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News & Politics Thread (Part 5)

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    Schumer, McConnell finalizing deal on Trump impeachment trial

    Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) are nearing a deal on the framework for former President Trump’s second impeachment trial.

    Under the deal, which hasn’t yet been finalized, the trial could wrap up in roughly a week if no witnesses are called.

    “We are finalizing a resolution that’s been agreed to by all parties … that will ensure a fair, honest, bipartisan Senate impeachment trial,” Schumer said at a press conference in New York, adding that additional details would be released Monday.

    The Senate would start the trial Tuesday with up to four hours of debate and a vote over its constitutionality, according to a person familiar with the talks. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) forced a similar vote late last month, which failed but underscored that there aren’t the votes to convict Trump. Republicans have been pledging to revive the issue during the trial.

    Opening arguments wouldn’t start until Wednesday at noon, with both the House impeachment managers and Trump’s legal team getting 16 hours to present their case.

    In order to comply with a request from one of Trump’s attorneys the trial would not be conducted on Saturday, but would reconvene on Sunday afternoon. Typically impeachment trials run every day of the week besides Sunday but one of Trump’s attorneys, David Schoen, asked Senate leadership to agree to pause the trial from 5:24 p.m. on Friday until Sunday in order to observe the Jewish Sabbath.

    The Senate could also hold a debate and vote on whether or not to formally call witnesses after both sides present their case if House impeachment managers request it. Senators are also expected to get time to ask questions. In previous trials, the question-and-answer session has lasted two days.

    “If the managers decide they want witnesses there will be a vote on that. That’s what they requested. They weren’t sure they wanted witnesses. They wanted to preserve the option,” Schumer said.

    The time for both sides to present their case is truncated from the 24 hours given during both Trump’s first trial and the Clinton impeachment trial. The impeachment managers and Trump’s lawyers were given three days to present their case last year.

    The burgeoning agreement comes as senators have signaled that they want a speedy trial that could be wrapped up in roughly a week. The Senate had been scheduled to leave town Friday for a one-week recess, but senators expect to have to yield back at least some of the break.

    Though Republicans blamed Trump in the wake of the Jan. 6 attack, Democrats are not expected to be able to get the 17 votes needed to find him guilty of the one article of impeachment. The House article accuses Trump of high crimes and misdemeanors for “willfully inciting violence against the Government of the United States.”

    Though several GOP senators, including McConnell, haven’t said how they will vote, senators cap the number of GOP senators who could potentially vote to convict Trump at five. That’s the same number that voted with Democrats last month against the effort by Paul to declare the trial unconstitutional.

    The trial is the first for a president already out of office. Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) is expected to preside over the trial instead of Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts.

    Republicans have seized on an argument that the Senate cannot hold a trial for a president already out of office, even as legal scholars across the political spectrum have dismissed it.

    “Is it constitutional? Does the Constitution anticipate a Senate trial of a president who has left office? And I think the overwhelming weight of history and also precedent indicates that it … is not proper,” Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), an adviser to McConnell, told ABC’s “This Week.”

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    Prosecutors in Georgia open criminal investigation into Trump’s attempt to influence election results

    Washington (CNN) A prosecutor in Fulton County, Georgia, has opened a criminal investigation into former President Donald Trump for his “attempts to influence the administration of the 2020 Georgia general election.”

    In a letter sent Wednesday to numerous Georgia state election officials, including Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis requested that they preserve documents related to Trump’s phone call last month in which he pushed Raffensperger to “find” votes to reverse his election loss.

    Willis said the “investigation includes, but is not limited to, potential violations of Georgia election law prohibiting the solicitation of election fraud, the making of false statements to state and local government bodies, conspiracy, racketeering, violation of oath of office, and any involvement in violence of threats related to the election’s administration.”

    “This matter is of high priority, and I am confident that as fellow law enforcement officers sworn to uphold the Constitution of the United States and Georgia, our acquisition of information and evidence of potential crimes via interviews, documents, videos and electronic records will be cooperative,” the letter reads.

