House Democrats elected their new leadership team Wednesday, ushering in a younger generation of leaders after Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer decided to step aside after Democrats narrowly lost the majority this month.
Pelosi, 82, of California, the first female speaker of the House, will pass the torch to Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., 52, who ran unopposed for minority leader and will make history as the first Black lawmaker to lead a political party’s caucus in either chamber.
"Today, with immense pride, I stood in front of the House Democratic Caucus as a candidate for Democratic Leader, and I am eternally grateful for the trust my colleagues placed in me with their votes," Jeffries said in a statement.
Jeffries’ top deputy will be Rep. Katherine Clark, D-Mass., 59, a progressive who served under Jeffries as vice chair of the Democratic Caucus and rose to assistant speaker this Congress. She was elected minority whip, the party’s top vote counter.
Rounding out the trio of new leaders is Rep. Pete Aguilar, D-Calif., 43, a Congressional Hispanic Caucus member and former mayor who was elected Democratic Caucus chairman — the role Jeffries has held for the past four years.
The election of Jeffries, Clark and Aguilar represents a changing of the guard for House Democrats who have seen the powerful triumvirate of Pelosi, Hoyer, D-Md., 83, and Jim Clyburn, D-S.C., 82, occupy top leadership posts for the past two decades.
“This is a moment of transition,” Jeffries told a small group of reporters in the Capitol on Tuesday night. “We stand on the shoulders of giants, but are also looking forward to being able to do what’s necessary at this moment to advance the issues.”
Of the current “Big Three” Democrats, only Clyburn, the current majority whip, has opted to stay in leadership in the new Congress. He will run for the job of “assistant leader,” which has been considered the No. 3 post in the minority in the past but will shift down to the No. 4 job this Congress.
Wednesday, November 30, 2022
Former Trump adviser Stephen Miller testified on Tuesday to a federal grand jury in Washington, DC, as part of the January 6, 2021, investigation, CNN has learned, making him the first known witness to testify since the Justice Department appointed a special counsel to oversee the criminal investigations around the former president.
Miller was at the federal courthouse in downtown Washington for several hours throughout Tuesday, according to a person familiar with the investigation. January 6 lead prosecutor Thomas Windom was spotted at the same federal courthouse on Tuesday.
Windom is expected to join the newly created Special Counsel’s Office led by longtime public corruption prosecutor Jack Smith and will continue leading the investigation into former President Donald Trump’s role in efforts to impede the transfer of power following the 2020 election.
Federal investigators have for months sought information from Trump’s inner circle in the White House, attempting to gather insight into Trump’s state of mind before his supporters rioted on January 6.
Miller, a former White House speechwriter and senior adviser to Trump, could provide a firsthand account of the former president’s preparations for his speech at the Ellipse in Washington on January 6, including how he wanted to inspire his supporters, many of whom went on to attack the Capitol and disrupt Congress.
Miller was first subpoenaed in the federal criminal investigation months ago.
Former Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway met for nearly five hours Monday with investigators on the House committee probing the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol.
The committee did not publicly issue Conway a subpoena, and aides refused to comment on whether she was issued one privately. The panel declined to comment on her appearance Monday.
The closed-door meeting took place at the O’Neill House Office Building, where Conway was seen entering a conference room with attorney Emmet Flood, a lawyer in former President Donald Trump’s White House.
Conway spoke to the committee on the record, two sources familiar with her appearance said.
Speaking to reporters around 3 p.m. after the meeting ended, Conway said she did not invoke the Fifth Amendment at any point Monday.
Earlier, when Conway left the meeting room for a break, she told reporters, “I’m here voluntarily.” Asked by a reporter when she last spoke with Trump, Conway said he called her last week.
Conway worked as a senior counselor to Trump from the beginning of his term through August 2020. She decided to leave the administration because, she said, she needed to focus on her family. She also was a campaign manager for Trump's 2016 presidential bid.
Conway told reporters Monday that she is not working on Trump's 2024 campaign, and she refused to detail previous discussions with Trump about the 2020 election.
The Supreme Court of South Carolina has ordered former Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows to testify before a special grand jury investigating efforts to overturn the 2020 election in Georgia.
“We have reviewed the arguments raised by Appellant and find them to be manifestly without merit,” the South Carolina Supreme Court justices wrote in their opinion.
The decision upholds a ruling by a lower court in South Carolina, where Meadows resides, which determined he was “material and necessary to the investigation.”
Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis is spearheading the special purpose grand jury investigation into attempts to manipulate Georgia’s 2020 election results. The probe was prompted by the infamous call between then-President Donald Trump and Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, in which Trump requested that he “find” the nearly 12,000 votes that would secure his victory in the state. But the investigation has grown to include the fake electors plot, the presentations made by Trump allies to Georgia lawmakers that promoted bogus voter fraud claims and other Trump-world machinations from that period.
The Atlanta-area investigators, in demanding Meadows’ testimony, pointed to his involvement in the Trump-Raffensperger call and to a December 2020 White House meeting about election fraud claims that was touted by Meadows. Their filings also reference his visit to a site where an audit of Georgia’s election was underway and emails Meadows sent to Justice Department officials about unsubstantiated fraud allegations.
A spokesperson for Willis declined to comment.
An attorney and a spokesman for Meadows did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The Senate passed landmark legislation on Tuesday to mandate federal recognition for same-sex marriages, as a lame-duck Congress mustered a notable moment of bipartisanship before Democrats were to lose their unified control of Capitol Hill.
The 61-to-36 vote put the bill on track to become law in the final weeks before Republicans assume the majority in the House of Representatives at the start of the new Congress in January. It marked one of the final major legislative achievements for Democrats before Republicans shift the focus in the House to conducting investigations of President Biden’s administration and family members.
The bill must now win final approval by the House in a vote expected as soon as next week, which would clear it for Mr. Biden, who said he looked forward to signing it alongside the bipartisan coalition that helped shepherd it through the Senate.
In a statement, the president said the vote reaffirmed “a fundamental truth: Love is love, and Americans should have the right to marry the person they love.”
There was little question that the bill’s embrace in the Senate, where proponents had a breakthrough this month in drawing a dozen Republican supporters and overcoming a filibuster, gave it the momentum required to become law.
