go to building a nationwide network of plug-in electric vehicle chargers, according to the bill text.” See also, Political Briefing: Biden Signs Infrastructure Bill, Promoting Benefits for Americans. Billions of dollars will now pour into U.S. communities, although the final package falls short of Biden’s ambitions. The New York Times, Monday, 15 November 2021:

Steve Bannon Turns Himself In on Contempt of Congress Charges. The former aide to President Donald Trump had refused to comply with a demand from the House committee investigating the January 6 Capitol riot. The New York Times, Katie Benner, Monday, 15 November 2021: “Stephen K. Bannon, who served as a senior aide to President Donald J. Trump, surrendered to authorities and appeared in federal court on Monday, three days after he was indicted by a grand jury on two counts of contempt of Congress for refusing to provide information to the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. Mr. Bannon’s formal booking and first court appearance in the case — and his promise to fight back aggressively against what he characterized as a political prosecution — marked an escalation in the clash between Mr. Trump’s allies and the committee, which has issued scores of subpoenas seeking testimony and documents that could help it assemble a definitive account of the attack and what led to it. The charges against Mr. Bannon served as a warning to those who choose to defy the committee’s requests for information. But Mr. Bannon also showed that he intends to use the attention on the criminal case to push his own views to a broad audience. Before entering the F.B.I.’s Washington field office, where he surrendered at around 9:30 a.m., and after leaving court later that afternoon, Mr. Bannon made statements that falsely implied that Mr. Trump had won the 2020 election. He told his supporters to remain focused on taking on ‘the illegitimate Biden regime. This is going to be the misdemeanor from hell,’ Mr. Bannon said after he emerged from his initial court appearance before a federal magistrate, Judge Robin M. Meriweather. Trailed by a video crew promoting his own media operation, and swarmed by reporters and photographers, he said he intended to use the legal process to attack Attorney General Merrick B. Garland, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and President Biden.” See also, Stephen Bannon surrenders after indictment on charges of contempt of Congress, The Washington Post, Spencer S. Hsu and Tom Jackman, Monday, 15 November 2021: “Stephen K. Bannon, the former Trump White House adviser who was indicted last week for defying a congressional subpoena, surrendered to federal authorities Monday morning and was released on personal recognizance after making his first court appearance in the afternoon. Bannon, 67, entered the FBI field office in downtown Washington after walking through a crowd of photographers, saying: ‘I don’t want anybody to take their eye off the ball for what we do every day. . . . We’re taking down the Biden regime.’ In court, Bannon appeared in a green barn jacket and black collared shirt before U.S. Magistrate Judge Robin M. Meriweather, who read the charges against him: two counts of contempt of Congress, each punishable by at least 30 days and up to a year in jail if convicted and up to a $100,000 fine. Bannon was not arraigned and did not enter a plea. He will appear Thursday before U.S. District Judge Carl J. Nichols of Washington.” See also, Trump ally Steve Bannon released from custody pending trial on contempt of Congress charges, CNN Politics, Zachary Cohen, Hannah Rabinowitz, and Chandelis Duster, Monday, 15 November 2021: “Steve Bannon won’t be detained before trial on charges of contempt of Congress after he failed to comply with subpoenas from the House committee investigating January 6. Bannon, a former adviser to former President Donald Trump, appeared in federal court for the first time Monday. He will be arraigned on Thursday. Prosecutors did not seek to detain Bannon before trial. Under conditions approved by the judge, Bannon agreed to weekly check-ins, to surrender his passport, provide notice of any travel outside the district and seek court approval for travel outside the continental United States. Bannon, 67, was charged last week with one count related to his refusal to appear for a deposition and another related to his refusal to produce documents to the House committee investigating the attack on the US Capitol. Each count carries a minimum of 30 days and a maximum of one year in jail, as well as a fine of up to $100,000, the Department of Justice said.”

Republicans Gain Heavy House Edge in 2022 as Gerrymandered Maps Emerge. On a highly distorted congressional map that is still taking shape, the party has added enough safe House districts to capture control of the chamber based on its redistricting edge alone. The New York Times, Reid J. Epstein and Nick Corasaniti, Monday, 15 November 2021: “A year before the polls open in the 2022 midterm elections, Republicans are already poised to flip at least five seats in the closely divided House thanks to redrawn district maps that are more distorted, more disjointed and more gerrymandered than any since the Voting Rights Act was passed in 1965. The rapidly forming congressional map, a quarter of which has taken shape as districts are redrawn this year, represents an even more extreme warping of American political architecture, with state legislators in many places moving aggressively to cement their partisan dominance. The flood of gerrymandering, carried out by both parties but predominantly by Republicans, is likely to leave the country ever more divided by further eroding competitive elections and making representatives more beholden to their party’s base. At the same time, Republicans’ upper hand in the redistricting process, combined with plunging approval ratings for President Biden and the Democratic Party, provides the party with what could be a nearly insurmountable advantage in the 2022 midterm elections and the next decade of House races.”

Biden to Bar New Drilling Around a Major Native American Cultural Site. After years of tribal requests, the president plans to block new oil and gas leases within 10 miles of Chaco Canyon in New Mexico. The move generated strong pushback from industry groups. The New York Times, Coral Davenport, Monday, 15 November 2021: “President Biden announced on Monday that his administration was moving to block new federal oil and gas leasing within a 10-mile radius around Chaco Canyon in New Mexico, one of the nation’s oldest and most culturally significant Native American sites. The move, announced at a tribal nations summit meeting at the White House, dovetails two of Mr. Biden’s top policy priorities: working to limit climate change and addressing injustices against Native Americans. It also generated significant pushback from Republicans and from New Mexico’s oil and gas industry. As Mr. Biden pushes his ambitious climate agenda, he has sought to highlight both the role of Native Americans in protecting the nation’s landscape, and the disproportionate impact of climate change on tribal populations. ‘No group of Americans has created and cared more about preserving what we inherited than the tribal nations,’ he said on Monday. ‘We have to continue to stand up for the dignity of sovereignty of tribal nations.'” See also, Biden proposes 20-year drilling ban around Chaco culture National Historical Park, a sacred tribal site, The Washington Post, Joshua Partlow and Darryl Fears, Monday, 15 November 2021: “The Biden administration on Monday proposed a 20-year ban on oil and gas drilling in Chaco Canyon and surrounding areas in northwestern New Mexico, a sacred tribal site that also contains valuable oil and gas. President Biden discussed the move at the opening of the White House Tribal Nations Summit, one of several steps intended to strengthen the relationship between the federal government and American Indian tribes. Biden also signed an executive order directing his Cabinet to develop a strategy to improve public safety and justice for Indigenous Americans.”

Sandy Hook families win legal victory against Alex Jones in defamation case, CNN Business, Sarah Jorgensen, Monday, 15 November 2021: “Sandy Hook families suing InfoWars founder Alex Jones have won a case against him after a judge ruled against Jones who has failed to comply with the discovery process. Jones and entities owned by him were found liable by default Monday in a defamation case against them. Connecticut Superior Court Judge Barbara Bellis cited the defendants’ ‘willful noncompliance’ with the discovery process as her core reasoning behind the ruling. She specifically noted that they had not turned over financial and analytics data requested multiple times by the Sandy Hook family plaintiffs. ‘All the defendants have failed to fully and fairly comply with their discovery obligations,’ Bellis said at the virtual hearing.” See also, Alex Jones Loses by Default in Remaining Sandy Hook Defamation Suits. A Connecticut judge’s ruling against the Infowars host combines with decisions in Texas to grant a clean sweep for the families of 10 shooting victims. The New York Times, Elizabeth Williamson, Monday, 15 November 2021: “A state court in Connecticut granted a sweeping victory to the families of eight people killed in a 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., who had sued the far-right broadcaster and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones and his Infowars media outlet for defamation. The judge ruled on Monday that because Mr. Jones had refused to turn over documents ordered by the courts, including financial records, he was liable by default. The decision, combined with previous rulings in Texas in late September, means Mr. Jones has lost all the defamation lawsuits filed against him by the families of 10 victims. Lawyers for Mr. Jones said he would appeal. Mr. Jones for years spread bogus theories that the shooting that killed 20 first graders and six educators was part of a government-led plot to confiscate Americans’ firearms and that the victims’ families were ‘actors’ in the scheme. People who believed those false claims accosted the families on the street and at events honoring their slain loved ones, abused them online, contacted them at their homes and threatened their lives. The parents of Noah Pozner, the youngest Sandy Hook victim, whose parents were the first to sue Mr. Jones, have moved nearly 10 times since the shooting, and live in hiding.”

The Wyoming Republican Party votes to stop recognizing Liz Cheney as a Republican, Associated Press, Monday, 15 Novmeber 2021: “The Wyoming Republican Party will no longer recognize Liz Cheney as a member of the GOP in its second formal rebuke for her criticism of former President Donald Trump. The 31-29 vote Saturday in Buffalo, Wyoming, by the state party central committee followed votes by local GOP officials in about one-third of Wyoming’s 23 counties to no longer recognize Cheney as a Republican. In February, the Wyoming GOP central committee voted overwhelmingly to censure Cheney, Wyoming’s lone U.S. representative, for voting to impeach Trump for his role in the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol. Cheney has described her vote to impeach Trump as an act of conscience in defense of the Constitution. Trump ‘incited the mob’ and ‘lit the flame’ of that day’s events, Cheney said after the attack.”


Tuesday, 16 November 2021:


Trump Seeks Continued Block on Sending White House Files to the House committee investigating the January 6 attack on the Capitol by Trump supporters. The ex-president’s brief to a federal appeals court argued that his residual secrecy powers could block a House subpoena for information about the Capitol riot. The New York Times, Charlie Savage, Tuesday, 16 November 2021: “Former President Donald J. Trump asked a federal appeals court on Tuesday to block the National Archives from giving Congress quick access to records from his White House related to the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol, arguing that litigation over whether they are properly shielded by his claim of executive privilege should fully play out first. In a 54-page brief filed before the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, Jesse R. Binnall, a lawyer for Mr. Trump, reiterated his argument that the Constitution gives the former president the power to keep those files confidential even though he is no longer in office — and even though President Biden refused to assert executive privilege over them…. The dispute raises novel issues about the scope of executive privilege when invoked by a former president without the support of the incumbent one. It centers on a subpoena issued by the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol by Trump supporters seeking to block Congress from certifying Mr. Biden’s election win.”

Racial Equity in Infrastructure, a Goal of the Biden Administration, Is Left to the States. The decision about how to spend the money falls largely to state governments, raising questions about whether the package can live up to its ambition. The New York Times, Zolan Kanno-Youngs and Madeleine Ngo, Tuesday, 16 November 2021: “President Biden’s $1 trillion plan to rebuild America’s infrastructure comes with a built-in promise: No longer will roads, bridges and railways be instruments of bias or racism. Communities that ended up divided along racial lines will be made whole. But the decision about how to spend the money falls largely to the states, not all of which are likely to put as high a priority on that promise as Mr. Biden does, raising questions about whether the legislation will deliver on his goal.”

Trump’s Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo discussed removing Trump after the January 6 Capitol attack. In his new book, ABC White House correspondent Jonathan Karl says these two cabinet members considered invoking the 25th amendment. The Guardian, Martin Pengelly, Tuesday, 16 November 2021: “Donald Trump’s secretary of state and treasury secretary discussed removing him from power after the deadly Capitol attack by invoking the 25th amendment, according to a new book. The amendment, added to the constitution after the assassination of John F Kennedy in 1963, provides for the removal of an incapacitated president, potentially on grounds of mental as well as physical fitness. It has never been used. According to Betrayal: The Final Act of the Trump Show, by the ABC Washington correspondent Jonathan Karl, the treasury secretary, Steven Mnuchin, talked to other cabinet members about using the amendment on the night of 6 January, the day of the attack, and the following day. Removing Trump via the amendment would have required a majority vote in the cabinet. Karl reports that Mnuchin spoke to Mike Pompeo, Trump’s secretary of state and an avowed loyalist.”