    Trump himself is not named in the letter, but Willis’ office confirmed to CNN that the probe concerns his phone call with Raffensperger. The letter also says Fulton County authorities currently “have no reason to believe that any Georgia official is a target” in the probe.

    The investigation was earlier reported by The New York Times.

    The criminal probe adds to a growing list of significant legal pressures facing Trump, including a Senate impeachment trial in which House Democrats are pushing to convict him for inciting the deadly insurrection at the US Capitol, and a separate investigation launched by Raffensperger’s office into his attempts to overturn the state’s election results.

    In that probe, Raffensperger, the state’s top election official, is also investigating Trump’s one-hour phone call, in which Trump lambasted his fellow Republican for refusing to falsely say that he won the election in Georgia and repeatedly touted baseless claims of election fraud.

    There were 18 attempted calls from the White House to the Georgia Secretary of State’s Office between the election and the January 2 phone call between Trump and Raffensperger, a Georgia state official has confirmed to CNN.

    There have been no credible allegations of any issues with voting that would have impacted the election, as affirmed by dozens of judges, governors, election officials, the Electoral College, the Justice Department, the Department of Homeland Security and the US Supreme Court.

    Michael J. Moore, the former US attorney for the Middle District of Georgia between 2010 and 2015 under President Barack Obama, told CNN the multiple calls “sort of start to tell the story that this was not an official trying to talk to another official about problems that he or she might see in an election.”

    “It’s more about how do I get to the place that that I can win the race,” he said, adding that the now-infamous call “sounds like any other call that you might have with an organized crime ring or a drug conspiracy ring or something.

    “And that is that you’ve got almost code talking about — this is what I need you to do, if you could just help me out here,” Moore told CNN.

    This story has been updated with additional background information and reaction.

    CNN’s Erica Henry and Jim Acosta contributed to this report.

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    Trump’s Postmaster General wants to stay on the job, but his days in the Biden administration may be numbered

    Washington (CNN) Embattled Postmaster General Louis DeJoy has told those close to him he wants to stay in his role under the new president, two sources tell CNN, despite his troubled tenure at the helm of the US Postal Service and his background as a supporter and donor to former President Donald Trump.

    President Joe Biden faces mounting pressure from fellow Democrats to remove DeJoy, however, amid months of complaints over mail delivery delays — including prescription drugs.

    DeJoy is still actively pushing ahead, and even plans to release a new 10-year plan for the agency in the next few days, several sources familiar with his plans tell CNN, and will meet with the Postal Board of Governors on Tuesday, when it assembles publicly for the first time since Biden took office.

    Getting rid of DeJoy is not a clean-cut process. The President does not have the power to remove the Postmaster General. Only the Postal Service Board of Governors — which is comprised of members nominated by the President and confirmed in the Senate — has the power to do so, and DeJoy continues to have the support of the Trump-appointed board.

    But Biden has the power to nominate members of the board and to send them to the Senate — now led by Democrats — for confirmation. Some lawmakers want Biden to go beyond filling empty seats, and take drastic action by firing the entire board.

    “(T)hrough the devastating arson of the Trump regime, the USPS Board of Governors sat silent,” Rep. Bill Pascrell, a New Jersey Democrat, wrote in a letter to Biden in January. “Their dereliction cannot now be forgotten.”

    Complaints about the postal service began shortly after he was appointed by Trump with a mandate to cut costs and make things run more efficiently. The postal service drew attention to itself for all the wrong reasons in the months ahead of Election Day, in an election cycle with an unprecedented number of mail-in ballots.

    Now, Americans are still complaining about woefully slow delivery. Lawmakers have urged the Postmaster General to address constituent claims of delays in mail-order medicine and credit card bills. And public outcry on social media over Christmas cards arriving months after the season, package notices warning of “unforeseen delays” and missing tracking numbers that offer no sense of a delivery date have continued to plague the USPS in recent months.

