President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, left.

Poll: Voters Favor Biden’s Border Strategy — Including Republicans

A new poll has found that a majority of Republican voters support the Biden administration's approach of addressing the root causes of immigration to the United States even as GOP lawmakers have repeatedly attacked the president for it.

A Civiqs/Immigration Hub poll, which surveyed just over 3,000 voters from April 15-20, revealed that 85% of Americans believe the U.S. government should work more closely with other countries to reduce immigration before it starts.

Among Republicans, that number was even higher, at 87%.

Among Democrats, 86% said the United States needed to work with foreign nations to address the root causes of immigration; 81% of independents said the same.

"After four years of harsh, inhumane immigration tactics aimed at deterring people from coming to America, we now see a public and a president intent on taking a new approach," Immigration Hub executive director Sergio Gonzales said in a statement on Thursday. "In particular, as Vice President Harris continues to roll out new initiatives and achievements in addressing the root causes of migration with our neighbors to the south, voters strongly support the need for this type of regional leadership. They understand that migration at our border is driven by desperate circumstances such as extreme hunger and violence."

In March, President Joe Biden tasked Vice President Kamala Harris to look into the primary reasons that prompt immigrants to flee their home counties, in particular the Northern Triangle countries of Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador in Central America, where gang violence and poverty are rampant.

On April 27, the vice president held a virtual roundtable with Guatemalan community-based organizations to help her identify the communities that need support the most.

"I know that there are acute factors," she said. "The acute factors that I think of are the catastrophes that are causing people to leave right now: the hurricanes, the pandemic, the drought, extreme food insecurity. And then I believe there are the longstanding issues, what we call the 'root causes': corruption, violence, and poverty, and, of course, the lack of economic opportunity and the lack of not only climate mitigation, but climate adaptation and the lack of good governance."

Harris noted that she would visit Guatemala in June.

On April 26, the vice president hosted Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei for a virtual bilateral meeting to discuss ways the two nations could cooperate on issues surrounding immigration.

"They agreed on the importance of prosperity, good governance, and anti-corruption measures to protect all members of society and to build a foundation of hope for a better future," Harris' spokeswoman Symone Sanders said in a statement. "In light of the dire situation and acute suffering faced by millions of people in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, Vice President Harris announced an additional $310 million in U.S. government support for humanitarian relief and to address food insecurity."

Harris also spoke over the phone on April 7 with Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador about collaborating on similar issues. She is scheduledto speak with him again on May 7 about his tree-planting immigration proposal in Central America.

Despite those efforts, Republicans have blamed Biden for stoking a so-called "crisis" at the southern border, suggesting he himself is the "root cause" of immigration from Central America due to his various policies on the matter.

"I'm getting sick & tired of hearing this 'root causes' gibberish coming from the White House. If they traveled to the border they'd know before even landing that the root cause is THEM," Rep. Byron Donalds tweeted on Thursday.

Moreover, GOP lawmakers have refused to accept that Harris is not directly in charge of issues at the border itself, repeatedly attacking her even though the Biden administration has clarified her actual role numerous times.

"Why hasn't our 'Border Czar' Kamala Harris visited the border? Why won't Biden mention that? We need to keep our country safe and secure. This administration is NOT up to the task," Texas Rep. Ronny Jackson, the former Trump administration White House physician accused of misconduct, tweetedon Thursday.

As White House press secretary Jen Psaki noted in a March 29 briefing, "The Vice-President of the United States will be helping lead that effort [to address] the root causes, not the border. There's some confusion over that."

"The Northern Triangle, which I'm sure you're aware of, is not the same as the border," she reiterated later, in an April press briefing.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Sen. Josh Hawley

Hawley Casts Sole Vote Opposing Anti-Asian Hate Crimes Bill

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

Missouri GOP Sen. Josh Hawley on Thursday cast the sole vote against a bill aimed at tackling hate crimes against Asian Americans, amid an alarming uptick of violence against the community over the past year.

The Senate voted by an overwhelming 94-1 to pass the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act, which would designate a Department of Justice official to oversee the issue and expedite investigations of coronavirus-related hate crimes. Hawaii Democratic Sen. Mazie Hirono sponsored the bill.

"PASSED: Today, the US Senate rejects anti-Asian hate," Hirono tweeted Wednesday. "This historic, bipartisan vote on the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act is a powerful message of solidarity to our AAPI [Asian American and Pacific Islander] community. Now, I urge the House to swiftly pass this legislation so President Biden can sign it into law."

The Senate, that is, except for Hawley, who bucked his colleagues, Republicans included, to vote nay on the effort to combat hate crimes.

The Missouri senator's vote is in line with his history of racist behavior.

Earlier this year, during a speech a the Conservative Political Action Conference in February, he, for example, rebuked the New York Times' "1619 Project," a collection of articles on the history of slavery in the United States. He also denied that systemic racism exists and stressed that the country liberated slaves.

"We heard that we are systemically racist," Hawley said. "We heard that the real founding of the country wasn't in 1776, it was in 1619 or whatever. We heard that America is founded in lies and evil. That's what we've been told. All of that is false. All of that is a lie."