The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights appointed Trump adviser Cleta Mitchell to the Board of Advisors for the federal Election Assistance Commission, Associated Press, Nicholas Riccardi, Tuesday, 16 November 2021: “The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights has appointed to a federal election advisory board a prominent Republican attorney who assisted former President Donald Trump in his failed effort to overturn the 2020 presidential election. Cleta Mitchell was named to the Board of Advisors for the federal Election Assistance Commission. The advisory board does not have the ability to directly make policy but can recommend voluntary guidelines to the EAC. The EAC certifies voting systems and advises local election offices on compliance with federal election regulations. Mitchell was nominated by the Republican-appointed members on the commission and approved by a majority vote. Mitchell is a prominent Republican lawyer who joined Trump on a Jan. 2 phone call with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. On the call, Trump implored Raffensperger to ‘find’ him enough votes for him to be declared the winner in the battleground state, which was won by President Joe Biden. Mitchell claimed she had found possible examples of fraud in the state, but the secretary of state’s office told her that her data was incorrect. Mitchell’s involvement in the call caused an outcry in the legal community that led to her departure from her longtime job at the law firm Foley & Lardner. She has since taken major roles with conservative groups pushing to tighten voting laws, directing an election initiative at the small government group FreedomWorks and serving as a fellow at the Conservative Partnership Institute, where she helps coordinate advocacy on voting issues.”


Wednesday, 17 November 2021:


House, Mostly Along Party Lines, Censures Arizona Republican Paul Gosar for Posting an Animated Video That Depicted Him Killing Democratic Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Assaulting President Biden. Gosar is the first member of the House to be formally rebuked in more than a decade. He was also removed from two committees. The New York Times, Jonathan Weisman and Catie Edmondson, Wednesday, 17 November 2021: “A bitterly divided U.S. House of Representatives voted narrowly on Wednesday to censure Representative Paul Gosar, Republican of Arizona, for posting an animated video that depicted him killing a Democratic congresswoman and assaulting President Biden. The formal rebuke of the far-right congressman who has allied himself with white nationalists — the first censure since 2010 and only the 24th in the history of the republic — also stripped him of his committee assignments. The vast majority of Republicans opposed the move against Mr. Gosar, whose conduct G.O.P. leaders have refused to publicly condemn, the latest sign of the party’s growing tolerance of menacing statements. The vote was 223 to 207, with just two Republicans, Representatives Liz Cheney of Wyoming and Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, joining Democrats in favor. One other Republican, Representative David Joyce of Ohio, voted ‘present.’ The vote, and the incendiary, emotional and personal debate leading up to it, laid bare the divisions of the moment, when Democrats say they must speak out against vicious threats and imagery that could give rise to the kind of violence that unfolded during the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol. That attack hung heavily over Wednesday’s debate.” See also, House censures Arizona Republican Representative Paul Gosar and ejects him from committees over violent video depicting slaying of Representative Ocasio-Cortez, The Washington Post, Felicia Sonmez, Amy B Wang, and Marianna Sotomayor, Wednesday, 17 November 2021: “The House on Wednesday voted to censure Rep. Paul A. Gosar (R-Ariz.) for tweeting an altered animated video that depicted him killing Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and swinging two swords at President Biden. The 223-to-207 vote, with one voting present, marks the first time in more than a decade that the House has censured one of its members. The resolution also removes Gosar from his assignments on the House Oversight and Natural Resources committees. A censure is less severe than expulsion from the House but more severe than a reprimand. If the House votes to censure a member, that lawmaker must stand in the “well” of the House chamber as the censure resolution and a verbal rebuke are read aloud. In remarks on the House floor ahead of Wednesday’s vote, Gosar rebuffed calls to apologize.”

‘QAnon Shaman’ Jacob Chansley is sentenced to 41 months in prison for role in US Capitol riot, CNN Politics, Hannah Rabinowitz and Katelyn Polantz, Wednesday, 17 November 2021: “Jacob Chansley, the so-called ‘QAnon Shaman,’ was sentenced to 41 months in prison for his role in the US Capitol riot. The Justice Department had asked for Chansley to receive a harsh sentence as a way to set an example among the January 6 rioters, and prosecutors have positioned Chansley as emblematic of a barbaric crowd. Since then, Chansley gained fame as the ‘QAnon Shaman,’ a figure known in the fringe online movement and for widely shared photos that captured him wearing face paint and a headdress inside the Senate chamber. Judge Royce Lamberth has had Chansley held in jail since his arrest, despite his multiple attempts to gain sympathy and his release.” See also, January 6 Defendant Known as QAnon Shaman Is Sentenced to 41 Months. Jacob Chansley, who wore a horned helmet and a fur pelt as he stormed onto the Senate floor during the Capitol riot, had earlier pleaded guilty to a single felony count. The New York Times, Alan Feuer, Wednesday, 17 November 2021: “Jacob Chansley, the former actor and Navy sailor better known as the QAnon Shaman, who was portrayed by a prosecutor as ‘the flag-bearer’ of the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, was sentenced on Wednesday to 41 months in prison. Mr. Chansley, 34, emerged as one of the riot’s most familiar figures, largely because of the outlandish costume he wore that day: a horned helmet, a fur pelt draped across his naked shoulders and a thick patina of red-white-and-blue face paint. Images of him standing on the Senate floor hollering and brandishing a spear made from a flagpole shot around the world, a stark reminder of the role played in the assault by adherents of QAnon, the cultlike conspiracy theory embraced by some backers of former President Donald J. Trump. Mr. Chansley’s sentence, handed down by Judge Royce C. Lamberth of Federal District Court in Washington, brought an end not only to one of the most widely publicized Capitol cases, but also to one of the strangest. Not long after the attack, Mr. Chansley’s lawyer, Albert Watkins, announced that his client wanted Mr. Trump to pardon him and later offered to have him testify at the former president’s second impeachment trial.” See also, ‘QAnon shaman’ sentenced to 41 months for role in Capitol riot, The Washington Post, Tom Jackman, Wednesday, 17 November 2021: “Jacob Chansley, whose brightly painted face, tattooed torso and horned cap became a visual icon of the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, was sentenced Wednesday to 41 months in prison by a federal judge in Washington. His lawyer had asked the judge to impose a sentence of time already served, basically the entire 10 months since the insurrection, during which Chansley attracted more attention for demanding an organic diet while in jail and giving an interview to 60 Minutes. The sentence of roughly 3½ years is equal to the longest yet handed down to a Capitol rioter. Of the roughly 130 people who have pleaded guilty so far, only 16 have admitted to felonies, and Chansley is the fourth felon to be sentenced. The other three received terms of eight months, 14 months and, last week, 41 months, to a man who punched a Capitol Police officer. Chansley, 34, was photographed parading shirtless through the halls of the Capitol with a six-foot spear, howling through a bullhorn and then sitting in the vice president’s chair in the Senate. He became known as the ‘QAnon Shaman’ because of his appearances at gatherings of the ‘QAnon’ conspiracy theorists and his Shamanic religious beliefs.”


Thursday, 18 November 2021:


Republican House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy gives longest House floor speech in history, delaying vote on Build Back Better social safety net and climate bill, CNN Politics, Clare Foran, Manu Raju, and Morgan Rimmer, Thursday, 18 November 2021: “House Democrats pushed back a vote on President Joe Biden’s plan to dramatically expand the social safety net after House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy stalled floor action with a record-breaking marathon speech that stretched into the early hours of Friday morning. McCarthy, a Republican from California, started his speech at 8:38 p.m. ET, and stopped speaking early Friday morning after eight hours and 32 minutes, making his remarks the longest House floor speech in history. The sweeping $1.9 trillion economic legislation stands as a key pillar of Biden’s domestic agenda and Democrats are still confident they have the votes to pass the bill later Friday morning. The House is slated to reconvene at 8 a.m. ET. The legislation would deliver on long-standing Democratic priorities by dramatically expanding social services for Americans, working to mitigate the climate crisis, increasing access to health care and delivering aid to families and children.” See also, Vote on Social Policy Bill Delayed as House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy Keeps Talking. Representative Kevin McCarthy, the minority leader, prolonged debate with a record-breaking speech of more than eight hours, attacking Democrats and veering from Republican talking points to personal anecdotes. The New York Times, Emily Cochrane and Jonathan Weisman, Thursday, 18 November 2021: “House Democrats delayed plans to pass their $1.85 trillion social policy and climate change bill until Friday morning as the top Republican in the chamber held up the floor with a record-breaking speech railing against President Biden and his agenda. Party leaders remained confident they had the votes to pass the legislation, after a final cost estimate appeared to assuage centrist holdouts, and as a weeklong Thanksgiving recess beckoned. But shortly after midnight Friday, with Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, the minority leader, showing no sign of yielding control of the House floor, Democratic leaders sent lawmakers home, with plans to return at 8 a.m. to finish debate and vote on the sprawling package.”

Congressional Budget Office releases cost estimate of Biden social safety net and climate bill, The Hill, Naomi Jagoda, Thursday, 18 November 2021: “The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) on Thursday released its full cost estimate of the Build Back Better Act, House Democrats’ social spending package, hours before lawmakers were expected to vote on the bill. The nonpartisan budget scorekeeper said that the massive bill put forward to advance President Biden‘s agenda would increase the deficit by $367 billion over 10 years. However, that number does not take into account $207 billion in revenue that the CBO estimates would be raised by providing the IRS with more money for enforcement. A group of House moderates had sought information about the bill’s cost prior to a vote on the legislation, which advances Biden’s economic agenda and includes spending and tax cuts in areas such as health care, climate and education. Moderates are expected to be satisfied by the CBO’s estimate. The Treasury Department has estimated that the IRS funding provision would raise significantly more revenue than the budget office estimated, and some moderates have expressed support for Treasury’s larger estimate.”

Former Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows slams House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and suggests Trump should be elected speaker if Republicans win the House in 2022, CNN Politics, Ryan Nobles and Devan Cole, Thursday, 18 November 2021: “Former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows blasted House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s leadership style on Thursday, suggesting that if Republicans win control of the House next year, the party should install former President Donald Trump as its next speaker…. Meadows, a Republican from North Carolina who was serving in the House before Trump picked him to be his top aide in 2020, said in … a podcast hosted by Trump ally Steve Bannon that he ‘would love to see the gavel go from (House Speaker) Nancy Pelosi to Donald Trump. You talk about melting down, people would go crazy,’ he said. The speaker of the House does not need to be a member of the House, just elected by the body.”

Trump endorses Republican Representative Paul Gosar as Republicans rally around the lawmaker who posted an altered anime video with himself killing his House colleague Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, The Washington Post, Felicia Sonmez and Eugene Scott, Thursday, 18 November 2021: “Former president Donald Trump and House Republicans rallied behind Rep. Paul A. Gosar (R-Ariz.) Thursday, a day after he was censured for posting an altered anime video of himself killing a colleague, endorsing his reelection and signaling he would be given better committee assignments if Republicans win control of the House in 2022. Trump praised Gosar, who earlier this year appeared at an event whose organizer has defended racial segregation and minimized the Holocaust, as ‘a loyal supporter of our America First agenda, and even more importantly, the USA. Paul is a Congressman who is highly respected in Arizona, strong on Crime, Borders, our Military, and our Veterans,’ Trump said in a statement. ‘He continually fights for Lower Taxes, Less Regulations, and our great, but under siege, Second Amendment. Paul A. Gosar has my Complete and Total Endorsement!’ Earlier in the day, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said that he would probably give Gosar and Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) better committee assignments if Republicans win the majority next year, dismissing the lawmakers’ embrace of violent rhetoric and imagery against Democrats.”

