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South Korea Sending Troops, Contacting Other Nations After Iran Seizes Ship - Newsweek
A South Korean Defense Ministry official told Newsweek the country, officially known as the Republic of Korea (ROK), had "sent anti-piracy troops near the Strait of Hormuz for the ROK oil tanker...
South Korea is sending military forces to respond to the seizure of one of its tankers by Iran, an endeavor in which it is seeking to work with other nations operating in the region. Iran's elite Revolutionary Guard announced Monday that its Zulfiqar fleet had seized a South Korean vessel operating in the Islamic Republic's First Naval District in the Persian Gulf "due to a series of violations of marine environmental laws" after it departed from Saudi Arabia's Al-Jubail port. The ship, Hankuk Chemi, was said to be transporting up to 7,200 tons of oil-based chemicals, and carrying a crew of South Korean, Indonesian, Vietnamese and Myanmar nationals. Both ship and crew are being held at Iran's Bandar Abbas port, where the Revolutionary Guard said "the issue is to be dealt with by the judicial officials." In response to the incident, a South Korean Defense Ministry official told Newsweek the country, officially known as the Republic of Korea (ROK),had "sent anti-piracy troops near the Strait of Hormuz for the ROK oil tanker directly." Asked if South Korea would seek support from the International Maritime Security Construct, a U.S.-led coalition of at least nine nations designed to prevent acts of sabotage and prevent Iran from seizing international ships after a restive 2019 near the Strait of Hormuz, the official said Seoul sought "close cooperation with regards to the ROK government's and multinational anti-piracy naval troops." The Strait of Hormuz is the world's most important maritime oil traffic chokepoint and a recurring flashpoint for U.S.-Iran tensions and threats that have severely escalated since Donald Trump took office in 2017. U.S. Central Command's Navy 5th Fleet did not immediately respond to Newsweek's for comment. The U.S. and South Korea are military allies and, while their mutual defense was established to ward off attacks from rival North Korea, it obliges each to come to the other's aid in the event of any "external armed attack." Vessels involved in the 28th deployment of the Republic of Korea Navy's Cheonghae anti-piracy unit operate in waters off Somalia in this undated photo.Republic of Korea Navy Anxieties over potential escalations in the Persian Gulf have run especially high around the one-year anniversary over the past weekend of the U.S. killing of Revolutionary Guard Quds Force commander Major General Qassem Soleimani in Iraq. Iranian permanent mission to the United Nations spokesperson Alireza Miryousefi recently denounced the killing of the influential and controversial Iranian military leader's death last year as "something that was almost universally condemned as an illegal and terror act (by even U.S. allies)." He added that "it has not affected Iran's national security policy." "What it has done is illustrate to the entire world the true nature of the Administration in flouting international law and norms, and the desperation it feels in its inability to bring Iran to its knees," he told Newsweek. "Iran has endured Trump and his allies, and will continue its foreign and security policies as it always has." Miryousefi added a warning. "There is an appearance that the U.S. is setting traps or provocations to provide an excuse to initiate armed conflict in the last days of the administration," he said. "Iran is fully prepared to defend itself and will, if it comes to pass, react openly and decisively." The U.S. military twice flew nuclear-capable B-52 bombers over the Middle East in recent weeks in a show of force against the Islamic Republic, which Trump accused of plotting to attack U.S. interests in the wake of a rocket attack that hit Washington's embassy in Baghdad last month. The U.S. leader has just over two weeks left in office but has refused to recognize the electoral victory of his rival, President-elect Joe Biden, who has signaled a more diplomatic approach to Iran. Uncertainty over Trump's actions have spread globally, and friends and foes alike have kept a careful eye on U.S. movements. The USS Nimitz aircraft carrier was set to depart the region but was abruptly ordered to remain due to "the recent threats issued by Iranian leaders against President Trump and other U.S. government officials," according to a statement issued Sunday by Acting Secretary of Defense Chris Miller. "No one should doubt the resolve of the United States of America," he added. South Korean-flagged tanker Hankuk Chemi is escorted by Iran's Revolutionary Guards navy after being seized in the Persian Gulf, January 4. Iranian authorities accuses the South Korean ship of polluting the strategic waterway amid especially heightened tensions in the region. TASNIM NEWS/AFP/Getty Images The South Korean Foreign Ministry has called for the early release of Hankuk Chemi, the latest international ship to be seized by the Revolutionary Guard, which has a history of detaining foreign vessels deemed to be endangering maritime traffic or in violation of rules near or within the critical crossing. Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Saeed Khatibzadeh said additional information on the incident would soon be released, but maintained that "the matter is purely technical" and related to the vessel's alleged pollution of the waterway. "The Islamic Republic of Iran, like other countries, is sensitive to such violations, especially pollution of the marine environment, so it will deal with it within the framework of the law," Khatibzadeh said. "This incident is not exceptional and has occurred in similar previous cases in Iran and the waters of other countries, and is normal." The incident came just as South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha was reportedly set to travel to Tehran. South Korea was one of Iran's top oil buyers prior to the imposition of sanctions by the Trump administration after the unilateral exit of the U.S. from a 2015 nuclear deal in 2018. Tehran officials have since urged Seoul to release of billions of dollars of Iranian assets frozen by South Korea as a result of its adherence to U.S. sanctions, though South Korea has so far refused despite successive meetings on the issue. Iran also enjoys friendly ties to North Korea, another U.S.-sanctioned state with which South Korea has struggled to improve relations amid an unprecedented peace process launched as Washington left the Iran nuclear agreement two and a half years ago.
