Розділ: Політика

US Justice Department Warns States Over Post-Election Audits

The U.S. Justice Department is warning states that are conducting or considering audits of the 2020 election that they may be using procedures that violate federal protections against voter intimidation and other statutes.  
 
The warning comes as Arizona Republicans continue a controversial review of the 2020 vote count in the state’s largest county while Republican officials in four other battleground states where former President Donald Trump lost to President Joe Biden are pursuing similar efforts.  
 
“Election audits are exceedingly rare,” the Justice Department said in new guidance on post-election audits issued on Wednesday. “But the Department is concerned that some jurisdictions conducting them may be using, or proposing to use, procedures that risk violating the Civil Rights Act.”
 
Post-election reviews of ballots have long been part of election administration that is handled by election officials. But audits of the 2020 election drawing the Justice Department’s attention are unofficial and are being pushed by Republican allies of Trump who allege that the election was marred by widespread fraud, costing Trump his reelection.     
 
In addition to Arizona, Republicans in four other states that Trump lost – Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin – have been pressing ahead with efforts to review the 2020 election results, according to the Brennan Center for Justice.   
 
“I think the reason we’re issuing this guidance is to tell jurisdictions generally that we are concerned that if they’re going to conduct these audits, so-called audits of the past election, they have to comply with federal law and warning them that they can’t conduct these audits in a way that is going to intimidate voters,” a Justice Department official said.FILE – Maricopa county ballots cast in the 2020 election are examined and recounted by contractors working for Florida-based company Cyber Ninjas at Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Phoenix, Arizona, May 6, 2021.In its guidance document, the department outlined two broad concerns about post-election audits.  The first concerns the preservation of election records.  Under federal law, election officials are required to keep voting records for 22 months after an election.
 
“This means that jurisdictions have to be careful not to let those ballots be defaced or mutilated or lost or destroyed as part of an audit,” the Justice Department official said during a press call with reporters.  The official spoke on condition of anonymity.  
 
The Justice Department’s second concern relates to voter intimidation.  Under the 1965 Voting Rights Act, it is illegal to intimidate voters or those intending to vote. Examples of voter intimidation cited in the document include taking down the license plate numbers of individuals attending voter registration meetings.  
 
“If a jurisdiction is going to conduct one of these audits it has to do so in a way that’s not going to intimidate voters and deter them from voting in future elections,” the official said.
 
The guidance echoes a warning the Justice Department gave to Arizona Republicans about their post-election audit.    
 
In a letter to a top Republican official, Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Pamela Karlan raised questions about plans by GOP-hired auditors to go door to door “to confirm if valid voters actually lived at the stated address.”  The planned canvassing “raises concerns regarding potential intimidation of voters” in violation of federal law, the letter stated.  
 
In response, the Republicans dropped their planned canvassing.  While the Justice Department hasn’t issued similar letters to other states, “we’re keeping a close eye on what’s going on around the country,” the official said.
 
In Pennsylvania, a state Trump lost by more than 80,000 votes, state lawmaker Doug Mastriano this month launched what he called a “forensic investigation” of the 2020 election, requesting information from three counties.  Democrats have questioned the legality of the audit.  
 
In Wisconsin, another state Trump lost, Rep. Janel Brandtjen, chair of the Wisconsin State Assembly elections committee, announced on Monday that her committee will request additional information to ensure a “comprehensive, forensic examination” of 2020 votes.
 

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By Polityk | 28/07/2021 | Повідомлення, Політика

US Senators Reach Deal on Major Points of Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill

U.S. Senate negotiators to a $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill have reached agreement on the major components of the measure, Republican Senator Rob Portman told reporters on Wednesday. That could clear the way for the legislation to begin moving through the Senate following months of talks. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said a procedural vote on a bipartisan bill was possible as soon as Wednesday night. FILE – U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer attends a news conference at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, July 20, 2021.”Senators continue to make good progress,” Democrat Schumer said in a speech on the Senate floor. Republican Senator Susan Collins, however, cautioned that some details were still being finalized. Another Republican senator, Lisa Murkowski, told reporters, “I think that there is a strong, solid number of folks on both sides of the aisle that want to get on to an infrastructure package.” She added that senators will be briefed on the measure being negotiated “in these next hours.” The procedural vote would simply limit debate on whether the Senate should begin considering a bipartisan infrastructure investment bill that is thought to be in the range of $1.2 trillion. On July 21, Republicans blocked such a move, complaining that a bill had not yet been written. Democrats are hoping to pass this month or early next month whatever measure is agreed upon in the bipartisan negotiations. That could help clear the way for Democrats to begin pushing another large spending bill totaling around $3.5 trillion that Republicans are vowing to oppose. 
 

