Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Why the new Joe Biden Administration must forcefully and forthrightly address and support the needs and desires of Black America



https://www.thenation.com/article/society/blm-biden-debt-police/

Racism and Discrimination
Black Lives Matter
Feature
January 11/18, 2021, Issue 

How Biden Can Support Black America

We should fill the streets to remind him that the millions who elected him expect to see policies that will improve our lives.

by Barbara Ransby
January 4, 2021
The Nation


On November 7, in his first speech as president-elect, Joe Biden promised Black America that he would have our backs. But which Black America is he pledging to support? Having our backs does not mean multiracial cronyism; it means resources and results for those who need them most. We cannot let cosmetic cabinet appointments and historic “firsts” take the place of policies that steer money from the richest individuals and corporations to poor and working people, or allow the new administration to ignore economically disenfranchised communities of color. 

Police violence has long been at the forefront of Black demands for justice. As we mark the end of one phase of resistance (the campaign to oust Donald Trump) and embark upon the next (the renewed fight against neoliberalism), we must remind ourselves of the interconnectedness of race and class. The George Floyds, the Breonna Taylors, the Tony McDades, and so many more were beaten down not just by ruthless and racist cops but also by a political and economic system that abandoned their communities decades before their deaths. Biden’s first 100 days, and his agenda for Black America, need to begin by acknowledging this fact. 

Biden’s First 100 Days:

Biden Should Establish an Office of Climate Mobilization
Varshini Prakash

Biden Must End the Forever Wars
David Klion

The Case for Wide-Scale Debt Relief
Astra Taylor

More in this series


Biden talks a lot about the middle class and then segues to middle-of-the-road solutions to grave economic realities. We need robust policies like the Green New Deal and the Movement for Black Lives’ Breathe Act. The Rev. William J. Barber II and the new Poor People’s Campaign have underscored with eloquent persistence the disgraceful fact of continued poverty in one of the wealthiest nations on the planet. We need policies that reverse the obscene economic disparity in this country, with the richest 400 Americans owning more wealth than 60 percent of the overall population. More than 20 million jobs were lost because of Covid-19; many will not come back without some kind of government intervention. The government’s disinvestment in services and infrastructure has affected all low-income, under-resourced communities, but communities of color have taken a disproportionate hit. That hit occurred before Covid-19 and has been exacerbated by it.

Instead of looking back to the years of Barack Obama—or worse, Bill Clinton—Biden must embrace a bold, forward-looking approach, even though he does not seem exactly bold or forward-looking. In fact, many of his cabinet appointees were plucked right from the Obama administration. Almost anything will be a relief from Trump’s pro-billionaire policies, but Biden and the corporate Democrats have their own wealthy friends. Brian Deese, Biden’s choice to lead the National Economic Council, and Wally Adeyemo, his pick for deputy treasury secretary, both have ties to BlackRock, which manages trillions of dollars of global assets. Others on the Biden-Harris team have been corporate board members and consultants, paid to maximize profits for their gluttonous clients. These are the interests that Biden’s new economic leaders are used to serving. We should be very skeptical that on January 20 they will immediately betray those loyalties to serve the rest of us.

Even if Biden had appointed a more principled team of economic experts, many Democrats already bemoan that they may not be able to accomplish much, because depending on the outcome of the Georgia runoffs, a GOP-controlled Senate would block their best efforts. That’s not an acceptable excuse. The Biden administration needs to take unilateral action wherever possible with executive orders, personnel decisions, and the imposition of regulations on corporations. As Biden transition adviser and Roosevelt Institute director Felicia Wong told The New York Times, “There’s a tremendous amount that can be done without Congress.”

And here is what is most necessary right now: emergency Covid-19 economic relief and a nationwide moratorium on evictions and foreclosures. The cash payments thus far have been woefully inadequate, and the suffering has been extreme. Based on data reported by 40 states, Northwestern University cardiologist Dr. Clyde Yancy found that one in every 1,850 Black Americans has died from Covid-19, a mortality rate almost two and a half times higher than that for whites. If Black people were dying from Covid at the same rate as whites, Yancy added, 13,000 more of them would still be alive today.

To track the real economy, Biden and his aides will need to resist touting the stock market as a metric of economic success. It is not, and neither is the gross domestic product, which tells us an average while obscuring the disparities that coexist with economic growth. Even unemployment statistics are misleading and understate the problem. Millions of Americans in cities like Baltimore, Chicago, Detroit, and St. Louis have simply given up looking for work, are struggling in the underground economy, or are incarcerated and therefore not reflected in most unemployment numbers. 

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Debt relief, especially for student debt, is also critical. The solution, though, is simple: Just eliminate student debt entirely. It is scandalous that so many hard-working students will spend a lifetime trying to pay off their principal because they dared to pursue an education. As a result of relentless campaigns by groups like the Debt Collective, the Biden administration is likely to propose some kind of debt relief. In a December 7 press conference, Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer announced that Biden is considering $50,000 in student debt forgiveness, which could be enacted via executive action. Bernie Sanders’s proposal to forgive the entire $1.6 trillion in student debt better approximates a just response to the crisis, but we are unlikely to see that from Biden’s administration.

Another thing Biden can do without Congress is to rigorously enforce existing laws that close tax loopholes, restrict corporate profits, and garner revenue for social programs. Raising the minimum wage for federal contractors to $15 an hour should also be a no-brainer—and even $15 is too low now. Health care, like education, should be a right and not a privilege. It is a shame that Biden refused to commit to Medicare for All during his campaign, and while he has given a nod to an improved climate policy, the Green New Deal is not on his agenda. It should be. 

