- Texas Democrats canceled three campaign events on Friday citing “safety concerns ” after a convoy of Trump supporters surrounded a Biden-Harris tour bus.
- In one dramatic moment, an SUV carrying at least one campaign staffer and a truck with pro-Trump flags briefly collided into one another. While local law enforcement did not issue any traffic violations, the FBI is now investigating the incident.
- President Donald Trump criticized the FBI investigation on Sunday, calling his supporters “patriots” and claiming that the convoy was “protecting” the tour bus, even though those supporters claimed the goal was to run the bus out of Texas.
- “Folks, that’s not who we are,” Democratic challenger Joe Biden said in response to Trump’s comments. “We are so much better than this. We’re so much better than this. It’s not who we are.”
Biden Tour Bus Surrounded in “Trump Train”
President Donald Trump is defending his supporters who formed a convoy around a Biden campaign tour bus in Texas on Friday. In a Twitter post on Sunday, he called those supporters “patriots” and criticized the FBI for launching an investigation into the stunt.
“In my opinion, these patriots did nothing wrong,” the president wrote. “Instead, the FBI & Justice should be investigating the terrorists, anarchists, and agitators of ANTIFA, who run around burning down our Democrat run cities and hurting our people!”
As the situation began to unfold Friday afternoon, some supporters in the caravan promoted the stunt on social media, with many dubbing it the “Trump train.”
“Trolling is FUN!!” one post reads. “Join us in #SanAntonio to escort the Biden Bus coming through San Antonio. We are on the bridges & will intercept at Walters/I35!!”
In a subsequent video, a number of vehicles can be seen surrounding that bus, many of them sporting Trump campaign flags. According to a campaigner who spoke to people on the bus, those Trump supporters began honking their horns and shouting,
The Biden campaign has also claimed that multiple trucks pulled in front of the bus and tried to slow it down.
In another video, a woman in that convoy calls the stunt “hilarious” and says that it is running the tour bus out of Texas. Moments later, she expresses pure shock when she sees an SUV and a truck directly behind the tour bus colliding into each other briefly.
Neither of those vehicles reportedly pulled over, and it is still unknown what prompted them to run into each other; however, it has since been confirmed that the SUV was a staff member vehicle with the Biden campaign.
While neither Democratic candidate Joe Biden nor running mate Kamala Harris were on the tour bus, Texas Congressional candidate and former state senator Wendy Davis (D) reportedly was.
Following the incident, Texas Democrats canceled three campaign events that had been scheduled for Friday, citing “safety concerns.”
What are Trump and Biden Saying?
Tariq Thowfeek, Texas communications director for the Biden campaign, immediately condemned the “Trump train” incident.
“Rather than engage in productive conversation about the drastically different visions that Joe Biden and Donald Trump have for our country,” he said, “Trump supporters in Texas [Friday] instead decided to put our staff, surrogates, supporters, and others in harm’s way.”
According to The Texas Tribune, Texas GOP Chairman Allen West was dismissive of the incident.
“It is more fake news and propaganda,” he said. “Prepare to lose… stop bothering me.”
Naomi Narvaiz, another Texas GOP official, told the Tribune, “We decided we would jump on 35 to show support for our president. I didn’t see anyone being overly aggressive.”
“We sent the @JoeBiden @KamalaHarris bus out of Hays [County]!” Narvaiz said on Twitter. “Your kind aren’t welcome here!”
On Saturday, Trump endorsed the “Trump train,” saying on Twitter: “I LOVE TEXAS!”
On Sunday, he also spun the story a much different way in front of his supporters while at a campaign rally.
“Did you see the way our people, they were, ya know, protecting this bus… because they’re nice. They had hundreds of cars. Trump! Trump! Trump and the American flag,” he said.
To be clear, there is no evidence that this convoy was aiming to protect the Biden bus. In fact, many of those supporters have outright claimed themselves that they were trying to run this bus out of town.
Following Trump’s comments, Biden himself addressed the situation, saying at an event in Pennsylvania, “Folks, that’s not who we are. We are so much better than this. We’re so much better than this. It’s not who we are.”
FBI Now Investigating “Trump Train”
As far as the collision from that incident goes, Hays County Sheriff Gary Cutler, a Republican up for re-election this year, said that the Biden campaign failed to notify his office it would be passing through the county. Because of that, Cutler said law enforcement was not prepared for any possible confrontations,
“The planning of this was questionable,” he said of the Biden campaign.
