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News & Politics Thread (Part 6)

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    Madeleine Albright, first female US secretary of state, dies
    by Caroline Kelly, CNN
    Updated 2:34 PM ET, Wed March 23, 2022

    MA

    (CNN) Madeleine Albright, the first woman US secretary of state, who helped steer Western foreign policy in the aftermath of the Cold War, has died of cancer. She was 84 years old.

    Her death was confirmed in an email to staff of the Albright Stonebridge Group, a global strategy firm founded by Albright.

    Albright was a central figure in President Bill Clinton’s administration, first serving as US ambassador to the United Nations before becoming the nation’s top diplomat in his second term. She championed the expansion of NATO, pushed for the alliance to intervene in the Balkans to stop genocide and ethnic cleansing, sought to reduce the spread of nuclear weapons, and championed human rights and democracy across the globe.

    She was a face of US foreign policy in the decade between the end of the Cold War and the War on Terror triggered by the September 11, 2001 attacks, an era heralded by President George H.W. Bush as a “new world order.” The US, particularly in Iraq and the Balkans, built international coalitions and occasionally intervened militarily to roll back autocratic regimes, and Albright–a self-identified “pragmatic idealist” who coined the term “assertive multilateralism” to describe the Clinton administration’s foreign policy–drew from her experience growing up in a family that fled the Nazis and communists in mid-20th century Europe to shape her worldview.

    She saw the US as the “indispensable nation” when it came to using diplomacy backed by the use of force to defend democratic values around the world.

    “We stand tall and we see further than other countries into the future, and we see the danger here to all of us,” she told NBC in 1998. “I know that the American men and women in uniform are always prepared to sacrifice for freedom, democracy and the American way of life.”

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    Jen Psaki to leave White House for MSNBC
    BY ALEX GANGITANO 04/01/22 10:46 AM ET

    JP

    White House press secretary Jen Psaki will leave her job for MSNBC this spring, two sources familiar with the deal told The Hill.

    Psaki’s upcoming departure was first reported by Axios on Friday, with the sources confirming it to The Hill. Psaki will leave the White House for the network around May, according to Axios.

    The news follows speculation over whether the press secretary was looking for a job at MSNBC or CNN and while Psaki has been out of the briefing room this week with COVID-19.

    Deputy press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre has also been out with COVID-19. White House communications director Kate Bedingfield has held most of the briefings, which was seen as an opportunity to effectively audition for the post.

    Psaki has worked with the White House counsel’s office about her departure and no contracts have been signed yet, Axios reported. Additionally, she has talked to senior officials about the move but has not formally announced it to the press team.

    Psaki was asked at a briefing last month if she could confirm whether she was looking for a new job, but she indicated at the time that she was not ready to leave the podium yet.

    “I have more than enough on my plate here. So you can’t get rid of me quite yet. Sorry, Peter, for you on that,” she replied to Fox News’s Peter Doocy.

    The White House didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment from The Hill.

    Psaki wouldn’t be the first official to leave the White House for MSNBC. Symone Sanders, former spokesperson for Vice President Harris, was hired by MSNBC in January as a host for a new weekend program.

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    Madison Cawthorn in response to controversy over podcast comments: “Human nature is fallen”
    BY CAROLINE VAKIL 04/02/22 9:48 AM ET

    MC

    Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-N.C.) did not appear to back down from controversial comments he made on a podcast last month, saying in a statement released on Friday that he was “calling out corruption.”

    “Corruption and unethical activities exist in Washington. It’s an indisputable fact. If you don’t think that’s true, you’ve not witnessed the Swamp,” Cawthorn wrote. “My comments on a recent podcast appearance calling out corruption have been used by the left and the media to disparage my Republican colleagues and falsely insinuate their involvement in illicit activities.”

    The North Carolina Republican claimed that Democrats and the media wanted to use his controversial remarks to splinter his party.

    “The culture in Washington is corrupt. Human nature is fallen. Compromising activities occur because when other people can place you in compromising positions, they control you,” he said, without specifying who or what he was referring to.

    Cawthorn last month claimed in a podcast that he was invited to an orgy and separately that he saw people do cocaine.

    House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), not one to publicly criticize members of his caucus, issued a rare rebuke to the North Carolina Republican, saying that “he’s lost my trust.”

    “This is unacceptable. There’s no evidence to this,” McCarthy said on Wednesday, noting that Cawthorn was unable to provide proof of his claims. “That’s not becoming of a congressman. He did not tell the truth.”

    “He’s lost my trust, and he’s gonna have to earn it back,” the House GOP leader added. “You can’t just say, ‘You can’t do this again.’ I mean, he’s got—he’s got a lot of members very upset. He can’t just make statements.”

    McCarthy has previously rebuked Cawthorn for also calling Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky a “thug.”

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    Collins, Murkowski, Romney help break deadlock on Jackson’s nomination
    BY JORDAIN CARNEY 04/04/22 7:09 PM ET

    KBJ

    Senate Democrats, backed by three GOP senators, voted on Monday night to break a deadlock on Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s Supreme Court nomination, paving the way for her to be confirmed by the end of the week.

    Senators voted 53-47 to formally discharge Jackson’s nomination to the full Senate. It’s the first time the Senate has had to take the procedural step for a Supreme Court nominee since 1853.

    GOP Sens. Susan Collins (Maine), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), and Mitt Romney (Utah) voted with Democrats to make Jackson’s nomination available for a full Senate vote.

    Collins announced last week that she would vote for Jackson.

    Meanwhile, Murkowski and Romney said in statements on Monday that they would back Jackson, becoming the second and third GOP senators to support her, respectively.

    “I will support the motion to discharge Judge Jackson’s nomination later tonight, and her confirmation later this week,” Murkowski said in a statement.

    Romney added in a separate statement that he had “concluded that she is a well-qualified jurist and a person of honor.”

    “While I do not expect to agree with every decision she may make on the Court, I believe that she more than meets the standard of excellence and integrity,” he added.

    Monday’s vote puts Jackson on track to be confirmed as the first Black, female Supreme Court justice by the end of the week.

    “Despite Republican obstruction, Judge Jackson has enough votes to get confirmed by the Supreme Court on a bipartisan basis. The Senate is going to keep working until she is confirmed,” Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said on Monday.