    During the Board of Governors meeting Tuesday, DeJoy apologized to customers who were affected by postal service delays during the peak holiday season.

    “Too many Americans were left waiting weeks for important deliveries of mail and packages. This is unacceptable, and I apologize to those customers who felt the impact of our delays,” DeJoy said.

    In his letter to Biden, Pascrell noted that the President has the power to fire board members “only for cause,” though that is not clearly defined. So far, the new administration has not responded to Pascrell’s letter.

    With only six of nine seats filled, the current board of governors consists of two Democrats and four Republicans. Before leaving office in December, Trump attempted to solidify his control over the board by nominating a fifth Republican member, but the nomination did not go through the Senate before Biden took office.

    Biden now has the power to stack the board with supporters of his agenda and vision for the giant agency. With three open seats and another two members over their term limit, Democrats are calling on Biden to do just that, and to nominate a new slate of board members who could eventually overthrow DeJoy.

    David Partenheimer, a spokesperson for the Postal Service, didn’t respond directly to CNN’s request for comment on calls for DeJoy’s ouster, saying instead that the postmaster general and others are working aggressively “to drive improvements across” the agency to “deliver better service to all Americans in every household.”

    The White House declined CNN’s request for comment, but during Monday’s White House press briefing, press secretary Jen Psaki dodged a question when asked whether Biden believes the postmaster general should keep his job and if the President would change the makeup of the governing board to facilitate his removal.

    “Well, as I understand it, there are a number of openings right now on the governing board of the post office, or vacancies…that would, of course, work their way through a personnel process. I don’t think I have anything more for it, on this for you,” Psaki told reporters during the White House press briefing.

    One source close to the Biden transition team told CNN that the administration was receptive to suggestions for board members, but any sort of movement on nominations did not seem imminent. Five days after taking office, Biden designated a Democrat as the new Chairman of the Postal Regulatory Commission — a role that requires no congressional oversight.

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    Merrick Garland, Biden’s pick for attorney general, has confirmation hearing set for February 22

    (CNN) President Joe Biden’s nominee for attorney general, Judge Merrick Garland, is scheduled to appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee on February 22 and 23 for his confirmation hearing.

    The dates were announced by Senate Judiciary Chairman Dick Durbin and Ranking Member Chuck Grassley, who said in a joint news release that the committee will vote to advance Garland’s nomination on March 1.

    Biden had tapped Garland for the post last month. Though a confluence of factors drove the decision, people familiar with the matter say it largely rested on Biden’s belief that Garland can rise above politics in the post-Trump era.

    “The Attorney General oversees a host of Department of Justice components and agencies that are vital to protecting our homeland from foreign and domestic threats. Judge Garland’s confirmation is particularly urgent in the aftermath of the January 6 insurrection,” Durbin said in a statement announcing the confirmation hearing.

    Garland, he said, “will serve the Justice Department and our country with honor and integrity. He is a consensus pick who should be confirmed swiftly on his merits.”

    Grassley, meanwhile, said: “Given the significance of this role, I’ve agreed to convening a hearing inside of the customary 28 days that the committee typically takes to conduct a pre-hearing review of the nominee’s paperwork.”

    “We also expect to accelerate the post-hearing committee markup. Given these accommodations, I expect a thorough review of Judge Garland’s qualifications as well as swift and transparent responses going forward.”

    Former President Barack Obama had nominated Garland to the Supreme Court after a vacancy was created by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia in 2016. But Republicans, led by then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, refused for months to hold confirmation hearings or the required vote in the chamber.

    When former President Donald Trump took office, Garland’s nomination expired and he returned to his position as chief judge of the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit. The court is charged with reviewing challenges to administrative agencies. He stepped down from the position as chief judge in February 2020, but still serves on the court. Former President Bill Clinton had appointed him to the court in 1997.

