Posts tagged with "The Hill"

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

Busloads of migrants dropped off at vice president’s D.C. home on Xmas Eve

December 27, 2022

Multiple busloads of migrants were dropped off at Vice President Kamala Harris’s residence in Washington, D.C., on Saturday night, December 24—Christmas Eve—leaving migrants on the streets in below-freezing temperatures, reports the Hill.

ViceThe three busloads of migrants were driven to D.C., ABC 7 reported, and arrived outside the Naval Observatory, which is the vice president’s residence. The migrants were later taken to a church by the Migrant Solidarity Mutual Aid Network, a local aid group.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott (R) was responsible for Saturday’s incident, according to ABC 7 and Fox News—marking the latest episode in a months-long effort by the governor to send migrants to Democratic-run cities as a way to encourage the Biden administration to take steps to control immigration in the United States.

In September, Abbott sent two buses full of migrants to Harris’s residence in D.C., sparking criticism among Democrats. Other Republican governors, including Florida’s Ron DeSantis and Arizona’s Doug Ducey, have transported migrants to Democratic-run cities across the country in recent months.

“Tonight, on Christmas Eve, Gov Abbott’s buses dropped off migrants at the VP’s house in the freezing cold,” the Migrant Solidarity Mutual Aid Network wrote on Twitter early Sunday. “This is not new, it has been happening for 8 months.”

The White House slammed the move on Sunday, calling it a “shameful stunt.”

“Governor Abbott abandoned children on the side of the road in below freezing temperatures on Christmas Eve without coordinating with any Federal or local authorities. This was a cruel, dangerous, and shameful stunt,” White House Deputy Press Secretary Abdullah Hasan said in a statement.

“As we have repeatedly said, we are willing to work with anyone—Republican or Democrat alike—on real solutions, like the comprehensive immigration reform and border security measures President Biden sent to Congress on his first day in office, but these political games accomplish nothing and only put lives in danger,” Hasan added.

Abbott penned a letter to President Biden last Tuesday demanding that the administration send federal assets to address the situation at the border, especially as temperatures drop and a winter storm approached Texas.

“You and your administration must stop the lie that the border is secure and, instead, immediately deploy federal assets to address the dire problems you have caused,” Abbott wrote. “You must execute the duties that the U.S. Constitution mandates you perform and secure the southern border before more innocent lives are lost.”

In a statement on Saturday, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said it “continues to fully enforce our immigration and public health laws at the border.”

DHS added, “Individuals and families attempting to enter without authorization are being expelled, as required by court order under the Title 42 public health authority, or placed into removal proceedings. As temperatures remain dangerously low all along the border, no one should put their lives in the hands of smugglers, or risk life and limb attempting to cross only to be returned.” D

The agency said 23,000 agents and officers are “working to secure the Southwest border and the United States Government continues to work closely with our partners in Mexico to reinforce coordinated enforcement operations to target human smuggling organizations and bring them to justice.”

The Supreme Court last Monday, December 19, temporarily stopped the expiration of Title 42, the Trump-era policy that allows border officials to turn away asylum seekers because of public health concerns. If it does eventually expire, Abbott said the number of individuals entering Texas illegally “will only increase.”

Research contact: @thehill

Behind-the-scenes hunt builds for McCarthy Speaker alternative

December 13, 2022

Searches for a Speaker alternative to House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy are slowly building momentum as he faces opposition that threatens to sink his bid, reports The Hill.

On one side, McCarthy’s fiercest detractors are teasing that there are people interested in being a viable GOP consensus substitute for the current minority leader. On the other, members say preliminary conversations are happening among Republicans and Democrats about a possible contingency candidate if McCarthy cannot win the gavel after multiple ballots in the new GOP-majority House next month.

Neither side will name names—fearing that anyone mentioned as a candidate would get intense blowback.

“If somebody were to come out now and we didn’t deliver enough votes to stop McCarthy … there would be a real potential for blowback,” said Representative Andy Biggs (R-Arizona), a former chair of the House Freedom Caucus who has mounted a protest challenge to McCarthy for the House GOP nomination, a bid he is continuing as he searches for an alternative. “They want to be very careful. So I think I think people are interested. They’ve expressed it to some of us .… I think people are being wary.”

Representative Bob Good (R-Virginia) told Fox News that there are a number of candidates who have come to McCarthy’s conservative opponents privately to say they’d like to be considered for Speaker once it is clear he cannot win the votes.

Representative Matt Gaetz (R-Florida) has publicly called for other House Republicans to step up as an alternative.

According to The Hill, Biggs thinks there are still around 20 House Republican members who will be “hard no’s” on McCarthy, which would be enough to deny him a majority of total lawmakers.