    Schumer is expected to move on Tuesday to formally tee up an initial vote on Jackson’s nomination for Thursday. After that Republicans could delay a final vote on Jackson’s nomination until Friday if they eat up an additional 30 hours of debate time.

    Jackson, if she’s confirmed, would also be the high court’s first former public defender.

    The limited GOP support comes even after Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said that he conducted outreach to roughly 10 Republican senators.

    But Republicans were largely expected to oppose Jackson’s nomination. Only three GOP senators voted for her current position last year: Collins, Murkowski, and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who was widely viewed as being a “no” vote and ultimately came out against her Supreme Court nomination.

    Murkowski’s previous support of Jackson’s appeals court seat made her a vote to watch. While Romney was considered a swing vote because he had been open minded in her nomination and hit back at some GOP criticism over her sentencing decisions.

    The three votes also line up with an expectation by Senate Republican Whip John Thune (S.D.) that the three GOP votes she got in 2021 was likely the high-water mark for how much Republican support that she would get for the Supreme Court.

    The Senate’s vote on Monday night comes after the Senate Judiciary Committee tied 11-11 on Jackson’s nomination earlier Monday. It was the first time the committee has tied on a Supreme Court nominee since Justice Clarence Thomas in 1991.

    The votes come after a four-day Judiciary Committee hearing late last month, where Jackson faced tense moments with multiple GOP senators on the panel.

    Republicans focused a significant portion of their time questioning Jackson on her sentencing decisions in child porn cases, while also homing in on her work related to Guantanamo Bay detainees and her judicial philosophy.

    The GOP line of questioning sparked some pushback from Republican senators, including Romney.

    Murkowski on Monday that some Republicans were “super great” during the hearing and some were not.

    “I think there was a level of personal attack that was unwarranted,” she said.

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    Senate confirms Jackson as first Black, female Supreme Court justice
    BY JORDAIN CARNEY 04/07/22 2:18 PM ET

    KBJ2

    The Senate made history on Thursday confirming Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court, handing President Biden a significant win.

    Jackson’s ascension to the country’s highest court breaks multiple barriers: She will be the court’s first female, Black justice and its first former public defender.

    Senators voted 53-47 on Jackson’s confirmation. GOP Sens. Susan Collins (Maine), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), and Mitt Romney (Utah) bucked their party and voted to confirm her.

    Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) touted Jackson’s nomination as a “joyous, momentous, groundbreaking day.”

    “In the 233-year history of the Supreme Court, never—never—has a Black Woman held the title of ‘Justice.’ Ketanji Brown Jackson will be the first, and I believe the first of more to come,” Schumer said.

    Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.), one of three Black lawmakers in the Senate, acknowledged his own daughters in a speech shortly before Thursday’s vote, saying “the historic nature of her appointment isn’t lost on me.”

    “I know what it has taken for Judge Jackson to get to this moment, and nobody is going to steal my joy,” he said.

    Underscoring the history of the vote, Vice President Kamala Harris—who was the first female, first Black, and first Asian American person to hold the No. 2 office—presided over the chamber’s confirmation of Jackson.

    More than a dozen Congressional Black Caucus members walked across the Capitol to the Senate chamber to watch the vote.

    Jackson would still need to be sworn in before she’s officially a justice on the Supreme Court. Justice Stephen Breyer, who she is succeeding, has said he will step down over the summer, assuming his successor was in place.

    But Thursday’s vote caps off a roughly 40-day sprint by the White House and Senate Democrats, who are eager to put their own stamp on the judiciary.

    Jackson’s road to confirmation had a number of high-profile tense moments, including Republicans attacking her sentencing on child porn sentences, portraying her as soft on crime, questioning her work tied to Guantanamo Bay and arguing that she would be a “judicial activist.”

    “I see hallmarks of judicial activism in Judge Jackson’s record and will vote ‘no,’” Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) said. “We’re about to have a new Justice whose fan club has openly attacked the rule of law. So Judge Jackson will quickly face a fork in the road. One approach to her new job would delight the far left. A different approach would honor the separation of powers and the Constitution.”

    Republicans held a final press conference shortly before the vote to make their case against Jackson.

    “I believe she will prove to be the furthest left of any justice to have ever served on the Supreme Court. Based on her record,” said Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas).

    Many of those attacks were led by GOP senators viewed as having White House ambitions, like Cruz, and drew pushback from Murkowski and Romney, two of the three GOP senators who voted for Jackson.

    “I think there was a level of personal attack that was unwarranted,” Murkowski said shortly after she announced that she would support Jackson’s nomination.

    Despite the fireworks, Jackson’s confirmation was never seriously in doubt, as Democrats could confirm her without any GOP help if all 50 of their members remained united.

    Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) announced on March 25 that he would back Jackson, putting her on a glide path. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) made her support official on Thursday shortly before the vote, though Jackson already had the votes to be confirmed.

    But top Democrats and the White House were eager to pick up GOP support.

    Though Supreme Court confirmations were once routine affairs, they’ve grown increasingly contentious in recent decades.

    Republicans nixed the 60-vote threshold for Supreme Court nominees in 2017, following a move by Democrats to get rid of the same hurdle for lower-court nominees in 2013. Only three Democratic senators voted for Neil Gorsuch in 2017, who was nominated to succeed the late Justice Antonin Scalia after Republicans refused to give Merrick Garland, President Obama’s final nominee, a hearing or a vote.

    Manchin was the only Democratic senator who voted to support Brett Kavanaugh’s 2018 nomination after he faced sexual assault allegations, which he denied. No Democratic senator voted for Amy Coney Barrett, whose confirmation came days before the 2020 election.

    To try to win over Republicans, Biden reached out to some GOP senators directly, including Murkowski and Collins.

    Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), the No. 2 Senate Democrat, told The Hill that he had reached out to 10 Republican senators as he tried to win over GOP supporters.

    “I talked to 10 people and all of them were pleasant … and only one told me she was going to vote yes, so I had my fingers crossed,” Durbin said about picking up GOP support.

    Three GOP senators voted for Jackson last year for her appeals court seat: Collins, Murkowski, and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.). But Graham was widely viewed to be a no after he pushed hard for another nominee and used Jackson’s four-day hearing to vent GOP grievances over the treatment over past nominees, as well as criticizing Jackson’s sentencing and her work related to Guantanamo Bay detainees.

