Posts tagged with "ABC News"

DOJ seeks to speak with Pence as part of January 6 investigation

November 25, 2022

The Department of Justice (DOJ) is seeking testimony from former Vice President Mike Pence for its investigation into Donald Trump’s attempts to stay in power after losing the 2020 presidential election, reports HuffPost.

Sources familiar with the matter confirmed the DOJ’s efforts to The New York TimesCNN, and ABC News on Wednesday, November 23. All reported that Pence, who has developed a fraught relationship with Trump after refusing to support his election fraud claims, is open to the request.

DOJ investigators reportedly contacted Pence before Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed a special counsel―Jack Smith, who once led the public integrity section―to take over the probe last week. As of now, Pence has not been subpoenaed.

Although he is reportedly open to testifying before the DOJ, Pence has refused to participate in a similar investigation led by a House select committee, saying last week that Congress “has no right to my testimony.”

But that doesn’t mean that Trump is happy about it: Indeed, according to HuffPost, the former president may seek legal avenues to stop Pence from testifying by invoking executive privilege, which at the very least, could stall the DOJ’s efforts to convene with him.

Pence could be a key witness in the investigations into the efforts by Trump and his allies to subvert democracy, including a plan to create a fake slate of pro-Trump electors in several states Biden won in 2020, because of his close communications with the ex-president in the days leading up to January 6, 2021, when an angry mob of Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol with Trump’s encouragement.

Pence detailed many of their exchanges in his recently released book, saying Trump summoned him to meet with attorney John Eastman, who then pressured Pence to block the electoral college certification process in Congress.

Wednesday’s news comes the week after Pence shared that he’s giving “prayerful consideration” to running for president in 2024―a race for which Trump already has announced his candidacy. Pence said there are “better choices” than Trump for president last week when asked if he’d be a good presidential candidate again.

Research contact: @HuffPost

Left out in the rain: NASA says Hurricane Nicole peeled patch of insulation off Artemis

November 16, 2022

NASA’s uber-expensive Space Launch System (SLS) Moon rocket— each successful launch of Artemis will cost about $4.1 billion, according to the U.S. space agency—is still out on the pad at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, having survived hurricane-level wind gusts last week, reports Futurism.

The question is, why was the rocket left out in a tropical storm? Predictions for Hurricane Nicole were that it could bring 75 mph winds during its expected landfall as a Category 1 hurricane along Florida’s east coast. Forecasters said that the upper part of the rocket could see higher wind gusts, possibly above 85 mph.

Now, that its engineers have inspected the spacecraft for damage, Artemis Mission Manager Mike Sarafin says that a ten-foot-long piece of insulation peeled away from the rocket while Hurricane Nicole stormed by, and it’s too late to go in and fix it on the launch pad.

The piece of insulation is designed to minimize aerodynamic heating during ascent where the fairing of the rocket attaches to NASA’s Orion capsule. The strip, a caulk-like material called RTV, peeled off the base of the crew capsule’s protective nose cone.

In short, it’s news that nobody wanted to hear.

“It was an area that was about ten feet in length [on the] windward side where the storm blew through,” said Sarafin, as quoted by CBS News. “It is a very, very thin layer of RTV; it’s about .2 inches or less… in thickness.”

Additionally, according to  ABC News, one of the umbilicals, which attach to the rocket boosters, was exhibiting “erratic signals” and the team may switch to a backup harness.

NASA was forced to again postpone the launch date—this time, from Monday, November 14, to Wednesday, November 16.

NASA’s SLS rocket is currently scheduled to launch at around 1 a.m. (EST) early Wednesday morning, ferrying the capsule into orbit, and allowing it to journey on to the Moon and back.

Where the latest incident leaves that upcoming launch window remains to be seen. NASA’s teams are meeting today to discuss if the rocket is ready for launch.

The weather for a Wednesday launch, at least, is looking good.

“I feel good headed into this attempt on the 16th,” Sarafin told reporters. “The team is moving forward as one unit,” he added. “We’ve just got some work to do.”