Texts Show Kimberly Guilfoyle, a Top Fundraiser for Former President Donald Trump and the Girlfriend of His Son Donald Trump Jr., Bragged About Raising Millions for January 6 Rally That Fueled Capitol Riot. Text messages reviewed by ProPublica represent the strongest indication yet that members of the Trump family inner circle were involved in financing and organizing the January 6 ‘Save America’ rally, which immediately preceded the Capitol riot. ProPublica, Joaquin Sapien and Joshua Kaplan, Thursday, 18 November 2021: “Kimberly Guilfoyle, a top fundraiser for former President Donald Trump and the girlfriend of his son Donald Trump Jr., boasted to a GOP operative that she had raised $3 million for the rally that helped fuel the Jan. 6 Capitol riot. In a series of text messages sent on Jan. 4 to Katrina Pierson, the White House liaison to the event, Guilfoyle detailed her fundraising efforts and supported a push to get far-right speakers on the stage alongside Trump for the rally, which sought to overturn the election of President Joe Biden. Guilfoyle’s texts, reviewed by ProPublica, represent the strongest indication yet that members of the Trump family circle were directly involved in the financing and organization of the rally. The attack on the Capitol that followed it left five dead and scores injured. A House select committee investigating the events of Jan. 6 has subpoenaed more than 30 Trump allies for testimony and documents, including Pierson and Caroline Wren, a former deputy to Guilfoyle. But Guilfoyle herself has so far not received any official scrutiny from Congress.”

Government watchdog finds Trump’s move of the Bureau of Land Management Headquarters from Washington to Colorado undercut diversity. The Government Accountability Office report also found the headquarters move to Colorado led to ‘confusion and inefficiency’ at the BLM. The Washington Post, Joshua Partlow, Thursday, 18 November 2021: “As Trump officials were moving the headquarters of the Bureau of Land Management from Washington, D.C., to Colorado two years ago, Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.), chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, issued a stark warning to Interior Secretary David Bernhardt: The department risked a ‘significant legal liability’ by driving Black employees from an agency that was overwhelmingly White. Among a host of troubling diversity data, Grijalva wrote in a letter obtained by The Washington Post, ‘one of the most alarming statistics is that there are only 312 Black/African American employees nationwide at the agency, less than 3.5 percent of the BLM workforce’ of about 9,000 people. If the headquarters move went ahead and Black employees suffered a disparate impact, Grijalva warned, Interior could be sued by its own employees under the Civil Rights Act. He described it as a ‘significant legal liability that could rival the cost of the entire relocation.'” See also, Government Watchdog Report Says Relocation of the Bureau of Land Management to Colorado from Washington by the Trump Administration Hurt Diversity, The New York Times, Michael D. Shear, Thursday, 18 November 2021: “A decision by the Trump administration to move the headquarters of the Bureau of Land Management to Grand Junction, Colo., from Washington left the agency with high vacancy rates as veteran employees — especially African Americans — quit rather than relocate, a government watchdog said in a report issued this week. Senior officials at the Interior Department under President Donald J. Trump had argued that the move was needed to ensure that top employees were closer to the federal land that the agency manages, most of which is in the western half of the United States. But the report from the Government Accountability Office was critical of the decision, saying that the agency lacked a ‘strategic work force plan’ that could have guided its decision-making. As a result, the report found, the move caused many staff members to quit rather than relocate to Colorado. Out of a total staff of about 560 people, 134 people left the Bureau of Land Management after the move was announced in 2019. Of those remaining, 176 were asked to relocate, but 135 refused. The report, which was reported earlier by The Washington Post, said that other decisions at the agency at the same time — such as changes to its organizational structure — led to additional departures and an increased reliance on ‘details,’ or employees from other agencies who are temporarily assigned to perform the duties of a position that has been vacated.”

Judge Tries to Block New York Times’s Coverage of Project Veritas. The state court order, which The Times said it would immediately oppose, raised concerns from First Amendment advocates. The New York Times, Michael M. Grynbaum, Thursday, 18 November 2021: “A New York trial court judge ordered The New York Times on Thursday to temporarily refrain from publishing or seeking out certain documents related to the conservative group Project Veritas, an unusual instance of a court blocking coverage by a major news organization. The order raised immediate concerns among First Amendment advocates, who called it a violation of basic constitutional protections for journalists, a viewpoint echoed by The Times. Project Veritas issued a statement in support of the order, arguing that it did not amount to a significant imposition on the newspaper’s rights. The judge’s order is part of a pending libel lawsuit filed by Project Veritas against The Times in 2020. That suit accuses the newspaper of defaming Project Veritas in its reporting on a video produced by the group that made unverified claims of voter fraud in Minnesota. Led by the provocateur James O’Keefe, Project Veritas often conducts sting operations — including the use of fake identities and hidden cameras — aimed at embarrassing Democratic campaigns, labor organizations, news outlets and other entities. It is the subject of a Justice Department investigation into its possible involvement in the reported theft of a diary that apparently belonged to President Biden’s daughter, Ashley. Theodore J. Boutrous Jr., a lawyer who represents media outlets including CNN, called the court’s order ‘ridiculous. Even though it’s temporary, the Supreme Court has said even the most modest, minute-by-minute deprivations of these First Amendment rights cannot be tolerated,’ Mr. Boutrous said. ‘To go further and suggest a limit on news gathering, I’ve never heard of such a thing.'”


Friday, 19 November 2021:


House Narrowly Passes Biden’s Social Safety Net and Climate Bill. The vote was months in the making for the roughly $2 trillion measure, one of the most consequential bills in decades. Now it faces a difficult path in the Senate. The New York Times, Emily Cochrane and Jonathan Weisman, Friday, 19 November 2021: “The House narrowly passed the centerpiece of President Biden’s domestic agenda on Friday, approving $2.2 trillion in spending over the next decade to battle climate change, expand health care and reweave the nation’s social safety net, over the unanimous opposition of Republicans. The bill’s passage, 220 to 213, came after weeks of cajoling, arm-twisting and legislative legerdemain by Democrats. It was capped off by an exhausting, circuitous and record-breaking speech of more than eight hours by the House Republican leader, Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, that pushed a planned Thursday vote past midnight, then delayed it to Friday morning — but did nothing to dent Democratic unity…. The bill still has a long and difficult road ahead. Democratic leaders must coax it through the 50-50 Senate and navigate a tortuous budget process that is almost certain to reshape the measure and force it back to the House — if it passes at all. But even pared back from the $3.5 trillion plan that Mr. Biden originally sought, the legislation could prove as transformative as any since the Great Society and War on Poverty in the 1960s, especially for young families and older Americans. The Congressional Budget Office published an official cost estimate on Thursday afternoon that found the package would increase the federal budget deficit by $160 billion over 10 years.” See also, House passes roughly $2 trillion spending package that would expand social benefits and fight climate change. The battle now moves to the Senate. The Washington Post, Tony Romm, Friday, 19 November 2021: “More than a year after President Biden clinched the White House on a pledge to ‘build back better,’ House Democrats advanced that promise, voting Friday to approve more than $2 trillion in spending initiatives that would overhaul federal health-careeducationclimateimmigration and tax laws. The measure amounts to a dramatic re-envisioning of the role of government in Americans’ daily lives. It sets aside in some cases historic sums to aid workers, families and businesses, seeking to rewire the very fabric of an economy still recovering from the financial devastation wrought by the coronavirus pandemic. The successful 220-to-213 House vote on the Build Back Better Act, bearing the name of the president’s 2020 campaign slogan, marks the second legislative milestone for Democrats this month. It comes about two weeks after they joined with Republicans to finalize a separate, sweeping bill to improve the nation’s roads, bridges, pipes, ports and Internet connections, delivering long-sought infrastructure investments that Biden signed into law Monday.” See also, House Democrats passed their $1.7 Trillion spending bill, but Senate changes loom, Politico, Heather Caygle, Sarah Ferris, and Nicholas Wu, Friday, 19 November 2021: “The House passed a sweeping $1.7 trillion spending bill Friday, a major step forward for the health care and climate package before action turns to the Senate, where an uncertain fate awaits. The behemoth bill is the most significant restructuring of the social safety net in decades, touching nearly every aspect of American life from universal pre-K to college assistance to elder care. Democrats also hope the landmark legislation can help them beat the historical odds and maintain full control of Congress next year…. All but one Democrat — Rep. Jared Golden (D-Maine) — voted in favor of the package, with all Republicans opposed.” See also, What’s in the $2.2 Trillion Social Policy and Climate Bill. The package includes $400 billion to bolster support for children and families, $555 billion for climate change programs, and $166 billion in housing aid. The New York Times, Friday, 19 November 2021. See also, The House Just Passed Biden’s Build Back Better Bill. Here’s What’s In It. Time, Nik Popli and Abby Vesoulis, Friday, 19 November 2021.

Kyle Rittenhouse Is Acquitted on All Counts. In a case that fueled debate over gun rights and vigilantism, the jury appeared to accept Mr. Rittenhouse’s explanation that he had acted reasonably to defend himself during demonstrations. The New York Times, Julie Bosman, Friday, 19 November 2021: “Kyle Rittenhouse, who fatally shot two men and wounded another amid protests and rioting over police conduct in Kenosha, Wis., was found not guilty of homicide and other charges on Friday, in a deeply divisive case that ignited a national debate over vigilantism, gun rights and the definition of self-defense. After about 26 hours of deliberation, a jury appeared to accept Mr. Rittenhouse’s explanation that he had acted reasonably to defend himself in an unruly and turbulent scene in August 2020, days after a white police officer shot Jacob Blake, a Black resident, during a summer of unrest following the murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer…. The case reflected the sharp split in the country, and political leaders and others weighed in almost immediately, conservatives deeming it a win for the notion of self-defense and liberals labeling it a failure of the criminal justice system. Gov. Gavin Newsom of California, said the verdict served as a message to ‘armed vigilantes’ that ‘you can break the law, carry around weapons built for a military, shoot and kill people, and get away with it.'” See also, Kyle Rittenhouse is acquitted on all counts in Kenosha Shootings, The Washington Post, Mark Guarino, Kim Bellware, Mark Berman, Holly Bailey, and María Luisa Paúl, Friday, 19 November 2021: “A jury acquitted Kyle Rittenhouse on all counts after deliberating for nearly three and a half days. Jurors in the polarizing case found Rittenhouse, 18, not guilty of homicide, attempted homicide and other charges related to the August 2020 shootings in Kenosha, Wis. Rittenhouse, who was 17 at the time, shot and killed Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, and Anthony Huber, 26, and injured Gaige Grosskreutz, who was 26 at the time. Rittenhouse testified that he had fired in self-defense and pleaded not guilty to all counts. The trial has revived nationwide scrutiny of Kenosha, where Black residents say the same issues that fueled last year’s unrest still persist.

  • The prosecution and the defense presented dramatically different narratives of the shootings. In the prosecution’s telling, Rittenhouse was a dangerous instigator who acted recklessly. The defense, meanwhile, said he was ‘trying to help this community’ but was attacked.
  • In a statement, Kenosha County District Attorney Michael Graveley said that he and his colleagues ‘respect the jury verdict. We ask that all members of the public accept the verdicts peacefully and not resort to violence,’ he said.
  • Rittenhouse’s defenders saw justice at work. His critics recorded one more count against a fundamentally unfair legal system.
  • The parents of Anthony Huber, one of the men shot and killed by Rittenhouse, said they are ‘heartbroken and angry’ over the acquittal. Outside the courthouse, the family of Jacob Blake called the decision a miscarriage of justice. ‘I don’t know how they came to the final conclusion that he’s innocent, but this is why African Americans say the whole damn system is guilty,’ said Justin Blake, Jacob’s uncle.

