Congress Republicans Didn’t Get Less Popular After All That Speaker Drama — They Were Already Unpopular By Nathaniel Rakich Jan. 26, 2023, at 6:00 AM House Speaker Kevin McCarthy won the gavel…
Quando foi resgatada, em 2005, a onça Gavião pesava 100 quilos. Passou 11 anos de sua vida amarrada como um cachorro em um cabo de aço de 20 metros. Teve suas garras…
NEW YORK — Documents with classified markings were discovered in former Vice President Mike Pence’s Indiana residence last week, his lawyer says, the latest in a string of recoveries of confidential information…
About Vote Democrat
Vote Democrat is a platform for in-depth news on progressive issues, candidates and election news. We also act as a hub for educational resources and information to promote civic engagement and participation.
Subscribe to get progressive news and updates delivered to your inbox!
Welcome to FiveThirtyEight’s politics chat. The transcript below has been lightly edited.
nrakich (Nathaniel Rakich, senior elections analyst): President Biden is in hot water over the discovery of classified documents from the Obama administration in his possession. In November, attorneys for the president discovered a handful of documents with classified markings on them at the Penn Biden Center in Washington, D.C., and immediately contacted the National Archives, who took back possession of the documents the next day. However, we didn’t learn this until a couple weeks ago, and since then, Biden aides have found more pages of classified material at Biden’s home in Delaware, and Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed a special counsel to look into the matter impartially. And this past week, at Biden’s invitation, the Justice Department searched Biden’s Delaware home and took away six additional items, some with classified markings.
The story has drawn comparisons to former President Donald Trump’s possession of classified documents, which led to an FBI search of Mar-a-Lago last summer. (Editor’s note: This chat was conducted before Tuesday’s revelation that classified documents were also found at former Vice President Mike Pence’s home.) But given the important differences between the two cases, is that a fair comparison to make? Or is this just a trumped-up (pun intended) story driven by a slow news cycle?
kaleigh (Kaleigh Rogers, technology and politics reporter): I think it’s a fair comparison. The differences in how each president responded to the revelation are certainly noteworthy, but I feel like they’ve been overemphasized a bit. At the end of the day, they both did the same wrong thing, which is keeping documents that they weren’t supposed to keep. Now, you can argue about whether the current system for determining how documents are classified even makes sense, but that argument doesn’t favor one president’s situation over the other’s.
ameliatd (Amelia Thomson-DeVeaux, senior writer): It’s a comparison that people will inevitably make because both of the cases involve special counsels, and both involve classified documents. From a legal perspective, there are a lot of important differences, including — crucially — how the documents were discovered and how Trump and Biden responded. But once the special counsel has been appointed it’s harder for people to understand that nuance.
This is generally the issue presidents run into with special counsel investigations — it’s all well and good to say you want the role to exist, but they’ve nettled most modern presidents regardless of how the investigations actually turned out. In this case, Garland really had no option but to appoint a special counsel to investigate Biden because he had just appointed one to investigate Trump. And the mere act of appointing the special counsel sends the signal that these are equally serious cases.
nrakich: I think of it this way: These are fundamentally the same genre of scandal, but the degree of seriousness is different. As Amelia alluded to, Biden and Trump have responded very differently: Biden contacted the National Archives right away and invited the Justice Department to search his home. For Trump, it was actually the National Archives that contacted him, and a grand jury had to issue a subpoena to get the documents back. And even after Trump’s team said he complied with the subpoena, it turned out he still hadn’t handed over everything, prompting the FBI’s search of Mar-a-Lago — which Trump very much did not consent to.
kaleigh: But don’t you think Biden’s reaction was, in part, an attempt to create some daylight between him and Trump since, essentially, they both did the same thing? Biden had to kind of be over-the-top with transparency and invite investigators into his home because otherwise it just looks like Biden did the same thing as Trump, which Democrats and left-wing media had just spent months saying was Really Bad.
nrakich: Yeah, Kaleigh, I think that’s right. But I also think there are questions of intentionality that, unfortunately, we may never get a definitive answer to. There have been allegations that Trump wanted to hold onto these classified documents after he left office, as mementos almost. By contrast, I don’t think there’s much reason to think Biden’s possession of these documents was anything other than carelessness (which, to be clear, is still really bad when you’re talking about state secrets!).
