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Trump Faces Backlash After Falsely Declaring Victory

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  • During President Donald Trump’s late election night remarks, he falsely claimed that he had won the 2020 presidential race and said votes should no longer be counted, incorrectly implying that Democrats were trying to steal the election from him.
  • We were getting ready to win this election, frankly, we did win this election,” Trump said. “We want the law to be used in a proper manner, so we will be going to the U.S. Supreme Court, we want all voting to stop. We don’t want them to find any ballots at 4:00 am and add them to the list. Okay?” 
  • Many rebuked the president’s remarks, noting that there is no clear winner yet since millions of mail-in ballots have still not been counted and several key states have not been called.
  • Twitter and Facebook also put disclaimers on Trump’s posts that implied he had won or that Democrats were trying to steal the election.

Trump Falsely Declares Victory

President Donald Trump faced backlash after falsely claiming he had won the 2020 presidential election in remarks made late Tuesday evening from the East Wing of the White House. 

“This is a fraud on the American public,” Trump said during his speech, even though there is no indiction of fraud in this election thus far. “This is an embarrassment to our country. We were getting ready to win this election, frankly, we did win this election, so our goal now is to ensure the integrity for the good of this nation.”

The race between Trump and former Vice President is tight and key states like Pennsylvania, Michigan, North Carolina and Georgia have yet to be called. Still, when Trump took to the mic, he claimed victory in North Carolina and Georgia. He also pushed the fact that he was leading in Pennsylvania, despite the fact that millions of votes still need to be counted. 

He also declared himself the victor nationwide and, without merit, claimed that the remaining votes should not be counted because they are an attempt by Democrats to “steal” the election. These remaining votes, however, are legitimate ballots that experts said would take a while to process and are equally as valid as the votes that have already come in. Many of these votes are mail-in votes that were always expected to lean blue, which is why as more states come in, Biden is gaining ground.  

“This is a very big moment. This is a major fraud on this nation,” Trump continued. “We want the law to be used in a proper manner, so we will be going to the U.S. Supreme Court, we want all voting to stop. We don’t want them to find any ballots at 4:00 am and add them to the list. Okay?” 

Journalists and Celebrities Respond

These blatant lies and calls for votes to not be counted, which would be both unprecedented and undemocratic, prompted outrage. After Trump falsely declared victory, MSNBC cut away from his speech.

“We are reluctant to step in, but duty-bound to point out that when he says, ‘We did win this election, we’ve already won,’ that is not based in the facts at all,” anchor Brian Williams said. 

CBS News ended up adding a disclaimer on the lower third of their broadcast to note that there was no winner in the presidential race yet. On CNN, anchor Jake Tapper sounded off against the president. 

“What President Trump just said was false, and undemocratic, and premature,” Tapper said. 

Journalists were not the only ones calling the president out. Many began using the hashtag #CountEveryVote to call for the full electoral process that the president was trying to disrupt. 

“Hang tough all!” Actor Mark Ruffalo wrote. “This is the #RedMirage it’s about to “turn the corner” into a #BlueWall. Take a breath and get centered in yourself for the next coming days. #CountEveryVote”

Biden also spoke late Tuesday, delivering remarks in Delaware that provided a strong contrast to Trump’s speech. He told supporters in his home state to sit tight while votes were counted and results continued to trickle in. 

“Look, we feel good about where we are. We really do. I’m here to tell you tonight that we believe we are on track to win this election,” Biden said. “We knew because of the unprecedented early vote and mail-in vote that it’s going to take a while and we’re going to have to be patient until the hard work of tallying votes is finished.”

“And it ain’t over until every vote is counted. Every ballot is counted,” Biden added. 

Social Media Platforms Check President Trump

For some time now, election experts, news outlets, and social media platforms have been worried about how long it would take for key states to be called and the potential for this to lead to misinformation about the results. Companies like Facebook and Twitter pledged to be vigilant when it came to false claims about races, including premature claims of victory. Both appeared to follow through with their promise following Trump’s speech.

Facebook added a disclaimer to Trump’s video of his election night remarks. That note warned that final results may be different from initial counts and that counting might continue for days. 

Twitter has flagged a handful of Trump’s tweets, including one where he claimed that Democrats were trying to steal the election and called for voting to stop after polls close. (Voters who arrive at a polling location before its closing time can still vote, even if there is an hours-long line ahead of them.)

“Some or all of the content shared in this tweet is disputed and might be misleading about an election or other civic process,” Twitter’s disclaimer said. This same note was also added on a tweet where Trump implied that surprise ballot dumps were ruining his lead. 

Trump is not alone in trying to create distrust in the outcome of this election. His campaign manager said on a Wednesday morning press call that the president would win if all “legally cast ballots” were counted, implying that incoming ballots are illegal, which is not true. 

Jason Miller, a senior campaign advisor to Trump also told The Washington Post that they were working to make sure “illegally cast ballots are not counted.” Currently, there is no evidence of voter fraud in this election. 