    While Collins announced her decision last week, Romney and Murkowski announced their support just minutes before they cast an initial vote to advance Jackson’s nomination. Murkowski is the only one of the three that are up for reelection in 2022, where she faces a Trump-backed challenger.

    Collins said that she had spoken with both Romney and Murkowski about Jackson’s nomination before they made an announcement.

    “I obviously am delighted that they reached a very similar conclusion to mine in terms of the rationale, and that the judge will be confirmed on a bipartisan vote,” Collins said. “I think that’s important. It used to be that that was very common when it came to a Supreme Court justice.”

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    String of COVID cases hits DC as nationwide rise looms
    BY PETER SULLIVAN 04/10/22 5:40 AM ET

    C

    A burst of high-profile COVID-19 cases in Washington, D.C., is highlighting the lingering threat of the virus.

    Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Cabinet members including Attorney General Merrick Garland, and a string of lawmakers, have all tested positive in recent days.

    The cases are reminders that the virus is still circulating even as much of America moves forward from the pandemic.

    In fact, experts are bracing for cases to increase in the coming weeks, given an even more highly transmissible subvariant of omicron, known as BA.2, that is circulating widely.

    “I do think we’re going to see an uptick nationally,” said Crystal Watson, senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security. “The question is really how high it will get.”

    Washington, as well as New York and other parts of the northeast, are already seeing upticks in cases.

    The high-profile DC cases, “may be a reflection” of a new spike, Watson said, though she noted it is “hard to tell” exactly how wide a conclusion to draw from them.

    “I do think we’re generally seeing an uptick in cases in D.C.,” she said.

    Still, there are important ways in which any coming increase in cases will likely not be as bad as previous surges.

    People who are vaccinated, especially those who are boosted, have strong protection against severe disease, meaning that while they may still get infected, the symptoms are likely to be mild.

    In addition to the protection offered by vaccination, many people across the country were infected during the first omicron wave over the winter, which means much of the population still has additional immunity.

    “We now have a lot of immunity both from vaccines and from infection,” said Jennifer Nuzzo, an epidemiologist at Brown University. “It’s hard to imagine we will see quite the levels of severe illness that we saw in earlier phases.”

    Some experts now say that hospitalizations are a more important metric than sheer case numbers. With a highly transmissible virus and vaccines that protect against severe disease, the goal has shifted more towards preventing hospitals from being overwhelmed, rather than trying to prevent mild cases from occurring.

    Notably, even as cases have gone up in Washington, D.C., and New York City, hospitalizations continued to decrease, though they tend to lag behind cases.

    Anthony Fauci, President Biden’s chief medical adviser, said on Bloomberg TV this week that he hopes the higher levels of immunity in the population help blunt the worst effects of any coming increase in cases.

    “I would not be surprised if we see an uptick in cases, whether that uptick becomes a surge where there are a lot more cases is difficult to predict,” Fauci said. “But the one thing that I hope, and I believe there’s reason that this will not happen, is that we won’t get a very large increase proportionately in hospitalizations because of the background immunity.”

    Many of the high-profile D.C. cases have appeared to stem from the Gridiron Dinner, a gathering of many top officials. Gridiron organizers said Friday that 53 attendees had been infected.

    Leana Wen, a public health professor at George Washington University, argued in a Washington Post op-ed this week that events like the dinner can still go on in this new phase of “living with COVID-19,” especially if they use safeguards like proof of vaccination and rapid testing beforehand.

    “There are those who would argue it’s irresponsible to hold parties that could turn into super-spreader events,” Wen wrote. “That was true before vaccines were widely available, but it’s no longer realistic. We need to use a different paradigm—one that’s based on individuals being thoughtful about their own risks and the risks they pose to others.”

    Even for President Biden, the White House acknowledged on Friday that he might get the virus, but stressed the protection from he has vaccines and boosters, saying the country is “in a very different place.”

    “It is possible he will test positive for COVID at some point and we’re in a very different place than we were…which is to say we have vaccines, we have treatments,” White House Communications Director Kate Bedingfield said on CNN. “The president is vaccinated and double boosted so, you know, protected from severe COVID.”

    While there is a risk of a new uptick, the current situation is also greatly improved. Cases, at about 29,000 per day, according to a New York Times tracker, are at their lowest point since last summer.

    Hospitalizations have plummeted to about 15,000, and are at their lowest point since the early days of the pandemic in 2020.

    There are still about 500 people dying every day from the virus, concentrated among the unvaccinated.

    While treatments and vaccines have put the country in a far better place, experts warn that Congress’s failure to provide more funding to fight the virus risks the progress.

    The White House says testing capacity will decline in the coming months, and treatments will run out, if more funding is not provided. And if fourth vaccine doses are needed for all Americans, there is not currently enough money to purchase them.

    The United States is also lagging other developed countries in its rates of booster doses.

    “We have not done a good enough job on that front,” Nuzzo said, noting there should be a particular focus on reaching the remaining elderly who are not boosted.

    About half of eligible adults and a third of eligible seniors are not boosted, according to CDC data.

    Making sure people are boosted and protected is key, Nuzzo said, because “this virus isn’t going away.”

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    Mask mandate’s sudden end sparks confusion, mixed messages
    BY ALEX GANGITANO 04/19/22 5:49 PM ET

    MM

    The sudden end to the mask mandate for planes, trains, and buses has sparked confusion for travelers and uncertainty over how to approach travel, especially as the Biden administration recommends that Americans still wear masks on public transit.

    President Biden on Tuesday told reporters “that’s up to them” when asked if people should continue to wear masks on planes.

    His remarks differed from the White House’s messaging since a federal judge in Florida struck down the mandate. White House officials have repeatedly said that they still recommend masks based on Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance.

    Biden wore a mask on Air Force One when he traveled to New Hampshire, a striking difference from the videos and images circulating of travelers taking their masks off in airports and on flights. The White House cited CDC guidance.

    Major U.S. airlines and Amtrak stopped enforcement of mask wearing on Monday evening. Uber and Lyft have also dropped their mask requirements and some major airports like San Francisco International Airport and Dallas-Fort Worth Airport have moved to make masks optional.

    “We are moving to a different stage of the pandemic here. It’s not about top-down mandates but rather about the government empowering individuals to make the best decision for themselves,” said Leana Wen, a public health professor at George Washington University.

    She said that people should understand that even though they are not required to wear a mask, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they shouldn’t.