Related Article
The Nation

Now Is the Time to Make Good on the Promise of Justice for All
by Rep. Ayanna Pressley

Finally, the Movement for Black Lives laid out a set of principles to combat racism with the Breathe Act, a far-reaching progressive policy that would be a game changer in terms of fighting the kind of systemic racism that Biden has said he opposes. The Biden transition team has reached out to various civil rights leaders, including the Movement for Black Lives, to listen to our concerns. But it has to do more than perfunctory listening sessions. The Breathe Act rests on four pillars: divesting from carceral institutions, which have failed to solve the issues of harm reduction and security; investing in community-based and community-led programs of accountability and harm and violence prevention; offering resources to build healthy, sustainable, and equitable communities throughout the country, including jobs and much-needed human services; and finally, making sure public officials are accountable to the communities they are sworn to serve, especially the Black communities that are most often neglected and ignored. These priorities embody the principle of self-determination and are the antithesis of Biden’s 1994 “lock ‘em up” crime bill and Clinton’s “abandon the poor” welfare reform policy.

According to the Movement for Black Lives’ Monifa Bandele, this omnibus bill “is a bold, new vision for community safety that ends mass incarceration and criminalization while channeling federal dollars into non-punitive, public-safety-focused interventions as well as the educational, health, and other social investments that communities need.”

Biden isn’t likely to enact all of these measures, but we must lean on him heavy and hard. We need to organize. We need to converge on Washington, DC, on Inauguration Day for a progressive (and mask-wearing) show of strength and unity. We should fill the streets, in DC and throughout the country, to remind Biden that the millions who elected him expect to see policies that will improve the lives not only of working people of color but of everyone—well, almost everyone. The 1 percent, of course, should see their power and wealth more fairly distributed. That is what a truly just transition would look like.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Barbara Ransby is a historian, writer, and longtime political activist. She is a distinguished professor of African American studies, gender and women’s studies, and history at the University of Illinois at Chicago, where she directs the campus-wide Social Justice Initiative.


IMAGE: What The River Brings, Amir Khadarvia M4BL.

 

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Officer who Shot Jacob Blake Another Unarmed Black Victim of State Sanctioned Police Violence Will Not Face Charges

WE ARE LIVING IN A WHITE SUPREMACIST POLICE STATE

Officer who shot Jacob Blake will not face charges, district attorney says
youtube.com


Officer who shot Jacob Blake will not face charges, district attorney says

You News
January 5, 2021


Officer who shot Jacob Blake will not face charges, district attorney says

Rusten Sheskey will not face charges in the shooting of Jacob Blake, Kenosha County District Attorney Michael Graveley announced Tuesday.

Sheskey, a White officer, shot Blake, a 29-year-old Black man, seven times in the back while responding to a domestic incident on August 23, 2020. Blake survived the shooting but was left paralyzed from the waist down.
"It is my decision now that no Kenosha law enforcement officer will be charged with any criminal offense based on the facts and laws," Graveley said Tuesday.

Tuesday's announcement comes as anger continues to mount across the country at the repeated deaths of Black people at the hands of police. The summer of 2020 saw protests -- some of which turned violent -- calling for police reform and an end to police brutality, sparked by the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and others.

Graveley announced there will be no charges for the other two officers involved in the incident. They were identified by the Wisconsin Justice Department in September as Officers Vincent Arenas and Brittany Meronek.

Blake will also not face charges, Graveley said.

Ahead of the decision, Kenosha officials prepared for potential unrest, with the City Council granting Mayor John Antaramian emergency powers once the announcement is made.

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers also announced Monday he is mobilizing 500 National Guard troops ahead of the decision at the request of local officials.

"Our members of the National Guard will be on hand to support local first responders, ensure Kenoshans are able to assemble safely, and to protect critical infrastructure as necessary," Evers said in the statement.

Blake's father, Jacob Blake Sr., on Monday called for charges against the officer while urging Kenosha to "stand up and make some noise."

He added, "Let's be heard around the world. We're not going to stop in Kenosha. We're headed to DC. We're headed to Nancy Pelosi's office. We're headed to whoever is going to be in charge of the Senate. Because this has got to be federally heard, for not just my son, but for everybody who has suffered police brutality -- everyone."

Blake's uncle, Justin Blake, said his nephew has been working to recover from the incident and has become "our new hero."

Jacob Blake is out of the hospital, but how long he'll be in rehab remains a question

"The way he is taking this mental approach, the way he puts all his effort into his therapy, and the passion, if anybody could walk again one day, it would be my nephew," Justin Blake said.

VIDEO:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v57UjkT3_gk

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The Venal and Thoroughly Corrupt Trumpian Republican Party Continues To Support and Spread Vicious Lies About the 2020 Election Results

"The most deadly, dangerous, and powerful enemy of African Americans, Latino Americans, Asian Americans, and Native Americans in general, Women in general, the poor in general, the working class in general, children in general, Freedom in general and Democracy in general in American society today is the truly heinous Republican Party and their endless number of severely bigoted and demagogic minions, mentors, sponsors, and supporters. Anyone who doesn't know or believes this blatantly obvious fact is not only a hopeless FOOL but ultimately deserves their "fate.”
—Kofi Natambu, July 15, 2009
 
"The Republican Party is the most dangerous organisation in human history. 'Has there ever been an organisation in human history that is dedicated, with such commitment, to the destruction of organised human life on Earth?' Not that I'm aware of."
--Noam Chomsky, April 24, 2017
 
"Trump is not just an ethically dead aberration. Rather, he is the successor of a long line of fascists who shut down public debate, attempt to humiliate their opponents, endorse violence as a response to dissent and criticize any public display of democratic principles. The United States has reached its endpoint with Trump, and his presence should be viewed as a stern warning of the nightmare to come. Trump is not an isolated figure in US politics; he is simply the most visible and popular expression of a number of extremists in the Republican Party who now view democracy as a liability."
--Henry A. Giroux, "Fascism in Donald Trump's United States", December 8, 2015


Election 2020

At Least 140 House Republicans Expected To Challenge Electoral College Result
by Andrew Solender
December 31, 2020
Forbes


[I write about politics and the Biden transition.]

