- On Monday, the electoral college began the process of certifying Joe Biden as the official president-elect. The process will conclude with the state of Hawaii, which will convene its electoral college at 7 p.m. ET.
- The news follows a weekend of violence in Washington, D.C., where four people were stabbed Saturday during a protest that attracted thousands.
- A similar protest in Washington state resulted in one person being shot following several clashes between armed protesters and counterprotesters.
- The incidents signal a notable uptick in unrest compared to previous weeks of demonstrations. They also follow the U.S. Supreme Court’s rejection of a lawsuit from Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who asked the court to throw out election results from four key swing states that Biden won.
SCOTUS Rejects Texas Lawsuits
After a tumultuous weekend of protests, the electoral college is set to officially certify former Vice President Joe Biden as the future 46th President of the United States on Monday.
Biden’s confirmation follows protests in Washington D.C. and Washington state that left dozens injured, the worst of which involved four stabbings and one shooting.
Both protests follow the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to reject an election fraud-related lawsuit filed by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R). In the lawsuit, Paxton directly asked the Court to throw out election results in four states: Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.
On Friday, SCOTUS — a court with three Trump-appointed judges and a conservative majority — said in a brief, unsigned order that Texas lacked standing.
“Texas has not demonstrated a judicially cognizable interest in the manner in which another State conducts its elections,” the Court added.
While Biden won in all four states in question, Paxton’s goal was to overturn millions of legally-casted votes in the hope that President Donald Trump would then be declared the winner of each state. Seventeen other states then joined this case — none of them being any of the four states in question.
A group of more than a hundred House Republicans also joined, claiming that the election was “riddled with an unprecedented number of serious allegations of fraud and irregularities.” Oddly enough, they said that about the same election that resulted in most of their re-elections.
Last week, Trump referred to the Texas lawsuit as “the big one,” though Trump has previously said that about other election fraud lawsuits that didn’t hold up in court.
Texas Politicians Call for Secession
In a highly controversial statement, on Friday, Texas GOP Chair Allen West advocated for Texas’ secession in response to SCOTUS’ rejection of the lawsuit.
West’s idea was quickly condemned by members of both major political parties, including by Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Il.), who said the Texas GOP “should immediately retract this, apologize, and fire Allen West and anyone else associated with this. My guy Abraham Lincoln and the Union soldiers already told you no.”
Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hi.) said the Texas GOP “have lost their minds.”
West’s insinuation that Texas should secede from the Union is not the first talk of secession this month from the Texas GOP. Last week in a Facebook post, Texas state Rep. Kyle Biedermann promised to file a bill that would “allow a referendum to give Texans a vote for the State of Texas to reassert its status as an independent nation.”
Biedermann tagged his post with the hashtag #Texit.
Texas has been rife with rumors of secession throughout much of its modern history, but the only time it has ever attempted to secede from the United States was during the Civil War. Talk of secession occurred following President Barack Obama’s re-election in 2012 but never resulted in any proposed legislation.
D.C. Protests Follow SCOTUS Rejection
On Saturday, thousands of Trump supporters protested outside of the Supreme Court building in Washington D.C. for a “Stop the Steal” march. Like similar protests this year, many demonstrators were maskless and crowded close together.
The march included the likes of the Proud Boys — a far-right, male-only group with ties to white nationalism.
During the morning, while several tense situations and even smaller scuffles arose, there were no significant reports of violence.
“My final message is everybody keep the faith because we’re in the greatest revival in history,” Michael James Lindell, the creator of My Pillow, told Fox News around noon.
“And this is an anomaly, and when we get through it, we’re going to look back and say, ‘This all had to happen the way God’s intended it to and it’ll all — you’ll all be okay.’ I just want everybody in the country to have faith that God’s got his hand in all of this, and it’ll all be a blessing when it’s all over. And there’s our president!”
“There’s our president for four more years!” Lindell said as the president’s helicopter, Marine One, flew past the crowd of protesters. “There he is! God bless America! We are one nation under God!”
As the day passed, the situation began to grow tenser. At one point, while speaking on stage, conspiracy theorist Alex Jones said Joe Biden “will be removed one way or another.”
Meanwhile, officers in riot gear reportedly worked to keep the Proud Boys and a group of counterprotesters separate. As The Washington Post noted, the Proud Boys became “increasingly angry as they wove through streets and alleys, only to find police continuously blocking their course with lines of bikes.”