He continued, "We're proud to have lived in a country that started with nothing and became the greatest country in the face of the earth. We're proud to be in a country that liberated slaves."

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Hawley repeatedly summoned racist tropes about the coronavirus and incessantly blamed China for the outbreak.

"Since day one, the Chinese Communist Party intentionally lied to the world about the origin of this pandemic," Hawley said last March. "It is time for an international investigation into the role their cover-up played in the spread of this devastating pandemic. The CCP must be held to account for what the world is now suffering."

His comments are consistent with Donald Trump's scapegoating of China for his own botched coronavirus response.

He also targeted the Chinese government. In July 2020, he introduced the Civil Justice for Victims of China-Originated Viral Infectious Diseases (COVID) Actto strip China of its sovereign immunity and allow federal courts to freeze Chinese assets.

"I'm proud to stand with my colleagues and lead the effort to hold the Chinese Communist Party accountable for the devastation they have unleashed on the world. This pandemic is far from over, and every day Americans continue to suffer thanks to the CCP's incompetence and lies. The victims deserve to have their day in court," he said then.

Hawley separately introduced the Justice for Victims of Coronavirus Act in April 2020 to allow U.S. citizens and states to sue the Chinese government for damages related to the coronavirus pandemic.

All of Hawley's actions occurred amid an increase in brutal hate incidents and crimes against the AAPI community that has largely been fueled by anti-Asian racism and COVID-19 lies.

A March 2021 report from the Stop AAPI Hate tracking initiative found 3,795 anti-Asian hate incidents from the start of the pandemic in March 2020 to February this year.

Racist rhetoric from GOP lawmakers and Trump had contributed to the rise in anti-Asian hate, an earlier Stop AAPI Hate report found.

In Atlanta-area shootings on March 16, a white male opened fire at three spas where eight people died, six of whom were Asian women. The tragedy was a watershed moment and became a rallying cry against racism and sexism.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

President Joe Biden

Following Backlash, Biden Offers Reassurance On Refugee Admissions Limit

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

The White House was forced to issue an explanation on Friday following strong backlash to President Joe Biden's emergency presidential declaration leaving in place a Trump-era refugee admissions cap of just 15,000, despite promising months earlier to raise it to 62,500 for the rest of the fiscal year.

"For the past few weeks, [the president] has been consulting with his advisors to determine what number of refugees could realistically be admitted to the United States between now and October 1," press secretary Jen Psaki wrote. "Given the decimated refugee admissions program we inherited, and burdens on the Office of Refugee Resettlement, his initial goal of 62,500 seems unlikely."

Still, she insisted, "While finalizing that determination, the President was urged to take immediate action to reverse the Trump policy that banned refugees from many key regions, to enable flights from those regions to begin within days; today's order did that. With that done, we expect the President to set a final, increased refugee cap for the remainder of this fiscal year by May 15."

The statement was met with cautious praise from lawmakers like Rep. Veronica Escobar (D-TX), who tweeted, "While I'm heartened to learn that @POTUS still intends to increase the number of refugee admissions, I urge the admin. to move with urgency and communicate with clarity. Protecting the most vulnerable seeking a safe haven is who are, it's at the heart of our nation's values."

The Center for American Progress, a progressive think tank based in Washington, D.C., also said in a statement, "The United States is at its best a beacon of freedom for those facing persecution around the world, setting the standard for refugee resettlement that the rest of the world watches and emulates. In this light, we are disappointed by the Biden administration's reticence to follow through on its commitment to raise the admission levels immediately, instead maintaining the previous administration's record-low admissions cap."

"We hope this action will be reversed, even as we appreciate the effort to end the discriminatory admissions categories that left vulnerable refugees in limbo," the organization added.

Lawmakers and immigration groups had expressed outrage on earlier Friday, after Biden issued the emergency presidential declaration, with many of them pointing to the president's prior pledge and others questioning his administration's reasoning justifying the move.

"There simply is no courage or political wisdom in breaking this American promise. Maintaining a cruel policy of the past will have a vast human impact on people fleeing war and persecution. This decision is ultimately an unnecessary policy and political misstep," the Immigration Hub, an advocacy nonprofit, said in a statement.

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), a refugee herself who came to the United States as a child, slammed the move, tweeting, "As a refugee, I know finding a home is a matter of life or death for children around the world. It is shameful that @POTUS is reneging on a key promise to welcome refugees, moments after @RepSchakowsky @RepJayapal, myself and others called on him to increase the refugee cap."

Omar was referring to a letter that she, along with Reps. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) and Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), wrote to Biden earlier on Friday, calling on him to follow through with his promise to up the refugee admissions cap to 62,500. More than 30 members of Congress signed the letter, including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), who tweeted separately, "Completely and utterly unacceptable. Biden promised to welcome immigrants, and people voted for him based on that promise."