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By Polityk | 28/07/2021 | Повідомлення, Політика

GOP’s Jake Ellzey Wins US House Seat Over Trump-backed Rival

Republican Jake Ellzey of Texas won a U.S. House seat on Tuesday night over rival backed by Donald Trump, dealing the former president a defeat in a test of his endorsement power since leaving office. Ellzey’s come-from-behind victory over Republican Susan Wright, the widow of the late Rep. Ron Wright, in a special congressional election runoff near Dallas is likely to be celebrated by Trump antagonists who have warned against his continued hold on the GOP. Ellzey was carrying more than 53% of the vote in Texas’ 6th Congressional District with results from almost all precincts reported. Ellzey is a Republican state legislator who finished a distant second to Wright in May, and who only narrowly made the runoff over a Democrat. The seat opened up following the death of Ron Wright, who in February became the first member of Congress to die after being diagnosed with COVID-19. Far from running on an anti-Trump platform, Ellzey did not try distancing himself from the twice-impeached former president. He instead sought to overcome the lack of Trump’s backing by raising more money and showing off other endorsements, including the support of former Texas Gov. Rick Perry. Trump had endorsed Susan Wright early in the special election, recorded a robocall for her late in the runoff and headlined a telephone rally with voters on the eve of Tuesday’s election. Make America Great Action, a political action committee chaired by former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, also made a $100,000 ad buy over the weekend. But the outcome may show the limits of his influence with voters. Republicans have continued making loyalty to Trump paramount since his defeat in November, even as Trump continues to falsely and baselessly assert that the election was stolen. The North Texas district won by Ellzey — who narrowly lost the GOP nomination for the seat in 2018 — has long been Republican territory. But Trump’s support in the district had also plummeted: after winning it by double-digits in 2016, he carried it by just 3 percentage points last year, reflecting the trend of Texas’ booming suburbs shifting to purple and, in some places, outright blue. Ron Wright, who was 67 and had lung cancer, was just weeks into his second term when he died. Susan Wright had also been diagnosed with COVID-19 and at one point was hospitalized with her husband. 

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By Polityk | 28/07/2021 | Повідомлення, Політика