See what others are saying: (Washington Post) (New York Times) (CNN)

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Former Capitol Security Officials Blame Intelligence Failures for Insurrection

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  • During the Senate’s first hearing into security failures that lead to the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection, top officials provided new insights but shirked responsibility.
  • Many blamed the FBI for not gathering more information or properly communicating what they did know, arguing that the breakdown was a result of the intelligence community not taking domestic extremism seriously.
  • Police leaders noted that a bulletin from an FBI field office warning of a “war” at the Capitol, issued a day before the insurrection, was not properly flagged or delivered.
  • However, others noted that the Capitol Police had in fact issued an internal alert three days before warning of similar threats.

Security Officials Shirk Responsibility

Former top officials responsible for security at the U.S. Capitol during the Jan. 6 insurrection testified before the Senate for the first time Tuesday.

While the testimonies represented the most detailed accounts of the security failures leading up to and during attacks, they also raised questions about how those failures came out.

The top officials did acknowledge some of their own mistakes and admitted they were unprepared for such an event. Still, they largely deflected responsibility for the breakdown in communication and instead blamed intelligence officials, their subordinates, and even each other at times.

All of the officials testified that the FBI and the intelligence community had failed to detect information about the intentions of the pro-Trump insurrectionists and properly relay what they did know before the attack.

Former Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund and acting D.C. Police Chief Robert Contee depicted the collapse in communication as a broader failure of U.S. intelligence agencies to take domestic extremism as seriously as foreign threats.

Specifically, both officials mentioned this in the context of a bulletin issued a day before the insurrection by the FBI’s office in Norfolk, Virginia. That bulletin warned of a “war” at the Capitol on Jan.  6.

In his testimony, Sund — who resigned the day after the insurrection — disclosed for the first time that the alter had in fact been sent to the Capitol Police through the Joint Terrorism Task Force but said it was never forwarded to him or either of the House and Senate sergeants-at-arms.

Contee also said the D.C. police department received the warning, but it was a nondescript email and not labeled as a priority alert that would demand immediate attention.

“I would certainly think that something as violent as an insurrection at the Capitol would warrant a phone call or something,” he told the Senators.

Contradictory Information

However, lawmakers pointed out that the Capitol Police did have warnings about the attack in the form of their own internal intelligence report issued three days before the planned pro-Trump rally that preceded the storming of the Capitol.

In that 12-page memo, some of which was obtained by The Washington Post, the Capitol Police intelligence unit warned that “Congress itself” could be targeted by Trump supporters who believed the electoral college certification was “the last opportunity to overturn the results of the presidential election.”

The memo also noted the large expected crowds, the fact that organizers had urged Trump supporters to bring guns and combat gear, and that “President Trump himself” had been promoting the chaos.

Two people familiar with the memo told The Post that the report had been relayed to all Capitol Police command staff, though in their testimonies Tuesday, the former security officials said the intel they had did not have enough specifics about the potential for an attack.

Some, however, appear to doubt the series of events detailed by Sund. On Tuesday, Buzzfeed filed a lawsuit against the Capitol Police for records related to the insurrection. The agency has been criticized for not providing enough information to the media, and contradictory testimonies delivered to Senators likely raised more red flags.

Lawmakers Emphasize Need for Better Precautions 

The argument that there was so much vague, threatening online chatter making it hard to distinguish what was legitimate is something that many law enforcement officials have used to explain their failure to prepare for the attacks.

In fact, that was the exact same response the FBI gave reporters Tuesday after Sund and Contee blamed them for not giving an explicit or strong enough warning. Lawmakers hope that the many hearings and ongoing investigations into the matter will result in tangible policy changes to prevent similar attacks from happening again.

While it is currently unclear what that will look like, many leaders have emphasized the need for a broad rethinking of how the U.S. addresses domestic extremist threats at every level.

“There’s no question in my mind that there was a failure to take this threat more seriously, despite widespread social media content and public reporting that indicated violence was extremely likely,” Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mi.) told reporters Tuesday. 

“The federal government must start taking these online threats seriously to ensure they don’t cross into the real-world violence.” 

See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (The New York Times) (The Associated Press)

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Illinois Rep. Files Bill To Ban Video Games Like “Grand Theft Auto” Amid Carjacking Spikes

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  • Illinois State Rep. Marcus Evans (D) has proposed a bill that would crack down on certain video games in hopes of reducing a dramatic uptick in Chicago carjackings.
  • Illinois law currently bans people from selling “violent video games” to minors; however, Evans’ bill seeks to ban the sale of “violent video games” to anyone in the state. 
  • Among other language, Evans is seeking to expand the state definition of “serious physical harm” related to video games so that it includes “motor vehicle theft with a driver or passenger present inside the vehicle when the theft begins.”
  • A number of gamers have criticized the bill, calling it a misguided approach for reducing violence in the state. 