Jake Sullivan, Biden's national security adviser, responded to the backlash quickly, tweeting on Friday, "America needs to rebuild our refugee resettlement program. We will use all 15,000 slots under the new Determination and work with Congress on increasing admissions and building back to the numbers to which we've committed."

Psaki also issued a statement, saying the declaration was the first of many steps the administration would take to improve refugee admissions overall.

"This is just the beginning. This step lifts the restrictions put in place by prior Administration on where refugees can come from. We need to rebuild resettlement program and we are committed to continuing to increase refugee numbers," she tweeted.

A Biden administration senior official told the New York Times, however, that an uptick of unaccompanied minors crossing the U.S.-Mexico border — which Republicans have eagerly deemed a crisis — had created growing concerns within the administration, and that the immigrant children were too much for the already-overwhelmed refugee branch of the Health and Human Services department.

"The surge of migration at the border required us to ensure HHS/ORR (Health and Human Services/Office of Refugee and Resettlement), which is responsible for both unaccompanied children and refugee resettlement, had resources to adequately handle both," a senior administration official separately told the Hill.

However, as the New York Timesnoted, immigrants seeking asylum at the border are processed through a separate system than those applying for admissions from abroad. There's also a distinctly separate processing system for unaccompanied immigrant children and refugees overseas.

"The Office of Refugee Resettlement is responsible for sheltering migrant minors who cross the border but has a separate budget line for assisting refugees who come from overseas," the Times wrote. "The State Department also is the agency that assists refugees for the first three months after their arrival.

According to the Office of Refugee and Resettlement's website, the U.S. Refugee Resettlement Program is indeed separate from the Unaccompanied Children Program.

The refugee program serves those fleeing persecution from other countries, while the unaccompanied minors program aids children who have already arrived and approached any U.S. border.

The Biden administration also announced Friday that it would speed up refugee admissions while rebuilding the program that the Trump administration depleted, allowing in refugees from areas of the world previously de-prioritized by Biden's predecessor.

That wasn't nearly enough to quell dissatisfaction among refugee advocates, like David Miliband, president and chief executive of the International Rescue Committee, who told the Times, "The rightful erasure of discriminatory admissions categories does not dispense with the need for a higher number of refugees to be admitted."

For now, Biden is expected to keep his promise to raise the refugee admissions ceiling to 125,000 for fiscal year 2022, the highest in 30 years. But the decision to keep the current cap in place has left a sour taste in many people's mouths.

"Trump gutted our refugee program, a cornerstone of our global leadership and values," Julián Castro, former presidential candidate and secretary of Housing and Urban Development under Obama, tweeted Friday afternoon.

"His polices can't be the default we carry on—especially for the sake of 'optics.'"

Updated to include additional comments from the Center for American Progress.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Sen. Tom Cotton

Trump’s Mythical Migrant ‘Caravan’ Is Heading Our Way Again

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

GOP lawmakers are renewing the xenophobic claim that "caravans" of immigrants are making their way to the U.S.-Mexico border to invade the country, seizing on recent news of a rumored group of immigrants supposedly making their way to the United States from Central America.

On Monday, Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei declared a "state of prevention" in response to rumors, which first began circulating on anti-immigrant sites in February, of one potential caravan, which was said to be approaching the Guatemalan border from Honduras. As Reuters reported, a few hundred Hondurans were indeed set to travel to the Guatemalan border on their way to the United States, but that group had been mostly dispersed by Tuesday.

Republicans have pounced on the opportunity to link the various groups to President Joe Biden.

Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) went on the offense, tweeting on March 25, "Reporter: 'What will you do to stop incentivizing illegal immigrants?' Biden: 'A journey of a thousand miles starts with the first step.' What is that? The slogan for the Biden caravan from Guatemala?"

Biden was actually quoting a proverb from the Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu, who taught that long, arduous journeys or tasks must all begin with simple but meaningful actions.

Then, on Wednesday, Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) tweeted, "The Biden Border Crisis is creating chaos and threatening the borders of multiple countries," linking to an Associated Press article about Guatemala's announcement.

Cotton was using news of the caravan to push the narrative of a "crisis" at the border caused by the Biden administration and its reversal of Donald Trump's harsh immigration policies. Researchers have said there is no evidence of such a crisis or that Biden's decisions led to it.

Other Republicans have been revamping the anti-immigrant "caravan" talking point to push the border "crisis" narrative.

Sen. Ron Johnson tweeted on March 8, "A caravan a day. Those are the numbers we are seeing right now at the border. We do not have the facilities to handle this. This is the tip of the iceberg of a crisis caused by President Biden's policies."

"I fear that we will soon see caravan after caravan again forming in the Northern Triangle countries and headed toward the United States," Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) tweeted similarly on March 9.

Experts say the racist myth of a "caravan" invading the United States is not rooted in reality but is mostly a xenophobic talking point meant to fear-monger about immigrants more broadly.

"This vitriol against the caravan of Central Americans and Mexicans on their way to the U.S. border was cruel electioneering, no more," anthropologist and researcher J.P. Linstroth wrote in a 2018 op-ed, when Republicans first began rolling out the "caravan" narrative ahead of the midterm elections. "These people are poor and are fleeing horrific violence in their home countries."

