- The House of Representatives impeached President Donald Trump on abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.
- While most Democrats voted in favor of both charges, 2020 presidential candidate Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) voted present.
- In a lengthy statement, Gabbard said that “could not in good conscience vote either yes or no” because of the partisan nature of the process, and added that her vote was “a vote for much-needed reconciliation.”
- The articles will now be sent to the Senate for trial. Speaker of the House Pelosi has said she will delay sending the articles until she can be assured that the Senate will conduct a fair trial.
House Votes to Impeach
The House of Representatives voted to impeach President Donald Trump Wednesday night, officially making him the third president in U.S. history to be impeached.
After a day’s worth of debate, the House held two separate votes on the two articles of impeachment levied against Trump.
The first article is for abuse of power and claims that Trump pressured Ukraine to investigate his political rival Joe Biden by withholding nearly $400 million in military aid, as well as a meeting at the White House.
The second article alleges that Trump obstructed Congress by refusing to cooperate with their impeachment inquiry.
The abuse of power article was passed with 230 yeas to 197 nays, with one member voting present. The obstruction of Congress article was passed along similar margins, with 229 yeas to 198 nays, and one present vote.
House members voted almost entirely along party lines. No Republicans voted in favor of either article, while nearly all of the Democrats voted in favor of both.
Two Democrats voted against the abuse of power article and three voted against the obstruction of Congress article.
However, one of the Democrats who voted against both articles was Rep. Jeff Van Drew of New Jersey, who recently announced that he plans to switch his party affiliation to Republican.
Tulsi Gabbard Votes Present
Notably, the single Democrat who voted present for both articles of impeachment was 2020 presidential candidate Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI).
Gabbard explained her decision in a lengthy video posted on Twitter.
“After doing my due diligence in reviewing the 658-page impeachment report, I came to the conclusion that I could not in good conscience vote either yes or no,” she said. “I am standing in the center and have decided to vote Present.”
“I could not in good conscience vote against impeachment because I believe President Trump is guilty of wrongdoing,” she continued.
“I also could not in good conscience vote for impeachment because removal of a sitting President must not be the culmination of a partisan process, fueled by tribal animosities that have so gravely divided our country.”
Gabbard also said that she had introduced a censure resolution, which is basically a strong rebuke of the president.
She claimed that the resolution would send a message to Trump and future presidents while still leaving the question of removal to voters in 2020.
“My vote today is a vote for much-needed reconciliation and hope that together we can heal our country,” she concluded.
Gabbard’s decision still drew a lot of criticism from Democrats, and the topic trended on Twitter with hashtags that included #TulsiCoward and #TulsiIsARussianAsset.
Questions of Fairness in Senate Trial
With the Houses’ decision to impeach Trump, the process will now be passed off to the Senate, where a trial will be held.
Even before the House voted to pass the articles, the Senate was already gearing up to hold the impeachment trial.
On Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) rejected Democrat’s demands to call four White House officials as witnesses.
He argued there were no reasons for the Senate to agree to hear testimony from officials who could help the Democrats’ case. The move was condemned by many Democrats.
McConnell also was criticized Tuesday for telling reporters that he would not be impartial in the impeachment trial.
“I’m not an impartial juror,” he said. “This is a political process. I’m not impartial about this at all.”
McConnell’s actions have raised more questions about whether or not Senate Republicans will hold a fair trial.
Pelosi Delays Sending Impeachment Articles to Senate
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi also appeared to share that concern.
After the House approved the articles, Pelosi said Wednesday night that she would delay sending them to the Senate until it is clear that the upper chamber would conduct a fair trial.
The move appears to be an effort to slow down the impeachment process and force Senate Republicans to set procedures that Democrats find more favorable.
“So far, we have not seen anything that looks fair to us, so hopefully, it will be fairer, and when we see what that is, we will send it over that matter,” she said.
Many Republicans reacted angrily to Pelosi’s decision, including Trump.
“Pelosi feels her phony impeachment HOAX is so pathetic she is afraid to present it to the Senate, which can set a date and put this whole SCAM into default if they refuse to show up!” the president wrote on Twitter.
McConnell also attacked the move in a speech on the Senate floor Thursday.
“It was made even made clear last night when Speaker Pelosi suggested that House Democrats may be too afraid, too afraid to even transmit their shoddy work product to the Senate,” he said.
“Mr. President, looks like the prosecutors are getting cold feet in front of the entire country, and second-guessing whether they want to do to trial.”
But Pelosi doubled-down on her stance while speaking at a press conference Thursday, where she also responded to McConnell’s accusations.
“It reminded me that our founders, when they wrote the Constitution, they suspected there could be a rogue president,” she said, referring to McConnell’s speech. “I don’t think they suspected that we could have a rogue president and a rogue leader in the Senate at the same time.”
McConnell and other Republican Senate leaders had initially said they wanted to hold the trial in January and make it as fast as possible.
Now, Pelosi’s plan to hold the articles until the Senate outlines a procedure the Democrats support could complicate that timeline.
