In a Tweet that criticized Senate Democrats for "self-created debt limit crisis" Sen. McConnell (R-KY) - the Senate minority leader - offered a temporary and limited way out of the immediate crisis.
McConnell offered to have the minority Republicans provide voting support to pass a pre-determined increase in the ceiling that will prevent default till some time in December. This is supposed to provide ample time to Sen. Schumer (D-NY) - the majority leader - to craft and shepherd through Congress a longer-term increase (again a specific amount) through the Reconciliation process. He also offered to make the December Reconciliation process for raising the Debt Ceiling a easy one which is likely a reference to the extended amendment process and attendant vote-a-rama; however, that might not be entirely in his control given how some Republican Senators like grandstanding when it comes to the national debt.
It is not clear as to why December was his choice; picking the middle or end of January would have allowed for Christmas to be enjoyed by everybody without this cloud hanging over the world.
As America grapples with the very real threat of fascism, the fledgling "One America News" network has staked out a position as one of the nation's dominant promoters of pro-Trump, anti-democratic hoaxes and fake news. A new Reuters investigation pins much of the blame for its rise on a single American company: AT&T.
According to the network's archconservative founder, the whole thing was AT&T's idea. In a deposition unearthed by Reuters, OAN head Robert Herring Sr. testified that it was AT&T executives who pitched the idea tohim.The company, owner of CNN, HBO, and majority owner of DirectTV "told us they wanted a conservative network. They only had one, which was Fox News, and they had seven others on the other" side. So Herring built it, and AT&T has been the near-exclusive source of the network's funding ever since. ........... There are a few things in the report that seem especially notable. "The records include a reported offer by AT&T to acquire a 5% equity stake in OAN and AWE, though the two sides ultimately signed a different deal. The court filings also cite a promise by OAN to “cast a positive light” on AT&T during newscasts," reports Reuters. The idea that AT&T would be so enamored with a brand-new conservative network already gaining a reputation for shoddy reporting and wholesale hoaxes that it would want part ownership is remarkable—or would be if the Dallas-based AT&T and its preceding incarnations had not had decades of experience in being one of the most malignant companies in the nation. That deal did not happen.
What happened instead is that AT&T has funded the company in the more standard manner. As the network has continually promoted conspiracy theories about a deadly pandemic and pushed hoaxes that have successfully undermined American democracy and led to an attempted toppling of the United States government, AT&T and DirectTV have funneled "tens of millions of dollars" to Herring's company through carriage fees. Do you get DirectTV? Congratulations. One of America's leading sources of pro-fascist conspiracy hoaxes gets a cut of your monthly bill whether you watch it or not. That satellite box sitting beneath your television set helped create an insurrection.
The other notable charge in the Reuters piece is the claim—also alleged in sworn testimony by the Herring family—that AT&T agreed in 2014 to a proposed bargain in which the Herrings would use their OAN network and their own lobbying to heavily promote the planned AT&T acquisition of DirectTV, crafting positive content about the merger to help sway federal regulators in exchange for AT&T placing OAN and another Herring network on DirectTV when the deal went through. The Herrings indeed mounted a full press to promote the merger; the lawsuit in question is because the Herrings say AT&T didn't follow through with their end of the bargain.
That lawsuit was settled secretly in 2017, and is presumably the reason that DirectTV began airing both Herring networks only weeks afterwards.
Now, there's a gaping problem that's complicating our understanding of what really happened in that case. The Herrings are the driving force behind a "news" network that is infamous for publishing fraudulent content. They are not just liars, they have turned lying into the core premise of a new pro-fascism, anti-democracy, viewer-killing television studio. You can take the Herring claim that AT&T did this or did that only with 12 pounds of salt because all of these people can be presumed to be exactly the sort of people who would lie in court in order to line their own pockets.
On the other hand, AT&T isalsoa company that has long had a corporate culture of being sleazy, icky slimeballs. An unnamed AT&T executive's claim to Reuters that it would never trade political support to network deals comes off as laughable; if there's any company in America that would do such a thing, AT&T would be it. All sides here are terrible, dishonest, and almost unfathomably gross.
AT&T, you will note, is currently embroiled in yet another scandal for its backing of Texas Republican lawmakers whose new "private bounty for turning in those that assist abortions" has effectively ended Roe in the state. That's resulting in new battles as other media outlets refuse to even run ads attacking the powerful company over that support. The AT&T defense is that it supports both lawmakers who want to end abortion rights in America and those who do not.
Similarly, the AT&T defense of its status as near-exclusive funder of a fascist "news" network actively promoting hoaxes and conspiracy theories both about the current deadly pandemic and about the supposed fraudulence of our very democracy is that it also carries networks that don't do such things, so whatcha gonna do. Both defenses are unpersuasive.
Oddly, the wordfascismappears nowhere in the Reuters story. This is a bit curious as the network's continued insistence that Dear Leader Donald Trump was the actual winner of an election he lost, its promotion of a stream of hoaxes aimed squarely at undermining confidence in elections that did not go Dear Leader's way, and its goading of actual political violence in support of those aims objectively tick off sufficient boxes to describe the network as such.