Linstroth noted that U.S. intervention in civil wars in Central America during the 1980s had caused instability in the region that carries on to this day.

Furthermore, he said, immigrants often travel in caravans simply as a form of protection.

"Traveling in numbers makes the journey safer for these migrants. Often migrants are commonly victims of real threats of violence along the way — murder, rape, and robbery," Linstroth said.

In a phone interview, Leo Chavez, distinguished professor of anthropology at the University of California, Irvine, further underscored the extreme risks immigrants face on the journey from Central America to the U.S.-Mexico border.

"You become commodities for people who want to take advantage of you," he said, noting threats of theft, sexual assault, and kidnapping were common realities for those making the trek.

Chavez said traveling in a caravan gave immigrants safety in numbers.

"Unfortunately, because they do that as a way to protect themselves, the image that's created, that's usable and weaponizable is that it becomes a metaphor for a whole bunch of people moving towards the U.S. en masse. And they use it like an invasion," he said.

Leading up to the 2018 midterm elections, Republicans and Trump employed the "caravan" rhetoric as part of the tactic to scare voters. At the time, they presented a message of impending doom, claiming in racist terms that such an "invasion" would overtake the country.

The broader electorate ultimately rejected that xenophobic fear-mongering: Republicans lost 40 seats in the House and the majority in that chamber that year.

Following the elections, mentions of the caravans died down, only resurfacing again briefly in 2020, ahead of the presidential election and amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

A MAGA rally in Huston, TX

Trump's ‘Cult’ Is Driving Away Republican Legislators

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

Across the country, more and more lawmakers are leaving the Republican Party — and Donald Trump is largely to blame.

On Thursday, Arkansas state Sen. Jim Hendren announced his departure from the GOP, citing the violent January 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, which left five people dead, as "the final straw."

"I've watched a systemic change at the core of our politics that emboldens our worst impulses, the most extreme thinking, disables policy-making, and hurts all of us. ... I watched the encouragement of the worst voices of racism, nationalism, and violence," Hendren said in a statement.

The Capitol riots, carried out by pro-Trump extremists, were famously spurred on by Trump himself, who had provoked a crowd of supporters to march on the building to "take back" the country, saying they would never do so with "weakness." Inside, lawmakers were voting to certify the 2020 Electoral College results for President Joe Biden, an effort marred by pushback from Republicans trying to undermine vote counts in predominantly Black regions of the country. The rioters eventually stormed their way inside, threatening to execute members of Congress, including then-Vice President Mike Pence, who was overseeing Senate business that day.

The Republican Party was already losing officials for years during the Trump administration, but the trickle has grown to a steady exodus since the November election, and particularly after the January 6 riot.

On Feb. 2, a well-known Oregon Republican, Knute Buehler, said he was leaving the party, telling local affiliate KGW, "I don't know what the Republican Party stands for," adding, "It's almost become a cult of personality."

A day prior, dozens of Republican officials who served in former President George W. Bush's administration left the party, citing frustration with lawmakers still loyal to Trump after the January 6 Capitol riot, Reuters reported. Jimmy Gurulé, a former Bush administration official, told the wire service, "The Republican Party as I knew it no longer exists. I'd call it the cult of Trump."

In Oklahoma in January, former congressman Mickey Edwards, 83, a lifelong Republican, said he would be leaving the party, telling local affiliate KFOR, "It's gone. I mean there is no Republican Party anymore that has values, principles, morals, anything."

"This has become a cult. It's no longer a political party. It's a cult," he added. "It's the kind of a cult that when the leader of the cult does anything, no matter what it is, or how awful it is, they [support them]," he said, specifically slamming Republicans who "voted to question the election results even after people came into the Capitol."

Shortly after the November election, Michigan state Rep. Paul Mitchell also announced on Twitter that he was "disaffiliating" from the party, noting that Trump's refusal to concede after losing to Biden was "unacceptable." Mitchell said he "fear[s] long-term harm to our democracy," after Republican leaders enabled Trump's baseless conspiracy theories about widespread voter fraud, which Trump's own officials later debunked.

The trend follows that of Republican voters, who are also leaving the party in droves. A February New York Times analysis found that nearly 140,000 Republicans in 25 states had quit the GOP in the month of January alone, with a surge following the Jan. 6 riots.

The Republican exodus signals a larger problem for GOP lawmakers caught in the precarious position of juggling those who disavow Trump, his fervent supporters, and those stuck in the middle.

Political analysts told Reuters that many Republicans who fled the party were from left-leaning counties in big cities, suggesting that moderate Republicans could be influencing their exodus. Their departure pushes the party further pro-Trump, the wire service noted.

"If these voters are leaving the party permanently, it's really bad news for Republicans," Stanford University political scientist Morris Fiorina told Reuters, adding that it will make it more challenging for Republicans to defeat Democrats in upcoming elections.

David Barker, professor of government at American University, echoed that sentiment, telling the American Independent Foundation that the split "means the GOP is going to be less competitive at the national level."

