Posts tagged with "MSNBC"

House panel to kick off Mayorkas impeachment hearings next week

January 4, 2024

House Republicans will initiate a series of impeachment hearings against Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas next week—holding the first of four hearings before marking up a resolution that would boot him from office, reports The Hill.

On Wednesday, January 10, the House Homeland Security Committee plans to review what it dubs the “havoc in the heartland,” a look at how migration has impacted the Midwest.

e hearing is the culmination of a months-long review of Mayorkas’s leadership at the border, one that committee Chair Mark Green (R-Tennessee) kicked off with a July press conference alleging the secretary had displayed “dereliction of duty” in how he has handled the border.

The announcement of the hearing, first reported by Punchbowl News, also aligns with a House GOP trip to the border on Wednesday—Speaker Mike Johnson’s (R-Louisiana) first as leader of his conference.

According to The Hill, impeaching Mayorkas has been a rallying cry for the right flank of the party—with one lawmaker introducing a resolution to remove him from office as soon as the GOP overtook the House.

But the issue has lingered, as Republicans were scattershot over which Biden official to impeach—largely shifting their focus to impeaching President Joe Biden, himself.

A November effort from Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Georgia) to force a vote on a Mayorkas impeachment revived the issue.

“Our investigation made clear that this crisis finds its foundation in Secretary Mayorkas’ decision-making and refusal to enforce the laws passed by Congress; and that his failure to fulfill his oath of office demands accountability,” Green, the Homeland chair, said in a statement.

“The bipartisan House vote in November to refer articles of impeachment to my Committee only served to highlight the importance of our taking up the impeachment process—which is what we will begin doing next Wednesday.”

Green said in an interview on Fox News last month that articles of impeachment for Mayorkas have already been drafted and would be marked up at the end of the process.

During an appearance on MSNBC on Wednesday, Mayorkas said he will cooperate with the inquiry but stressed all the other ways he is remaining focused on his job, including negotiating with the Senate on an immigration package that the GOP argues must include restrictions on asylum.

Andd, while some Republicans such as Green have claimed Mayorkas is derelict in his duty to manage the border, it’s not clear that is an impeachable offense, or even a legal term outside its use in the military.

Republicans have also claimed Mayorkas has violated the law, failing to meet the standards of the Secure Fence Act, which defines operational control of the border as a status in which not a single person or piece of contraband improperly enters the country.

But no Homeland Security secretary has met that standard of perfection—something Mayorkas has pointed out as the GOP has grilled him on the law.

“I use a lens of reasonableness in defining operational control. Are we maximizing the resources we have to deliver the most effective results? And under that definition, we are doing so very much to gain operational control,” Mayorkas said, touting the resources sent to the border.

Research contact: @thehill

Top Democrat in Westchester County, NY, files to challenge Rep. Jamaal Bowman

December 6, 2023

On December 4, Westchester County, New York, Executive George Latimer (D) filed paperwork indicating that he will run against Representative Jamaal Bowman (D-New York) for the House seat just north of New York City—becoming the latest primary challenge against a member of the liberal group of lawmakers known as “The Squad, ” reports The Washington Post.

Latimer filed a statement of candidacy to the Federal Election Commission on Monday. The county executive told the Post in late October that the race could be a “proxy argument” between “the left and the far left.”

The potential primary challenge comes as tensions rise within the Democratic Party about curbing U.S. support for Israel and the civilian death toll in Gaza after Hamas’s attack on the Jewish state October 7. Latimer visited Israel in October, but did not comment on his plans for 2024.

Bowman and his allies focused their responses on Monday not on Latimer, but on outside groups they said were targeting progressives and lawmakers of color.

In a statement, Bowman’s campaign spokesperson, Emma Simon, noted, “It’s not a surprise that a Super PAC that routinely targets Black members of Congress with primary challenges and is funded by the same Republican mega-donors who give millions to election-denying Republicans including Donald Trump, Ron DeSantis, and Ted Cruz [has] recruited a candidate for this race.”

