Posts tagged with "Politico"

Republicans want Manchin to bow out, fearful that he may have one more trick up his sleeve

May 9, 2023

Republicans’ best option for unseating Senator Joe Manchin: Pray that he retires first. The longtime West Virginia Democrat might be the most endangered member of his party heading into 2024—but Republicans still see the contest against him as treacherous. Manchin is a West Virginia institution who has repeatedly defied the odds in a deep-red state, reports Politico.

A GOP group tied to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell launched a $2 million ad campaign bashing Manchin a year and a half before the election.

National Republican leaders, who have no interest in leaving any room for error in their efforts to retake the Senate, have recruited popular West Virginia Governor Jim Justice to run for Manchin’s seat.

And Justice, who has shared a political network with the senator, has said it’s unlikely Manchin will run for reelection now that he’s in the race. National GOP leaders hope so—or are privately wishing his flirtations with a centrist presidential run turn into a full-fledged campaign.

Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-West Virginia)  said she doesn’t know whether her fellow home-state senator will run for reelection and hasn’t asked him about it. But a presidential bid? “He might. He’s talking about it,” she said.

 There’s no sugar-coating the dire position in which Manchin finds himself. After Democrats dominated West Virginia for decades, the state has gone full-blown MAGA in recent years. Former President Donald Trump won it by nearly 40 percentage points in 2020, and there are only 14 Democrats left in West Virginia’s 134-member state legislature. Manchin’s approval rating has plummeted, with 55% of voters giving him a thumbs down, according to a recent Morning Consult poll.

But interviews with 18 elected officials, strategists, and political observers in West Virginia and Washington, D.C., reveal that Manchin isn’t quite being left for dead yet. Even Justice’s former pollster said it would be unwise to count Manchin out.

“There is a reason that Joe Manchin is basically the last standing Democrat in a state that has had a red tsunami since 2014,” said Mark Blankenship, a West Virginia-based GOP pollster who worked for Justice’s 2020 gubernatorial campaign. “You can’t say that it’s impossible for him to win because he’s won so much.”

Manchin’s GOP colleagues agreed with the sentiment: “You can’t take Joe for granted. He’s a formidable politician,” said Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina), who appeared as a featured speaker at Justice’s campaign kickoff last month.

The early investment from McConnell’s allies at the group One Nation could save Republicans money next year — if it nudges Manchin toward the exit. Otherwise, the GOP will have to spend millions convincing West Virginia voters to part ways with a man who has not lost an election since the 1990s. Without Manchin on the ballot, many operatives see the state as an automatic flip, and Republicans can redirect their money toward other crucial battleground states.

“It would be nice if we didn’t have to,” said Senate Minority Whip John Thune (R-South Dakota) when asked if his party would need to spend money if Manchin retires. “We’ll see how it all plays out.”

Research contact: @politico

Prominent retired judge calls for ethics rules for Supreme Court

May 3, 2023

A prominent conservative former federal judge joined a chorus of legal experts from across the political spectrum on Tuesday, May 2—in calling on Congress to enact new ethical standards for Supreme Court justices, after a series of revelations about the justices’ undisclosed gifts, luxury travel, and property deals, reports The New York Times.

The statement by Judge J. Michael Luttig, a retired appeals court judge revered by some conservatives, came as the Democratic-led Senate Judiciary Committee prepared to hold a hearing on Supreme Court ethics. Pressure has mounted among progressives for a stricter code of conduct for the justices, the nation’s highest judges, who are appointed to lifetime terms and are bound by few disclosure requirements.

Congress “indisputably has the power under the Constitution” to “enact laws prescribing the ethical standards applicable to the nonjudicial conduct and activities of the Supreme Court of the United States,” Judge Luttig said in a written statement presented to the Judiciary Committee.

The judge, who served on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit and was close to being nominated for the Supreme Court, was among several legal experts across the political spectrum who released testimony before a hearing scheduled for Tuesday in which they supported strengthening ethical rules at the court.

“It is time for Congress to accept its responsibility to establish an enforceable code of ethics for the Supreme Court, the only agency of our government without it,” Senator Richard J. Durbin, Democrat of Illinois and the committee’s chairman, said in a statement released in the days before the hearing.