"As long as they remain in Trump's grip, they will lose presidential elections," Barker said. He added that the Republican Party risked severe political consequences unless it decided to "change course" quickly.

UCLA public policy professor Mark A. Peterson said in an email that the trend was a sure departure from the norm, but added that it was worth watching "what happens over time" to determine whether it was a longterm one.

He noted continued attention on Trump's failures in office might "reduce his hold on voters in the constituencies of the Republican officials who are currently trying to succeed [him]."

Many GOP officials are still standing by Trump, trying desperately not to alienate his lingering base.

A Monmouth University poll published on January 25 showed many Republican voters still support Trump, with 85 percent saying they didn't believe Trump's actions were worthy of conviction in his second impeachment trial for inciting an insurrection. (He was ultimately acquitted on Feb. 13.)

However, a majority of Americans approved of Trump's impeachment.

The complication for GOP lawmakers, then, appears to be the divide between Trump's popularity with his supporters and those fleeing the party post-election.

Barker acknowledged that "the party is splitting," but estimated that fewer than ten percent of Republican lawmakers overall were disavowing Trump — while at least three-quarters of GOP voters were sticking with him.

Jesse Lee, vice president of communications at the Center for American Progress Action Fund, gave a similar estimate, adding in an email that, "for the ten percent or so of Republicans who want to actually take their party back, they feel they have no place to go, and the sort of peer pressure is overwhelming."

"The problem the GOP faces is now is the problem they faced in 2018," he said. "They've become entirely dependent on the Trump base, but when he's not on the ballot, that base doesn't care to turn out nearly as much."

Of lawmakers' struggle to get out the vote without a Trump ticket, he added, "They are so beholden and so bereft of any other ideas or identity that they have nothing else to affirmatively motivate their side."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.


Biden Saves ‘Billions Of Birds’ That Trump Tried To Kill

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

President Joe Biden this week delayed a Trump administration rule that experts said could have led to the deaths of "billions" of birds.

Under the Trump era rule, which would have rolled back the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA), companies, landowners, or other entities would not be penalized or prosecuted for accidentally killing birds. In effect, this means that a company like BP would not have been punished for the deaths of 100,000 birds resulting from its 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill. (Other research concluded that more than a million birds may have perished from the spill.)

The Trump rule was set to take effect on Feb. 8, but was blocked Thursday by the Biden administration.

Experts say that without guardrails limiting companies from being held accountable, the carnage could be devastating.

"Because of the interpretation of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, BP rightfully had to pay large fines," conservation scientist Kenneth Rosenberg of Cornell University's Laboratory of Ornithology toldNational Geographic in February 2020, after the rule change was first announced. "Without that system, that opens the door not only for corporations to not pay for damages but to not worry about it and not put safeguards in place. And at some point, it can have a larger effect on certain species."

The Biden administration is now putting the Trump rule on pause for review.

"At President Biden's direction, Interior is delaying and reviewing the Trump administration's rollback of the MBTA to ensure continued progress toward common-sense standards that protect wildlife and their habitats," Interior Department spokeswoman Melissa Schwartz said in a statement on Thursday.

Schwartz touted the MTBA, passed in 1918, as "a bedrock environmental law critical to protecting migratory birds and restoring declining bird populations," adding that "the Trump administration sought to overturn decades of bipartisan and international precedent in order to protect corporate polluters."

Indeed, for more than a century, the MBTA has protected over 1,000 different bird species.

The National Audubon Society, a nonprofit bird conservation group, called the MBTA "the most effective bird conservation policy in our nation's history."

"Bird survival is human survival and birds are telling us they are in trouble. We have no time to lose," said the society's president and CEO David Yarnold. "The relentless attempts by the Trump Administration to undo existing environmental protections have placed us at a significant disadvantage."

Scientists and former federal officials have said Trump's new rule could have led to the demise of "billions" of birds in the coming decades, according to the Associated Press.

Steve Holmer, the American Bird Conservancy's vice president of policy, told the wire service that "all indications are the birds need more protections and that the public strongly supports protections and loves birds."

"We know that millions of birds will die," conservation group Center for Western Priorities deputy director Aaron Weiss told the Progressive Pulse. "And we are already facing an extinction crisis."

While in office, Trump also took aim at many other vulnerable species, including gray wolves, grizzly bears, wolverines, owls, among otherimperiled wildlife.

Noah Greenwald, the Center for Biological Diversity's endangered species director, said Trump has "the worst record" in history since the Endangered Species Act was passed in 1973.

"Just 25 species have been listed as threatened or endangered in the past four years, leaving hundreds of at-risk species without badly needed protection," the center said in a January announcement of its intent to sue the Trump administration for its delay in protecting 11 threatened species.

Greenwald added separately, "The Trump administration's undermining of the Endangered Species Act puts the monarch butterfly, eastern gopher tortoise and hundreds more plants and animals at risk of extinction."