Interestingly, though, Americans may not distinguish much between Biden and Trump on the intentionality point. According to a recent survey from YouGov/The Economist, Americans said that Biden took the classified documents intentionally 39 percent to 28 percent. They said the same thing about Trump 50 percent to 24 percent. Of course, a lot of respondents were (rightfully, IMO) not sure about both questions.
kaleigh: Surely the special counsel investigation will reveal all the answers, Nathaniel!
nrakich: Amelia, you said earlier that Garland’s appointment of special counsels to investigate both Trump and Biden implies that they’re parallel cases even though the legal facts are different. So do you think Garland shouldn’t have appointed a special counsel in Biden’s case?
ameliatd: I don’t mean that he should or shouldn’t have — without knowing the details, it’s hard to say. As Kaleigh said, keeping classified documents in your home (or garage) after leaving the White House is bad. My concern is that the politics of the situation will overshadow the legal outcomes because the mechanism for figuring out what happened is so similar.
kaleigh: My own point is, the parallelism was already there, and that’s why Garland had to appoint the second special counsel. It’s a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy.
ameliatd: There’s an argument that the role of special counsels is overblown anyway. They’re empowered to investigate with a measure of independence from the Department of Justice. Now, as we saw during Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian interference into the 2016 election, many of the rules surrounding special counsels are open to interpretation, and the attorney general can end up playing a significant role — as when former Attorney General Bill Barr wrote a misleading summary of Mueller’s report that ended up shaping the initial narrative.
There’s also a history of special counsels overreaching and having their power curbed. In the 1980s and 1990s, independent counsels were much more independent than they are now (yes, “independent counsels” are different from special counsels — welcome to the word-soup nightmare that I lived in for several years), and Congress ended up clawing back their power. In fact, that’s how we ended up with the much more pared-down role that we have now.
Now, instead of being appointed by a court, special counsels’ credibility with the public is derived from the fact that they’re perceived as being independent from the executive branch, so their findings can be trusted. And my concern is that the more special counsel investigations happen, the less power they’ll have to do the thing they’re actually supposed to do — and the less trust there will be in the outcome — because the process has become so enmeshed with politics.
nrakich: Interesting. If you had to guess, Amelia, how do you think these special counsel investigations will end? It almost sounds like they will just release their reports and nothing will happen, no one’s minds will change — except maybe to think that the special counsel investigations were toothless from the start.
ameliatd: I’m not sure how they’ll end. It’s possible that they’ll result in charges. But from a public opinion perspective, I’m not sure it matters because people generally perceive that the two counsels are dealing with the same types of issues (the mishandling of classified documents), even though, from a legal perspective, how Trump and Biden responded actually matters a lot.
nrakich: Well, we are a public opinion website, so let’s talk about that public opinion. Do we have any polls yet showing how Americans are thinking about Biden’s classified documents scandal vs. Trump’s?
kaleigh: Yeah, there was a YouGov/Yahoo News survey earlier this month that captured a striking dynamic, in my (non-public) opinion. When asked whether they thought Biden keeping classified documents was more serious than Trump or vice versa, 31 percent of Americans said Biden’s situation was less serious than Trump’s, 21 percent said it was more serious than Trump’s and 32 percent said the situations were equally serious.
One thing that stood out to me was the fact that Republicans were more likely than Democrats to say Biden’s and Trump’s transgressions were equally serious. Forty-two percent of Republicans said both cases were equally serious, while 41 percent said Biden’s was more serious, but a majority of Democrats (57 percent) said Biden’s incident was less serious than Trump’s and only 24 percent said they were equivalent.
