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Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

After the news broke on Tuesday morning that White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham was leaving that position and would be working for First Lady Melania Trump again, a replacement was revealed: Kayleigh McEnany, a 31-year-old spokesperson for President Donald Trump's reelection campaign. McEnany has been a relentless cheerleader for Trump's presidency during her appearances on right-wing media, and one of her most embarrassing claims was surprisingly recent.

When McEnany appeared on Trish Regan's show on Fox Business a little over a month ago, she predicted the coronavirus that is now plaguing the country would not come to the United States.

McEnany told Regan (who has since been fired by Fox Business), "This president will always put America first. He will always protect American citizens. We will not see diseases like the coronavirus come here. We will not see terrorism come here. And isn't that refreshing when contrasting it with the awful presidency of President Obama?"

McEnany's prediction that the U.S. would escape the destruction of coronavirus was, of course, wildly off base. According to figures reported by researchers at John Hopkins University in Baltimore, more than 12,000 U.S. residents have died from COVID-19. And neither Fox News nor Fox Business is still claiming that mainstream media reports on coronavirus are exaggerated.

Like Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham and other hosts at Fox News or Fox Business, Regan claimed that warnings about coronavirus were exaggerated and designed to attack or undermine Trump's presidency. During a rant on Monday, March 9, Regan argued that the "liberal media" were "using coronavirus in an attempt to demonize and destroy the president."

Regan asserted, "We've reached a tipping point. The chorus of hate being leveled at the president is nearing a crescendo as Democrats blame him and only him for a virus that originated halfway around the world. This is yet another attempt to impeach the president."

On March 27 — following an outcry over Regan's comments — Fox Business announced that it had "parted ways" with her.

At this point, Fox News and Fox Business hosts acknowledge coronavirus as a threat — not a "hoax." But their messaging is still stridently pro-Trump, praising him as someone who has offered strong leadership during a time of crisis.

On Twitter, McEnany is being lambasted for her February 25 assertions on coronavirus. @Cmcubfan posted, "@kayleighmcenany we will not see Coronavirus here. Gosh she is awful and a perfect companion to Trump…not a single truth passes her lips." And @DCPol tweeted that "because of Trump's complete failure in handling the pandemic, more people will die of coronavirus in the US than any other nation on earth."

Photo by: Gage Skidmore


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Eric Holder

The failure of major federal voting rights legislation in the Senate has left civil rights advocates saying they are determined to keep fighting—including by suing in battleground states. But the little bipartisan consensus that exists on election reform would, at best, lead to much narrower legislation that is unlikely to address state-level GOP efforts now targeting Democratic blocs.

“This is the loss of a battle, but it is not necessarily the loss of a war, and this war will go on,” Eric Holder, the former U.S. attorney general and Democrat, told MSNBC, saying that he and the Democratic Party will be suing in states where state constitutions protect voting rights. “This fight for voting rights and voter protection and for our democracy will continue.”

“The stakes are too important to give up now,” said Damon Hewitt, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, which for years has operated an Election Day hotline to help people vote. “Our country cannot claim to be free while allowing states to legislate away that freedom at will.”

In recent weeks, as it became clear that the Senate was not going to change its rules to allow the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to pass with a simple majority, there have been efforts by some lawmakers, election policy experts, and civil rights advocates to identify what election reforms could pass the Senate.

“There are several areas… where I think there could be bipartisan consensus,” said David Becker, executive director of the Center for Election Innovation and Research, in a briefing on January 20. “These areas are all around those guardrails of democracy. They are all about ensuring that however the voters speak that their voice is heard… and cannot be subverted by anyone in the post-election process.”

Becker cited updating the 1887 Electoral Count Act, which addressed the process where state-based slates of presidential electors are accepted by Congress. (In recent weeks, new evidence has surfaced showing that Donald Trump’s supporters tried to present Congress with forged certificates as part of an effort to disrupt ratifying the results on January 6, 2021.) Updating that law could also include clarifying which state officials have final authority in elections and setting out clear timetables for challenging election results in federal court after Election Day.

Five centrist Washington-based think tanks issued a report on January 20, Prioritizing Achievable Federal Election Reform, which suggested federal legislation could codify practices now used by nearly three-quarters of the states. Those include requiring voters to present ID, offering at least a week of early voting, allowing all voters to request a mailed-out ballot, and allowing states to start processing returned absentee ballots a week before Election Day.

But the report, which heavily drew on a task force of 29 state and local election officials from 20 states convened by Washington’s Bipartisan Policy Center, was notable in what it did not include, such as restoring the major enforcement section of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which was removed by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2013. It did not mention the Electoral Count Act nor growing threats to election officials from Trump supporters.

“This won’t satisfy all supporters of the Freedom to Vote Act, but this is a plausible & serious package of reforms to make elections more accessible and secure that could attract bipartisan support,” tweeted Charles Stewart III, a political scientist and director of the MIT Election Data and Science Lab. “A good starting point.”

The reason the centrist recommendations won’t satisfy civil rights advocates is that many of the most troubling developments since the 2020 election would likely remain.

Targeting Battleground States

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Former president Donald Trump

By Rami Ayyub and Alexandra Ulmer

(Reuters) -The prosecutor for Georgia's biggest county on Thursday requested a special grand jury with subpoena power to aid her investigation into then-President Donald Trump's efforts to influence the U.S. state's 2020 election results.

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