The Biden administration's delay of Trump's MTBA rule is the start of "addressing this misguided decision," Schwartz said. The Fish and Wildlife Service will now allow for "additional engagement," providing 20 days for the public to comment on the rule.

Legal experts have said the administration will most likely "withdraw" the rule entirely, given "long-standing policy" and "intense opposition" from prominent environmental advocacy organizations.

"There has been great progress in finding solutions to bird mortality," Holmer told the AP this week. "...We're hopeful the administration will create a process to start implementing those solutions."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Hawley Now Says He Wasn’t Trying To Overturn Biden’s Victory

Hawley Now Says He Wasn’t Trying To Overturn Biden’s Victory

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

A number of Republicans who previously voted to block President Joe Biden's Electoral College win are suddenly doing an about-face and insisting they were simply trying to protect the "integrity" of U.S. elections.

Facing harsh backlash for his vote, Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) on Wednesday attempted to separate himself from the violent insurrection at the U.S. Capitol the day of the Electoral College certification — which was instigated by pro-Donald Trump extremists and fueled by Trump and the GOP's lies about widespread fraud in the 2020 election — and deny responsibility for trying to overturn its results.

In an interview with a local St. Louis radio station, Hawley said his purpose in blocking certification was not to alter Biden's election win but to seek a debate on "election integrity."

"I never said that the goal was to overturn the election," the Missouri senator said. "That was never the point and it was never possible."

He claimed that "it is a lie that I was trying to overturn an election ... It is a lie that I incited violence."

"That is a lie told by the left-wing mob that now wants to silence me and Ted Cruz and 140 House members and 13 senators and anybody who would dare stand up to them. Anyone who is a Trump supporter who refuses to bow the knee. And I'm just not gonna be silenced," Hawley added, referencing his fellow Republicans who attempted to block Biden's win.

Hawley was the first senator to vow to object to certifying Biden's electoral results, stating in December that "millions of voters concerned about election integrity deserve[d] to be heard."

Even after the Electoral College voted in December to make Biden the winner, Hawley still refused to call him the president-elect.

And that same month, the Missouri senator claimed that his constituents believed "the election had been rigged," and called for an investigation into allegations of voter fraud. But Hawley propped up those very allegations himself, tweeting on Nov. 7, when Biden was declared the victor, that "the media do not get to determine who the president is. The people do. When all lawful votes have been counted, recounts finished, and allegations of fraud addressed, we will know who the winner is."

There was no evidence of widespread voter fraud, as the Trump administration itself confirmed following the election.

Other Republicans in Congress who voted to block Biden's Electoral College victory have similarly tried to disentangle themselves from their past efforts.

In a press briefing on Jan. 21, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), who chose to block the Electoral College certification on Jan. 6, said, "What I voted on wasn't to overturn an election — because it wouldn't."

Back in December, McCarthy notably signed on to a Texas lawsuit to overturn the election results in four states and invalidate Biden's victories there. The Supreme Court ultimately threw out the lawsuit.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Sen. Lindsey Graham

Sen. Graham Urges Probe Of Hunter Biden ‘To Heal Nation’

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham (SC) is refusing to let go of unfounded allegations about Joe Biden's son Hunter.

Shortly after Biden's inauguration on Wednesday, Graham suggested in a CBS News interview that in order to "heal the nation," Hunter needed to be "looked at."

Referring to President Biden, Graham said, "I like you, I want to work with you. But nobody hesitated to send a wrecking ball to the Trump family. So all I can say is if you want to heal the nation, we need to start anew."

"If Mike Pence's son had been accused of doing the things that Hunter Biden did, you wouldn't be asking me does it hurt my relationship with Vice President Pence to make sure that these things are looked at," he said. "So, no, I like Joe Biden. But what I can't get over is the fact there are allegations about Hunter Biden and his brother monetizing the vice presidency and all of the sudden you're a bad guy if you want to let the process move forward."

Graham appeared to be referring to a number of baseless allegations against Hunter, pushed by Donald Trump's personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, that involve his business dealings in foreign countries.

Guiliani, along with Trump's allies, used unsubstantiated "innuendo and salacious material" about Hunter to try to politically damage Biden during the 2020 race, the New York Times noted.

Facing pressure in the run-up to the November election, Trump's Senate Republican allies released a September report on Hunter's "potential conflicts of interest" that supposedly revealed damning information about the now-president's son. But even that concluded it was unclear whether his role on the Ukrainian natural gas company Burisma's board actually influenced U.S. policy in the country, according to the fact-checker PolitiFact.

In December, news broke on a federal investigation in Delaware looking into Hunter's business dealings in mainly China, but the probe in part emerged from Guiliani's questionable efforts to "orchestrate news" on Biden's son, CNN reported.

There has been no concrete evidence thus far of any nefarious dealings in Hunter Biden's work.

After Guiliani fed material to Trump-nominated U.S. Attorney Scott Brady, a second federal investigation in Pittsburgh, Pennslvania was opened. But no indictments have resulted from the probe, while its status was unclear as of December, according to a local Pittsburgh affiliate.