'Embarrassing': Ted Cruz-Led Plan to Challenge Electoral Votes Draws Bipartisan Scorn - Newsweek
"I intend to vigorously defend our form of government by opposing this effort to disenfranchise millions of voters," GOP Senator Pat Toomey said Saturday.
GOP Senators Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania on Saturday joined Democratic lawmakers in condemning Texas Senator Ted Cruz's announcement that a group of 11 Republicans in the upper chamber plan to oppose the Electoral College certification of President-elect Joe Biden's win on January 6, unless a 10-day audit of the results is conducted. On Saturday, 11 more GOP senators said they will officially challenge Congress certifying the Electoral College vote on Wednesday. The group, led by Cruz, includes Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, James Lankford of Oklahoma, Steve Daines of Montana, John Kennedy of Louisiana, Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee and Mike Braun of Indiana. Senators-elect Tommy Tuberville of Alabama, Roger Marshall of Kansas, Bill Hagerty of Tennessee and Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming were also part of the movement. "We intend to vote on January 6 to reject the electors from disputed states as not 'regularly given' and 'lawfully certified'...unless and until that emergency 10-day audit is completed," the Republicans said in a statement. The group called for an Electoral Commission to be created to conduct an investigation into the election returns in the disputed states, similar to one created in 1877. "Once completed, individual states would evaluate the Commission's findings and could convene a special legislative session to certify a change in their vote, if needed," they said. The Republicans join Josh Hawley of Missouri, who was the first senator to announce he would object to the Electoral College vote certification. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell opposes the movement, but the party's leadership does not intend to stop it. Murkowski, Toomey and Democratic lawmakers quickly denounced the move. "I will vote to affirm the 2020 presidential election. The courts and state legislatures have all honored their duty to hear legal allegations and have found nothing to warrant overturning the results. I urge my colleagues from both parties to recognize this and to join me in maintaining confidence in the Electoral College and our elections so that we ensure we have the continued trust of the American people," Murkowski said in a statement. My statement regarding the upcoming meeting of Congress to formally count the votes of the Electoral College and certify the 2020 presidential election: pic.twitter.com/Bk8jd21Emr — Sen. Lisa Murkowski (@lisamurkowski) January 2, 2021 "A fundamental, defining feature of a democratic republic is the right of people to elect their own leaders," Toomey said in a statement. "The effort by Senators Hawley, Cruz, and others to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election in swing states like Pennsylvania directly undermines this right." "I intend to vigorously defend our form of government by opposing this effort to disenfranchise millions of voters in my state and others," he added. Pennsylvania Republican @SenToomey rebuffs his GOP colleagues who plan to reject electors in key states won by Joe Biden. "I intend to vigorously defend our form of government by opposing this effort to disenfranchise millions of voters in my state and others," he says. pic.twitter.com/e3t5YmbHVd — Sahil Kapur (@sahilkapur) January 2, 2021 Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar tweeted, "With all due respect to my Republican colleagues in the Senate who are doing this: can you please get a grip? Election officials across the country, including Republican Governors, have certified these results. This is embarrassing." With all due respect to my Republican colleagues in the Senate who are doing this: can you please get a grip? Election officials across the country, including Republican Governors, have certified these results. This is embarrassing. https://t.co/J4GY3TbIZX — Amy Klobuchar (@amyklobuchar) January 2, 2021 Congresswoman Jackie Speier of California, a Democrat, shared a list of the group of Republican senators planning to challenge Biden's win and wrote, "say their names, remember their names. These senators appear willing to stomp on the constitution and dismantle our democracy." Say their names, remember their names. These senators appear willing to stomp on the constitution and dismantle our democracy BlackburnBraunCruzHaggerty (TN)Inhofe JohnsonKennedyLankfordLummis (WY)Marshall (KS)Tuberville — Jackie Speier (@RepSpeier) January 2, 2021 Democratic Senator Chris Van Hollen of Maryland called the group of GOP senators "political arsonists" in an appearance on MSNBC. "Everybody should understand they will not be successful at overturning the results of the election. Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will be sworn in on January 20th as president and vice president," Van Hollen said. "They are undermining the integrity of our democracy." "These are people for their own political purposes undermining our democracy. It's really a shameful day." So enraging to watch Hawley, Cruz, and other political arsonists setting fire to the infrastructure of our democracy. They will not succeed in overturning the election results, but they are doing a lot of damage along the way. pic.twitter.com/DCr2pijV1z — Senator Chris Van Hollen (@ChrisVanHollen) January 2, 2021 Democratic Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman of New Jersey tweeted, "This is both disruptive and dangerous to our democracy. But hey, bring your last shot because Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will be President and Vice President. And you traitors will be exposed one last time, on this issue." This is both disruptive and dangerous to our democracy. But hey, bring your last shot because Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will be President and Vice President. And you traitors will be exposed one last time, on this issue. — Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (@RepBonnie) January 2, 2021 Newsweek reached out to Senator Ted Cruz's office for comment. Senator Amy Klobuchar on Saturday slammed a Ted Cruz-led plan to challenge electoral votes in the Senate on January 6. Here she speaks during a Senate Judiciary Committee meeting on October 15 in Washington.Greg Nash-Pool/Getty
GOP Congressman-Elect to Oppose Biden Win Certification, Says 'No Question' Trump Won - Newsweek
"Seventy-plus percent of conservatives say that this [election] is not fair," Utah Representative-elect Burgess Owens said. "We the people should have this opportunity to have this conversation."