Republican politicians praise Kyle Rittenhouse verdict: ‘I will arm wrestle @mattgaetz to get dibs for Kyle as an intern,’ Representative Paul Gosar wrote on Twitter, Business Insider, Bryan Metzger, Friday, 19 November 2021: “Republican members of Congress were elated on Friday after a Wisconsin jury found 18-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse not guilty on all charges after he shot and killed two men and injured another during racial justice protests in Kenosha, Wisconsin, in August 2020. The trial, which lasted two weeks and concluded with 3 1/2 days of deliberation by the jury, quickly became a high-profile media event that drew attention from both liberals and conservatives. Rittenhouse pleaded not guilty. Republicans, touting the jury’s verdict as a political victory, took to Twitter to express their satisfaction. ‘May Kyle and his family now live in peace,’ wrote Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene. ‘Kyle is one of [the] good ones.’ Rep. Paul Gosar, who was censured by the House on Wednesday after he posted an anime video edited to show him killing Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, said on Twitter that he would ‘arm wrestle’ Rep. Matt Gaetz in order to ‘get dibs for Kyle as an intern.’ Gaetz said on Wednesday that he was interested in hiring Rittenhouse as an intern. ‘He deserves a “not guilty” verdict, and I sure hope he gets it, because you know what, Kyle Rittenhouse would probably make a pretty good congressional intern,’ Gaetz said at the time. ‘We may reach out to him and see if he’d be interested in helping the country in additional ways.’ And Rep. Madison Cawthorn posted a video on Instagram live that included text that read ‘KYLE: IF YOU WANT AN INTERNSHIP, REACH OUT TO ME.’ You have a right to defend yourself. Be armed, be dangerous, and be moral,’ Cawthorn said in the video.” See also, The Outsized Meaning of the Kyle Rittenhouse Verdict. A Wisconsin self-defense law made it difficult for the jury to convict–an outcome that was celebrated by the Republican Party’s violent fringe. The New Yorker, Paige Williams, Friday, 19 November 2021: “Two portraits of Rittenhouse emerged during the two-week trial. The defense portrayed him as a selfless teen-ager and aspiring law-enforcement officer or paramedic who wanted to help defend Kenosha and provide first aid. Prosecutors argued that Rittenhouse courted trouble by hubristically inserting himself into a volatile situation—he volunteered to help guard property that he did not own, in a city where he did not live, while flaunting, confusingly, both a first-aid kit and a semi-automatic rifle…. If the right saw the verdict as an affirmation of vigilantism, so, too, did their opponents. Moments after the verdict, the political consultant David Axelrod tweeted, ‘A dangerous, dangerous precedent.’ Jake Spence, the state director of Wisconsin Working Families Party, called the outcome ‘an abject failure’ of the criminal-justice system, whose presumed goal is ‘to promote well-being, public safety and justice for all.’ The Atlantic contributor David French, a conservative and an Iraq War veteran who has written about his decision to carry a concealed weapon, recently observed that ‘one of the symbols of the American hard right is the “patriot” openly carrying an AR-15 or similar weapon.’ He described Rittenhouse as ‘the next step in that progression. He’s the “patriot” who didn’t just carry his rifle; he used it.’… Rittenhouse did not have formal firearms training, yet Wisconsin’s law allowed him to openly carry a semi-automatic rifle, the type of weapon that is colloquially known as an AR-15…. In his reflections on the trial, French worried that ‘a political movement that turns a deadly and ineffective vigilante into a role model is a movement that is courting more violence.'” See also, Op-Ed: The verdict in the Kyle Rittenhouse trial sends a chilling message, Los Angeles Times, Erwin Chemerinsky, Friday, 19 November 2021: “A jury decides only the case before it, based on the evidence presented. But its verdict can send a message to society. The acquittal of Kyle Rittenhouse on all counts sends a chilling message about the acceptability of vigilantism. At a time when the United States is deeply ideologically polarized and the Supreme Court is likely soon to recognize a right to have concealed weapons in public, the social implications of the Rittenhouse verdict are frightening. Rittenhouse, then age 17, went to Kenosha, Wis., where protests were expected after police officers shot and seriously injured Jacob Blake. Rittenhouse had an AR-15-style rifle, which he was too young to legally possess. A teenager carrying an assault-style weapon in a tense situation is a recipe for disaster, and that is exactly what happened. Rittenhouse shot and killed two people and seriously wounded a third. Rittenhouse testified at the trial that he went to the city on Aug. 25, 2020, to provide protection for local businesses and patrol as civil unrest developed. There is so much that is disturbing about that: a teenager deciding that he needed to provide law enforcement, when he lacked training or experience, and illegally arming himself with a semiautomatic rifle. Not surprisingly, Rittenhouse’s presence with a big weapon provoked a reaction. Joseph Rosenbaum, a person with a history of mental illness who had been released from the hospital that day, allegedly grabbed at Rittenhouse’s gun and then was shot four times and killed. Anthony Huber apparently struck Rittenhouse with a skateboard. Huber then was shot and killed when Rittenhouse thought Huber was reaching for his weapon. Gaige Grosskreutz felt his life was in danger when he saw Huber killed. Grosskreutz reached for a weapon and then was shot and wounded by Rittenhouse. The jury, in acquitting Rittenhouse, obviously thought that in each instance Rittenhouse felt sufficiently threatened that he acted in self-defense. The jury, as it was instructed to do, apparently focused just on whether Rittenhouse felt in danger each time he fired his gun. I worry that the acquittal conveys the message that Rittenhouse did nothing wrong — and some on the right even want to celebrate him as a hero. But looking at the events in this way obscures what precipitated these shootings: a 17-year-old with an assault weapon was misguidedly taking the law into his own hands.”

Antarctic ice sheet changed alarmingly quickly in the past, and it may be happening again now. Patterns of rapid ice loss in the past could predict style of future Antarctic ice sheet retreat. UNSW Sydney Newsroom, Friday, 19 November 2021: “The melting of the Antarctic Ice Sheet may have already passed a point of no return, a new study has found, and scientists say it could contribute to sea level rise over coming centuries and possibly millennia. The study, published overnight in Nature Communications and co-authored by Dr Zoë Thomas and Professor Chris Turney from UNSW Sydney, used geological data from Antarctica combined with computer models and statistical analyses to understand how recent changes compared to those from the past going back thousands of years.

‘Our study reveals that during times in the past when the ice sheet retreated, the periods of rapid mass loss “switched on” very abruptly, within only a decade or two,’ says Dr Thomas. ‘Interestingly, after the ice sheet continued to retreat for several hundred years, it “switched off” again, also only taking a couple of decades.'”

Wisconsin Republicans Push to Take Over the State’s Elections. Led by Senator Ron Johnson, Republican officials want to eliminate a bipartisan elections agency–and maybe send its members to jail. The New York Times, Reid J. Epstein, Friday, 19 November 2021: “Republicans in Wisconsin are engaged in an all-out assault on the state’s election system, building off their attempts to challenge the results of the 2020 presidential race by pressing to give themselves full control over voting in the state. The Republican effort — broader and more forceful than that in any other state where allies of former President Donald J. Trump are trying to overhaul elections — takes direct aim at the bipartisan Wisconsin Elections Commission, an agency Republicans created half a decade ago that has been under attack since the chaotic aftermath of last year’s election. The onslaught picked up late last month after a long-awaited report on the 2020 results that was ordered by Republican state legislators found no evidence of fraud but made dozens of suggestions for the election commission and the G.O.P.-led Legislature, fueling Republican demands for more control of elections.” See also, More than a year after Donald Trump’s loss, Wisconsin Republicans wage relentless attacks on the state’s election commission, CNN Politics, Fredreka Schouten, published on Saturday, 20 November 2021: “Republicans in Wisconsin are engaging in a multi-pronged attack on the state’s bipartisan election commission — in one of the latest efforts to relitigate the 2020 election in a key presidential battleground state. Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson has publicly urged fellow Republicans who control the Wisconsin Legislature to take over the running of federal elections in the state and direct local officials to ignore election guidance issued by the Wisconsin Elections Commission. His push, first reported by The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, comes after a Republican sheriff in Racine County called for five members of the state’s six-member election commission to be charged with felonies because they waived a requirement to send poll workers into nursing homes during the pandemic. On Monday, Rebecca Kleefisch, a Republican running for governor, asked the Wisconsin Supreme Court to find that the commission’s election guidance runs counter to state law. Johnson’s calls for a legislative takeover of the elections system demonstrate ‘the firm grasp that the (Donald) Trump wing of the Republican Party has not only everywhere, but particularly here in Wisconsin,’ said Jay Heck, who runs the state branch of Common Cause.”

Federal judge Amit Mehta faults Trump for January 6 attack on the Capitol, Politico, Kyle Cheney, Friday, 19 November 2021: “A federal judge on Friday squarely placed the blame for the Jan. 6 Capitol attack on Donald Trump, suggesting that the former president’s role in seeding lies about the 2020 election — and the effect it had on his followers — has been an underappreciated part of the entire episode. Judge Amit Mehta issued his commentary as he delivered a 14-day jail sentence to Jan. 6 rioter John Lolos — a sentence Mehta said he shortened in part to reflect the fact that Lolos was responding to Trump’s call. ‘He didn’t purposely come to Washington, D.C., to storm the Capitol,’ said Mehta. ‘The fact remains that he and others were called to Washington, D.C., by an elected official, prompted to walk to the Capitol by an elected official. People like Mr. Lolos were told lies, told falsehoods, told our election was stolen when it clearly was not,’ Mehta continued, adding that the defendants were paying for conduct that was largely enabled by Trump and his allies. ‘We’re here today deciding whether Mr. Lolos should spend 30 days in jail when those who created the conditions that led to Mr. Lolos’ conduct, led to the events of Jan. 6 [haven’t been] held to account for their actions and their word. In a sense, Mr. Lolos, I think you were a pawn,’ Mehta continued. ‘You were a pawn in a game directed and played by people who should know better. I think that mitigates your conduct.'” See also, Federal judge Amit Mehta says Trump has responsibility for January 6 attack on the Capitol, calling the rioter a ‘pawn,’ CNN Politics, Hannah Rabinowitz, Friday, 19 November 2021: “A federal judge suggested Friday that former President Donald Trump had some responsibility for the January 6 attack on the Capitol and that rioters were pawns provoked into action. Speaking at sentencing hearing for rioter John Lolos, the judge said rallygoers like him were ‘called to Washington, DC, by an elected official, prompted to walk to the Capitol by an elected official.’ Judge Amit Mehta called individuals who stormed the building ‘a pawn in the game played by people who know better.'”

Biden Nominates Two New Postal Service Board Members. The president moved to replace two members who have been supporters of Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, a step that could portend a shift in leadership at the agency. The New York Times, Madeleine Ngo, Friday, 19 November 2021: “President Biden on Friday nominated two new members to the U.S. Postal Service’s board of governors, a move that could jeopardize Louis DeJoy’s position as postmaster general. Mr. Biden nominated Daniel M. Tangherlini, a former administrator of the General Services Administration during the Obama administration, and Derek Kan, a Republican business executive and former deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget during the Trump administration, to serve on the board. The president chose Mr. Tangherlini and Mr. Kan to succeed two board members whose terms are ending next month and who have been close allies of Mr. DeJoy. Those two members — Ron Bloom, the board’s chairman and a Democrat, and John M. Barger, a Republican — were appointed by President Donald J. Trump. Mr. DeJoy, a Trump campaign megadonor and former business executive, has been mired in controversy over cost-cutting measures that were faulted for slowing mail delivery during the 2020 election, when many voters used absentee ballots amid the coronavirus pandemic. The postmaster general can be removed only by the board of governors. The board is currently made up of four Democrats, four Republicans and an independent. No more than five governors may be from the same party. The announcement came as a surprise to postal industry officials, who expected Mr. Biden to renominate Mr. Bloom, a former Obama administration official and managing partner at Brookfield Asset Management, a real estate investment firm. Last week, the board re-elected Mr. Bloom as chairman over the objections of two board members nominated by Mr. Biden; the members had called on the board to postpone a vote. Mr. Bloom has stood by Mr. DeJoy and has voiced support for his 10-year plan that would raise some prices and slow service in an effort to recoup billions in projected losses. In testimony before a House committee in February, Mr. Bloom backed the plan and said it would revitalize the agency.”