The bill would repeal the Defense of Marriage Act, which denied federal benefits to same-sex couples. It prohibits states from denying the validity of an out-of-state marriage based on sex, race or ethnicity. But in a condition that Republican backers insisted upon, it would guarantee that religious organizations would not be required to provide any goods or services for the celebration of any marriage, and could not lose tax-exempt status or other benefits for refusing to recognize same-sex unions.
“Because of our work together, the rights of tens of millions of Americans will be strengthened under federal law. That’s an accomplishment we should all be proud of,” said Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York and the majority leader.
Mr. Schumer audibly choked back tears on the Senate floor as he described how his daughter, who is married to a woman and expecting a baby with her wife, had lived in fear that their union could be reversed.
“I want them to raise their child with all the love and security that every child deserves,” Mr. Schumer said, noting that he was wearing the same purple tie he had worn to their wedding. “The bill we are passing today will ensure their rights won’t be trampled upon simply because they are in a same-sex marriage.”
Passage of the legislation in the Senate marked a watershed moment for a bill that began as a messaging exercise by Democrats determined to show their commitment to protecting same-sex marriage rights amid fresh threats from a conservative-leaning Supreme Court but has morphed into a broadly supported effort on the brink of becoming law.
Tuesday, November 29, 2022
A federal jury on Tuesday convicted Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes of seditious conspiracy for leading a months-long plot to unleash political violence to prevent the inauguration of President Biden, culminating in the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol.
The panel of seven men and five women deliberated for three days before finding Rhodes and a co-defendant guilty of conspiring to oppose by force the lawful transition of presidential power. Rhodes and all four co-defendants on trial were also convicted of obstructing Congress as it met to confirm the results of the 2020 election. Both offenses are punishable by up to 20 years in prison.
Rhodes, in a dark suit and black eye-patch from an old gun accident, watched impassively as verdicts were read for the defendants facing a 13-count indictment.
The indictment brought against Rhodes, 56, and other Oath Keepers associates in January was the first time the U.S. government leveled the historically rare charge of seditious conspiracy in the massive Jan. 6 investigation. He is the highest-profile figure to face trial in connection with rioting by angry Trump supporters who injured scores of officers and ransacked offices, forcing the evacuation of lawmakers.
Rhodes and followers, dressed in combat-style gear, converged on the Capitol after staging an “arsenal” of weapons at nearby hotels, ready to take up arms at Rhodes’s direction, the government charged. Rhodes’s defense said he and co-defendants came to Washington as bodyguards and peacekeepers, bringing firearms only in case Trump met their demand to mobilize private militia to stop Biden from becoming president.
Analysts called the outcome a vindication for the Justice Department.
“The jury’s verdict on seditious conspiracy confirms that January 6, 2021, was not just ‘legitimate political discourse’ or a peaceful protest that got out of hand. This was a planned, organized, violent assault on the lawful authority of the U.S. government and the peaceful transfer of power,” said Randall D. Eliason, a former federal prosecutor who teaches law at George Washington University.
“Now the only remaining question is how much higher did those plans go, and who else might be held criminally responsible,” Eliason said.
The verdict in Rhodes’s case likely will be taken as a bellwether for two remaining Jan. 6 seditious conspiracy trials set for December against five other Oath Keepers and leaders of the Proud Boys, including the longtime chairman Henry ‘Enrique’ Tarrio. Both Rhodes and Tarrio are highly visible leaders of the alt-right or far-right anti-government movements, and were highlighted at hearings probing the attack earlier this year by the House Jan. 6 committee.
Democrats may finally, finally, be getting rid of Iowa as the primary bellwether.
The list of states with the biggest say in Democratic presidential contests could get a big shake-up this week.
A flurry of public and private lobbying to reformat the longtime early-state lineup of Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina kicked off again after the midterms, with the Democratic National Committee’s group reviewing the order set to meet later this week. Key Democratic leaders have been bombarded with phone calls and memos in recent days, while some elected officials, like Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), took their state’s case to the cable news airwaves.
The behind-the-scenes jockeying has intensified, but the most important player in the drama — the White House — has remained tight-lipped about how the schedule should shake out, according to several Democratic operatives involved in the process.
States like Michigan and Minnesota are trying to push in, while Nevada is making a play for first-in-the-nation status over New Hampshire. The committee has still left open the possibility of adding a fifth calendar to the slate, while it’s also been suggested that two states could hold their contests on the same day. It’s unclear just how much will change. But there is at least one clear preference from many Democratic leaders, both outside and inside these party deliberations: that Iowa be scrapped from its coveted first slot.
“I don’t think there’s any way Iowa stays and there’s no reason for Iowa to stay,” said one Democrat familiar with the process of the DNC’s Rules and Bylaws Committee, the group charged with reordering the calendar. “From an electoral standpoint, we’ve lost Iowa completely.”
Later this week, the rules committee will meet again in Washington, D.C., to discuss the issue. They’re expected to move forward with a proposal for the 2024 presidential nominating calendar at the meeting, according to sources familiar with the agenda, which will then go before the full DNC for a vote in late January or early February.
But there is frustration among some DNC members about the silence from the White House.
“If the president says he wants this state or that state in the early window, then I’m going to support it because he’s the leader of the party and I would imagine every other [rules committee] member feels the same way,” said one DNC member, who was granted anonymity to speak candidly. “So, it’s frustrating when we’ve invested all this time, energy and money into this whole process and the White House has given us nothing, even though we’re only days away from making a decision.”
“It’s almost like Kabuki theater,” the person continued.
Some of the outstanding questions facing the DNC were reshaped by November’s midterm results.
One is which state would replace Iowa, representing the Midwestern region in the early-state lineup. Both Michigan and Minnesota are seen as leading contenders for the slot, positions that were further strengthened by the November results. Democrats flipped both of Michigan’s state legislative chambers and reelected Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, while Democrats in Minnesota also gained trifecta control there by flipping the state Senate and reelecting Gov. Tim Walz.
As a proud pro-labor President, I'm reluctant to override the ratification procedures and views of those who voted against the agreement.— President Biden (@POTUS) November 29, 2022
But in this case – where the economic impact of a shutdown would hurt millions – I believe Congress must use its powers to adopt this deal.
If a deal is not reached -- or forced by Congress -- then a strike could begin after the Dec. 9 deadline. Outgoing Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a statement Monday night that the House will soon take up such legislation and won't modify the agreed-upon terms from September.