Republican Utah Representative-elect Burgess Owens has said he'll join other Republicans on January 6 to challenge the congressional approval of the Electoral College's final vote in favor of President-elect Joe Biden. Owens told The Salt Lake Tribune that he believes President Donald Trump actually won the November election, stating, "There's no question in my mind that I think he won." "I think it's the right thing to do," Owens said of Republican attempts to oppose the electoral vote. "Seventy-plus percent of conservatives say that this [election] is not fair. We the people should have this opportunity to have this conversation versus [just] people with black robes." Republican Utah Representative-elect Burgess Owens has said he'll join other Congressional Republicans on January 6 to challenge approval of the Electoral College's final vote in favor of President-elect Joe Biden. Owens said he believes President Donald Trump actually won the November election, stating, "Theres no question in my mind that I think he won." In this June 19, 2019 photo, Owenstestifies during a hearing on slavery reparations held by the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties in Washington, DC.Zach Gibson/Getty The "black robes" refer to judges, some of them appointed by Trump, who have thrown out all but one of nearly 60 cases alleging widespread voter fraud filed by the Trump campaign and other Republican officials. The cases have been dismissed or withdrawn due to lack of evidence. Owens comment also referred to an early December poll from Quinnipiac University which found that 77 percent of Republican voters believed that there was widespread fraud in the presidential election. The poll surveyed 978 registered voters nationwide and had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points. Owens is one of 10 incoming House freshmen who plan to join GOP challenges to the electoral vote. Owens says congress will hear evidence on widespread voter fraud that no one has ever heard before, though he didn't elaborate. He also said he would accept the legitimacy of whoever is eventually seated as president. Owens, a former Oakland Raiders professional football player who helped the team win the 1980 Super Bowl, is a Mormon convert who has been vocally supportive of Trump and made repeated appearances on Fox News. Trump's son, Donald Trump Jr., campaigned for Owens during the election. Last November, Owens won his race against Democratic incumbent Representative Ben McAdams by barely one percent. The congressional approval, which occurs on January 6, is usually a formality that officially certifies the election's winner before the inauguration. However, this year, some congressional Republicans have promised to use the 1887 Electoral Count Act to challenge the Electoral College's final tally. The Electoral Count Act would require the Senate and the House to each hold a two-hour debate before voting on whether to approve electoral vote counts of states with disputed outcomes. It's unlikely that the Republican challenge to the election's outcome will overturn it, as a successful challenge would require majorities in both congressional chambers to vote in favor. "In 10 years in the NFL, I played in a lot of losing games," Owens told the Tribune. "If you leave everything on the field and you've done everything you can and there's nothing left, then it's a winning game regardless of what the score might be." President-elect Joe Biden won the November election by over 7 million votes and 74 electoral votes. Newsweek contacted Owen's campaign for comment.
Democratic Senators Push for $2,000 Stimulus Checks Vote Again on New Year's Day - Newsweek
"A huge chunk would essentially be socialism for rich people," Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said.
Senate Republicans blocked another last-ditch Democratic effort to hold a vote on boosting stimulus checks from $600 to $2,000 on New Year's Day. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell criticized $2,000 direct payments in a Friday floor speech, two days before the 116th Congress ends on Sunday. "A huge chunk would essentially be socialism for rich people," the Republican leader said, before dismissing the checks as a "universal cash giveaway." Senator Bernie Sanders, an independent, disputed McConnell's remarks and called out Republicans for being concerned about "socialism for rich people" despite supporting massive tax breaks for companies. "That is what socialism for the rich is about," Sanders said of the tax cuts. "Socialism for the rich is not—in the midst of this terrible pandemic—putting a $2,000 check into the hands of working families." "I see, if I may say so, a bit of hypocrisy here," he added. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) arrives at the U.S. Capitol on January 1, 2021 in Washington, DC.Liz Lynch/Getty Sanders and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat, spearheaded the latest effort for a vote, which was backed by GOP Senator Josh Hawley and President Donald Trump. "$2000 ASAP!" the president tweeted on Wednesday. "The Senate can start off this new year by adding to that sense of hope by sending $2,000 checks to struggling American families," Schumer said on the Senate floor. With the current Congress ending on Sunday, any bills not passed would need to be reintroduced to the 117th Congress. "I'll ask consent for the final time that the Senate set a time for a vote on the House bill to provide $2,000 checks. I've done it every day this week," Schumer added. "This is it—the last chance for the 116th Congress to pass $2,000 checks and to say to regular Americans that help is on the way. Let's have a vote." But Republicans refused to support increasing direct payments. Some stressed that "targeted relief" was needed to address the worsening pandemic. Hawley reminded his GOP colleagues that Trump backed fattening the checks and urged them to support the measure. "This seems to be the Senate versus the United States of America," he said. Senate Majority Whip John Thune blocked the "shot-gun" request, and insisted that: "We ought to sit down and figure out the most efficient, effective, targeted way possible. This absolutely does not do that." The House passed $2,000 stimulus checks by a 275-134 vote on Monday night. Two Democrats—Kurt Schrader of Oregon and Daniel Lipinski of Illinois, an outgoing congressman—broke with the party in efforts to triple direct payments under the COVID relief bill passed last week. Newsweek reached out to Sanders and McConnell's office for comment.
