Biden will make ‘case-by-case’ decision on executive privilege over Capitol riot records – as it happened

25 days ago

Biden will make ‘case-by-case’ decision on executive privilege over Capitol riot records – as it happened

The Guardian

White House says Biden will make ‘case-by-case’ decision on executive privilege

Earlier today, we reported that Joe Biden had decided not to invoke executive privilege over Trump White House documents subpoenaed by the select committee investigating the Capitol insurrection, based on comments White House press secretary Jen Psaki made in her daily briefing.

But the Biden White House told reporters later in the day that it would make decisions about executive privilege over Trump White House documents “on a case-by-case basis.”

Psaki had said earlier today that “The president has already concluded it would not be appropriate to assert executive privilege,” but the White House noted she also said this represented the president’s “overarching view,” and declined to get into hypotheticals about what the administration would or would not release.

The Biden administration’s clarification:

The Administration believes strongly in the vital role this Committee is playing and will continue to work closely with it moving forward. Jen was referring to the Administration’s previous decision not to assert executive privilege in the matter of certain former DOJ officials who had been called to testify before Congress. The Administration will determine any future questions of executive privilege involving documents and testimony on a case-by-case basis, as Jen noted.”

Evening Summary

We’re wrapping up our live US politics coverage for tonight. Some highlights from today’s news:

  • The sham election “audit” in Maricopa county found that Biden defeated Trump by 360 more votes than previously thought. A draft report of the audit’s findings affirmed that Biden won Arizona’s most populous county last year. The investigation, which was overseen by a firm whose CEO had promoted lies about election fraud, had attracted many allegations of political bias.
  • But the lack of substantive findings did not stop the leaders of the “audit” from raising unsubstantiated concerns they claimed needed further investigation, even as journalists and officials factchecked their claims in real time.
  • Meanwhile, experts in US election law and democratic norms warned of the likelihood of attempted “election subversion” from Republicans in 2022 and 2024, and cautioned that “You can’t have a democracy if one of the two major parties cannot accept an election defeat.” The current behavior of many Republican politicians was anti-democratic, multiple political scientists cautioned, and “The US faces a serious risk that the 2024 election, and other future US elections, will not be conducted fairly,” a leading election law expert said.
  • House Democrats passed a bill to establish a federal right to abortion. The nearly party-line vote came weeks after a highly controversial six-week abortion ban went into effect in Texas, leading to copycat bills in other states. The House-approved legislation is considered dead on arrival in the evenly divided Senate.
  • Biden promised there would be “consequences” for border agents accused of mistreating Haitian migrants. Taking reporters’ questions after delivering prepared remarks on vaccination efforts, Biden said the footage of border agents on horseback confronting migrants was “horrible”. “It’s outrageous. I promise you, those people will pay,” the president said.
  • The homeland security secretary said there are no remaining migrants in the Del Rio border encampment that sparked outcry. Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas also pledged that the findings of the investigation into border agents’ actions toward Haitian migrants would be made public.

Updated

'An existential threat to American democracy.' Experts warn of GOP 'election subversion'

The United States faces significant risks to its democracy in the 2022 and 2024 elections, experts on democracy and election law warned at a conference on Friday.

“You have a significant portion of one of the two major political parties that is no longer committed to democratic norms,” political scientist Larry Diamond, a fellow at the conservative Hoover Institute, warned as part of a conference on “election subversion” hosted by the University of California, Irvine. “We are facing an existential challenge to American democracy.”

“It’s not just the crazies that kill democracy, it’s not just the people who storm the Capitol on 6 January,” said Steve Levitsky, one of the authors of How Democracies Die. “It is the mainstream Republican party not breaking with democratic extremists that is most dangerous at this moment.”

“The US faces a serious risk that the 2024 election, and other future US elections, will not be conducted fairly, and that the candidates taking office will not reflect free choices made by eligible voters under previously announced election rules,” Rick Hasen, a leading US election law expert and the host of the conference, said.

The decision by many Republican politicians to continue to back Donald Trump’s claims that he lost because of election fraud, and their continued willingness to undermine confidence in elections rather than admit defeat, was a serious blow to American democracy, Levitsky said.

“You can’t have a democracy if one of the two major parties cannot accept an election defeat,” Levitsky said.

“In most cases where we lose a democracy, you can get it back, but it often takes, ten, fifteen, twenty years,” he added later. “Better to prevalent backsliding than to try to reverse it.”

