The National  Memo Logo

Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.

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

Washington (AFP) – The Pentagon said Saturday it will recall most of its furloughed employees as a U.S. government shutdown continued with no signs of an end to the impasse.

President Barack Obama used his weekly radio address to demand that Republican lawmakers “end this farce” and approve a budget to keep the government running.

But Republican leaders charged it was the president’s refusal to negotiate that was to blame for the continuing stalemate.

The U.S. government closed all but its essential operations Tuesday when Republican lawmakers refused to approve money for government operations without first delaying or defunding the new health care law, commonly known as Obamacare.

With public discontent building, the House of Representatives held a rare Saturday meeting and voted 407 to 0 to pass a measure to retroactively pay the hundreds of thousands of federal workers forced to stay home during the crisis.

U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced that most of the estimated 400,000 furloughed Pentagon employees will be called back to work next week.

Hagel said Pentagon lawyers had concluded the law allows employees “whose responsibilities contribute to the morale, well-being, capabilities and readiness of service members” to be exempted from the shutdown.

The moves reflected deepening concern over the impact of the first federal government shutdown in 17 years, but both sides continued to point fingers at each other.

“Take that vote. Stop this farce. End this shutdown now,” Obama exhorted the Republican-controlled House in his weekly radio and video address.

Eric Cantor, the number two Republican in the House, said the impasse could be worked out but Obama “seems to be unwilling to sit down and talk with us.”

“It doesn’t make any sense if the president has an ax to grind with the opposing party, why he would want to put the American people in the middle of that,” he said.

Neither chamber of Congress was scheduled to meet on Sunday.

There were growing fears that the budget battle focused on Obama’s health care law will merge with a related, and potentially more damaging, fight over raising the U.S. debt ceiling.

Obama is refusing to negotiate with Republicans over the budget issues until they pass a temporary bill to reopen the government and agree to raise the $16.7 trillion U.S. statutory borrowing limit — without which Washington could default on its debts for the first time ever starting on October 17.

“For as reckless as a government shutdown is, an economic shutdown that comes with default would be dramatically worse,” Obama said.

The US Senate has already approved a budget, and “there are enough Republican and Democratic votes in the House of Representatives willing to do the same, and end this shutdown immediately,” Obama said.

“But the far right of the Republican Party won’t let Speaker John Boehner give that bill a yes-or-no vote.”

Obama said he “won’t pay a ransom in exchange for reopening the government. And I certainly won’t pay a ransom in exchange for raising the debt ceiling.”

Some rank-and-file Republicans acknowledged that ending the shutdown requires a new plan beyond demanding changes to the health care law.

“I won’t be happy with that but I recognize the writing on the wall,” Congressman Doug Lamborn told reporters. “We do have to move on to the larger issues of the debt ceiling and the overall budget.”

He was joined by Congressman Dennis Ross, another favorite of the anti-tax, pro-small-government Tea Party wing of the Republican party.

“Pride, I think, has got to be swallowed here, probably on both sides,” he said.

Some Republicans were seeking an escape hatch, even at the cost of bucking their leadership.

Two-term Congressman Scott Rigell told AFP he wanted to see Republican “individual members who perhaps are not in leadership, to identify in advance some solution set” that could draw enough bipartisan support for reopening government and raising the debt ceiling.

Secretary of State John Kerry, traveling in Indonesia, warned that the “reckless” political standoff threatened to weaken the U.S. standing abroad.

Obama had been due to travel to Bali for an APEC leaders’ summit starting Monday, but canceled the trip to deal with the government shutdown.

Advertising

Start your day with National Memo Newsletter

Know first.

The opinions that matter. Delivered to your inbox every morning

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.

Tina Peters

YouTube Screenshot

A right-wing conspiracy theorist who was indicted in March on criminal charges of tampering with voting machines to try to prove former President Donald Trump's lies of a stolen 2020 presidential election on Tuesday lost the Republican primary to run for secretary of state of Colorado, the person who oversees its elections.

With 95 percent of the vote counted, Tina Peters, the clerk and recorder of Mesa County, Colorado, was in third place, trailing the winner, fellow Republican Pam Anderson, 43.2 percent to 28.3 percent.

Keep reading... Show less
{{ post.roar_specific_data.api_data.analytics }}