Like Biden, she said, "We are reluctant to bypass the standard ratification process for the Tentative Agreement -- but we must act to prevent a catastrophic nationwide rail strike, which would grind our economy to a halt."
The tentative contract included a 24% compounded wage increase and $5,000 total in lump-sum payments.
Pelosi praised certain elements of that deal but said, "Democrats are continuing to fight for more of railroad workers' priorities, including paid sick leave." Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., a member of the Democratic caucus, has said his colleagues should do more for workers.
The two largest unions had initially highlighted how the tentative agreement included "wage increases, bonuses, with no increases to insurance copays and deductibles" and improved time-off policies, which had become a sticking point.
While eight of the 12 rail unions then went on to formally ratify the agreement, four rejected it -- including the largest in the nation, with 50.8% of its workers voting against the deal.
Some of the workers' groups who rejected the agreement cited frustration with compensation and working conditions, particularly a lack of paid sick days.
Monday, November 28, 2022
Officials in a rural, Republican-controlled county in Arizona have voted to delay certifying the results of this month's midterm elections and miss the state's legal deadline of Monday, despite finding no legitimate problems with the local counts.
The move by the board of supervisors for Cochise County in southeastern Arizona, near Tucson, puts more than 47,000 Arizonans' votes at risk and is expected to set off court action. The state's secretary of state's office plans to file a lawsuit on Monday, spokesperson Sophia Solis said by email.
"There is no reason for us to delay," said the board's chair, Ann English, a Democrat, whose vote was outnumbered by the county's two Republican supervisors, Tom Crosby and Peggy Judd.
Before Monday's vote, Arizona's state election director, Kori Lorick, said in a statement that the state's secretary of state "will use all available legal remedies to compel compliance with Arizona law and protect Cochise County voters' right to have their votes counted" if the board failed to complete its "non-discretionary duty."
Board members who voted against certification would face the very real prospect of civil and criminal penalties. And in all likelihood, they would achieve nothing, as Arizona courts would almost certainly step in and order the board to abide by its legal obligations and certify the results.
But in the unlikely event that the courts didn’t intervene, the board’s gambit would only hurt the voters of Cochise County and the candidates that they support.
If the board has still refused to certify by the Dec. 5 deadline for state certification (which can be extended to Dec. 8, but no later), the law requires that the secretary of state still move ahead with the statewide canvass of results. In that case, the statewide canvass would not include the results from Cochise County, which is heavily Republican.
This mass disenfranchisement of Cochise County voters − at the hands of their own board of supervisors − could result in flipping the final results in a number of tight races, with Republican candidates and voters paying the price. For example, Republican Juan Ciscomani would likely lose his congressional race to Democrat Kirsten Engel.
That decision could prove decisive in the race for state superintendent, handing Democrats a win over their Republican opponents. This outcome would be even more likely if another heavily Republican county, such as Mohave County, followed the lead of Cochise County and likewise refused to certify.
A swing of 3,340 votes from GOP to Dem in the 5 closest House races would have allowed Dems to hold the House.— Tom Bonier (@tbonier) November 27, 2022
Everything you need to know about the speed which we've fully transformed from the Information Age of the previous four decades to the Disinformation Age in the last few years is found in Merriam-Webster's "Word of the Year" for 2022: Gaslighting.
“Gaslighting” — behavior that’s mind manipulating, grossly misleading, downright deceitful — is Merriam-Webster’s word of the year.
Lookups for the word on merriam-webster.com increased 1,740% in 2022 over the year before. But something else happened. There wasn’t a single event that drove significant spikes in curiosity, as it usually goes with the chosen word of the year.
The gaslighting was pervasive.
“It’s a word that has risen so quickly in the English language, and especially in the last four years, that it actually came as a surprise to me and to many of us,” said Peter Sokolowski, Merriam-Webster’s editor at large, in an exclusive interview with The Associated Press ahead of Monday’s unveiling.
“It was a word looked up frequently every single day of the year,” he said.
There were deepfakes and the dark web. There were deep states and fake news. And there was a whole lot of trolling.
Merriam-Webster’s top definition for gaslighting is the psychological manipulation of a person, usually over an extended period of time, that “causes the victim to question the validity of their own thoughts, perception of reality, or memories and typically leads to confusion, loss of confidence and self-esteem, uncertainty of one’s emotional or mental stability, and a dependency on the perpetrator.”
More broadly, the dictionary defines the word thusly: “The act or practice of grossly misleading someone especially for one’s own advantage.”
Gaslighting is a heinous tool frequently used by abusers in relationships — and by politicians and other newsmakers. It can happen between romantic partners, within a broader family unit and among friends. It can be a corporate tactic, or a way to mislead the public. There’s also “medical gaslighting,” when a health care professional dismisses a patient’s symptoms or illness as “all in your head.”
Despite its relatively recent prominence — including “Gaslighter,” The Chicks’ 2020 album featuring the rousingly angry titular single — the word was brought to life more than 80 years ago with “Gas Light,” a 1938 play by Patrick Hamilton.
It birthed two film adaptations in the 1940s. One, George Cukor’s “Gaslight” in 1944, starred Ingrid Bergman as Paula Alquist and Charles Boyer as Gregory Anton. The two marry after a whirlwind romance and Gregory turns out to be a champion gaslighter. Among other instances, he insists her complaints over the constant dimming of their London townhouse’s gaslights is a figment of her troubled mind. It wasn’t.
The death of Angela Lansbury in October drove some interest in lookups of the word, Sokolowski said. She played Nancy Oliver, a young maid hired by Gregory and told not to bother his “high-strung” wife.
The term gaslighting was later used by mental health practitioners to clinically describe a form of prolonged coercive control in abusive relationships.
“There is this implication of an intentional deception,” Sokolowski said. “And once one is aware of that deception, it’s not just a straightforward lie, as in, you know, I didn’t eat the cookies in the cookie jar. It’s something that has a little bit more devious quality to it. It has possibly an idea of strategy or a long-term plan.”
A boil water notice has been issued for the City of Houston's main water system after a water treatment plant experienced a power outage Sunday morning. City officials say it's going to be several more hours before the problem gets resolved.
Houston Water Director Yvonne Williams Forrest said she thinks it could take until Tuesday morning for the notice to be lifted.
On Sunday at 10:30 a.m., the water pressure dropped below the city's required minimum of 20 PSI due to a power outage at the East Water Purification Plant, according to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.