You might expect the results to be more baldly partisan with a majority of Republicans saying Biden’s case is more serious and a majority of Democrats saying Biden’s is less serious. So the fact that a plurality of Republicans said they’re equal, I think, gets to the inescapable reality here, which is that it’s really hard to say what Biden did was awful and then turn around and claim Trump did nothing wrong.
nrakich: Yeah, the official Republican Party line on this — among elites as well as voters — seems to be, “See, Biden did it too! They are just as bad!” Whereas the Democratic position is, “What Biden did is bad, but what Trump did is worse.”
ameliatd: That’s interesting, Kaleigh. So you think it does matter how it unfolds? And if the outcome is more serious in the Trump investigation, that won’t be seen as a political outcome?
kaleigh: I wouldn’t go that far. I think the reactions to both these cases are still going to break down along partisan lines, but I think they suggest that Republicans didn’t love how Trump handled things here, and Biden’s actions after the documents were discovered were a little more palatable even if, at the root, they both started off doing the same wrong thing.
ameliatd: My cynical view is that special counsel investigations are rarely going to move the needle anyway, but now they really won’t because Biden no longer has the ability to claim the moral high ground.
The lesson: Never criticize a past president’s behavior until you are absolutely sure there are no classified documents in your garage.
nrakich: I might go that far. Maybe this isn’t cynical enough of me, but I feel like the fact that the cases are initially being handled the same way will create more credibility if their findings diverge.
As we’ve already discussed, Garland appointing a special counsel in both cases does create this initial impression that they are equivalent, which is how a plurality of Americans feel, according to both Kaleigh’s YouGov/Yahoo News poll and the YouGov/The Economist poll I cited earlier. (That said, a poll from Ipsos/ABC News found that only 30 percent of Americans viewed the two scandals equivalently, while 43 percent believed Trump’s was worse.) But after counsels finish their work, Americans may feel differently.
ameliatd: But fundamentally they’re both happening under Garland’s watch. And that’s why I think the role is flawed — it’s kind of independent, but still enmeshed enough in the executive branch that it’s pretty easy for people to mistrust or misread.
nrakich: Yes, true.
ameliatd: And if you make the investigation truly independent, then you run into the situation we had in the 1980s and 1990s, where members of the executive branch (and the president) were constantly being investigated, and one investigation on a completely unrelated topic led to former President Bill Clinton’s impeachment.
kaleigh: I wondered how long it would take us to get to Ken Starr!
ameliatd: To be clear, I don’t think there’s an easy answer here! There are certainly situations where independence from the Department of Justice is valuable and necessary, and maybe this is one of them. But the special counsel-upon-special counsel domino effect doesn’t seem great to me.
nrakich: We’ve been putting a lot on poor Merrick Garland (hasn’t he been through enough???) and the special counsels, but I want to make sure we acknowledge our own role here — and by “we,” I mean the media. How would you guys grade media coverage of this story for Biden, especially in comparison to media coverage of Trump? How much responsibility does the media bear for many Americans thinking Biden and Trump are equally guilty?
ameliatd: I do think Kaleigh is right that Garland had no choice but to appoint a special counsel in part because of the media coverage.
It’s hard, though. As journalists, we want to hold powerful figures accountable, and that certainly includes the president. And Biden did spend months talking about how bad it was that Trump kept classified documents — only to have it turn out that he did (sort of) the same thing.
kaleigh: To be honest, and maybe this is indicative of the media I consume, I’ve seen an effort from the media to try to differentiate the two. You can’t listen to an NPR hit or read a New York Times story about it without getting an obligatory mention of how Biden responded differently, alerted the National Archives right away, cooperated with investigators, etc., etc.
nrakich: Yep. CBS News, which broke the original story, had a whole section in its article about that:
The Penn Biden Center case has parallels to the Justice Department’s pursuit of Donald Trump’s presidential records — but the scope and scale are materially different. In August, the FBI executed a search warrant at Mar-a-Lago that yielded hundreds of documents marked classified.