As many as 140 Republican House members are expected to object to certification of President-elect Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory as part of President Donald Trump’s continued efforts to overturn his reelection loss.
 
PHOTO: House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), surrounded fellow House Republicans, speaks during a news conference outside the U.S. Capitol December 10, 2020 in Washington, DC. McCarthy and House Republicans discussed their desire to extend the Paycheck Protection Program and provide relief for small business owners and their employees who have been hurt by the coronavirus pandemic. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images) Getty Images
House Republicans Call On Speaker Pelosi To Extend Paycheck Protection Program
“2 House Republicans tell me they expect as of now that at least 140 Republican Members of the House will on Jan. 6 object to and vote against the Electoral College results,” tweeted CNN host Jake Tapper on Thursday.

Rep. Denver Riggleman (R-Va.) told Forbes a “staggering number” of his Republican House colleagues will likely object, adding, "140 certainly seems possible… I wouldn't be surprised if it were a little higher."

Riggleman said he initially expected around a hundred objections but that “pressure [is] being exerted” on House Republicans – as evidenced by state delegations putting out joint statements vowing to object to the vote.

“I would be getting pressure right now,” said Riggleman – who lost renomination to a right-wing challenger in June – adding that the vote to object “keeps their base happy, they know it’ll keep the conference happy and they know it’s not gonna win anyway.”

Riggleman said there is “not a whole lot of excitement for that vote” because most of his colleagues don’t believe in the systemic fraud Trump has alleged, echoing Sen. Ben Sasse, who said, “When we talk in private, I haven’t heard a single Congressional Republican allege that the election results were fraudulent – not one."

Just one senator has confirmed they will join the effort: Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) said Wednesday he plans to object because “some states, particularly Pennsylvania, failed to follow their own state election laws” – an argument repeatedly rejected by the court.
 
Chief Critic

Hawley’s plan to object is in defiance of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who has instructed members of his caucus not to object to the electoral college because the eventual vote on whether to sustain objections would put Republican senators in a difficult position. Hawley was absent from a call with Republican senators Thursday morning in which McConnell hoped to challenge him on his position, according to Politico and Axios. Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) also opposes Hawley’s move.

Just 49 Republican members of Congress have publicly acknowledged Biden as president-elect – 25 House members and 24 senators, including McConnell and Toomey. Biden said during an interview with Stephen Colbert earlier this month that several Republicans called him to ask for time to recognize his victory because they are in a “tough spot” politically.
 
Big Number

9. That’s how many objections Biden himself – as President of the Senate – shut down during certification of Trump’s victory at a joint session of Congress in 2017. All the objections came from House Democrats alleging Russian meddling, voter suppression and civil rights violations, but because none had a senator backing them, Biden repeatedly said the objections “cannot be entertained” and that there was “no debate.”
Key Background

The last time a senator and a House member teamed up to challenge an electoral college vote was 2005, when Sen. Barbara Boxer and Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones challenged President George W. Bush’s 2004 victory in Ohio on the basis of civil rights violations. The objections precipitated two hours of debate in the House and one hour in the Senate before being rejected by wide margins in both chambers.

What To Watch For

The number of House members who object is non-salient in terms of the strength of objections. With Hawley’s Senate vote, the objections will result in debate but will undoubtedly be rejected by the Democrat-controlled House – and, likely, the Republican-controlled Senate. Thus, certification of the result will be delayed but not thwarted.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Andrew Solender is a news reporter covering politics and the Biden transition. I have previously worked for MSNBC and Chronogram Magazine. I attended Vassar College and the London School of Economics.


PHOTO: House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), surrounded fellow House Republicans, speaks during a news conference outside the U.S. Capitol December 10, 2020 in Washington, DC. McCarthy and House Republicans discussed their desire to extend the Paycheck Protection Program and provide relief for small business owners and their employees who have been hurt by the coronavirus pandemic. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images) Getty Images
House Republicans Call On Speaker Pelosi To Extend Paycheck Protection Program

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Sunday, January 3, 2021

GOP Senators Continue Their Anti-Democratic, Illegal, and Unconstitutional Attempt to Steal the Presidential Election From New President-Elect Joe Biden

 




"The most deadly, dangerous, and powerful enemy of African Americans, Latino Americans, Asian Americans, and Native Americans in general, Women in general, the poor in general, the working class in general, children in general, Freedom in general and Democracy in general in American society today is the truly heinous Republican Party and their endless number of severely bigoted and demagogic minions, mentors, sponsors, and supporters. Anyone who doesn't know or believes this blatantly obvious fact is not only a hopeless FOOL but ultimately deserves their "fate.”
—Kofi Natambu, July 15, 2009

"The Republican Party is the most dangerous organisation in human history. 'Has there ever been an organisation in human history that is dedicated, with such commitment, to the destruction of organised human life on Earth?' Not that I'm aware of."
--Noam Chomsky, April 24, 2017