GOP Congressman Posts Video Debunking Donald Trump's Election Fraud Claims - Newsweek
"Purporting falsehoods is dangerously irresponsible," Illinois Republican Congressman Adam Kinzinger said Thursday, "and it's just plain wrong."
In a video posted to YouTube on Thursday, Illinois Republican Congressman Adam Kinzinger addressed the prevalence of conspiracy theories in U.S. politics while debunking some President Donald Trump's allegations of voter fraud. Trump has refused to concede the November election to President-elect Joe Biden, baselessly claiming that widespread voter fraud perpetrated by Democrats handed Biden the victory. Trump and members of his legal team have alleged that voting machines distributed by Dominion Voting Systems were programmed to flip votes from Trump to Biden. While a majority of Trump's legal efforts to have the election results overturned have failed, some House Republicans have stated they plan on objecting to the results of the Electoral College during the official Congressional count of the votes on Wednesday. Kinzinger said in the video that the challenges were based on misinformation. "The president doesn't want to admit defeat and nobody would, but he's currently trying to discredit the election results through falsehoods and conspiracies," Kinzinger said. "As someone entrusted to lead, I have a choice. I can be quiet and I can survive by taking the easy path or I can speak up and lead without concern for the consequences. I choose to lead without fear." "As public servants, we have a responsibility to serve in good faith," Kinzinger added. "Purporting falsehoods is dangerously irresponsible—and it's just plain wrong." One of the claims made by Trump's legal teams was that Dominion voting machines in Michigan were counting votes for Trump as votes for Biden. Kinzinger said those claims were false. "There was an error but it was a human error, not a Dominion issue, and it was corrected," Kinzinger said. Republicans planning on challenging the Electoral College vote are basing their actions on conspiracy theories, an effort Kinzinger said "won't succeed and we all know it." Republican Representative Adam Kinzinger posted a video on Thursday warning that the expected attempt by some GOP members to challenge the results of the Electoral College had its basis in conspiracy theories. Kevin Dietsch/Pool/AFP/Getty Alabama Republican Representative Mo Brooks said in December that he would contest the Electoral College tally because some battleground states used "flawed election systems" in the November election. More GOP representatives said they would follow Brooks's lead in objecting to the tally. Brooks said Monday that Kinzinger didn't have all the facts. "If he would do his homework," Brooks said of Kinzinger on Monday's episode of Fox & Friends, "he would understand the evidence is overwhelming. He can either surrender to the people who support voter fraud, election theft, or he can fight for his country on this particular issue." Kinzinger responded on social media, writing that the only thing he was "surrendering to is the Constitution and the will of the people." In order to submit a formal challenge to the tally, both a member of the House and a member of the Senate must sign off on the objection. On Wednesday, Missouri Republican Senator Josh Hawley announced that he would join House members who choose to challenge the Congressional electoral vote count. "Somebody has to stand up here," Hawley said on Wednesday on Fox News. "You've got 74 million Americans who feel disenfranchised, who feel like their vote doesn't matter, and this is the one opportunity that I have as a United States Senator, this process right here, my one opportunity to stand up and say something, and that's exactly what I'm going to do." Newsweek reached out to Hawley's office for comment. All 50 states have certified their electoral votes. Biden received 306 votes in the Electoral College, more than the 270 electoral votes required to be considered the winner of the presidential election.
Barbara Boxer, the Democrat's Josh Hawley of 2005, Calls GOP a Dictatorship - Newsweek
"The Democratic party is now the democracy party and the GOP is now the Trump dictatorship party," former Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer tweeted.