During the hearing on Tuesday, lawmakers are expected to hear from five experts, including:

  • Jeremy Fogel, a former federal judge who directs the Berkeley Judicial Institute at the University of California, Berkeley;
  • Kedric Payne, a vice president of the Campaign Legal Center, a campaign watchdog group;
  • Amanda Frost, a law professor at the University of Virginia who specializes in legal ethics;
  • Michael B. Mukasey, who served as attorney general in the George W. Bush administration from 2007 to 2009; and
  • Thomas H. Dupree Jr., a partner at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher.

Judge Luttig and Laurence Tribe, an emeritus professor of constitutional law at Harvard Law School who is a hero among some progressives, both released statements in support of ethical guidelines, but both declined to appear before the committee.

Tribe said he would leave it to others to say whether the current “crisis is sufficiently grave to call for particular legislative measures,” but that he saw the attempt to use legislation “to impose ethical norms in a binding way on the justices as eminently sensible.”

“I see such legislation as a necessary though probably not sufficient response to the current situation,” Tribe wrote.

Tribe added that he believed it would be “entirely prudent for Congress to enact norms in the form of rules binding on the justices if only as a prophylactic measure” to stop the court from being cast into “an ever darker shadow unhelpful to the esteem required for it to perform its function as a branch of government lacking both the sword and the purse and thus dependent on public respect for its integrity.”

Calls for the Supreme Court justices to be subject to an ethics code have grown in recent weeks after revelations about justices’ gifts, luxury travel, and property deals highlighted how few reporting requirements are in place and how the justices are often left to police themselves.

ProPublica revealed that Justice Clarence Thomas had failed to disclose gifts, trips and a real estate deal with a wealthy Republican donor and real estate billionaire, Harlan Crow. The justice accepted flights on Crow’s private jet to Bohemian Grove, an exclusive retreat in Northern California; an island vacation aboard his superyacht in Indonesia; and trips to Mr. Crow’s 105-acre lakeside resort in the Adirondack Mountains. None appeared on the justice’s financial disclosure forms.

The justice also failed to disclose a real estate deal with Crow in which the billionaire bought properties from the justice and his family, including Justice Thomas’s mother’s home in Savannah, Georgia. Crow paid $133,363 to the justice and his family for the property, according to records filed at Chatham County courthouse, dated Oct. 15, 2014. Justice Thomas’s mother, Leola Williams, still lives in the home.

Justice Neil M. Gorsuch sold property to the chief executive of a major law firm that often has business before the court and did not disclose the identity of the buyer, as was first reported by Politico.

Durbin sought the testimony of Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., but the chief justice released a letter last week declining an invitation to testify, citing separation of powers issues. In a statement that accompanied his letter, all nine justices signed onto a “statement of ethics principles and practices” laying out the guidelines that they use to govern their behavior and disclosures.

They said that they follow the same general ethical standards that apply to other federal judges. But they also said they may be limited in what to disclose because of security concerns. In fact, financial disclosures are not filed immediately and must be submitted each year in May.

There has been discussion in recent years that the justices adopt rules governing their behavior.

The chief justice wrote in 2011 in his year-end report that the justices did not need to be bound by the Code of Conduct for United States Judges, which applies to other federal judges.

“All members of the court do in fact consult the code of conduct in assessing their ethical obligations,” he wrote, adding: “Every justice seeks to follow high ethical standards, and the Judicial Conference’s code of conduct provides a current and uniform source of guidance designed with specific reference to the needs and obligations of the federal judiciary.”

Justice Elena Kagan told a House committee in 2019 that Chief Justice Roberts was “studying the question of whether to have a code of judicial conduct that’s applicable only to the United States Supreme Court.”

The justices have not announced such a code of conduct.

“In light of the Supreme Court’s failure to take action, Congress must step in to protect the justices from themselves,” Frost, the University of Virginia professor, said in prepared testimony.

Research contact: @nytimes

Biden Administration to buttress HIPAA to protect abortion seekers and providers

April 14, 2023

The Biden Administration is updating the nation’s main health privacy law to offer stronger legal protections to people who obtain abortions in their state or who cross state lines for the procedure, as well as their doctors and loved ones, reports Politico. 

On Wednesday, April 12, the Department of Health and Human ServicesOffice for Civil Rights said it would issue a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to bar health care providers and insurers from turning over information to state officials for the purpose of investigating, suing or prosecuting someone for seeking or providing a legal abortion.