Forrest said the city's pressure system was never at zero, just below the regulatory limit. That pressure is important because it prevents anything from infiltrating the water system.
Over 2.3 million people are said to be impacted by this notice, which was sent out six hours after the initial outage.
The timeline of this issue has left many people questioning why it took so long for the notice to be issued.
"This is not an instantaneous automatic notice. Just because the power went out, doesn't mean the power went out in the system. We had to verify that the pressure drop was real and reach out to TCEQ. There are a number of steps to take before issuing a boil water notice," Forrest said.
City officials said they are testing the water across the city, collecting samples that will be submitted to the state.
If you get your water from the City of Houston, you are being urged to boil tap water for at least two minutes before consumption. That includes if you're making coffee.
Sunday, November 27, 2022
It has been an interminable month since Elon Musk assumed control of Twitter and showed up in its headquarters while carrying a bathroom sink. (In a leaden pun that foreshadowed what was to come, Musk tweeted, “let that sink in.”) The platform has since shed two-thirds of its workforce; lost half of its top hundred advertisers, including Citigroup, Merck pharmaceuticals, and Chevrolet; witnessed the rushed introduction and abrupt cancellation of a laughable subscription-payment scheme; reinstated the account of a former President who used the platform to promote a violent attack on the United States Capitol; and lost at least more than a million users. Last week, after fourteen years on the platform, I became one of them. Former Twitter users, like digital expats, have turned up on new shores—platforms such as Mastodon and Post News—with hopes of re-creating some semblance of their former online community minus the toxicity that sent them into exile. On November 20th, the Mastodon handle @LauraMartinez posted, “I’m here because Elon broke Twitter,” which was more of a summary of what a great many people felt about the old platform than a zealous endorsement of the buggy, complicated new one.
This is a loss because, for all of Twitter’s flaws, people stuck with it for a reason. A decade ago, when Tony Wang, Twitter’s general manager in the U.K., notably described the platform as the “free speech wing of the free speech party,” he was defending users who had violated British law by sharing the details of public figures who had obtained privacy injunctions from U.K. courts. It was easy in those early days, when the heady afterglow of the Arab Spring still cast social media in a favorable light, to think of Twitter as simply the new frontier of digital democracy. Even after the platform’s unsavory practices, such as its monetization of users’ attention spans and its algorithmic manipulations, became more broadly known, Twitter still offered enough trade-offs to potentially redeem itself.
Scroll back to May 26, 2020, the day after the excruciating video of George Floyd’s murder went viral on the platform. First, a large crowd gathered on the streets of Minneapolis, then in Oakland, and then in Pensacola, and even in Frisco, Texas, and outside the Iowa Statehouse. Online outrage begat outrage in the streets. The flow of communication was lateral, not vertical. People informed their peers about the nature of our government’s failings. Were it not for social media, George Floyd—along with Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor—would likely have joined the long gallery of invisible dead Black people, citizens whose bureaucratized deaths were hidden and ignored. This is what was at stake, quietly and loudly, when Musk acquired Twitter.
The singular virtue of the fiasco over which Musk has presided is the possibility that the outcome will sever, at least temporarily, the American conflation of wealth with intellect. Market valuation is not proof of genius. Ahead of the forty-four-billion-dollar deal that gave Musk private control of Twitter, he proclaimed that he would “unlock” the site’s potential if given the chance. His admirers hailed his interest with glee. Musk has been marketed as a kind of can-do avatar, a magical mix of Marvel comics and Ayn Rand, despite serial evidence to the contrary, like the allegations of abusive treatment of Tesla workers.
Mike Tyson famously observed that “everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” The facile idea was that, as Kara Swisher pointed out on her podcast, Musk was potentially the one person who could solve Twitter’s long-term profitability problem. Such praise paved the way for the current state of affairs, where many, including Musk himself, believe Twitter’s collapse might be imminent. (Swisher, to her credit, later pointed out where Musk went astray, taking particular note of his tweet, which she deemed homophobic, regarding the assault on Paul Pelosi.)
Musk’s vision for Twitter, never entirely coherent, cracked at first contact with economic reality. His disdain for advertising meant that the companies purchasing ads would view him warily. Moreover, his lifting of bans on Twitter’s most truculent users inspired understandable fear from advertisers that their products would appear next to homophobic, racist, sexist or generally misanthropic tweets. Musk’s desire to replace lost ad revenue with subscriptions—while simultaneously reducing content moderation—made even less sense. He, effectively, asked people to pay for membership in a community where they were now more likely to be abused.
Participating in Twitter—with its world-spanning reach, its potential to radically democratize our discourse along with its virtue mobs and trolls—always required a cost-benefit analysis. That analysis began to change, at least for me, immediately after Musk took over. His reinstatement of Donald Trump’s account made remaining completely untenable. Following an absurd Twitter poll about whether Trump should be allowed to return, Musk reinstated the former President. The implication was clear: if promoting the January 6, 2021, insurrection—which left at least seven people dead and more than a hundred police officers injured—doesn’t warrant suspension to Musk, then nothing else on the platform likely could.
Saturday, November 26, 2022
At this point, Donald Trump is trying to "I don't know these guys" on inviting known antisemitic clowns Ye and Nick Fuentes to dine at Mar-a-Lago, and nobody on earth is buying it.
Former President Donald Trump distanced himself Friday from a pre-Thanksgiving dinner at his Mar-a-Lago club in Florida with Ye, formerly known as Kanye West, and white supremacist Nick Fuentes, claiming he didn’t know the identity of the far-right activist who was unexpectedly brought along with the rapper.
“This past week, Kanye West called me to have dinner at Mar-a-Lago. Shortly thereafter, he unexpectedly showed up with three of his friends, whom I knew nothing about,” Trump said Friday in a statement on his Truth Social platform.
“We had dinner on Tuesday evening with many members present on the back patio. The dinner was quick and uneventful,” Trump said. “They then left for the airport.”
A person familiar with the dinner conversation who is not involved in Trump's presidential campaign and two Trump advisers briefed on the dinner corroborated Trump's claim that he didn't know Fuentes' identity when they dined together. The three sources spoke on condition on anonymity given the nature of the controversy.
But despite Trump suggesting that the event was “uneventful,” the fallout over his dinner with Fuentes appears to have thrown Trump’s campaign into damage control mode. The former president took hours to respond publicly after multiple media outlets reported that Fuentes was present at the dinner.