Former Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer of California called the Republican party a "dictatorship" after Senator Josh Hawley Missouri announced that he would object to President-elect Joe Biden's certification in Congress, despite having made a similar move herself following the 2004 election. Boxer objected to the certification of former President George W. Bush's 2004 win in Ohio, joining with former Ohio U.S. Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones to initiate the second-ever debate that Congress has held over the certification of Electoral College votes. The challenge failed by a vote of 74 to 1 in the Senate, and 267 to 31 in the House. In a Wednesday night tweet, Boxer said that was "alarming" that the "Democratic party is now the democracy party and the GOP is now the Trump dictatorship party," before calling on Georgia voters to help to tip the Senate balance of power away from Republicans by voting for Democratic challengers Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff in next week's runoff elections. Former Senator Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) speaks during an EMILY's List event in Los Angeles, California on February 27, 2018. Rachel Murray/Getty Images for EMILY's List/Getty Earlier on Wednesday, Hawley announced that he would be objecting to Biden's certification on behalf of "millions of voters concerned about election integrity," likely referring those who support President Donald Trump's unverified claims of widespread voter fraud. "Following both the 2004 and 2016 elections, Democrats in Congress objected during the certification of electoral votes in order to raise concerns about election integrity," Hawley said in a statement. "They were praised by Democratic leadership and the media when they did. And they were entitled to do so. But now those of us concerned about the integrity of this election are entitled to do the same." Some members of the House did object to Trump's 2016 win, but none of the objections moved forward into debate because the challenges lacked the critical element of a senator agreeing to join with the challenge. Biden himself, presiding over the Senate as vice president, shut down the challenges from Democrats. Boxer's early 2005 objection was only the second challenge to move into a debate, with the first instance occurring in 1877. If Hawley follows through with his promise, the third-ever debate, which will last two hours, would occur in 2021. Challenges to Biden's certification will likely to end in a manner similar to Boxer's attempt to dispute Bush's victory. Any objections made by a Senator and House member will be debated in each chamber of Congress and put to a vote, with both having to vote in favor of the objection for it to stand. It is very unlikely that an objection would be upheld by the Democrat-controlled House. The Senate is so expected to vote down any challenge, despite currently having a slim majority of Republicans, since multiple GOP Senators have already indicated that they will not oblige and have congratulated the president-elect. Newsweek reached out to the GOP and Hawley's office for comment.
Ohio Senator Brown Joins Sanders in Delaying Senate Holiday Over $2K Stimulus Checks - Newsweek
"I will be on the floor," Ohio Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown said Tuesday, "make sure this comes to a vote."
Ohio Democrat Senator Sherrod Brown said Tuesday that he would push for a Senate vote on $2,000 stimulus checks by joining Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders's filibuster on the Senate floor. Sanders called for a Senate vote on increasing direct payments from $600 to $2,000 on Tuesday, a motion which gained an immediate objection from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. When McConnell asked for a vote on overriding President Donald Trump's veto on the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), Sanders voiced his objection. Sanders's filibuster could potentially keep the Senate in session until January 1, taking up parts of the Senate's scheduled holiday recess. On Tuesday, Brown indicated that he would join Sanders in making sure the vote on the direct payments occurred. "I will join Senator Sanders," Brown told MSNBC's Mehdi Hasan on Tuesday. "I mean, I'm in Cleveland right now. I will be arriving in Washington by car tomorrow a little after noon and I will join Senator Sanders. I will be on the floor, make sure this comes to a vote." Newsweek reached out to Sanders's office for comment. Democratic Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey is also expected to take part in Sanders's filibuster. "We should have a vote," Markey said in floor remarks on Tuesday. "It should be yes or no and we should do this before the end of this year." Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown said Tuesday he would join Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders in an attempt to force a Senate vote concerning direct payments of $2,000 to eligible Americans. Alex Wong/Getty Trump supports providing $2,000 direct payments, however, legislation he signed on Sunday only provided for $600. The president said he would send the bill back to Congress with certain items "red-lined" that he urged lawmakers to amend. Meanwhile, Trump vetoed the 2021 NDAA which detailed all U.S. defense-related spending. "Unfortunately," Trump wrote in a December letter to the House, "the Act fails to include critical security measures, includes provisions that fail to respect our veterans and our military's history, and contradicts efforts by my Administration to put America first in our national security and foreign policy actions." The House voted to override Trump's veto of the NDAA on Monday by a vote of 322 to 87. McConnell attempted to have the Senate vote on overriding the presidential veto when Sanders voiced his objection. With the NDAA vote in limbo and the vote on the $2,000 direct payments blocked by McConnell, Sanders tweeted Tuesday that he and Markey were ready to keep senators in Washington until a vote on the stimulus checks is conducted. "Today @SenMarkey and I demanded a vote on $2,000 for working people," Sanders tweeted Tuesday. "It's simple—no vote, no new year's break for Senators." Today @SenMarkey and I demanded a vote on $2,000 for working people. Its simpleno vote, no new year's break for Senators. — Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) December 29, 2020 McConnell proposed legislation on Tuesday that would allow for stimulus checks to be boosted to $2,000. However, McConnell connected the direct payments to requests made by Trump that Democrats have denounced. McConnell's bill includes a repeal of Section 230, part of the Communications Decency Act which protects social media platforms from liability for content posted by third parties. McConnell's proposal also requires the formation of a bipartisan "advisory committee" to "study the integrity and administration of the general election for Federal office held in November 2020." Trump has repeatedly claimed that widespread election fraud caused his loss to President-elect Joe Biden, and has filed lawsuits in swing states in an attempt to overturn the election results. Those legal attempts have largely failed and many have described Trump's allegations as unsubstantiated.
Sidney Powell Thinks Georgia Senate Runoff May Be 'Rigged' to Favor GOP - Newsweek
"Well, my concern is that it's not going to matter how the people vote in the Georgia race," the former Trump campaign attorney said.