“Grand Theft Auto” Bill

Illinois State Representative Marcus Evans (D) has filed a bill that, if passed, would ban the sale of violent video games to anyone in the state.

While the bill does address the frequent debate around whether gun violence in video games inspires real-world violence, Evans is actually filing the bill primarily in response to a series of carjackings in Chicago. In fact, the bill was largely conceived with the game “Grand Theft Auto” in mind.

“‘Grand Theft Auto’ and other violent video games are getting in the minds of our young people and perpetuating the normalcy of carjacking,” Evans said. “Carjacking is not normal and carjacking must stop.” 

According to the Chicago-Sun Times, Chicago saw 1,400 carjackings in 2020 — double that of what it saw in 2019. That’s now continued into this year, with 241 carjackings already reported in the city as of Monday. Earlier this week, police charged two boys, ages 13 and 14, with stealing a man’s car after holding him at gunpoint.

The latest addition to the “Grand Theft Auto” franchise was released in 2013. Notably, Chicago carjacking rates in 2013, 2014, and 2015 were the lowest of the previous decade.

Source: David Struett/Sun-Times

The bill Evans has filed would amend a current Illinois law that restricts the sale of “violent video games” to minors. 

As part of his amendment to include all age groups, Evans wants to update the definition of “violent video game” under state law to include games that “perpetuate human-on-human violence in which the player kills or otherwise causes serious physical or psychological harm to another human or an animal.”

Evans also wants to update the definition of “serious physical harm” related to video games so that it would include “psychological harm and child abuse, sexual abuse, animal abuse, domestic violence, violence against women, or motor vehicle theft with a driver or passenger present inside the vehicle when the theft begins.”

Gamers Say Evans’ Argument Is Misplaced

Among gamers, Evans’ bill has reignited conversations around video games and violence.

“Carjackings have happened before games and Marcus Evans thinks today that it’s the fault of video games like GTA?” one person tweeted. “I never had any need for committing crimes playing games my whole life.”

See what others are saying: (The Hill) (Fox 32 Chicago) (NME)

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California Lawmakers Pass $7.6 Billion Stimulus Package With $600 Checks

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  • The California State Legislature approved a $7.6 billion stimulus package Monday that will send out around 5.7 million stimulus checks to qualifying state residents.
  • Most of the direct payments will be given to people who make under $30,000 a year.
  • Over half a million will go to people who have an individual tax identification number (ITIN) instead of a Social Security number and an annual income of under $75,000. Most people with ITINs are immigrants, and none were eligible for the federal stimulus checks.
  • Additional provisions of the bill include over $2 billion in grants and fee waivers for small businesses as well as $35 million for food and diaper banks, among other things.

California Stimulus Bill

California legislators passed a $7.6 billion stimulus package Monday that Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) has said he will sign on Tuesday.

Among other measures, the bill would send out stimulus checks worth $600 to qualifying people. According to reports, $2.3 trillion — nearly a third of the whole package — will be used to send out roughly 5.7 million direct payments.

Around 3.8 million of those checks will go to Californians that make less than $30,000 annually and thus qualify for the state earned income tax credit. Officials have said that Californians who claim the credit on their 2020 taxes can expect to receive their money within four to seven weeks of filing.

Another 1.2 million residents who receive either federal or state supplemental income will get the checks, and 405,000 additional payments will be placed directly on the EBT cards of CalWORKS participants, the state’s welfare-to-work program.

Notably, about 565,000 stimulus payments will go out to people who have what’s known as an individual tax identification number (ITIN) rather than a Social Security number. Most of those people are immigrants, and no one with an ITIN received either of the last two federal stimulus payments.

As a result, the California stimulus bill will give out $600 payments to people with ITIN’s who make below $75,000 a year, and a total of $1,200 to those who make $30,000 and qualify for the earned income tax credit.

In addition to the direct payments, the legislation also includes more than $2 billion in grants and fee waivers for small businesses, $30 million for food banks, and $5 million for diaper banks. The legislature is also expected to approve an additional $2 billion in tax breaks for businesses later this week, which would effectively bring the total package to $9.6 billion.

U.S. House To Pass Federal Stimulus Package This Week

The California package comes as Democrats in Congress are hashing out the details of the next federal coronavirus relief bill.

On Monday, President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus package advanced through the House Budget Committee, and according to reports, barring any major objections, it is expected to be passed by the chamber as soon as Friday or Saturday.

The hard part, however, will be getting it passed through the Senate, where all 50 Democrats and Vice President Kamala Harris will need to approve the legislation. In order to ensure that some of the more moderate members are on board, leadership will likely have to have to hold negotiations and possibly scrap certain parts of the House’s version of the package.

One provision on the chopping block is a measure that would raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour, which has already drawn opposition from at least two Democratic Senators. 

See what others are saying: (The Los Angeles Times) (CBS News) (CNBC)

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