We've known for a while that DirectTV is the primary funder of OAN, and the primary means by which the network is able to peddle brazenly false information to Americans in an effort to sway them into doing actively harmful things. The news that AT&T executives were themselves the impetus for founding the network in the first place is new.
None of it changes the fact that AT&T's boardroom, and DirectTV's boardroom, aren't choosing to fund a "conservative news network." They are using their companies to back a hoax outlet that has repeatedly and provably undermined the nation's safety and welfare. Ahoaxoutlet, not anewsone.
This is indefensible by any standard. There was once a difference between "conservative commentary" and the invention of outrageous hoaxes meant to bend the "news" towards whatever paranoias the movement's leaders find most useful; that line has been erased. Each of the companies involved is now responsible for killing Americans outright.
There's not a chance in hell any of the three companies will reconsider—again, all three are dens of gleeful crookedness, as has become commonplace at the pinnacle of American "success"—so your best bet is to take your money out of the picture. You do not need DirectTV. Dump it. Supporting for-profit companies looking to make that profit by goading Americans into believing false information about a deadly diseaseor about our very democracy itselfis not defensible. Your pennies cannot be the ones that make the venture a profitable concern.
The tens of millions of eligible Americans who still refuse to travel down to their local drug store in order to obtain a free vaccine that could prevent their hospitalization and potential death from COVID-19 all claim to have reasons for their decision. Many of those reasons turn out to be echoes of some meme or other piece of disinformation they read on Facebook. Others seem to take their cues from cynical Republican politicians eager to score political points by portraying the vaccines as some type of unwarranted government intrusion into peoples’ lives. Whatever excuse is being parroted, however, it’s almost certainly been validated at one time or another by the Murdoch family’s Fox media empire, which has consistently sown doubt about the vaccines since they first became widely available.
Because there hasn’t been such a campaign of peddling lethal lies about a common-sense public health initiative in most Americans’ lifetimes (if ever in our history), and because the nation is so polarized politically, it’s understandable how Americans might be at a loss to appreciate just how pervasive Fox media’s propaganda effort has been.
But if you can imagine, in, say, 1964, after the U.S. Surgeon General reported a definitive link between cigarette smoking and lung cancer, one of the three major news networks at the time embarking on a crusade not only to cast aspersions on those findings but also attempting to demonize and discredit the Surgeon General himself --in effect, encouraging more people to smoke cigarettes as a form of protest— you might come close to what Fox News has done in instilling doubts about the COVID-19 vaccine.
A federal judge in Texas issued an order Wednesday blocking the state's six-week abortion ban.
A federal judge in Texas issued an order Wednesday blocking the state's six-week abortion ban.
US District Judge Robert Pitman's order is a victory for abortion rights proponents, who had seen other attempts to block the law stymied by the ban's novel design. It may, however, be only a temporary victory.
At a hearing Friday, a lawyer from the Texas attorney general's office made clear that the state would appeal such an order to the 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals if it were granted.
That appeals court -- perhaps the most conservative in the country -- previously rejected a request from clinics that it block the law, as did the US Supreme Court.
In a recent court filing, an organization that runs several clinics in the state said that it would resume providing abortions after six weeks if the judge issued an order blocking the law.
Four top members of Team Trump have an October 7 deadline to turn documents over to the House committee investigating the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. It’s not looking like they’re going to comply, a possibility Chair Bennie Thompson anticipated when he said the committee was prepared to make criminal referrals. Rep. Jamie Raskin reinforced that point on Tuesday, tweeting that former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, aide Dan Scavino, Trump loyalist Kash Patel, and former campaign manager Steve Bannon “have two days left to comply with the @January6thCmte’s subpoenas. Each of these men should be ready and willing to protect their country against violent insurrection, but as a reminder: noncompliance with Congress invites criminal sanctions.”
The committee hasn’t even been able to physically serve Scavino with his subpoena, CNN reports, about which “One source familiar with the situation joked that the committee should just tweet the subpoena to the former Trump aide since he’s been actively trolling the panel there in recent days.”
It’s not a surprise that a source tells The Guardian’s Hugo Lowell that all four—Meadows, Scavino, Patel, and Bannon—are planning to defy the subpoenas in whole or in part. That is reportedly at the instruction of Donald Trump or his lawyers, not that any of the four probably needed encouragement. Trump has claimed that executive privilege covers White House communications relating to the effort to overturn the election and the attack on the Capitol. Still, President Biden gets to make that call—after all, Trump is not the executive—and he’s said no dice.
These are just the first four people to get subpoenas from the January 6 committee. Eleven more people got subpoenas at the end of September, including leaders of “Women for America First,” the group that formally staged the rally that turned into a march on and attack of the Capitol, as well as former Trump spokeswoman Katrina Pierson.
The committee isn’t stuck waiting for the subpoenas to succeed, though. Speaking of the four men expected to refuse to turn over documents this week, and the committee’s progress in general, Rep. Adam Kinzinger, one of the Republicans on the committee, told CNN, “The problem is when you start seeing people resist, and people obfuscate, you have to look at that and go why are they doing that if they have nothing to hide? We have a lot of people coming and talking to us voluntarily. We’ll get to the bottom of it. We want to do it quickly, efficiently, and thoroughly.”