    Prior to his appointment as a US circuit judge, Garland served as principal associate deputy attorney general. He supervised the investigation of the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, which killed more than 160 people and injured several hundred more. Garland also led the investigations of the 1996 Olympics bombing in Atlanta, in which two people died and more than 100 others were injured.

    Additionally, the judge served as an assistant US attorney for the District of Columbia from 1989 to 1992, and as deputy assistant attorney general in the criminal division of the Justice Department from 1993 to 1994.

    CNN’s Jeff Zeleny, Kate Sullivan and Arlette Saenz contributed to this report.

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    Harris to start ‘regular’ lunches with Blinken in bid to beef up foreign policy chops

    (CNN) Vice President Kamala Harris will have her first private lunch with Secretary of State Antony Blinken Wednesday, meetings that are expected to continue with regularity, according to two administration officials.

    The meetings, which will be worked around their schedules and Covid-19 regulations, continue a tradition of vice presidents in close collaboration with their administration’s secretary of state. Then-Vice President Joe Biden was known to host meals with then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

    Harris has told those close to her that she wants to shape her vice presidency after Biden’s own tenure. Regular lunches with Blinken, a longtime Biden aide now serving as secretary of state, could benefit that mission. It also shows a deliberate progression of her on-the-job foreign policy education — something sure to play a role in any future presidential campaigns.

    Sources familiar with the vice president’s thinking have told CNN she’s looking to solidify her foreign policy and national security accolades over time, leaning on her four years of experience as a member of the Senate intelligence committee.

    One source says the effort shows, in part, that Biden is providing Harris with space to grow in the foreign policy arena.

    “The lunch reinforces the relationship with the White House and State Department,” the source said. “But also, Biden trusts her, Biden trusts Tony Blinken and wants (them) to form their own relationship on their own.”

    Last week, Harris accompanied Biden visited the State Department, previewing her own vision of where the issues lie.
    “The world is counting on us. And we as a nation must show both our allies and our adversaries, that American will deliver. It’s time to deliver,” she said.

    Blinken spoke highly of Harris during that visit, saying “she fully shares the President’s commitment to crafting a foreign policy that puts diplomacy first and that keeps our nation safe and delivers real results to the American people.”

    And Harris has undertaken some solo ventures of outreach to foreign allies. She has spoken with the World Health Organization’s Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

    As the new White House navigates the complexities of Covid-19, Harris is not expected to make foreign travel within the first six months of the new administration, an official said, but domestic travel could come sooner.

    And in service of her on-the-job education, Harris chose a career diplomat to lead her national security team. Her national security adviser, Nancy McEldowney, is a veteran of the State Department who served more than 30 years in the foreign service. Former State Department officials told CNN at the time of McEldowney’s appointment that her diplomatic experience would be a boon to the vice president.

    “Nancy will be able to give (Harris) this broad experience that she has, steeped in foreign policy at all levels,” said Melanne Verveer, the executive director of the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security and former US Ambassador for Global Women’s Issues.

    CNN’s Dan Merica and Arlette Saenz contributed to this report.

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    DOJ asks Trump-appointed US attorneys to resign

    (CNN) The Justice Department on Tuesday asked US attorneys appointed by former President Donald Trump to submit their resignations, a turnover that spares two top prosecutors in Delaware and Connecticut overseeing two sensitive Trump-era investigations.

    The resignations are effective February 28, US attorneys were told on a conference call with acting Attorney General Monty Wilkinson, according to two Justice officials familiar with the matter. A number of acting US attorneys who aren’t Senate confirmed or who were appointed by the courts are expected to remain in their posts until a Biden appointee is approved by the Senate, prosecutors were told Tuesday.