Biden Accuses Russia of Already Interfering in 2022 Election

Russia is already interfering in next year’s midterm U.S. elections, President Joe Biden said Tuesday in a speech at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI).  Referencing the day’s classified briefing prepared by the intelligence community for him, Biden said: “Look at what Russia’s doing already about the 2022 election and misinformation.” Such actions by Moscow are a “pure violation of our sovereignty,” the president said, without elaborating, in remarks to about 120 representatives of the U.S. intelligence community who gathered in northern Virginia at the ODNI headquarters.  Biden’s public reference to something contained in that day’s top secret Presidential Daily Brief is certain to raise some eyebrows.  “He’s the president. He can declassify anything he wants to whenever he wants to,” said Emily Harding, deputy director and senior fellow with the international security program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “And I’m not sure it’s going to be a shock to anybody that Russia is looking at disinformation for the 2022 election. I think it is a really good reminder, though, that Russia continues to do this and that nothing has dissuaded them yet,” she said. The president also had an ominous prediction about the escalating cyberattacks targeting the United States that his administration has blamed on state-backed hackers in China and those operating with impunity in Russia.    Biden said he believes it is growing more likely the United States could “end up in a real shooting war with a major power,” as the consequence of a cyber breach.  Such cyber capabilities of U.S. adversaries are “increasing exponentially,” according to the president.  FILE – Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during an annual nationwide televised phone-in show in Moscow, Russia, June 30, 2021.Russian President Vladimir Putin seemed much on Biden’s mind during his remarks to the intelligence community.  Putin has “nuclear weapons, oil wells and nothing else,” Biden said, adding that the Russian leader knows he is in real trouble economically, “which makes him even more dangerous.”  Biden also praised the U.S. intelligence community for its superiority over its counterpart in Moscow.  Putin “knows that you’re better than his team. And it bothers the hell out of him,” Biden said.  “I can see the wheels in Moscow turning to respond to that one,” Harding told VOA.  Biden referred to both Russia and China as “possibly mortal competitors down the road.”  FILE – Chinese President Xi Jinping delivers a speech in Beijing, July 6, 2021, in this photo released by Xinhua News Agency.In his remarks, the U.S. president said that Chinese President Xi Jinping “is deadly earnest about becoming the most powerful military force in the world, as well as the largest and most prominent economy in the world” by the mid-2040s.  Biden made several cryptic references to hypersonic weapons of adversaries. But he stopped himself once in midsentence after saying, “I don’t know, we probably have some people who aren’t totally cleared” in the room. In fact, a group of White House reporters was present, and a television camera was recording the speech on behalf of the media.  The president also appealed to his intelligence team, which is composed of elements from 17 different agencies, “to give it to me straight. I’m not looking for pablum … and when you’re not sure, say you’re not sure.”  Biden said he “can’t make the decisions I need to make if I’m not getting the best unvarnished, unbiased judgments you can give. I’m not looking to hear nice things. I’m looking to hear what you think to be the truth.”  Those words are “a big deal. That’s the thing that he probably most needed to say” to this particular audience, according to Harding.  Biden stressed that the intelligence agencies should not be swayed by which political party holds power in Congress or the White House. He said it is “so vital that you are and should be totally free of any political pressure or partisan influence.”  Biden vowed that while he is president he will not try to “affect or alter your judgments about what you think the situation we face is. I’ll never politicize the work you do. You have my word on that. It’s too important for our country.”  The appearance by the 46th U.S. president was intended, in part, to demonstrate a different relationship with the intelligence community than experienced by his predecessor, Donald Trump.  “I think you can all make the inherent contrast,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters the previous day.  Trump’s attitude toward the intelligence community publicly soured after he sided with Putin’s denial of the U.S. government’s conclusion that the Kremlin had meddled in the 2016 presidential election. Trump, a Republican, narrowly defeated Democratic Party challenger Hillary Clinton in that election.  
 

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By Polityk | 28/07/2021 | Повідомлення, Політика

‘This Was a Coup’: Police Officers Describe Capitol Riot to US Lawmakers

Warning: This TV package includes a soundbite from Tuesday’s congressional hearing that contains profane and racist language.U.S. lawmakers heard emotional testimony from four members of law enforcement Tuesday as a special panel met for the first time to investigate the events of the January 6 attempt by Trump supporters to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election. VOA’s Congressional Correspondent Katherine Gypson reports the panel will probe former President Donald Trump’s role in the riot.Produced by: Katherine Gypson
 

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By Polityk | 28/07/2021 | Повідомлення, Політика

