For So Many Reasons This Was a Historic Moment
For about a century African Americans suffered under the weight of Jim Crow laws, legal segregation mandating separate restrooms, discriminationÂ in housing, education, credit, and many other areas. The infamous, horrendous, “separate but equal” concept, which was never equal, arose out of these laws and beliefs.
So consider for a moment the historical significance (and irony) of what took place on national television Wednesday night.
A Black woman, the anchor of a network news show, held the microphone for a Black man, who asked America’s first Black president, near the end of his second term in office, on national TV, “With all the pressing issues that you have before you right now, why is the issue of which bathroom a person uses such an issue?”
That woman of course is “PBS NewsHour” anchor Gwen Ifill, who is also theÂ moderator and managing editor of PBS’ “Washington Week.” Ifill hosted a town hall with President Obama in Elkhart, Indiana on Wednesday.
Think for a moment of the irony of that question, but also, what an amazing moment in time this is, how far we’ve come, and yet, how far we still have to go. But how wonderful it is that the President of the United States, on national television, is advocating for the civil rights and equality of transgender people.Â
The real focus of the story is of course, the rights of transgender people, and how they are being forced to use restrooms and other public accommodationsÂ that do not correspond with their gender identity.
President Barack Obama’s response was, naturally, excellent.
“Somehow people think I made it an issue, I didn’t make it an issue,” the President noted. “What happened and what continues to happen is you have transgender kids in schools. And they get bullied. And they get ostracized. And itâ€™s tough for them.”
The man who asked the question was identified by the Washington Blade as “Arvis Dawson, who identified himself as a community organizer and said he supports equal rights, but has issues with transgender restroom use.”
The President reminded Dawson that in their generation people “suffered silently” but now transgender people are coming out and living their lives openly. He says schools asked for guidance.
“My answer is that we should deal with this issue the same way weâ€™d want it dealt with if it was our child,” Obama said. “And that is to try to create an environment of some dignity and kindness for these kids. And thatâ€™s sort of the bottom line.”
“I have to say what’s in my heart, but I also have to look at what’s in the law, my best interpretation of what our laws and our obligations are, is that we should try to accommodate these kids so they are not in a vulnerable situation.”
â€œNow, I understand that people, you know, for religious beliefs or just general discomfort might disagree,â€ Obama said. â€œAnd Iâ€™m not the one whoâ€™s making a big issue of it. But if the school districts around the country ask me, ‘What do you think we should do?,’ then what weâ€™re going to do is tell them letâ€™s find a way to accommodate them in a way that makes sure that these kids are not, you know, excluded and ostracized.”
After the video ends, the Blade reports President Obama continued, saying,Â â€œI have profound respect for everybodyâ€™s religious beliefs on this.â€
â€œBut if youâ€™re at a public school, the question is, how do we just make sure that children are treated with kindness. Thatâ€™s all. And you know, my reading of scripture tells me that that golden rule is pretty high up there in terms of my Christian belief.â€
â€œI just wanted to emphasize to you, though, itâ€™s not like I woke up one day and I said you know what we really need to do is letâ€™s start working on high school bathrooms,â€ Obama said. â€œI was thinking about ISIL. And I was thinking about, you know, the economy and Iâ€™m thinking about jobs. But one of the things that, as president, you learn is that you donâ€™t choose the issues all the time. The issues come to you. And then you have to make your best judgment about what you think is right, and Iâ€™ve expressed what I think is the best judgment that is consistent with our traditions and our laws.â€
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Former US Attorney Calls for ‘Full Investigation’ After Report Secret Service Failed to Share Threat Against Pelosi
A former U.S. Attorney is calling for a full investigation into the U.S. Secret Service’s failure to share intelligence it had detailing a violent threat against Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and other top Democrats.
“This is deeply disturbing,” says Joyce Vance, who is now a law professor and MSNBC/NBC News legal analyst. She says it “requires a full investigation.”
“The Capitol Police are responsible for protecting the Speaker,” Vance continues. “If true” that the U.S. Secret Service “failed to pass on intelligence about threats, that’s very alarming.”
Vance points to a new report from Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) that finds the Secret Service discovered a violent social media based threat on January 4, 2021, two days before the insurrection, but did not share that intelligence with the Capitol Police until nearly 6 PM ET on January 6.
The U.S. Secret Service is an agency under the Dept. of Homeland Security. The DHS Inspector General, Joseph Cuffari, is under investigation by two powerful House Committee chairs who on Tuesday accused him of “obstruction.”