Biden himself has said that he is "confident" his son did nothing wrong.

For months, Graham has pushed for a full probe by a special counsel, saying in December that he is "absolutely calling for" one and thinks "it's a good idea."

Having served in the Senate together, Graham and Biden were known to be friends previously. The Republican lawmaker even said his Democratic colleague was "the nicest person I think I've ever met in politics" in a 2015 Huffington Post interview.

"If you can't admire Joe Biden as a person, then you've got a problem. You need to do some self-evaluation, because what's not to like?" Graham added.

In recent weeks, however, Graham has flip-flopped between backing Biden's election victory and rejecting him. His wild swings ranged from trying to block Biden's Electoral College certification, based on debunked claims of widespread voter fraud pushed by Donald Trump and Graham himself, to suddenly voting to certify it in the wake of a violent insurrection at the Capitol, sparked by those lies.

In November, Graham, who has been a staunch ally to Trump, said Trump "should not concede" after his presidential defeat. In an impassioned Jan. 6 floor speech following the attack on the Capitol, which left five dead, he had a dramatic shift in tone.

"Trump and I, we had a hell of a journey. I hate it being this way. … all I can say is count me out. Enough is enough. I tried to be helpful," he said.

Graham even stated in a Jan. 7 press conference that Trump "needs to understand that his actions were the problem, not the solution, that the rally yesterday was unseemly, it got out of hand."

But by the next week, he was back on Team Trump, joining him on board a flight on Air Force One to Texas.

Graham is one of a growing number of Republicans who have simultaneously urged for unity in the wake of Biden's win and swatted down any calls by the new president to do just that.

Despite urging togetherness and healing in his inauguration speech Wednesday, for instance, Biden was slammed for supposedly calling Republicans racist when he cited a "cry for racial justice some 400 years in the making" and stated that "our history has been a constant struggle between the American ideal that we are all created equal and the harsh, ugly reality that racism, nativism, fear, and demonization have long torn us apart."

He also pushed the country to "reject the culture in which facts themselves are manipulated and even manufactured," an apparent reference to the Capitol insurrection, which was spurred on by white supremacist lies of a stolen victory in majority-Black cities.

"Much of it is thinly veiled innuendo calling us white supremacists, calling us racists, calling us every name in the book, calling us people who don't tell the truth," Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul (R) claimed on Wednesday night.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Rocky Mountain Police in Virginia

Several Police Officers Busted For Attacking Capitol

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

Several police officers across the country are now facing federal charges for allegedly taking part in the violent insurrection at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., that left five people dead.

On Wednesday, Jacob Fracker and Thomas Robertson, officers with the Rocky Mount Police Department in Virginia, were arrested on two federal charges, knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority, and violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds, according to a criminal complaint.

"The defendants Thomas Robertson and Jacob Fracker were photographed in the Capitol Building making an obscene statement in front of a statute of John Stark," The U.S. attorney's office in D.C. alleged in a statement of facts, noting that they were off-duty.

The court document cited their ensuing social media posts, in which Robertson was quoted saying, "CNN and the Left are just mad because we actually attacked the government who is the problem and not some random small business ... The right IN ONE DAY took the f***** U.S. Capitol. Keep poking us."

Fracker, in a since-deleted Facebook post, wrote, "Lol to anyone who's possibly concerned about the picture of me going around... Sorry I hate freedom? …Not like I did anything illegal…y'all do what you feel you need to…" according to the document.

Fracker is a corporal in the Virginia National Guard, while Robertson is an Army veteran who served five years, according to The Daily Beast.

A third officer from the Houston Police Department also faces a "high probability" of federal charges for his alleged participation in the Capitol riot, according to Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo.

"There's a high probability this individual will be charged with federal charges, and rightfully so," saidAcevedo, telling a local ABC affiliate that the officer is an 18-year veteran of the police department without any disciplinary issues.

A local Houston affiliate said their sources identified the officer as Tam Dinh Pham, but the American Independent Foundation has not independently verified his identity.

Acevedo has also not released his name, but announced that the officer had resigned on Thursday morning.

"The @houstonpolice officer in question tendered his resignation this morning. The Department will release his name upon the conclusion of our joint ongoing criminal investigation with @FBI and @TheJusticeDept," Acevedo tweeted Thursday.

Across the country, other police officers are being investigated or have been suspended for allegedly taking part in the mob. Twenty-eight officers from 12 states attended the rally just before last Wednesday's attack at the Capitol, according to the Appeal.

In Maryland, for instance, an officer with the Anne Arundel County Police Department was suspendedwith pay while under investigation for their involvement in the Capitol insurrection.

In Washington state, the Seattle Police Department placed on administrative leave two officers who attended the rally prior to the riot.

Officials continue to look into whether other law enforcement officers or military members were involved, as well as whether there was any coordination prior to the insurrection.

U.S. Capitol Police Acting Chief Yogananda Pittman announced on Monday that "several USCP officers have already been suspended pending the outcome of their investigations."

Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) said separately on Monday that two Capitol police officers had been suspended, one of whom had directed people around the building during the attacks.