That unprecedented search followed more than a year of tussling between Trump’s representatives, the National Archives, and the Justice Department. The search warrant was sought and executed in August after multiple failed attempts by the federal government to retrieve what it considered to be sensitive documents at the former president’s personal residence that should have been turned over to Archives under law.
kaleigh: I mean, look. That is part of the story, so this is partly due diligence. It would be negligent to not even mention that aspect. But at some point, it feels like a RIGBY situation, where there’s this obligation to caveat any coverage lest it comes across as equating the two in any way.
nrakich: When you look at volume, though, cable news at least has been covering Biden’s story more. According to closed-captioning data from the Internet Archive’s Television News Archive, the three major cable news networks (CNN, Fox News and MSNBC) mentioned the word “classified” in an average of 357 15-second clips per day in the two weeks following the FBI’s search of Mar-a-Lago (Aug. 8-21, 2022). Meanwhile, the networks mentioned the same word in an average of 478 15-second clips per day in the two weeks after Biden’s own classified documents story broke (Jan. 9-22, 2023).
But the coverage gap is due to one channel in particular. CNN has covered the stories the most equally, with an average of 136 mentions per day over the August 2022 time period (Trump) and 154 this month (Biden). MSNBC covered Trump’s case a little more than it has covered Biden’s, with an average 153 mentions of “classified” per day in the August timeframe and 125 in the January one. But Fox News has covered Biden’s scandal way more than it covered Trump’s, mentioning “classified” an average of 199 times per day during the January time period but only 68 times per day during the August one.
kaleigh: Right, and it’s not shocking that MSNBC covered Trump’s documents more than it’s covering Biden’s documents and Fox covered Biden’s documents more than it covered Trump’s documents. What’s interesting to me is that in both cases there was kind of a frenzy right away, but it has tapered off at about the same rate.
ameliatd: I also wonder how much coverage the Biden story would be getting if we weren't in a slow news cycle...
kaleigh: And if Trump hadn’t just done the same thing, basically. The Democrats could wave this off as a nothingburger a lot more easily if they hadn’t just been dragging Trump for doing the same thing.
nrakich: Yeah, I think the slow news cycle is a big part of it. I'll get a little meta here and talk about how we’ve covered these scandals here at FiveThirtyEight: This is the third piece of content we have published about Biden's classified documents, but we only published two about Trump's. But it's not because we think Biden's case is more serious than Trump's; it's because last August was a much busier time for political news. If we had had unlimited resources, I think we would have written more about Trump’s predicament, but that was the thick of midterm-election season, and we had so much else to cover that we just didn't get to it.
Biden’s story has also come out in dribs and drabs — the first documents were found at the Penn Biden Center, and then a few more were found at Biden's home, and then a few more were found there, etc. I think that has given it a little more life than it otherwise would have. But I’m curious to see if it has staying power in the media’s and public’s minds even after new revelations stop coming to light.
kaleigh: That will partly depend on whether anything more newsworthy happens … or if the most exciting debate is still about kitchen appliances.
In November, fans saved up hundreds of dollars and took days off work during pre-sales so they could wait in virtual queues to buy tickets to Taylor Swift’s upcoming tour. Some waited for hours on Ticketmaster’s website, only to see tickets they’d selected disappear from their carts or be booted out of line when the website glitched. Many of those lucky enough to secure tickets were hit with costly fees, and resellers began to list tickets online for more than $20,000. Fans hoping to snag tickets in the general sale were crushed when Ticketmaster canceled it.
On Tuesday, the U.S. Senate took up the Swifties’ case.
In a Judiciary Committee hearing on consolidation in the ticketing industry after the 2010 merger of Live Nation and Ticketmaster, Senators questioned ticketing execs about whether Ticketmaster’s parent company, Live Nation Entertainment, has a monopoly in the industry. Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar and Republican Sen. Mike Lee, the chair and ranking member of the Subcommittee on Competition Policy, Antitrust, and Consumer Rights, took lead roles, with Lee joking, “To be honest, I had hoped as of a few months ago to get the gavel back, but, once again, she’s cheer captain and I’m on the bleachers. Nice of Taylor Swift to have written a song about this very situation.”
But the parties appeared united in their suspicion of Ticketmaster, indicating renewed bipartisan interest in antitrust actions.