Even the two Trump advisers winced at how a Holocaust denier like Fuentes was able to wind up with Trump at dinner — even if it was by mistake — along with the rapper, who had just had his Twitter account restored but lost major endorsement deals for making antisemitic remarks.
Friday, November 25, 2022
The 2022 midterm elections are over, but they're not "over over" as Republican election deniers plan to flood the zone with recount lawsuits in states like Pennsylvania, and each one that they lose becomes more fodder for "election fraud" as they prepare for 2024.
Doug Mastriano lost by a lot.
But some of his supporters wrongly believe the results are inaccurate, and they think they’ve found a way to do something about it. So now election denial groups are flooding Pennsylvania courts with petitions seeking to force hand recounts under a little-known provision of state election law.
It’s not clear the effort will succeed in requiring counties to retally their votes — some courts have already thrown out the requests — and they certainly won’t give Mastriano, the defeated Republican nominee for governor, the 781,000 votes by which he lost to Democratic Gov.-elect Josh Shapiro. Recounts change election results very little, if at all.
But the baseless efforts threaten to sow confusion about the validity of this month’s election, tie up state courts, and disrupt officials’ ongoing work to audit and certify results by Monday’s deadline. It’s the latest front for an election denial movement that helped lift Mastriano to prominence, and has repeatedly tried to find and exploit vulnerabilities in the state’s election system.
The groups — organizing over social media and some claiming they are working in conjunction with Mastriano’s campaign — filed more than 100 petitions in at least a dozen counties over the last week, according to interviews and court records. Elections officials said they heard of at least 17 more counties where petitions have been filed and records weren’t immediately available.
The petitions largely follow a similar format — and in many cases use the same boilerplate legal document with blank fields for individual filers to complete.
“These orchestrated moves to delay certification of the vote at the county level are a deliberate attempt to flout the will of the people as expressed in the election results,” the Pennsylvania Department of State, which oversees elections, said in a statement.
A precinct’s results can be recounted under state election law if three voters from the precinct pay $50 and file a petition in county court saying they believe “fraud or error” occurred there.
The provision is rarely used. In the past, it has triggered recounts primarily in small, local races, said Democratic elections lawyer Adam Bonin, who has used it in razor-thin races for school board and township commissioner.
“For races that are actually incredibly close — we’re talking about single-digit races for local office — in those circumstances you do want to make sure that every machine’s results were transcribed accurately, that every paper ballot was scanned correctly by the machine, and there were no accidental errors in arithmetic,” Bonin said.
But some elections officials have worried for years that bad-faith actors could attempt to weaponize the law in statewide or national elections. Word started to spread last week among county elections officials that election denial activists were using recount petitions in an organized way for the first time on a large scale.
“It’s their latest bright idea,” one county elections director told The Inquirer, calling it a “merry-go-round of nonsense.”
Thursday, November 24, 2022
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Wednesday thanked European Union’s lawmakers for declaring Russia a “state sponsor of terrorism” and said authorities are doing everything possible to restore energy to the country plunged in darkness as a result of Russian airstrikes.
Earlier in the day, The European Parliament overwhelmingly backed a resolution labeling Russia a state sponsor of terrorism for its invasion of and actions in Ukraine. The non binding but symbolically significant resolution passed in a 494-58 vote with 48 abstentions.
“Today, the European Parliament finally recognized Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism. Thanks to all parliamentarians. And then Russia proved to the whole world that this is true by using 67 rockets against our infrastructure, our energy, and ordinary people”, Zelenskyy said.
He added that authorities at all levels are working hard to restore electricity.
“We will restore everything and get through it all because we are unbreakable people”, he added.
Residents of Ukraine’s bombed capital clutched empty bottles in search of water and crowded into cafés for power and warmth Thursday, switching defiantly into survival mode after new Russian missile strikes a day earlier plunged the city and much of the country into the dark.
In scenes hard to believe in a sophisticated city of 3 million, some Kyiv residents resorted to collecting rainwater from drainpipes, as repair teams labored to reconnect supplies.
Friends and family members exchanged messages to find out who had electricity and water back. Some had one but not the other. The previous day’s aerial onslaught on Ukraine’s power grid left many with neither.
Cafés in Kyiv that by some small miracle had both quickly became oases of comfort on Thursday.
Oleksiy Rashchupkin, a 39-year-old investment banker, awoke to find that water had been reconnected to his third-floor flat but power had not. His freezer thawed in the blackout, leaving a puddle on his floor.
So he hopped in a cab and crossed the Dnieper River from left bank to right, to a café that he’d noticed had stayed open after previous Russian strikes. Sure enough, it was serving hot drinks, hot food and the music and WiFi was on.
“I’m here because there is heating, coffee and light,” he said. “Here is life.”
Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said about 70% of the Ukrainian capital was still without power on Thursday morning.
With cold rain falling and the remnants of a previous snowfall still on the streets, the mood was grim but steely. The winter promises to be a long one. But Ukrainians say that if Russian President Vladimir Putin’s intention is to break them, then he should think again.
“Nobody will compromise their will and principles just for electricity,” said Alina Dubeiko, 34. She, too, sought out the comfort of another, equally crowded, warm and lit café. Without electricity, heating and water at home, she was determined to keep up her work routine. Adapting to life shorn of its usual comforts, Dubeiko said she uses two glasses of water to wash, then ties her hair in a ponytail and is ready for her working day.
Former VP Mike Pence can certainly continue to stonewall the House January 6th Committee as it heads into its final days, but he's not going to be able to avoid the Justice Department in the same way.
The Justice Department is seeking to question former Vice President Mike Pence as a witness in connection with its criminal investigation into former President Donald J. Trump’s efforts to stay in power after he lost the 2020 election, according to two people familiar with the matter.
Mr. Pence, according to people familiar with his thinking, is open to considering the request, recognizing that the Justice Department’s criminal investigation is different from the inquiry by the House Jan. 6 committee, whose overtures he has flatly rejected.
Complicating the situation is whether Mr. Trump would try to invoke executive privilege to stop him or limit his testimony, a step that he has taken with limited success so far with other former officials.
Mr. Pence was present for some of the critical moments in which Mr. Trump and his allies schemed to keep him in office and block the congressional certification of Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s victory. An agreement for him to cooperate would be the latest remarkable twist in an investigation that is already fraught with legal and political consequences, involving a former president who is now a declared candidate to return to the White House — and whose potential rivals for the 2024 Republican nomination include Mr. Pence..