Updated

Survivors seek healing as first details emerge in Tennessee grocery shooting

Two women who had been strangers prior to Thursday’s mass shooting at a Tennessee supermarket clenched each other’s hands and fought back tears Friday, as they gathered at a vigil to pray for healing from the previous day’s rampage at a Kroger where the shooter worked, the Associated Press reports.

Hollie Skaggs and Sara Wiles happened to be running errands at the same Kroger in Collierville. A day later, after a gunman killed one person and himself and wounded 14 others, Skaggs called Wiles her guardian angel.

The gunman worked in a sushi business at the store, as a “third-party vendor” who worked on a daily basis, police have said. He died of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound within a couple of minutes of officers arriving at the Kroger in the upscale suburb outside of Memphis.

The victims included 10 employees and five customers, police said. The shooter, acting alone, did not appear to target anyone specifically as he rampaged through the building on a sunny Thursday afternoon, police said. The entire shooting was over within minutes as first responders swarmed the scene.

“We all want to know the why,” Collierville Police Chief Dale Lane said of the shooter’s motive. “But today, less than 24 hours (after the shooting), we’re not ready to tell you that.”

A friend of the shooter’s family said his parents were “very upset” about their son’s involvement and were praying for all the people involved.

‘We will not boost our way out of this pandemic,’ CDC official warns

The U.S. launched a campaign to offer boosters of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine to millions of Americans on Friday even as federal health officials stressed the real problem remains getting first shots to the unvaccinated, the Associated Press reports.

“We will not boost our way out of this pandemic,” warned Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — even though she took the rare step of overruling the advice of her own expert panel to make more people eligible for the booster.

The vast majority of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are among the unvaccinated, Walensky noted. And all three COVID-19 vaccines in the U.S. offer strong protection against severe illness, hospitalization and death despite the extra-contagious delta variant that caused cases to soar. But immunity against milder infection appears to wane months after initial vaccination.

‘They wasted $6m to tell us what we already knew.’ Reactions to AZ ballot review

What did the Arizona Cyber Ninjas review of 2020 election results accomplish?

“They wasted nearly $6 million to tell us what we already knew, meanwhile exacerbating an already unhealthy political environment,” Arizona state Sen. Paul Boyer (R) told The Hill in a text message.

But by other measures, focused on the way the review continues to feed doubt and conspiracy theories about election measures, it may have accomplished a lot.

Rudy Giuliani has reportedly been banned from Fox News.

Rudy Giuliani.
Rudy Giuliani. Photograph: Jim Bourg/Reuters

“Rudy is really hurt,” Politico quoted a source “close to Giuliani” as saying.

According to the website, the prominent Trump ally learned of his expulsion on the eve of the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, after which, as New York mayor, he became a national figure.

Fox News declined to comment.

Politico quoted its source as saying Giuliani was hurt was “because he did a big favour for Rupert [Murdoch]. He was instrumental [in 1996] in getting Fox on Time Warner so it could be watched in New York City.”

Giuliani’s apparent expulsion may also be linked to Fox News business. Both network and sometime personal attorney to Donald Trump have been sued by Dominion Voter Systems over false claims about supposed electoral fraud in the 2020 presidential election.

Fox News has filed to dismiss, citing first amendment protections of free speech and saying Dominion had not proved “actual malice” in its reporting.

A judge denied Giuliani’s attempt to have the suit dismissed. The former mayor has said his claims about Dominion are “substantially true”.

Full story:

California governor signs bill to replace the term ‘alien’ in California’s laws

News from California:

In search of fraud, Arizona Cyber Ninjas review found 99 additional votes for Biden

Arizona’s “Cyber Ninjas” election investigation, which lasted several months, confirmed that Joe Biden did indeed beat Trump in Maricopa county, the state’s most populous county, Doug Logan, who led the review, told the Arizona senate on Friday. In fact, a hand recount found 99 additional votes for Biden and 261 fewer votes for Trump.

Logan, the CEO of Cyber Ninjas, a Florida-based firm leading the review, said in a presentation Friday afternoon to the Arizona senate that the discrepancies were “small”.

“The ballots that were provided to us in the coliseum very accurately correlate with the official canvas numbers that came through,” he said.

Despite that finding, Logan, who has spread election conspiracy theories, outlined what he claimed were anomalies in the count. Several of them were immediately debunked by Maricopa county officials, who fact-checked his presentation.

Shiva Ayyadurai, a failed US senate candidate who has espoused election conspiracy theories, gave another presentation filled with misrepresentations about the county’s process for verifying signatures.

On the eve of a Trump rally in Perry, Georgia on Saturday, the Republican official in charge of elections in the state said: “He’s going to come, and he’s going to say what he’s going to say, but he knows in his heart that he lost.”