In a separate report CREW reveals that “days before the January 6 attack on the Capitol, documents exchanged between the Secret Service and other law enforcement agencies outlined ‘threats of violence’ on the 6th, coming ‘predominantly from right wing groups’ with ‘plans to bring weapons into the District,’ according to documents obtained by CREW. The Secret Service knew that Trump’s supporters would be demonstrating around Freedom Plaza and the Capitol with the intent to cause violence, but the agency does not appear to have taken the threat seriously.”
“While the Secret Service downplayed threats posed by right-wing extremist groups and Trump’s supporters leading up to January 6, the newly obtained documents reveal just how grave and explicit the threats had actually been,” CREW alleges.
Image via Shutterstock
Secret Service Held Onto Violent Jan. 6 Threat Against Pelosi, Watchdog Says
Two days before the deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol by supporters of Donald Trump the U.S. Secret Service discovered a “series of violent threats” made on social media, including against Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, but did not pass them on to the Capitol Police until the evening of January 6 – after the violence of the insurrection had ended, a watchdog reports.
“On January 4, Secret Service agents discovered a Parler account, which we’ve chosen not to name, posting a series of violent threats towards lawmakers. Other profiles with the same name appeared on Twitter, MeWe, Bitchute, Youtube and Facebook,” Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) reveals.
“On December 31, the account posted, ‘January 6 starts #1776 all over again…Fight for EVERYTHING’ and listed ‘Enemies,’ including Pelosi. At 5:55 pm on January 6, after hours of defending the United States Capitol from a violent mob, the United States Capitol Police received the post along with a message from the Secret Service.”
“The language used by the account, as we’ve now seen repeated in recordings released by the January 6th Committee, is a clear call for a violent overthrow of the American government on January 6, 2021,” CREW adds.
The Secret Service found what CREW calls other “troubling” posts tied to that account.
“Biden will die shortly after being elected,” the account posted on January 2, four days before the insurrection. “Patriots are gonna tear his head off. Prison is his best case scenario.”
“We’re all on a mission to save America. Lone wolf attacks are the way to go,” read a Jan. 3 post. “Stay anonymous. Stay alive. Guns up Patriots!!”
CREW takes the Secret Service to task.
“In the past month, we’ve learned that the Secret Service failed to prepare for violence on January 6 despite receiving explicit warnings, then deleted key evidence from the day, likely breaking the law,” the nonpartisan watchdog reports, presumably referring to the deleted text messages from Jan. 5 and Jan. 6, 2021. “The delay in notifying Capitol Police about the threat to the Speaker of the House only adds to the impression that the agency failed to do its job, and leads to more questions. Why did the agency wait two days, until after the Capitol had been breached and Congressional leaders were in hiding to pass it along?”
Watch: Pence Says He Would ‘Consider’ Appearing Before J6 Committee if Offered ‘Invitation’ to ‘Participate’
Former Vice President Mike Pence, asked if he would testify before the U.S. House Select Committee on the January 6 Attack, said if invited he would “consider” participating.
“If there’s an invitation to participate, I would consider it,” Pence said Wednesday morning at a political event in New Hampshire, a state presidential hopefuls visit early and often. “It would be unprecedented in history for a vice president to be summoned to testify on Capitol Hill, but as I’ve said, I don’t want to prejudge.”
In fact, as NBC News producer Frank Thorp V noted, “It would not, actually, be unprecedented for a VP to testify on Capitol Hill.”
Pence, as he often does, tried to frame his remarks in a historic context.
“Under the Constitution, we have three coequal branches of government, and um, any invitation that’d be directed to me, I’d have to reflect on the unique role I was serving in as Vice President.”
Thorp notes that “Vice President Schuyler Colfax testified before the House Select Committee to Investigate the Credit Mobilier on January 7, 1873, which was while he was in office.” He also points out that President Abraham Lincoln and President Woodrow Wilson testified before Congress.
Politico’s Kyle Cheney adds that “many” of Pence’s “former top aides have testified at length, presumably with his blessing.”
Pointing to the video below, law professor and CNN contributor Steve Vladeck noted Wednesday morning that “Former Vice President Ford testified before Congress in October 1974 … while he was PRESIDENT.” He also notes that “former Presidents (to say nothing of former VPs) have testified before Congress *sixteen* times.”
NBC News presidential historian Michael Beschloss says the former vice president “needs to testify fully under oath before the House January 6 Committee — and he must not take the Fifth.”
Watch Pence below or at this link:
Former Vice President Mike Pence when asked if he would cooperate if the January 6th committee called on him to testify:
“If there was an invitation to participate, I would consider it.” pic.twitter.com/y9NFrHwYtf
— The Recount (@therecount) August 17, 2022
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