    Delaware US Attorney David Weiss has been asked to remain in office, where he is overseeing the tax probe of Hunter Biden, President Joe Biden’s son. John Durham, appointed as special counsel by former Attorney General William Barr to reinvestigate the origins of the Trump-Russia probe, will also continue his work, but he is expected to resign as US attorney in Connecticut, a Justice official said.

    The resignation request applies to 56 Senate-confirmed US attorneys appointed by Trump.

    The changeover of US attorneys is routine but is often fraught with political overtones. In 2017, then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions asked 46 Obama-appointed US attorneys to submit their resignations. A handful were allowed to stay on for a brief period, but most had to leave immediately.

    Illinois Sens. Tammy Duckworth and Dick Durbin, both Democrats, expressed their disappointment on Tuesday that Biden did not consult with them about terminating US Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois John Lausch.

    “While the President has the right to remove U.S. Attorneys, there is precedent for U.S. Attorneys in the Northern District of Illinois to remain in office to conclude sensitive investigations. We believe Mr. Lausch should be permitted to continue in his position until his successor is confirmed by the Senate, and we urge the Biden Administration to allow him to do so,” they wrote in a joint statement.

    Distrust of Trump-era appointees led the Biden administration to appoint a career Justice Department official as acting attorney general while it waits for the US Senate to confirm Merrick Garland, the President’s nominee to lead the department.

    Of the 94 US attorneys serving in districts across the country, 25 are serving in acting positions after some Trump appointees resigned ahead of the Biden inauguration.

    Among those the Biden administration may keep for a while, according to people briefed on the matter, are Michael Sherwin, acting US attorney in Washington, DC, who is overseeing the sprawling probe of the January 6 attack on the US Capitol.

    Sherwin is a career prosecutor from Miami, but was installed in DC by former Attorney General William Barr, and among the options Biden administration officials have discussed is having him continue to lead the insurrection probe, perhaps from Justice headquarters, while making room for Biden’s own appointee in the DC office.

    Less certain is how long acting US attorneys in New York City will remain in their posts: Seth DuCharme in Brooklyn and Audrey Strauss in Manhattan.

    Some high-profile US attorneys who had not resigned ahead of Biden’s inauguration included US Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio David DeVillers, Utah US Attorney John Huber and Pittsburgh US Attorney Scott Brady.

    Ohio Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown had made clear to a local news outlet that DeVillers is going to be replaced and has put out a call for resumes, according to Cleveland.com. DeVillers is currently overseeing two high-profile corruption investigations involving a former Republican lawmaker and Cincinnati council members that includes a Democrat.

    Huber was first appointed by former President Barack Obama and then reappointed by Trump. During his second time as the US attorney, Huber was tasked by Sessions to reexamine a previous Justice Department investigation of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s business dealings and the Clinton Foundation. Huber ended his probe, concluding there wasn’t reason to reopen the investigation, a decision that irritated Barr, according to people briefed on the matter.

    Barr tasked Brady with reviewing claims related to Ukraine and the Biden family made by Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani.

    The move was initially seen by Justice officials as a way to keep dubious allegations from Giuliani — which Barr publicly cast doubt on — away from other Justice Department matters.

    But Brady embraced the task, former Justice Department officials say, and pushed to take investigative steps that led to internal fights with the FBI and others. The status of Brady’s efforts on Ukraine remains unclear.

    This story and its headline have been updated with more reporting.

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    Trump acquitted for second time following historic Senate impeachment trial

    (CNN) The Senate acquitted former President Donald Trump in his second impeachment trial Saturday, voting that Trump was not guilty of inciting the deadly January 6 riot at the US Capitol, but the verdict amounted to a bipartisan rebuke of the former President with seven Republicans voting he was guilty.

    The final vote was 57 guilty to 43 not guilty, short of the 67 guilty votes needed to convict. But the Republican senators who voted against Trump amounted to a number higher than even Trump’s legal team had expected, marking a stark departure from the first impeachment trial where only one Republican, Mitt Romney of Utah, found Trump guilty.