Research contact: @futurism

Six cases of alleged Arizona voter intimidation are referred to DOJ

October 27, 2022

Six cases of alleged voter intimidation at drop box locations in Arizona have been referred to the Justice Department in Washington, D.C., Secretary of State Katie Hobbs said on Monday, October 24, with early voting options open for nearly two weeks across the state, reports ABC News.

 “Voter harassment may include gathering around ballot drop boxes questioning voters, brandishing weapons, taking pictures of people voting, and following or chasing voters who are attempting to drop off their ballots—and it can all be considered voter intimidation. It is unacceptable,” Hobbs said in a release. “I will continue to forward reports received to law enforcement, and I urge law enforcement to take action to protect voters from ongoing intimidation.”

Attorney General Merrick Garland, asked on Monday about voter intimidation at Arizona ballot drop boxes, said, “The Justice Department has an obligation to guarantee a free and fair vote by everyone whose qualified to vote and will not permit voters to be intimidated.”

Five recorded complaints obtained by ABC News occurred between October 17 and October 22, outside ballot drop boxes at 501 S. 3rd Ave. in Phoenix and at the Mesa Juvenile Court, both in Maricopa County.

Most described an instance of groups of individuals loitering near the drop boxes, filming and photographing voters as they returned their ballots and in some cases, taking photographs of the voters’ license plates. One report described individuals dressed in “camo-clad gear” and photos from election officials show at least two armed individuals outside the Mesa drop box Friday, October 21.

“As we were getting up to our car, two individuals took pictures of our license plate and our car. I got out and asked what they were doing. They claimed they were taking pictures for “election security” and I took pictures of them to report them to the DOJ for voter intimation and harassment. As we were pulling out, they continued to film my wife, myself, and our car,” the complaint said

Early voting in the 2022 midterm elections began on October 12 in Arizona, where 402,000 early ballots have been returned so far, according to data compiled by the secretary of state from 15 county recorders. Aside from voters and credentialed government or party officials, individuals must stay at least 75 feet away from secure drop box locations, according to Arizona law.

“There’s a group of people hanging out near the ballot dropbox filming and photographing my wife and I as we approached the dropbox and accusing us of being a mile [mule],” another incident report, filed on October 17 at 6:40 p.m. at Mesa Juvenile Court said. “They took photographs of our license plate and of us and then followed us out the parking lot in one of their cars continuing to film.”

Accusations of being “mules” is in reference to a widely debunked, far-right film, ‘2,000 Mules,’ which falsely alleges that individuals hired by Democrats stuffed numerous drop boxes with potentially fake absentee ballots during the 2020 election.

Hobbs’ office in its release on Monday also referred at least one report of election worker harassment to law enforcement over the weekend after she and two other employees were sent a menacing and vulgar message: “Remember the French Revolution of 1799??….” it said.

 Maricopa County Sheriff Paul Penzone told reporters on Monday, October 24, that his office also is working with the DOJ to identify which cases qualify as voter intimidation. Since voting began, he said his team has written two criminal reports and submitted those to the county prosecutor.

 “I think it’s undermining who we are as a nation, and I think that it’s self-serving in many ways. And what do I see now as the sheriff of one of the biggest counties in the nation, I see that every day I’m dedicating a considerable amount of resources, just to give people confidence that they can cast a vote safely and that is absurd,” he said.

Research contact: @abcnews

Top January 6 committee members propose reforms to 1887 Electoral Count Act

September 21, 2022

Two senior members of the House’s January 6 select committee have introduced a bipartisan bill to reform the counting of presidential electoral votes to prevent another riot at the Capitol over disputed results, reports ABC News.

The Presidential Election Reform Act—from Representatives Liz Cheney (R-Wyoming), and Zoe Lofgren (D-California)—targets some of the perceived nuances in 135-year-old Electoral Count Act that former President Donald Trump and his supporters attempted to exploit in order to overturn President Joe Biden’s victory in 2020.

“Our proposal is intended to preserve the rule of law for all future presidential elections by ensuring that self-interested politicians cannot steal from the people the guarantee that our government derives its power from the consent of the governed,” Cheney and Lofgren wrote in a joint Wall Street Journal column last week.

The full House could vote on the proposal as early as Wednesday.