Brad Raffensperger was discussing Trump’s lies about election fraud in his defeat by Joe Biden with a conservative newspaper, the Washington Examiner.

“Every time we’ve looked into all of these and all of these concerns, it’s clear that Donald Trump lost the election fair and square,” he said.

“What bothers me, and it really should bother everyone, after 10 months since the last ballots were counted, we’re still dealing with this misinformation and disinformation surrounding the elections.”

In a letter released last week, the former president claimed to have found 43,000 “invalid” ballots in Georgia and told Raffensperger and the governor of Georgia, Brian Kemp, to “start the process of decertifying the election, or whatever the correct legal remedy is, and announce the true winner”.

Raffensperger seems resigned to what is coming in Perry on Saturday night.

We are not going to win that bullhorn argument,” he said.

There’s now been a call to ‘Imeach Biden’

We have all made spelling errors (especially, gentle readers, on this live blog) but some are more awkward than others.

Updated

Cyber Ninjas ‘audit’ of AZ election results: ‘Found nothing, more investigation needed’

This is Lois Beckett, picking up our live politics coverage from our West Coast bureau in Los Angeles.

Guardian voting rights reporter Sam Levine is covering the results of the highly politicized “audit” of Arizona’s election results. The carnivalesque, GOP-led Cyber Ninjas review of the 2020 ballots ended up confirming Biden’s win in Maricopa county, Arizona, according to a draft of the report obtained by local reporters.

But in testimony in Arizona right now, people involved in the process are still testifying about supposed “anomalies” they found. Sam breaks down why this outcome is concerning:

Sam has more on the text of the report, as well as the testimony happening now. You can follow him on Twitter for live coverage at @srl.

Updated

Today so far

That’s it from me today. My west coast colleague, Lois Beckett, will take over the blog for the next few hours.

Here’s where the day stands so far:

  • Joe Biden has decided not to invoke executive privilege over Trump White House documents subpoenaed by the select committee investigating the Capitol insurrection. White House press secretary Jen Psaki said during her daily briefing, “The president has already concluded it would not be appropriate to assert executive privilege.” Trump had claimed he would use executive privilege to block the committee’s access to documents, but because he is no longer president, he needs Biden’s permission to do so.
  • Biden promised there would be “consequences” for border agents accused of mistreating Haitian migrants. Taking reporters’ questions after delivering prepared remarks on vaccination efforts, Biden said the footage of border agents on horseback confronting migrants was “horrible”. “It’s outrageous. I promise you, those people will pay,” the president said.
  • The homeland security secretary said there are no remaining migrants in the Del Rio border encampment that sparked outcry. Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas also pledged that the findings of the investigation into border agents’ actions toward Haitian migrants would be made public.
  • The sham election “audit” in Maricopa county found that Biden defeated Trump by 360 more votes than previously thought. A draft report of the audit’s findings affirmed that Biden won Arizona’s most populous county last year. The investigation, which was overseen by a firm whose CEO had promoted lies about election fraud, had attracted many allegations of political bias.
  • House Democrats passed a bill to establish a federal right to abortion. The nearly party-line vote came weeks after a highly controversial six-week abortion ban went into effect in Texas, leading to copy cat bills in other states. The House-approved legislation is considered dead on arrival in the evenly divided Senate.

Lois will have more coming up, so stay tuned.

Republican congresswoman Liz Cheney will appear on CBS News’ “60 Minutes” this Sunday, the network just announced.

CBS said Cheney would be speaking to correspondent Lesley Stahl about “re-election, her criticism of Pres. Trump and her family”.

The interview comes as the Wyoming congresswoman faces a daunting primary race against Trump-backed challenger Harriet Hageman.

Cheney is also serving as the vice-chair of the select committee investigating the Capitol insurrection, which just issued subpoenas to four former Trump aides.

Cheney, who supported impeaching Trump for inciting the January 6 insurrection, is one of two Republicans serving on the committee, alongside Adam Kinzinger.

Hugo Lowell reported on the select committee’s latest round of subpoenas last night:

The House select committee scrutinizing the Capitol attack on Thursday sent subpoenas to Trump’s White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and a cadre of top Trump aides, demanding their testimony to shed light on the former president’s connection to the 6 January riot.

The subpoenas and demands for depositions marked the most aggressive investigative actions the select committee has taken since it made records demands and records preservation requests that formed the groundwork of the inquiry into potential White House involvement.

