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.
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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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
Cheney ‘Thinking About’ White House Run – Will Do ‘Whatever It Takes’ to Keep ‘Grave Threat’ of Trump From Oval Office
After a staggering loss in her congressional primary Tuesday U.S. Congresswoman Liz Cheney (R-WY) is making more headlines at the moment than the man who promised to ensure her defeat: Donald Trump. Cheney says she’s “thinking about” running for president.
Rep. Cheney lost her Wyoming GOP primary by a 66.3% to 28.9% estimated margin Tuesday night, after winning her district just two years ago with more than 70% of the votes, and having the added benefit of being the daughter of a former GOP vice president, defense secretary, and congressman.
As she has since the January 6, 2021 insurrection, Cheney still has Donald Trump in her sights.
“I believe that Donald Trump continues to pose a very grave threat and risk to our republic. And I think that defeating him is going to require a broad and united front of Republicans, Democrats and independents, and that’s what I intend to be a part of,” she told Savannah Guthrie on NBC’s “TODAY” show Wednesday morning.
She said she will do “whatever it takes” to keep the former president from returning to the Oval Office.
That could include running for president, which Cheney hesitantly says she’s “thinking about,” telling NBC News she will make a decision “in the coming months.”
“We’ve now got one major political party, my party, which has really become a cult of personality, and we’ve got to get this party back to a place where we’re embracing the values and the principles on which it was founded,” she said.
Cheney, who still is vice chair of the U.S. House Select Committee on the January 6 Attack, did not appear to have a dedicated, scripted response to Guthrie’s questions, but she did file papers early Wednesday morning to reorganize her re-election account into a leadership PAC.
Cheney “renamed her re-election account THE GREAT TASK sometime early this morning. It’s now a leadership PAC,” Punchbowl News’ Jake Sherman reports. He notes it’s “flush with $7 million.”
Watch Cheney’s “TODAY” show interview below or at this link:
‘Confessing to the Crime’: Reporter’s Claim About Trump Being ‘Reluctant’ to Return Records Ignites Legal Experts
Legal experts including Neal Katyal, Andrew Weissmann, and others are responding to a claim made by a right wing reporter that they say indicts rather than vindicates Donald Trump.
The claim was made by Paul Sperry, a former D.C. bureau chief for Investor’s Business Daily, who has worked for the far right wing website WorldNetDaily. He is described as having a “long record of promoting anti-Muslim conspiracy theories” by Georgetown University’s Bridge Initiative Team.
If his reporting is true, legal experts say it is a confession to unlawful actions regarding the 35 cartons of White House records that belong not to the former president, as he reportedly stated, but to the National Archives.
“BREAKING,” Sperry’s post on the right wing social media site Gettr begins. “Sources close to Trump say the former president was reluctant to furnish presidential records to the National Archives after he found out partisan Democrat political appointees there were releasing thousands of his White House documents to the January 6 Committee in spite of his lawyers’ claims of executive privilege. They say the former president simply ‘does not trust’ the Obama and Biden political appointees running the National Archives to act in good faith and in bipartisan spirit.”
That post was included as a screenshot and tweeted by attorney Ron Filipkowski.
Former FBI General Counsel Andrew Weissmann responds by saying: “Legally, this is a confession, not a defense, even if Trump thinks this plays to his base. The more Trump keeps talking, the more he keeps digging his legal grave.”
Weissmann also served as an Assistant United States Attorney, chief of the criminal fraud section of the U.S. Department of Justice, and worked under Robert Mueller during the Trump investigation.
This “is Trump confessing to the crime,” says former U.S. Acting Solicitor General Neal Katyal. “If this report is accurate, Trump is saying he took these doc[uments] for his personal gain. It’s no defense to say ‘the govt was going to be unfair.’ These are the govt’s docs, not his. He doesn’t get to hide them& benefit.”
The nonpartisan watchdog Citizens for Ethics (CREW) writes: “So Trump was intentionally breaking the law. That’s really not the winner they think it is.”
Attorney Owen Barcala offers up this sarcastic response: “‘How dare you say he negligently retained classified documents! He did so intentionally and with the specific purpose to interfere with a Congressional investigation!'”
National security lawyer Mark S. Zaid: “These ‘sources’ close to Trump are undermining any possible factual or legal defenses he might assert. Please keep talking!”
Journalists are also weighing in.
Civil liberties and national security journalist Marcy Wheeler: “These ‘sources close to Trump’ LITERALLY just confessed to concealing official records to thwart an investigation, which is one of the crimes under investigation, 18 USC 1519.”
Columbia Journalism School Professor Bill Grueskin: “Each story is more confession-y than the previous one.”
New York Times opinion columnist Farhad Manjoo: “he’s admitting to taking classified documents from the White House in order to keep them away from government officials? convenient, because that is … specifically one of the crimes he’s being investigated for.”
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