Cutler’s response has drawn wider criticism, especially as Democratic officials argue that the “Trump train” was the one creating a dangerous situation.
No police or sheriff’s departments in the area has filed any traffic violation citations; however, as of Saturday, the FBI now says it’s investigating the collision, but so far, no other details have been released.
See what others are saying: (The Texas Tribune) (The New York Post) (USA Today)
Republicans Say They Will Block Bill To Avert Government Shutdown and Debt Default
Democrats argue the bill is necessary to prevent an economic catastrophe.
Democrats Introduce Legislation
Democrats in the House and Senate unveiled sweeping legislation Monday that aimed to keep the government funded through early December, lift the federal debt limit, and provide around $35 billion for Afghan refugees and natural disaster recovery.
The bill is needed to avoid a government shutdown when funding expires next week. It is also necessary to prevent the Treasury Department from reaching the limit of its borrowing authority, which would trigger the U.S. to default on its debt for the first time ever.
For weeks, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has urged Congress to raise the federal debt limit, also known as the debt ceiling, warning that the department will soon exhaust all of its measures to keep the federal government within its legal borrowing limit.
If the U.S. were to default, it would be unable to pay its debts, sending massive shockwaves through the financial system.
Democrats have painted the bill as crucial to avert an economic doomsday that would massively undermine recovery.
They argue that the combination of a government shutdown and a debt default would destabilize global markets and leave millions of Americans without essential aid.
Republicans Vow to Oppose Raising Debt Ceiling
Despite the considerable threats, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has repeatedly said Republicans will not vote to increase the debt ceiling, arguing that Democrats should do it without their help because they are pushing trillions of dollars in new spending priorities.
Democrats have slammed the Republican leader’s stance as hypocritical. They point out that while it is true they are proposing new spending, it has not been approved yet, and the debt that currently risks default has been incurred by both parties.
Democrats also noted that trillions of dollars were added to the federal debt under former President Donald Trump, which is more than what has been added by President Joe Biden. As a result, Republicans raised the debt ceiling three times during the Trump administration with the support of Democrats.
McConnell, however, remains unlikely to budge. On Monday, White House officials said McConnell has not outlined any requests or areas of negotiation in exchange for support of the legislation.
While the bill is expected to pass the House, it appears all but doomed in the Senate, where it needs 60 votes to break the filibuster.
See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (The New York Times) (Politico)
California Gov. Gavin Newsom Survives Recall
Experts say the outcome should act as a warning for Republicans who tie themselves to former President Donald Trump and attempt to undermine election results by promoting false voter fraud claims.
Recall Effort Fails
After seven months and an estimated $276 million in taxpayer money, the Republican-led effort to recall California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) failed Tuesday.
Just under 70% of the votes have been reported as of Wednesday morning, showing that “no” on the recall received 63.9% of the vote. That’s nearly twice as many votes as “yes,” which had 36.1%.
According to The Washington Post, even if the margin narrows as more votes are counted, this still marks one of the biggest rejections of any recall effort in America over the last century.
Analysts say the historic rebuke was driven by high Democratic turnout and broader fears over resurging COVID cases.
While the Delta variant continues to push new infections to record highs in many parts of the country with lax mask rules and low vaccination rates, California, once a global epicenter of the pandemic, now has one of the highest vaccination rates and lowest new caseloads in the nation.
Newsom has continually tried to convince voters that those figures are the results of his vaccine and masking policies, which have been some of the most aggressive in the U.S.
Given that polls showed the pandemic was the top concern for California voters, it is clear that the majority favored his policies over those of his competitors. Larry Elder, the Republican talk radio host of led the field of 46 challengers, ran on a platform of getting rid of essentially all COVID restrictions.
In his victory speech Tuesday night, Newsom painted the recall’s failure not only as a win for Democratic coronavirus policies but also for Democracy at large.
“We said yes to science. We said yes to vaccines. We said yes to ending this pandemic,” he said. “We said yes to people’s right to vote without fear of fake fraud or voter suppression.”
“I think about just in the last few days and the former president put out saying this election was rigged,” he continued. “Democracy is not a football. You don’t throw it around. That’s more like a, I don’t know, antique vase. You can drop it and smashing a million different pieces. And that’s what we’re capable of doing if we don’t stand up to meet the moment and push back.”
“I said this many, many times on the campaign trail, we may have defeated Trump, but Trump-ism is not dead in this country. The Big Lie, January 6th insurrection, all the voting suppression efforts that are happening all across this country.”
