Tag Archive: Senate

Republicans shockingly partisan at Sally Yates Russia hearing

Sally Yates, then Deputy Attorney General, in 2016

Sally Yates, then Deputy Attorney General, in 2016

Republicans in Congress perhaps exceeded even their own partisan reputation at yesterday’s hearing of the Senate Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism entitled “Russian Interference in the 2016 United States Election.” The hearing featured Sally Yates, who was Acting Attorney General in the Trump administration until she was fired on January 30 of this year. Also appearing at the hearing was former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper. Each of these witnesses has decades of experience serving in the government under presidents of both parties, and both have knowledge about Russian efforts to interfere with the 2016 U.S. elections. For example, both witnesses know about Michael Flynn, a campaign advisor and then National Security Advisor under Donald Trump for just a few weeks, until February 13. Flynn, a principal subject of the hearing, was fired after the Washington Post reported that he lied about his telephone calls with Russian officials, including Russian Ambassador to the U.S. Sergey Kislyak, where the two discussed U.S. sanctions against Russia for interfering in the U.S. election that had just taken place. Yates testified at yesterday’s hearing that, in January of this year, she had urgent meetings and calls with Trump White House attorneys about Flynn, and that she recommended that action be taken regarding Flynn, because he was causing Vice President Mike Pence to lie to the American people about Flynn’s discussions with the Russians, and because Flynn was vulnerable to blackmail from Russia over his lies.

However, many of the Republican Senators on the panel did not seem to want to know about Russian involvement in our election. Instead, they criticized the “leaks” that led to the disclosure of Flynn’s activities, as well as the “unmasking” of Flynn. Part of what is shocking about the Republicans’ behavior at the hearing is that, had Flynn not been identified, he might still be National Security Advisor and would still be, as Yates explained, compromised by Russia.

Senate Intelligence Committee hearing: Russia waging cyber war against United States

Trump/Russia Inauguration Day protest

Trump/Russia Inauguration Day protest

Yesterday, the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee held an open hearing designed to lay out Russia‘s intentions and techniques (“active measures)” to influence the U.S. 2016 elections, and to propose actions and solutions to address them going forward. According to Independent Senator Angus King, from what he heard during the hearing, “we’re engaged in a new form of aggression, if not war,” from Russia. King’s statement echoed former Vice President Dick Cheney, who said a few days earlier that, “in some quarters,” Russia’s interference in the U.S. election “could be considered an act of war.” Witnesses at the hearing agreed that Russia is engaged in cyber “warfare” against the U.S. This is a crucial first step in investigating whether Donald Trump‘s campaign colluded with Russia to steal the 2016 presidential election.

The Republican Party, lost in the wilderness

Donald Trump behind Hillary Clinton at 2nd presidential debate.

Donald Trump behind Hillary Clinton at 2nd presidential debate.

Elections are about math, and, with about 27 days to go before the 2016 elections, the math is not looking good for Republicans. Donald Trump is not only losing the presidential election, he may be taking down the GOP with him, including its majority in the U.S. Senate, and even jeopardizing the Republican majority in the House of Representatives. Trump is now engaged in a bloody battle with leading Republicans, including House Speaker Paul Ryan, the highest-ranking Republican in America, as well as GOP stalwarts such as John McCain. Panic is setting in among some Republican office holders and donors alike, and Hillary Clinton and the Democrats are exploiting this GOP Civil War. Where did things go so wrong?

Obama White House intensifies messaging on Iran deal

Demonstration against war with Iran, U.S. Capitol

Demonstration against war with Iran, U.S. Capitol

President Barack Obama is undertaking an intense effort to sell his deal to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons. On Tuesday, White House officials reached out to progressive voters on a joint conference call with Keystone Progress, which is “Pennsylvania’s largest online progressive action network.” Keystone’s executive director, Michael Morrill, was on the call, as well as Mary  Kaszynski, the Communications Manager for Ploughshares Fund, which supports efforts to eliminate nuclear weapons and threats. They were joined by John Bisognano, the White House Associate Director of Public Engagement, and Marie Harf, Senior Advisor to Secretary of State John Kerry.