Four US Police Officers Grippingly Describe January 6 Attack on US Capitol

Four U.S. police officers told a congressional investigating committee in tearful, gripping detail on Tuesday how an angry mob of supporters of then-President Donald Trump rampaged into the U.S. Capitol last January 6 in a futile attempt to block certification of Democrat Joe Biden’s victory in last November’s presidential election.The officers – two on the U.S. Capitol Police force and two with the Washington city police department — said they feared for their lives as about 800 rioters stormed past outmanned law enforcement authorities, taunted them with racial and political epithets, fought hand-to-hand with police, sprayed chemical irritants at them and grabbed for their shields and sidearms.Their testimony came on the first day of public hearings on the deadly mayhem more than six months ago, the worst attack in more than two centuries on the U.S. Capitol, often seen as the symbol of U.S. democracy. Seven Democratic members of the House of Representatives and two Republican lawmakers on a select committee listened raptly to the testimony– along with a national television audience. During the three and a half hour hearing, U.S. Capitol Police officer Aquilino Gonell testified, “The rioters called me a ‘traitor,’ a ‘disgrace,’ and shouted that I (an Army veteran and police officer) should be ‘executed.’”“What we were subjected to that day was like something from a medieval battlefield,” Gonell said. “We fought hand-to-hand and inch-by-inch to prevent an invasion of the Capitol by a violent mob intent on subverting our democratic process.”FILE – In this Jan. 6, 2021 file photo, supporters of Donald Trump, including Jacob Chansley, right with fur hat, are confronted by U.S. Capitol Police officers outside the Senate Chamber inside the Capitol in Washington.Gonell said at one point he was crushed by the onslaught of rioters.“I thought, “This is how I’m going to die,’” he said.Washington police officer Michael Fanone told lawmakers, “I was grabbed, beaten, tased, all while being called a traitor to my country. I was at risk of being stripped of and killed with my own firearm.”“I was electrocuted again and again and again with a taser,” he recalled. “I’m sure I was screaming but I don’t think I could hear even my own voice.”In the months since the chaos at the Capitol, numerous Republicans, in attempting to exonerate Trump’s admonition to his supporters to “fight like hell” to overturn the vote showing he had lost to Biden, have minimized the violence at the Capitol. One lawmaker said the 800 who entered the Capitol were much like tourists, while some Republicans voted against honoring police for protecting the Capitol.  Republican leaders have maintained that the riot is being adequately investigated by law enforcement agencies and other congressional committees, arguing that the latest investigation is simply a political exercise designed to cast the Republican Party in a poor light ahead of mid-term elections next year.Pounding his hand on the witness table, Fanone exclaimed, “The indifference shown to my colleagues is disgraceful.”Washington police officer Daniel Hodges, who was crushed between a door to the House floor and a door frame, said one rioter shouted at him, “You will die on your knees!”FILE – In this Jan. 6, 2021, file photo a police officer has eyes flushed with water after a confrontation with rioters at the Capitol in Washington.He said police were unable to hold the line against the surge of protesters. He said one rioter “put his thumb in my eye and tried to gouge it out.”As he was pinned in the doorway, Hodges said, “I screamed for help” and “thankfully, more and more police” came to his rescue.U.S. Capitol policeman Harry Dunn, who is Black, said the rioters unleashed vile racial epithets at him after an exchange in which he acknowledged having voted for Biden.“I’m still hurting from what happened that day,” Dunn said. He asked for a moment of silence to remember fellow officer Brian Sicknick, who helped defend the Capitol on January 6, but died of natural causes a day later.One rioter was shot dead by a Capitol policeman during the mayhem, three rioters died of medical emergencies and two other police officers committed suicide in the ensuing days. More than 500 of the rioters have been charged with an array of criminal offenses.FILE – In this Jan. 6, 2021, file photo rioters try to break through a police barrier at the Capitol in Washington.Dunn said the memories of January 6 are “still not over for me, physically and emotionally,” and that he is undergoing psychological therapy.But he had a last thought for the protesters: “You all tried to thwart democracy that day and you failed.”Senate Republicans blocked creation of a bipartisan investigative commission to consider why and how the deadly chaos of January 6 unfolded.Political Divide Widens as January 6 Hearings Begin Republican leadership withdraws participation in probe on U.S. Capitol attackInstead, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who heads the Democratic-controlled chamber, appointed the nine members of the House select committee, including two vocal Republican Trump critics, Liz Cheney of Wyoming and Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, over the objection of House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy.McCarthy had named five Republicans to the panel, but Pelosi, as was her prerogative, rejected two staunch Trump supporters –, Congressmen Jim Jordan of Ohio and Jim Banks of Indiana — as biased against the investigation. McCarthy then withdrew his other three appointments.  As he opened the hearing, the chairman of the panel, Congressman Bennie Thompson of Mississippi, said, “Some people are trying to deny what happened. To whitewash it. … Let’s be clear. The rioters who tried to rob us of our democracy were propelled here by a lie,” that Trump was defrauded out of a second four-year term in the White House.Trump, to this day, makes unfounded claims that he, not Biden, was the legitimate winner.McCarthy on Monday derided Cheney’s and Kinzinger’s participation on the Democratic-led investigative panel, calling them “Pelosi Republicans.” But Cheney, the daughter of former U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney, rebuffed the claim that the investigation was pointless.“If those responsible are not held accountable,” she said at the outset of the hearing, “and if Congress does not act responsibly, this will remain a cancer on our constitutional republic.”In the weeks ahead, the investigative panel could subpoena numerous witnesses, possibly including Trump, to testify about what they knew ahead of the confrontation and as it was unfolding.