A Warning for Republicans
Newsom’s remarks took aim at the efforts by Elder and other Republicans — including former President Donald Trump — who over the last week have claimed falsely and without evidence that voter fraud helped secured the governor’s win before Election Day even took place.
While it is currently unknown whether that narrative may have prompted more Republican voters to stay home, Newsom’s effort to cast Edler as a Trump-like candidate and the recall as an undemocratic, Republican power grab appears to have been effective.
Now, political strategists say that the outcome of the recall should serve as a warning that Republicans who pin themselves to Trump and his Big Lie playbook may be hurt more in certain states.
“The recall does offer at least one lesson to Democrats in Washington ahead of next year’s midterm elections: The party’s pre-existing blue- and purple-state strategy of portraying Republicans as Trump-loving extremists can still prove effective with the former president out of office,” The New York Times explained.
Even outside of a strongly blue state like California, analysts say this strategy will also be effective with similar candidates in battleground states like Georgia, Arizona, Missouri, and Pennsylvania, which will be essential to deciding control of the Senate.
See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (The New York Times) (NPR)
Justice Department Sues Texas Over Abortion Ban
The department claims the Texas law violates past Supreme Court precedents on abortion and infringes on Constitutional protections.
Biden Administration Takes Aim at Texas Law
The Department of Justice sued Texas on Thursday in an attempt to block the state’s newly enacted law that effectively prohibits all abortions by banning the procedure after six weeks, before most people know they are pregnant.
The abortion law, which is the most restrictive in the country and does not provide exceptions for rape or incest, allows private citizens to take legal action against anyone who helps a person terminate their pregnancy after six weeks.
In its lawsuit, the Justice Department argued that the Texas law is unconstitutional because it violates past Supreme Court precedents through a technical loophole.
While numerous other states have passed similar laws banning abortion after about six weeks, federal judges have struck down those measures on the grounds that they are inconsistent with Roe v. Wade and subsequent Supreme Court decisions that states cannot prevent someone from seeking an abortion before a fetus can viably live outside the womb, usually around 22 to 24 weeks.
The Texas law, however, skirts the high court decisions by deputizing citizens to enforce the law rather than state government officials, taking the state out of the equation entirely and protecting it from legal responsibility.
Individuals who do so do not have to prove any personal injury or connection to those they take legal action against, which can range from abortion providers to rideshare drivers who take someone to a clinic.
If their lawsuit is successful, the citizen is entitled to a $10,000 award.
DOJ Lawsuit Targets Constitutionality
During a press conference detailing the DOJ lawsuit, Attorney General Merrick Garland referred to the enforcement mechanism as “an unprecedented” effort with the “obvious and expressly acknowledged intention” to prevent Texans from their constitutionally protected right to have an abortion.
“This kind of scheme to nullify the Constitution of the United States is one that all Americans — whatever their politics or party — should fear,” Garland said, adding that the provision of the law allowing civilians “to serve as bounty hunters” may become “a model for action in other areas, by other states, and with respect to other constitutional rights and judicial precedents.”
The Justice Department argued that the Texas policy violates equal protection guarantees under the 14th Amendment as well as the Constitution’s Supremacy Clause, which establishes that the Constitution and federal law generally take precedence over state law.
The lawsuit also claimed that the law interferes with the constitutional obligation of federal employees to provide access to abortion, including in cases of rape or incest, to people who are under the care of federal agencies or contractors such as those in prisons.
Both Sides See Path to Supreme Court
While proponents of abortion rights applauded the Justice Department’s legal challenge, officials in Texas defended the law and accused the Biden administration of filing the lawsuit for political reasons.
“President Biden and his administration are more interested in changing the national narrative from their disastrous Afghanistan evacuation and reckless open border policies instead of protecting the innocent unborn,” a spokeswoman for Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R), said in a statement.
“We are confident that the courts will uphold and protect that right to life.”
The DOJ’s suit will now be decided by a federal judge for the Western District of Texas, based in Austin.
Depending on how that court rules, either opponents or supporters of the abortion ban are expected to appeal the case, sending it to the conservative Fifth Circuit Court of Appeal and likely ultimately placing the matter before the Supreme Court again in a matter of months.
The Supreme Court allowed the law to go into effect by declining to approve an emergency petition to block the measure last week, but it did not rule on the constitutionality of the policy.
As a result, the Justice Department’s legal challenge could force the high court to hear another facet of the law that it has not yet considered if it decides to see the case.