"We have a couple Capitol Police we talked about before with taking selfies, and another Capitol Police evidently put on a MAGA hat. They have been suspended," said Ryan in a virtual press conference.

As many as 17 Capitol police officers are being investigated currently, a House aid told CNN.

Members of the military may have also been involved in the attack.

The Army is investigating Capt. Emily Rainey, an active-duty Army Special Forces officer, for her alleged presence and actions at the Capitol last Wednesday, according to Fort Bragg, North Carolina's Maj. Dan Lessard, spokesperson for the 1st Special Forces Command (Airborne).

As the Military Times noted, Defense Department officials are unsure of how many troops may have been at the Capitol that day, but clarified that "investigations into service members fall under the services" and any investigations into retired or former service members would be conducted by the Justice Department.

Meanwhile, some Democratic lawmakers said evidence suggested Capitol Police may have aided and abetted the Capitol attack.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

The National Guard arriving in Washington, DC ahead of Biden inauguration.

‘High Alert’: State Capitols Preparing For Armed Trumpist Assault

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

State officials are acting quickly to protect their capitol buildings after a cryptic FBI bulletin warned that armed protests are being planned across the country in the days leading up to President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration.

The bulletin, obtained Monday by ABC News, stated that "armed protests" were "being planned at all 50 state capitols from 16 January through at least 20 January, and at the US Capitol from 17 January through 20 January."

It continued, "The FBI received information about an identified armed group intending to travel to Washington, DC on 16 January. They have warned that if Congress attempts to remove POTUS via the 25th Amendment, a huge uprising will occur."

The news comes days after pro-Donald Trump extremists attacked the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 6, leaving five people dead.

The riots were incited hours earlier by Trump himself, who called on his supporters to march on the Capitol where lawmakers were assembled to certify Biden's Electoral College victory, suggesting he would be with them and telling them they would never take back the country with "weakness."

Across the nation, state capitols rush to amplify security measures in light of the looming violence.


Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz said Tuesday that he plans to deploy the National Guard to protect the capitol building in the days ahead of Biden's inauguration.

He told the media that he would announce his full plans on Wednesday.

New York

On Tuesday, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said there would be "increased security during that period of time" that the FBI's bulletin warned about.

In Albany, state and local law enforcement authorities prepared for the possibility of unrest at the capitol, closing it to the public and closing a portion of State Street in the capital's downtown area to traffic.

State troopers are also patrolling the halls inside the New York Capitol.

Beau Duffy, State Police spokesperson, said, "Given recent events in Washington and across the country, the New York State Police has, out of an abundance of caution, taken steps to harden security in and around the State Capitol in Albany. These restrictions are in place until further notice."


At the California State Capitol in Sacramento, law enforcement officials are implementing "additional safety measures."

"In light of recent armed protests at the U.S. Capitol, additional security measures are being implemented in the Assembly, though we will not be disclosing the nature of those security measures publicly," Alisa Buckley, chief sergeant at arms of the California Assembly, told the Los Angeles Times.

Gov. Gavin Newsom said on Monday, "Everybody is on high alert in terms of just making sure that everybody is safe and protected. ... I can assure you, we have a heightened, heightened level of security."


In Hartford, Capitol Police are working with the state's agencies to ramp up security to protect the state capitol building.

"We're increasing our patrols with our K-9 officer who's a bomb-detecting dog, we're checking those areas and we're also working very closely with a lot of other agencies — Hartford police, state police and FBI for additional possible manpower," said Capitol Police's Officer First Class Scott Driscoll.


Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers has authorized the state National Guard to aid capitol law enforcement's security efforts in Madison.

"Members of the Wisconsin National Guard will mobilize to state active duty to support safety and security efforts at the State Capitol in Madison. The Wisconsin National Guard will serve in a support role to local authorities and conduct a site security mission," Evers said in a release. "The mobilized troops will serve in a State Active Duty status in support of the Capitol Police."


In Lansing, the state's Capitol Commission on Monday voted unanimously to ban the open carrying of firearms and weapons inside the capitol building.

State police are also amping up security, with Michigan State Police public affairs director Shanon Banner saying Monday, "I can confirm that out of an abundance of caution, we are increasing our visible presence at the Capitol for the next couple of weeks starting today."


Washington Gov. Jay Inslee has activated as many as 750 National Guard troops to help state police to secure the capitol building in Olympia.

The governor said on Friday, "The actions we saw in both Washington, D.C. and Olympia earlier this week were completely unacceptable and will not be repeated in our state capital again."

A "large number of Washington State Patrol troopers" will join the National Guard, Inslee added.


On Monday, Idaho not only locked the doors to its House and Senate chambers in Boise, but also sent state troopers to guard the entrances.


At the federal level, in Washington D.C, law enforcement officials are set to deploy up to 20,000 National Guard troops to the U.S. Capitol, where lawmakers voted Wednesday to impeach Trump for incitement of insurrection, related to last week's attack. Trump is now the only president in U.S. history to be impeached twice.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

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