The Working Families Party of New York—a liberal group that supported Bowman in previous races—said in a statement Monday that it would again back Bowman for reelection. The group also warned that pro-Israeli groups, including American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), “are planning to spend millions” to defeat him.

Marshall Wittmann, a spokesman for AIPAC, said in a statement that unlike Biden and other Democratic lawmakers, Bowman is aligned with “the anti-Israel extremist fringe.”

He added, “Democrats in this district deserve a representative who stands by the mainstream view which supports the U.S.-Israel relationship.”

Recently, Bowman told MSNBC, “It’s one thing to support Israel” but “it’s another thing to never hold Israel accountable for their behavior, whether it’s the occupation, the open-air prison that is Gaza, or the war crimes that are taking place right now during this siege.”

Bowman also became a target of right-wing ire after a September incident in which he pulled the fire alarm that forced the evacuation of the Cannon House Office Building as lawmakers scrambled to avert a government shutdown. He pleaded guilty to the charge of pulling a false fire alarm in late October.

As part of a deal with the D.C. attorney general’s office, Bowman agreed to pay a $1,000 fine, give $50 to a crime victim’s compensation fund and, within two weeks, apologize in writing to the U.S. Capitol Police chief, according to court documents.

Other liberal House members facing a primary challenge in 2024 include Reps. Cori Bush (D-Missouri), Ilhan Omar (D-Minnesota) and Summer L. Lee (D-Pennsylvania). The challenges come as President Joe Biden  and other Democrats face pressure from activists, as well as young voters and voters of color, over their handling of the war.

Research contact: @washingtonpost

What to watch as voters flock to the polls on Election Day 2023

November 8, 2023

Spare a thought for odd-numbered election years. The even-numbered cycles invariably dominate public attention—and for good reason—but there are all kinds of important, marquee contests in “off-year” elections that have dramatic impacts on governing and public policy, writes Steve Benen, producer of “The Rachel Maddow Show” and Maddowblog editor for MSNBC.

On Tuesday, November 7, for example, voters nationwide headed to the polls—and there were particularly competitive races that will give signals about what voters are thinking and where the national political environment stands ahead of 2024.

In Kentucky, voters will decide what is arguably the nation’s most closely watched contest: a gubernatorial race pitting Democratic Governor Andy Beshear against Republican state Attorney General Daniel Cameron. The incumbent is popular and well-liked, but the Bluegrass State is undeniably “red,” and polls suggest the race is a toss-up.

Similarly, in Mississippi, a gubernatorial contest has proven to be far more competitive than many national observers expected. Republican Governor Tate Reeves faced a tough challenge on Tuesday from Brandon Presley, a public service commissioner. The Democrat has run a very strong campaign, laying out an ambitious and popular agenda focused on health care and taxes. Meanwhile, the controversial GOP incumbent—Reeves has been caught up in a corruption investigation over misuse of federal welfare funds from his tenure as lieutenant governor— has spent months reminding Mississippi voters that he’s a Republican in a “red” state, hoping that will be enough.

In Virginia, Republicans already hold the governor’s office and State House, and the party hopes to complete the trifecta by taking control of the State Senate. If they succeed, Republican Governor Glenn Youngkin will work with allied lawmakers to impose an abortion ban in the commonwealth.

Abortion is on the ballot in a far more direct way in Ohio, where voters will weigh in on Issue 1, a proposed state Constitutional amendment to protect reproductive rights. Ohioans will also decide the fate of Issue 2, which would legalize recreational marijuana in Ohio.

There are currently two vacancies in the U.S. House—and one of them was scheduled to be filled by voters on Tuesday. In Rhode Island, Democrat Gabe Amo and Republican Gerry Leonard are competing in the 1st district, hoping to succeed former Democratic Representative David Cicilline who gave up his seat in May. If Amo prevails—and by most measures, he’s the favorite—he’ll be Rhode Island’s first Black representative in Congress.