“I want to congratulate and thank you for an absolutely stunning achievement: You have brought together Republicans and Democrats in an absolutely unified cause,” Sen. Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat from Connecticut, told Live Nation Entertainment President and Chief Financial Officer Joe Berchtold.
Tuesday’s hearing isn’t the only probe targeting Live Nation Entertainment. Ticketmaster apologized on November 18 for the Taylor Swift incident, blaming unprecedented web traffic. But on the same day, the New York Times reported that the Justice Department had launched an antitrust investigation into Live Nation Entertainment. Elected officials across the country, from President Joe Biden to progressive Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York to Tennessee Attorney General Jonathan Skrmetti, a Republican, raised concerns about the company’s power. And it’s not just Taylor Swift fans who have been burned by the system: fans who bought valid tickets from Ticketmaster were turned away from a Bad Bunny concert in December, leading the president of Mexico to condemn the company.
At Tuesday’s hearing, Jack Groetzinger, the CEO of SeatGeek, a competitor of Ticketmaster that also sold some tickets to Swift’s tour, called to break up its rival. “There are three things that are clear to me and are clear to many others who work in our industry,” Groetzinger said. “Number one, a lack of robust competition in our industry meaningfully stunts innovation and consumers are who suffer. Number two, venues fear losing Live Nation concerts if they don’t use Ticketmaster. And number three, the only way to restore competition in this industry is to break up Ticketmaster and Live Nation.”
The hearing was the Senate’s first this year. Many Hill interns lined up outside the hearing room before it began, hoping not only to learn the ropes of their new roles, but also to learn about antitrust, an issue some told TIME that they became interested in after trying to buy tickets to see their favorite artists.
Attorney Jennifer Kinder booked a flight to D.C. so she could demonstrate outside the Capitol. Kinder, a longtime Swiftie, jumped through all the hoops of the botched presale trying to get tickets for herself and her preteen daughter. The chaos of the process led her to work on a lawsuit against Ticketmaster that she says more than 300 plaintiffs have now signed onto. “I’ve never done this before; I’m not an expert in antitrust,” she tells TIME. “It’s just getting to a point where being unregulated, they are a five-headed beast that no one can control.”
Kinder is among the Ticketmaster critics who believe that if the company is not held accountable soon, Americans will be priced out of attending their favorite artists’ shows. If the furious fanbase of one of the biggest pop stars in the world can’t move the needle, who can? “We have a shared community, easy ways for us to communicate via social media,” Kinder says. “Think of the indie artist, the up-and-coming artist that really has no opportunity to get their music out, and their voice out unless they participate in this corrupt system… We’re all impacted. Because if they get away with it here, they will go unregulated forever.”
Unfortunately for the Swifties, Taylor did not testify at Tuesday’s hearing. Instead, musician Clyde Lawrence spoke on behalf of artists. “Due to Live Nation’s control across the industry, we have practically no leverage in negotiating [with] them,” he said. “If they want to take 10% of the revenues and call it a ‘facility fee’, they can, and have… And if they want to charge us $250 for a stack of ten clean towels, they can, and have… In a world where the promoter and the venue are not affiliated with each other, we can trust that the promoter will look to get the best deal from the venue. However in this case the promoter and the venue are part of the same corporate entity.”
He also refuted Ticketmaster’s claims that artists set pricing strategies, saying, “To be clear, we have absolutely zero say or visibility into how much these fees will be. We find out the same way as everyone else, by logging onto Ticketmaster once the show already goes on sale. And in case you’re wondering, no, we, the artists, do not get a cent of that fee.”
Berchtold said that venues, about 5% of which his company owns, set service fees. Lawrence responded that the venues he’s spoken to deny that.
Berchtold repeatedly minimized his company’s influence on the industry, estimating that Live Nation Entertainment controls 50-60% of the market, a characterization other witnesses at the hearing disputed, with some accusing Ticketmaster of being a monopoly. A November statement from Live Nation Entertainment said, “Ticketmaster has a significant share of the primary ticketing services market because of the large gap that exists between the quality of the Ticketmaster system and the next best primary ticketing system.”