"Trump is not just an ethically dead aberration. Rather, he is the successor of a long line of fascists who shut down public debate, attempt to humiliate their opponents, endorse violence as a response to dissent and criticize any public display of democratic principles. The United States has reached its endpoint with Trump, and his presence should be viewed as a stern warning of the nightmare to come. Trump is not an isolated figure in US politics; he is simply the most visible and popular expression of a number of extremists in the Republican Party who now view democracy as a liability."
--Henry A. Giroux, "Fascism in Donald Trump's United States", December 8, 2015

https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/2020-election/gop-senators-threaten-object-electoral-college-results-if-commission-not-n1252667

2020 Election

GOP senators threaten to object to Electoral College results if commission is not formed

The move has essentially no chance of overturning the results of the presidential election won by Joe Biden.


by Lauren Egan, Kasie Hunt, Frank Thorp V and Leigh Ann Caldwell
January 2, 2021
NBC News


Nearly a dozen Republican senators and senators-elect demanded Saturday that a commission audit the results of the 2020 election and said they would otherwise object to the Electoral College votes that declared President-elect Joe Biden the winner.
 
Even though there is no evidence of any fraud in the election — despite numerous claims by President Donald Trump — the group of lawmakers said in a statement that they were calling on Congress to create a commission with "full investigatory and fact-finding authority, to conduct an emergency 10-day audit of the election returns in the disputed states."

The new Congress is to meet Wednesday to formally count the Electoral College votes, the majority of which Biden won, The group of Republican lawmakers threatened "to reject the electors from disputed states as not 'regularly given' and 'lawfully certified' (the statutory requisite), unless and until that emergency 10-day audit is completed."
 
With the House in Democratic hands, there is no chance that the action will have any effect on the outcome, and Biden will be sworn in on Jan. 20. But the action by Republicans in both chambers will prolong the debate over certification until the final votes are tallied in Congress.
 
Republican Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, James Lankford of Oklahoma, Steve Daines of Montana, John Kennedy of Louisiana, Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee and Mike Braun of Indiana signed on to the statement Saturday, as did Sens.-elect Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming, Roger Marshall of Kansas, Bill Hagerty of Tennessee and Tommy Tuberville of Alabama.
 
The senators stopped short in their statement of saying they would bring forward a vote to object to the results.
Already, Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, said she would vote to affirm the results, urging her colleagues from both parties to recognize the outcome and to "join me in maintaining confidence in the Electoral College and our elections so that we ensure we have the continued trust of the American people."
 
Sen. Pat Toomey, a Republican from Pennsylvania, one of the states where Trump has been contesting the results, said: "I voted for President Trump and endorsed him for re-election. But, on Wednesday, I intend to vigorously defend our form of government by opposing this effort to disenfranchise millions of voters in my state and others."
 
An objection is not considered unless it is in writing and signed by both a member of the House and a member of the Senate. For the objection to be sustained, both chambers  must vote for it by simple majorities. If the chambers do not both agree, the original electoral votes are counted.
 
Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., who will be one of four lawmakers who participate in tallying electoral votes as the ranking member of the Senate Rules Committee, criticized the Republicans' move as a "publicity stunt."
"It is undemocratic. It is un-American," she said. "And fortunately it will be unsuccessful. In the end, democracy will prevail."
 
Biden campaign spokesman Mike Gwin also dismissed it as stunt that "won't change the fact that President-elect Biden will be sworn in on January 20th, and these baseless claims have already been examined and dismissed by Trump's own Attorney General, dozens of courts, and election officials from both parties."
 
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., told Senate Republicans that a vote on objections would be "the most consequential vote" of his career, and he has been encouraging his Republican conference not to join the objections.
 
Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., on Wednesday became the first senator to say he would object to certifying some states' Electoral College results, forcing other Republicans to vote on whether to reject Trump's unsubstantiated claims of massive voter fraud or disenfranchise millions of voters.
 
In a series of tweets Saturday evening, Trump praised the senators' actions, falsely claimed that he won by a "landslide" and said, "Our Country will love them for it!"
Trump has lashed out at members of his party who have failed to back up his outlandish claims of fraud, and he has called for the resignation of local GOP officials who have refused to overturn their states' results. Trump has not yet commented on the latest development, but his campaign tweeted a message of thanks to the senators.

ABOUT THE AUTHORS:

Lauren Egan is a reporter for NBC News based in Washington.

Kasie Hunt, the host of MSNBC's "Kasie DC," is a Capitol Hill correspondent for NBC News.

Frank Thorp V is a producer and off-air reporter covering Congress for NBC News, managing coverage of the Senate.

Leigh Ann Caldwell is an NBC News correspondent.

Marianna Sotomayor contributed.
 
PHOTO: Texas Senator Ted Cruz

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https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/03/us/politics/trump-raffensperger-call-georgia.html

Trump Pressured Georgia Official to ‘Find’ Enough Votes to Overturn Election

The president vaguely warned of a “criminal offense” as he pressured Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger in a call, according to audio excerpts.

by Michael D. Shear

January 3, 2021
New York Times


WASHINGTON — President Trump demanded that Georgia’s Republican secretary of state “find” him enough votes to overturn the presidential election, and vaguely threatened him with “a criminal offense,” during an hourlong telephone conversation with him on Saturday, according to audio excerpts from the conversation.

Mr. Trump, who has spent almost nine weeks making false conspiracy claims about his loss to President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr., told Brad Raffensperger, the state’s top elections official, that Mr. Raffensperger should recalculate the vote count so Mr. Trump would win the state’s 16 electoral votes.

“I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have,” Mr. Trump said on the call, a recording of which was obtained by The Washington Post, which published excerpts from the audio on its website Sunday. “Because we won the state.”