    “The most challenging will be for two groups,” she said. “One is individuals who are at very high risk for severe illness if they contract COVID-19 themselves and also for families with very young children, who are too young to be unvaccinated and maybe even too young to mask.”

    White House press secretary Jen Psaki pushed back on the notion that it is a confusing time for travelers.

    “I would dispute the notion that people are confused, we are here to alleviate their confusion. The CDC continues to advise and recommend masks on airplanes,” she said on Air Force One on Tuesday. “We’re abiding by the CDC recommendations, the president is, and we would advise all Americans to do that.”

    The mask mandate has been a part of travel since early in the pandemic, when a number of major U.S. airlines put mandates in place well before Biden even took office.

    At the time, unions that represent flight attendants and pilots, as well as major airports, were calling for a nationwide rule.

    Flash forward two years, and the airlines, who throughout the pandemic have been dealing with a rise in unruly passengers—some of them angered by mask mandates—are very ready to move on.

    “U.S airlines have been strong advocates for eliminating pandemic-era policies and are encouraged by the lifting of the federal transportation mask mandate,” AFA, which represents major U.S. airlines, said in a statement.

    The administration now faces a difficult choice on whether to challenge the court ruling.

    The decision is difficult because of the politics, and because the old mask mandate was set to expire on May 3 and many public health experts didn’t think the CDC would extend it.

    Psaki on Tuesday said it would take a couple of days for the Department of Justice to review the decision and make an assessment on an appeal.

    The nation’s largest flight attendant union also asked for time for airlines and airports to implement the new masking rules for travelers.

    “In aviation operations, it is impossible to simply flip a switch from one minute to the next. It takes a minimum of 24-48 hours to implement new procedures and communicate this throughout the entire network,” the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA) said in a statement.

    AFA President Sara Nelson noted that the federal government could appeal the ruling and called for a “focus on clear communication so that flight attendants and other frontline workers are not subject to more violence created by uncertainty and confusion.”

    Wen argued that the administration shouldn’t fight to reinstate the mandate, but they should think about what this means for trust in public health authority for the future.

    “What should worry them is not this decision but the implications on future decisions,” she said. “How they should proceed should depend on what is their best chance for preserving public health authority going forward. It shouldn’t be to fight this battle unless it is necessary to that bigger picture.”

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    Elon Musk reaches deal to buy Twitter for $44 billion
    BY CHRIS MILLS RODRIGO 04/25/22 2:58 PM ET

    EM

    Twitter on Monday reached an agreement to sell itself to Elon Musk for approximately $44 billion, leaving one of the world’s richest men in control of one of the most influential social media platforms.

    The price per share agreed in Monday’s deal is higher than the roughly $48 that the company was trading at before Musk first announced his stake, but significantly lower than the $70 shares were trading at last year.

    Musk has said that he views the acquisition of Twitter as way to protect free speech, declaring during a conference earlier this month that the offer was “not a way to sort of make money.”

    “Free speech is the bedrock of a functioning democracy, and Twitter is the digital town square where matters vital to the future of humanity are debated,” he said in a statement on Monday. “I also want to make Twitter better than ever by enhancing the product with new features, making the algorithms open source to increase trust, defeating the spam bots, and authenticating all humans. Twitter has tremendous potential—I look forward to working with the company and the community of users to unlock it.”

    He’s been less clear about what about Twitter’s current operations are inhibiting free speech or how his leadership might facilitate dialogue. Efforts by alternative social media to be absolutist about free speech have suffered in the past when confronted with the reality that some content moderation is needed to make platforms useable.

    Musk first offered to buy all outstanding shares of the company at $54.20 a share on April 14.

    The deal was met with some skepticism over how the Tesla CEO would secure the funding needed to complete the deal.

    Twitter’s board responded to the offer by adopting a so-called “poison pill” to prevent Musk from accumulating more than 15 percent of the company’s stock. Musk announced earlier this month that he had quietly acquired 9.2 percent of shares.

    But after Musk revealed he had obtained commitments to finance the deal, according to multiple reports, Twitter’s board began negotiating the deal in earnest.

    “The Twitter Board conducted a thoughtful and comprehensive process to assess Elon’s proposal with a deliberate focus on value, certainty, and financing,” Bret Taylor, the chair of Twitter’s board, said in a Monday statement. “The proposed transaction will deliver a substantial cash premium, and we believe it is the best path forward for Twitter’s stockholders.”

    Musk has not publicly commented on whether he would restore the account of former President Trump, who was permanently banned from the platform shortly after the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection at the Capitol, but his comments about free speech have stoked speculation that doing so may be a possibility.

    The Tesla CEO has been more vocal on other potential changes, including adding an edit button. Twitter recently announced it was studying an edit option.

    He has also said he wants to make the company’s algorithms public, sharing access to code showing what posts are promoted or demoted.

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    Senate confirms Brainard as Fed vice chair, stalls on Cook
    BY SYLVAN LANE 04/26/22 3:51 PM ET

    FVC

    The Senate on Tuesday confirmed Federal Reserve Governor Lael Brainard as vice chair of the central bank.

    Senators voted 52 to 43 in favor of Brainard’s confirmation to be the No. 2 official on the Fed board of governors, where she’s served since 2014 at the appointment of former President Obama.

    She will be just the third woman to serve as Fed vice chair since the modern central bank system was established in 1914, following Alice Rivlin and former Fed Chair and current Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen.

    Six Republicans crossed the aisle to support Brainard, pushing her over the necessary 50 votes for confirmation as Democratic Sens. Ron Wyden (Ore.) and Chris Murphy (Conn.) isolate with COVID-19. All Senate Democrats and GOP Sens. Mike Crapo (Idaho), Lindsey Graham (S.C.), Bill Hagerty (Tenn.), Cynthia Lummis (Wyo.), Mike Rounds (S.D.), and Todd Young (Indiana) backed Brainard, who had served as a Treasury undersecretary during the Obama administration and a White House economic adviser during the Clinton administration before joining the Fed.

    Brainard has been aligned with Fed Chair Jerome Powell on the bank’s efforts to fight inflation while preventing a strong U.S. economy from slowing into recession. She supported keeping the Fed’s baseline interest rate range near zero through all of 2021 but pivoted along with Powell in favor of rate hikes as inflation steamed well ahead of the bank’s expectations late last year.

