You are browsing the archive for 2021 January 05.

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Chaos breaks out in Pennsylvania as GOP state senators block a Democrat from being seated

January 5, 2021 in Blogs

By Cody Fenwick

Not only has Democrat Jim Brewster’s 69-vote victory in his 2020 race to keep his seat in the Pennsylvania State Senate been officially certified, but the state’s supreme court has also definitively rejected his Republican challenger’s objection to his win.

But on Tuesday, chaos broke out in the state senate when the chamber’s Republican Party majority decided to block Brewster from being seated with the rest of the winners from the election. Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, the presiding officer of the chamber, tried to block the GOP’s refusal to seat Brewster, so they forced him out of the senate. Republican interim Senate President Pro Tempore Jake Corman took over and continued with the ceremony, refusing to affirm Brewster’s win.

“We’re at a dangerous time in this country,” Fetterman told the Washington Post’s Greg Sargent after the incident. “One party is ignoring court rulings and election results. If the results don’t match what they like, they do their level best to subvert them.”

The disturbing power grab sparked raucous opposition. Sen. Anthony Williams, a Democrat, shouted from the floor as the Republicans moved to force Fetterman out of the proceedings.

Much like President Donald Trump, Nicole Ziccarelli, Brewster’s opponent in the election, has refused to accept the results. Despite her loss before the voters and before the state courts, she is continuing to fight the election result in federal court. She claims that ballots lacking a handwritten date should be thrown out. The fact that a legal challenge exists doesn’t actually nullify Brewster’s win — it was certified by state officials, after all — but Republicans are using it as an excuse to oppose his seating.

This is a striking contrast with the Democrats’ behavior at the federal level. Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has permitted Republican Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks to be seated in Congress, even as her Democratic opponent, Rita Hart, continues to challenge the result in a race that was even tighter. Hart is behind her opponent in the certified outcome by just six votes. The House will hear Hart’s challenge to the results, but at least for now, Miller-Meeks has earned her seat.

By the Pennsylvania Republicans’ reasoning, however, Brewster could theoretically be kept out of the state senate indefinitely, as long as his former opponent had some legal objection to the election pending. Fetterman said that before Tuesday, he had thought Republicans had agreed to …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Trump’s efforts to coerce Georgia’s secretary of state might carry legal risk: attorneys

January 5, 2021 in Blogs

By Alex Henderson

When President Donald Trump had an hour-long phone conversation with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger on Saturday, he tried unsuccessfully to pressure him into finding a way to overturn President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in the Peach State. Vanity Fair’s Bess Levin discusses the possible legal ramifications of that conversation in her column, quoting attorneys who believe that Trump violated federal and state laws.

Although Raffensperger is a conservative Republican, he didn’t budge a bit during his conversation with Trump. Raffensperger maintained that Biden won Georgia’s electoral votes fairly, and he continued to reject Trump’s baseless and debunked claim that he was the victim of widespread voter fraud in Georgia.

Trump told Raffensperger, “I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have. Because we won the state…. So, what are we going to do here, folks? I only need 11,000 votes. Fellas, I need 11,000 votes. Give me a break.”

Levin explains, “Trump berated, begged and threatened Brad Raffensperger, citing insane, fully debunked conspiracy theories in an astonishingly pathetic — even for him! — attempt to get the Georgia official to come up with 11,780 votes to put him ahead of Joe Biden’s 11,779-vote margin…. When simply begging and pleading failed, Trump unsurprisingly turned to threats and what sure sounded like extortion, telling Raffensperger and the secretary of state’s general counsel, Ryan Germany, that not coming up with the votes would be ‘a criminal offense’ — warning the two men, one of whom is an actual lawyer, ‘You can’t let that happen. That’s a big risk to you.’”

The Vanity Fair columnist goes on to quote various attorneys, including Vice President-elect Kamala Harris — a former California attorney general and San Francisco district attorney who described Trump’s efforts to bully Raffensperger as a “baldfaced, bold abuse of power by the president of the United States.” Harris made that statement during a speech while campaigning for two Democratic U.S. Senate hopefuls, Jon Ossoff and the Rev. Raphael Warnock, in Georgia.

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Ted Cruz will contest Joe Biden’s Arizona victory: report

January 5, 2021 in Blogs

By Alex Henderson

Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas is among the Republicans who has vowed to contest President-elect Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory when the Senate and the House of Representatives meet for a joint session of Congress on Wednesday. And Cruz, according to Washington Post reporters Seung Min Kim and Mike DeBonis, will be focused on Arizona.

In November, Republicans suffered two major defeats in Arizona — which was once a deep red state — when Biden won its 11 electoral votes in the presidential election and incumbent Sen. Martha McSally was unseated by Democratic challenger Mark Kelly. Trump has been making the baseless and debunked claim that he was robbed of a victory in Arizona because of widespread voter fraud, but in fact, Biden’s victory in the southwestern state was certified by Republican Gov. Doug Ducey — a long-time Trump ally — and later, by the Electoral College on December 14.

Kim and DeBonis report that according to a Washington Post source who is “familiar with the matter,” Cruz plans to “join with Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.) to contest the results from Biggs’ home state.”