The revisions would reaffirm the vice president’s ceremonial role over the count, after then-Vice President Mike Pence was pressured by Trump and his allies to overturn the 2020 presidential election results, according to the legislative text and summary of the proposal obtained by ABC News.

The bill would make it more difficult for lawmakers to raise objections to electors from each state, by requiring at least one-third of the members from each chamber to support an objection, rather than one House member and a single senator.

It also would clarify ambiguities in the Electoral College process by requiring governors to transmit state results to Congress and prohibiting election officials from refusing to certify their state’s election results. In either case, the law would allow a presidential candidate to go to court to force compliance with the law.

The proposal would prevent state legislators from undoing the election results in their states—and require that elections be carried out under the state rules on the books on Election Day.

“The Constitution assigns an important duty to state legislatures, to determine the manner in which the states appoint their electors. But this shouldn’t be misread to allow state legislators to change the election rules retroactively to alter the outcome,” Cheney and Lofgren wrote in the Wall Street Journal.

In July, a bipartisan group of senators including Senators Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia), and Susan Collins (R-Maine)proposed their own reforms to the Electoral Count Act.

While their proposal also affirms the vice president’s limited role in proceedings, it sets a different threshold requirement for electoral challenges, among other differences.

Research contact: @abcnews

Dad wows the Internet by modeling his daughter’s crochet crop tops

August 8, 2022

This dad loves to model his daughter’s crochet designs—from cool crop tops to beautiful bucket hats. But he’s not just any dad. He’s Jeff Beaver of Arkansas, reports ABC News.

Across several social media platforms—including  Instagram,  TikTok  and more—the dedicated dad can be seen dancing, twirling, laughing, and posing in looks from the LoveBeav product line.

Emily has been crocheting since 2015, but started noticing her business really take off during the summer of 2021, thanks to social media. When she began scouting her parents to model her designs, the business saw an immediate upswwing.

“My dad has never been afraid to look silly, especially if he’s having fun doing it, so there was never any hesitation on his part,” Emily told ABC’s morning show, Good Morning America. “The most important thing for me and my parents is that we are spending quality time laughing and enjoying what we are doing.”

“We could care less what other people think about how silly it might look,” she added.

After noticing how well a video performed that featured her mother, Amy Beaver, wearing one of her crochet designs, Emily thought, “Why not try including Dad, as well?”

“The Internet totally ate it up and every time I included my parents, I knew that there was something special about the concept of a family wearing crochet tops together,” Emily said.

Since making the decision to include her parents in content creation, Emily’s business has continued to grow at a rapid rate and she has seen a large increase in followers.

The 28-year-old crochet artist and content creator was able to quit her previous day job to solely focus on art and content creation full-time because of the increase in engagement and sales.

“I went from barely any sales at all, to usually selling out my entire restock each month,” Emily said. “The biggest win for me, however, has been the opportunities I’ve had to partner with some of my favorite brands, like Michael’s Craft Store. I’ve been shopping at Michael’s since I started crocheting, so to be able to partner with them and create videos for them has been an absolute dream.”

When it comes to the Beaver family’s newfound Internet fame, Emily said they are all “loving it,” adding, “I’m still not sure we have even processed it completely.”

Emily recalls attending the Electric Forest Festival and finding it absolutely mind-blowing how many fans they met. “We were getting asked for pictures about every five feet. It has been such an awesome experience to do this together, and we are looking forward to seeing where this leads.”

From cool crop tops to beautiful bucket hats, all of Emily’s crochet designs can be found on her company’s website. However, social media platforms such as TikTok, Instagram, YouTube, and  Facebook are the best way to find her and her family’s latest viral moments.

Research contact: @ABC

Stephen King to testify for government in book-publisher merger trial

August 3, 2022

As the Justice Department bids to convince a federal judge that the proposed merger of Penguin Random House and Simon & Schuster would damage the careers of some of the most popular authors, it is leaning in part on the testimony of a writer who has thrived like few others: Stephen King, reports ABC.

 The author of “Carrie,” “The Shining,” and many other favorites, King has willingly—even eagerly—placed himself in opposition to Simon & Schuster, his longtime publisher, ABC says. He was not chosen by the government just for his fame, but for his public criticism of the $2.2 billion deal announced in late 2021—joining two of the world’s biggest publishers into what rival CEO Michael Pietsch of Hachette Book Group has called a “gigantically prominent” entity.