Mr. Raffensperger rejected the president’s efforts to get him to reverse the election results, which are set to be certified by Congress during a session on Wednesday. Some of Mr. Trump’s allies in the House and the Senate have said they will object to the results of the elections in several states, including Georgia.

But Mr. Raffensperger told Mr. Trump that he stood by the results.

“Well, Mr. President, the challenge that you have is the data you have is wrong,” he said, according to the audio recording.

During the call, the president offered several false conspiracy theories, including debunked charges that ballots in Fulton County were shredded and that voting machines operated by Dominion Voting Systems were tampered with and replaced. Ryan Germany, the legal counsel in Mr. Raffensperger’s office, can be heard telling the president that such charges are untrue.

“You should want to have an accurate election. And you’re a Republican,” Mr. Trump told Mr. Raffensperger, who replied that “we believe that we do have an accurate election.”

Mr. Trump responded: “No, no, no, you don’t, you don’t have, you don’t have, not even close. You guys, you’re off by hundreds of thousands of votes.”

Then the president suggested that Mr. Raffensperger could be prosecuted criminally.

“You know what they did and you’re not reporting it,” the president said. “You know, that’s a criminal — that’s a criminal offense. And you know, you can’t let that happen. That’s a big risk to you and to Ryan, your lawyer. That’s a big risk.”

The president confirmed the call in a tweet Sunday morning, claiming that Mr. Raffensperger “was unwilling, or unable, to answer questions such as the ‘ballots under table’ scam, ballot destruction, out of state ‘voters’, dead voters, and more. He has no clue!”

In a response on Twitter, Mr. Raffensperger wrote: “Respectfully, President Trump: What you’re saying is not true. The truth will come out.”

Michael D. Shear is a White House correspondent. He previously worked at The Washington Post and was a member of their Pulitzer Prize-winning team that covered the Virginia Tech shootings in 2007. 

PHOTO: President Trump has spent almost nine weeks making false conspiracy claims about his election loss. Credit: Anna Moneymaker for The New York Times


https://www.inquirer.com/politics/election/trump-pressures-georgia-secretary-election-votes-20210103.html

In extraordinary hour-long call, Trump pressures Georgia secretary of state to recalculate the vote in his favor
by Amy Gardner
January 3, 2021
The Washington Post


PHOTO:  In extraordinary hour-long call, Trump pressures Georgia secretary of state to recalculate the vote in his favor
Evan Vucci / AP

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump urged fellow Republican Brad Raffensperger, the Georgia secretary of state, to “find” enough votes to overturn his defeat in an extraordinary one-hour phone call Saturday that legal scholars described as a flagrant abuse of power and a potential criminal act.

The Washington Post obtained a recording of the conversation in which Trump alternately berated Raffensperger, tried to flatter him, begged him to act and threatened him with vague criminal consequences if the secretary of state refused to pursue Trump’s false claims, at one point warning that Raffensperger was taking “a big risk.”

Related stories:

Georgia elections board member calls for probe into Trump’s call seeking to change results

Throughout the call, Raffensperger and his office’s general counsel rejected Trump’s assertions, explaining that the president is relying on debunked conspiracy theories and that President-elect Joe Biden’s 11,779-vote victory in Georgia was fair and accurate.

Trump dismissed their arguments.

“The people of Georgia are angry, the people in the country are angry,” he said. “And there’s nothing wrong with saying, you know, that you’ve recalculated.”

Raffensperger responded: “Well, Mr. President, the challenge that you have is, the data you have is wrong.”

At another point, Trump said: “So look. All I want to do is this. I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have. Because we won the state.”

He later added: “So what are we going to do here, folks? I only need 11,000 votes. Fellas, I need 11,000 votes. Give me a break.”

The rambling and at times incoherent conversation offered a remarkable glimpse of how consumed and desperate the president remains about his loss, unwilling or unable to let the matter go and still asserting that he can reverse the results in enough battleground states to remain in office.

“There’s no way I lost Georgia,” Trump said, a phrase he repeated again and again on the call. “There’s no way. We won by hundreds of thousands of votes.”

Several of his allies were on the line as he spoke, including White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and conservative lawyer Cleta Mitchell, a prominent GOP attorney whose involvement with Trump’s efforts had not been previously known.

In a statement, Mitchell said Raffensperger’s office “has made many statements over the past two months that are simply not correct and everyone involved with the efforts on behalf of the President’s election challenge has said the same thing: Show us your records on which you rely to make these statements that our numbers are wrong.”

The White House, the Trump campaign and Meadows did not respond to a request for comment.

Raffensperger’s office declined to comment.

On Sunday, Trump tweeted that he had spoken to Raffensperger, saying the secretary of state was “unwilling, or unable, to answer questions such as the ‘ballots under table’ scam, ballot destruction, out of state ‘voters,’ dead voters, and more. He has no clue!”

Raffensperger responded with his own tweet: “Respectfully, President Trump: What you’re saying is not true.”

The details of the call drew demands from top Democrats for criminal investigations. Campaigning in Georgia, Vice President-elect Kamala Harris called Trump’s conversation a “bald-faced, bold abuse of power by the president of the United States.”

Biden’s top campaign lawyer, Bob Bauer, said the recording “captures the whole, disgraceful story about Donald Trump’s assault on American democracy.”

Republicans, however, were largely silent. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, when asked about the call while campaigning in Georgia on Sunday for the two GOP senators who face a runoff Tuesday, dodged the question completely.