The new rule would add language to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act—commonly known as HIPAAwould cover both people who cross state lines to obtain a legal abortion or who qualify for an exception to their home state’s ban, such as in cases of rape, incest or life endangerment. 

The move, a longtime ask of abortion-rights advocates and Democratic lawmakers, comes just days after a Texas court ruling threatening access to the abortion pill—the most common method for ending a pregnancy.

Vice President Kamala Harris will meet Wednesday afternoon with the White House’s Task Force on Reproductive Health Care Access to discuss the new HIPAA rule and other potential responses to the court decision. 

During a call with reporters on the new rule Tuesday night, a senior administration official said that, while the agency released guidance when Roe fell last June—telling doctors they do not have to comply with demands for information from law enforcement or state officials about a patient’s abortion—they have gotten feedback from health providers and advocacy groups that a clearer and more binding rule would offer better protection.

“We found that even with the permissible disclosures [policy], some providers get fearful when they receive a subpoena or they might feel like they have to turn the information over,” said the official, granted anonymity as the condition for the briefing on the new rule.

That chilling effect, the official added, is also affecting pregnant patients and causing them to avoid the medical system entirely.

“They’re scared, they are concerned about their medical information being misused and disclosed,” the official said. “As a result, individuals may hesitate to interact with providers, health plans, pharmacies, or related health applications out of fear that their data will be tracked or shared inappropriately.”

The agency will take public comment on the proposed rule for the next 60 days, and will then issue a final rule.

Democratic lawmakers and abortion-rights advocates have been pleading with the Biden Administration for months—beginning before Roe was overturned—to take this step, and the calls have grown louder as conservative states ramped up enforcement of their anti-abortion laws.

In January, Democrats in Congress introduced the Secure Access for Essential Reproductive (SAFER) Health Act, which would have made similar updates to HIPAA with respect to abortions and miscarriages, but the bill has not moved in either chamber.

Research contact: @politico

Biden issues first veto, knocks Marjorie Taylor Greene

March 23, 2023

On Monday, March 20, President Joe Biden vetoed his first bill—blocking the repeal of a Labor Department rule that permitted retirement investing tied to environmental and social goals, reports Politico.

The veto was expected, after the Biden Administration fought Republican-led efforts to pass the rollback three weeks ago. The House and Senate votes attracted support from three Democrats, including Senators Jon Tester of Montana and Joe Manchin of West Virginia—moderates who are up for reelection next year.

“This bill would risk your retirement savings by making it illegal to consider risk factors MAGA House Republicans don’t like,” Biden said on Twitter on Monday.

“Your plan manager should be able to protect your hard-earned savings—whether Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene likes it or not.”

While Republicans who led work on the repeal didn’t get it signed into law, it marked a partial victory for conservatives, who have targeted the rule and other policies that they say encourage major corporations to elevate climate and social goals in their business practices.

“This is trying to parallel financial return with an ideological push,” Senator Mike Braun (R-Indiana), who led the rollback push with Representative Andy Barr (R-Kentucky) told reporters in February. “I don’t like that.”

The Biden Labor Department rule at issue attempted to undo Trump-era policy that discouraged retirement plan managers from incorporating environmental and social factors into investment decisions. The Biden rule allows them to do so but does not require it.

Wall Street firms and their trade groups largely stayed on the sidelines during the fight, despite being the subject of criticism from Republican lawmakers. Lobbyists were confident that Biden would veto the repeal; and the industry is also laying low as the issue makes its way through the courts. The state of Texas is leading a multi-state lawsuit to block the rule.

“There’s just no upside,” said one trade association representative, granted anonymity to speak candidly. “Why bother, especially when you’ve got 25 state attorneys general who already have said they’re going to pony up and litigate?”

The House is scheduled to vote Thursday on overturning the veto, per a floor schedule circulated on Friday, March17. Near-unanimous Democratic opposition makes it unlikely the effort will garner the two-thirds support needed.

Research contact: @politico

McCarthy rejects Zelensky’s invitation to Ukraine

March 9, 2023

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has invited House Speaker Kevin McCarthy to visit the embattled nation amid his hesitancy to greenlight aid—a request the California Republican quickly shut down this week, reports Politico.

“He has to come here to see how we work, what’s happening here, what war caused us, which people are fighting now, who are fighting now. And then after that, make your assumptions,” Zelensky told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer in an interview.