 “The more the publishers consolidate, the harder it is for indie publishers to survive,” King tweeted last year.

 One of the few widely recognizable authors, known for his modest-sized glasses and gaunt features, King is scheduled to take the witness stand Tuesday, August 2, the second day of a federal antitrust trial anticipated last two to three weeks.

 He may not have the business knowledge of Pietsch, the DOJ’s first witness, but he has been a published novelist for nearly 50 years and knows well how much the industry has changed: Some of his own former publishers were acquired by larger companies. “Carrie,” for instance, was published by Doubleday, which in 2009 merged with Knopf Publishing Group and now is part of Penguin Random House. Another former King publisher, Viking Press, was a Penguin imprint that joined Penguin Random House when Penguin and Random House merged in 2013.

King’s affinity for smaller publishers is personal. Even while continuing to publish with the Simon & Schuster imprint Scribner, he has written thrillers for the independent Hard Case Crime. Years ago, the publisher asked him to contribute a blurb, but King instead offered to write a novel for them, “The Colorado Kid,” released in 2005.

 “Inside I was turning cartwheels,” Hard Case co-founder Charles Ardai would remember thinking when King contacted him.

 King, himself, would likely benefit from the Penguin Random House-Simon & Schuster deal, but he has a history of favoring other priorities beyond his material well-being. He has long been a critic of tax cuts for the rich, even as “the rich” surely includes Stephen King, and has openly called for the government to raise his taxes.

 “In America, we should all have to pay our fair share,” he wrote for The Daily Beast in 2012.

 On Monday, attorneys for the two sides offered contrasting views of the book industry. Government attorney John Read invoked a dangerously narrow market, ruled tightly by the Big Five— Penguin Random House, Simon & Schuster, HarperCollins Publishing, Macmillan and Hachette—with little chance for smaller or startup publishers to break through.

  Attorney Daniel Petrocelli argued for the defense that the industry actually is diverse, profitable, and open to newcomers. Publishing, he said, means not just the Big Five, but also such medium-size companies as W.W. Norton & Co. and Grove Atlantic. The merger, he contended, would in no way upend the ambitions so many hold for literary success.

 “Every book starts out as an anticipated bestseller in the gleam of an author’s or an editor’s eye,” he said.

 Research contact: @ABC

DOJ reportedly secures Cassidy Hutchinson’s cooperation in January 6 probe

July 28, 2022

On Wednesday, July 27, ABC News reported that former Donald Trump-era White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson is cooperating with Justice Department investigators  as part of their probe into the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, as well as the former president’s effort to overturn the 2020 presidential election.

“The Justice Department reached out to her following her testimony a month ago before the House committee investigating the January 6, 2021, Capitol attack, the sources said,” reported ABC’s Katherine Faulders, Mike Levine, and John Santucci. “The extent of her cooperation was not immediately clear.”

“Hutchinson becomes the latest known figure with knowledge of the actions of top Trump Administration officials on Jan. 6 to cooperate with the Justice Department’s inquiry,” said the report, according to Raw Story, which added, “A lawyer for Hutchinson did not respond to ABC News’ request for comment. Officials with the DOJ also declined to comment, as did a spokesperson for the January 6 committee.”

Hutchinson, who served as an adviser to former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, gave bombshell public testimony before the committee last month. Among other things, she revealed that Trump demanded rioters he knew were armed be allowed to enter the Capitol because “they’re not here to hurt me,” and that Trump attacked his own security detail in his car when they wouldn’t take him to join the rioters.

A report earlier this month indicated that she is  in hiding  amid death threats from Trump supporters.

The Washington Post revealed this week that the DOJ has shifted its investigation to  focus directly on Trump’s actions  during the riot and the plot to reverse the election—a possible sign that prosecutors are considering charges against him.

Research contact: @RawStory

Are trucks America’s new luxury status symbol?

June 14, 2022

Isaac Marchionna had always been a loyal SUV owner until three years ago he upgraded his Toyota 4Runner to a Ford F-150 Raptor—a massive truck with 450 horsepower and 510 lb-ft of torque, reports ABC News.