Skrmetti, the Tennessee official, is currently investigating the company and tells TIME that the evidence he’s found so far “is not consistent entirely with that statement.”
This isn’t the first time Ticketmaster’s conduct has been examined by Congress. In addition to a 2009 Senate hearing ahead of the Ticketmaster-Live Nation merger, in 1994, a House subcommittee held a hearing on Ticketmaster after the band Pearl Jam filed a complaint with the Justice Department. Aerosmith manager Tim Collins also testified at the hearing. “Steven Tyler, Aerosmith’s lead singer, said to me ‘Mussolini may have made the trains run on time, but not everyone could get a seat on the train,’” Collins said during that hearing. “That’s the problem that Aerosmith and I have with Ticketmaster. Yes, they have an efficient and profitable system, but its monopolistic aspects are unfair and hurtful.”
Federal authorities could take direct action by dismantling Live Nation Entertainment, but that hasn’t happened to a major company since the 1980s, when the federal government splintered AT&T.
“I think they need to tear it up,” Kinder says. “I think they need to bust the whole thing up and make it start all over again.”
-With reporting by Eric Cortellessa/Washington
This article is part of The D.C. Brief, TIME’s politics newsletter. Sign up here to get stories like this sent to your inbox.
As she started her closing cadence in front of an enthusiastic crowd, it was clear Vice President Kamala Harris was in her element—and remains both a misunderstood and potentially potent force in Democratic politics.
”Know this: President Biden and I agree, and we will never back down,” Harris said to applause in Tallahassee on Sunday, the 50th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision that once guaranteed the federal right to abortion. “We will not back down. We know this fight will not be won until we secure this right for every American.”
As Harris thundered through her remarks, with American flags behind her and supporters before her, she enjoyed that quality that has become all too rare in politics: credibility. Despite all of the political headwinds against her on the issue, Harris convinced many in the crowd that her promises were not only plausible, but within reach. “Congress must pass a bill that protects freedom and liberty,” she said.
The scheduled speech on a sleepy Sunday far from Washington—but in the backyard of both Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Donald Trump—would do little to move the national debate on federal abortion rights, which fell in June with a crash emanating from the Supreme Court. But Harris’ remarks and the reception—including 32 applause interruptions by the White House transcript’s count—served as a reminder that, even with plenty of bumps and detours during her first two years as a history-making Vice President, she still can bring the heat. And, in that, her fellow Democrats might slow their seemingly endless criticism of the first woman to hold the job, as well as the first person of Black or South Asian descent to earn it.
Harris, by all accounts, didn’t exactly launch her time as President Joe Biden’s understudy with ease. It seemed every quarter brought with it a new Harris Resets story in the political pages. In the administration’s early days, she largely filled her offices with veterans of the campaign—Biden’s, not hers. In fact, most of her high-profile aides from her Senate office and short-lived presidential bid scattered throughout the administration, landing perfectly admirable posts but not in her inner circle. The result was high turnover on her team, as well as a series of embarrassing stories about her treatment of aides.
Then, there was the scheduling challenge. Few Vice Presidents have had to contend with an evenly split Senate. Because of her ability to break tie votes in that chamber, Harris had to often make sure she was a quick motorcade from the Capitol. She has so far cast 26 such tied votes—or roughly 9% of all tie-breaking votes cast in the Senate since 1789. As such, she spent a ton of time in her office just off the Senate floor, often doubling as a deciding vote and informal congressional liaison to her former colleagues.
But, with Republicans now stuck at 49 votes, Harris’ 101st vote won’t be needed as often. (Of course, errant Democrats like Sen. Joe Manchin or Democrat-turned-independent Sen. Kyrsten Sinema can still gum up the math.) Now less encumbered by the Senate vote schedule, Harris is looking forward to getting back on the road, helping to sell the Biden team’s record and leading the charge on goals like securing voting rights and abortion rights—neither of which are likely to advance much under a Republican House—and selling the merits of legislation passed over the last two years, such as an infrastructure package and a climate change agenda.
