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Harassment Allegation Shakes Up Joe Biden’s Potential Presidential Run

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  • Democratic Politician Lucy Flores wrote an article outlining an instance where former Vice President Joe Biden grabbed her shoulders, sniffed her hair, and kissed the back of her head without her consent.
  • Biden denies ever acting inappropriately, but Flores’s story has brought new attention to his history of alleged inappropriate behavior towards women.
  • Several 2020 candidates have spoken out and said that it is up to Biden to decide whether or not he wants to run after these allegations.

What Are the Accusations Against Biden?

A former Nevada politician has accused former Vice President Joe Biden of touching her inappropriately while on the campaign trail in 2014.

Lucy Flores, who was running as the Democratic Nominee for Lieutenant Governor in the state of Nevada at the time, wrote an essay for The Cut published on March 29. In her piece, she recounts a time where Biden attended a rally to help her boost voter turnout. While in the holding room, she claims she felt him grab her shoulders from behind. He then allegedly smelled her hair and kissed the back of her head.

“He leaned further in and inhaled my hair,” Flores wrote. “I was mortified. I thought to myself, ‘I didn’t wash my hair today and the vice-president of the United States is smelling it. And also, what in the actual fuck? Why is the vice-president of the United States smelling my hair?’ He proceeded to plant a big slow kiss on the back of my head. My brain couldn’t process what was happening. I was embarrassed. I was shocked. I was confused.”

After the event, she said she told her staff, but was unsure of where to turn after that.

“On the campaign trail, there’s no clear path for what to do when a powerful man crosses the line,” she said. “In politics, you shrug it off, smile for the cameras, and get back to the task of trying to win your race…I did what most women do, and moved on with my life and my work.”

However, since this happened to her, Flores says that she has only found her story to be validated via numerous reports and photos of Biden crossing the line with other women. Several viral photos have depicted him standing very close to women, touching the shoulders of and leaning into Stephanie Carter, the wife of the former Defense Secretary. Others show him kissing a senator’s wife on the lips, whispering into womens’ ears on numerous occasions, and cozying up to female constituents. She called this pattern of behavior an “open secret,” which nothing has ever come of.

It took Flores close to five years to tell her story. She was worried that, like many women, she would not be believed.

“For years I feared my experience would be dismissed,” she claimed in her essay. “Biden will be Biden. Boys will be boys. I worried about the doubts, the threats, the insults, and the minimization.”

However, the prospect of Biden making a presidential bid in 2020 was enough reason for Flores to decide to speak out, as she thought these stories needed to be a part of the conversation.

“But hearing Biden’s potential candidacy for president discussed without much talk about his troubling past as it relates to women became too much to keep bottled up any longer,” she said.

Biden’s Response

While Flores was working on her piece, The Cut reached out to Biden’s office, but they declined to comment.

However on Saturday, after the article’s release, Biden’s spokesperson Bill Russo released a statement claiming that Biden was unaware that Flores was uncomfortable with their encounter.

On Sunday, Biden followed up with another statement, which he released via Russo, saying he does not think he has ever acted improperly.

“And not once – never – did I believe I acted Inappropriately,” he wrote. “If it is suggested I did so, I will listen respectfully. But it was never my intention.”

On CNN’s State of the Union, Flores responded to Biden’s remarks by saying his comments were a start, but his intentions were never the issue at hand.

“I’m glad that he’s willing to listen,” she told the program’s host, Jake Tapper. “I’m glad that he’s clarifying his intentions. Frankly, my point was not about his intentions and they shouldn’t be about his intentions. It should be about the women on the receiving end of that behavior.”

Biden’s History of Behavior Towards Women

As Flores suggested in her essay, Biden behaving inappropriately with women is not a new claim. Throughout the years, several headlines have popped up, showing the former vice president touching women and standing extremely close to them.

During the event where Biden kissed a senator’s wife, a reporter says she also saw him walking around the room and calling the female relatives of politicians “beautiful” among other borderline flirty sentiments.

Back in 2015, John Stewart aired a segment about Biden, including a montage of him crossing the line when it comes to women.

Despite this, Biden’s reputation remained intact. One Politico article characterized him as a “sex symbol.” U.S. News called his behavior “Biden being Biden.”

While most of the women depicted in these viral photos and clips have not spoken out about their encounters with Biden, Stephanie Carter wrote a Medium post on March 31 addressing what happened to her. Carter was at the swearing-in of her husband Ash, the former Defense Secretary. Afterward, a picture of Biden touching her shoulders and breathing by her neck began circulating on the internet. However, Carter said she does not feel like the victim of any wrongdoing.

“The Joe Biden in my picture is a close friend helping someone get through a big day, for which I will always be grateful,” Carter wrote. “So, as the sole owner of my story, it is high time that I reclaim it — from strangers, Twitter, the pundits and the late-night hosts.”

