“Democratic pollster Molly Murphy said Graham’s 15-week bill, released Tuesday, has only reinforced the argument that Republicans will try to enact significant new restrictions if they gain control of Congress. ‘I feel like I’ve had a roller coaster of a day between, ‘What kind of three-dimensional chess are they playing?’ to kind of settling into, ‘They’re not,’ ‘ said Murphy, who is working on the Arizona Senate race.”
U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham‘s unexpected announcement Tuesday, promoting his new bill to ban abortion nationwide at 15 weeks was mostly ignored or even panned by his fellow GOP Senators, but it is finding support, in one of the most right-wing caucuses of the House of Representatives.
Members of the Republican Study Committee, likely the largest and most extreme group in the House of Representatives, had “an intense meeting today,” in response to Graham’s attempt to put forth and pass a nationwide abortion ban. That meeting resulted in “multiple divides,” according to PBS Newshour correspondent Lisa Desjardins.
Some House Republicans including far right extremist Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, “oppose Graham’s 15-week bill as far too moderate. They want a total, national ban.”
Others, Desjardins says, “think Congress has no business telling states what to do” in general, “and on abortion specifically.” Still other Republicans expressed concern about how the issue of abortion will affect the November midterm elections, as well as the messaging around abortion.
“All of this is a powder keg” for House Republican Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, and Minority Whip Steve Scalise, “as they prepare for a poss[ible] GOP take over of the House. And also prepare for it to be by a smaller margin than they once thought. A margin that could make speakership much harder to grasp for McCarthy,” she adds.
In fact, in the more than 24 hours since Graham announced his proposed ban, McCarthy hasn’t said one word about it – despite promising to support a 15-week ban immediately after the Supreme Court struck down Roe v. Wade in June.
Polls show increased support for the right to abortion after this ultra-conservative Supreme Court decided a 50-year old constitutional right actually didn’t exist.
Washington Post congressional reporter Marianna Sotomayor says Steve Scalise, a hard-core right-wing Republican, “was noncommittal about whether a GOP majority would vote on” a 15 week abortion ban, telling her, “First we need to see what our majority looks like.”
That would be a switch – Scalise, from Louisiana, fully supports a complete and total ban on abortion.
“Congressman Scalise believes that human life begins at conception and is fighting to protect the rights of the unborn,” his website boasts, calling abortion part of his “views on Family Values.”
“Congressman Scalise has supported several pro-life bills and is a member of the House Pro Life Caucus. Congressman Scalise has a 100% pro-life voting record with the Louisiana Right to Life Federation and will continue to fight for the rights of the unborn.”
Sotomayor called Scalise’s response a “notable change after top aides signaled it would be prioritized.”
The Washington Post reports “More than 80 GOP House members are also backing a 15-week ban,” which is more than one in three House Republicans.
“Democrats are pouncing on those mixed signals to hammer the simpler message they’ve promoted for months, warning that Republicans want to continue to erode access to abortion even after the high court took away a constitutional right to the procedure,” the Post adds.
“Asked whether they would back Graham’s legislation, many GOP nominees in the closest Senate races gave ambiguous answers or did not respond.”
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi in Punchbowl News’ Wednesday morning email newsletter said she fully expects Democrats will not only keep the majority but add seats.
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Embattled Trump-Appointed DHS Inspector Was Given Phones of Secret Service Agents in July, Raising ‘New Questions’: Report
Senior Secret Service leadership confiscated the cell phones of 24 agents and handed them over to the embattled Trump-appointed Inspector General of the Dept. of Homeland Security as he was launching his criminal investigation into the deleted text message scandal. The Secret Service, DHS, and former Trump officials at the Pentagon have been under fire after the IG, Joseph Cuffari, belatedly revealed texts from January 5 and 6, 2021, had been deleted.
“The agency handed over the phones ‘shortly after’ a July 19 letter was sent by Inspector General Joseph Cuffari’s office,” NBC News reports.
“The revelation that Cuffari’s office has had access to the phones since late July or August raises new questions about the progress of his criminal investigation into the missing text messages and what, if anything, the public may be able to learn about communications between agents on Jan. 6, 2021,” NBC adds.
