Headlines: October 14, 2020
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The Senate confirmation hearings of Judge Amy Coney Barrett for the U.S. Supreme Court continued into their third day on Wednesday as lawmakers from both parties asked questions about her positions. Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, who four years ago insisted against filling a Supreme Court seat in an election year, opened proceedings by affirming Barrett as a pro-life conservative woman. He also shocked observers by referring to the “good old days of segregation.” Senator Graham later claimed he was simply being sarcastic. Seeing the danger to reproductive rights if Barrett is confirmed to the court, more than 60 prosecutors and Attorneys General signed a pledge saying they will not prosecute abortion as a crime if Roe Vs. Wade is overturned.
On Tuesday Senator Kamala Harris was among the Democrats who grilled Barrett on issues including abortion. Harris also asked Barrett about her position on the Affordable Care Act and asked if she remembered Trump repeatedly saying out loud that he wanted to overturn the law. Barrett claimed to have missed Trump’s vociferous promises to “repeal and replace Obamacare.” Senator Masie Hirono also took Barrett to task about her use of the phrase “sexual preference” instead of “sexual orientation” when referring to the LGBTQ community. And, in response to a question by Senator Amy Klobuchar about whether she understood voter intimidation to be illegal, Barrett refused to give a straight answer. In a question from Republican Senator John Kennedy about climate change Barrett once more refused to take a position. Several commentators pointed out that her evasiveness mirrored Republican talking points on the issue of climate change.
In other news, Democratic Presidential nominee Joe Biden will hold a town hall on Thursday hosted by ABC. The event is in lieu of the second presidential debate that was scheduled but that President Trump pulled out of because he did not want to participate in a virtual event. NBC has now agreed to offer Trump a platform where he can speak unchallenged and uncontested in a town hall that will take place at the same time as Biden’s ABC appearance. During his political rally in Johnstown, Pennsylvania on Tuesday Trump continued to spew masses of misinformation and at one point asked suburban women to please like him because he helped keep their neighborhoods rich and white.
In his continued attacks on Biden, Trump took aim at the former Vice President’s age even though he is only 4 years older than Trump. Trump tweeted a meme mocking Biden as elderly and disabled. Biden retorted during his rally that Trump sees elderly voters as “expendable” and “forgettable” considering his failures on the Covid-19 pandemic that is more deadly to elder patients. In fact now the White House appears to be leaning toward a dangerous strategy around the virus that is erroneously called “herd immunity” but in fact simply means doing nothing and letting people get ill and die. According to the Washington Post are reporting that “Maverick scientists who call for allowing the coronavirus to spread freely…met last week with Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and Scott Atlas, a neuroradiologist who has emerged as an influential adviser to President Trump on the pandemic.” The idea is being promoted by scientists who unveiled a declaration backing so-called “herd immunity” at a libertarian think tank-backed event. But it has now been revealed that among the signatories are several fake names. About a hundred or so Democratic lawmakers in the House have signed on to a letter that backs international cooperation as a way to tackle the virus and a subsequent vaccine.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has rejected the White House’s $1.2 trillion plan for Covid economic relief saying in an contentious interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer that the needs of the American people, “are not addressed in the President’s proposal.” Progressive lawmakers like California’s Ro Khanna had urged Pelosi to accept the deal.
Attorney General William Barr’s long-touted probe into whether Obama-era officials disclosed the identities of people in national security documents has come up with nothing. The Washington Post which first reported the story, concluded that the probe had ended without any charges or even a report. Trump had demanded the investigation and described it as the, “Greatest political crime in the history of our country.”
Meanwhile the Justice Department has moved to try to seize the profits from book sales written by a now-estranged friend of First Lady Melania Trump. The DOJ says that author Stephanie Winston Wolkoff broke the terms of her non-disclosure agreement the profits from her memoir were not hers to keep.
The Supreme Court has ruled that the U.S. Census can be temporarily halted ahead of schedule, granting President Trump a victory. The New York Times explained that the move was akin to, “effectively shutting down what has been the most contentious and litigated census in memory and setting the stage for a bitter fight over how to use its numbers for the apportionment of the next Congress.” And the Trump administration has appealed to the Supreme Court to block a subpoena for his tax records.
Numerous reports indicate that Michael Reinoehl, the Northwest activist who described himself as “Antifa,” was killed by federal officers without warning during his arrest. While official reports claimed he fired at the “fugitive task force” of U.S. Marshals sent to arrest him, dozens of witnesses have told news outlets that the officers fired a volley of shots in 15 seconds with no warning, killing Reinoehl. Trump had celebrated his killing as “retribution,” in a shocking case of what can be viewed as an extra-judicial assassination.
And finally, early voting has begun in Texas and thousands of people reportedly lined up outside polling places to cast their ballots. Texan voters broke records casting a million ballots on the first day alone. Gov. Greg Abbott’s decision to place only one ballot drop box per county for mail-in ballots is still being litigated in courts. In California, the state GOP has dug in its heels on placing unofficial ballot boxes to collect votes in various locations. The party is refusing to comply with a cease-and-desist order from state officials.