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Without Arrests Or Evidence, GOP Alarms Over 'Antifa' Fall Flat

Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-GA) claimed on Thursday that "antifa" was behind violence that occurred during anti-racism protests.

The Department of Justice has found no evidence linking people associated with the anti-fascist movement to acts of violence. No one who has been arrested for such violence has any links to the movement.

The nationwide protests against racist police brutality were sparked by the death of George Floyd, a black man who died after a white police officer knelt on his neck for more than eight minutes.

"I signed on to a resolution calling on investigations into antifa and similar activity because this is criminal and we need to get to the bottom of who is causing violence in our cities, looting, police officers lost their lives," Loeffler told a CBS affiliate in Atlanta. "Hundreds of officers were injured trying to keep the peace for those peaceful protesters."

When he analyzed court documents on those arrested at protests, NPR reporter Ryan Lucas said, "I didn't find any mention or reference to antifa. None of the 51 individuals are alleged in these court papers to have any link to the antifa movement, broadly speaking, or to antifa ideology."

Antifa, short for "anti-fascists," is a term for far-left groups and individuals who confront neo-Nazis and white supremacists at rallies across the nation. There is no "antifa" organization, and people affiliated with the ideology sometimes engage in violence.

As Loeffler lobbed an evidence-free claim of far-left violence, she failed to mention concrete evidence of far-right groups seeking to incite violence.

In early June, federal prosecutors charged three Nevada men affiliated with a far-right group with attempting to incite riots in the Las Vegas area. The men were arrested with Molotov cocktails in glass bottles, and an informant told police the men "discussed causing an incident to incite chaos and possibly a riot."

Loeffler is one of several Republican officials who have made unsupported claims about anti-fascist involvement in violence at recent protests.

On May 31, Attorney General William Barr issued an official Justice Department statement in which he said, "The violence instigated and carried out by Antifa and other similar groups in connection with the rioting is domestic terrorism and will be treated accordingly."

"This has gone beyond a peaceful protest. Members of Antifa are domestic terrorists burning American cities down to the ground," Sen. Marsha Blackburn tweeted on May 31.

Donald Trump has made numerous references to antifa, including an unsubstantiated suggestion that a 75-year-old man pushed to the ground by police in Buffalo may have been an anti-fascist activist who faked his fall.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

As Millions Lose Jobs, Republicans Still Boast About Employment

More than 30 million Americans have filed for unemployment benefits in the past six weeks, as the economy craters during the coronavirus pandemic. But based on their campaign websites, Donald Trump and a number of his Republican allies are still running for election on pre-COVID-19 job numbers and Trump's 2017 tax cuts bill.

As of April 14, the website of Trump's 2020 reelection campaign contained a section bragging about the "lowest" unemployment in years and said Trump had "jump-started America's economy into record growth" and millions of new jobs. At that point, about 17 million Americans had filed new unemployment insurance claims, wiping out the 6.1 million new jobs Trump claimed to have created.

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Sen. Loeffler Claims Criticism Of Insider Trading Is ’Socialist Attack’

Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-GA) appeared on Fox News Friday morning and claimed criticism of questionable stock sales she made were a "socialist attack" against her.

Loeffler and her husband, Jeffrey Sprecher, made the sales following a private Jan. 24 congressional briefing about the looming coronavirus crisis, prompting allegations of insider trading, which she has denied. Sprecher is chairman and CEO of Intercontinental Exchange, the company that owns the New York Stock Exchange.

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Republican Senators Tout Enhanced Unemployment Benefits They Opposed

Last week, 47 Republican senators and Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia voted to make unemployment benefits less generous in the coronavirus relief legislation.

Although their amendment to cap unemployment insurance was unsuccessful, several Republican senators spent the next few days bragging about the more generous benefits in the final bill.

Arizona Sen. Martha McSally

On March 26, McSally’s office sent an email touting the robust benefits she opposed just three earlier. The stimulus bill “makes benefits more generous by adding $600 per week on top of what the state normally pays in unemployment and provides an additional 13 weeks of benefits,” the email said. “And provisions will ensure state and local governments and non-profits can pay unemployment to their employees.”

Texas Sen. John Cornyn

Three days after voting for the amendment to curtail unemployment benefits, Cornyn bragged about the increased assistance in a press release. Cornyn described the legislation as a “lifeline” for families that will help “cover their rent, groceries, electric bills, and other expenses until they can make other arrangements, like apply for unemployment insurance under our beefed up provisions.”

The statement contained a section noting that the bill “expands unemployment insurance for Texas workers,” including “an extra $600 weekly federal UI benefit on top of the state maximum temporarily.”

Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell

McConnell voted against additional benefits, but that did not stop him from touting them just three days later in a March 26 press release.

The release states that the CARES Act “provides additional benefits to each recipient of unemployment insurance for up to four months and an additional 13 weeks of unemployment benefits after state benefits are no longer available,” adding that it “helps states pay for certain additional unemployment insurance costs.”

Montana Sen. Steve Daines

On the same day the final legislation passed, Daines released a statement bragging about the assistance Montana workers will receive from the legislation.

“The aid package puts Montana workers first, expands unemployment insurance,” Daines’ statement noted. It also referenced “$250 billion for unemployment insurance — this is to give relief to workers who lost their jobs because of this pandemic.”

The statement did not note that the unemployment insurance would have been less generous if Daines had gotten his way.

Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst

Ernst described her vote for the CARES Act as “swift, bold action to deliver immediate aid to folks in Iowa, and across the country,” in a March 25 press release. She bragged that the legislation “bolsters unemployment benefits for workers and provides assistance to self-employed and contractors through a new Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program.”

The statement does not mention her vote against the bolstered unemployment benefits.

Georgia Sen. Kelly Loeffler

Not all senators took credit for what they voted against.

Even though she is embroiled in a stock-selling scandal connected with the coronavirus crisis, Loeffler touted her opposition to more generous help for the unemployed during the pandemic.

The multimillionaire senator released a statement two days after voting for stingier unemployment benefits saying she was “disappointed that the amendment to fix the unemployment insurance provisions failed.”

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.