Trump’s pressure campaign on Raffensperger is the latest example of his attempt to subvert the outcome of the Nov. 3 election through personal outreach to state Republican officials. He previously invited Michigan Republican state leaders to the White House, pressured Republican Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp in a call to try to replace that state’s electors and asked the speaker of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives to help reverse his loss in that state.

His call to Raffensperger came as scores of Republicans have pledged to challenge the electoral college’s vote for Biden when Congress convenes for a joint session on Wednesday. Republicans do not have the votes to successfully thwart Biden’s victory, but Trump has urged supporters to travel to Washington to protest the outcome, and state and federal officials are already bracing for clashes outside the Capitol.

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger during a news conference at the Georgia State Capitol building in Atlanta on Dec. 2.

Alyssa Pointer / Atlanta Journal-Constitution File

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger during a news conference at the Georgia State Capitol building in Atlanta on Dec. 2.
 
During their conversation, Trump issued a vague threat to both Raffensperger and Ryan Germany, the secretary of state’s general counsel, suggesting that if they don’t find that thousands of ballots in Fulton County have been illegally destroyed to block investigators — an allegation for which there is no evidence — they would be subject to criminal liability.

“That’s a criminal offense,” he said. “And you can’t let that happen. That’s a big risk to you and to Ryan, your lawyer.”

Trump also told Raffensperger that failure to act by Tuesday would jeopardize the political fortunes of David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, Georgia’s two Republican senators whose fate in that day’s runoff elections will determine control of the U.S. Senate.

Trump said he plans to talk about the alleged fraud on Monday, when he is scheduled to lead an election eve rally in Dalton, Ga. — a message that could further muddle the efforts of Republicans to draw out their voters.

“You have a big election coming up and because of what you’ve done to the president — you know, the people of Georgia know that this was a scam,” Trump said. “Because of what you’ve done to the president, a lot of people aren’t going out to vote, and a lot of Republicans are going to vote negative, because they hate what you did to the president. OK? They hate it. And they’re going to vote. And you would be respected, really respected, if this can be straightened out before the election.”

Trump’s conversation with Raffensperger echoed his effort to persuade the Ukrainian president to investigate Biden on a call that led to his impeachment, and once again put him in legally questionable territory, legal experts said. By exhorting the secretary of state to “find” votes and to deploy investigators who “want to find answers,” the president appeared to be encouraging him to doctor the election outcome in Georgia, which could violate state and federal law.

Trump’s apparent threat of criminal consequences if Raffensperger does not act could be seen as an attempt at extortion and a suggestion that he might deploy the Justice Department to launch an investigation, they said.

“The president is either knowingly attempting to coerce state officials into corrupting the integrity of the election or is so deluded that he believes what he’s saying,” said Richard Pildes, a constitutional law professor at New York University, who noted that Trump’s actions may have violated several federal statutes.

But Pildes said Trump’s clearer transgression is a moral one, and he emphasized that focusing on whether he committed a crime could deflect attention from the “simple, stark, horrific fact that we have a president trying to use the powers of his office to pressure state officials into committing election fraud to keep him in office.”

Prosecutors probably would exercise discretion in considering a case against an outgoing president, experts said.

Edward Foley, a law professor at Ohio State University, said that the legal questions are murky, and that it could be difficult to prove that Trump knew he was encouraging illegal behavior. But Foley also emphasized that the call was “inappropriate and contemptible” and should prompt outrage.

“He was already tripping the emergency meter,” Foley said. “So we were at 12 on a scale of 1 to 10, and now we’re at 15.”

Throughout the call, Trump detailed an exhaustive list of disinformation and conspiracy theories to support his position. He claimed without evidence that he had won Georgia by at least a half-million votes. He floated a barrage of assertions that have been investigated and disproved: that thousands of dead people voted; that an Atlanta election worker scanned 18,000 forged ballots three times each and “100 percent” were for Biden; that thousands more voters living out of state came back to Georgia illegally just to vote in the election.

“So tell me, Brad, what are we going to do? We won the election, and it’s not fair to take it away from us like this,” Trump said. “And it’s going to be very costly in many ways. And I think you have to say that you’re going to reexamine it, and you can reexamine it, but reexamine it with people that want to find answers, not people who don’t want to find answers.”

Trump did most of the talking on the call. He was angry and impatient, calling Raffensperger a “child” and said law enforcement officials “either dishonest or incompetent” for not believing there was widespread ballot fraud in Atlanta — and twice calling himself a “schmuck” for endorsing Kemp, whom Trump holds in particular contempt for not embracing his claims of fraud.

“I can’t imagine he’s ever getting elected again, I’ll tell you that much right now,” he said.

He also took aim at Kemp’s 2018 opponent, Democrat Stacey Abrams, trying to shame Raffensperger with the idea that his refusal to embrace fraud has helped her and Democrats generally. “Stacey Abrams is laughing about you,” he said. “She’s going around saying, ‘These guys are dumber than a rock.’ What she’s done to this party is unbelievable, I tell you.”

The secretary of state repeatedly sought to correct Trump, saying at one point, “Mr. President, the problem you have with social media, they — people can say anything.”

“Oh, this isn’t social media,” Trump retorted. “This is Trump media. It’s not social media. It’s really not. It’s not social media. I don’t care about social media. I couldn’t care less.”

At another point, Trump claimed that votes were scanned three times: “Brad, why did they put the votes in three times? You know, they put ‘em in three times.”

Raffensperger responded: “Mr. President, they did not. We did an audit of that and we proved conclusively that they were not scanned three times.”

Trump sounded at turns confused and meandering. At one point, he referred to Kemp as “George.” He tossed out several different figures for Biden’s margin of victory in Georgia and referred to the Senate runoff, which is Tuesday, as happening “tomorrow” and “Monday.”