Saturday, 20 November 202:


How Facebook and Google fund global misinformation. The tech giants are paying millions of dollars to the operators of clickbait pages, bankrolling the deterioration of information ecosystems around the world. MIT Technology Review, Karen Hao, Saturday, 20 November 2021: “Over the last few weeks, the revelations from the Facebook Papers, a collection of internal documents provided to Congress and a consortium of news organizations by whistleblower Frances Haugen, have reaffirmed what civil society groups have been saying for years: Facebook’s algorithmic amplification of inflammatory content, combined with its failure to prioritize content moderation outside the US and Europe, has fueled the spread of hate speech and misinformation, dangerously destabilizing countries around the world. But there’s a crucial piece missing from the story. Facebook isn’t just amplifying misinformation. The company is also funding it. An MIT Technology Review investigation, based on expert interviews, data analyses, and documents that were not included in the Facebook Papers, has found that Facebook and Google are paying millions of ad dollars to bankroll clickbait actors, fueling the deterioration of information ecosystems around the world.”


Sunday, 21 November 2021:


Republican Donors Back Democratic Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema as the Senators Reshape Biden’s Agenda. The two Democratic senators are attracting campaign contributions from business interests and conservatives as progressives fume over their efforts to pare back the president’s domestic policy bill. The New York Times, Kenneth P. Vogel and Kate Kelly, Friday, 21 November 2021: “Over the summer, as he was working to scale back President Biden’s domestic agenda, Senator Joe Manchin III of West Virginia traveled to an $18 million mansion in Dallas for a fund-raiser that attracted Republican and corporate donors who have cheered on his efforts. In September, Senator Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, who along with Mr. Manchin has been a major impediment to the White House’s efforts to pass its package of social and climate policy, stopped by the same home to raise money from a similar cast of donors for her campaign coffers. Even as Ms. Sinema and Mr. Manchin, both Democrats, have drawn fire from the left for their efforts to shrink and reshape Mr. Biden’s proposals, they have won growing financial support from conservative-leaning donors and business executives in a striking display of how party affiliation can prove secondary to special interests and ideological motivations when the stakes are high enough.Ms. Sinema is winning more financial backing from Wall Street and constituencies on the  right in large part for her opposition to raising personal and corporate income tax rates. Mr. Manchin has attracted new Republican-leaning donors as he has fought against much of his own party to scale back the size of Mr. Biden’s legislation and limit new social welfare components.”

Leaked Texts: January 6 Organizers Say They Were ‘Following POTUS’ Lead.’ Rally planners coordinated closely with the White House before January 6 and readied a dinner party while the Capitol was under siege, according to leaked group text messages obtained by Rolling Stone. Rolling Stone, Hunter Walker, Sunday, 21 November 2021: ‘At 5:30 pm on Jan. 6, police were in their third hour of battle with supporters of former President Trump on the steps of the U.S. Capitol. Meanwhile, about a mile away in a suite at the Willard Intercontinental Hotel, Amy Kremer, a conservative activist who organized a major pro-Trump rally near the White House that preceded the violence, apparently had hors d’oeuvres on her mind. Kremer sent her fellow rally organizers a text preceded by three siren emojis. It was an urgent update. ‘We ordered dinner again tonight. Sorry, but we forgot to take orders in the chaos of the event this morning, so we just ordered the same thing as last night. I figured that was better than not eating. Lol,’ Kremer wrote. ‘Cheese & Charcuterie should be here at 6PM and dinner around 7PM.’ An emergency curfew took effect and National Guard troops arrived at the Capitol to clear the remaining crowds at roughly the same time Kremer and her fellow organizers received their cured meats. Three sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity due to the ongoing investigations into the rally, told Rolling Stone that, along with food, people were drinking champagne in the suite while rioters skirmished with law enforcement at the Capitol complex. Kremer’s insurrection night dinner order was detailed in a series of text messages and group chats from January 6 rally organizers that were obtained and reviewed by Rolling Stone. The messages included months of discussions as Kremer’s ‘March For Trump’ group staged a bus tour around the country to protest the former president’s election loss. The conversations revealed new details of the rally organizers’ coordination with the Trump White House…. The texts reviewed by Rolling Stone reveal that on December 13, 2020, Kremer texted the group to say she was ‘still waiting to hear from the WH on the photo op with the bus.’ On January 1, before the Ellipse rally was publicly announced, Kylie sent a message to another group chat that said she was still working on the permits and ‘just FYI – we still can’t tweet out about the ellipse. We are following POTUS’ lead,’ Kylie wrote, using an abbreviation for the president. Two days later, on January 3, March For Trump activist Dustin Stockton texted one of the team’s groups to ask who was ‘handling’ rally credentials for VIPs. ‘It’s a combination of us and WH,’ Kylie replied.”

Two Fox News Contributors Quit in Protest of Tucker Carlson’s January 6 Special. Jonah Goldberg and Stephen Hayes, stars of a brand of conservatism that has fallen out of fashion, decide they’ve had enough. The New York Times, Ben Smith, Sunday, 21 November 2021: “The trailer for Tucker Carlson’s special about the Jan. 6 mob at the Capitol landed online on Oct. 27, and that night Jonah Goldberg sent a text to his business partner, Stephen Hayes: ‘I’m tempted just to quit Fox over this.’ ‘I’m game,’ Mr. Hayes replied. ‘Totally outrageous. It will lead to violence. Not sure how we can stay.’ The full special, ‘Patriot Purge,’ appeared on Fox’s online subscription streaming service days later. And last week, the two men, both paid Fox News contributors, finalized their resignations from the network. In some ways, their departures should not be surprising: It’s simply part of the new right’s mopping up operation in the corners of conservative institutions that still house pockets of resistance to Donald J. Trump’s control of the Republican Party. Mr. Goldberg, a former National Review writer, and Mr. Hayes, a former Weekly Standard writer, were stars of the pre-Trump conservative movement. They clearly staked out their positions in 2019 when they founded The Dispatch, an online publication that they described as ‘a place that thoughtful readers can come for conservative, fact-based news and commentary.’ It now has nearly 30,000 paying subscribers. Their departures also mark the end of a lingering hope among some at Fox News — strange as this is for outsiders to understand — that the channel would at some point return to a pre-Trump reality that was also often hyperpartisan, but that kept some distance from Republican officials. Fox’s chairman, Rupert Murdoch, recently deplored Trumpism while acting as though — as Bloomberg’s Tim O’Brien noted — he didn’t run the company. The reality of Fox and similar institutions is that many of their leaders feel that the tight bond between Mr. Trump and their audiences or constituents leaves them little choice but to go along, whatever they believe. Fox employees often speak of this in terms of ‘respecting the audience.”’And in a polarized age, the greatest opportunities for ratings, money and attention, as politicians and media outlets left and right have demonstrated, are on the extreme edges of American politics.” See also, Stephen Hayes and Jonah Goldberg, two Fox News commentators resign over Tucker Carlson series on the January 6 siege of the Capitol, NPR, David Folkenflik, published on Monday, 22 November 2021: “Two longtime conservative Fox News commentators have resigned in protest of what they call a pattern of incendiary and fabricated claims by the network’s opinion hosts in support of former President Donald Trump. In separate interviews with NPR, Stephen Hayes and Jonah Goldberg pointed to a breaking point earlier this month: network star Tucker Carlson’s three-part series on the Jan. 6 siege of the U.S. Capitol that relied on fabrications and conspiracy theories to exonerate the Trump supporters who participated in the attack. ‘It’s basically saying that the Biden regime is coming after half the country and this is the War on Terror 2.0,’ Goldberg tells NPR. ‘It traffics in all manner of innuendo and conspiracy theories that I think legitimately could lead to violence. That for me, and for Steve, was the last straw.'” See also, Two Fox News pundits quit over concerns about ‘conspiracy-mongering’ January 6 documentary. Conservative writers Jonah Goldberg and Stephen Hayes said ‘the voices of the responsible are being drowned out by the irresposnible’ at Fox. The Washington Post, Jeremy Barr, published on Monday, 22 November 2021: “Two longtime Fox News commentators, Jonah Goldberg and Stephen Hayes, have cut ties with the cable news giant over a recent documentary series that cast doubt about whether a violent insurrection really occurred on Jan 6. The ‘Patriot Purge’ series, which aired this month on the Fox Nation streaming service, featured several rioters who floated an unfounded conspiracy theory that the federal government facilitated the storming of the U.S. Capitol to entrap supporters of Donald Trump. Fox’s decision to air the series drew bipartisan backlash — and it was the final straw for Goldberg and Hayes, they said. The series ‘is a collection of incoherent conspiracy-mongering, riddled with factual inaccuracies, half-truths, deceptive imagery, and damning omissions,’ Goldberg and Hayes wrote in a blog post on Sunday night, concluding that ‘the voices of the responsible are being drowned out by the irresponsible’ at Fox News.”

Statement in Support of the Freedom to Vote Act by Scholars of Democracy, New America, Sunday, 21 November 2021: “We, the undersigned, are scholars of democracy writing in support of the Freedom to Vote Act, the most important piece of legislation to defend and strengthen American democracy since the Voting Rights Act of 1965. This bill would protect our elections from interference, partisan gerrymandering, dark money, and voter suppression. We urge all members of Congress to pass the bill, if necessary by suspending the Senate filibuster rule and using a simple majority vote. This is no ordinary moment in the course of our democracy. It is a moment of great peril and risk. Though disputes over the legitimacy of America’s elections have been growing for two decades, they have taken a catastrophic turn since the 2020 election. The ‘Big Lie’ of a stolen election is now widely accepted among Republican voters, and support for it has become a litmus test for Republicans running for public office. Republican state legislatures in Georgia, Florida, Texas, and across the country have enacted partisan laws intended to make it harder for Democrats to win elections. Most alarmingly, these laws have forged legal pathways for partisan politicians to overturn state election results if they are dissatisfied with the outcome…. If Congress fails to pass the Freedom to Vote Act, American democracy will be at critical risk. Not only could this failure undermine the minimum condition for electoral democracy—free and fair elections—but it would in turn likely result in an extended period of minority rule, which a majority of the country would reject as undemocratic and illegitimate. This would have grave consequences not only for our democracy, but for political order, economic prosperity, and the national security of the United States as well. Defenders of democracy in America still have a slim window of opportunity to act. But time is ticking away, and midnight is approaching. To lose our democracy but preserve the filibuster in its current form—in which a minority can block popular legislation without even having to hold the floor—would be a short-sighted mistake of historic proportions. The remarkable history of the American system of government is replete with critical, generational moments in which liberal democracy itself was under threat, and Congress asserted its central leadership role in proving that a system of free and fair elections can work. We urge the Senate to suspend the filibuster rule for this measure and pass the Freedom to Vote Act. This would uphold the Senate’s noblest tradition of preserving and strengthening American democracy.”

Facebook’s race-blind practices around hate speech came at the expense of Black users, new documents show. Researchers proposed a fix to the biased algorithm, but one internal document predicted pushback from ‘conservative partners.’ The Washington Post, Elizabeth Dwoskin, Nitasha Tiku, and Craig Timberg, Sunday, 21 November 2021: “Last year, researchers at Facebook showed executives an example of the kind of hate speech circulating on the social network: an actual post featuring an image of four female Democratic lawmakers known collectively as ‘The Squad.’ The poster, whose name was scrubbed out for privacy, referred to the women, two of whom are Muslim, as ‘swami rag heads.’ A comment from another person used even more vulgar language, referring to the four women of color as ‘black c—s,’ according to internal company documents exclusively obtained by The Washington Post. The post represented theworst of the worst’ language on Facebook — the majority of it directed at minority groups, according to a two-year effort by a large team working across the company, the document said. The researchers urged executives to adopt an aggressive overhaul of its software system that would primarily remove only those hateful posts before any Facebook users could see them. But Facebook’s leaders balked at the plan. According to two people familiar with the internal debate, top executives including Vice President for Global Public Policy Joel Kaplan feared the new system would tilt the scales by protecting some vulnerable groups over others. A policy executive prepared a document for Kaplan that raised the potential for backlash from ‘conservative partners,’ according to the document. The people spoke to The Post on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive internal matters. The previously unreported debate is an example of how Facebook’s decisions in the name of being neutral and race-blind in fact come at the expense of minorities and particularly people of color. Far from protecting Black and other minority users, Facebook executives wound up instituting half-measures after the ‘worst of the worst’ project that left minorities more likely to encounter derogatory and racist language on the site, the people said.”