From there, a number of fights erupted between the Proud Boys and counterprotesters. The Post noted that “agitators determined to find trouble were successful — and posturing quickly turned into punching, kicking and wrestling.” It also reported that multiple Proud Boys were seen openly drinking beers, whiskey, and White Claws between fights.
In response to the fights, police intervened, oftentimes using their batons or firing chemical irritants in order to try to maintain a wall between themselves and each side.
“Each time a fight was de-escalated, another soon began in a different part of town,” The Post reported.
In one incident, people who appeared to be members of the Proud Boys were seen tearing down a Black Lives Matter banner and burning it in the street.
Notably, that banner was taken from outside the Asbury United Methodist Church, one of the oldest Black churches in D.C.
Rev. Dr. Ianther M. Mills, the church’s senior pastor, described the scene as reminiscent of a cross burning.
Later, a similar scene occurred at Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church, another Black church in the city.
On Sunday, the D.C. Metro police announced they are investigating both incidents as potential hate crimes.
Four Stabbed in D.C. Protest
The most violent situation of the night came when reports surfaced that at least four people had been stabbed near a gathering point for the Proud Boys.
At first, it wasn’t clear what exactly happened or who stabbed who, though reports did mention that the four victims had been rushed to the hospital with life-threatening injuries. On Sunday, that assessment was then dialed back when D.C. police confirmed that all four are in non-critical condition.
The same day, The New York Times reported that the confrontation began “after dozens of supporters of Mr. Trump, many of whom appeared to be members of the Proud Boys… shouted and pointed at a Black man in dark clothes who was alone and against a wall.”
The Times then said at least three of those Trump supporters “offered to let the man leave and implored the others to let him go in peace,” but that “after about a minute, as the man hesitated, more demonstrators closed in and began to punch and kick him.” The latter part of that confrontation has been captured on video by the New York Post.
Following that, The Times said the man drew a knife and “began slashing with it as more demonstrators piled onto him.” Part of that account was then corroborated by the D.C. Metro Police, which said the man was pushed in the back before he produced the knife.
The Times noted that the man broke free from the Trump supporters twice but was then grabbed and beaten again before police intervened. When police lifted him, The Times said the man’s face was swollen and bloody.
That man has been identified as 29-year-old Philip Johnson, and police have now charged him with assault with a dangerous weapon. Still, many of the details around this situation remain unknown.
Police have now confirmed that, in total, they arrested 33 people from Saturday into Sunday morning. The list of arrests includes assault, riotous acts, possession of a taser, and crossing a police line.
At least five others were injured and taken to the hospital over the course of the night, including two officers who suffered non-life-threatening injuries.
One Person Shot at Washington Protest
Meanwhile, on the opposite side of the country in Washington state, a similar protest formed on the same day.
According to the Associated Press, both protesters and counterprotesters “clashed on the streets in Olympia before moving onto the grounds of the Capital building, where they continued engaging in violence against each other.”
The AP also noted that many of the protesters were armed with helmets and carried shields and clubs.
“Both groups were heavily armed, including firearms,” Lt. Paul Lower of the Olympia Police Department said. “They were fighting amongst themselves, two factions with opposing political beliefs.”
From there, police said the two crowds began to disperse from the Capitol and back to the city streets; however, as this was happening, one person opened fire, shooting someone.
Like the situation in D.C., at first, it was unclear who fired the shot and who was hit. It was only known that the victim had been rushed to the hospital.
Police have since identified the shooter as 25-year-old Forest Michael Machala, who’s now been arrested on a first-degree assault charge. In a 2017 piece, The Seattle Times featured a then-22-year-old man by the same name, describing the man as a Trump supporter. It is unclear if this is the same man, and like the D.C. stabbing, many details are still unknown.
The Seattle Times noted that protests are “becoming a regular weekend occurrence at Washington’s Capitol.” Last week, a Trump supporter at one of these protests allegedly fired his gun at counterprotesters.
See what others are saying: (The New York Times) (The Washington Post) (NPR)
Biden Calls on Congress To Extend Eviction Moratorium
The move comes just two days before the federal ban is set to expire.
Eviction Freeze Set To Expire
President Joe Biden asked Congress on Thursday to extend the federal eviction moratorium for another month just two days before the ban was set to expire.