In New Jersey, Republicans haven’t held a majority in either the State House or the State Senate in more than two decades. The GOP hopes to change that today, with a special emphasis on the upper chamber.

Finally, Benen says, in Pennsylvania, voters will fill a vacancy on the state Supreme Court. Democrats will maintain a majority regardless of the outcome, but Republicans hope to narrow the gap from a 5-2 majority to a 4-3 majority.

Research contact: @MSNBC

Boebert is locked in unexpectedly close race, as some constituents say they’re tired of a ‘mini Trump’

November 15, 2022

In the heart of Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District, a rural region spanning much of the southwestern part of the state, some people who voted for Republican U.S. Representative Lauren Boebert two years ago said they were fed up with what seemed like her desire to grab the national spotlight instead of fighting for them, reports NBC News.

The Donald Trump loyalist’s surprisingly close race against little-known Democrat and former Aspen city councilman Adam Frisch has become one of the nation’s most closely watched midterm election battles over a seat most political observers thought Boebert would win easily.

As of Friday morning, November 11, Frisch trailed Boebert by 1,122 votes in the U.S. House race. The nonpartisan Cook Political Report had rated the district as solidly Republican ahead of Tuesday’s election. Trump won the district twice—capturing 53.1% of the vote in 2016 and 52.9% four years later.

The results of the Boebert-Frisch showdown are likely to lead to a recount as control of the House hangs in the balance. Under state law, an automatic recount is required when a margin of victory in an election is less than or equal to 0.5% of the winner’s vote. Losing candidates may also request a recount at their own expense.

Apple Gibson, 69, of Pueblo County, who is registered as Independent, said she usually votes Republican but not this time around: “Her loud mouth; she’s a mini Trump. That was a turnoff,” Gibson said when asked why she switched her vote this time. Gibson said she believed Boebert wanted to create jobs at the expense of the Rocky Mountain region’s natural beauty and landscape.

Boebert could not be reached for comment Friday.

Observers said Frisch has gotten this far by running a steady campaign as a moderate Democrat who sometimes spoke out against President Joe Biden’s policies, got a head start on fundraising, and took advantage of a polarizing Republican incumbent who turned some voters off.

“He was just kinda written off,” said Steve Welchert, a Colorado-based Democratic political consultant, referring to how local and national Democrats never gave Frisch much of a shot to win. “The truth is, he did this by himself.”

Boebert, who was voted into office after besting five-term incumbent Scott Tipton in the 2020 primary, has helped Frisch by being an unwavering Trump loyalist and one of Congress’ most conservative members, some said.

“What she really cared about was being a television star,” Welchert said.

Frisch said on MSNBC on Friday that the race’s closeness can be partly attributed to citizens’ frustration. “Our country has been harmed by our current representative,” he said. “Our veterans have been harmed by our current representative. And our district has been ignored for two years while she’s been on this entertainment national circus.”

On the campaign trail, he vowed to improve medical care for military veterans, protect natural resources, and support abortion rights.

“I trust women and believe each woman deserves the freedom to choose what is best for her, her body, her family, and her future,” Frisch wrote on his campaign site.

His plan to remain competitive in a congressional race that includes rural Pueblo in southern Colorado and Grand Junction along the state’s western slope has worked, said Seth Masket, a Political Science professor at the University of Denver.

“A lot of this is about Boebert,” he said. “She’s been all about drawing a lot of attention to herself. Her style may have cost Republicans a seat that they should not be losing.”

Research contact: @NBCNews

‘Lawyers are giggling’: Attorneys scratch their heads at Trump’s ‘very strange’ DOJ lawsuit

Augusst 24, 2022

On Monday, August 22, former President Donald Trump filed a lawsuit demanding the return of documents seized by the FBI from Mar-a-Lago—arguing that the feds did not have sufficient reason for the raid, even though they found 300 classified documents at Trump’s home, according to The New York Times.

