Ted Cruz hasÂ reintroduced legislation which, among other actions, would strip federal recognition of same-sex marriages, and thus, federal benefits.
U.S. Senator Ted Cruz is pushing the State Marriage Defense Act, legislation that if signed into law could accomplish two objectives. First, redefine marriage at the federal level to remove from hundreds of thousands of same-sex couples the federal government’s recognition of their marriages, and thus, any corresponding federal benefits they are afforded, now or in the future. And second, should the U.S. Supreme Court not find a right to marriage for same-sex couples, encourage states that do not wish to recognize those marriages to potentially nullify them.
While being framed as states’ rights legislation, the bill’s language makes clear Cruz’s actual intent, and the bill’s ramifications.
“Congress recognizes that current actions by the Federal Government to afford benefits to certain relationships not recognized as marriages by a personâ€™s State of residence go beyond the Supreme Courtâ€™s ruling in United States v. Windsor,” the bill reads.
Currently, the federal government has been recognizing all same-sex marriages legally performed in states, even after the state has refused to do so.Â
Cruz’s bill also changes the federal definitionÂ of marriage, by stating “the term â€˜marriageâ€™ shall not include any relationship which that State, territory, or possession does not recognize as a marriage, and the term â€˜spouseâ€™ shall not include an individual who is a party to a relationship that is not recognized as a marriage by that State, territory, or possession.â€™â€™
In a separate statement, the Texas Senator, a likely GOP presidential candidate in 2016, attacks President Barack Obama and indirectly, Attorney General Holder. Cruz says “the Obama Administration has disregarded state marriage laws enacted by democratically-elected legislatures to uphold traditional marriage…I support traditional marriage and we should reject attempts by the Obama Administration to force same-sex marriage on all 50 states. The State Marriage Defense Act helps safeguard the ability of states to preserve traditional marriage for their citizens.”
Cruz also warns that later this year he “will be introducing a constitutional amendment to further protect marriage and to prevent judicial activism. The amendment will make explicit that marriage is a policy question for the democratically-elected legislatures in each of the 50 states.”
A decade ago,Â in 2004, the United Statesâ€™ General Accounting Office (GAO) issued a report that â€œidentified a total of 1,138 federal statutory provisions classified to the United States Code in which marital status is a factor in determining or receiving benefits, rights, and privileges.â€ Cruz’s legislation could strip these from legally married same-sex couples in any state that chooses to not honor their marriages.
Initial sponsors of Cruz’s bill are eleven RepublicanÂ Senators: John Boozman, R-AR, Mike Crapo, R-ID, Steve Daines, R-MT, James Inhofe, R-OK, James Lankford, R-OK, Mike Lee, R-UT, Pat Roberts, R-KS, Tim Scott, R-SC, Jeff Sessions, R-AL, Richard Shelby, R-AL, and David Vitter, R-LA.
Image by Gage Skidmore via Flickr
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‘It’s Not Theirs, It’s Mine’ Trump Told Aides About White House Records Including Classified Documents: NYT
Donald Trump last week claimed all the Dept. of Justice had to do was “ask” for the classified documents, and other items the FBI confiscated a week ago Monday, and he would have returned them, while multiple aides reportedly have quoted him saying those items belonged to him.
“Pat A. Cipollone and Patrick F. Philbin, the White House counsel and his deputy under President Donald J. Trump, were interviewed by the F.B.I. in connection with boxes of sensitive documents that were stored at Mr. Trump’s residence in Florida after he left office, three people familiar with the matter said,” The New York Times Tuesday afternoon reports.
Both were named as Trump’s representatives to the National Archives, so when the Archives discovered it was missing items, including the highly classified documents, NARA reached out to Philbin.
“Mr. Philbin tried to help the National Archives retrieve the material, two of the people familiar with the discussions said. But the former president repeatedly resisted entreaties from his advisers,” the Times’ Maggie Haberman reports.
“’It’s not theirs, it’s mine,’ several advisers say Mr. Trump told them,” according to the Times.
That’s a different response to the one Trump posted to his Truth Social account last week.
“Number one, it was all declassified,” Trump wrote, a claim experts question.
“Number two,” Trump added, “they didn’t need to ‘seize’ anything. They could have had it anytime they wanted without playing politics and breaking into Mar-a-Lago. It was in secured storage, with an additional lock put on as per their request.”
“They could have had it anytime they wanted—and that includes LONG ago,” he continued in a separate post on Truth Social. “ALL THEY HAD TO DO WAS ASK.”
Despite NARA retrieving the 15 cartons in January, there were more items they wanted returned. In May Trump was sent a subpoena, and yet those items were not returned.
In June, a Trump lawyer signed a statement saying there were no classified documents at Mar-a-Lago.
Two months later, on August 8, the FBI executed the search warrant that reportedly secured 11 sets of classified documents.
The Times adds that in June, “officials then used a subpoena to obtain surveillance footage of the hallway outside a storage room at Mar-a-Lago and saw something that alarmed them.”
The Times on Tuesday does not state what “alarmed” them, but Maggie Haberman at the Times on Saturday reported the surveillance footage revealed items being taken out of that locked storage room.
“The Justice Department also subpoenaed surveillance footage from Mar-a-Lago recorded over a 60-day period, including views from outside the storage room,” Haberman reported. “According to a person briefed on the matter, the footage showed that, after one instance in which Justice Department officials were in contact with Mr. Trump’s team, boxes were moved in and out of the room.”