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By Polityk | 28/07/2021 | Повідомлення, Політика

Former US Senator Enzi of Wyoming Dies After Bicycle Accident

Retired U.S. Senator Mike Enzi, a Wyoming Republican known as a consensus-builder in an increasingly polarized Washington, has died. He was 77. Enzi died Monday surrounded by family and friends, former spokesman Max D’Onofrio said. Enzi had been hospitalized with a broken neck and ribs after a bicycle accident near Gillette on Friday. He was stabilized before being flown to a hospital in Colorado but remained unconscious, D’Onofrio said. Enzi fell near his home about 8:30 p.m. Friday, family friend John Daly said, around the time Gillette police received a report of a man lying unresponsive in a road near a bike. Police have seen no indication that anybody else was nearby or involved in the accident, Lt. Brent Wasson told the newspaper. A former shoe salesman first elected to the Senate in 1996, Enzi became known for emphasizing compromise over grandstanding and confrontation to get bills passed. His “80-20 rule” called on colleagues to focus on the 80% of an issue where legislators tended to agree and discard the 20% where they didn’t. “Nothing gets done when we’re just telling each other how wrong we are,” Enzi said in his farewell address to the Senate in 2020. “Just ask yourself: Has anyone ever really changed your opinion by getting in your face and yelling at you or saying to you how wrong you are? Usually that doesn’t change hearts or minds.” Wyoming voters reelected Enzi by wide margins three times before he announced in 2019 that he would not seek a fifth term. Enzi was succeeded in the Senate in 2021 by Republican Cynthia Lummis, a former congresswoman and state treasurer. Enzi’s political career began at 30 when he was elected mayor of Gillette, a city at the heart of Wyoming’s then-booming coal mining industry. He was elected to the Wyoming House in 1986 and state Senate in 1991.  The retirement of Republican Sen. Alan Simpson opened the way for Enzi’s election to the Senate. Enzi beat John Barrasso in a nine-way Republican primary and then Democratic former Wyoming Secretary of State Kathy Karpan in the general election; Barrasso would be appointed to the Senate in 2007 after the death of Sen. Craig Thomas.  Enzi wielded quiet influence as the Senate slipped into partisan gridlock over the second half of his career there.  His more recent accomplishments included advancing legislation to enable sales taxes to be collected on internet sales crossing state lines. He played a major role in reforming the No Child Left Behind law that set performance standards for elementary, middle and high school students.  He fought for Wyoming as a top coal-mining state to receive payments through the federal Abandoned Mine Land program, which taxes coal operations to help reclaim abandoned mining properties.  Enzi sought to encourage business innovation by hosting an annual inventors conference. He also backed bills involving the U.S. Mint but his proposal to do away with the penny was unsuccessful.  Enzi was born Feb. 1, 1944, in Bremerton, Washington. His family moved to Thermopolis soon after.  Enzi graduated from Sheridan High School in 1962 and from George Washington University with a degree in accounting in 1966. He received a master’s in retail marketing from the University of Denver in 1968.  He married Diana Buckley in 1969 and the couple moved to Gillette where they started a shoe store, NZ Shoes. They later opened two more NZ Shoes stores, in Sheridan and Miles City, Montana.  From 1985 to 1997, Enzi worked for Dunbar Well Service in Gillette, where he was an accounting manager, computer programmer and safety trainer.  Enzi served two, four-year terms as mayor of Gillette. He served on the U.S. Department of Interior Coal Advisory Committee from 1976 to 1979. Enzi is survived by his wife; two daughters, Amy and Emily; a son, Brad; and several grandchildren. 

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By Polityk | 27/07/2021 | Повідомлення, Політика

Political Divide Widens as January 6 Hearings Begin

Hearings begin Tuesday in the House of Representatives for a select committee investigating the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. VOA’s Steve Redisch explains the committee’s work and the political controversy surrounding it.Camera:  Mary Cieslak  

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By Polityk | 27/07/2021 | Повідомлення, Політика
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