    This time, Republicans Sens. Richard Burr of North Carolina, Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowksi of Alaska, Romney, Ben Sasse of Nebraska and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania voted to convict Trump on Saturday.

    Perhaps the biggest surprise was Burr, the former Senate Intelligence Committee chairman who led the Senate’s Russia investigation, after he voted earlier in the week that the trial was unconstitutional. Both Burr and Toomey are retiring from the Senate at the end of 2022 and will not face voters again.

    Burr said that while he believed the trial was unconstitutional, he decided to put that aside after the Senate voted Tuesday that the trial was constitutional and should proceed.

    “As I said on January 6th, the President bears responsibility for these tragic events. The evidence is compelling that President Trump is guilty of inciting an insurrection against a coequal branch of government and that the charge rises to the level of high Crimes and Misdemeanors. Therefore, I have voted to convict,” Burr said in a statement.

    But enough of Burr’s colleagues sided with the constitutionality argument in their votes to acquit. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell offered a blistering criticism of Trump’s actions surrounding the January 6 riots on the Senate floor after the vote, but McConnell said he voted to acquit because he did not believe convicting an ex-president was constitutional.

    “The Senate’s decision today does not condone anything that happened on or before that terrible day,” McConnell said. “It simply shows that senators did what the former President failed to do. We put our constitutional duty first.”

    The final vote came quickly Saturday on the fifth day of the Senate trial after a surprise Democratic request for witnesses earlier Saturday threw the trial briefly into chaos.

    The move to the trial’s finishing stages was a final twist after the House managers’ surprise request for witnesses had appeared to extend the trial indefinitely. The Senate voted 55 to 45 to consider witnesses — with five Republican joining Democrats — after the managers said they wanted to hear from Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, a Washington Republican who had told CNN new details about House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s phone call with Trump. But after several hours of intense negotiations between Senate leaders, the managers and Trump’s legal team, the managers agreed to enter Herrera Beutler’s statement into the trial record as evidence and move forward without hearing from witnesses.

    On Saturday morning, Democratic senators had expected House managers to move past witnesses onto closing arguments and a final vote. But the lead impeachment manager, Democratic Rep. Jamie Raskin of Maryland, announced when the trial got underway that the managers wanted to subpoena Herrera Beutler about her knowledge of McCarthy’s phone call, following a CNN report Friday.

    Herrera Beutler, one of the 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump last month, confirmed in a statement Friday that McCarthy said the President told him on the call, “‘Well, Kevin, I guess these people are more upset about the election than you are.'”

    The trial recessed after the witness vote and Senate leaders tried to hash out the next steps. Calling witnesses could have opened up the trial to a lengthy new phase, as Trump’s team vowed to call hundreds of witnesses in response, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Republican senators demanded that each side receive an equal number of votes.

    Closing the House managers argument, Raskin played to senators’ sense of history in urging them to convict the former President for inciting the rioters to attack the Capitol on January 6 and failing to stop them after the violence had unfolded.

    “This is almost certainly how you will be remembered by history,” Raskin said.

    “That might not be fair. It really might not be fair. But none of us can escape the demands of history and destiny right now. Our reputations and our legacy will be inextricably intertwined with what we do here, and with how you exercise your oath to do impartial justice.”

    Trump’s lawyer Michael van der Veen argued that Trump did not incite a riot that had been preplanned, again repeating the falsehood that the rioters represented both left and right fringe groups, when video evidence and court documents conclusively show that the riot was perpetrated by Trump supporters.

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    Pelosi announces plans for “9/11-type commission” to investigate Capitol attack

    by Clare Foran, Ryan Nobles and Annie Grayer, CNN
    Updated 4:32 PM ET, Mon February 15, 2021

    (CNN) House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced in a letter to House Democrats on Monday plans for the creation of a “9/11-type commission” to investigate the January 6 attack on the US Capitol.