Former Trump campaign attorney Sidney Powell on Tuesday claimed that Georgia election officials may have "rigged" the state's January 5 special runoff elections so that the state's Republican Senate incumbents will win. During Powell's interview on The Rush Limbaugh Show, an interviewer asked her whether she thought Republicans should vote in the state's special election despite her belief that the state's presidential elections were rigged to provide an outcome for Democratic President-elect Joe Biden. "Well, my concern is that it's not going to matter how the people vote in the Georgia race," Powell said. "It obviously didn't matter how they voted nationwide, did it?" Republican Attorney Sidney Powell said on Tuesday that election officials in Georgia may have rigged the election to favor the state's Republican Senatorial incumbents for victory. In this November 19, 2020 photo, Powell speaks to the press about various lawsuits related to the 2020 election, inside the Republican National Committee headquarters on November 19, 2020 in Washington, DC.Drew Angerer/Getty When the interviewer said that he wanted Republicans to vote in the upcoming special election "in incredible numbers" adding, "I want all eyes on this because we cannot hand the Senate to these people, Sydney." Powell then responded. "Well yeah, I mean the situation we're in now, I would suggest that everybody in Georgia turnout on Election Day, and do it again: Vote for the Republican candidates in mass numbers and see what happens," Powell said, adding, "And it might be that they've even rigged the system so that the two Republicans win so they can say, 'Oh see? There's no problem.'" Republicans and Democrats alike are closely watching the special Senate race because it will determine party control of the U.S. Senate. The two races are between Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Jon Ossoff against Republican incumbent Senator David Purdue and a race between Democratic candidate Raphael Warnock and Republican incumbent Senator Kelly Loeffler. Trump, his re-election campaign surrogates and his supporters have all criticized Georgia's Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and the state's Republican Governor Brian Kemp for declaring that Biden fairly won the state, thus contradicting Trump and his supporters' claims of widespread voter fraud. While serving as an attorney for Trump's re-election campaign, Powell claimed in a November 19 press conference, that "massive influence of communist money through Venezuela, Cuba and likely China" had compelled Republican and Democratic lawmakers to rig the election. The rigging, according to Powell, occurred by various Democratic and Republican candidates paying foreign governments to alter voting machines to switch Trump votes into Biden votes and to switch enough other votes to help other individual candidates to win their election races. "We have no idea how many Republican or Democratic candidates in any state across the country, paid to have the system rigged to work for them," Powell said. Powell didn't present any evidence to back up her claims. On November 21, Powell appeared on the right-wing conservative network Newsmax, claiming she had evidence that 7 million votes were fraudulently cast for Biden's benefit. She also accused Kemp and Raffensperger of accepting bribes to participate in the alleged vote-switching scheme. By November 22, Trump's re-election campaign said that Powell no longer had a formal role as a campaign attorney. Powell's claim of Kemp and Raffensperger's corruption have potentially undermined Republicans' chances in Georgia's runoffs as some Republicans wish to "punish" the local Republican party who helped validate Biden's victory. Others simply distrust the electoral process since Trump and his supporters claim it's been broken by massive fraud. Newsweek contacted the Powell's office for comment.
Stacey Abrams Says Warnock, Ossoff 'Leading Kind of Turnout' Democrats Need in Ga. Runoffs - Newsweek
"We are seeing turnout rates that are incredible for the state of Georgia," the Democratic activist and organizer said.
Democratic activist and organizer Stacey Abrams praised Georgia senatorial candidates Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff for "increasing" voter participation and "leading the kind of turnout" that Democrats need to win in the traditionally conservative state. Warnock and Ossoff will face off against Republican Senators Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue in the January 5 runoffs, after none of the contenders secured more than 50 percent in the general election on November 3. Under Georgia's constitution, candidates must garner the majority of votes, not just a plurality, to win their race. The two runoffs have become exceptionally prominent on the national political stage, as they will decide whether Democrats or Republicans control the Senate. Abrams, the former Democratic minority leader of the Georgia House of Representatives who ran unsuccessfully for governor in 2018, stressed to CNN on Monday morning that Warnock and Ossoff appear to have already brought out a sizable number of new voters in early voting. "The numbers tell their own story. More than 2 million voters have cast their ballots, including 65,000 voters who did not vote in November, who have been disproportionately under the age of 29 and people of color," Abrams explained. Notably, President-elect Joe Biden managed to narrowly flip Georgia blue by a margin of just under 12,000 votes. Republicans do not know how to win without voter suppression as one of their tools," Stacey Abrams reacts to Republicans around the country looking into backtracking voter expansion measures. pic.twitter.com/bsEcgExdMs — New Day (@NewDay) December 28, 2020 "We are seeing active engagement across the state, including in rural parts of the state among black and brown voters. We are seeing turnout rates that are incredible for the state of Georgia," she added. Abrams expressed confidence that "Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff have done an exceptional job of engaging voters, increasing participation and leading the kind of turnout that we need to win this election." Newsweek reached out to press representatives for Loeffler and Perdue for comment but they did not immediately respond. Participation in early voting for the Senate runoffs in Georgia has already far outpaced the state's last such contest, which was in 2008. But an uphill battle remains for Democrats. Georgia continues to be a conservative Republican stronghold, although demographics have been shifting in recent years—as was apparent in Biden's narrow win there in November. However, Democrats must win both Senate contests to evenly split the upper chamber of Congress with the Republicans. In that scenario, Democrats would have narrow control, as Vice President-elect Kamala Harris would have the final say by casting any tiebreaking votes. Democratic Senate candidate Raphael Warnock, Stacey Abrams and Democratic Senate candidate Jon Ossoff listen as President-elect Joe Biden speaks during a campaign rally on December 15 in Atlanta. On Monday, Abrams praised Warnock and Ossoff for increasing voter participation ahead of their closely watched runoff races against Republican incumbents.Drew Angerer/Getty Polls out of Georgia have been mixed, with most showing a tight race. Some have shown the Republicans with a slight advantage, while others have the Democrat challengers in the lead. Others show a split race, with one Republican and one Democrat coming out ahead. A recent survey by Reconnect Research/Probolsky Research shows Warnock leading Loeffler by just 1 percentage point, 43 percent to 42 percent. Meanwhile, Perdue leads Ossoff in that poll by 1 percent, with the same 43 percent to 42 percent split. The survey was conducted from December 14 to 22 and polled 1,027 likely voters in the state.
