Wednesday, December 15, 2021

 -Joe Manchin, to a reporter asking about the child tax credit

All but two House Republicans voted to let their former colleague defy their chamber’s oversight authority and take his insider January 6 knowledge to the grave, precisely what you would expect from a bunch of public servants who love democracy and have nothing at all to hide.

  • The House voted late on Tuesday to cite former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows for criminal contempt, sending the matter to the Justice Department. Reps. Liz Cheney (R-WY) and Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) were the only two Republicans to vote with Democrats to hold him accountable for defying a lawful subpoena. President Biden said on Wednesday that while he hasn’t reviewed all of Meadows’ texts, “it seems to me he's worthy of being held in contempt.” 
  • Ahead of the full House vote, the January 6 committee showcased another smoking gun from the pile of messages Meadows refuses to answer questions about. On November 4, an as-yet-unnamed GOP member of Congress privately pitched Meadows on a coup plan to have GOP-controlled swing states ignore the election results and send Trump electors to Congress, then trust the Supreme Court to back them up. That proposal to steal the election was sent before news networks had even called the election. 
  • Based on Trump allies’ frantic attempts to hide their phone records, it seems safe to assume that we haven’t yet seen the worst of it. Conservative lawyer John Eastman, author of the infamous memo outlining how then-Vice President Mike Pence could keep Trump in power, has sued Verizon and the January 6 committee to block the release of his cell-phone data. (Not even his texts, mind you! Just which numbers he communicated with, when, and for how long.) That follows a similar lawsuit on Monday from four organizers of the January 6 rally. 

Phone records could shed light on one of the investigation’s key questions: Were members of Trump’s team or Republican lawmakers coordinating with extremist groups ahead of the insurrection?

  • A growing pile of evidence appears to suggest, “yeah, probably.” Take this new criminal complaint against Donald Hazard and Lucas Denney, two insurrectionists who belonged to a Texas militia. The complaint quotes Denney sharing a rumor on Facebook that Trump would march with the crowd to the Capitol. Where would a random Texas militia guy have heard such a rumor, if not from the Proud Boys or other extremists he was in touch with ahead of the rally? And how would the Proud Boys have been aware of Trump’s (ultimately abandoned) plans to march to the Capitol? House investigators should know soon enough.
  • Meanwhile, as Republicans around the country cite “voter fraud” to justify maneuvers like purging Black Democrats from county election boards in Georgia, you will once again be bowled over by the revelation that those concerns have zero basis in reality. A comprehensive Associated Press review of every potential case of voter fraud in Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin found fewer than 475 disputed ballots—nowhere close to enough to throw the outcome into question, even if all of them were votes for Biden (they were not). 

A GOP lawmaker’s text to Donald Trump’s chief of staff about how to overturn the election before the votes were even counted makes it plain that top Republicans never believed their own claims about voter fraud. Democrats should be shouting that from the rooftops, and making sure the public is watching as the details of what Republicans were (and are) truly planning comes to light.

Defend Abortion Rights with the ACLU

On December 1st, Mississippi asked the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade.
If the Court goes that route, it would mean that there is no federal constitutional right to an abortion. Full stop. If that were to happen, about half the states in the country would quickly ban abortion. And if there is a Congress and President hostile to reproductive rights in 2024, we could well see a ban on abortion that applies nationwide.  

But even if the Court stops short of expressly overturning Roe v. Wade, if it upholds Mississippi’s law, it will allow states to dramatically roll back our rights. It would give a green light to states (and Congress) to continue to push more bans, setting off an explosion of anti-abortion legislation across the country.

Even now, we know the right to abortion is not a true reality for many people in our country and that reality disproportionately harms specific communities. Restricting abortion is rooted in systemic racism, misogyny, and other structural inequities. And that means people struggling financially, Indigenous people, Black people, people of color, people who are undocumented, and young people suffer the most. 

This impact will only be magnified if the right to abortion is further restricted or eliminated nationwide. We must fight back – add your name to get involved today.

So while the Court's ruling will likely not come for months, all of us dedicated to defending abortion rights will remain relentless:
We at the ACLU are positioned to fight back with a national and affiliate presence in all 50 states, D.C., and Puerto Rico. We've blocked over 20 abortion restrictions across the states in 2021 alone – and our work in the months ahead will amplify that reach as we continue to both block state attacks and simultaneously work to expand protections for abortion at the state and federal level. Sign up to make sure you get all the updates on the fight to protect abortion – add your name.  

The Omicron variant is overtaking the U.S. quickly enough that a big wave of infections could peak by January, according to the CDC. In one starting preview, Cornell University reported 903 COVID cases among students in the week that ended in December 13, a “very high percentage” of them Omicron cases in vaccinated individuals. None of those students have had severe illness, and because Cornell conducts surveillance testing, it’s likely that many had no idea they were sick. A Hong Kong study found that Omicron spreads around 70 times faster than Delta or the original strain, but doesn’t damage lung tissues as badly, which bolsters anecdotal reports of Omicron causing milder illness, at least among vaccinated and less vulnerable populations. Lab studies also suggest that the Omicron surge won’t require the frenzied rollout of a new vaccine. “Our booster vaccine regimens work against Omicron. At this point, there is no need for a variant-specific booster,” Dr. Anthony Fauci said Wednesday. 

The Democratic research firm Equis has released a new post-mortem of the 2020 election examining why Latino voters shifted towards Donald Trump, and what do you know, the data does not support centrist Democrats’ knee-jerk blaming of “defund the police” activists. Trump didn’t make gains as a result of 2020’s Black Lives Matter protests or Latino voters’ attitudes on policing; that stuff didn’t really move the needle. What did make a difference were Trump’s policies on the economy and pandemic, which proved to be very popular, and the onslaught of right-wing disinformation tying Joe Biden and Democrats to socialism, which resonated well beyond Florida. More than 40 percent of Latino voters across the country said they were concerned that Democrats were pro-socialism, and among those who voted for Trump, 70 percent were concerned. Latino voters also said they were more concerned about Democrats leftist policies than about Republicans chugging the fascism Kool-Aid, an imbalance Democrats probably ought to address sooner rather than later.

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The House has passed Rep. Ilhan Omar’s (D-MN) legislation to create a special envoy to combat Islamophobia.

President Biden is set to nominate a total of 73 judges in his first year in office, surpassing Donald Trump’s first-year judicial nominees. 

New York City is poised to become the nation’s largest city to ban gas hookups in new buildings.

Volunteers along the east coast have been tending to more than 1,000 oyster gardens in an effort to restore coastal ecosystems.

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