When informed about the Ukrainian invitation, the Speaker told CNN that he would not take the trip and blamed the Biden Administration for not acting quickly enough to aid Ukraine. Still, McCarthy held his position that the United States should not be sending a “blank check” to Kyiv, repeating a position he initially made last fall that sparked uproar from members of both parties.

“Let’s be very clear about what I said: no blank checks, OK? So, from that perspective, I don’t have to go to Ukraine to understand where there’s a blank check or not,” McCarthy told CNN. “I will continue to get my briefings and others, but I don’t have to go to Ukraine or Kyiv to see it. And my point has always been, I won’t provide a blank check for anything.”

McCarthy’s remarks addressed Zelensky’s comments in the interview about Democrats and Republicans who have visited and seen “the supply routes, every shell, every bullet, every dollar.”

“I think that Speaker McCarthy, he never visited Kyiv or Ukraine, and I think it would help him with his position,” Zelensky said.

On February 20, President Joe Biden made a surprise visit o Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine, his first since the beginning of the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Research contact: @politico

Elissa Slotkin announces Senate run

February 28, 2023

Representative Elissa Slotkin (D-Michigan) is running for the Michigan Senate seat being vacated by retiring Senator Debbie Stabenow. “We need a new generation of leaders that thinks differently, works harder, and never forgets that we are public servants,” Slotkin said in a video announcing her 2024 Senate run, reports Politico.

Slotkin is one of the first candidates to enter the race since Stabenow announced in January that she would not seek a fifth term—teeing up a high-stakes contest that could ultimately determine the balance of power in the Senate. Slotkin has since been gradually and methodically preparing for an announcement, according to two Democrats with knowledge of her campaign strategy.

Although the state has a strong bench of potential candidates—including Attorney General Dana Nessel, Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson and Representative Debbie Dingell—Slotkin already is emerging as the “consensus candidate” among the state’s Democratic leadership, according to a senior Democrat in Michigan.

On the GOP side, Nikki Snyder, a Republican State Board of Education member, announced her run for Stabenow’s seat earlier in February. Other potential Republican candidates include former Representative Pete Meijer, one of a handful of Republicans who voted in 2021 to impeach former President Donald Trump; and former Representative Mike Rogers, who served as chair of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. If Meijer runs, Democrats are banking on Trump resurfacing to campaign against him, as happened in the 2022 midterm election.

The 46-year-old Slotkin has won three races in a row in one of the toughest and most expensive congressional districts in the country. While the district lines have been redrawn, Slotkin’s central Michigan district was originally the same one Stabenow represented before being elected to the Senate. A mix of suburban and rural areas just northwest of Detroit, the GOP had held the seat for 20 years before Slotkin flipped it blue.

“I think she will turn out to be the clear consensus candidate among Democratic leadership. She has a very strong organization, great credentials and a national fundraising network. Very few people have that anywhere and in Michigan,” said a top Democrat with knowledge of discussions among top state officials.

Would-be competitors have in recent days announced that they will not seek the seat, including Lieutenant Governor Garlin Gilchrist and state Senator Mallory McMorrow. Benson, likewise, has said she’s “happy” in her current job and is considered more likely to have her eyes on the governor’s mansion, according to the top Democrat who has spoken directly with her.

In her campaign video, the Slotkin touted her background at the CIA, doing three tours in Iraq alongside the U.S. military, and her time working at the White House. She also pointed to the Michigan “values” she was raised under, of coming together at times of crisis, being able to live a middle class lifestyle, and of pursuing the “American dream.”

“Look, we all know America is going through something right now. We seem to be living crisis to crisis,” Slotkin said. “But there are certain things that should be really simple, like living a middle class life in the state that invented the middle class.”

Research contact: @politico

‘Decisions are imminent’: Georgia prosecutor nears charging decisions in Trump probe

January 26, 2023

The Atlanta-area district attorney investigating Donald Trump’s effort to subvert the 2020 election indicated on Tuesday, January 24,  that decisions on whether to seek the indictment of the former president or his associates were “imminent,” reports Politico.

“Decisions are imminent,” Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis said during a Tuesday court hearing called by the Georgia trial court judge overseeing the “special purpose grand jury” that Willis has used to gather evidence over the last year.