Monday, 22 November 2021:


Republican National Committee agrees to pay some of Trump’s legal bills in New York criminal investigation, The Washington Post, David A. Fahrenthold, Josh Dawsey, Isaac Stanley-Becker, and Shayna Jacobs, Monday, 22 November 2021: “The Republican National Committee is paying some personal legal bills for former president Donald Trump, spending party funds to pay a lawyer representing Trump in investigations into his financial practices in New York, a party spokeswoman said Monday. In October, the RNC made two payments totaling $121,670 to the law firm of Ronald Fischetti, a veteran defense attorney whom Trump hired in April. According to a person with direct knowledge of the payments, the requests came earlier this summer but were voted on by the party’s executive committee only in recent weeks. Fischetti has been representing Trump as he faces investigations by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. (D) and New York Attorney General Letitia James (D). There has been no indication that either investigation involves Trump’s time as president or any of his political campaigns. A person familiar with the RNC’s decision who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal conversations said the organization was willing to foot the bills because James has made comments indicating she wanted to go after Trump. James in 2018 told supporters that she intended to investigate Trump, noting that ‘I will be shining a bright light into every dark corner of his real estate dealings.’ James has said her investigation is following the law and not guided by politics.”

New York prosecutors set sights on new Trump target: Widely different valuations on the same properties, The Washington Post, David A. Fahrenthold, Jonathan O’Connell, Josh Dawsey, and Shayna Jacobs, Monday, 22 November 2021: “The Trump Organization owns an office building at 40 Wall Street in Manhattan. In 2012, when the company was listing its assets for potential lenders, it said the building was worth $527 million — which would make it among the most valuable in New York. But just a few months later, the Trump Organization told property tax officials that the entire 70-story building was worth less than a high-end Manhattan condo: just $16.7 million, according to newly released city records. That was less than one-thirtieth the amount it had claimed the year before. That property is now under scrutiny from the Manhattan district attorney and New York attorney general, along with several others like it for which the Trump Organization gave vastly different value estimates, according to public records and people familiar with their investigations who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss ongoing inquiries.”

U.S. listed as a ‘backsliding’ democracy for first time in report by European think tank, The Washington Post, Miriam Berger, Monday, 22 November 2021: “The United States for the first time was added to a list of “backsliding democracies” in a report released Monday by the Stockholm-based International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance. ‘The United States, the bastion of global democracy, fell victim to authoritarian tendencies itself, and was knocked down a significant number of steps on the democratic scale,’ the International IDEA’s Global State of Democracy 2021 report said. The study, which analyzed trends from 2020 to 2021, found that more than a quarter of the world’s population now lives in democratically backsliding countries, which International IDEA defines as nations seeing a gradual decline in the quality of their democracy. ‘The world is becoming more authoritarian as nondemocratic regimes become even more brazen in their repression and many democratic governments suffer from backsliding by adopting their tactics of restricting free speech and weakening the rule of law, exacerbated by what threatens to become a “new normal” of covid-19 restrictions,’ the report found. ‘The number [of countries] moving in the direction of authoritarianism is three times the number moving toward democracy.’ International IDEA classes countries as democratic (which includes those backsliding), ‘hybrid,’ and authoritarian, the latter two of which it considers to be nondemocratic. It bases its analysis on 50 years of democratic indicators tracked in about 160 countries. The report found that some of ‘the most worrying’ democratic backsliding happened in some of the world’s largest countries, including Brazil and India. It also highlighted ‘concerning democratic declines’ in the United States and three European Union members: Hungary, Poland and Slovenia. The report’s U.S. assessment centered on developments during President Donald Trump’s administration. It called Trump’s factually baseless questioning of the legitimacy of the 2020 election results a ‘historic turning point’ that ‘undermined fundamental trust in the electoral process’ and culminated in the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. Trump’s tactics had ‘spillover effects, including in Brazil, Mexico, Myanmar and Peru, among others,’ the report concluded.”

January 6 House committee subpoenas Alex Jones, Roger Stone, and other Trump allies. The committee’s new batch of subpoenas is in connection with a rally held near the Capitol shortly before a pro-Trump mob stormed the building. NBC News, Dartunorro Clark and Haley Talbot, Monday, 22 November 2021: “The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol issued subpoenas on Monday to high-profile allies of former President Donald Trump, including Roger Stone and Alex Jones. The committee is looking at Stone, a longtime adviser to Trump, and Jones, a conspiracy theorist who claimed that the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in Connecticut was a ‘giant hoax,’ in connection with a rally held near the Capitol shortly before a pro-Trump mob stormed the building in early January. The committee is demanding records and testimony from three other individuals as well: Dustin Stockton, who the committee said assisted in organizing a series of rallies after the November election; Jennifer Lawrence who was also involved in organizing rallies, including the one that preceded the Capitol riot, according to the panel; and Taylor Budowich, who organized an advertising campaign to encourage attendance at the Jan. 6 rally, the panel said. ‘We need to know who organized, planned, paid for, and received funds related to those events, as well as what communications organizers had with officials in the White House and Congress,’ the committee’s chair, Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., said in a statement Monday. ‘We believe the witnesses we subpoenaed today have relevant information and we expect them to cooperate fully with our effort to get answers for the American people about the violence of January 6th.'” See also, Roger Stone and Alex Jones subpoenaed by House committee investigating January 6 attack, The Washington Post, Jacqueline Alemany and Tom Hamburger, Monday, 22 November 2021: “The House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol issued subpoenas Monday to more people involved with the Stop the Steal rally, including conspiracy theorist and right-wing media figure Alex Jones and longtime Donald Trump ally Roger Stone. The committee has asked Stone and Jones to provide testimony by Dec. 17 and Dec. 18, respectively, and to provide the panel with requested documents by Dec. 6. Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-Miss.), the committee’s chairman, wrote that Jones’s coordination with Cindy Chafian and Caroline Wren in organizing the rally that preceded the attack on the Capitol, along with his promotion of Trump’s false claims of election fraud and urging of people to travel to Washington for the Jan. 6 rally, make him a person of interest. Thompson cites Stone’s appearance at rallies on Jan. 5 at the Supreme Court and Freedom Plaza as reason for the subpoena, along with his use of ‘Oath Keepers as personal security guards, several of whom were reportedly involved in the attack on the Capitol and at least one of whom has been indicted.’ The roles that the high-profile right-wing figures played in the Jan. 6 Capitol breach — and their potential ties to those who committed violence in the riot — are also being investigated by the Justice Department and the FBI. The investigation is ongoing.” See also, House Panel Subpoenas Roger Stone and Alex Jones in Capitol Riot Inquiry. Investigators summon five more allies of former President Donald J. Trump as they dig further into the the planning and financing of rallies before the January 6 attack. The New York Times, Luke Broadwater, Monday, 22 November 2021: “The House committee investigating the Capitol attack issued five new subpoenas on Monday, focusing on allies of former President Donald J. Trump who helped draw crowds to Washington before the riot on Jan. 6, including the political operative Roger J. Stone Jr. and the conspiracy theorist Alex Jones. The subpoenas, which come after the committee has interviewed more than 200 witnesses, indicate that investigators are intent on learning the details of the planning and financing of rallies that drew Mr. Trump’s supporters to Washington based on his lies of a stolen election, fueling the violence that engulfed Congress and delayed the formalization of President Biden’s victory.”

Judge orders two lawyers who filed suit challenging 2020 election to pay hefty fees: ‘They need to take responsibility,’ The Washington Post, Rosalind S. Helderman, Monday, 22 November 2021: “A federal judge has ordered two Colorado lawyers who filed a lawsuit late last year challenging the 2020 election results to pay nearly $187,000 to defray the legal fees of groups they sued, arguing that the hefty penalty was proper to deter others from using frivolous suits to undermine the democratic system. ‘As officers of the Court, these attorneys have a higher duty and calling that requires meaningful investigation before prematurely repeating in court pleadings unverified and uninvestigated defamatory rumors that strike at the heart of our democratic system and were used by others to foment a violent insurrection that threatened our system of government,’ wrote Magistrate Judge N. Reid Neureiter. ‘They are experienced lawyers who should have known better. They need to take responsibility for their misconduct,’ he wrote. The two lawyers, Gary D. Fielder and Ernest John Walker, filed the case in December 2020 as a class action on behalf of 160 million American voters, alleging there was a complicated plot to steal the election from President Donald Trump and give the victory to Joe Biden.”

Sean Parnell Suspends His Republican Senate Bid in Pennsylvania. Mr. Parnell, who was endorsed by Donald Trump in one of the highest-profile 2022 Senate races, had been accused by his estranged wife of spousal and child abuse. The New York Times, Jennifer Median, Monday, 22 November 2021: “Sean Parnell, a leading Republican candidate for Senate in Pennsylvania, suspended his campaign on Monday after a judge ruled that his estranged wife should get primary custody of their three children in a case in which she accused him of spousal and child abuse. Mr. Parnell, who was endorsed by former President Donald J. Trump, said he was ‘devastated’ by the decision and planned to appeal…. Mr. Parnell’s wife, Laurie Snell, testified in court this month that Mr. Parnell had repeatedly abused her and their children, choking her and hitting one of their children so hard that he left a welt on the child’s back. In a ruling last week that was made public on Monday, a Butler County judge wrote that he had found Ms. Snell to be ‘the more credible witness’ and that he believed Mr. Parnell had committed ‘some acts of abuse in the past.’ The Pennsylvania seat, currently held by Senator Pat Toomey, a Republican, is widely considered one of the most competitive Senate races in 2022.”


Tuesday, 23 November 2021:


House Panel Investigating Capitol Attack Subpoenas Proud Boys and Oath Keepers. Investigators believe three militia or paramilitary groups have information about the deadly siege on January 6. The New York Times, Luke Broadwater and Alan Feuer, Tuesday, 23 November 2021: “The House committee investigating the Capitol attack issued subpoenas on Tuesday to three militia or paramilitary groups, including the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers, that investigators believe have information about the deadly siege on Jan. 6. The subpoenas were issued to the Proud Boys International, L.L.C., and its chairman, Henry ‘Enrique’ Tarrio; the Oath Keepers and its president, Elmer Stewart Rhodes; and the 1st Amendment Praetorian and its chairman, Robert Patrick Lewis. They came a day after the panel subpoenaed the political operative Roger J. Stone Jr., the conspiracy theorist Alex Jones and three others. ‘The select committee is seeking information from individuals and organizations reportedly involved with planning the attack, with the violent mob that stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6 or with efforts to overturn the results of the election,’ Representative Bennie Thompson, Democrat of Mississippi and the chairman of the committee, said in a statement. ‘We believe the individuals and organizations we subpoenaed today have relevant information about how violence erupted at the Capitol and the preparation leading up to this violent attack.’ The panel said members of Proud Boys International called for violence before Jan. 6, and the Justice Department indicted at least 34 people affiliated with the group. People associated with the Oath Keepers were similarly involved in planning and participating in the Capitol riot, the committee said, including 18 members who were indicted by a federal grand jury for allegedly planning a coordinated attack to storm the building. Mr. Rhodes repeatedly suggested that the Oath Keepers should engage in violence to ensure their preferred election outcome. He was also allegedly in contact with several of the indicted Oath Keepers members before, during and after the attack on Jan. 6, including meeting some of them outside the Capitol.” See also, House January 6 committee issues subpoenas to Proud Boys and Oath Keepers, The Washington Post, Jacqueline Alemany, Tuesday, 23 November 2021: “The House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob issued subpoenas Tuesday to the Proud Boys, Oath Keepers and other groups as it investigates the causes of the insurrection. Proud Boys leader Henry ‘Enrique’ Tarrio, Oath Keeper founder and leader Stewart Rhodes, and 1st Amendment Praetorian co-founder Robert Patrick Lewis are the targets of the inquiry’s latest tranche of subpoenas. The committee is seeking depositions and documents from the three, along with requests for documents and records from the Oath Keepers and the Proud Boys…. Federal authorities have already arrested associates of some of these right-wing groups involved in storming the Capitol. Tarrio and Rhodes have been a focus of the FBI’s ongoing investigation into the Capitol attack for their roles in the Jan. 6 attack.”