Then there are questions of her future ambitions—always a fraught discussion that in D.C. can easily devolve into coded conversations about race and gender, two factors that simply cannot be ignored when it comes to Harris. Her defenders aren’t wrong to point out that the first woman of color in her role faces the double-whammy that separately dogged Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. Harris’ original bid for the presidency ended before Iowa’s lead-off caucuses. By all accounts, she served as a capable and loyal running-mate.
Personally, Biden has great admiration for Harris, who served as state attorney general in California concurrent to the late Beau Biden’s time in the role in Delaware. As a former VP himself, Biden has sought to give Harris a portfolio commensurate with her talents, including the intractable troubles at the U.S.-Mexican border, voting rights, and abortion rights. Harris’ apologists grimly note those are all massive issues, each of them likely impossible for one person to significantly address; yet her boosters say they match Harris’ abilities to untangle knots.
Still, the relationship between Biden and Harris is complicated, made more so when Biden seemed like an uncertain contender in 2024. With Biden seemingly ready to launch his re-election bid, Harris’ dreams for a promotion are on ice. After all, no one challenges a sitting President with any meaningful success, especially not from inside the tent. But it does set up the test for Harris: if she is the party’s heir apparent—and not, say, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg or Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez—Harris needs to rack up some successes to point to, whether they come due in 2024 or 2028. Biden may end up professing neutrality, but that gets tricky if he sees any suggestion of disloyalty.
All of which explains why Harris has made abortion rights a central piece of her political identity. Since Roe fell, she has met with leaders from 38 states, including lawmakers from 18 states. She’s been subtly making herself the voice with a megaphone no one can ignore.
During her speech on Sunday, Harris announced the Biden administration would protect access to mifepristone, the abortion pill. The Food and Drug Administration earlier this month finalized a rule that allows women to obtain abortion pills via telehealth consultations. Against this backdrop, Florida lawmakers are considering moving to ban abortions after 12 weeks—down from 15 there.
“Even in states that protect reproductive rights, like New Jersey, Illinois, Oregon, even there people live in fear of what might be next, because Republicans in Congress are now calling for a nationwide abortion ban,” Harris said. “Even from the moment of conception, the right of every woman in every state in this country to make decisions about her own body is on the line.”
“And I said it before and I will say it again,” she added. “How dare they?”
Such outrage over the fall of Roe powered Democratic candidates to unexpectedly strong showings in the midterm elections. Democrats defied history, holding steady in the Senate and only barely losing the majority in the House. Many point to her campaign travel schedule as proof that Harris played no small role in that accomplishment. By the time votes were being tallied, a full 27% of Americans counted abortion as the most important issue for their vote, second only to inflation. It was a surefire winner for Democrats, with those counting abortion as their most important issue breaking by a walloping 53 points. And among the broader public, according to exit polls, 59% of voters last year said abortion should remain legal.
If you’re Harris and seeing these numbers while still considering your next move, such data points are reason to lean-in on abortion rights. It has the added bonus of coming from a place of sincerity.
Make sense of what matters in Washington. Sign up for the D.C. Brief newsletter.
REHOBOTH BEACH, Del. — White House chief of staff Ron Klain, who has spent more than two years as President Joe Biden’s top aide, is preparing to leave his job in the coming weeks, according to a person familiar with Klain’s plans.
Klain’s expected departure comes not long after the White House and Democrats had a better-than-expected showing in the November elections, buoyed by a series of major legislative accomplishments, including a bipartisan infrastructure bill and a sweeping climate, health care and tax package that all Republicans rejected.
His tenure as chief of staff is the longest for a Democratic president in modern times.
The person familiar with Klain’s plans was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity to confirm the development, which was first reported by the New York Times.
The White House did not return calls or emails seeking comment on Klain’s expected exit.
Now that Republicans have regained a majority in the House, the White House is preparing to shift to a more defensive posture. GOP lawmakers are planning multiple investigations into the Biden administration, examining everything from the chaotic U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan to U.S. border policy. Republicans are are pledging to investigate the president’s son, Hunter Biden.