Marchionna, who lives in Oregon, originally bought the $72,000 pickup to go off-roading in the Baja California desert. He soon realized that the Raptor had all the creature comforts he sought in a daily driver.

“It’s aggressive and can bomb through a desert … but drives like a big car, handles very easily and is a very plush ride,” he told ABC News. “Just a pleasant driving experience around town.”

Trucks have definitely become the “it” U.S. vehicle, according to Ivan Drury, a senior manager at Edmunds. They now come equipped with features that once made luxury vehicles stand out. Plus, towing capabilities and bed size have increased in the latest generations.

“Automakers are adding everything—heated and ventilated seats in the front and rear, 360-degree cameras, adaptive cruise control,” Drury told ABC News. “Trucks make your life easier and are more practical than an SUV.”

Sales of trucks have exploded in recent years. They account for 20% of the U.S. automotive market, up from 13% in 2012, according to Edmunds data. Prices have also skyrocketed: the average transaction price of a truck in 2005 was $29,390. Today, consumers are spending $54,564 on average, though trucks can easily top out at—or exceed—six figures.

“I used to think spending $50K or $60K on a truck was outrageous. Now there are $100K pickups,” Tony Quiroga, editor-in-chief of Car and Driver, told ABC News. “Automakers keep producing models that are more and more expensive and there doesn’t seem to be a limit to the appetite.”

When General Motors opened reservations for its $112,595 GMC Edition 1 Hummer EV pickup last October, all units were sold out within ten minutes, the company said. The Hummer’s three electric motors and battery pack produce 1,000 hp and 1,200 lb-ft of torque. The truck’s engineers and designers, however, paid as much attention to the interior and ride quality as the insane performance numbers.

Inside are crisp graphics on two large screens and multiple storage cubbies to hold items. GM said 70% of drivers who made a reservation are new to EVs.

“The way we’ve executed this truck … anyone could drive this,” Brian Malczewski, lead exterior designer of the Hummer EV, told ABC News. “All my friends and family just loved it, regardless of gender.”

Indeed, ABC says, automakers have made trucks so attractive to nontraditional owners—roomy cabins, massage seats, 14-inch screens—that a growing number of families and women are choosing them over SUVs as their primary vehicle, said Andre Smirnov, managing editor at TFLtruck.com. Trucks are no longer utilitarian vehicles with two doors and a flatbed, he pointed out.

“They’re more capable off-road, more maneuverable … and some have noise cancellation,” Smirnov told ABC News. “A truck 20 years ago would rattle and be loud. Now it’s as quiet as a whisper inside.”

He added, “A pickup truck lets a person or family have the ability to do anything or go anywhere. Trucks can absolutely be a status symbol.”

Research contact: @abcnews

In wake of Buffalo shooting, Liz Cheney says House GOP leaders ‘enabled white nationalism’

May 18, 2022

Top Republicans in the House of Representatives are facing new scrutiny, as critics, including some within their own party, contend that they have failed to condemn the racist rhetoric espoused by the suspected gunman who killed ten Black people at a Buffalo, New York, supermarket on Saturday, May 14, reports ABC News.

A far-right conspiracy known as the “great replacement theory”—which contends that white Americans are intentionally being replaced by minorities and immigrants—was included in a 180-page screed posted online by the alleged shooter.

On Monday, May 16, Republican Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming, a frequent critic of her own party, singled out what she called a parallel between those beliefs and the behavior of some fellow conservatives.

“The House GOP leadership has enabled white nationalism, white supremacy, and anti-semitism,” she wrote in a tweet. “History has taught us that what begins with words ends in far worse. @GOP leaders must renounce and reject these views and those who hold them.”

Cheney was notably replaced last year from her number-three post in the House’s Republican leadership after saying she would “not sit back and watch in silence” as former President Donald Trump continued to falsely claim he won the presidential election.

In the wake of the Buffalo shooting, New York Republican Representative Elise Stefanik, Cheney’s successor, has become a primary target of criticism over how members of the GOP have voiced ideas similar to “replacement theory.”