House select committee investigators targeted four of the closest aides to the former president: deputy White House chief of staff Dan Scavino, former Trump campaign manager Steve Bannon, and the former acting defense secretary’s chief of staff Kash Patel as well as Meadows.

Politico has some more details on how the process will play out as the select committee investigating the Capitol insurrection subpoenas records from the Trump White House:

The National Archives and Records Administration has sent hundreds of pages of documents requested by the Jan. 6 select committee to the former president’s legal team to review, according to a person familiar with the situation.

That move kicks off a process that will result in some tough decisions for Biden’s White House counsel, both politically and legally. That’s because the office will have to decide whether to sign off on any efforts from Team Trump to keep sensitive White House communications from becoming public.

When it comes to document after document relevant to the Jan. 6 panel’s expansive request, Biden White House lawyers will likely face the same tough dilemma: They can either send Congress the material over Trump’s objections, entering unprecedented legal territory about the treatment of former presidents; or they can withhold materials from Hill allies, thereby stymieing investigators’ access and potentially generating significant political fallout.

And now the White House has indicated Biden is opposed to using executive privilege to block lawmakers’ access to subpoenaed documents, likely setting up a historic clash between the current and former presidents.

During her briefing, Jen Psaki also called on Republicans to help Democrats in reforming the immigration system, as the Biden administration weathers criticism over its treatment of Haitian migrants.

The White House press secretary argued it would take congressional action to substantially improve “our broken immigration system,” saying such action was “long overdue”.

“There are a lot of Republicans out there giving speeches about how outraged they are about the situation at the border, not many who are putting forward solutions or steps that we could take,” Psaki said.

“So we’re a little tired of the speeches. We’d like to partner on solutions and working together to address this problem that has not been partisan in the past.”

Biden will not invoke executive privilege on January 6 records, Psaki says

Jen Psaki said Joe Biden has decided he will not invoke executive privilege to block access to Trump White House records related to the Capitol insurrection.

“The president has already concluded it would not be appropriate to assert executive privilege,” the White House press secretary said at her briefing.

Psaki’s comments come one day after the House select committee investigating the insurrection issued subpoenas to four former aides of Donald Trump.

The former president responded to the news by claiming he would “fight the Subpoenas on Executive Privilege and other grounds”.

But because Trump is not president anymore, he would need to seek Biden’s permission to prevent lawmakers from gaining access to subpoenaed records. And now Biden is signaling he will not exercise his executive privilege on the matter.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki took over the podium after homeland security secretary Alejandro Mayorkas departed the briefing room.

Asked about the timing of the House vote on the bipartisan infrastructure bill, Psaki said, “We want to win the vote when it happens. That’s our objective.”

According to CNN, House Democratic leaders are signaling they still plan to bring the bill up for a vote on Monday, as speaker Nancy Pelosi looks to simultaneously advance the reconciliation package.

Homeland security secretary Alejandro Mayorkas acknowledged that the footage of border agents on horseback confronting Haitian migrants was “horrifying”.

However, Mayorkas seemed to temper his comments about the images more than Joe Biden has, saying that he was not willing to “pre-judge” the agents until the investigation into their actions was concluded.

“We do not conduct ourselves in an immoral way,” Mayorkas said of his department. “We do not conduct ourselves in an unethical way.”

Homeland security secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said there have been 17 expulsion flights to Haiti, carrying about 2,000 people.

According to Mayorkas, another 8,000 migrants have voluntarily returned to Mexico. And 5,000 others are being processed by the department of homeland security.

Mayorkas said border officials have been expelling migrants under Title 42 when applicable.

Homeland security secretary Alejandro Mayorkas also addressed the outrage over footage of border agents on horseback confronting Haitian migrants.

“In the midst of meeting these challenges, we, our entire nation, saw horrifying images that do not reflect who we are, who we aspire to be, or the integrity and values of our truly heroic personnel in the department of homeland security,” Mayorkas said.

“We know that those images painfully conjured up the worst elements of our nation’s ongoing battle against systemic racism.”

Mayorkas noted there is an investigation underway into the agents’ behavior, and they have been reassigned to “administrative duties”. The department has also ended the use of horse patrol units in Del Rio.

The homeland security secretary pledged to make public the findings of the investigation into the agents’ actions.

No migrants remaining under Del Rio bridge, Mayorkas says

The White House press secretary Jen Psaki is now holding her daily briefing, and she is joined by homeland security secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.

Mayorkas provided an update on the situation in the border city of Del Rio, Texas, where many Haitian migrants have been attempting to enter the US in recent weeks.