Willis’ remark came as she urged the superior court judge, Robert McBurney, to oppose calls to publicly release the findings of her yearlong probe, which she conducted alongside the special grand jury to examine Trump and his inner circle.

Willis has spent the last year investigating Trump’s and his allies’ effort to reverse the election results in Georgia, despite losing the state by more than 11,000 votes.

The special grand jury probed Trump’s January 2 phone call to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger—asking him to “find” just enough votes to put him ahead of Joe Biden in the state.

And it pursued evidence about Trump’s broader national effort to subvert the election, calling top allies like his White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, Attorney John Eastman, and Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina).

The special grand jury concluded its investigation earlier this month, dissolving in early January, and recommended that its findings be released publicly. McBurney then called for a hearing to discuss whether to follow the panel’s recommendation or maintain the secrecy of the report. Willis told the judge that making the report public could jeopardize impending prosecutions.

“In this case, the state understands the media’s inquiry and the world’s interest. But we have to be mindful of protecting future defendants’ rights,” Willis said, emphasizing that multiple people could face charges.

Tuesday’s discussion was the result of Georgia’s unusual grand jury law, which permits prosecutors to impanel a “special purpose grand jury” that has no power to make formal indictments but can help prosecutors gather evidence about a specific topic. If Willis opts to pursue charges against Trump or others, she needs to present her evidence to a traditional grand jury, which could then issue indictments.

Thomas Clyde, an attorney representing several media outlets supporting the release of the report, urged McBurney to side with the grand jurors rather than Willis.

“We believe the report should be released now and in its entirety,” Clyde said.

He noted that findings in criminal investigations are often released publicly even while investigations and grand jury proceedings continue.

McBurney noted that Willis’ probe has been accompanied by an extraordinary release of information and evidence by the House January 6 select committee and from witnesses being called before a federal grand jury probing the same matters, none of which had derailed Willis’ probe. He also noted that there was little to stop individual grand jurors from simply telling others about the findings in their report.

But McBurney said he wanted more time to consider the arguments and said any ruling he made would provide significant advance notice before the potential release of the report.

Research contact: @politico

Yellen says America has hit debt limit, triggering ‘extraordinary measures’

January 20, 2023

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said on Thursday, January 18, that the United States has begun using “extraordinary measures” to pay its bills after the government reached its $31.4 trillion borrowing limit, reports Politico.

Yellen told lawmakers in a letter that the period of time the extraordinary measures may last is “subject to considerable uncertainty” because of the challenges in forecasting the money moving in and out of the government in the future.

The move, which Yellen warned lawmakers about last Friday, marks a key next step in the political stalemate between House Republicans and the Biden Administration over increasing the debt limit and avoiding a U.S. financial default. Conservatives want a deal that includes spending cuts, but the White House says meeting the country’s obligations should be non-negotiable.

“I respectfully urge Congress to act promptly to protect the full faith and credit of the United States,” Yellen wrote on Thursday.

Treasury expects its remaining cash and extraordinary measures—in this case, suspending investments in government retirement funds—will buy time through at least early June.

“With extraordinary measures now in effect, the debt ceiling is officially a ticking time bomb we can’t [defuse] soon enough,” said Representative Brendan Boyle of Pennsylvania, the top Democrat on the House Budget Committee.

If the stalemate continues as expected, Washington and Wall Street in the coming months will try to game out the deadline for a dealthe so-called X date—when America will be unable to meet all its financial obligations.

That threshold carries unknown risks. A failure to pay Treasury bond holders would rattle financial markets. Missed payments for other government programs like Social Security and military salaries could also wreak economic havoc.

The Bipartisan Policy Center, a think tank that issues X date projections, believes the deadline could hit roughly around the middle of the year.

“Recession concerns are already elevated, and the possibility of a major debt ceiling debacle adds another clear risk to the outlook,” Wells Fargo economist Mike Pugliese said in a report Thursday.

Research contact: @politico

United States, Canada, Mexico slam Brazil unrest amid questions on Bolsonaro’s Florida stay

January 10, 2023

On Monday, January 9, President Joe Biden and his Mexican and Canadian counterparts denounced the weekend storming of Brazil’s government institutions—pledging to support the recently elected leader of the country, whose predecessor has fueled doubts about his legitimacy, reports Politico.