Klain’s departure also comes as the White House struggles to contain the fallout after classified documents dating from Biden’s time as vice president were discovered at his home in Wilmington, Delaware, and at his former institute in Washington. Attorney General Merrick Garland has appointed a special counsel to investigate the matter.
Ao menos 22 golpistas presos pela Polícia Militar do Distrito Federal em 8 de janeiro relataram, em seus depoimentos à Polícia Civil, ter embarcado gratuitamente em ônibus de suas cidades ou localidades próximas para Brasília. Apenas cinco deles dizem saber o nome de quem fretou os veículos ou estava organizando a viagem. Outros 11 depoimentos relatam caravanas do mesmo tipo partindo de diversas cidades, mas com os passageiros pagando do próprio bolso. Os valores das viagens variavam entre R$ 20 e R$ 580, e os pagamentos foram feitos por pix, em dinheiro vivo e em alguns casos até direto ao motorista.
Os depoimentos dos presos obtidos pelo Intercept integram os processos judiciais dos golpistas presos em flagrante logo após os ataques às sedes dos Três Poderes, em Brasília.
Um dos depoentes afirma que, apesar de não conhecer o responsável pela contratação do ônibus em que embarcou, soube que a viagem havia sido paga por um grupo de empresários de São Pedro, cidade de 35 mil habitantes do interior de São Paulo. Outra presa afirmou que não pagou nada pelo ônibus que saiu de Birigui, no interior paulista. Segundo ela, o organizador do grupo de WhatsApp e da excursão era chamado de “Ferrite”.
É o mesmo sobrenome de Erlon Palliota Ferrite, chefe do serviço de ambulâncias da prefeitura de Penápolis, município vizinho à Birigui, que foi alvo de uma reportagem do Fantástico, da Rede Globo, no fim de semana após as invasões. Junto com outra pessoa de Penápolis, o servidor público gravou vídeos falando que colocaria fogo no Supremo Tribunal Federal e filmou outro golpista na cadeira do ministro Alexandre de Moraes.
Os depoimentos também citam os nomes Roberta, Wander, Rogério, Marlon e Silmara como responsáveis pela organização das caravanas, mas sem sobrenomes ou outros meios para identificação.
Hotel pago e comida de graça
As oportunidades de viajar, em geral, chegaram por WhatsApp, redes sociais e conversas com amigos, segundo os depoimentos. Nos documentos que analisamos, apenas um preso alegou ter ido sozinho, e não em grupo, para Brasília. Apesar de sua data de chegada coincidir com a dos demais presos, ele disse em depoimento que estava na cidade fazendo turismo. Teria visto uma movimentação, “participou da caminhada de manifestação, inclusive para conhecer a área dos prédios” e alegou ter se escondido no Palácio do Planalto após a briga entre manifestantes e policiais começar. De lá, saiu preso.
Outros dois depoimentos mostram golpistas que também foram para Brasília em ônibus de linha, não em excursão, apesar do destino final ser o mesmo dos fretados: o QG do Exército.
Em sua maioria, os depoimentos apontam que os passageiros entraram nos ônibus com pouco dinheiro, reservado para alimentação e hospedagem, se necessário, e desembarcaram direto para o QG do Exército na capital. Lá, passaram a noite anterior à tentativa de golpe com os demais golpistas que acampavam no local.
Dos 35 terroristas que viajaram em grupo ouvidos pela polícia, quatro citam hospedagens em hotéis – três com recursos próprios e um, segundo afirmou à polícia, com conta paga pelo “pessoal que ficava acampado no QG”. Três depoimentos citam uma “hospedagem” no próprio ônibus de viagem.
Com exceção de uma depoente que alegou se hospedar em hotel e levar R$ 1,5 mil para a viagem, os demais ouvidos possuíam valores entre R$ 20 e R$ 700. Ao menos três presas afirmaram fazer todas as suas refeições no acampamento do QG do Exército em Brasília – onde, segundo os relatos, havia alimentação gratuita.
Get Prepared for Election Day 2020
Register to Vote and Update Your Registration Information