She also added that just because her story is positive, does not mean she does not believe Lucy Flores.

“Let me state upfront that I don’t know her, but I absolutely support her right to speak her truth and she should be, like all women, believed. But her story is not mine.”

2020 Candidates Respond

This story has put Biden’s potential run for president in a new light, and many wonder if it will impact his decision to campaign for the spot.

Several candidates have spoken about the allegations, including Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) who said she believes Lucy Flores. Prior to Biden’s statement, she also added that “Biden needs to give an answer.”

As to whether or not the former Vice President should run, she said that is for him to decide.

Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) gave ABC a similar statement.

“I have no reason not to believe her,” Klobuchar said. “I think we know from campaigns and politics that people raise issues and they have to address them, and that’s what he will have to do with the voters if he gets into the race.”

Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) also said it will be up to Biden whether or not he still wants to run, but added that,“I’m not sure that one incident alone disqualifies anybody.”

See What Others Are Saying: (The Cut) (Politico) (Vox)

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McConnell to Propose Raising Tobacco Use Age to 21

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  • Mitch McConnell announced during a press conference Thursday, that he plans to introduce legislation that would raise the age for tobacco use to 21.
  • Currently, 12 states across the country and hundreds of localities have already raised the age from 18 to 21.
  • The use of tobacco products by teens has risen significantly, with many attributing the increase to e-cigarettes.

McConnell Announces New Legislation Proposal

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) announced Thursday that he will introduce legislation to raise the tobacco use age from 18 to 21 nationwide.

This legislation would include all tobacco products, including cigarettes, chewing tobacco, and vaping.

“For some time I’ve been hearing from parents of teenage children seeing an unprecedented spike in…vaping, among teens,” McConnell said in a press conference in his home state of Kentucky. “It is reaching epidemic levels around the country.”

Smoking Rates Among American Teens

The use of tobacco products among teenagers was McConnell’s motivating factor in announcing the legislation. According to the CDC, 90 percent of adult smokers try their first cigarette before the age of 21.

The rise of e-cigarettes has led to an increase in teen smoking. In 2017, 2.1 million high school students reported using e-cigarettes. In 2018, that number jumped to 3.6 million. In the state of Kentucky, in 2018, 45 percent of high schoolers used these devices.

According to a 2018 survey by Truth Initiative, 63 percent of Juul users did not know that these devices contained nicotine.

In 12 states, the legal age for tobacco use is already 21. Over 400 towns, cities, and counties have also followed suit. McConnell said he expects bipartisan support of the bill.

The 12 U.S. states where the legal age to purchase tobacco products is 21.

Juul is also behind this move, saying in a statement, “we must restrict youth usage of vapor products.”

See what others are saying: (WLKY) (Politico) (CNBC)

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Mueller Report Includes 10 Possible Instances of Obstruction of Justice, Lacks Evidence, AG Says Ahead of Full Release

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  • Attorney General William Barr held a press briefing Thursday morning in advance of the public release of the Mueller report.
  • Barr stated that the report “found no evidence that any Americans – including anyone associated with the Trump campaign – conspired or coordinated with the Russian government.”
  • Barr said that the special counsel looked at 10 instances where Trump acted in a way that could be considered an obstruction of justice, but defended his conclusion to ultimately clear Trump of any attempted obstruction of justice.

Barr Briefing Before Release

Attorney General William Barr gave a press conference Thursday morning as a precursor to the public release of the highly anticipated Mueller report.

During the briefing, Barr stated that while the report by Special Counsel Robert Mueller “makes clear” that Russian operatives tried to interfere in the 2016 election, the investigations “found no evidence” that any member of President Donald Trump’s campaign conspired with Russian efforts to interfere in the election.

“The special counsel found no collusion by any Americans,” said Barr.

“As you will see, the special counsel’s report states that his ‘investigation did not establish that members of the Trump campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities,” he continued.

Barr claimed that the White House “fully cooperated” with the investigation and that Trump did not have “corrupt intent to obstruct the investigation.” He also said that Trump’s lawyers were given access to the report earlier this week before it was made public and that Trump’s lawyers did not ask for any additional redactions.

10 Instances of Possible Obstruction of Justice

Barr said that the special counsel looked at 10 instances where Trump may have obstructed justice. Despite these 10 instances and the fact that Mueller said he was neither charging nor exonerating Trump of obstruction of justice, Barr defended his own decision to clear the president of any potential charges.

Barr said he and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein disagreed with “some of the special counsel’s legal theories,” and ultimately concluded the evidence was “not sufficient to establish that the president committed an obstruction of justice offense.”

He also defended Trump’s actions, saying that he was “frustrated and angered by a sincere belief that the investigation was undermining his presidency, propelled by his political opponents, and fueled by illegal leaks.”