    Progressive Democrats had urged Biden to replace Powell with Brainard, citing her frequent objections to efforts supported by Powell and other Republicans to streamline bank regulations. Even so, Biden opted to renominate Powell, who is popular among lawmakers in both parties, as both the White House and Fed faced rising pressure over their handling of inflation.

    Brainard’s term as vice chair will lapse in 2026, along with the 14-year term on the Fed board she was first confirmed to in 2013. The Fed board of governors has up to seven members serving staggered 14-year terms, three of which serve separate four-year terms as the board’s chair, vice chair and vice chair of supervision.

    The Senate is also expected to confirm the renomination of Powell and the nomination of Davidson College economics professor Philip Jefferson to serve on the Fed board as soon as the end of the week. Both were approved by the Senate Banking Committee earlier this month with overwhelming bipartisan support and should face no trouble clearing the 50-vote hurdle.

    It could be weeks, however, before Biden’s full slate of Fed nominees is confirmed. With Vice President Harris and Wyden and Murphy all sidelined with COVID-19, only nominees with bipartisan support can advance until they return.

    The Senate was also set to advance the nomination of Michigan State economics professor Lisa Cook, who was nominated as a Fed governor, during a scheduled Tuesday floor vote. But with no Republicans backing Cook, Senate Democrats sought unsuccessfully to delay the vote to end debate on her nomination.

    Sen. Pat Toomey (Pa.), the ranking Republican on the Senate Banking Committee, objected to a request from Chairman Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) to delay the vote on Cook’s nomination and move to votes on Powell’s and Jefferson’s nominations.

    Toomey said he refused to allow the delay so the Senate could vote on all three nominees this week, which would force Democrats to take a losing vote on Cook. He called it retribution for Democrats refusing to delay a vote in 2020 on the nomination of Judy Shelton, whom former President Trump tapped for the seat Cook has been nominated to fill.

    The Senate failed to end debate on Shelton’s nomination after two GOP senators with the coronavirus missed the vote, just as two Democratic senators were absent on Tuesday. But Brown said the situations were not comparable because Cook has universal support from Democrats, whereas several GOP senators opposed Shelton.

    While Cook’s nomination will not advance Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) can line up another vote when Democrats return. It is unclear if Republicans will allow Powell and Jefferson to be confirmed before that point.

    Former federal bank regulatory official Michael Barr, Biden’s nominee to serve as Fed vice chair of supervision, is also awaiting a confirmation hearing before the Banking panel.

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    Draft ruling shows Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade: report
    BY JOHN KRUZEL 05/02/22 9:17 PM ET

    RVW

    The Supreme Court is poised to overturn the landmark 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade that protects the federal right to abortion, according to a draft majority opinion published Monday evening by Politico.

    The 67-page document, described as an initial draft majority opinion, would effectively eliminate abortion protections at the federal level and hand authority over abortion access to the states. Penned by Justice Samuel Alito, one of the court’s staunchest conservatives, the opinion concludes by declaring that Roe and the court’s 1992 decision in Planned Parenthood v. Casey have no grounding in the Constitution.

    “We now overrule those decisions and return that authority to the people and their elected representatives,” the opinion states. Under those cases, states were prohibited from banning abortion prior to fetal viability, around 23 weeks.

    A spokesperson for the Supreme Court had no comment in response to questions.

    The justices’ votes are often fluid up to the point of an opinion’s publication, and the draft may have changed since February, when it was purportedly written. A published opinion from the court is expected sometime within the next two months.

    The leak of the draft opinion marks the most stunning breach in recent memory of the secrecy that typically shrouds the Supreme Court and its inner-workings, and it is likely to further tarnish an institution whose perception among the public has recently fallen to historic lows.

    If the court indeed follows the draft’s contours and strikes down Roe in coming months, it would send political shockwaves through the country ahead of the November midterm elections. According to a December poll by Harvard CAPS-Harris, a majority—54 percent—of Americans said they oppose overturning Roe v. Wade.

    The Hill could not independently verify the document’s authenticity. But Politico, in an editor’s note, said it undertook an extensive review and is “confident of the authenticity of the draft.”

    Alito, in the draft opinion, employed language that mirrored remarks he made during a December oral argument in which he said he viewed Roe as “egregiously wrong.”

    The issue before the court was a Mississippi law that bans virtually all abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. Deep-red Mississippi, in court papers, explicitly asked the justices to use the case as a vehicle to overturn the landmark 1973 decision that first recognized a constitutional right to abortion existing in the 14th Amendment’s due process clause.

    “Roe was egregiously wrong from the start. Its reasoning was exceptionally weak, and the decision has had damaging consequences,” Alito’s majority opinion draft states. “And far from bringing about a national settlement of the abortion issue, Roe and Casey have inflamed debate and deepened division.”

    Politico, citing an unnamed source, said that majority also included fellow conservative Justice Clarence Thomas as well as former President Trump’s three nominees: Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett.

    Many Republican officials urged the court to adopt this approach, including a dozen GOP governors who urged the justices in a friend-of-the-court brief to use the Mississippi case to eliminate federal abortion protections and let states regulate the procedure. The 2018 Mississippi law at issue in the case, which has been paused during litigation, is just one of hundreds of abortion measures that state legislatures passed in recent years.

    Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the court’s most outspoken liberal, issued a dire warning to her fellow justices during the December oral argument about the repercussions of turning over the issue of abortion to the states.

    She suggested such a move would be seen as highly politicized and merely a reflection of the court’s new lopsided 6-3 conservative majority resulting from the seating of Trump’s three nominees.

    “Will this institution survive the stench that this creates in the public perception that the Constitution and its reading are just political acts?” she asked Mississippi’s solicitor general. “I don’t see how it is possible.”

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    Karine Jean-Pierre to replace Jen Psaki as White House press secretary
    BY MORGAN CHALFANT 05/05/22 3:48 PM ET

    KJP

    The White House announced Thursday that Karine Jean-Pierre will replace Jen Psaki as White House press secretary in the coming week.

    Jean-Pierre, the current the principal deputy press secretary, will become the first openly gay person and first Black woman to hold the role of White House press secretary. The White House said that Jean-Pierre would assume the position on May 13.