The request follows a Supreme Court decision last month, where the justices ruled the evictions freeze could stay in place until it expired on July 31. That decision was made after a group of landlords sued, arguing that the moratorium was illegal under the public health law the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had relied on to implement it.
While the court did not provide reasons for its ruling, Justice Brett Kavanaugh issued a short concurring opinion explaining that although he thought the CDC “exceeded its existing statutory authority,” he voted not to end the program because it was already set to expire in a month.
In a statement Thursday, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki cited the Supreme Court decision, as well as the recent surge in COVID cases, as reasons for the decision to call on Congress.
“Given the recent spread of the delta variant, including among those Americans both most likely to face evictions and lacking vaccinations, President Biden would have strongly supported a decision by the CDC to further extend this eviction moratorium to protect renters at this moment of heightened vulnerability,” she said.
“Unfortunately, the Supreme Court has made clear that this option is no longer available.”
Delays in Relief Distribution
The move comes as the administration has struggled to distribute the nearly $47 billion in rental relief funds approved as part of two coronavirus relief packages passed in December and March, respectively.
Nearly seven months after the first round of funding was approved, the Treasury Department has only allocated $3 billion of the reserves, and just 600,000 tenants have been helped under the program.
A total of 7.4 million households are behind on rent according to the most recent data from the Census Bureau. An estimated 3.6 million of those households could face eviction in the next two months if the moratorium expires.
The distribution problems largely stem from the fact that many states and cities tasked with allocating the fund had no infrastructure to do so, causing the aid to be held up by delays, confusion, and red tape.
Some states opened portals that were immediately overwhelmed, prompting them to close off applications, while others have faced technical glitches.
According to The Washington Post, just 36 out of more than 400 states, counties, and cities that reported data to the Treasury Department were able to spend even half of the money allotted them by the end of June. Another 49 — including New York — had not spent any funds at all.
Slim Chances in Congress
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Ca.) urged her colleagues to approve an extension for the freeze Thursday night, calling it “a moral imperative” and arguing that “families must not pay the price” for the slow distribution of aid.
However, Biden’s last-minute call for Congress to act before members leave for their August recess is all but ensured to fail.
While the House Rules Committee took up a measure Thursday night that would extend the moratorium until the end of this year, the only way it could pass in the Senate would be through a procedure called unanimous consent, which can be blocked by a single dissenting vote.
Some Senate Republicans have already rejected the idea.
“There’s no way I’m going to support this. It was a bad idea in the first place,” Senator Patrick Toomey (R-Pa.) told reporters. “Owners have the right to action. They need to have recourse for the nonpayment of rent.”
With the hands of the CDC tied and Congressional action seemingly impossible, the U.S. could be facing an unprecedented evictions crisis Saturday, even though millions of Americans who will now risk losing their homes should have already received rental assistance to avert this exact situation.
See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (The New York Times) (The Associated Press)
Mississippi Asks Supreme Court To Overturn Roe v. Wade
The Supreme Court’s decision to consider Mississippi’s restrictive abortion ban already has sweeping implications for the precedents set under the landmark reproductive rights ruling, but now the state is asking the high court to go even further.
Mississippi’s Abortion Case
Mississippi filed a brief Thursday asking the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade when it hears the state’s 15-week abortion ban this fall.
After months of deliberation, the high court agreed in May to hear what will be the first abortion case the 6-to-3 conservative majority will decide.
Both a district judge and a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit had ruled that Mississippi could not enforce the 2018 law that banned nearly all abortions at 15 weeks with exceptions for only “severe fetal abnormality,” but not rape and incest.
If the Supreme Court upholds the Mississippi law, it would undo decades of precedent set under Roe in 1973 and upheld under Planned Parenthood v. Casey in 1992, where the court respectively ruled and reaffirmed that states could not ban abortion before the fetus is “viable” and can live outside the womb, which is generally around 24 to 28 weeks.
When the justices decided to hear the case, they said they would specifically examine the question of whether “all pre-viability prohibitions on elective abortions are unconstitutional.”
Depending on the scope of their decision on the Mississippi law, the court’s ruling could allow other states to pass much more restrictive abortion bans without the risk of lower courts striking down those laws.
As a result, legal experts have said the case will represent the most significant ruling on reproductive rights since Casey nearly three decades ago, and the Thursday brief raises the stakes even more.