“They also received information from at least one witness who indicated that more material might remain at the residence, people familiar with the investigation said,” she added.
Trump Tweeted ‘Highly Classified Image Taken by a Secret Spy Satellite’ in 2019: Report
In late August of 2019, more than two and a half years into his first and only term, Donald Trump tweeted a photo that many at the time thought might be a classified spy image, setting the internet on fire.
As it turns out, it was.
Calling it “an infamous moment in the Trump presidency — one that former intelligence officials say perfectly illustrated his approach to dealing with state secrets,” NBC News on Tuesday reported that on August 30, 2019, a “former senior intelligence official with firsthand knowledge told NBC News that Trump did indeed tweet a highly classified image taken by a secret spy satellite, as many experts suspected at the time. And in doing so, the official and others said, Trump gave U.S. adversaries keen insights into the U.S. capabilities to spy from above.”
Trump’s Twitter account is gone, permanently suspended after the Jan. 6 insurrection, and with it all the tweets he posted over many years.
But this is a screenshot of that tweet captured by the Internet Archive (with what appears to be Finnish):
“The president tweeted a picture of an Iranian missile launch site that showed a failed ICBM test launch that everybody acknowledged was a highly classified picture taken from space,” former national security adviser John Bolton told NBC News. “He tweeted it out, and that of course declassified it by definition, but also showed what could happen when such a picture, even on a Twitter attachment, was then able to be analyzed by foreign intelligence services.”
“We had this image of the Iranian missile blown up, and it was exquisite intelligence, and he didn’t even wait,” a former senior intelligence official said. “As soon as we showed him, he said, ‘Hey, I’m tweeting this.’”
Trump “spent no time understanding what made something a secret and what we protected,” that former official also told NBC News.
“CIA Director Gina Haspel and Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire tried to talk Trump out of doing it,” NBC News adds, “noting that the U.S. spent billions of dollars developing capabilities to capture images from space, and told Trump, ‘You can’t do this. If you put this out, they’re going understand what our capability is.'”
Falsely, he responded: “Look, I’m the president, I can declassify anything.”
Top Democratic House Committee Chairs Accuse Embattled DHS IG of ‘Obstruction’ in Warning They Will ‘Ensure Compliance’
Two of the most powerful House Committee chairs have sent a lengthy letter to embattled Dept. of Homeland Security Inspector General Joseph Cuffari detailing his “obstruction” in investigations, revealing their “investigation is focused precisely on potential misconduct in [his] office,” and warning him if he does not comply with their requests they will “have no choice but to consider alternate means to ensure compliance.”
Cuffari (photo), who was installed by then-President Donald Trump in 2019, is already accused of holding back information from Congress, including delaying for many months the release of information that Secret Service agents’ text massages from Jan. 5 and 6, 2021, were erased, and that the cell phones of top Trump appointees at DHS also were erased.
“Since May 2022, we have written to you on three separate occasions to request documents and information about your conduct as Inspector General,” write Carolyn Maloney, Chairwoman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, and Bennie Thompson, Chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security.
Detailing those instances, they say, “first, following serious allegations that your office censored findings of domestic abuse and sexual harassment by Department of Homeland Security (DHS) employees; second, after you failed to promptly notify Congress of crucial information on the Secret Service’s erasure of text messages related to the January 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol; and third, after new information emerged on your repeated failures to gather text messages from the Secret Service and other senior officials related to the January 6 attack.”
The two chairs further accuse Cuffari: “you have refused to produce responsive documents and blocked employees in your office from appearing for transcribed interviews. Your obstruction of the Committees’ investigations is unacceptable, and your justifications for this noncompliance appear to reflect a fundamental misunderstanding of Congress’s authority and your duties as an Inspector General. If you continue to refuse to comply with our requests, we will have no choice but to consider alternate measures to ensure your compliance.”
Addressing his handling of the Secret Service investigation, they add they have “grave concerns about your lack of transparency and independence,” and note, “we urged you to step aside from this critical investigation and allow another IG to complete this work.”
They also reveal that Cuffari “removed key information before sending a subsequent semiannual report to Congress in June 2022. An earlier draft version of the report would have provided Congress with a detailed explanation of Secret Service’s ‘resistance to OIG’s oversight activities’ and refusal to produce documents. The draft report also included detailed information about the Secret Service’s erasure of text messages.”
At one point in the eight-page letter they also state: “Career staff in your office reportedly drafted a management alert in October 2021 that would have alerted Congress and the public, but you ‘rejected sending the alert.'”
And they note that Cuffari is refusing their requests while they cite examples when he complied with requests from their Republican predecessors.
“Your failure to comply with our outstanding requests lacks any legal justification and is unacceptable,” they conclude. “Please provide all responsive documents by August 23, 2022, and make the individuals requested for transcribed interviews available by the same date. If you continue to obstruct, we will have no choice but to consider alternate means to ensure compliance.”
The Washington Post adds that Cuffari “has rejected calls from leading Democratic legislators to recuse himself from the investigation into the erasure of text messages that Secret Service agents exchanged during the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol, drawing fresh rebukes from lawmakers on Tuesday.”
“Cuffari said forcing him to step aside ‘has no legal basis’ and ‘would upend the very independence that Congress has established for Inspectors General,’ according to the letter he sent to House oversight committees on Aug. 8.”
Read the full letter here.
This article has been updated with the addition of reporting from The Washington Post.
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