The statement from the three men came as they attended the North American Leaders’ Summit and as Democrats called for the former Brazilian president, Jair Bolsonaro, to get kicked out of the United States. Bolsonaro is reported to have been staying in Florida after he skipped the inauguration of his recent successor, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, widely known as Lula.

Unwilling to accept his defeat, Bolsonaro supporters on Sunday stormed Brazil’s presidential, congressional, and Supreme Court buildings. The events echoed the January 6, 2021, insurrection at the U.S. Capitol by supporters of then-President Donald Trump—a supporter of Bolsonaro. Like Trump, Bolsonaro has a strongman style and sought to sow doubts about the election which he lost.

Monday’s statement from Biden, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador was short and terse, but it put the countries’ full support behind Lula.

“We stand with Brazil as it safeguards its democratic institutions. Our governments support the free will of the people of Brazil. We look forward to working with President Lula on delivering for our countries, the Western Hemisphere, and beyond,” the three leaders said.

Numerous Democratic lawmakers have spoken out against the Brazilian attacks since Sunday, while Republicans, possibly due to concerns about avoiding Trump’s ire, were largely quiet as of Monday morning.

Representative Joaquin Castro, a Democrat from Texas, was among the lawmakers who said the United States needs to kick Bolsonaro out of Florida and back to Brazil, where the former president is under investigation on a number of allegations.

“Bolsonaro must not be given refuge in Florida, where he’s been hiding from accountability for his crimes,” Castro tweeted.

The State Department declined to comment on the type of visa the former Brazilian leader used to enter the United States—saying such records are confidential. But the United States generally has broad leeway to revoke visas.

Since losing office, Bolsonaro has sent mixed signals about his views on what his supporters should do to back his claims of a rigged election. It’s not clear what precisely sparked the attacks on Sunday.

But the former president on Sunday did tweet out a careful condemnation that also dinged his political foes: “Peaceful demonstrations, in the form of the law, are part of democracy. However, depredations and invasions of public buildings as occurred today, as well as those practiced by the left in 2013 and 2017, escape the rule.”

Bolsonaro’s son, Eduardo Bolsonaro, has close ties with Trump-aligned conservative figures in the United States, such as Steve Bannon and Jason Miller, and has been in contact with them since the October presidential election.

On his “War Room” podcast on Monday, Bannon claimed the Bolsonaros have not been involved in the unrest in Brazil; and he mocked allegations that he, himself, orchestrated the assaults. But he has been supportive of the protesters’ efforts.

On Sunday, January 8, Bannon called the protesters “Brazilian freedom fighters.” And he has continued to allege corruption and fraud in Brazil’s election—and on Monday called for Lula to “open up the machines.”

Research contact: @politico

Hutchinson reveals that Meadows burned documents during transition

December 29, 2022

Former Trump White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson revealed that Mark Meadows, the White House chief of staff, burned documents in his fireplace roughly a dozen times in the final weeks of the Administration, according to newly released transcripts of her House January 6 select committee depositions, reports The Hill.

FHutchinson, who became a star witness during the panel’s public hearings, told the committee on May 17 that she saw Meadows burn documents once they lit his office fireplace in December 2020.

“The Presidential Records Act only asks that you keep the original copy of a document. So, yes,” Hutchinson said when asked if she saw Meadows use the fireplace to burn documents, adding, “However, I don’t know if they were the first or original copies of anything,” she continued. “It’s entirely possible that he had put things in his fireplace that he also would have put into a burn bag that there were duplicates of or that there was an electronic copy of.”

Politico and The New York Times had previously reported on the testimony. “I want to say once a week or twice—it’s —I can recall specific times that I did,” Hutchinson said. “Maybe a dozen, maybe just over a dozen, but this is over a period December through mid-January too, which is when we started lighting the fireplace.”

Hutchinson suggested that at least two of the occasions took place after Meadows met with Representative Scott Perry (R-Pennsylvania) about election issues.

The House committee has said Perry was “directly involved” in efforts to make Jeffrey Clark the attorney general in order to create a Justice Department aligned with former President Trump’s unfounded claims of mass electoral fraud.

“I know maybe three or four times—between two and four times, he had Mr. Perry in his office right before,” Hutchinson told the committee, although she cautioned that she did not know what documents were burned.

The Hill has reached out to an attorney for Meadows for comment.

Research contact: @thehill