GOP Lawmaker Accuses Trump and 'Grifters' of Pushing Electoral Challenge to Raise Funds - Newsweek
"They will raise money and gain followers by blaming everyone else knowing full well they can't do anything. It's sad, and an utter scam," GOP Congressman Adam Kinzinger tweeted Saturday.
Illinois Republican congressman Adam Kinzinger accused President Donald Trump and fellow GOP representatives who seek to challenge the Electoral College vote on January 6 of participating in an "utter scam" meant to "raise money and gain followers." "All this talk about Jan 6th [email protected] and other congressional grifters is simply explained: they will raise money and gain followers by blaming everyone else knowing full well they can't do anything. It's sad, and an utter scam," Kinzinger tweeted Saturday. All this talk about Jan 6th from @realDonaldTrump and other congressional grifters is simply explained: they will raise money and gain followers by blaming everyone else knowing full well they cant do anything. Its sad, and an utter scam. #restoreourgop — Adam Kinzinger (@RepKinzinger) December 26, 2020 The GOP lawmaker's statement comes amid reports that Representative Mo Brooks and Senator Tommy Tuberville will challenge the Electoral College vote when Congress convenes in January. The two lawmakers have previously suggested they would use the Electoral Count Act of 1877 in a last-ditch effort to challenge the results of the 2020 presidential election. If Brooks and Tuberville successfully band together to oppose the electoral vote, the Senate and House of Representatives would be required to hold a two-hour debate and then vote on whether to approve or deny the objection. For the process to move forward, both chambers would have to agree on the objection in order to throw out contested electoral votes. Kinzinger's statement joins a growing list of congressional Republicans who view the attempt as futile and politically damaging. Rep. Adam Kinzinger tweeted Saturday that Congressional members seeking to oppose the Electoral College vote on January 6 are participating in an "utter scam." In this photo, Kinzinger questions witnesses during a House Committee on Foreign Affairs hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC on September 16, 2020.KEVIN DIETSCH/Getty During a December 15 conference call, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellreportedly warned that objecting to counting certain states' electoral votes on Jan. 6 would be a political mistake, especially for senators up for reelection. Senate Republican Whip John Thune told CNN on Tuesday that opposing the vote would make zero headway. "I think the thing they got to remember is, it's not going anywhere. I mean in the Senate, it would go down like a shot dog. I just don't think it makes a lot of sense to put everybody through this when you know what the ultimate outcome is going to be," he said. Thune has also stated that GOP leaders want to "encourage all of our members—new members included—that we got a lot of work ahead of us and that rehashing this takes a lot of time and energy and political capital that could best be used working on an agenda for next year," according to The Hill. The Electoral College voted to officially confirm Joe Biden as the next president of the United States on December 14. Challenging that vote in the upcoming congressional meeting will be the final attempt for Trump and his allies to overturn the election results, after months of failed lawsuits and unsubstantiated claims that the presidential race was riddled with voter fraud. Brooks told CNN on Monday that a "double digit" number of lawmakers attended a meeting at the White House with President Trump in order to strategize a plan. "In a general sense, how it looks like we're headed, it looks like we're gonna have valid objections filed to the number of states on January 6," Brooks said. On Saturday, congresswoman-elect and stringent Trump supporter Marjorie Taylor Greene issued her support for the movement and slammed Kinzinger for tweeting against fellow Republicans. "How does it feel to be quote tweeted with resounding approval by Democrats & Progressives while you call yourself 'Republican' & say #RestoreOurGOP?" she tweeted. "75+ million 'grifters' know @realDonaldTrump's election was stolen. Don't worry, traitors @ProjectLincoln will donate to you," she added. Newsweek reached out to Kinzinger for additional comment but did not hear back in time for publication.
What Polls Say About Kelly Loeffler and Raphael Warnock 1 Week Before Georgia's Election - Newsweek
The January 5 contests—Loeffler vs. Warnock and David Perdue versus Jon Ossoff—will determine which party has majority control of the U.S. Senate in the next Congress.