His desperation was perhaps most pronounced during an exchange with Germany, Raffensperger’s general counsel, in which he openly begged for validation.

Trump: “Do you think it’s possible that they shredded ballots in Fulton County? ‘Cause that’s what the rumor is. And also that Dominion took out machines. That Dominion is really moving fast to get rid of their, uh, machinery. Do you know anything about that? Because that’s illegal, right?”

Germany responded: “No, Dominion has not moved any machinery out of Fulton County.”

Trump: “But have they moved the inner parts of the machines and replaced them with other parts?”

Germany: “No.”

Trump: “Are you sure? Ryan?”

Germany: “I’m sure. I’m sure, Mr. President.”

It was clear from the call that Trump has surrounded himself with aides who have fed his false perceptions that the election was stolen. When he claimed that more than 5,000 ballots were cast in Georgia in the name of dead people, Raffensperger responded forcefully: “The actual number was two. Two. Two people that were dead that voted.”

But later, Meadows said, “I can promise you there are more than that.”

Another Trump lawyer on the call, Kurt Hilbert, accused Raffensperger’s office of refusing to turn over data to assess evidence of fraud, and also claimed awareness of at least 24,000 illegally cast ballots that would flip the result to Trump.

“It stands to reason that if the information is not forthcoming, there’s something to hide,” Hilbert said. “That’s the problem that we have.”

Reached by phone Sunday, Hilbert declined to comment.

Mitchell contradicted Trump on several occasions on the call, saying, “Well, I don’t know about that,” when the president alleged that a Fulton County election worker had triple-counted 18,000 ballots for Biden. She claimed that the extent of the fraud is unclear because Raffensperger’s office has not shared all the data Trump’s lawyers have sought.

“We never had the records that you have,” she said. Germany noted that the office is barred under law from sharing some voter information.

In the end, Trump asked Germany to sit down with one of his attorneys to go over the allegations. Germany agreed.

Yet Trump also recognized that he was failing to persuade Raffensperger or Germany of anything, saying toward the end, “I know this phone call is going nowhere.”

“Why don’t you want to find this, Ryan?” he asked of Germany. “What’s wrong with you? I heard your lawyer is very difficult, actually, but I’m sure you’re a good lawyer. You have a nice last name.”

But he continued to make his case in repetitive fashion, until finally, after roughly an hour, Raffensperger put an end to the conversation: “Thank you, President Trump, for your time.”

The Washington Post’s Alice Crites contributed to this article.

Posted: January 3, 2021 - 2:56 PM
Amy Gardner, Washington Post

NOTE:  This post can also be found here at the Panopticon Review On Facebook page.

 

The Insidious Political Legacy of the Fascist Regime Led by Donald Trump and The Republican Party: The Rise of A New Jim Crow Caucus

The Sunday Show with Jonathan Capehart
MSNBC
January 3, 2021
 
Republicans discrediting majorities secured by black voters slammed by politics expert'
 
As 12 GOP U.S. senators plan to object to President-Elect Joe Biden’s election certification, many accuse prominent Republicans of attempting to discredit the votes of African-Americans. Stuart Stevens, author of ‘It Was All a Lie: How the Republican Party Became Donald Trump,’ tells Jonathan Capehart that these Republicans represent, ‘a new Jim Crow caucus.’ Former chair of the South Carolina Democratic Party Jaime Harrison also joins The Sunday Show to discuss.
 
VIDEO: <iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.msnbc.com/msnbc/embedded-video/mmvo98725957575" scrolling="no" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen>
Expert calls GOP leaders contesting elections secured by black voters a ‘Jim Crow caucus’ 

The Ongoing Struggle For Voting Rights in Black America Against the Relentless State Sanctioned Attempts to Destroy and Deny These Rights

https://www.washingtonpost.com/.../5d8a6a71-d8e8-4201...

The Washington Post
November 30, 2020
The Fix’s Eugene Scott analyzes how President Trump continues to spread conspiracy theories while working to disenfranchise thousands of Black voters.
 
“It’s as vile now as it was during Reconstruction, when Democrats believed that Republicans were illegitimate and that Black voters had no right to be voting, and they did all of these terrorist activities to block African Americans from voting,” said Carol Anderson, professor of African American studies at Emory University. “It’s a very narrow, slippery slope, from saying ‘illegal votes’ to ‘illegal voters,’ so this attack on Black voters is real.”
 
Trump tries to overturn the election | The 2020 Fix 

"WHAT'S PAST IS PROLOGUE..."

 

https://apnews.com/.../joe-biden-donald-trump-race-and...

 

Trump election challenges sound alarm among voters of color


by AARON MORRISON, KAT STAFFORD and CHRISTINE FERNANDO

November 22, 2020

Associated Press


PHOTO FILE - In this Nov. 4, 2020, file photo, an election worker holds a ballot as vote counting in the general election continues at State Farm Arena in Atlanta. President-elect Joe Biden won in Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Georgia because of Black voters, many of them concentrated in big cities.(AP Photo/Brynn Anderson, File)

 Trump election challenges sound alarm among voters of color

 
DETROIT (AP) — When longtime Detroit community advocate Frank McGhee watched two Republican canvassers vote against certifying election results in the majority Black city, he was furious.
 
McGhee, 58, has spent more than two decades working with Detroit youth and educating them on the electoral process. He said it was “outrageous” to see hard-fought Black voter-mobilization efforts threatened.
 
“I thought, these are the ultimate executioners, if you will, put in place so that quietly they could take what belongs to us,” he said.
 