The Biden administration has faced criticism for the treatment of the Haitians after images showed migrants camping underneath a bridge in the punishing Texas heat.

“As of this morning, there are no longer any migrants at the camp underneath the Del Rio International Bridge,” Mayorkas said.

Biden holds first-ever in-person Quad leaders summit

Joe Biden is now holding the first-ever in-person Quad leaders summit at the White House.

Biden is joined by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

Joe Biden arrives to attend the Quad summit.
Joe Biden arrives to attend the Quad summit. Photograph: Evan Vucci/AP

The US president sat down with Modi in the Oval Office this morning, and he will hold a separate meeting with Suga this afternoon.

Biden also held a one-on-one meeting with Morrison earlier this week, during which the two leaders “affirmed their commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific region,” per the White House readout of their conversation.

Karen Bass eyes LA mayoral run

Karen Bass, a Democratic congresswoman from California, is reportedly planning to run for Los Angeles mayor. The Washington Post first reported the news.

Karen Bass.
Karen Bass. Photograph: REX/Shutterstock

Although the field is still shaping up, Bass’ national profile and broad popularity would make her a top contender for the position Eric Garcetti is vacating to be ambassador to India.

Bass, 67, was on the short list to be Joe Biden’s vice-president. Her name has also come up in discussions of who might replace Nancy Pelosi as House Speaker.

In California, she has built a reputation as a progressive and a pragmatist: a community organizer who fought police brutality and addiction in Los Angeles and a practical politician who helped dig the state out of a historical fiscal crisis in 2008.

She was elected to Congress in 2010 to lead one of the most diverse districts in California, a constituency in Los Angeles that is 25% white, 25% Black, 40% Latino and 8% Asian American.

In the House, she took the lead in pushing for a police reform bill which passed her chamber twice but failed this week after negotiators conceded that Senate Democrats and Republicans would be unable to reconcile their differences.

“It’s sad,” she told the LA Times in an interview published Friday morning. “But at this point, I just felt like we were just running around in circles and we were never going to get to yes on anything.”

Still, she told reporters earlier this week, “our sense of urgency remains”.

Bass urged Biden and his administration to “use the full extent of their constitutionally mandated power to bring about meaningful police reform”.

In LA, Bass is interested in addressing homelessness and public health in the aftermath of the pandemic, a spokesperson said.

Other mayoral candidates include city council member and former state Senate leader Kevin de León, city attorney Mike Feuer and council member Joe Buscain.

Pelosi determined to pass 'two jobs bills'

Telling Democrats “that intensity continues”, the House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi, has confirmed plans to press ahead with efforts to pass both a bipartisan infrastructure bill and Joe Biden’s huge budget and spending package.

Nancy Pelosi.
Nancy Pelosi. Photograph: Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times/REX/Shutterstock

“We move forward to pass two jobs bills next week: the Build Back Better Act and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework,” Pelosi wrote in a widely reported letter to her party on Friday.

On the spending bill, which runs to 2,465 pages or more than two War & Peaces if you go by the first edition of Leo Tolstoy’s voluminous potboiler, Manu Raju of CNN more succinctly reports: “House Democratic leaders emerge from meeting saying they could vote as soon as next week on the reconciliation bill. Rules [committee] could act on Tuesday. [Majority leader Steney] Hoyer will soon announce it’s possible.”

Reconciliation is the process by which budgetary legislation can pass the Senate with a simple majority. That chamber is split 50-50, with Vice-President Kamala Harris the deciding vote.

“It’s unclear what version they could bring to floor since Democrats are still in significant disagreement,” Raju added.

He was referring to splits between moderates and progressives over spending priorities and ambitions, all playing out in a way that a) threatens to tank Biden’s domestic agenda in a bloody tableau of intra-party dysfunction and b) has Republicans rubbing their hands with glee, what with their complete opposition to such plans and also their determination to force a showdown over the debt ceiling and with it a possible government shutdown.

In short, Pelosi’s right. The intensity will continue.

Updated

An extraordinary confrontation outside the Capitol today, between the Michigan Democrat Debbie Dingell and Marjorie Taylor Greene, a far right Republican from Georgia.

As reported by Ben Siegel of ABC News, the confrontation developed as Democrats prepared to host a press conference on the Capitol steps about abortion rights, after voting to protect them in the face of concerted assault from Republican-run states.

“Stand with women,” Greene shouted.

“You’re performative,” Pete Aguilar, a Democrat from California, replied.

Dingell then shouted: “You should practice the basic thing you’re taught in church: respect your neighbour!”