Indeed, Salon reports, the FBI recovered more than 300 classified documents from Mar-a-Lago in three batches over the last eight months, according to the report. Trump only turned over 150 of the documents to the National Archives in January, prompting the Justice Department to investigate whether he withheld some materials.

boxes included documents from the CIA, National Security Agency, and FBI across a “variety of topics of national security interest,” according to the report.

Trump rifled through the boxes of documents late last year as officials were attempting to recover them, sources told the outlet. Surveillance footage obtained by the DOJ also showed people “moving boxes … and in some cases, appearing to change the containers some documents were held in,” according to the report. Trump resisted demands to return the documents, describing them as “mine,” sources told the Times.

Earlier this year, Trump attorney Christina Bobb signed a declaration that all classified material had been returned, which ultimately led to the FBI’s unprecedented raid on Trump’s residence to recover documents that he withheld after the first three recovery attempts.

Andrew Weissmann, a former federal prosecutor who served on special counsel Bob Mueller’s team, called the report “incredibly damning” for Trump, noting that the report suggests the former president personally reviewed the documents to decide what to return.

“If you are a prosecutor, you really look for evidence of what the former president did personally,” he told MSNBC. “If the DOJ either knows about or is soon to interview those people who were sources for The New York Times, they’re going to have a substantial criminal case.”

Despite the mounting evidence that Trump’s actions may have run afoul of federal laws governing classified materials and document preservation, Trump filed a lawsuit on Monday arguing that the feds have “failed to legitimize its historic decision” to raid his home.

The lawsuit called for a court to appoint a special master, a third party who is typically a former judge, to review whether some materials may be protected by attorney-client privilege or other guidelines. The lawsuit seeks the return of documents the FBI seized in the raid.

“This Mar-a-Lago Break-In, Search, and Seizure was illegal and unconstitutional, and we are taking all actions necessary to get the documents back, which we would have given to them without the necessity of the despicable raid of my home, so that I can give them to the National Archives until they are required for the future Donald J. Trump Presidential Library and Museum,” Trump said in a statement on Monday.

The lawsuit argues that the raid was politically motivated, claiming that Trump is the “clear frontrunner” in the 2024 election “should he decide to run.”

The lawsuit accuses the feds of violating Trump’s Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable search and seizure and asks that the court block “further review of seized material” until they are reviewed by a special master.

The DOJ said it would file a response in court.

“The August 8 search warrant at Mar-a-Lago was authorized by a federal court upon the required finding of probable cause,” DOJ spokesperson Anthony Coley told CNBC.

Research contact: @Salon

Trump committed ‘serious’ crime, if found to have used IRS as weapon, says Lawrence Tribe

July 11, 2022

A top legal expert has suggested it is “no coincidence” that former  FBI  Director  James Comey  and former Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe—both of whom were both fired by former President Donald Trump—were selected for a rare and intensive audit by the Internal Revenue Service, reports Newsweek.

Comey and McCabe both were subjected to random tax audits in 2017 and 2019, respectively.

However, as noted by The New York Times, the odds of being selected for the audit is around one in 30,600, raising questions on the likelihood that two high-ranking FBI officials who were previously fired by Trump, and that the former wanted to prosecute, both happened to be chosen.

Responding to the news, Laurence Tribe, professor emeritus of Constitutional Law at Harvard University, dismissed the idea that both men were randomly selected and implied that Trump may have been using the IRS as a weapon against his foes.

“This kind of political targeting is a serious federal crime. No coincidence, for sure. Odds are 30,000 to 1,” Tribe tweeted.

Joe Scarborough, the co-host of  Morning Joe on MSNBC, who previously worked as an attorney, also suggested: “Did Trump use IRS to target Comey and McCabe? Looks like it.”

IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig, who was appointed by Trump in 2018, declined to comment. The agency later said he had no role in selecting those subjected to the intensive audit.

 “As IRS commissioner, he has never been in contact with the White House — in either administration—on IRS enforcement or individual taxpayer matters,” the statement said. “He has been committed to running the IRS. in an impartial, unbiased manner from top to bottom.”