    “Karine not only brings the experience, talent, and integrity needed for this difficult job, but she will continue to lead the way in communicating about the work of the Biden-Harris Administration on behalf of the American people,” President Biden said in a statement. “Jill and I have known and respected Karine a long time and she will be a strong voice speaking for me and this Administration.”

    “Jen Psaki has set the standard for returning decency, respect, and decorum to the White House Briefing Room,” he said. “I want to say thank you to Jen for raising the bar, communicating directly and truthfully to the American people, and keeping her sense of humor while doing so.”

    Psaki, who has held the role of press secretary since the start of the Biden administration, is expected to leave for a job at MSNBC.

    Psaki described Jean-Pierre as a “remarkable woman” and noted her experience in New York City politics and government as well as her work as an adviser to Biden when he served as vice president during the Obama administration. Psaki also noted the historic nature of Jean-Pierre’s ascension to the role.

    “Representation matters and she will give a voice to many, but also make many dream big about what is truly possible,” Psaki tweeted.

    Thursday’s announcement ends months of speculation about who would replace Psaki when she decides to depart the administration. Jean-Pierre has always been viewed as the leading contender for the role, but other names have been floated as possibilities, including White House communications director Kate Bedingfield.

    Psaki had initially planned to leave her role after about a year.

    Reports emerged last month that she was in discussions for a role at MSNBC. Psaki has not confirmed those discussions, and Thursday’s announcement said nothing about her future plans.

    Jean-Pierre has a lengthy résumé of political and government jobs, including serving on Biden’s campaign and before that as chief public affairs officer for MoveOn.org. She has worked in the White House under former President Obama and on Obama’s 2008 and 2012 campaigns.

    Having served as Psaki’s deputy for more than a year, Jean-Pierre has gaggled and briefed reporters from the podium several times.

    Jean-Pierre made history about a year ago when she delivered her first briefing, becoming the first openly LGBTQ person to brief from the podium.

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    Senate GOP, Manchin block abortion rights legislation
    BY JORDAIN CARNEY 05/11/22 4:26 PM ET

    GOP

    Senate Republicans, joined by Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin (W.Va.), blocked legislation on Wednesday intended to enshrine abortion protections into law ahead of a possible ruling this summer by a conservative-majority Supreme Court striking down the Roe v. Wade decision.

    Democrats fell more than 10 votes short of advancing the legislation, touted as a way to codify Roe v. Wade, which guarantees the right to an abortion, into law. It needed 60 votes to move forward.

    The outcome, which was expected, is likely to ramp up emotions after a leaked draft decision last week showed the Supreme Court was ready to take the historic step of overturning its landmark 1973 decision on abortion rights.

    Democrats have warned that decision would rip away what has been a right for millions of people for nearly half a century, with the negative effects disproportionately falling on the poor.

    “Today’s vote is one of the most consequential we will take in decades, because for the first time in 50 years a conservative majority—an extreme majority—on the Supreme Court is on the brink of declaring that women do not have freedom over their own bodies, one of the longest steps back in the court’s entire history; a decision if enacted will go down as one of the worst court decisions ever. The name of this decision will live in infamy,” Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said.

    Underscoring the importance of the vote for Democrats, Vice President Harris was in attendance. Roughly two dozen House Democrats also marched over to the Senate chamber earlier Wednesday, chanting, “My body, my choice.”

    Republicans argued the legislation considered by the Senate went further than most Americans would want to go on abortion rights, infringing on religious liberty and state laws.

    “Our Democratic colleagues want to vote for abortion on demand through all nine months, until the moment before a baby is born. A failed show vote that will only prove their own extremism,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said.

    Democrats are hoping fury over the possibility of abortion rights being severely eroded will be a clarion call for their supporters in the midterm elections.

    Schumer previewed the Democratic argument after the failed vote.

    “Elect more MAGA Republicans, if you want to see a nationwide ban on abortion, if you want to see doctors and women arrested, if you want to see no exceptions for rape or incest,” Schumer told reporters after the vote.

    “Americans strongly oppose getting rid of Roe, and they will be paying close attention from now until November to Republicans who are responsible for its demise,” he said.

    The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee released its first ad responding to the Supreme Court draft on Wednesday, warning that a Republican-controlled Senate would work to ban abortions nationwide and limit access to birth control.

    Republicans shrugged off Democratic arguments that voters might make them pay in November, arguing inflation is likely to be a bigger issue.

    “I don’t think we see it as a hard vote. I don’t think Collins or Murkowski see it as a hard vote,” Sen. Roy Blunt (Mo.), the No. 4 GOP senator, told The Hill, referring to Sens. Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) and Susan Collins (Maine), the caucus’s two Republicans who support abortion rights.

    Murkowski and Collins, along with Manchin, three swing votes in the Senate, all voted against the Democratic legislation.

    Manchin buttressed the GOP arguments to an extent, saying the bill on the floor went too far.

    “We’re going to be voting for a piece of legislation that I will not be voting for today,” Manchin told reporters ahead of the vote. “But I would vote for a Roe v. Wade codification if it was today. I was hopeful for that, but I found out yesterday in caucus that that wasn’t going to be.”

    The battle lines in the Senate over abortion rights have been clear for years. But the leaked draft, reported by Politico, reignited a firestorm on Capitol Hill that has largely been the dominant issue talked about by senators in the roughly week since then.

    Chief Justice John Roberts has acknowledged the authenticity of the draft, though he said in a statement it did not represent the court’s final word.

    It was reported that four other conservative justices on the court are ready to vote with Justice Samuel Alito, the author of the draft opinion, to strike down Roe v. Wade regardless of Roberts. The decision, and which justices vote for it, isn’t final until it is released publicly.

    Several polls have shown that a majority of voters support Roe being upheld, giving Democrats an opening on the issue.

    Sixty-four percent of respondents to a CBS News-YouGov poll said that they thought the Supreme Court should keep the decision the way it is. Similarly, 66 percent of respondents to a CNN poll found that Roe v. Wade should not be struck down.

    Democrats made changes to the legislation from an initial version that failed in the Senate earlier this year with the aim of shoring up support within their own caucus.

    Democrats removed a nonbinding findings section that, among other provisions, referred to restrictions on abortion as perpetuating “white supremacy” and called it “a tool of gender oppression.”

    The bill would prevent governments from limiting a health care provider’s ability to prescribe certain drugs or prevent health care providers from providing immediate abortion services if a delay would risk a patient’s health, according to the Congressional Research Service.