Greene shouted back: “Church?! Are you kidding me? Try being a Christian and supporting life.”

Dingell responded: “You try being a Christian and try treating your colleagues decently.”

Greene said: “Watch your step.”

She may have meant it literally, as Dingell briefly and slightly unsteadily stepped down towards her.

If the confrontation was not quite reminiscent of those described in The Field of Blood (a well-received book by the historian Joanne B Freeman, about brutal spats in Congress in the years before the civil war) it was certainly indicative of the bitter split between most members of Congress – and the US at large.

Here’s Lauren Gambino’s report on the vote on abortion rights which preceded the confrontation at the Capitol:

Updated

Today so far

Here’s where the day stands so far:

  • The sham election “audit” in Maricopa county found that Joe Biden defeated Donald Trump by 360 more votes than previously thought. A draft report of the audit’s findings affirmed that Biden won Arizona’s most populous county last year. The investigation, which was overseen by a firm whose CEO had promoted lies about election fraud, had attracted many allegations of political bias.
  • Biden pledged that there would be “consequences” for border agents accused of mistreating Haitian migrants. Taking reporters’ questions after delivering prepared remarks on vaccination efforts, Biden said the footage of border agents on horseback confronting migrants was “horrible”. “It’s outrageous. I promise you, those people will pay,” the president said.
  • House Democrats passed a bill to establish a federal right to abortion. The nearly party-line vote came weeks after a highly controversial six-week abortion ban went into effect in Texas, leading to copy cat bills in other states. The House-approved legislation is considered dead on arrival in the evenly controlled Senate.

The blog will have more coming up, so stay tuned.

The debate ahead of the abortion vote was passionate and personal, as was expected for what has become one of the most polarizing issues in American politics.

Some Democrats recalled the days before 1973, when the supreme court decided Roe v Wade, establishing a legal right to abortion nationwide.

“Roe v Wade was not the beginning of women having abortions,” said Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky, a Democrat from Illinois. “It was the end of women dying from abortions.”

Congresswoman Sylvia Garcia, a Democrat of Texas, waved a wire coat hanger as a symbol of the dangerous – and sometimes deadly – methods women would use to attempt an abortion before it was legalized.

Republicans rose to denounce the bill, arguing that it would allow “abortion on demand” at every stage of pregnancy, even until birth.

The measure “isn’t about freedom for women,” said Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler, a Republican from Missouri. “It’s about death for babies.”

House Democrats vote to establish federal right to abortion

House Democrats voted on Friday to establish a federal right to abortion, moving swiftly to advance the measure after the supreme court declined to stop a Texas law effectively outlawing the procedure and as they await a separate ruling next year that could further erode access.

The legislation, named the Women’s Health and Protection Act, is part of the party’s strategy to push back against the rush of state laws restricting abortions and to show their determination to defend reproductive rights, an issue they believe will resonate ahead of the 2022 midterm elections.

Joe Biden has urged support for the measure, but Republican opposition in the Senate all but ensures the bill will not reach his desk.

With the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, presiding over the vote, the House passed the measure 218-211. All Republicans and one Democrat opposed the bill.

The scramble to secure a remote connection for Kamala Harris severely delayed her interview with The View, so the conversation kicked off with about ten minutes left in the show.

When the interview finally began, the View hosts pressed Harris on the Biden administration’s handling of the Afghanistan withdrawal and immigration policies.

Asked about the alarming footage of border agents on horseback confronting Haitian migrants in Del Rio, Texas, Harris said she was “outraged” by the images.

Noting that there is an investigation underway into the border agents’ behavior, Harris said, “There needs to be consequence and accountability. Human beings should not be treated that way.”

Asked whether the Biden administration would halt deportation flights to allow those migrants to apply for asylum, Harris deflected, simply saying the US must “do more” to support Haiti.

Harris' View appearance disrupted by hosts' positive Covid tests

Kamala Harris’ plans to appear in-studio for an interview on The View were scrapped after two of the talk show’s hosts tested positive for coronavirus.

Moments before the vice-president was supposed to come onstage, it was announced that hosts Sunny Hostin and Ana Navarro had tested positive for Covid.

So the interview, which was meant to be Harris’ first in-studio conversation since becoming vice-president, was conducted remotely.

When the interview finally began, Harris offered her best wishes to Hostin and Navarro, both of whom are fully vaccinated.

“Sunny and Ana are strong women, and I know they’re fine, but it really also does speak to the fact that they’re vaccinated and vaccines really make all the difference because otherwise we would be concerned about hospitalization and worse,” Harris said to applause from the studio audience.