    “To protect our security, our security, our security, our next step will be to establish an outside, independent 9/11-type Commission to ‘investigate and report on the facts and causes relating to the January 6, 2021 domestic terrorist attack upon the United States Capitol Complex,'” Pelosi wrote.

    Pelosi has previously called for the formation of such a commission and said she believes there is a need for it.

    A commission of this nature would be established by a statute, passed by both chambers and signed into law by the President. The commission members would not be elected leaders and would be outside the government.

    In a separate letter to House Democrats earlier this month, Pelosi wrote that it is “clear that we will need to establish a 9/11-type Commission to examine and report upon the facts, causes and security relating to the terrorist mob attack on January 6.”

    The deadly attack prompted House Democrats to move swiftly to impeach former President Donald Trump in January. The Senate impeachment trial of the former President concluded over the weekend, and ended in Trump’s acquittal on a single charge of incitement of insurrection.

    Efforts to shore up security at the Capitol and shed light on what led to its breach by a violent, pro-Trump mob on January 6 are still ongoing, however.

    In mid-January, Pelosi announced that retired Lt. General Russel Honoré will lead a review of the “security infrastructure” of Capitol Hill in the wake of the attack.

    “For the past few weeks, General Honoré has been assessing our security needs by reviewing what happened on January 6 and how we must ensure that it does not happen again,” Pelosi wrote in her letter on Monday.

    “He has been working with Committees of Jurisdiction and will continue to make proposals. It is clear from his findings and from the impeachment trial that we must get to the truth of how this happened,” she said.

    Earlier this month, Pelosi told reporters as she left a news conference that a 9/11-style commission to investigate the insurrection would look “different” than the one formed following the September 11, 2001, terror attack — and would have a greater emphasis on diversity.

    “Different from 9/11. What were there, nine people? All white, one woman. It will look different,” she said at the time.

    Although Pelosi complimented the 9/11 commission, she said that now “it’s a different world.”

    Asked then about who she had in mind to serve on the commission, Pelosi confirmed that members would not be serving on it, saying, “It’s an outside commission.”

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    Perdue files paperwork to explore 2022 Senate run

    Former Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.) filed paperwork with Federal Election Commission (FEC) indicating he is exploring a 2022 Senate run.

    Perdue, who lost his seat to Sen. Jon Ossoff (D-Ga.) in the last election, filed FEC documents to designate a “principal campaign committee” for “Perdue for Senate,” signaling a possible run against Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.).

    Warnock defeated Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.) in the same set of runoffs that sent Ossoff to the Senate, but will be up for reelection in 2022 because he is filling the remainder of former Sen. Johnny Isakson’s (R-Ga.) term.

    Aides to Perdue told Fox News and the Atlanta Journal Constitution that Perdue has not made a decision on whether to take on Warnock. But sources told both outlets that he was leaning toward launching a campaign.

    Perdue will make a decision on whether to run by March 1 and announce his campaign in April, an adviser told the Atlanta Journal Constitution.

    Sources told the Atlanta newspaper that Loeffler and former Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.) are also considering running against Warnock, but both are reportedly awaiting Perdue’s decision on whether to jump in the race.

    Perdue and Loeffler lost their Senate seats last month after a contentious runoff race against Ossoff and Warnock, respectively, switching Georgia’s two senators from being both Republican to both Democrat.

    The wins came after President Biden narrowly won the state, as the first Democratic presidential candidate to win Georgia since 1992, hinting at Georgia’s potentially purple or blue status.

    Perdue served one term in the Senate starting in 2015.

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    State lawmakers introduce legislation to make Nevada first primary state

    State lawmakers in Nevada introduced legislation that would move the state from a caucus to primary system for selecting presidential nominees and put it at the beginning of the primary calendar for the 2024 election.