Cuffari reportedly learned in December of 2021 that the cell phones of Secret Service agents directly involved in protective operations on the day of the insurrection, had been wiped and text messages deleted. He did not report this to Congress until July of 2022, despite his staff taking action.
CNN, however, has reported Cuffari actually learned of the deleted texts in May of 2021, which if accurate would mean he waited more than a year to inform Congress. Nor did he inform the National Archives, which is required by law to retain those records.
Cuffari has been seen by some as covering for Trump loyalists. His own staff is calling for his firing.
“Department of Homeland Security (DHS) watchdog staff recently called on President Joe Biden to remove their boss, Inspector General Joseph Cuffari, according to a blistering letter obtained by the Project On Government Oversight,” POGO reported last week. “‘The highest priorities of an inspector general are integrity and independence,’ states the letter. ‘IG Cuffari and his inner circle of senior leaders have fallen short in these areas time and time again.'”
In April of 2021 The Washington Post reported Cuffari “blocked investigations proposed by career staff last year to scrutinize the [Secret Service’s] handling of the George Floyd protests in Lafayette Square and the spread of the coronavirus in its ranks, according to documents and people with knowledge of his decisions.”
Noted political scientist Norman Ornstein, who sits on the POGO board, in late July called the situation a “coverup of treason.”
POGO, he wrote, “has been calling for a long time for the resignation of DHS IG Joseph Cuffari. He sat on the information of missing texts from the top DHS ‘acting’ officials, put there by Trump to do his bidding. Stinks to high heaven. Coverup of treason.”
DOJ Demands Return of Emails Peter Navarro Sent From Private Account for Government Business
The Department of Justice is seeking a court order to compel Peter Navarro to return government documents he took after leaving the Trump administration.
Investigators are seeking the return of emails he sent while working on the White House coronavirus response, which they say were sent from a private account for government business to discuss ventilators, activating National Guard units, and the use of hydroxychloroquine as a COVID-19 treatment, reported CNN.
“There is no genuine dispute of fact that Dr. Navarro used at least one unofficial email account to conduct official business, that those records are the property of the United States, and that Dr. Navarro has refused to return the records to the United States. Indeed, his counsel has expressly admitted as much,” wrote Justice Department lawyers.
“Because Dr. Navarro remains in possession of property that belongs to the United States,” the lawyers added, “this Court should issue a writ of replevin requiring Dr. Navarro to return what he wrongfully continues to possess.”
The National Archives discovered the emails were missing after the DOJ sued Navarro earlier this year in a records dispute related to a House investigation.
No ‘Semblance of a Campaign’: Five of Trump’s Candidates for Governor Air Zero TV Ads Combined
Former President Donald Trump’s picks for governor in five states are facing media scrutiny after failing to air a single television advertisement since winning their primaries.
In a report on Monday, The New York Times revealed that Pennsylvania candidate Doug Mastriano “is being heavily outspent by his Democratic rival, has had no television ads on the air since May.”
“There’s no sign of cavalry coming to his aid, either: The Republican Governors Association, which is helping the party’s nominees in Arizona, Michigan and six other states, has no current plans to assist Mr. Mastriano, according to people with knowledge of its deliberations,” the paper added.
Matt Brouillette, the president of a conservative advocacy group, slammed Mastriano in remarks to the Times.
“I can’t even assess things because I don’t see a campaign,” Brouillette said. “I’ve not seen anything that is even a semblance of a campaign.”
According to the report, Mastriano’s lackluster campaign is not unusual among Trump’s preferred candidates.
“Along with Mr. Mastriano in Pennsylvania, Trump-backed candidates for governor in five other states — Arizona, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts and Michigan — have combined to air zero television advertisements since winning their primaries,” the report said.
Over the weekend, Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) vowed to campaign against Mastriano and other Trump-endorsed candidates who push lies about the 2020 presidential election.
“I think we have to do everything we can in ’22 to make sure those people don’t get elected,” she told the Texas Tribune Festival. “We have to make sure [Doug] Mastriano doesn’t win.”
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