Elizabeth Warren turns her attention away from the presidency

U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren

U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren

The “Run Warren Run” movement to draft U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren for president is over. The movement, spurred by MoveOn.org and Democracy For America, spanned six months, garnered hundreds of thousands of signatures, and even included ground operations in Iowa and New Hampshire. However, Warren insisted from the get-go that she did not want to run. To mark this shift, MoveOn.Org, Democracy For America and the Working Families Party held a conference call last night featuring Senator Warren. The message from Warren was that she is going to continue to fight hard for Americans from her Senate seat, but that she needs our help to do so.

Conference call on vaccines with Surgeon General Vivek Murthy

German measles (rubella) vaccination, Nagpur, India

German measles (rubella) vaccination, Nagpur, India

Last Tuesday, MomsRising.org held a conference call featuring U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, who spoke about measles vaccines. The call also featured Dr. Bruce Gellen, who is Deputy Assistant Secretary for Health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and Dr. Amanda Cohen of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.

MomsRising.org focuses on children’s and family health issues, including working for common-sense gun safety laws. Thus, the group formed a natural pairing with Gen. Murthy, whose nomination for Surgeon General was delayed for more than a year by pressure from the National Rifle Association, after Murthy stated that “guns are a health care issue.” Indeed, it took an ebola outbreak and the beginning of a measles outbreak traced to Disneyland in California to focus attention on the contradiction between Republican fear-mongering and the lack of a U.S. Surgeon General. The U.S. Senate finally confirmed Murthy, along with other Executive Branch nominees last December, during the lame duck session of Congress, and only as a result of the Democrats having changed Senate rules in November 2013 to prevent filibustering Executive Branch nominees.

President Obama’s striking town hall meeting on immigration

Protester at 2010 immigration reform rally

Protester at 2010 immigration reform rally

Yesterday, President Barack Obama participated in a town hall meeting on immigration, hosted by Jose Diaz-Barlart of Telemundo network and held before an audience at Florida International University in Miami. The Obama town hall meeting, broadcast on Telemundo and MSNBC, was striking for several reasons:

First, Diaz-Balart (who was shrill and seemed to be yelling much of the time) and some members of the audience displayed a shocking lack of knowledge about how the United States government works. They need to reread their U.S. Constitution, or at least watch Schoolhouse Rock. For example, Diaz-Balart seemed exasperated at the Obama administration that a federal judge in Texas has temporarily blocked Obama’s recent executive action on immigration (which would suspend many deportations in order to keep families together) from taking place. Diaz-Balart asked Obama:

How long will it take?  Because a lot of people are asking.  They said, we were 24 hours away from registering for the expanded DACA and just months from DAPA.  This happens 12 hours before.  What’s going to happen now? How long is it going to take?  And, again, a lot of the questions are, was the President caught by surprise?  And why is it taking so long?  This is what we’re getting, Mr. President.

Conservatives and liberals finally agree: they hate CRomnibus

CRomnibus opponent Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA)

CRomnibus opponent Sen. Elizabeth Warren

Conservatives and Liberals finally agree on one thing: they hate the $1.1 trillion continuing resolution of the omnibus federal spending bill (nicknamed “CRomnibus”) designed to fund the U.S. federal government through September 2015. However, conservatives and liberals oppose the bill for different reasons. Strolling through the Twitter hashtag #CRominbus, as well as reading and hearing statements from various quarters, is quite revealing.

Tell your Republican friends they are being used

Right-wing impeachment message, December 2011

Right-wing impeachment message, December 2011

For many of us, it’s heartbreaking to see our Republican friends and family members being brainwashed by Fox News and GOP identity politics beyond all rationality. Sometimes we try to argue the merits of issues with them, to no avail of course. Other times we just write them off, which can make for some estranged relationships. But here’s another idea: let’s try to point out to our Republican friends that they are being used by the Republican Party.

Liz Cheney ends Senate bid but Republican Party civil war rages on

According to her campaign website today, Liz Cheney, daughter of former U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney, has ended her bid for U.S. Senate from Wyoming. Cheney’s withdrawal comes as a relief to Senator Mike Enzi, the Wyoming Republican incumbent who Cheney was challenging from the right. Enzi was one of a number of Republican U.S. Senators who are or were facing primary challenges from fellow Republicans aligned with the right wing Tea Party.