Right now, Biggs, Good and Gaetz are part of a group of five GOP members—along with Representatives Matt Rosendale (Montana) and Ralph Norman (South Carolina)—who have said or indicated that they will not vote for McCarthy or “present” on the House floor in the next Congress.

Several others have withheld support for McCarthy without revealing how they would vote. On Thursday, December 8, seven more hardline conservatives signed a letter laying out demands for what they want from a GOP Speaker in terms of House rules and priorities, without naming McCarthy. The California Republican has held several meetings with members of that group on potential rules changes.

“We’re talking about who the other candidates are, who can get into it. Again, we’re not going to get it publicly throw those names out there because then the disinformation campaign is directed towards them, then the retaliatory efforts go towards them,” Good told conservative radio host John Fredricks on Wednesday, December 7.

McCarthy needs a majority of those voting for a Speaker candidate to win the gavel on January 3. With a slim majority of 222 Republicans to 212 Democrats and one vacancy, the five or more members voting against him could potentially keep him from the gavel or force multiple ballots for Speaker—a scenario that hasn’t happened in 100 years.

Research contact: @thehill

Trump trails DeSantis and Cheney in Utah poll of possible 2024 GOP contenders

December 6, 2022

Former President Donald Trump trails Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) and outgoing Representative Liz Cheney (R-Wyoming) in a new Utah poll of possible GOP contenders for the 2024 presidential race, reports The Hill

 

A Deseret News/Hinckley Institute of Politics poll of 802 registered Utah voters conducted between November 18 and 23 found that DeSantis with a decisive lead in a hypothetical Republican presidential primary, at 24.2%; followed by Cheney, with 16.4%.

 

Trump came in third place with 14.6%—nearly 2 points below Cheney and nearly 10 points behind the Florida governor—the latest indication that the former president’s popularity may be slipping. 

 

However, more Utah voters said they didn’t know which candidate they’d cast their ballot for (20.7%) than backed either Trump or Cheney. 

 

Cheney lost her House reelection bid during this year’s midterms to a Trump-backed challenger after she drew the former president’s ire for her efforts to impeach and investigate him for his role in the January 6, 2021, U.S. Capitol riot. 

 

Trump was more popular than Cheney among self-identified Republicans—earning 21.1% to Cheney’s 10%—but DeSantis still emerged ahead in that group with 33.1%. The Florida governor has long been seen as a top potential challenger to Trump for the GOP nomination, and saw his stock rise further after a blowout reelection win last month.

 

Some recent polls have shown DeSantis closing the national gap with Trump, and online betting markets also are now favoring DeSantis over Trump to take the 2024 White House—although the Florida governor still says he is focused on his current job.

 

The GOP saw disappointing midterm results in November—failing to take control of the Senate and winning the House by a smaller-than-expected margin. A number of Trump’s hand-picked candidates lost out in key races. 

 

Massachusetts state lawmaker requests federal human trafficking probe of DeSantis migrant move

September 20, 2022

A state lawmaker representing Martha’s Vineyard has called for a federal investigation into Florida GOP Governor Ron DeSantis’s relocation of migrants to the island last week, reports The Hill.

Massachusetts State Representative Dylan Fernandes (D)—who has repeatedly attacked DeSantis for chartering two planes to transport the migrants—made the request on Sunday, September 18.

“We are requesting that the Department of Justice open an investigation to hold DeSantis & others accountable for these inhumane acts,” Fernandes wrote on Twitter. “Not only is it morally criminal; there are legal implications around fraud, kidnapping, deprivation of liberty, and human trafficking.”

Fernandes said he has spoken with U.S. Attorney Rachel Rollins, adding that she was pushing for a Justice Department response.

The Hill has reached out to the Justice Department for comment.

Two flights with nearly 50 migrants landed on Wednesday, September 14 ,in Martha’s Vineyard, an island known for its popularity among the wealthy. The migrants have since been moved to Joint Base Cape Cod.

“They already bused them out, they’re gone,” DeSantis said on Friday. “They said we want everyone, no one’s illegal, and they’re gone within 48 hours.”

The flights raised questions as to how the migrants came to believe boarding the planes were there best option. Local officials have suggested the migrants were misled.

The relocations were the latest iterations of Republican governors busing and flying migrants to Democrat-run, northern areas of the country. The governors argue the relocations provide relief to border communities overwhelmed by President Joe Biden’s immigration policies—hoping to raise awareness for immigration policy changes in Washington, D.C.

Lawyers for Civil Rights, a Boston-based group that represents more than 30 of the migrants flown to Massachusetts, similarly called for a federal investigation into their relocations.

