Pro-Same-Sex Marriage Senators’ COVID Diagnoses Could Threaten Plan to Pass Bill This Week
U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) Monday afternoon announced her positive COVID diagnosis. She is the fourth member of the Senate in recent days to test positive for COVID-19. Hours earlier Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) also announced he had tested positive for COVID. On Thursday Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE) announced he had tested positive and was isolating for five days. That same day Sen. Tina Smith (D-MN) announced her positive test, but she returned to work Monday.
The current absence of three (likely) pro-same-sex marriage voting Senators due to COVID may throw a wrench into Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s plans to put to a vote legislation to protect same-sex marriages.
According to multiple sources Democratic Leader Schumer had planned to put the bill up for a cloture vote this week. It would require 60 votes to move forward. Despite reports, including from The New York Times saying it had been seen as “dead on arrival,” CNN and Huffpost found a significant number of Republican Senators, although not yet officially ten, indicating they would vote to pass the legislation.
READ MORE: Marco Rubio Recorded an ‘Emergency Video’ After Pete Buttigieg Responded to His Anti-LGBTQ Attack. It Didn’t Go Well.
Among the more surprising Republicans indicating they would vote to pass the Respect for Marriage Act, codifying existing same-sex marriages into law, was Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin.
Murkowski was one of the first four to express support for the bill. HuffPost senior politics reporter Igor Bobic reported in addition to Murkowski, Senators Susan Collins (ME), Rob Portman (OH), and Thom Tillis (NC) had “expressed support/openness for codifying protections for gay marriage.”
Others, like Sen. Marco Rubio, infamously called the bill a “stupid waste of time.”
Last week 47 House Republicans broke ranks and voted to pass the Respect for Marriage Act, against the specific wishes of House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Jim Jordan.
“I want to bring this bill to the floor,” Leader Schumer said last week. “And we’re working to get the necessary Senate Republican support to ensure it would pass.”
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Florida GOP Lawmaker Who Wrote ‘Don’t Say Gay’ Bill Facing Up to 35 Years After Pleading Guilty in COVID Fraud Case
Joe Harding, the now-former Florida Republican lawmaker who authored the extremist “Don’t Say Gay” bill could face up to 35 years in prison after pleading guilty Tuesday afternoon to federal felony fraud charges in a scheme to obtain $150,000 in COVID-19 relief funds, according to Florida Politics‘ publisher Peter Scorsch.
Harding, 35, was a construction project manager who started his own lawn care company. He quickly became a right-wing darling after his anti-LGBTQ legislation, officially the Parental Rights in Education Act, was embraced by Florida GOP Governor Ron DeSantis, who signed it into law.
Harding was charged in a December federal indictment with six counts of wire fraud, money laundering, and making false statements in his plot to obtain $150,000 in COVID funds.He resigned from the legislature the following day. He originally pled not guilty.
READ MORE: ‘Chilling’: Law Enforcement ‘Seriously’ Investigating Threats Ahead of Possible Trump Indictment Says Top WaPo Reporter
After Harding was charged and resigned, Nadine Smith, the executive director of Equality Florida, responded via social media, saying: “So much harm to students, parents and teachers because of his raw political ambitions. He slandered entire communities and trafficked in lie after lie that has emboldened violent bigotry. He will have his day in court but his legacy is already a despicable one.”
Harding is not the only family member accused of criminal acts.
“Harding’s indictment follows a September guilty plea from his brother-in-law, Patrick Walsh,” Florida Politics reported in December. “As reported by Fresh Take Florida, Walsh pleaded guilty to wire fraud and money laundering charges connected to his receipt of nearly $8 million in disaster relief loans.”
Unrepentant to the harm many feel he has done to children and the LGBTQ community, in a statement Tuesday Harding said: “During the past legislative session I have felt the support of millions of Americans while fighting for our shared concerns and for the rights of parents. I will never forget the support I received from every corner of this great country.”
READ MORE: 18 Attorneys General Blast Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” Law as Unconstitutional
Harding will be sentenced in July.
Florida’s Voice also reported Harding’s guilty plea Tuesday.
Trump Calls for Congress to Investigate NY AG After Judge Refuses to Delay $250 Million Fraud Trial Against Ex-President
Minutes before Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron was to gavel in late Tuesday morning, a bomb threat was called in to 911, delaying a pre-trial hearing in New York Attorney General Letitia James’ $250 million civil fraud lawsuit against Donald Trump and his adult children, but only for about 30 minutes.