There's just a little over a week until Georgia's unprecedented double Senate runoff elections and polls show a tight race between Republican incumbent Kelly Loeffler and her Democratic challenger Raphael Warnock. More than 2 million residents have already cast their ballots for the runoffs, according to the early-voting data tracker Georgia Votes. The January 5 contests—Loeffler vs. Warnock and David Perdue vs. Jon Ossoff—will determine which party has majority control of the U.S. Senate in the next Congress. A FiveThirtyEight analysis averaging the polls that have been conducted since the November general election, Warnock was shown ahead of Loeffler by 0.6 points on December 24. The Democrat had 48.2 percent support compared with Loeffler's 47.6 percent support. One survey from InsiderAdvantage and FOX 5 Atlanta released Wednesday found that Loeffler was trailing Warnock by 2 percentage points, though 4 percent of those polled said they remained undecided on who to support. Warnock was also slightly ahead in a poll conducted by Reconnect Research in partnership with Probolsky Research. The survey of over 1,000 likely voters found Warnock had 43 percent support. Loeffler wasn't far behind with 42 percent support. But 15 percent of respondents were undecided about the race. After the November election, Republicans are set to control at least 50 seats in the next Senate. Democrats will have 46 seats but two independent senators caucus with the party, bringing their total vote power to 48. If Democrats win both Senate races next month, party control of the Senate would be split 50-50. It would then be up to Democratic Vice President-elect Kamala Harris to cast any tie-breaking votes that occur, essentially giving Democrats control. In November, Warnock bested Loeffler by a little more than 343,000 votes but neither candidate passed the 50 percent threshold needed to clinch victory. Warnock received 32.9 percent of the vote compared to Loeffler's 25.9 percent. Democratic Senate candidate Raphael Warnock arrives to speak at a Senate runoff election drive-in campaign rally at Bibb Mill in Columbus, Georgia. Warnock will face Republican incumbent Kelly Loeffler in a runoff election on January 5.Tami Chappell/AFP/Getty Images The high-stakes of the runoffs have prompted high-profile party figures to stump for their respective candidates in the Peach State. Vice President Mike Pence has held several "Defend the Majority" rallies urging Republicans to vote, stating Perdue and Loeffler are the "last line of defense" against the Democrats' "radical agenda." Both President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris have held events in the state this month. The two were the first Democratic candidates to win Georgia since 1992, flipping the state blue after it supported President Donald Trump in 2016. "I am here to say that the decision you make, the work that you put into it, will impact people who you may never meet, people who may never know your names. But because of what you have done and are prepared to do, their lives will forever be better," Harris said at a drive-in rally in Columbus last week.
Trump Thanks Military, Healthcare Workers in Christmas Message: 'Our Gatherings Might Look Different' - Newsweek
"While our gatherings might look different than in years past, this Christmas, like every Christmas, is an opportunity for us to celebrate the birth of our savior, Jesus Christ, and show our...
In a message shared on Christmas, President Donald Trump, without mentioning the coronavirus pandemic, recognized fact that many citizens were unable to be with their family for the holidays this year. "The First Lady and I send our warmest wishes to all Americans as we celebrate Christmas. While our gatherings might look different than in years past, this Christmas, like every Christmas, is an opportunity for us to celebrate the birth of our savior, Jesus Christ, and show our heartfelt gratitude for the abundant blessings God has bestowed upon our lives and country," the message read. The president went on to thank the many members of the military and first responders for their work and help throughout the year, writing that their "daily contributions are an example of the selfless love of God and remind us of the noble principles we strive to live especially during this time of year." "We are forever indebted to those who courageously serve our country in uniform—and those who walk alongside them. We also thank our Nation's first responders, law enforcement officers, and frontline medical professionals who work tirelessly to serve and protect our communities," the message continued. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump walk on the south lawn of the White House on December 23, 2020, in Washington, DC. Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images The message comes following the Christmas address Trump and First Lady Melania Trump delivered on Thursday, in which they celebrated the two COVID-19 vaccines—one produced by Pfizer and BioNTech, the other by Moderna—as a "Christmas miracle." The Trumps noted how grateful they were for the tireless efforts scientists, researchers, manufacturing workers and service members made to not only develop the vaccine and distribute it among Americans before the holiday. "As you know, this Christmas is different than years past. We are battling a global pandemic that has affected all of us," Melania Trump said in the video. "Teachers have worked extraordinarily hard to keep our children learning. Students have delivered groceries to elderly neighbors. Communities have found new ways to stay connected to one another." The president and his wife are spending Christmas in Florida, where they arrived on Thursday on the first day of his winter vacation. He was spotted golfing at his Palm Beach golf club by reporters, who were later told that Trump "will continue to work tirelessly for the American People. His schedule includes many meetings and calls," according to an ABC News report on Friday. Trump left congressional leaders scrambling amid the holiday after he demanded Congress rewrite an end-of-year spending bill and remove some of the foreign funding included in the annual budget and increase the $600 stimulus checks in the bill to $2,000. House Republicans rejected the proposal on Christmas Eve by blocking a Democratic proposal for unanimous consent to amend the bill for the increased check amount. While the House will return Monday to hold a full vote for the measure, ABC News reporter Bill Gittleson reported Friday that the current congressional spending and COVID relief bill has arrived in Florida where Trump can choose to veto or approve the measure. It's unknown if the president will make a decision over the holiday weekend. This story has been updated with additional information and background.