Updated

Joe Biden will host the first in-person summit of the Quad countries – the US, India, Japan and Australia – at the White House on Friday as he ratchets up the reorientation of US foreign policy towards the Pacific and the containment of China.

The summit, which will seek to deepen ties within the ad hoc grouping, will take place just nine days after the surprise announcement of the Aukus security agreement between Australia, the UK and US, built around the sharing of nuclear-propulsion technology with Australia for its new submarine fleet.

Aukus and an invigorated Quad are the two central pillars of the US president’s signature foreign policy, which some are calling the Biden doctrine: bolstering the world’s democracies against the spread of authoritarianism by building a web of alliances.

Biden meets with Modi in Oval Office

Joe Biden is now meeting with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the Oval Office, ahead of the first-ever in-person Quad leaders summit this afternoon.

Welcoming Modi to the White House, Biden said, “Mr Prime Minister, we’re going to continue to build on our strong partnership.”

The Guardian’s David Smith shared a photo from the two leaders’ meeting:

The Democratic National Committee condemned the sham election “audit” in Arizona as a “dangerous attempt by extremist Republicans to undermine our democracy”.

“Arizona Republicans — not to mention their copycats in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and other states — have been beholden to Donald Trump’s unhinged conspiracy theories that incited a mob to attack the Capitol and law enforcement,” DNC spokesperson Ryan Thomas said in a statement.

“Every Republican peddling election misinformation will have to explain to their constituents why they spent their time undermining democracy on behalf of Donald Trump instead of delivering for their constituents.”

The Guardian’s Sam Levine and Oliver Milman have more details on the sham election “audit” in Arizona:

Donald Trump has repeatedly falsely claimed that he won the election and was a victim of fraud, despite no evidence of this, and state Republicans in Arizona seized upon these lies to demand an audit of vote in Maricopa county.

Earlier this year, Maricopa county hired two firms to audit its elections equipment and software, with these reviews finding no problems with the systems reviewed.

This wasn’t enough for the state senate, controlled by Republicans, however, which hired Cyber Ninjas for the controversial audit.

The recounting process was dogged with allegations of ballots being mishandled and cybersecurity concerns, with workers at one point using UV lights to check for bamboo fibers in ballots, part of a conspiracy theory that China had somehow planted votes into Arizona’s election. The review concluded in July.

While the draft report does not claim that Trump did beat Biden in Arizona, it does criticize the state for the handling and integrity of how the election was run.

Maricopa county’s board of supervisors has rejected this, stating on its Twitter feed that the report’s allegations are “littered with errors & faulty conclusions”.

Updated

Joe Biden expressed confidence that Democrats will be able to pass both the bipartisan infrastructure bill and the reconciliation package, even as moderates and progressives remain at odds.

“This is a process, and it’s going to be up and down. That’s why I don’t look at the polls. Not a joke,” Biden said.

“And hopefully at the end of the day, I’ll be able to deliver on what I said I would do.”

Multiple recent polls have shown that Biden’s approval rating is now underwater, as he weathers criticism for everything from the chaotic Afghanistan withdrawal to the possible government shutdown.

Joe Biden was asked for his response to criticism that he has not delivered on his campaign promises, as the country faces the possibility of both a government shutdown and an economic default.

“Remember I said it’s going to take me a year to deliver everything I’m looking at here,” the president said.

“Take a look at what I inherited when I came into office,” Biden added. “Part of it is dealing with the panoply of things that landed on my plate. I’m not complaining, it’s just a reality.”

'There will be consequences' for treatment of Haitian migrants, Biden says

Joe Biden took several questions from reporters after concluding his prepared remarks on efforts to get more Americans vaccinated against coronavirus.

Unsurprisingly, the first question focused on his administration’s treatment of Haitian migrants who have recently arrived at the US-Mexican border in large numbers.

Biden was asked whether he takes responsibility for border agents’ behavior toward the migrants. Some disturbing footage from Del Rio, Texas, showed border agents on horseback confronting a group of migrants.

“Of course I take responsibility. I’m president,” Biden said, adding that the footage was “horrible”.

“It’s outrageous. I promise you, those people will pay,” the president said, pointing to the investigation that is underway. “There will be consequences.”

Biden also warned that such behavior was “dangerous” and “sends the wrong message around the world”.

“It’s simply not who we are,” Biden concluded.

Biden says he will get a booster shot after CDC approves them for high-risk groups

Joe Biden delivered remarks this morning on his administration’s efforts to boost vaccination rates in the US.