When Mississippi asked the justices to take up its case last June, the state’s attorney general, Lynn Fitch (R), explicitly stated that the petition’s questions “do not require the Court to overturn Roe or Casey.”
But that was before the court’s conservatives solidified their supermajority with the appointment of Justice Amy Coney Barrett — who personally opposes abortion — following the death of liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
New Filing Takes Aim at Roe
With the new filing, it appears that Fitch views the high court’s altered makeup as an opportunity to undermine the constitutional framework that has been in place for the better part of the last century.
“The Constitution’s text says nothing about abortion,” Fitch wrote in the brief, arguing that American society has changed so much that the previous rulings need to be reheard.
“Today, adoption is accessible and on a wide scale women attain both professional success and a rich family life, contraceptives are more available and effective, and scientific advances show that an unborn child has taken on the human form and features months before viability,” she added, claiming the power should be left to state lawmakers.
“Roe and Casey shackle states to a view of the facts that is decades out of date,” she continued. “The national fever on abortion can break only when this Court returns abortion policy to the states.”
The Center for Reproductive Rights, which represents Mississippi’s sole abortion provider in the suit against the state’s law, painted Fitch’s effort as one that will have a chilling effect on abortion rights nationwide.
“Mississippi has stunningly asked the Supreme Court to overturn Roe and every other abortion rights decision in the last five decades,” Nancy Northup, the president and CEO of the group said in a statement Thursday. “Today’s brief reveals the extreme and regressive strategy, not just of this law, but of the avalanche of abortion bans and restrictions that are being passed across the country.”
The Supreme Court has not yet said exactly when during its fall term it will hear oral arguments on the Mississippi case, but a decision is expected to come down by next June or July, as is standard.
An anticipated ruling just months before the 2022 midterms will almost certainly position abortion as a top issue at the ballot box.
See what others are saying: (The New York Times) (The Washington Post) (Politico)
Republicans Boycott Jan. 6 Committee After Pelosi Rejects Two of McCarthy’s Picks
The House Minority Leader said that unless House Speaker Pelosi reinstated the two members, Republicans will launch their own investigation into the insurrection.
Pelosi Vetoes Republicans
Republicans are boycotting the select committee to investigate the insurrection after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Ca.) rejected two of the five GOP members Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Ca.) picked to serve on the panel Wednesday.
In a statement, Pelosi cited the “statements and actions” of Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Oh.) and Jim Banks (R-In.), whose nominations she said she was opposing “with respect for the integrity of the investigation.”
Jordan and Banks — both staunch allies of former President Donald Trump — have helped propagate the previous leader’s false election claims, opposed efforts to investigate the insurrection, and voted not to certify the election for President Joe Biden.
A senior Democratic aide also specifically told The Washington Post that Democrats did not want Jordan on the panel because he reportedly helped Trump strategized how to overturn the election and due to the fact he spoke to the then-president on Jan. 6, meaning there is a possibility he could be called to testify before the very same committee.
The aide also said that Democrats opposed Banks’ selection because of a statement he issued after McCarthy chose him.
In the statement, the representative compared the insurrection to the racial justice protests last summer, implied that the rioters were just normal American’s expressing their political views, and claimed the committee was a political ploy “to justify the Left’s authoritarian agenda.”
Notably, Pelosi did say she would accept McCarthy’s three other nominees — including Rep. Troy Nehls (R-Wi.), who also voted against certifying Biden’s win.
McCarthy Threatens Separate Investigation
McCarthy, however, refused to select new members, and instead opted to remove all his appointees from the would-be bipartisan committee.
In a statement condemning the move, the minority leader said that Pelosi’s action “represents an egregious abuse of power.”
“Denying the voices of members who have served in the military and law enforcement, as well as leaders of standing committees, has made it undeniable that this panel has lost all legitimacy and credibility and shows the Speaker is more interested in playing politics than seeking the truth,” he said.
“Unless Speaker Pelosi reverses course and seats all five Republican nominees, Republicans will not be party to their sham process and will instead pursue our own investigation of the facts.”
Pelosi defended her decision during a press conference Thursday, where she said that Banks and Jordan were “ridiculous” choices for the panel.
“When statements are ridiculous and fall into the realm of, ‘You must be kidding,’ there’s no way that they’re going to be on the committee,” she added.