“The person spoke on the condition of anonymity to disclose strategy that is not yet public,” the Post reporters explain. “Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.), who faces a runoff election Tuesday to keep her seat, plans to object to results from her home state, and Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) has pledged to contest the outcome in Pennsylvania. The objections are all but certain to fail in the Democratic-controlled House and the GOP-led Senate, where a growing number of Republicans have called the challenges dangerous to democracy.”

Cruz discussed his plans to contest the Electoral College outcome when he appeared on far-right radio host Mark Levin’s show on Monday. The Texas senator told Levin, “My view is Congress should fulfill our responsibility under the Constitution to consider serious claims of voter fraud. And that’s why I assembled a coalition of 11 senators…. We are going to vote to object to the electors not to set aside the election — I don’t think that would actually be the right thing to do — but rather, to press for the appointment of an electoral commission that can hear the claims of voter fraud, hear the evidence and make a determination as to what the facts are and the extent to which the law was …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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'The power is literally in your hands': Biden ties Georgia runoff races to $2,000 relief checks

January 5, 2021 in Blogs

By Jessica Corbett

Just a day before Georgia voters will determine which party controls the U.S. Senate, President-elect Joe Biden on Monday tied the push for $2,000 coronavirus pandemic relief checks to the results of state’s two runoff elections while campaigning in Atlanta for Democratic candidates Jon Ossoff and Rev. Raphael Warnock.

Ossoff and Warnock are facing off against Republican incumbent Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, respectively. Both Democrats winning the tight, closely watched races could pave the way for the $2,000 relief checks, which were approved by the Democrat-majority House but stalled in the GOP-controlled Senate during the last congressional session, despite support from President Donald Trump.

“Georgia—the whole nation is looking to you to lead us forward,” Biden declared. “One state can chart the course not just for the next four years but for the next generation. By electing Jon and the reverend, you can make an immediate difference in your own lives—the lives of the people all across this country.”

“Because their election will put an end to the block in Washington on that $2,000 stimulus check—that money that will go out the door immediately to help people who are in real trouble,” he explained. “Think about what it will mean to your lives. Putting food on the table. Paying rent. Paying part of your mortgage. Paying down the credit card. Paying the phone bill, the gas bill, the electric bill.”

While praising the Democratic candidates as “talented,” “principled,” “qualified,” “decent,” and “honorable,” Biden said that “they are bending the arc of history towards justice and hope and progress.” He also emphasized the desperate need across the country in the midst of the worsening pandemic.

“The debate over $2,000 isn’t some abstract debate in Washington. This is about real lives,” Biden said. “If you send Jon and the reverend to Washington, those $2,000 checks will go out the door, restoring hope and decency and honor for so many people who are struggling right now.”

“If you send Sens. Perdue and Loeffler back to Washington, those checks will never get there. It’s just that simple. The power is literally in your hands,” he continued. “By electing Jon and the reverend, you can break the gridlock that has gripped Washington and this nation.”

Biden added that “with their votes in the Senate, we’ll be able to make the progress we need to make on …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Trump readies the 'biggest threat yet' to Arctic refuge

January 5, 2021 in Blogs

By Common Dreams

“The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge faces its biggest threat yet.”

That’s the warning issued by the National Audubon Society on Tuesday—a day before the Trump administration is set to sell oil and gas leasing rights in the refuge’s coastal plain, a biodiversity hotspot of critical importance to the Gwich’in people and dubbed America’s Serengeti.

Bids were submitted by the end of 2020. It’s not clear, however, which oil or gas companies, if any, sought leases.

The Bureau of Land Management has “received interest” in leases, the Anchorage Daily News reported. That interest may have come solely from the state-owned Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority, which voted unanimously last month to spend as much as $20 million on the leases. “It’s a way for the state to make sure the land is set aside for oil development in case no one else bids on the leases,” as Alaska Public put it.

Wednesday’s virtual lease sale, accroding to NPR, represents

a major moment in a 40-year fight over whether to develop the northernmost slice of the refuge’s coastal plain, home to migrating caribou, birds, and polar bears.

[President-elect Joe] Biden, as well as his pick for Interior Secretary—Rep. Deb Haaland—oppose drilling in the refuge. The hand-off of drilling rights to the highest bidders could make it more difficult to reverse course.

That makes a pending decision from a federal judge in Alaska, which could come Tuesday, even more crucial to foil the lease sales and seismic activity related to fossil fuel plans.

U.S. District Court Judge Sharon Gleason in Anchorage on Monday heard oral arguments in the case (pdf), brought forth by Audubon and other conservation groups, as ADN reported. According to the outlet, “Gleason said she’d try to issue a decision by ‘close of business’ on Tuesday, on the eve of the live-streamed lease sale, set for 10 a.m. Wednesday.”

Andy McGlashen, associate editor of Audubon Magazine, put this week’s events in the broader context of the climate crisis. In a Monday post, he wrote:

While the Arctic Refuge has faced development pressure throughout its 40-year existence, it hasn’t confronted a more …read more

Source: ALTERNET