The president celebrated the news that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has officially approved Pfizer coronavirus vaccine booster shots for high-risk populations, including those who are 65 or older.

The 78-year-old president said he would be receiving his booster shot “as soon as I can.”(Biden received his second Pfizer dose in January.)

The president also once again urged all eligible Americans to get vaccinated, emphasizing that lower vaccination rates pose a threat to entire communities.

Biden noted that one-quarter of all eligible Americans have not yet gotten a single vaccine dose.

“In a country as large as ours, that 25% minority can cause an awful lot of damage. And they are causing a lot of damage,” Biden said. “The refusal to get vaccinated has cost all of us.”

The president is now taking questions from reporters, so stay tuned.

Updated

House Democrats request testimony of CEO who oversaw Arizona 'audit'

House Democrats are now requesting the testimony of Doug Logan, the CEO of Cyber Ninjas, which oversaw the sham “audit” in Maricopa county.

Carolyn Maloney, the chairwoman of the House oversight committee, and Jamie Raskin, the chairman of the subcommittee on civil rights and civil liberties, sent a letter to Logan asking him to appear at a hearing on October 7.

“This request follows your repeated refusal to produce documents requested by the Committee regarding this largely privately funded audit,” Maloney and Raskin wrote.

“As a result of your obstruction, your participation in a Committee hearing is necessary for the Committee to advance the investigation of the questionable audit your company performed and to examine whether this audit is interfering with Americans’ right to vote free from partisan interference.”

It’s unclear whether Logan, who has expressed support for the baseless conspiracy theory that there was widespread fraud in the 2020 election, will actually appear at the hearing.

The Maricopa county “audit” was conducted by Cyber Ninjas, a Florida-based cybersecurity firm with little experience in elections.

The CEO of Cyber Ninjas, Doug Logan, had previously promoted the baseless conspiracy theory that there was widespread fraud in the 2020 election.

According to the Arizona Mirror, in December 2020, Logan retweeted a tweet from a since-suspended account reading, “I’m tired of hearing people say there was no fraud. It happened, it’s real, and people better get wise fast.”

Of course, Donald Trump and his allies have presented absolutely no evidence of widespread fraud in the election, which Joe Biden fairly won.

The Guardian’s Sam Levine and Oliver Milman report:

Even though the “audit” was sanctioned by the GOP-controlled Arizona senate, it was funded by $5.7m in outside money, much of which came from conspiracy theorists, including $3.2m from Patrick Byrne, the former CEO of Overstock.com and an additional $1m from a non-profit founded by Michael Flynn.

Election experts have widely panned the review, which they say was rooted in shoddy practice around a pre-determined effort to show there was fraud.

Ben Ginsberg, a longtime Republican election lawyer, told reporters on Thursday that Trump allies were “desperate for a win”.

In Maricopa county, he said, they had gotten unprecedented access to look under the hood of an election. If they were not able to prove fraud there, they were unlikely to prove it anywhere else.

Regardless of what the report says, Republican efforts to conduct similar reviews are underway. Republicans in both the Wisconsin and Pennsylvania legislatures are moving forward with similar probes in to the 2020 race.

And on Thursday, Donald Trump called for a review of the 2020 race in Texas, a state he carried in 2020 by nearly 6 points. Experts worry that the reviews suggest a new normal, where the losers of elections simply refuse to accept the results.

Controversial Arizona 'audit' shows Trump lost by even more votes

Greetings, live blog readers.

The highly controversial “audit” of 2020 ballots has now concluded in Maricopa county, Arizona, and a report was released of its early findings.

And that report confirmed what was already known: Joe Biden defeated Donald Trump Arizona’s largest county (and the state overall).

The Arizona Republic reports:

The three-volume report by the Cyber Ninjas, the Senate’s lead contractor, includes results that show Trump lost by a wider margin than the county’s official election results. The data in the report also confirms that U.S. Sen. Mark Kelly won in the county.

The official results are set to be presented to the Senate at 1 p.m. Friday. Several versions of the draft report, titled ‘Maricopa County Forensic Audit’ by Cyber Ninjas, circulated prematurely on Wednesday and Thursday.

The audit was demanded and then promoted by Trump’s allies, who have continued to peddle the “big lie” of widespread fraud in the 2020 election.

And Trump supporters have called for similar “audits” in many other US states and counties, almost a year after the election took place.

Perhaps the Arizona results will discourage some of the former president’s fans from pursuing these sham investigations. But this blogger is skeptical of that.

The blog will have more coming up, so stay tuned.

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