    It also prevents governments from being able to require that a patient make “medically unnecessary in-person visits” before an abortion and would also prevent the government from requiring patients to disclose why they are seeking an abortion.

    The bill also broadly would prevent governments from enacting a law that would create similar limits or that “singles out the provision of abortion services, health care providers who provide abortion services, or facilities in which abortion services are provided” and “impedes access to abortion services.”

    In a win for Democrats, Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) announced this week that he would support the substance of the legislation.

    But Manchin, who also voted against the earlier version of the bill, remained opposed.

    Democrats are vowing that the fight isn’t over, but where it goes next is unclear. Some progressive are calling for the Senate to create a carveout to or get rid of the legislative filibuster, which requires 60 votes for most legislation, in order to pass abortion protections. But both Manchin and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) reiterated earlier this month that they support the filibuster.

    Democrats who led the months-long rules change discussion say a filibuster change has not been a part of the caucus’s internal discussions on how to respond to the draft Supreme Court ruling.

    “Everybody’s position is pretty locked in … I haven’t really heard that as a point of discussion in caucus meetings,” said Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.).

    Kaine is in early discussions with Collins to see if they could come up with compromise legislation to codify Roe, though they both stressed that they aren’t close to filing a bill.

    But a compromise, if they can reach one, could struggle to get 60 votes in the Senate given deep division lines on abortion. That would leave the final word to the Supreme Court—and then states across the country. Thirteen states have so-called trigger laws that would kick in to largely ban abortion immediately.

    “The unfortunate reality is that 26 other states stand ready to ban abortion rights in the absence of Roe,” said Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.). “What are the women of these states to do?”

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    Fetterman wins Pennsylvania Democratic Senate primary
    BY TAL AXELROD 5/17/22 8:55 PM ET

    JF

    Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman on Tuesday was projected to win the state’s Democratic Senate primary, overcoming a high-profile challenge from Rep. Conor Lamb in the race to fill retiring Sen. Pat Toomey’s (R) open seat.

    The Associated Press called the race at 8:54 p.m. ET.

    Fetterman, who also bested state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta, held a consistent double-digit polling lead for much of the primary.

    The three candidates were largely similar in their policies, but Fetterman was viewed more as a progressive candidate in part due to his past support for Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), sharp barbs against Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), and staunch advocacy for a $15 minimum wage and legalized marijuana. Lamb, a buttoned-up former Marine and prosecutor, was largely pegged as a moderate.

    Democrats have debated for months whether Fetterman is electable. Some argue his progressive reputation could make him unappealing to swing voters, while others suggest his personal brand—he is 6 feet, 9 inches tall and sports a goatee and forearm tattoos—portrays him as authentic.

    President Biden quickly issued a statement saying Fetterman could win in November.

    “As Pennsylvania’s Lieutenant Governor, John Fetterman understands that working class families in Pennsylvania and across the country have been dealt out for far too long. It’s time to deal them back in, and electing John to the United States Senate would be a big step forward for Pennsylvania’s working people. Democrats are united around John, who is a strong nominee, will run a tough race, and can win in November,” Biden said.

    Fetterman suffered a stroke Friday, though Democratic operatives think it will not be an issue come November, as he’s expected to make a full recovery. He also underwent successful surgery to have a pacemaker installed earlier Tuesday.

    Fetterman’s victory marks a key win for progressives who have faced a slate of setbacks against moderate candidates so far this cycle.

    Biden says Democrats are united around Fetterman for Senate
    Deshaun Watson testifies woman cried at end of massage: attorney
    The lieutenant governor will now run in what Democrats say is one of their best chances to flip a Senate seat this midterm cycle.

    “John is a leader with backbone who never stands down from doing the right thing for working Pennsylvanians. While Republicans have spent months viciously exposing the flaws in each of their candidates, John is running to ensure no person, no town, and no neighborhood in the Commonwealth is left behind–and those are the values he’ll bring to representing Pennsylvania in the U.S. Senate,” said Sen. Gary Peters (Mich.), the chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

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    Search for Supreme Court leaker falls to former Army colonel
    By JESSICA GRESKO, Associated Press | 5/24/22 | 7h ago

    GC

    Her most public role was supposed to be in the courtroom, where the Marshal bangs a gavel and announces the entrance of the court’s nine justices. Her brief script includes “Oyez! Oyez! Oyez!”—meaning “hear ye”—and concludes, “God save the United States and this Honorable Court.”

    Earlier this month, however, Curley was handed a bombshell of an assignment, overseeing an unprecedented breach of Supreme Court secrecy, the leak of a draft opinion and apparent votes in a major abortion case. Leaks to Politico suggest that the court seems ready to overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that women have a constitutional right to abortion. That has sparked protests and round-the-clock security at justices’ homes, demonstrations at the court, and concerns about violence following the court’s ultimate decision.

    People who know Curley described the former Army colonel and military lawyer as possessing the right temperament for a highly charged leak investigation: smart, private, apolitical, and unlikely to be intimidated.

    “I’m confident that if the truth can be found out here, she’ll find it out and present it in an unbiased manner,” said retired Army Brig. Gen. Patrick Huston, her direct supervisor at the Pentagon in her last military job before the Supreme Court. Huston said he was incredibly impressed by Curley and that she had a tremendous reputation as a leader, but even as her boss of two years he didn’t know if she had a spouse or children.

    Through a court spokeswoman, Curley declined an interview request. She is the court’s 11th Marshal and the second woman to hold the post. She is also in some ways constrained in her investigation by her position, which was created just after the Civil War, in 1867. Experts say leaking the draft opinion likely wasn’t a crime, and Curley’s investigative tools are limited. She could theoretically hire an outside law firm to assist, and in other judicial records cases the FBI has been called in. But it isn’t clear if she or others have the power to issue subpoenas to get material from journalists or the fewer than 100 people in the court—including justices—with access to a draft opinion.

    The investigation doesn’t appear to have any real precedent. In 1973 the outcome in the Roe case leaked several hours ahead of its announcement. The chief justice at the time was furious and threatened lie detector tests, but the leaker quickly came forward and explained it had been an accident.