The WikiLeaks Question

Regarding the question of the Trump campaign’s connection to WikiLeaks’ release of hacked DNC emails in the summer of 2016, Barr said that even if the Trump campaign colluded with WikiLeaks, that is not a crime.

“The special counsel also investigated whether any member or affiliate of the Trump campaign encouraged or otherwise played a role in these dissemination efforts,” said Barr. “Under applicable law, publication of these types of materials would not be criminal unless the publisher also participated in the underlying hacking conspiracy.”

This means that because WikiLeaks did not directly participate in the Russian hacking of the emails, WikiLeaks did not itself commit a crime. Meaning any collusion between the Trump campaign and WikiLeaks is not an illegal conspiracy.

What Next?

At 11 a.m. EST, Barr sent the Mueller report to Congress and published the “lightly redacted” report on the Justice Department’s website. Now, reporters, legal experts, and lawmakers alike will analyze the findings of the 448-page report.

In the press conference, Barr said that most of the redactions fall into four categories: Content that involves grand jury material, content that involves foreign intelligence, content that implicates ongoing cases and investigations, and content that would violate the privacy of people who are not directly implicated in the report.

Barr said that redactions would be labeled according to their category. He also stated that the redactions were made by Department of Justice attorneys, attorneys from the Special Counsel’s Office, the intelligence community, and prosecutors in ongoing cases.

Democratic lawmakers have demanded to see the unredacted report, arguing that Barr cannot be trusted to provide an accurate portrayal of Mueller’s findings because Barr was appointed by Trump, and has openly argued against the obstruction case against Trump in the past.

Barr addressed this in his briefing, saying that he believed the redacted report “will allow every American to understand the results of the Special Counsel’s investigation.”

“Nevertheless, in an effort to accommodate congressional requests,” continued Barr, “We will make available to a bipartisan group of leaders from several Congressional committees a version of the report with all redactions removed except those relating to grand-jury information.”

Barr’s findings will surely continue to be questioned by legal experts and pundits as more analyses of the report are done on the historic Mueller report.

See what others are saying: (The New York Times) (NPR) (Fox News)

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Trump Vetoes Resolution to Remove U.S. From Yemen

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  • Trump vetoed a resolution backed with bipartisan support that would remove U.S. troops from Yemen.
  • Trump called the legislation “unnecessary” and “dangerous.”
  • Democratic leaders have condemned Trump for the veto, while Saudi Arabia has given the president praise.

Trump Vetoes the Resolution

President Donald Trump vetoed legislation that would stop the United States’ involvement in the war in Yemen.

Trump used his presidential veto power for the second time on Tuesday when he rejected Senate Joint Resolution 7. The bill directs the president to remove Armed Forces from Yemen within 30 days. Congress, however, did not ask for all military personnel to be removed, and made an exception for operations related to or directed at Al-Queda.

The resolution started in the Senate and was passed 54-46 in March, with all Democrats voting in favor, and seven Republicans voting alongside them. In early April, it made its way to the House where it passed with a vote of 247-175.

In a letter to the Senate, Trump called the bill “unnecessary” and “dangerous.”

“This resolution is an unnecessary, dangerous attempt to weaken my constitutional authorities,” the president wrote, “endangering the lives of American citizens and brave service members, both today and in the future.

Trump also elaborated, saying that a political decision alone could not stop tensions in Yemen.

“We cannot end the conflict in Yemen through political documents like S.J. Res. 7,” Trump added in his letter. “Peace in Yemen requires a negotiated settlement.”

American Involvement in Yemen

Since 2015, the United States has been aiding Saudi Arabia on the ground in Yemen.  Saudi Arabia is fighting against Houthi Rebels, who are backed by Iran and have seized part of the country. They also ousted Yemen’s president.

Saudi Arabia is fighting against Houthi Rebels, who are backed by Iran and have seized part of the country. They also ousted Yemen’s president.

American involvement in the war has come under scrutiny several times since the conflicts began. One instance, in particular, involved an American-made bomb killing at least 40 children in a school bus when dropped from a warplane.

In his letter, President Trump claimed that the U.S. is not currently engaging in any hostile combat.

“Apart from counterterrorism operations against al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula and ISIS, the United States is not engaged in hostilities in or affecting Yemen,” he said. He later cited that our only involvement includes concepts like intelligence sharing and logistics support.

Reactions to the Veto

Politicians have heavily criticized Trump for vetoing the resolution, which was backed with bipartisan support.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) sent a thread of tweets after his veto.

“The President has cynically chosen to contravene a bipartisan, bicameral vote of the Congress & perpetuate America’s shameful involvement in this heartbreaking crisis,” she wrote.

Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT)  was one of the Senators leading the resolution. Upon learning that Trump rejected it, he said, “I am disappointed, but not surprised.”

President Trump did receive praise from Saudi Arabia. The country’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Anwar Gargash, called his decision “positive.”

See what others are saying: (New York Magazine) (Al Jazeera) (BBC)

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