Thursday, October 31, 2019

Last Call For It's About Suppression, Con't

Democrats, realizing that voter suppression is still robbing millions of Americans of the right to vote (and the fact that most of those voters being disenfranchised happen to be Democratic) are taking to the courts with new efforts to battle Republican efforts in red states.

Democratic groups launched a blitz of voting rights lawsuits in three states this week, in a likely sign of how aggressive the party intends to be in challenging voting restrictions ahead of the 2020 elections.

The three suits target different policies and states, but share a common thread: They all take aim at laws that place restrictions on people who seek to cast ballots in ways other than in person on Election Day. Those policies could play a big role in 2020, when experts expect record-setting voter turnout.

Two of the federal suits filed this week came from state Democratic parties in North Carolina and Texas, as well as the Democratic campaign arms of the House and Senate. In Texas, the groups want to strike down a state law that prohibits temporary polling places during early voting. The law, the groups say, makes it more difficult for college students and rural voters to cast a ballot. The relatively new law follows increased voter turnout both overall and among young people in Texas.

“The gains Texas made in boosting turnout prove that when we remove obstacles to voting, more people cast their ballots ― and that’s a good thing,” Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), the chair of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, said in a statement Wednesday. “We won’t stand by while others work to disenfranchise Texans who want to lawfully participate in our democracy and will fight to protect their rights as well as the integrity of the early voting program.”

In North Carolina, the groups are challenging a new state law eliminating early voting on the Saturday before Election Day ― a popular day to cast ballots, especially among young voters and voters of color. (The lawsuit could be mooted after North Carolina lawmakers approved a measure this week to restore early voting that day.)

Priorities USA, a Democratic super PAC, also filed a federal suit in Michigan this week challenging the state law that requires election officials to throw out an absentee ballot if they determine the signature on it doesn’t match the one on file. The suit argues that signatures change over time, and that clerks are not handwriting experts and get no guidance on how to review signatures, which could result in them throwing out ballots from valid voters. It’s not clear how many ballots have been rejected because of the policy.

Marc Elias, known as a top Democratic election lawyer, is helping represent the plaintiffs in all three cases. Elias teased on Twitter that more lawsuits are coming, but did not respond to a request for comment for this story.

Like I said, it's a start.  It's going to take decades to roll back the damage from the Trump era, and Democrats have to get started now.  It's good to see them doing so.

The Reach To Impeach, Con't

Nancy Pelosi's vote to set the ground rules for impeachment hearings passed easily this morning but along party lines, with two Democrats voting no and independent Justin Amash, run out of the GOP, voting yes in the 232-196 final tally.

At issue is whether Trump abused the power of his office to pressure a foreign leader to investigate his domestic political rivals.

In remarks before the vote, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) described the impeachment inquiry as a “solemn” and “prayerful” process — “not cause for any glee or comfort.”

At the same time, Pelosi said, “I don’t know why Republicans are afraid of the truth.”

“Every member should support the American people hearing the facts for themselves,” she said in a floor speech. “That is what this vote is about. It’s about the truth. And what is at stake in all of this is nothing less than our democracy.”

Republicans immediately moved the goalposts of "why won't you formalize the impeachment process?!?" to the vicinity of Saturn.

The White House blasted Democrats’ “unhinged obsession with this illegitimate impeachment proceeding” in a statement following the vote.

“The Democrats are choosing every day to waste time on a sham impeachment — a blatantly partisan attempt to destroy the President,” press secretary Stephanie Grisham stated.

Trump, who had no public events on his daily schedule, tweeted: “The Greatest Witch Hunt In American History!”

House Republicans echoed the White House in their criticism, describing the inquiry as an effort aimed at removing Trump from office. 
“Democrats are trying to impeach the president because they are scared they can’t defeat him at the ballot box,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said on the floor before the vote, calling the opposing party’s approach a “disaster for democracy.”

“To my colleagues on the other side, I say this: Give the people back their power. Let them choose the next leader of the free world. Follow the principles of our Constitution. And do not dilute our democracy by interfering in elections from Washington,” McCarthy said.

The House’s resolution clears the way for nationally televised hearings as Democrats look to make their case to the American people that Trump should be impeached.

Still "illegitimate, illegal, unconstitutional and un-American" even with the formal vote, according to the GOP.  Surprise!  Still, we all know this is going to a Senate trial, and Trump is already setting the stage for jury tampering.

President Donald Trump is rewarding senators who have his back on impeachment — and sending a message to those who don't to get on board.