Thursday, we’ll see how the committee responds when Meadows, Scavino, Patel, and Bannon blow off its subpoenas. The correct answer for how, by the way, is swiftly and harshly.
On the other side during that meeting on the evening of Jan. 3 were the top leaders of the Justice Department, who warned Mr. Trump that they and other senior officials would resign en masse if he followed through. They received immediate support from another key participant: Pat A. Cipollone, the White House counsel. According to others at the meeting, Mr. Cipollone indicated that he and his top deputy, Patrick F. Philbin, would also step down if Mr. Trump acted on his plan.
Mr. Trump’s proposed plan, Mr. Cipollone argued, would be a “murder-suicide pact,” one participant recalled. Only near the end of the nearly three-hour meeting did Mr. Trump relent and agree to drop his threat.
Mr. Cipollone’s stand that night is among the new details contained in a lengthy interim report prepared by the Senate Judiciary Committee about Mr. Trump’s efforts to pressure the Justice Department to do his bidding in the chaotic final weeks of his presidency.
The report draws on documents, emails and testimony from three top Justice Department officials, including the acting attorney general for Mr. Trump’s last month in office, Jeffrey A. Rosen; the acting deputy attorney general, Richard P. Donoghue, and Byung J. Pak, who until early January was U.S. attorney in Atlanta. It provides the most complete account yet of Mr. Trump’s efforts to push the department to validate election fraud claims that had been disproved by the F.B.I. and state investigators.
“This report shows the American people just how close we came to a constitutional crisis,” Richard J. Durbin, Democrat of Illinois and chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said in a statement. “Thanks to a number of upstanding Americans in the Department of Justice, Donald Trump was unable to bend the department to his will. But it was not due to a lack of effort.”
Mr. Durbin said that he believes the former president, who remains a front-runner for the Republican nomination in 2024, would have “shredded the Constitution to stay in power.”
The report by Mr. Durbin’s committee hews closely to previous accounts of the final days of the Trump administration, which led multiple Congressional panels and the Justice Department’s watchdog to open investigations.
But, drawing in particular on interviews with Mr. Rosen and Mr. Donoghue, both of whom were at the Jan. 3 Oval Office meeting, it brings to light new details that underscore the intensity and relentlessness with which Mr. Trump pursued his goal of upending the election, and the role that key government officials played in his efforts.
The report fleshes out the role of Jeffrey Clark, a little-known Justice Department official who participated in multiple conversations with Mr. Trump about how to upend the election and who pushed his superiors to send Georgia officials a letter that falsely claimed the Justice Department had identified “significant concerns that may have impacted the outcome of the election.” Mr. Trump was weighing whether to replace Mr. Rosen with Mr. Clark. Of particular note was a Jan. 2 confrontation during which Mr. Clark seemed to both threaten and coerce Mr. Rosen to send the letter. He first raised the prospect that Mr. Trump could fire Mr. Rosen, and then said that he would decline any offer to replace Mr. Rosen as acting attorney general if Mr. Rosen sent the letter. Mr. Clark also revealed during that meeting that he had secretly conducted a witness interview with someone in Georgia in connection with election fraud allegations that had already been disproved.
The report raised fresh questions about what role Representative Scott Perry, Republican of Pennsylvania, played in the White House effort to pressure the Justice Department to help upend the election. Mr. Perry called Mr. Donoghue to pressure him into investigating debunked election fraud allegations that had been made in Pennsylvania, the report said, and he complained to Mr. Donoghue that the Justice Department was not doing enough to look into such claims. Mr. Clark, the report said, also told officials that he had participated in the White House’s efforts at Mr. Perry’s request, and that the lawmaker took him to a meeting at the Oval Office to discuss voter fraud. That meeting occurred at around the same time that Mr. Perry and members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus met at the White House to discuss the Jan. 6 certification of the election results.
The report confirmed that Mr. Trump was the reason that Mr. Pak hastily left his role as U.S. attorney in Atlanta, an area that Mr. Trump wrongly told people he had won. Mr. Trump told top Justice Department officials that Mr. Pak was a never-Trumper, and he blamed Mr. Pak for the F.B.I.’s failure to find evidence of mass election fraud there. During the Jan. 3 fight in the Oval Office, Mr. Donoghue and others tried to convince Mr. Trump not to fire Mr. Pak, as he planned to resign in just a few days. But Mr. Trump made it clear to the officials that Mr. Pak was to leave the following day, leading Mr. Donoghue to phone him that evening and tell him he should pre-emptively resign. Mr. Trump also went outside the normal line of succession to push for a perceived loyalist, Bobby L. Christine, to run the Atlanta office. Mr. Christine had been the U.S. attorney in Savannah, and had donated to Mr. Trump’s campaign.
The report is not the Senate Judiciary Committee’s final word on the pressure campaign that was waged between Dec. 14, when Attorney General William P. Barr announced his resignation, and Jan. 6, when throngs of Mr. Trump’s supporters fought to block certification of the election.