    Even if the circumstances are different, overseeing an investigation isn’t new to Curley. In her military career she routinely oversaw a dozen or more criminal and administrative investigations and supervised large numbers of attorneys and paralegals, Huston said. She was an authority on international law and laws surrounding armed conflict, but the investigations she oversaw throughout her career could range broadly, from criminal matters involving service members to contract issues. Huston described her as “not the sort of person who would ever be intimidated by anything.”

    Curley began her military career at West Point, where just under 10% of her 1991 graduating class was women. Lisa Freidel, a member of the same 25-member company as Curley, remembered her as kind and studious but also a “pretty serious person.”

    “She didn’t like the tomfoolery of some of the boys, some of the guys, in our company. They were young men. They do stupid stuff. She did not like that,” Freidel remembered, adding Curley “wanted to be surrounded with intellectuals, people that were smart to challenge her.”

    Curley, was dubbed “Swirlin’ Curl” in West Point’s yearbook, which listed her hometown as Baltimore. She was also something of an introvert, Freidel said, adding that she never met Curley’s parents, just an aunt and uncle, and couldn’t remember her talking about siblings.

    In school, Curley was interested in American politics and government, an interest that coincided with one West Point requirement: being knowledgeable about current affairs. The New York Times was delivered every morning and cadets were supposed to be able to talk about four articles in the paper every day, Freidel remembered.

    “You had to make sure your shoes were shined, your belt buckles were all shined and everything before formation and try to memorize the paper,” she said.

    Still, Curley found time for extracurricular activities. A domestic affairs club she was a member of took a trip her senior year to Washington that included a meeting with Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. “See you in the White House someday!” her yearbook entry reads.

    After graduating, she joined the Army’s Signal Corps, which is responsible for setting up communication systems in the field.

    “I’ve been very fortunate in my career,” Curley said of that time according to a 2017 news article. “As a young Army signal officer I was able to lead a large platoon in Europe during my first assignment … that was at a time when women were not allowed to serve as platoon leaders in certain jobs.”

    She eventually went on to earn a law degree from the University of Illinois College of Law and become an Army lawyer. Her career took her around the United States but also to Afghanistan for a year. Later, she spent three years in Germany as the chief legal adviser to the commander of U.S. Army Europe, first Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges, who is now retired, and then Lt. Gen. Christopher Cavoli. Cavoli, now a four-star general, was nominated earlier this month to serve as the Supreme Allied Commander for NATO.

    In Germany, Curley was the senior Army attorney overseeing some 300 legal officials throughout Europe. She also provided “legal review and advice on the millions of things we were doing,” Hodges said in an interview.

    “I don’t know if I’ve ever met anybody more with more integrity,” Hodges said, adding that Curley also had a sense of humor and “a real dose of humility.”

    The three-star general said because he liked and respected her so much, he would sometimes tease her. She had no problem holding her own, he said.

    “She had the confidence of knowing that her IQ was about 40 points higher than mine,” he said. “And so she could afford to be self-confident.”

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    Ethics panel investigating Cawthorn over crypto, improper staff relationship
    BY EMILY BROOKS 05/23/22 2:56 PM ET

    MC

    The House Ethics Committee has launched a probe into embattled Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-N.C.) to determine whether he improperly promoted a cryptocurrency without disclosing he had a financial interest in it and whether he had an improper relationship with a staff member employed in his congressional office.

    The announcement of the probe came on Monday, after the committee voted to establish an investigative subcommittee on May 11. The committee noted that establishment of an investigative subcommittee does not mean that a violation has occurred.

    Cawthorn, a 26-year-old first-term congressman, lost his May 17 primary election to Republican state Sen. Chuck Edwards after a long string of scandals that included the two matters being investigated by the committee.

    The outgoing congressman’s office is maintaining that he has done nothing wrong.

    “We welcome the opportunity to prove that Congressman Cawthorn committed no wrongdoing and that he was falsely accused by partisan adversaries for political gain,” Blake Harp, Cawthorn’s chief of staff, told The Hill in a statement. “This inquiry is a formality. Our office isn’t deterred in the slightest from completing the job the patriots of Western North Carolina sent us to Washington to accomplish.”

    An anti-Cawthorn PAC filed an ethics complaint against Cawthorn on April 29, listing the cryptocurrency matter and his relationship with and alleged gifts to his scheduler, who is also his distant cousin. A video included in the ethics complaint, first reported by the Daily Mail, showed Cawthorn with his scheduler in a car speaking about suggestive topics in an exaggerated accent and his scheduler reaching into Cawthorn’s crotch.

    Another video was released by the anti-Cawthorn PAC the following week that showed Cawthorn nude engaging in more suggestive behavior in a bed with another individual. Cawthorn at the time said that he was “being crass with a friend, trying to be funny,” and that it was filmed years ago.

    A Washington Examiner report first suggested that Cawthorn may have violated insider trading laws by promoting a cryptocurrency called Let’s Go Brandon. The issue prompted Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), who backed Edwards in the primary, to call for an ethics investigation into Cawthorn. Cawthorn has denied having insider knowledge when he promoted the cryptocurrency, calling the claims in the report “shallow.”

    Rep. Veronica Escobar (D-Texas) will chair the investigative subcommittee looking into Cawthorn, and Rep. Michael Guest (R-Miss.) will be its ranking member.

    “Pursuant to the Committee’s action, the Investigative Subcommittee shall have jurisdiction to determine whether Representative Madison Cawthorn may have: improperly promoted a cryptocurrency in which he may have had an undisclosed financial interest, and engaged in an improper relationship with an individual employed on his congressional staff,” the Ethics Committee said in a statement.

    The committee also considered an ethics issue relating to Cawthorn being charged with driving with a revoked license and speeding in North Carolina, but voted against further probing that matter with an investigative subcommittee. Cawthorn told the committee that he had paid a fine to resolve one of the charges and intended to do so for the remaining charges, a report said.

    Other matters named in the anti-Cawthorn PAC’s ethics complaint, including his bringing a knife onto school property and twice bringing a loaded firearm to airport security checkpoints, were not addressed by the Ethics Committee.

    Last month, Cawthorn appeared to brush off the ethics complaint and release of the salacious video.

    “Digging stuff up from my early 20s to smear me is pathetic,” Cawthorn said in a tweet at the time. “At least be consistent with your attack instead of changing the focus every time. A campaign based on nothing but slander and personal attacks is a campaign that lacks a true sense of how to save the country from the leftists.”

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