“Radical Democrats are planning their most aggressive move yet: a PERMANENT ELECTION INSURRECTION. Their plan to grant amnesty to 11 MILLION illegal immigrants will overthrow our current electorate and create a permanent liberal majority in Washington,” Stefanik said in a Facebook ad for her reelection, which launched last August. According to Facebook, the ad, pushed out repeatedly, reached hundreds of thousands of people.

When Stefanik first tweeted condolences to her home state on Saturday, Illinois Representative Adam Kinzinger, the only other House Republican to sit on the January 6 select committee with Cheney, said in a tweet, “Did you know: @EliseStefanik pushes white replacement theory?”

Fueling the criticism on social media was a 2021 editorial from Stefanik’s hometown newspaper, The Albany Times Union, which blasted her last September in a piece titled “How low, Miss Stefanik?”

According to the ABC News report, the Times Union editorial board had focused on Stefanik’s “despicable” Facebook ads, which echoed elements of “replacement theory.” Her ads didn’t mention the conspiracy theory by name, but they insisted, in part, that Democrats were looking to grant citizenship to immigrants who entered the country illegally in order to somehow gain an enduring majority—or, in Stefanik’s words, a “permanent election insurrection.”

With the piece recirculating on social media in the wake of the shooting, Stefanik and her team are pushing back on the renewed focus on her campaign ads.

Her office said Monday that making any link between her past comments and the shooting was a “new disgusting low” for Democrats and “Never Trump” Republicans as well as the media.

“Despite sickening and false reporting, Congresswoman Stefanik has never advocated for any racist position or made a racist statement,” Alex DeGrasse, a senior adviser, said in a statement. “The shooting was an act of evil and the criminal should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” he added.

Stefanik, DeGrasse said, “opposes mass amnesty for illegal immigrants …. She strongly supports legal immigration and is one of the national leaders credited with diversifying the Republican Party through candidate recruitment and messaging.”

What’s more, Stefanik isn’t the only House Republican who has claimed there is a movement to “replace” voters. Representative Matt Gaetz (R-Florida) delivered an explicit endorsement of the conspiracy last September.

Gaetz tweeted that Fox News host Tucker Carlson—who has said he believes “the Democratic Party is trying to replace the current electorate”—is “CORRECT about Replacement Theory as he explains what is happening to America;” and called the Anti-Defamation League, which called on Carlson to resign, a “racist organization.”

ABC News previously reported that evidence points to the Buffalo shooting being a calculated, racially-motivated execution by the suspect, an 18-year-old white man, according to multiple sources and a review of FBI cases and testimony. The teen gunman allegedly wanted a race war and livestreamed his attack in an apparent effort to spur others to kill minorities, sources said.

The FBI is investigating the mass shooting as a hate crime and a case of “racially motivated violent extremism” after Erie County Sheriff John Garcia described the attack as a “straight-up racially motivated hate crime.”

The suspect has pleaded not guilty to a charge of first-degree murder and is being held without bail.

Research contact: @abcnews

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki plans to leave for an on-air role at MSNBC

April 4, 2022

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki, is planning to leave her post to take an on-air role at MSNBC, a source familiar with the matter told CNBC on April 1.

Psaki, who is still fleshing out details with the company, is expected to leave the White House around May, Axios reported earlier Friday.

Psaki will host a show for NBCUniversal’s streaming platform, Peacock, Axios reported. She had reportedly also been in talks with CNN and other networks.

Psaki did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment.

“We don’t have anything to confirm about Jen’s length of planned service or any consideration about future plans,” a White House official told CNBC in an email. “Jen is here and working hard every day on behalf of the president to get you the answers to the questions that you have, and that’s where her focus is.”

News networks have long looked to recruit spokespeople and other high-profile Beltway figures for their day-to-day political coverage, both as anchors and regular contributors.

Longtime ABC News host George Stephanopoulos, for instance, was formerly the White House communications director under President Bill Clinton. MSNBC political analyst and host Nicolle Wallace was a senior spokesperson for the George W. Bush administration and a spokesperson for John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign.

Last March, former President Donald Trump’s final Press secretary, Kayleigh McEnany, joined Fox News as a commentator. More recently, CBS News signed ex-Trump official Mick Mulvaney as a paid contributor.

Research contact: @CNBC