See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (Politico) (Fox News)
Texas AG Ken Paxton Allegedly Flees Official Serving Subpoenas in Truck
Following the news, a judge granted the attorney general’s request to quash the subpoenas.
Paxton on the Run
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton fled his own home in a truck Monday morning to evade an official trying to serve him a subpoena, according to an affidavit filed in federal court.
Last month, several nonprofits filed a lawsuit seeking to block Texas from charging individuals under the state’s abortion ban in cases that happened out of state or prior to Roe v. Wade being overturned.
Two subpoenas were issued summoning Paxton to a Tuesday court hearing, one for his professional title and the other addressed to him personally.
Early on Monday Ernesto Martin Herrera, a process server, knocked on the front door of Paxton’s home in McKinney and was greeted by Texas state senator Angela Paxton, who is the Attorney General’s wife.
According to the affidavit, Herrera identified himself and informed her that he was delivering court documents to Mr. Paxton. She responded that her husband was on the phone and in a hurry to leave, so Herrera returned to his vehicle and waited for Ken to emerge.
Nearly an hour later, the affidavit states, a black Chevrolet Tahoe pulled into the driveway, and 20 minutes after that, the attorney general stepped out.
“I walked up the driveway approaching Mr. Paxton and called him by his name,” Herrera wrote in the affidavit. “As soon as he saw me and heard me call his name out, he turned around and RAN back inside the house through the same door in the garage.”
Shortly afterward, Angela exited the house and climbed into a truck in the driveway, leaving a rear driver-side door open.
“A few minutes later I saw Mr. Paxton RAN from the door inside the garage towards the rear door behind the driver side,” Herrera wrote. “I approached the truck, and loudly called him by his name and stated that I had court documents for him.”
“Mr. Paxton ignored me and kept heading for the truck,” he continued.
The affidavit adds that Herrera placed the documents on the ground by the vehicle and stated that he was serving a subpoena, but the Paxtons drove away.
Process Server or Lingering Stranger?
Following the publication of the affidavit in The Texas Tribune, Ken attacked the news outlet on Twitter and claimed to fear for his safety.
“This is a ridiculous waste of time and the media should be ashamed of themselves,” he wrote. “All across the country, conservatives have faced threats to their safety – many threats that received scant coverage or condemnation from the mainstream media.”
“It’s clear that the media wants to drum up another controversy involving my work as Attorney General, so they’re attacking me for having the audacity to avoid a stranger lingering outside my home and showing concern about the safety and well-being of my family,” he continued.
On Monday, the attorney general filed two requests: a motion to quash the subpoena and another to seal the certificates of service, which included the affidavit.
His lawyers argued that Herrera “loitered at the Attorney General’s home for over an hour, repeatedly shouted at him, and accosted” him and his wife.
U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman granted both requests on Tuesday.
In a statement, the attorney general said that Herrera is “lucky this situation did not escalate further or necessitate force.”
See what others are saying: (The Texas Tribune) (CNN) (Fort Worth Star-Telegram)
Ron DeSantis Faces Lawsuit, Investigation for “Human Trafficking” of Migrants
A woman only known as “Pearla” allegedly lured the desperate migrants onto planes with monetary incentives and false promises.
A Political Stunt Blows Up in the Governor’s Face
After unexpectedly flying some 50 mostly Venezuelan migrants from San Antonio to Martha’s Vineyard last week, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) is staring down a class action lawsuit, a local investigation, and a potential probe from the Justice Department.
On Tuesday, Lawyers for Civil Rights, in conjunction with the nonprofit Alianza Americas filed a federal class-action lawsuit on behalf of the migrants. The filing names DeSantis, the state of Florida, Florida Department of Transportation Secretary Jared Perdue, and their accomplices as defendants.
It alleges they fraudulently induced the migrants to cross state lines to Martha’s Vineyard, where shelter and resources were not prepared.
According to several accounts, the migrants were falsely promised work, free rent, and immigration assistance in exchange for taking the trip.
The migrants are seeking unspecified damages on top of the cost of their legal fees for emotional and economic harm.
On Monday, Texas Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar announced that he was opening an investigation into the migrant flights and DeSantis’s role in the scheme, which he called an “abuse of human rights.”
“They feel that they were deceived in being taken from Bexar County — from San Antonio, Texas — to where they eventually ended up,” he told CNN on Tuesday. “That could be a crime here in Texas and we will handle it as such.”
Salazar also said in a statement that his office was working with private attorneys representing the victims and advocacy organizations and that he was prepared to work with “any federal agency with concurrent jurisdiction, should the need arise.”
Since making the announcement, the sheriff’s office has been bombarded by threats via phone and email, according to a statement by a spokesperson.
Dylan Fernandes, a Massachusetts state lawmaker representing Martha’s Vineyard, called on the DoJ to launch a human trafficking probe into DeSantis Sunday.
He wrote on Twitter about the “inhumane acts,” saying, “Not only is it morally criminal, there are legal implications around fraud, kidnapping, deprivation of liberty, and human trafficking.”