Thomas Windom, one of the lead investigators examining the efforts to overturn the election, reached out to Mr. Pence’s team in the weeks before Attorney General Merrick B. Garland appointed a special counsel on Friday to oversee the Jan. 6 investigation and a separate inquiry into Mr. Trump’s handling of classified documents, according to one of the people familiar with the matter. Mr. Garland has said that the appointment of the special counsel, Jack Smith, will not slow the investigation.
Officials at the Justice Department declined to comment. A spokesman for Mr. Pence also declined to comment.
The discussions about questioning Mr. Pence are said to be in their early stages. Mr. Pence has not been subpoenaed, and the process could take months, because Mr. Trump can seek to block, or slow, his testimony by trying to invoke executive privilege.
Mr. Trump has cited executive privilege to try to stop other former top officials from talking with investigators. While those efforts have generally been unsuccessful in stopping testimony by the officials to a federal grand jury, they have significantly slowed the process.
Mr. Trump’s efforts to slow or block testimony included asserting executive privilege over testimony from two of Mr. Pence’s top aides: his former chief of staff, Marc Short, and his general counsel, Greg Jacob. But both men returned for grand jury interviews after the Justice Department, in a closed-door court proceeding, fought the effort to apply executive privilege.
Mr. Pence, who rebuffed Mr. Trump’s efforts to enlist him in the plan to block certification of the Electoral College results, has been publicly critical of Mr. Trump’s conduct in the run-up to the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol and on the day of the attack, when members of a pro-Trump mob were chanting “Hang Mike Pence.”
Wednesday, November 23, 2022
A retired Boise police captain — one of multiple officers who brought forward allegations about former Chief Ryan Lee — was scheduled to speak at a conference this weekend held by an organization known for white supremacist views.
Matthew Bryngelson, who retired in August after nearly 24 years with the Boise Police Department, appeared on the American Renaissance Conference speaker list under the apparent pseudonym Daniel Vinyard.
American Renaissance is a website and former print magazine that founder Jared Taylor characterizes as “race realist.” Posts on the site focus on white superiority and arguments that people of color are inherently less intelligent than white people and contribute more to crime and other societal ills.
The conference was held in person in Burns, Tennessee, where local faith leaders denounced the gathering.
Blog posts that appear to be authored by Bryngelson include him recounting the point in his police career when he “became aware of the violent tendencies of Blacks.” Bryngelson did not return a phone call or text from the Idaho Statesman.
This comes nearly two months after Boise Mayor Lauren McLean asked Lee to resign in light of multiple complaints from officers, along with an investigation into allegations that Lee injured a subordinate officer in a neck restraints demonstration last year. Lee is Chinese-American.
Bryngelson’s involvement in the conference sparked backlash online, when Twitter user Molly Conger posted a thread Saturday depicting the speaker list and other ties to American Renaissance. The thread, which has garnered over 1,000 retweets and 4,000 likes, brought Bryngelson’s involvement with the white supremacist group to the Idaho Statesman’s attention.
On the conference webpage, he’s described as “a retired, race-realist police officer with 30 years of experience, including gang enforcement, SWAT, and narcotics detective.” An accompanying photo of Bryngelson, who appears to be wearing his Boise Police Department uniform, is on the webpage. According to a tweet his photo appeared blacked out when the conference was first announced prior to his retirement.
In a statement Sunday afternoon, Boise Mayor Lauren McLean called Bryngelson’s participation in the conference and contributions to American Renaissance “racist, dehumanizing propaganda.”This weekend, I learned of retired Boise Police Department officer Matt Bryngelson's participation in a white nationalist conference and his ongoing contributions to racist, dehumanizing propaganda.— Mayor McLean (@boisemayor) November 20, 2022
“The fact that such an individual could serve in the department for two decades is appalling,” McLean said. “The people of Boise deserve a police department worthy of their investment and trust, and we are launching a full investigation accordingly.”
The Russian response to grievous military losses in Ukraine is "If we cannot have Ukraine, then nobody will."
After just six weeks of intense bombing of energy infrastructure, Russia has battered Ukraine to the brink of a humanitarian disaster this winter as millions of people potentially face life-threatening conditions without electricity, heat or running water.
As the scope of damage to Ukraine’s energy systems has come into focus in recent days, Ukrainian and Western officials have begun sounding the alarm but are also realizing they have limited recourse. Ukraine’s Soviet-era power system cannot be fixed quickly or easily. In some of the worst-hit cities, there is little officials can do other than to urge residents to flee — raising the risk of economic collapse in Ukraine and a spillover refugee crisis in neighboring European countries.
“Put simply, this winter will be about survival,” Dr. Hans Henri P. Kluge, regional director for the World Health Organization, told reporters on Monday in Kyiv, saying the next months could be “life-threatening for millions of Ukrainians.”
Already, snow has fallen across much of Ukraine and temperatures are dipping below freezing in many parts of the country. Dr. Kluge said that 2 million to 3 million Ukrainians were expected to leave their homes “in search of warmth and safety,” though it was unclear how many would remain inside the country.
Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said that about half of the country’s energy infrastructure was “out of order” following the bombardment.
The dire warnings indicate that despite a string of losses on the battlefield, Russia’s airstrikes have wrought destruction that will severely test Ukrainians’ national resolve and sharply raise the costs for Kyiv’s Western allies, who are struggling with spiking energy prices in their own countries.
Military experts said that Russian President Vladimir Putin was trying to compensate for territorial losses, and to create a sense of war fatigue among Ukraine’s European NATO allies in hopes that they will eventually pressure Kyiv to make concessions and slow arms shipments that enabled Ukraine’s victories.
“This is all about the weaponization of refugees,” retired U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges, a former commander of U.S. Army Europe, said in a phone interview.
“By making Ukraine uninhabitable in the winter time, they are potentially sending millions more Ukrainians to Europe,” Hodges said. “That would put pressure on European governments. The hope is that Europe, in turn, would pressure Kyiv.”
No power, no water, no heat, no food. By freezing Ukrainians out of Ukraine, Putin doesn't have to fire a shot on the ground with green Russian conscripts, he can just flatten the rest of the power infrastructure and then offer to help turn back the lights on if Kyiv would just surrender completely.