“While we are working to protect our clients’ rights in immigration proceedings and exploring remedies for civil rights violations, we also strongly believe that criminal laws were broken by the perpetrators of this stunt,” the group wrote in letters to Rollins and Massachusetts’s attorney general.

“We therefore ask that you open a criminal investigation into this matter,” the letters continued.

DeSantis is one of three Republican governors who have relocated migrants in recent months. Texas Governor Greg Abbott (R) has bused thousands of migrants to Washington, D.C., New York City, and Chicago in recent months, while Arizona Governor Doug Ducey (R) has sent nearly 2,000 migrants to D.C.

Research contact: @thehill

Judge rules Graham must comply with Georgia grand jury subpoena

August 16, 2022

A federal judge ruled on Monday, August 15, that Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) must comply with a special grand jury subpoena from the Fulton County, Georgia, district attorney, who is investigating former President Trump’s efforts to pressure Georgia officials into overturning the state’s 2020 election results, reports The Hill.

 U.S. District Judge Leigh Martin May denied Graham’s motion not to comply with the subpoena—rejecting his arguments that he has testimonial immunity from state judicial proceedings as a federal legislator.

 In a 22-page decision, May said the Constitution’s Speech or Debate Clause, which shields members of Congress from being compelled to testify in court about their legislative work, does not warrant quashing the subpoena as Graham had requested. 

 “In sum, the Court finds that there are considerable areas of potential grand jury inquiry falling outside the Speech or Debate Clause’s protections,” May, who was appointed by former President Barack Obama, wrote.

 “Additionally, sovereign immunity fails to shield Senator Graham from testifying before the Special Purpose Grand Jury. Finally, though Senator Graham argues that he is exempt from testifying as a high-ranking government official, the Court finds that the District Attorney has shown extraordinary circumstances and a special need for Senator Graham’s testimony on issues relating to alleged attempts to influence or disrupt the lawful administration of Georgia’s 2022 elections.”

 A spokesperson for Graham said the senator would appeal, which he had vowed to do before Monday’s decision during a press conference last week.

 “This is ridiculous,” Graham said. “This weaponization of the law needs to stop. So I will use the courts. We will go as far as we need to go and do whatever needs to be done to make sure that people like me can do their jobs without fear of some county prosecutor coming after you.”

 Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis (D) subpoenaed Graham in July, seeking his testimony in the investigation into a scheme to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election. Willis’s office cited phone conversations that the South Carolina senator had with a pair of Georgia officials in the weeks after Election Day.

 Research contact: @thehill

Senate Democrats, including Joe Manchin, (finally) strike a deal

July 29, 2022

On Thursday, July 28, the word was out: Senate Democrats unveiled a surprise, pulled-from-the-ashes $670 billion spending plan that has the blessing of the mercurial centrist Senator Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia) It’s an outline to help lower drug prices, give Americans more subsidized health coverage under Obamacare, and mitigate climate change, The Hill reports.

It would be paid for with higher taxes on corporations and the wealthy, which sounds similar to proposals Manchin previously rejected.

Scheduled to become law before the Senate escapes for its August break, the proposed reconciliation package needs all 50 Democrats and a tie-breaking vote from Vice President Kamala Harris, as well as approval by the House. It would be a big win for President Joe Biden—and Republicans have said they are opposed.

“It’s like two brothers from different mothers, I guess. He gets pissed off, I get pissed off, and we’ll go back and forth. He basically put out statements, and the dogs came after me again,”  Manchin told Politico in an interview about talks with Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-New York). “We just worked through it.”

In a shocking development, Manchin struck a deal with Schumer after more than a year of hemming and hawing in talks over a number of proposals that had been unable to garner his backing.

Headlining the rejuvenated bill are $369 billion in funding for energy and climate programs over the next ten yearswith the goal of reducing emissions by roughly 40% by 2030 and an additional $300 billion to reduce the deficit.

According to a summary released by the two senators, the blueprint would raise $739 billion in new revenue through a variety of proposals:

  • $313 billion via a 15% corporate minimum tax;
  • $288 billion from empowering Medicare to negotiate lower drug prices;
  • $124 billion from strong IRS enforcement of tax law; and
  • $14 billion from closing the carried interest loophole for money managers.

The Hill reports that the newly announced proposals will be tacked on to a bill that includes items that were expected to dominate as part of an even-slimmer package—a multiyear extension of Affordable Care Act subsidies aimed at preventing premium increases that is extended through the end of Biden’s first term and provisions aimed at lowering prescription drugs.

According to the two Senate Democrats, the bill will be brought to the floor next week before the upper chamber recesses in August.