President-elect Joe Biden was in part powered to victory in Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Georgia by Black voters, many of them concentrated in cities such as Detroit, Philadelphia and Atlanta where he received a significant share of their support. Since Election Day, President Donald Trump and his allies have sought to expose voter fraud that simply does not exist in these and other overwhelmingly Black population centers.
 
Such a plainly racist strategy to contest the election could erode Black voters’ trust in elections. Voting-rights advocates say they stand ready to beat back any efforts to water down the Black vote. But fears persist that Trump’s allies will undermine democracy and disenfranchise Black Americans and other voters of color.
 
Trump renewed his attack on Motown voters Thursday, tweeting without evidence, “Voter Fraud in Detroit is rampant, and has been for many years.”
 
The GOP effort in Michigan came to a head Tuesday, when the Wayne County Board of Canvassers initially deadlocked on a vote to certify election results that included ballots from Detroit, the nation’s largest Black-majority city.

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Two Republican canvassers tried to block the routine certification, which provoked an outcry from people attending the meeting and civil rights leaders who questioned whether race was a factor. The two GOP board members eventually reversed their votes and certified the results. They later tried to revert to their original position and were rebuffed by state officials who said the certification could not be rescinded.
 
“I think it’s a dose of reality of the times that we are living in,” said Nicole Small, vice chair of the Detroit Charter Commission, who believes the vote was a “blatant attempt at voter suppression.”
 
“I do not believe that Trump has created racism amongst people, but I do think he was the safety net and the vehicle for people to be more active in practicing their racism and their prejudiced beliefs publicly,” Small said.
 
Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel blasted the Trump campaign and other groups for filing election-related lawsuits that were frivolous and lacked evidence.
“The themes we see that persist here are this: ‘Black people are corrupt. Black people are incompetent, and Black people can’t be trusted,’” she said on a call with the nonpartisan Voter Protection Program.

 
Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, said the Republican canvassers’ conduct was part of the ongoing effort “to disenfranchise voters on a scale that is simply unprecedented in modern times.”
Beyond Michigan, the Trump campaign sought a partial recount in Wisconsin — in Milwaukee and Dane counties, which include the majority of the state’s Black population. On Thursday, Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani renewed unproven claims of voter fraud and impropriety during mail-in vote counting in Pennsylvania, naming Philadelphia and nearby Camden, New Jersey, which is also predominantly Black.

 
In Philadelphia, state Sen. Sharif Street said Trump’s attacks on the city are neither new nor surprising, given his “abject failure” around COVID-19 and the resulting economic fallout.
 
“This is an attempt to delegitimize our voters, but it only served to delegitimize himself.”
 
During a news conference Thursday in Wilmington, Delaware, Biden said Americans are “witnessing incredible irresponsibility. Incredibly damaging messages are being sent to the rest of the world about how democracy functions.”
 
Black voters are not the only targets. A Trump-allied group behind challenges in four states, True the Vote, filed a lawsuit alleging officials relaxed voter ID requirements for absentee voters in Menominee County, Wisconsin, which is essentially the Menominee Nation Indian reservation. Most of the group’s lawsuits have been tossed out or withdrawn.
 
Another lawsuit seeks nullification of votes in Nevada over fraud and irregularities. The Trump campaign and Nevada Republicans alleged the Nevada Native Voter Project illegally enticed Native American voters with gift cards, gas cards, raffle tickets and T-shirts if they voted early or on Election Day. That lawsuit has been dismissed.
 
And in Arizona, the Trump campaign and the state Republican Party jointly asked courts to halt certification of votes in Maricopa County, which includes Phoenix and a significant portion of the state’s Hispanic population. The lawsuit sought a hand-count of a sampling of ballots from the county. A judge dismissed that lawsuit on Thursday.
 
The rate of dismissal proves “there’s really no there there to the challenges,” said Anne Houghtaling, deputy director of the Thurgood Marshall Institute, which houses the NAACP Legal Defense Fund’s voting rights projects.
 
Full Coverage: Election 2020

“It’s all sort of tilting at windmills,” Houghtaling said.

Black voters and other voters of color were guaranteed free and fair access to the polls through the landmark Voting Rights Act of 1965. Prior to its passage, Black voters, primarily in the South, were routinely subjected to intimidation and deadly violence for simply registering to vote. In places where they could register, some voters faced literacy tests and poll taxes that effectively left them disenfranchised.

In some states, voter discrimination complaints worsened after a 2013 Supreme Court ruling gutted a section of the voting rights law requiring states with a history of discrimination to get federal approval before changing voter regulations. States have passed strict voter ID requirements, carried out voter roll purges and limited early voting in places where minority voters were disproportionately affected.
 
Election officials from both political parties have stated publicly that the 2020 election went well, and international observers confirmed there were no serious irregularities.
 
“It’s not the use of the word ‘legal’ vote, it’s the constant insinuation that there are so many illegal or fraudulent votes out there,” said Rick Hasen, a professor of law and political science at the University of California Irvine and author of the Election Law blog. “There’s no evidence produced by the campaign to support there has been a lot of fraud.”
___
Morrison reported from New York, Stafford reported from Detroit, and Fernando reported from Carmel, Indiana. Associated Press writer Colleen Long in Washington contributed. Morrison, Fernando and Stafford are members of AP’s Race and Ethnicity team.

PHOTO FILE - In this Nov. 4, 2020, file photo, an election worker holds a ballot as vote counting in the general election continues at State Farm Arena in Atlanta. President-elect Joe Biden won in Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Georgia because of Black voters, many of them concentrated in big cities. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson, File)

apnews.com
Trump election challenges sound alarm among voters of color