Putin, in creating a massive humanitarian and refugee crisis, knows exactly what he's doing. The pressure on Kyiv to fold will be immense, because already the European Union is facing a power crisis this winter thanks to Putin. Telling people in Berlin, Prague and Krakow that they have to go without in order to save Kyiv will only work for so long, and it's not like here in the States that the GOP will even want to lift a finger to help.
Putin is counting on support for Ukraine in the EU and the US to crumble under the stress of millions of more refugees, and frankly, I fear the plan will work.
Florida’s top Republican leaders say they are willing to change state law to smooth the way for Gov. Ron DeSantis to run for president in 2024.
Both House Speaker Paul Renner (R-Palm Coast) and Senate President Kathleen Passidomo (R-Naples), both of whom were sworn into their new posts on Tuesday, agreed it would be a “good idea” to make it clear that DeSantis would not have to resign if he wound up becoming the GOP nominee.
DeSantis was reelected to a second four-year term earlier this month after he defeated his Democratic rival by roughly 20 points.
“If an individual who is Florida governor is running for president, I think he should be allowed to do it,” Passidomo told reporters. “I really do. That’s a big honor and a privilege, so it is a good idea.”
While DeSantis has not yet said he will definitely run in 2024, he has emerged as a top potential contender for the job. Some are pressing him to run even though former President Donald Trump has already announced his third bid for the White House. Recent polls have shown support for DeSantis is rising among Republican voters.
Florida law requires anyone running for a new office to put in an irrevocable letter of resignation ahead of qualifying if the terms of the two offices overlap. The law was changed in 2008 to open the door for then-Gov. Charlie Crist to seek the vice presidency, but legislators reversed course four years ago and put back in a place a requirement that someone seeking federal office would have to resign ahead of the actual election.
The 2008 law did include a carve-out for someone whose term is about to end, but that would not apply to DeSantis. The carve-out allowed then-Gov. Rick Scott, who defeated incumbent Sen. Bill Nelson that year, to remain in office until the day DeSantis was inaugurated.
Renner said that proved state legislators had been “inconsistent” about the state’s resign-to-run law, and that was one reason he was open to changing it again.
POLITICO reported earlier this month that those close to DeSantis say he has not made a final decision about running for president, but that if he does, he would likely wait until after the 2023 session that starts in March.
That would also be the time the Florida Legislature, which now has a GOP supermajority in both chambers, would consider changes to state election law. Florida legislators routinely pass election law changes in non-election years.
So yeah, just in case he crashes and burns against Trump, he gets to keep his current job.
Laws are for those people and Democrats.
Tuesday, November 22, 2022
The Supreme Court on Tuesday rejected former President Donald Trump's last-ditch plea to block the release of his tax records to House Democrats, paving the way for their possible disclosure to the lawmakers.
The decision by the court in a brief order noting no dissenting votes means the committee can try to access the documents ahead of the Republican take-over of the House in January. The committee, however, has not said how quickly it expects to get the documents. Upon taking control, Republicans are expected to withdraw the request.
Earlier this month, Chief Justice John Roberts temporarily blocked the Ways and Means panel from accessing Trump’s tax records while the court decided how to act on Trump’s request.
Trump, who, unlike other recent presidents, refused to make his tax returns public amid scrutiny of his business affairs, turned to the justices after an appeals court in Washington refused to intervene. The court has recently rejected similar requests from Trump.
The former president's lawyers contested the House Ways and Means Committee’s assertion that it needed the information to probe how the IRS conducts the auditing process for presidents, saying it did not stand up to scrutiny.
House Democrats, as well as the Biden administration, urged the court to reject Trump's request, saying their demand for the tax documents reflected a valid legislative purpose.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit declined last month to reconsider a three-judge panel’s ruling in August that the Ways and Means Committee could obtain the tax returns.
So after nearly four years, SCOTUS punted, but it's irrelevant now. House Republicans will make sure this information is sealed and discarded as soon as they get control in January.
We'll never see this info unless there's a miraculous leak, and anyone involved in that will be exterminated by the GOP.
It was a good fight, but a better legal maneuver by the courts. Running out 98% of the clock is still enough to win.
I've been telling you about how corrupt Ohio Republicans are ever since they gained a supermajority in the state legislature, and gerrymandered Democrats almost out of existence. Nobody was more surprised than I was when Democrats still managed to flip two US House seats a few weeks ago, despite every effort by the Ohio GOP and Gov. Mike DeWine to put an elephant on the scales in order to tip them towards permanent GOP control.
For the first time in years, progressive candidates will control the elected seats on the executive agency, regulating if a resolution is able to pass or not. Candidates are voted on as nonpartisan candidates, however, each leans conservative or progressive and will be endorsed by a party. School board candidates tend to share their beliefs publically.
Three of the five seats up for grabs were taken by liberal candidates. Tom Jackson, of Solon, beat out incumbent Tim Miller by about 50,000 votes. Teresa Fedor, a now-former state senator from Toledo, beat opponent Sarah McGervey by more than 30,000 votes. Katie Hofmann, of Cincinnati, beat out incumbent Jenny Kilgore by around 30,000 votes.
“We’re just looking forward to getting back to Columbus and doing the people’s work,” Jackson told News 5.
Now, seven of the 11 elected seats are held by Democrats. The elected seats ensure that the total board can’t pass all resolutions it wants, since it needs a 2/3 majority. Of the 19 total seats, eight were appointed by Gov. DeWine. Now, with 12 GOP seats, a Democrat would need to switch over for policy to pass. This could change depending on attendance.
This excitement of winning was short-lived for Jackson. Right now, the board is currently responsible for what K-12 public education looks like in the state. But a newly-revived bill would strip the members from developing education policy, establishing financial standards and implementing programs.
“They’re looking for solutions to a problem in the wrong place,” the member-elect said.
Republican state Sen. Bill Reineke (R-Tiffin) says the department of education needs a massive overhaul to improve student success, such as combatting the struggling remediation rate and offering more workforce development opportunities. The lawmaker was unavailable to speak Friday.
“Senate Bill 178 addresses this need by refocusing our system at the state level on what matters most: our children and their future,” Reineke said in his testimony.
The only responsibilities left for the board would be selecting the state superintendent, licensing teachers, handling staff disciplinary issues and making school territory transfer decisions.
If Reineke is really concerned with student achievement, he should talk to his GOP colleagues, since they create the education laws, Jackson argued.