Jury Finds Rally Organizers Responsible for Charlottesville Violence. Jurors found the main organizers of the deadly far-right rally in Charlottesville, Va., in 2017 liable under state law, awarding more than $25 million in damages, but they deadlocked on federal conspiracy charges. The New York Times, Neil MacFarquhar, Tuesday, 23 November 2021: “Jurors on Tuesday found the main organizers of the deadly far-right rally in Charlottesville, Va., in 2017 liable under state law for injuries to counterprotesters, awarding more than $25 million in damages. But the jury deadlocked on two federal conspiracy charges. Still, the verdict was a clear rebuke of the defendants — a mix of white nationalists, neo-Nazis and Confederate sympathizers. They were found under Virginia law to have engaged in a conspiracy that led to injuries during the rally. The ‘Unite the Right’ march began as a demonstration over the removal of a Confederate statue and led to the death of the counterprotester Heather Heyer, 32, when she was struck by a car driven by one of the defendants. The civil suit, heard in U.S. District Court in Charlottesville, was filed by four men and five women, including four of the people who were injured when Ms. Heyer was killed. The plaintiffs, whose injuries included concussions and a shattered leg, testified that they suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, insomnia, the inability to concentrate, flashbacks and panic attacks. All sought compensatory and unspecified punitive damages, including payment for medical costs as well as $3 million to $10 million for pain and suffering depending on the degree of their injuries. The most prominent defendants included Richard Spencer, once seen as the leader of the alt-right in the United States; Jason Kessler, who organized the event; and Christopher Cantwell, a vocal neo-Nazi podcaster who is already serving 41 months in federal prison in a separate threats and extortion case.” See also, Spencer, Kessler, Cantwell, and other white supremacists found liable in deadly Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville. A jury ruled that the White nationalists who organized the violent Charlottesville rally in 2017 are liable for more than $26 million in damages. The Washington Post, Ellie Silverman, Ian Shapira, Tom Jackman, and John Woodrow Cox, Tuesday, 23 November 2021: “More than a dozen of the nation’s most prominent white supremacists and hate groups conspired to intimidate, harass or commit acts of violence during 2017′s deadly Unite the Right rally, according to a jury that also decided the men and their racist organizations should pay $26 million in damages. The 11 jurors couldn’t come to an agreement on two federal conspiracy claims, but they found that every defendant — including former alt-right leader Richard Spencer, rally organizer Jason Kessler and Christopher Cantwell, dubbed the ‘crying Nazi’ after sharing a video of himself weeping — was liable under Virginia law. ‘We think that is a resounding verdict today and frankly a good sign for the future on the remaining counts,’ plaintiffs attorney Karen Dunn said, referring to the allegations that the men conspired to commit racially motivated violence and failed to stop it — accusations her clients might pursue again in a future lawsuit. For 16 days, jurors listened to arguments inside a red brick federal courthouse a mile from the University of Virginia’s Rotunda, where four years ago white supremacists marched with torches and chanted ‘Jews will not replace us.’ Just blocks away was the spot where James Alex Fields Jr., a neo-Nazi, plowed his car through a crowd of protesters on Aug. 12, 2017, striking four of the people who later brought the lawsuit and killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer. The nine plaintiffs’ attorneys took up the vast majority of that time, presenting text messages, social media posts, videos and expert testimony that meticulously reconstructed how the defendants conspired in advance of that weekend.” See also, In Charlottesville, the Nazis Were Finally Held to Account. The ruling didn’t get everything, but let’s see it for what it was: a $26 million win. Slate, Dahlia Lithwick, Tuesday, 23 November 2021: “After four weeks of arguments, 36 witnesses, and three long days of deliberations, a federal jury in Charlottesville, Virginia awarded more than $26 million in damages against two dozen white supremacists and violent right wing organizations who had organized the 2017 Unite the Right rally that ended in the death of a counter-protester and injuries to many others. The jurors deadlocked on two federal conspiracies charges rooted in the 150-year-old Ku Klux Klan Act, an 1871 statute that allows parties to sue for damages in response to race-based violent actions, but they did find the defendants had violated Virginia state civil rights laws against racially motivated harassment and intimidation…. That these jurors ultimately deadlocked on the federal claims is frustrating for anyone hoping that the Klan Act might serve to protect vulnerable racial and religious minorities by way of federal civil rights law. That’s in part because racially motivated violence appears to be everywhere and yet so rarely named as such, and the KKK Act has recently been invoked against some of the January 6 insurrectionists as well. For that one reason, the sense that there is a huge white hole at the burning center of federal civil rights law seems inescapable today. Yet $26 million in damages is a sobering amount. It’s isn’t everything, but it’s a whole lot. While these defendants will seek to have the amounts reduced, the fact is that the jury saw fit to condemn their actions wholeheartedly and substantially. Several of the defendants have already declared bankruptcy and some may be unable to pay. Fields is in jail for the rest of his life and Cantwell will return to prison, where he is serving a term for violent sexual threats against another white supremacist. Spencer is broke and his wife has left him, alleging violent abuse. This isn’t about squeezing blood from a stone. It’s about widespread agreement that the stone sucks. If the purpose of this lawsuit was to unearth the web of connections and funding among Nazi groups, it was a resounding success. If the purpose was to tarnish the once fresh-scrubbed flat-front khaki ‘alt-right’ and to reveal them for what they really are, reconstructed Nazis and aging klansmen as boring as the original iterations of white supremacy, it was also a success. ”


Wednesday, 24 November 2021:


Three Men Are Found Guilty of Murdering Ahmaud Arbery. The defendants were found guilty of murder and other charges on Wednesday for the pursuit and fatal shooting of Ahmaud Arbery. They face up to life in prison. The New York Times, Wednesday, 24 November 2021: “Three white men were found guilty of murder and other charges on Wednesday for the pursuit and fatal shooting of Ahmaud Arbery, a 25-year-old Black man, in a case that, together with the killing of George Floyd, helped inspire the racial justice protests of last year. The three defendants — Travis McMichael, 35; his father, Gregory McMichael, 65; and their neighbor William Bryan, 52 — face sentences of up to life in prison. The men have also been indicted on separate federal charges, including hate crimes and attempted kidnapping, and are expected to stand trial in February on those charges. The verdict suggested that the jury agreed with prosecutors’ arguments that Mr. Arbery posed no imminent threat to the men and that the men had no reason to believe he had committed a crime, giving them no legal right to chase him through their suburban neighborhood. ‘You can’t start it and claim self-defense,’ the lead prosecutor argued in her closing statements. ‘And they started this.’The outcome of the trial drew praise from Mr. Arbery’s family, who had watched the proceedings from inside the courthouse for weeks, and from civil rights leaders and activists across the country…. Gov. Brian Kemp of Georgia said he hoped the verdicts would help ‘lead to a path of healing and reconciliation.’ President Biden said the outcome reflected the justice system doing its job. But Mr. Arbery’s death, Mr. Biden said, ‘is a devastating reminder of how far we have to go in the fight for racial justice in this country.'” See also, Ahmaud Arbery’s Final Minutes: What Videos and 911 Calls Show, The New York Times, Malachy Browne, Drew Jorday, Dmitriy Khavin, and Ainara Tiefenthäler, published on 16 May 2020: “Using security footage, cellphone video, 911 calls and police reports, The Times has resonstructed the 12 minutes before Ahmaud Arbery was shot dead in Georgia on February 23. See also, Jury finds all 3 men guilty of murder in Ahmaud Arbery’s death, The Washington Post, Tim Craig, Emmanuel Felton, Hannah Knowles, and Timothy Bella, Wednesday, 24 November 2021: “The three White men who chased and killed Ahmaud Arbery in coastal Georgia last year were convicted of murder Wednesday in a case that many saw as a test of racial bias in the justice system. Travis McMichael, his father, Greg McMichael, and their neighbor William ‘Roddie’ Bryan were found guilty of felony murder in the shooting of Arbery, a 25-year-old Black man. Travis McMichael was also convicted of malice murder, or intent to kill. All three men, who still face federal hate crime charges, will receive life in prison, potentially without parole. Arbery’s mother wept when the verdict came back after less than two days of deliberations. His father leaped from his seat to cheer. Black fathers rushed to the courthouse with their sons, while lawmakers and civil rights leaders hailed justice even as they said it was hard-won. ‘This is a very consequential day, not just for Ahmaud Arbery but for families all over America,’ said Ben Crump, a prominent civil rights lawyer for Arbery’s family who also represented the family of George Floyd. ‘We have to show that America must be better than what we saw in that video.'” See also, How a shaky cellphone video changed the course of the Ahmaud Arbery murder case, The Washington Post, Meryl Kornfield, Wednesday, 24 November 2021: “The first news story about the Feb. 23, 2020, shooting of Ahmaud Arbery, a mere four paragraphs, offered little detail about what led to the death of the 25-year-old. In the small coastal Georgia town of Brunswick, rumors swirled about a Black man who was shot while being pursued by two armed White men in a pickup truck, but no one was charged and the case received little attention nationally. It wasn’t until May 5, when a local radio station uploaded graphic footage of the deadly chase, that widespread outrage ensued. Two days later — 74 days after Arbery was killed while on a jog — arrests were made. The convictions of Travis McMichael, 35, his father, Greg McMichael, 65, and their neighbor William ‘Roddie’ Bryan, 52, on Wednesday raised recollections of the beginning of the case when police let the men walk free and two prosecutors did not press charges. Yet, after just two days of deliberations, the jury found the three men guilty of murder and other charges for the pursuit and fatal shooting of Arbery.” See also, Justice for Ahmaud Arbery: Were it not for a graphic video and intense pressure from activists, the killers of an unarmed Black man in Georgia may have been acquitted. The New Yorker, Jelani Cobb, Wednesday, 24 November 2021: “One consequence of living in our current era of absurdities is that you are cured of a belief in foregone conclusions. Anything can happen, and the most surreal possibility is no more distant than the most mundane. In the moments before his death, in February of 2020, Ahmaud Arbery was pursued by three white men in two pickup trucks as he jogged through the leafy, bucolic streets of a suburban subdivision called Satilla Shores, near Brunswick, Georgia. One of those men, Travis McMichael, acting on a belief that Arbery, who was twenty-five, looked suspicious, confronted him with a shotgun and fired the weapon three times. Arbery was unarmed, but the gunman sought to declare that he had acted in self-defense. The fact that a jury, on Wednesday, convicted all three men—McMichael and his father, Gregory McMichael, and their neighbor William Bryan—for their actions in this murderous safari is less significant than the fact that this outcome was never a certainty. It might not have even been a probability. This skepticism is anchored in both the far reaches of American history—more than four hundred Black people were lynched in Georgia between 1882 and 1930—and the most current of events. Perspectives on potential outcomes in this case were freighted with lingering anger and disillusionment stemming from a verdict last week, in a case tried a thousand miles away. On November 19th, a Wisconsin jury acquitted the eighteen-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse for shooting three men, two of them fatally, during protests in Kenosha following the police shooting of Jacob Blake, in August of 2020. Rittenhouse successfully claimed self-defense despite having ended the lives of two unarmed men with an AR-15-style rifle. The theme animating both the Rittenhouse and Arbery cases was a question of what exactly constitutes self-defense. Over the past several decades, the enactment of reactionary, N.R.A.-backed gun legislation has elevated the old football dictum of ‘the best defense is a good offense’ to the level of actual public policy.”

