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Mike Erickson

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Republicans in Oregon's newly drawn Sixth Congressional District last week chose as their nominee for the House businessman Mike Erickson, an anti-abortion candidate who has been accused of paying for an ex-girlfriend's abortion.

The Associated Press called the Republican primary race for Erickson on Friday after enough votes were counted in the state's all-mail election to determine that he had defeated state Rep. Ron Noble and a handful of other candidates for the nomination.

Oregon's Sixth Congressional District was created based on the results of the 2020 census.

Political analyst Len Bergstein told the Oregon Capital Chronicle that the accusation against Erickson could hurt him in the election.

In 2008, when Erickson ran a failed bid for Oregon's 5th Congressional District, his opponent in the Republican primary revealed that a friend of Erickson's former girlfriend Tawnya had allegedly said in an email in 2006 that Erickson had paid for Tawnya to get an abortion.

"In 2000 (or) 2001, a very close friend of mine had dated Mike. During this time she became pregnant with his child. Mike drove my friend to a (Northeast) Portland abortion clinic, on the way he stopped by an ATM withdrawing $300 for her procedure and dropped her off across the street from the clinic," the woman later told the Oregonian. "In tears, she walked across the street and into the clinic alone. I left work early, met her at the clinic and held her hand through the entire procedure."

Tawnya herself corroborated her friend's account of the abortion, telling the Oregonian, "I asked him, 'Are you sure you don't want a baby?' He shook his head. I opened the door, got out bawling and crossed the street and walked up to the clinic."

Erickson said that he did give Tawnya $300 and drove her to a doctor's office, but claimed he didn't know she was getting an abortion. "Did I pay for an abortion? Absolutely not. ... She was having some financial troubles. She asked for some money to go have a doctor's appointment — not knowing what that was — and whatever happened, happened, I guess. I didn't even know she had an abortion."

Still, the claim that Erickson had paid for his ex-girlfriend's abortion caused Republicans to withdraw their support, Politico reported in 2008. He won the primary, after which Kevin Mannix, the GOP primary opponent who had spread the story, refused to endorse him, calling him a "dishonest person."

Erickson lost in the general election to Democratic Rep. Kurt Schrader.

With the Supreme Court poised to overturn its landmark decision in Roe v. Wade that affirmed a constitutional right to an abortion nationwide, the allegations against Erickson could derail his run in 2022.

Erickson was congratulated on his primary win last week by House Republican Caucus Chair Elise Stefanik of New York.

"Congratulations to conservative businessman Mike Erickson on his primary win in #OR06!" Stefanik tweeted after the AP called the race. "Mike will work hard to make sure this NEW seat is RED in November in our fight to take back the House and Fire Nancy Pelosi once and for all!"

Erickson will face Democrat Andrea Salinas, a state representative who won a competitive primary for the seat, in November.

Salinas supports abortion rights and has been endorsed by the Planned Parenthood Action Fund.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which works to elect Democrats to the House, said that Salinas' pro-abortion rights stance is critical.

"As the fate of Roe v. Wade hangs in the balance, Erickson has previously campaigned on a 'strict anti-abortion platform' and supports rolling back women's reproductive freedoms," the DCCC wrote in a strategy memo published May 20 called "The Case Against Mike Erickson."

The DCCC said that Salinas "was a leader in the efforts to pass one of the country's most progressive and comprehensive reproductive rights laws, Oregon's Reproductive Health Equity Act, to ensure more accessible, affordable quality health care for all."

Inside Elections, a nonpartisan political handicapping outlet, rates the race "Leans Democratic."

If Erickson wins, he won't be the first anti-abortion GOP lawmaker who has been alleged or shown to have assisted or encouraged partners in obtaining abortions.

Rep. Scott DesJarlais (R-TN) encouraged both a lover and an ex-wife to get abortions.

Pennsylvania GOP Rep. Tim Murphy resigned his seat in 2017 after reports surfaced that the publicly anti-abortion lawmaker had encouraged a lover to get an abortion.

Reprinted with permission from American Independent.


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Former President Donald Trump, left, and former White House counsel Pat Cipollone

On Wednesday evening the House Select Committee investigating the Trump coup plot issued a subpoena to former White House counsel Pat Cipollone, following blockbuster testimony from former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson, who said the lawyer had warned of potential criminal activity by former President Donald Trump and his aides.

The committee summons to Cipollone followed long negotiations over his possible appearance and increasing pressure on him to come forward as Hutchinson did. Committee members expect the former counsel’s testimony to advance their investigation, owing to his knowledge of the former president's actions before, during and after the January 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

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Mark Meadows

Donald Trump’s White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows wanted a presidential pardon. He had facilitated key stages of Trump’s attempted 2020 coup, linking the insurrectionists to the highest reaches of the White House and Congress.

But ultimately, Meadows failed to deliver what Trump most wanted, which was convincing others in government to overturn the 2020 election. And then his subordinates, White House security staff, thwarted Trump’s plan to march with a mob into the Capitol.