Trump is tapping his vast fundraising network for a handful of loyal senators facing tough reelection bids in 2020. Each of them has signed onto a Republican-backed resolution condemning the inquiry as “unprecedented and undemocratic.”
Conspicuously absent from the group is Maine Sen. Susan Collins, a politically vulnerable Republican who’s refused to support the resolution and avoided taking a stance on impeachment. With his new push, Trump is exerting leverage over a group he badly needs in his corner with an impeachment trial likely coming soon to the Senate — but that also needs him.

Republican senators on the ballot next year are lagging in fundraising, stoking uncertainty about the GOP’s hold on the chamber, and could use the fundraising might of the president. Trump’s political operation has raked in over $300 million this year.

On Wednesday, the Trump reelection campaign sent a fundraising appeal to its massive email list urging donors to provide a contribution that would be divided between the president and Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner, Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst, and North Carolina Sen. Thom Tillis. Each of the senators are supporting the anti-impeachment resolution despite being endangered in 2020.

“If we don’t post strong fundraising numbers,” the message warned, “we won't be able to defend the President from this baseless Impeachment WITCH HUNT.”

Next week, Trump will lend a hand to Georgia Sen. David Perdue, a staunch ally who has also spoken out against impeachment. On Nov. 8, the president will host an Atlanta fundraising lunch that will jointly benefit his campaign, the Republican National Committee, and Perdue’s reelection effort. Attendees are being asked to give up to $100,000, according to an invitation obtained by POLITICO.
Trump is also set to appear next week at a reception for Senate Leadership Fund, a super PAC closely aligned with Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and party leadership.

The offensive comes as Trump presses Republicans to remain united behind him. During a cabinet meeting last week, the president implored Republicans to “get tougher and fight” while lamenting that Democrats “stick together. You never see them break off.

So the President is fundraising to buy off Republican senators with millions in fundraising cash as long as they support his acquittal before the Senate trial even begins.

Seems about right.

Deportation Nation, Con't

The Trump regime has finally found a loophole in the law governing who is eligible to fill federal cabinet appointments big enough to drive a Ken Cuccinelli nomination through for Secretary of Homeland Security, but the problem is the same one from six months ago: Republican senators hate the guy, and he doesn't even have 50 votes for confirmation.

Cuccinelli, acting head of the relatively obscure U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, is one of the president’s top lieutenants because of his aggressive immigration agenda. But he is loathed by McConnell and other Republicans to the point that he probably could not be confirmed for a permanent job.
Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) said he has heard "doubts" about Senate Republicans' appetite to see Cuccinelli elevated and Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) said "he’d have difficulty being confirmed” to a permanent slot and that putting him in an acting role would be "a problem."

“We need somebody who knows the department really well. Somebody who understands the complexities and the realities of the challenges of balancing all that has," she said.

Trump has been pushed to give the job to Cuccinelli, a newcomer to the administration who has quickly developed direct access to the president, according to people familiar with the situation.

“If Ken was as liked by the White House as he thinks he is, he would’ve been nominated months ago," said a senior administration official. "The problem for Ken is that he is a nonstarter with Mitch McConnell and has a less than zero chance of being confirmed by the Senate.”

But Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, the most senior Republican in the Senate, said under the Federal Vacancies Reform Act there's no legal way to put Cuccinelli in the position after acting DHS Secretary Kevin McAleenan leaves his post.

“There’s some opposition to Senate confirmation. I have not heard anything about some go-around. But it’s my understanding that the existing law would not permit him to” lead the organization, Grassley said in an interview. “I don’t know how you get around that. I don’t think it’s possible because of what the law says, not because of anything else.”

The administration is considering bypassing a federal law governing agency succession that makes Cuccinelli ineligible for acting secretary by naming someone to be assistant secretary of the Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction Office, which was recently vacated, and then elevating that person to be the acting secretary of Homeland Security, according to two people familiar with the situation. The loophole comes from language from a bipartisan bill that was inserted into the National Defense Authorization Act in fiscal year 2017, according to a person familiar with the situation. The New York Times first reported the effort to appoint Cuccinelli.

These guys really, really want Cuccinelli atop DNS, so he can start the mass deportations during an election year, something to get Trump's base all fired up surely.  We're going to see very soon who's in charge of the Senate GOP, Mitch McConnell or Donald Trump.

Trump loses this fight unless he's willing to slag McConnell's re-election chances.  He may just do it.  We'll see.


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