Over the weekend Trump urged his supporters to “protest,” and “take our country back.” He also claimed he would be indicted on Tuesday. It’s not known who called in the bomb threat, but it wasn’t the delay Trump’s attorneys were hoping for.
Once the hearing began, Trump’s attorneys asked the judge for a six-month delay, Law & Crime reports.
They were denied.
They then asked for a delay of a few weeks.
They were denied again.
READ MORE: ‘Like Al Capone Complaining About Organized Crime’: Jim Jordan Slammed for Demanding Manhattan DA Testify
“I don’t want to move this trial, not only because I said I don’t want to move it,” Justice Engoron said.
“That’s written in stone,” he added.
“This case is complex, but it’s not complicated,” Engoron explained. “It all boils down to whether the statements of financial condition are true, and the rest as Rabbi Hillel famously said, is all commentary.”
After the hearing ended Trump called for Congress to investigate Attorney General James.
“While Congress is at it, they should look at the Corrupt Attorney General of New York State, Letitia James, who got elected solely on a ‘I WILL GET TRUMP’ platform, without knowing anything about me,” Trump alleged on his Truth Social platform.
“She then brought a completely bogus lawsuit, which is presided over by an A.G. picked, Trump hating Judge, a political hack whose Court this case should not be in – It shoud [sic] be in the Commercial Division, but he wouldn’t let go, is pushing it hard, and knows exactly what he wants to do….”
As Law & Crime notes, Attorney General James “alleges that Trump, his children and his businesses have a pattern of wildly inflating or deflating their assets to reap tax benefits. She claims that Trump estimates the size of his Trump Towers triplex at three times its actual square footage. Trump Organization also valued rent-stabilized units more than 66 times higher than an outside appraiser, she says. These discrepancies and others, she says, warrant her massive proposed civil penalty.”
‘Like Al Capone Complaining About Organized Crime’: Jim Jordan Slammed for Demanding Manhattan DA Testify
House Republican Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan is under fire after sending notice to Alvin Bragg on Monday demanding the Manhattan District Attorney currently investigating Donald Trump’s possibly unlawful payoff to Stormy Daniels testify before Congress to explain the ongoing case.
Legal experts have said Jordan’s letter, which was also signed by the powerful House Oversight Chair Jim Comer, could be considered obstruction of justice.
Late Tuesday morning Jordan took to Twitter to defend his actions, which many see as an attempt to intimidate the Manhattan DA and interfere with the potential prosecution of the ex-president.
“Democrats think it’s ok for them to examine and defund local police,” Jordan said. “But not ok for Republicans to examine a local prosecutor in Manhattan abusing his power to take down a political opponent.”
READ MORE: Trump’s Lawyer in Stormy Daniels Case Back in 2018 Called Hush Money Payoff ‘Illegal’: Report
The Judiciary Chair, who has a law degree from Capital University in Ohio, appeared to not understand that he does not have oversight authority over a duly-elected county district attorney.
Attorney Ron Filipkowski, a Republican turned Democrat, slammed Jordan’s remarks.
“This makes literally no sense whatsoever. Local police are funded locally. Democrats aren’t seeking to haul local prosecutors in front of Congress for anything. This is a naked abuse of federal power over something Congress has no jurisdiction over.”
Former federal prosecutor Glenn Kirschner, now an NBC News and MSNBC Legal Analyst, called Jordan’s and Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s actions “a dramatic and transparent abuse of power.”
READ MORE: Republicans Are ‘Obstructing Justice’ and ‘Becoming Accessories’ to Trump’s ‘Crimes’: Former Prosecutor
Aaron Fritschner, Deputy Chief of Staff for U.S. Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA) called Jordan’s letter, “stupid and embarrassing” three times, and, called Jordan’s attempt at oversight of a county DA “is invalid, unconstitutional, inappropriate, stupidly pretextual and political.”
District Attorney Bragg, Fritscher continued, “will be on rock solid legal ground if he should decide to use their letter to kill insects or remove avian waste, but in the meantime we who have seen and written legitimate oversight letters in the past imo should mock Jordan, Comer et al for their hilarious incompetence.”
Others on Capitol Hill also mocked Jordan.
“A kangaroo investigation has been opened by Jim Jordan and the House GOP into the Manhattan DA, Alvin Bragg,” U.S. Rep. Ritchie Torres (D-NY) tweeted. “Republicans complaining about the weaponization of government is like Al Capone complaining about organized crime.”
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