“The Republicans have controlled for years, so they really need to look at their own actions and stop scapegoating the state board,” he said. “The timing is just too curious.”
Senate President Matt Huffman (R-Lima) said this has been an ongoing proposal for years.
“We have an isolated bureaucracy with no oversight, that’s the problem,” Huffman told reporters. “It’s not who’s on the board.”
Huffman and fellow lawmakers have been frustrated by the board of years now. This isn’t the first attempt to take power away. For the senate president, the board either takes too long to implement new laws or just ignores lawmakers.
“That system as it has grown through the decades in the state of Ohio essentially has an isolated Ohio Department of Education, who has no responsibility to the state legislature,” he said. “They don’t have any responsibility to the governor either because they’re not his employees.”
Ohio was left without a state superintendent of public instruction following Steve Dackin’s tumultuous hiring-then-resigning by the board in June.
Still, what this bill is proposing is clearly government overreach, Jackson said.
“It doesn’t address the needs of the students today, but it is in lockstep with not only the state legislature, but the state’s attorney general’s office,” he said.
The bill was introduced close to two years ago, so Jackson wants to know why it only got its first hearing once the Democrats took over.
“When you ask the people of the state of Ohio to vote for school board members, they’ve chosen majority of school board members that are affiliated with the Democratic Party,” Jackson said. “I absolutely think that that’s part of their calculus.”
President Joe Biden is enjoying an extended period of peacetime with the progressive wing of his party. But keeping it that way may depend on whether he can keep hold of his chief of staff.Progressives credit Klain with helping inject their proposals into the White House policy debate and building out an apparatus that’s put liberal allies in positions of power across government. Perhaps just as importantly, they said, he’s served as a high-level sounding board for the wing traditionally treated by the Democratic establishment with suspicion or outright derision — and won over liberals who once perceived Biden as out of touch with the progressive base.
Energized by the White House’s actions on key priorities such as climate, student debt and marijuana, progressives are openly rooting for Ron Klain to stay on as Biden’s top aide. And they view better-than-expected midterms as vindication of the president’s decision to pursue an expansive agenda.
“A lot of people see him as one of the few avenues they have to have a glimpse into the dynamics and considerations of what’s happening in the White House,” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) said of Klain. “When I think about some of the conversations that build trust, build the sense of open communication, he’s usually part of that.”
An around-the-clock communicator who courted Democrats’ grassroots groups even before Biden took office, Klain has become a critical conduit between liberal leaders and the administration’s upper echelon, according to interviews with more than a dozen leaders and lawmakers on the left. He offers a level of access the left has rarely enjoyed — and that progressives now say will be crucial to maintaining a united Democratic front in the face of divided government.
The outpouring of support comes amid growing speculation over whether Klain will exit the White House, triggering a West Wing shakeup that could reshape the remainder of Biden’s presidency and reverberate through the Democratic Party. Biden has asked Klain to stay, a person familiar with the matter told POLITICO.
“He was not my first or second choice for president, but I am a convert,” Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), who heads the Congressional Progressive Caucus, said of Biden. “I never thought I would say this, but I believe he should run for another term and finish this agenda we laid out.”
Klain, who is in frequent touch with Jayapal, has served as lead ambassador to a wide array of progressive groups and lawmakers, with many saying they can count on him returning their emails and texts within 15 minutes — no matter the time of day. He often solicits feedback and ideas, readily walking advocates through Biden’s policy stances.
Of course, not all Democrats want Klain to stay.
That relentless engagement has at times unsettled more moderate Democrats, who question if Klain should focus more on broadening Biden’s appeal with swing voters — and boosting his approval ratings. In particular, Klain and Sen. Joe Manchin have found themselves at loggerheads on occasion, including when the West Virginia Democrat said he could not support Biden’s more ambitious domestic policy agenda, Build Back Better. The White House released a scorching statement about Manchin shortly thereafter, which set back talks on a scaled down bill and colored relations between the senator and the chief of staff.
Monday, November 21, 2022
The railroad union strike narrowly averted before the midterms has now festered into a mess as several rail unions have voted down the measure and could go on strike, completely shutting down the nation's railroads in as early as two weeks.
One of the largest railroad unions narrowly voted to reject a contract deal brokered by the White House, bringing the country once again closer to a rail strike that could paralyze much of the economy ahead of the holidays, union officials announced on Monday.
The union representing roughly 28,000 rail conductors, SMART Transportation Division, voted the deal down by 50.9 percent, the union said. The Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen, which represents engineers, announced on Monday that 53.5 percent of members voted to ratify the deal. These unions represent 57,000 workers and are the largest and most politically powerful of the 12 rail unions in contract discussions.
A national rail strike, which could happen as early as Dec. 5, could threaten the nation’s coal shipments, its supply of drinking water, and shut down passenger rail. The U.S. economy could lose $2 billion a day if railroad workers strike, according to the Association of American Railroads.
Already seven of 12 unions have voted to approve their contracts. But in recent weeks, three of the smaller unions, including the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees and the Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen, have also rejected their contracts and are back in negotiations.
The main sticking points for rank-and-file members have been over attendance and sick leave policies that penalize workers for taking time off.
“Honestly, this vote is about the frustration that the railroads have created with [their attendance policies] and the deterioration of quality of life as a result for our conductors,” Jared Cassity, the national legislative director at SMART Transportation and a conductor. “It’s about attendance policies, sick time, fatigue, and the lack of family time. A lot of these things that cannot be seen but are felt by our membership. It’s destroying their livelihoods.”
The Association of American Railroads did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Cassity said the union would likely immediately resume negotiations with rail carriers as their strike deadline looms on Dec. 8
But unless Congress intervenes or a new deal is reached, workers at the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees and the Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen would be allowed to strike and companies would be able to impose a lockout even sooner, right after midnight Dec. 5.
If those unions strike on Dec. 5, all of the unions would likely move in solidarity, provoking an industry-wide work stoppage.
After reaching an impasse in negotiations earlier this year, the White House appointed an emergency board in July to mediate the dispute between six major rail carriers and 12 unions that represent 115,000 railroad workers. But unions voted down that agreement.
Attendance policies have been at the heart of the dramatic showdown between the nation’s largest rail carriers and railroad workers, who did not strike after President Biden and other top administration officials brokered a last-minute agreement in late September.