“It just defies logic to think that there wasn’t some other factor involved,” McCabe told CNN. “I think that’s a reasonable question. I think it should be investigated. People need to be able to trust the institutions of government and so that’s why there should be some… we should dig through this and find out what happened.”

In a statement, Comey added: “I don’t know whether anything improper happened, but after learning how unusual this audit was and how badly Trump wanted to hurt me during that time, it made sense to try to figure it out.

“Maybe it’s a coincidence or maybe somebody misused the IRS to get at a political enemy. Given the role Trump wants to continue to play in our country, we should know the answer to that question.”

When asked about the audits, Trump, via a spokesperson, told the Times: “I have no knowledge of this.” Trump has been contacted for further comment.

Research contact: @Newsweek

GOP Rep scrambles after thanking Trump for a win for ‘white life’

June 28, 2022

There’s no great mystery as to when Representative Rodney Davis (R-Illinois) fell out of favor with the far-right. The House took up a bipartisan bill to create an independent January 6 commission, and the Davis was one of several GOP lawmakers to support it.

When redistricting in the state pushed Davis into a primary against fellow Representative Mary Miller (R-Illinois), Donald Trump backed the congresswoman, whom he saw as a more reliable ally. Indeed, the former president even held a rally in Illinois on Saturday, June 25, and Miller was invited to introduce Trump at the event.

And that’s when the trouble started. MSNBC  reports:

U.S. Rep. Mary Miller immediately drew fierce backlash on social media and elsewhere at a Saturday night rally with former President Donald Trump when she credited him for the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade calling it a “victory for white life.”

Ordinarily, at Trump rallies, it’s the former president who makes outrageous and offensive comments. This time, Miller’s rhetoric eclipsed anything he said at the gathering.

As a video of the event showed, the Illinois congresswoman said, with Trump right behind her, “I want to thank you for the historic victory for white life in the Supreme Court yesterday.” She then raised her arms to applaud, soliciting cheers from attendees, which soon followed.

It wasn’t long before a spokesperson for Miller insisted that she simply misspoke while reading from a prepared text. She meant to reference a “victory for right to life,” and instead pointed to a “victory for white life.”

Miller’s track record doesn’t exactly make it easy to give her the benefit of the doubt. Early last year, on literally her second day as a member of Congress, the Illinois Republican spoke at a conservative “Save the Republic” rally.

“Each generation has the responsibility to teach and train the next generation,” Miller said. “You know, if we win a few elections, we’re still going to be losing, unless we win the hearts and minds of our children. This is the battle. Hitler was right on one thing: He said, ‘Whoever has the youth, has the future.’ Our children are being propagandized.”

Initially, her office defended the comments, but when that proved unpersuasive, the GOP lawmaker apologized for approvingly quoting Hitler.

It was against this backdrop that the same Republican appeared at a Trump rally and accidentally thanked the former president for delivering a “victory for white life.”

Those in attendance for the rally nevertheless heard what the congresswoman actually said, and they found it worthy of applause.

Research contact: @MSNBC

Jen Psaki to join MSNBC as on-air contributor this fall

May 25, 2022

Former White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki  is joining cable news channel MSNBC as an on-air contributor and will also host a new program for Peacock, the NBCUniversal streaming platform, the network announced on May 24.

Psaki, who stepped down from her role as chief spokesperson for President Joe Biden earlier this month, joins a long list of White House officials who have taken jobs on cable news after leaving government, reports The Wall Street Journal.

CNN and Fox News also have served as landing spots for political operatives and government officials—among them, former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, who served as a CNN political commentator during part of the 2016 campaign; and former Trump White House press secretaries Sarah Sanders  and Kayleigh McEnany, both of whom immediately joined Fox News . (Sanders is no longer with the network.)

Before joining the Biden administration, Psaki was a contributor for CNN—and before that, she served in President Barack Obama’s administration.