The breakthrough hands the party a massive and a seemingly improbable victory that very few, if any, had anticipated. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-Washington) told  The Wall Street Journal  that she only learned of the bill while on the way to the chamber to vote on Wednesday evening.

“Holy shit. Stunned, but in a good way,” Senator Tina Smith (D-Minnesota) said.

Research contact: @thehill

Sources: White House could declare climate emergency as soon as Wednesday

July 20, 2022

President Joe Biden could declare a climate emergency as soon as Wednesday, July 20, two sources familiar with the plans told The Hill on Tuesday.

One of the sources said that federal agencies are expecting an executive order declaring a climate emergency as soon as tomorrow, but it’s not entirely clear what it will entail.

A second source also said the declaration could come on Wednesday. A third person confirmed that a climate emergency declaration was under consideration by the White House, as first reported by  The Washington Post. 

Asked for comment, a White House official said that many options are under consideration. “The President made clear that if the Senate doesn’t act to tackle the climate crisis and strengthen our domestic clean energy industry, he will. We are considering all options and no decision has been made,” the person said in an email.

Research contact: @thehill

New Jersey governor weighs in on California’s Newsom attacking DeSantis in Florida: ‘I like it’

July 6, 2022

New Jersey’s Democratic Governor Phil Murphy  is putting his support behind California’s Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom’s new TV ad, running in Florida; which targets the Sunshine State’s Republican Governor Ron DeSantis and invites Floridians to move to California, reports The Hill

 In an appearance on CNN’s “New Day” on Tuesday, June 5, Murphy said he liked his fellow Democratic governor’s approach when asked by host Brianna Keilar about Newsom’s 30-second ad slamming DeSantis over a wave of new legislation targeting LGBTQ rights, voting rights, critical race theory, and abortion. 

 “I think we need to stand up and be counted and make sure we remind folks around the country, if

Above, New Jersey’s Democratic Governor Phil Murphy. (Photo source: Safety and Health )

you value values, come to states like New Jersey and I suspect that’s exactly what Governor Newsom has in mind in terms of California’s values,” Murphy said.

He said the United States is still “the greatest nation on Earth” but that “war has been declared by a right-wing Supreme Court bloc against American women” with the court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade’s constitutional protections for abortion rights.

He also criticized the court for a decision last month that rejected a New York law preventing people from carrying concealed weapons. Murphy said the country had done too little to prevent gun violence in the wake of the latest shooting on the Fourth of July in Highland Park, Illinois. 

“And look at the tragedy that happened yesterday in a Highland Park. So we are a great nation but we are in challenging troubled times right now. And women especially are paying a huge price,” he added.

Murphy also spoke about the two bills he signed into law on Friday, which ensure that out-of-state residents who come to New Jersey can access reproductive services and reproductive healthcare providers. 

Research contact: @thehill

FBI seizes phone of John Eastman, key figure in effort to overturn 2020 election

June 29, 2022

Federal agents seized the cell phone of John Eastman—an attorney who advised former President Donald Trump how to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election—Eastman said in a court filing on Monday, June 27, reports The Huffington Post.

Eastman filed a lawsuit asking the Justice Department to return his property and destroy any records it had obtained after FBI agents in New Mexico stopped him as he was leaving a restaurant last week. The investigators had a warrant and seized his iPhone, the filing says, and agents were able to access his email accounts.

He said in the filing that the agents “forced” him to unlock the device.

“By its very breadth, the warrant intrudes on significant privacy interests, both of [Eastman] and of others whose communications with him are accessible on the seized cell phone,” his attorneys wrote in the filing, obtained by The Hill.

Eastman was a key figure in developing a plan that would have seen Vice President Mike Pence delay or block certification of the 2020 Electoral College results, and his work has become a central focus of the House select committee investigating the January 6, 2021, insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. Pence refused to go along with the scheme.

Eastman also spoke at the January 6 rally just before the Capitol attack, where Trump falsely claimed that widespread election fraud had cost him the White House. There is no evidence to support those allegations.

The seizure of Eastman’s phone came the same day federal authorities searched the home of Jeffery Clark, a former Justice Department official under Trump who encouraged the then-president’s efforts to remain in office, despite his Electoral College loss to Joe Biden.

Clark had served in the Trump administration as assistant attorney general of the environment and natural resources division—but became close to the White House after the 2020 election. At one point, Trump mulled putting Clark in charge of the Justice Department after William Barr resigned after refusing to go along with Trump’s false claims of widespread voter fraud.

The House select committee focused heavily on Eastman’s efforts to aid Trump during its third hearing this month. The body, citing an email he sent to Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani, also noted that Eastman sought to be on the president’s “pardon list.”

Research contact: @HuffPost