A Mysterious Woman Named Pearla
Several migrants have told reporters, and claimed in the class action lawsuit, that they were lured onto the planes by a tall, blonde woman calling herself Pearla.
She reportedly approached them outside the San Antonio shelter, on the street, and in a McDonald’s parking lot, talking to them in broken Spanish.
Eduardo Linares, a migrant who said he rejected Pearla’s offer, told The Boston Globe that she promised them a free trip to Massachusetts and guaranteed work.
Another migrant named Alejandro told the outlet she offered him three months of free rent, job placement, and help with his immigration case.
The San Antonio Report interviewed a migrant named Emmanuel who said Pearla paid him $200 to recruit other migrants for the flights.
Tuesday’s lawsuit filing elaborates on their claims, saying that they were enticed with $10 McDonald’s gift cards to fly to Boston or Washington.
It alleges that the migrants were rounded up in hotel rooms while the scheme’s organizers gathered enough people to fill two planes, with them sequestered so they could not discuss the plan with anyone else.
“Once the individual Plaintiffs and class members landed, it became clear that the promises made to induce them on the planes were in fact bold-faced lies,” the filing says.
DeSantis defended himself on Fox News Monday night, saying, “They all signed consent forms to go and then the vendor that is doing this for Florida provided them with a packet that had a map of Martha’s Vineyard, it has the number for different services that are on Martha’s Vineyard.”
The brochures given to the migrants, however, listed services for refugees, not asylum seekers, and some migrants have said they weren’t aware of this fact. If the migrants were misled, the participants in the scheme could be criminally liable.
Who Pearla is and who employs her is still unknown, but DeSantis has publically taken credit for chartering the flights.
The League of United Latin American Citizens is offering $5,000 for information leading to the identification, arrest, and conviction of Pearla.
Two days after arriving in Martha’s Vineyard, the migrants voluntarily took shelter in a Cape Cod military base, which is designed for such emergency purposes.
See what others are saying: (NPR) (Vice) (The Boston Globe)
Is The Pandemic Really Over? Experts Bristle at Biden’s Declaration
Top Republicans took the president’s words as a signal not to approve any more funds for COVID relief.
The Pandemic’s End
“The pandemic is over,” declared President Joe Biden in a “60 Minutes” interview aired Sunday night.
“We still have a problem with COVID,” he said. “We’re still doing a lot of work on it. But the pandemic is over.”
“If you notice, no one is wearing masks. Everybody seems to be in pretty good shape, and so I think it’s changing, and I think this is a perfect example of it,” he added, gesturing around at last week’s Detroit Auto Show, where the interview took place.
The president’s remarks turned many heads among public health experts, who have pointed out that 400 to 500 Americans continue to die from COVID-19 every day.
“We’ve had two million cases reported over the last 28 days, and we know underreporting is substantial,” Dr. Michael T. Osterholm, an infectious disease expert at the University of Minnesota, told The New York Times.
“COVID-19 continues to be the number four cause of death in the country,” he added.
Others argued that the U.S. president does not have the authority to declare a pandemic over. Only the World Health Organization, which first declared the coronavirus a global pandemic in early 2020, holds that power.
“We are not there yet,” WHO Director General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said last week. “But the end is in sight.”
To Care or Not to Care: That is the White House’s Question
Biden’s relatively relaxed attitude toward the virus on “60 Minutes” contradicted his administration’s official policy, which aids have been quick to clarify remains the same. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, the government’s declaration of a COVID-19 public health emergency, which enables it to waive or modify requirements for health-related programs like Medicare and Medicaid, remains in effect. That designation, however, will be up for renewal on October 13.
The White House has also been pushing Congress to allocate another $22 billion toward fighting the pandemic, but top Republicans said Monday that Biden’s comment declaring the pandemic over essentially shuts the door on further aid.
“If it’s over, then I wouldn’t suspect they need any more money,” said Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tx.) in response Monday.
Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), the ranking Republican member on the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, added, “I don’t think they were going to get any Covid money through anyway.”
The Biden administration continues to encourage Americans to get the newly authorized “bivalent” COVID-19 booster shot, which provides protection against both the original strain and the omicron subvariants.
The booster shot could prevent as many as 10,000 deaths and 137,000 hospitalizations in the coming months, according to one estimate by Matthew Daley, a physician at Kaiser Permanente Colorado.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that everybody over the age of 12, and those who are older, pregnant, immunocompromised, or have a chronic illness, in particular, get the booster as soon as possible. But while most Americans have been vaccinated at least once, less than half have gotten their first booster shot, according to CDC data.
New York Mayor Eric Adams announced Tuesday that vaccine mandates for private employers will end in November, though public employees will still be required to have a vaccine. The day prior, Starbucks also lifted some COVID policies, announcing that its workers will no longer get two weeks of sick pay for coronavirus infections starting on October 2.
In its statement, the company described the pandemic as entering the “endemic” phase.