MSNBC President Rashida Jones said that Psaki is “a familiar face and trusted authority to MSNBC viewers, and we look forward to her insight during this consequential election season.”

Psaki said in a statement that her time in government “will fuel the insight and perspective” she will bring to MSNBC.

The network didn’t disclose many details of the program Psaki would host for Peacock, which is scheduled to debut early next year. In its statement, MSNBC said it would “bring together her unique perspective from behind the podium and her deep experience in the highest levels of government and presidential politics.”

Psaki was succeeded at the White House by Karine Jean-Pierre, herself a former MSNBC contributor.

Research contact: @WSJ

Adam Schiff explains why Trump’s pardon promise is ‘very important evidence’

February 4, 2022

Representative Adam Schiff (D-California) says former President Donald Trump’s dangling of the prospect of pardons for the U.S. Capital rioters is “very important evidence as to his intent” for the violence unleashed by his supporters on January 6, 2021, reports HuffPost.

Schiff, a member of the House select committee investigating the insurrection, suggested on MSNBC on Wednesday, February 2, that Trump’s comments at a weekend rally were part of a broader pattern of using pardons to influence and intimidate witnesses.

“I think his recent statements, as well as the public reports of prior inquiries about pardoning people involved in attacking the Capitol police that day, they go to a couple of things,” Schiff told anchor Lawrence O’Donnell, referencing new reports Trump considered blanket pardons for the rioters before he left office.

“They go to his intent,” Schiff opined. “If this violence against the Capitol wasn’t part of the plan, or wasn’t something he condoned, then why would he consider pardoning them?”

“So, I think it’s very important evidence as to his intent. But it also is I think part of that broader pattern … to influence potentially what witnesses have to say, or whether they will say it,” he added.

Research contact: @HuffPost

Judge rejects plea deal between DOJ and at least one of Ahmaud Arbery’s killers

February 2, 2022

A federal judge on Monday rejected a proposed plea agreement between federal prosecutors and at least one of the men who has been convicted of the February 23, 2020, pursuit and murder of Ahmaud Arbery—a 25-year-old Black man who was jogging in Satilla Shores, a neighborhood in Glynn County, Georgia.

According to a report by MSNBC, U.S. District Judge Lisa Wood rejected the plea deal after hearing remarks from members of Arbery’s family, who vehemently opposed the agreement.

Plea deals were filed in court on Sunday, January 30, on behalf of father Gregory McMichael and son Travis McMichael—both of whom were convicted of murder last November and sentenced to life without parole. Another trial—the federal trial of the McMichaels and accomplice William Bryan—is set to begin on February. 7.

The proposed plea deals defied the wishes of Arbery’s parents, who have repeatedly spoken out against the government’s pursuit of lighter sentences for their son’s killers instead of going to trial. Benjamin Crump and Lee Merritt, attorneys representing Arbery’s family, denounced the deal in a statement Sunday. 

“This proposed deal would allow the McMichaels to enter federal custody and serve the first 30 years of their sentence in a preferred federal prison,” Merritt said in a statement. “This proposed plea is a huge accommodation to the men who hunted down and murdered Ahmaud Arbery.” 

Merritt told CNN the proposed deal would allow the McMichaels to serve time in a safer, less-crowded facility than they would otherwise. In a separate video statement, he called the proposed deals “an example of the Department of Justice literally snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.”

Arbery’s mother, Wanda Jones-Cooper, said she had been “completely betrayed” by federal prosecutors.

“The DOJ has gone behind my back to offer the men who murdered my son a deal to make their time in prison easier for them to serve,” she said in a statement. “I have made it clear at every possible moment that I do not agree to offer these men a plea deal of any kind.”

Merritt said Jones-Cooper would exercise her right to be heard at two scheduled plea hearings for the killers on Monday.

Although a judge ultimately rejected at least one of the plea agreements, news that they were even offered to the McMichaels is a difficult pill to swallow for Black people accustomed to seeing white criminals and would-be criminals given preferential treatment.

Research contact: @MSNBC