    The legislation, sponsored by Democratic lawmakers Jason Frierson, Teresa Benitez-Thompson and Brittney Miller, would shift the state’s primary to the Tuesday before the last Tuesday in January, bumping Iowa and New Hampshire from the first and second spots, respectively.

    It’s unclear if the national parties, which set the primary schedule, would approve of the change.

    The bill also “requires a period for early voting for a presidential preference primary election that begins 10 calendar days before the election and extends through the Friday before the election.”

    Nevada State Democratic Party Chair William McCurdy lauded the effort as “a critical next step” in a statement Monday.

    “Last year, Democrats did incredible work to make our caucuses more accessible by including early voting and introducing multilingual trainings and materials, but the only way we can bring more voices into the process is by moving to a primary,” he said. “This legislation is yet another reason the Silver State deserves to be the first presidential nominating state in 2024. We are a majority-minority state with a strong union population and the power structure of the country is moving West.”

    Nevada currently uses a caucus system for its presidential nominating contests, but caucuses have become less popular.

    Critics say the system leads to fewer people getting to have a say in the contests due to the caucuses not being in a person’s normal voting place and only taking place over the span of a couple of hours.

    Iowa’s and New Hampshire’s positions at the front of the nominating calendar have also come under fire from those who say putting a more diverse state first would better represent the Democratic party.

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    Rush Limbaugh has died at 70 of lung cancer.

    https://www.cnn.com/2021/02/17/media/rush-limbaugh-obituary/index.html

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    Cruz travels to Cancun, Mexico, as Texans remain without power amid historic winter storm

    by Paul P. Murphy, Betsy Klein, Daniella Diaz and Manu Raju, CNN

    Updated: Thu, 18 Feb 2021 20:11:27 GMT

    Sen. Ted Cruz and his family flew to Cancun, Mexico, he confirmed in a statement to CNN, as a winter disaster in his home state left millions without power or water.

    Cruz, a Texas Republican, said in the statement he flew down for a night because his daughters “asked to take a trip with friends.”

    “With school cancelled for the week, our girls asked to take a trip with friends. Wanting to be a good dad, I flew down with them last night and am flying back this afternoon,” he said in the statement. “My staff and I are in constant communication with state and local leaders to get to the bottom of what happened in Texas. We want our power back, our water on, and our homes warm. My team and I will continue using all our resources to keep Texans informed and safe.”

    Cruz tested negative for Covid-19 before returning, an aide told CNN.

    His statement comes hours after multiple Twitter users posted photos showing Cruz and his family at Houston’s airport and aboard a flight bound for Cancun, Mexico.

    The trip was immediately criticized, including by Texas state Rep. Gene Wu, a Democrat representing southwest Houston, who tweeted a photo of Cruz aboard a flight, saying Cruz was flying south “while the state was freezing to death and having to boil water.”

    Cruz’s office also requested that the Houston Police Department assist the senator during his departure from Bush Intercontinental Airport on Wednesday, Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo told CNN Thursday.

    The police request from Cruz’s office is not unusual as members of Congress have been advised by law enforcement to seek police assistance as they travel by air.

    Congress is not in session this week following the President’s Day holiday.

    Cruz, who was retweeting notices about electricity and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Wednesday, has been silent on social media Thursday.

    In a radio interview Monday, Cruz told people to “stay home” and not “risk it. Keep your family safe and just stay home and hug your kids.”

    As an official elected to federal office, Cruz doesn’t have an on-the-ground role in the response to the storm, but natural disasters are often a time in which constituents often reach out to their elected officials for help and access to resources.

    The blame for the outages has largely been placed on the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT).

    Abbott said Wednesday afternoon that he spoke with both the lieutenant governor and the state speaker and that an investigation of ERCOT is slated to begin next week.

    But in the meantime, millions of Texans were left without power or running water in the wake of the storm. Power is slowly being restored to homes.

    Since last Thursday, 16 Texans have died due to the extreme weather, according to a CNN tally.

    This story has been updated with additional developments.

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