Georgia Republican Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene introduces bill to award Congress’s highest honor to Klye Rittenhouse, who fatally shot two men, The Washington Post, Mariana Alfaro, Wednesday, 24 November 2021: “Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) has introduced a bill to award the Congressional Gold Medal — the legislative branch’s highest honor — to Kyle Rittenhouse, the teenager who last week was found not guilty of homicide and other charges related to his fatal shooting of two men during a protest against police violence last year. Greene introduced a bill Tuesday to give Rittenhouse the award. While the bill’s full text was not immediately available, a summary states that the measure would ‘award a Congressional Gold Medal to Kyle H. Rittenhouse, who protected the community of Kenosha, Wisconsin, during a Black Lives Matter (BLM) riot.’ The likelihood that Greene’s effort will be successful is low. A bill requesting a Congressional Gold Medal must be co-sponsored by two-thirds of the House and the Senate, both now controlled by Democrats, before it is considered by the House Financial Services Committee and the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs. After it is passed in Congress, the measure must be authorized by the president.”

Trump argues January 6 committee could damage the presidency in quest for his records, CNN Politics, Katelyn Polantz, Wednesday, 24 November 2021: “Former President Donald Trump is accusing the House select committee investigating January 6 of being so aggressive in its pursuit of his White House records that it could permanently damage the presidency, according to a court filing from his legal team on Wednesday. Trump is appealing a lower court’s decision that his records should be turned over to the committee. The Biden administration and the US House are unified in opposing the former President’s efforts to keep the records secret, arguing that more than 700 pages including White House call logs and notes from his top advisers should be available to the probe. A federal appeals court will hear oral arguments on November 30 in the historic case.”


Thursday, 25 November 2021:


Republicans Cement Hold on Legislatures in Battleground States. Democrats were once able to count on wave elections to win back key statehouses. Republican gerrymandering is making that all but impossible. The New York Times, Nick Corasaniti, Thursday, 25 November 2021: “Republicans are locking in newly gerrymandered maps for the legislatures in four battleground states that are set to secure the party’s control in the statehouse chambers over the next decade, fortifying the G.O.P. against even the most sweeping potential Democratic wave elections. In Texas, North Carolina, Ohio and Georgia, Republican state lawmakers have either created supermajorities capable of overriding a governor’s veto or whittled down competitive districts so significantly that Republicans’ advantage is virtually impenetrable — leaving voters in narrowly divided states powerless to change the leadership of their legislatures. Although much of the attention on this year’s redistricting process has focused on gerrymandered congressional maps, the new maps being drafted in state legislatures have been just as distorted. And statehouses have taken on towering importance: With the federal government gridlocked, these legislatures now serve as the country’s policy laboratory, crafting bills on abortion, guns, voting restrictions and other issues that shape the national political debate.”


Friday, 26 November 2021:


Representative Ilhan Omar calls for ‘appropriate action’ to be taken against Colorado Republican Representative Lauren Boebert after she shared anti-Muslim story, The Washington Post, Mariana Alfaro, Friday, 26 November 2021: “Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) called for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) to take ‘appropriate action’ against Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) Friday after Boebert shared an anti-Muslim story about Omar during Thanksgiving break. During an event in her Colorado district, Boebert told the audience about an encounter with Omar in the Capitol, describing another encounter with Omar as ‘not my first “Jihad Squad” moment,’ according to a video posted on Twitter. ‘I was getting into an elevator with one of my staffers,’ Boebert told the laughing crowd. ‘You know, we’re leaving the Capitol and we’re going back to my office and we get an elevator and I see a Capitol police officer running to the elevator. I see fret all over his face, and he’s reaching, and the door’s shutting, like I can’t open it, like what’s happening. I look to my left, and there she is. Ilhan Omar. And I said, Well, she doesn’t have a backpack, we should be fine.’ On Twitter on Friday, Omar called for Boebert to be disciplined by House leaders. ‘Saying I am a suicide bomber is no laughing matter,’ Omar tweeted. ‘@GOPLeader and @SpeakerPelosi need to take appropriate action, normalizing this bigotry not only endangers my life but the lives of all Muslims. Anti-Muslim bigotry has no place in Congress.'”

Interior Department Report on Drilling Is Mostly Silent on Climate Change. The department recommended higher fees for oil and gas leases, but there was no sign the government planned to take global warming into account when weighing new applications. The New York Times, Coral Davenport and Lisa Friedman, Friday, 26 November 2021: “The Interior Department on Friday recommended that the federal government raise the fees that oil and gas companies pay to drill on public lands — the first increase in those rent and royalty rates since 1920. The long-awaited report recommended an overhaul of the rents and royalty fees charged for drilling both on land and offshore, noting one estimate that the government lost up to $12.4 billion in revenue from drilling on federal lands from 2010 through 2019 because royalty rates have been frozen for a century. The Interior Department said its goal is to ‘better restore balance and transparency to public land and ocean management and deliver a fair and equitable return to American taxpayers.’ But the report was nearly silent about the climate impacts from the public drilling program. The United States Geological Survey estimates that drilling on public land and in federal waters is responsible for almost a quarter of the greenhouse gases generated by the United States that are warming the planet. That silence angered some environmentalists, who want the federal government to consider the climate impact of drilling when it weighs approval of new leases. That would be a first step toward ending new oil and gas drilling on public lands, something President Biden had promised when he ran for office.”


Monday, 29 November 2021:


Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin Orders New Inquiry Into U.S. Airstrike That Killed Dozens in Syria in March 2019. The decision follows a New York Times investigation that described allegations that top officials had sought to conceal civilian casualties. The New York Times, Eric Schmitt and Dave Phillips. Monday, 29 November 2021. “Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III on Monday ordered a new high-level investigation into a U.S. airstrike in Syria in 2019 that killed dozens of women and children, the Pentagon said. The investigation by Gen. Michael X. Garrett, the four-star head of the Army’s Forces Command, will examine the strike, which was carried out by a shadowy Special Operations unit called Task Force 9. It will also look into the military’s initial inquiries into the strike, Pentagon officials said. General Garrett will have 90 days to review the inquiries and further investigate record-keeping errors, reports of civilian casualties, whether any violations of laws of war occurred, whether any recommendations from previous reviews were carried out, and whether anyone should be held accountable, the officials said. Mr. Austin’s decision comes after a New York Times investigation this month that described allegations that top officers and civilian officials had sought to conceal the casualties from the airstrike. The attack, which took place near the Syrian town of Baghuz on March 18, 2019, was part of the final battle against Islamic State fighters in a shard of a once-sprawling religious state across Iraq and Syria. It was among the largest episodes of civilian casualties in the yearslong war against ISIS, but the U.S. military had never publicly acknowledged it. The Times investigation showed that the death toll — 80 people — was almost immediately apparent to military officials. A legal officer flagged the bombing as a possible war crime that required an investigation. The Defense Department’s independent inspector general began an inquiry, but the report containing its findings was stalled and stripped of any mention of the strike.”


Tuesday, 30 November 2021:


Trump’s Former Chief of Staff, Mark Meadows, Has Turned Over Documents and Agreed to Be Deposed in the House’s Inquiry Into the January 6 Attack, The New York Times, Luke Broadwater, Tuesday, 30 November 2021: “Mark Meadows, the former White House chief of staff under President Donald J. Trump, has reached an agreement with the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol to provide documents and sit for a deposition, the panel said on Tuesday, a notable reversal for a crucial witness in the inquiry. The change of stance for Mr. Meadows, who had previously refused to cooperate with the committee in line with a directive from Mr. Trump, came as the panel prepared to seek criminal contempt of Congress charges against a second witness who has defied one of its subpoenas. It marked a turnabout after weeks of private wrangling between the former chief of staff and the House committee over whether he would participate in the investigation and to what degree. Mr. Meadows, a former Republican congressman from North Carolina, is the highest-ranking White House official to cooperate in any way with the inquiry. ‘Mr. Meadows has been engaging with the select committee through his attorney,’ Representative Bennie Thompson, Democrat of Mississippi and chairman of the panel, said in a statement. ‘He has produced records to the committee and will soon appear for an initial deposition.’ Mr. Thompson indicated that he was withholding judgment about whether Mr. Meadows was willing to cooperate sufficiently, adding, ‘The committee will continue to assess his degree of compliance with our subpoena after the deposition.’ Mr. Meadows’s lawyer, George J. Terwilliger III, suggested that there were strict limits to his client’s willingness to participate in the inquiry.” See also, Former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows is cooperating with the January 6 House committee. Meadows has provided records to the committee investigating the attack on the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob and will give a deposition. The Washington Post, Mariana Alfaro, Tuesday, 30 November 2021: “Mark Meadows, President Donald Trump’s chief of staff at the time of the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, is cooperating with the House committee investigating the pro-Trump insurrection, the committee’s chairman, Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-Miss.), said Tuesday…. Meadows is the highest-profile member of Trump’s inner circle who is known to be cooperating or who the committee has publicly acknowledged is cooperating. Committee members have previously said many people with connections to the events of that day have voluntarily engaged with investigators, but they have not specified who those individuals are or how high up they were in the Trump administration.”

Trump called aides hours before Capitol riot to discuss how to stop Biden victory. Sources tell The Guardian Trump pressed lieutenants at the Willard hotel in Washington about ways to delay certification of election result. The Guardian, Hugo Lowell, Tuesday, 30 November 2021: “Hours before the deadly attack on the US Capitol this year, Donald Trump made several calls from the White House to top lieutenants at the Willard hotel in Washington and talked about ways to stop the certification of Joe Biden’s election win from taking place on 6 January. The former president first told the lieutenants his vice-president, Mike Pence, was reluctant to go along with the plan to commandeer his largely ceremonial role at the joint session of Congress in a way that would allow Trump to retain the presidency for a second term. But as Trump relayed to them the situation with Pence, he pressed his lieutenants about how to stop Biden’s certification from taking place on 6 January, and delay the certification process to get alternate slates of electors for Trump sent to Congress. The former president’s remarks came as part of strategy discussions he had from the White House with the lieutenants at the Willard – a team led by Trump lawyers Rudy Giuliani, John Eastman, Boris Epshteyn and Trump strategist Steve Bannon – about delaying the certification. Multiple sources, speaking to the Guardian on the condition of anonymity, described Trump’s involvement in the effort to subvert the results of the 2020 election. Trump’s remarks reveal a direct line from the White House and the command center at the Willard. The conversations also show Trump’s thoughts appear to be in line with the motivations of the pro-Trump mob that carried out the Capitol attack and halted Biden’s certification, until it was later ratified by Congress.”

Prosecutors demanded records of Sidney Powell’s fundraising groups as part of criminal probe. A subpoena issued in September by the U.S. attorney’s office in D.C. sought communications and other documents related to fundraising and accounting by Defending the Republic. The Washington Post, Isaac Stanley-Becker, Emma Brown, and Rosalind S. Helderman, Tuesday, 30 November 2021: “Federal prosecutors have demanded the financial records of multiple fundraising organizations launched by attorney Sidney Powell after the 2020 election as part of a criminal investigation, according to a subpoena reviewed by The Washington Post. The grand jury subpoena, issued in September by the U.S. attorney’s office for the District of Columbia, sought communications and other records related to fundraising and accounting by groups including Defending the Republic, a Texas-based organization claiming 501(c) 4 nonprofit status, and a PAC by the same name, according to the documents and a person familiar with the investigation who spoke on the condition of anonymity to share details of the probe. As part of the investigation, which has not been previously reported, prosecutors are seeking records going back to Nov. 1, 2020. The subpoena reviewed by The Post was signed by Assistant U.S. Attorney Molly Gaston, who is also handling politically charged matters related to the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, including contempt of Congress charges brought against former Trump adviser Stephen K. Bannon for refusing to testify in front of the House committee investigating the pro-Trump riot.”





Now that the Trump administration is no longer in power, I plan to post summaries of the daily political news and major stories relating to this tragic and dangerous period in US history. I will try to focus on the differences between the Trump administration and the Biden administration and on the ongoing toxic residual effects of the Trump administration and Republicans. I usually post throughout the day and let the news settle for a day or so before posting.

I created Muckraker Farm in 2014 as a place to post muckraking (investigative) journalism going back to the 19th century, and I hope to return to this project in the near future. Thanks for reading!