Meadows’ role has become clearer with each January 6 hearing. Earlier hearings traced how his attempted Justice Department takeover failed. The fake Electoral College slates that Meadows had pushed were not accepted by Congress. The calls by Trump to state officials that he had orchestrated to “find votes” did not work. Nor could Meadows convince Vice-President Mike Pence to ignore the official Electoral College results and count pro-Trump forgeries.

And as January 6 approached and the insurrection began, new and riveting details emerged about Meadow’s pivotal role at the eye of this storm, according to testimony on Tuesday by his top White House aide, Cassidy Hutchinson.

Meadows had been repeatedly told that threats of violence were real. Yet he repeatedly ignored calls from the Secret Service, Capitol police, White House lawyers and military chiefs to protect the Capitol, Hutchinson told the committee under oath. And then Meadows, or, at least White House staff under him, failed Trump a final time – although in a surprising way.

After Trump told supporters at a January 6 rally that he would walk with them to the Capitol, Meadows’ staff, which oversaw Trump’s transportation, refused to drive him there. Trump was furious. He grabbed at the limousine’s steering wheel. He assaulted the Secret Service deputy, who was in the car, and had told Trump that it was not safe to go, Hutchinson testified.

“He said, ‘I’m the f-ing president. Take me up to the Capitol now,’” she said, describing what was told to her a short while later by those in the limousine. And Trump blamed Meadows.

“Later in the day, it had been relayed to me via Mark that the president wasn’t happy that Bobby [Engel, the driver] didn’t pull it off for him, and that Mark didn’t work hard enough to get the movement on the books [Trump’s schedule].”

Hutchinson’s testimony was the latest revelations to emerge from hearings that have traced in great detail how Trump and his allies plotted and intended to overturn the election. Her eye-witness account provided an unprecedented view of a raging president.

Hutchinson’s testimony was compared to John Dean, the star witness of the Watergate hearings a half-century ago that led to the resignation of President Richard Nixon for his aides’ efforts to spy on and smear Democrats during the 1972 presidential campaign.

“She IS the John Dean of the hearings,” tweeted the Brooking Institution’s Norman Eisen, who has written legal analyses on prosecuting Trump. “Trump fighting with his security, throwing plates at the wall, but above all the WH knowing that violence was coming on 1/6. The plates & the fighting are not crimes, but they will color the prosecution devastatingly.”

Meadows’ presence has hovered over the coup plot and insurrection. Though he has refused to testify before the January 6 committee, his pivotal role increasingly has come into view.

Under oath, Hutchinson described links between Meadows and communication channels to the armed mob that had assembled. She was backstage at the Trump’s midday January 6 rally and described Trump’s anger that the crowd was not big enough. The Secret Service told him that many people were armed and did not want to go through security and give up their weapons.

Trump, she recounted, said “something to the effect of, ‘I don’t f-ing care that they have weapons. They’re not here to hurt me. Take the mags [metal detectors] away. Let the people in. They can march to the Capitol from here.

As the day progressed and the Capitol was breached, Hutchison described the scene at the White House from her cubicle outside the Oval Office. She repeatedly went into Meadows’ office, where he had isolated himself. When Secret Service officials urged her to get Meadows to urge Trump to tell his supporters to stand down and leave, he sat listless.

“He [Meadows] needs to snap out of it,” she said that she told others who pressed her to get Meadows to act. Later, she heard Meadows repeatedly tell other White House officials that Trump “doesn’t think they [insurrectionists] are doing anything wrong.” Trump said Pence deserved to be hung as a traitor, she said.

Immediately after January 6, Hutchinson said that Trump’s cabinet discussed invoking the 25th Amendment to remove a sitting president but did not do so. She also said that Meadows sought a pardon for his January 6-related actions.

Today, Meadows is championing many of the same election falsehoods that he pushed for Trump as a senior partner at the Conservative Partnership Institute (CPI), a right-wing think tank whose 2021 annual report boasts of “changing the way conservatives fight.”

His colleagues include Cleta Mitchell, a lawyer who pushed for Trump to use every means to overturn the election and leads CPI’s “election integrity network,” and other Republicans who have been attacking elections as illegitimate where their candidates lose.

Hutchinson’s testimony may impede Meadows’ future political role, as it exposes him to possible criminal prosecution. But the election-denying movement that he nurtured has not gone away. CPI said it is targeting elections in national battleground states for 2022’s midterms, including Arizona, Georgia, Florida, Michigan, and Pennsylvania.

Trump did not give Meadows a pardon. But in July 2021, Trump’s “Save America” PAC gave CPI $1 million.

Steven Rosenfeld is the editor and chief correspondent of Voting Booth, a project of the Independent Media Institute. He has reported for National Public Radio, Marketplace, and Christian Science Monitor Radio, as well as a wide range of progressive publications including Salon, AlterNet, The American Prospect, and many others.

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