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Gun politics scrambles Democrats' efforts to confirm Biden's ATF nominee and craft background checks deal – CNN

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Biden nominated David Chipman to head the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in April, seeking the first Senate-confirmed director of the agency since 2015 and just the second in its history. But Chipman — a career official at ATF for 25 years and more recently a top adviser with Giffords, a group that advocates for stricter gun laws — has come under fire from the National Rifle Association, turning off some moderate Republicans and causing some squeamishness among centrist Democrats.
Chipman has privately been holding one-on-one meetings with wayward senators to assure them he respects the Second Amendment, planning a meeting with GOP Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska on Wednesday, meeting with independent Sen. Angus King of Maine on Monday and even meeting with pro-gun groups in West Virginia and GOP Gov. Jim Justice at Sen. Joe Manchin’s request.
Some are still not sold.
“The issue is whether he’s the right guy for the job,” King, who caucuses with Democrats, told CNN on Tuesday. “My question is whether he can be an effective director. I haven’t decided yet.”
Republican opposition is stiffening, with King’s Maine colleague, GOP Sen. Susan Collins, announcing her plans to vote against the nomination, underscoring the likelihood that Democrats need to keep all 50 of their members united to see the nomination confirmed.
The first key procedural vote — to discharge the nomination to the floor after it deadlocked in the Senate Judiciary Committee last week — could happen as soon as this week, Democrats say.
“We’re still working on it,” Manchin said when asked Tuesday if he’d back Chipman, adding that they had a “very candid conversation.”
The issue comes amid a rise in mass shootings in the United States and as Democrats have been trying for months to draft legislation aimed at overcoming GOP resistance to measures aimed at curbing the use of guns. The House approved two bills to expand background checks on firearm sales, including one to do so on private and commercial transactions, but that lacks the support of moderate Democrats like Manchin and Sen. Jon Tester of Montana.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has promised that the two House-passed bills will get a Senate procedural vote — but he has pushed his colleagues to find consensus on a new deal that could get all 50 Democrats on board, even as they may still lack 60 votes to overcome a GOP filibuster.

Democrats eye narrow background checks deal

Behind the scenes, two Connecticut Democrats — Sens. Chris Murphy and Richard Blumenthal — have each worked on separate legislative efforts to deal with gun violence.
Murphy has been trying to find GOP support for a slimmed-down background checks bill that would be even narrower than the bill Republicans blocked in 2013 — after the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School — to require checks for sales at gun shows and across the internet but exempt private transfers.
That bill, drafted by Manchin and GOP Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, stands little chance of passing the 50-50 Senate. So Murphy has been trying to see if there’s consensus with Republicans on a bill to expand checks at gun shows — leaving aside internet sales — in order to pass some gun bill this Congress.
Murphy has been in talks with Manchin, Toomey and GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina to see if they can cut a bipartisan deal. But the Democrat says it’s still an open question whether there are 60 votes “for anything meaningful” on closing the so-called gun show loophole and dealing with “a couple other issues.”
“The feeling is it might be a little bit easier for Republicans to support because it’s a real defined universe,” Murphy said of focusing mainly on gun shows. “So we’re not there yet.”
Blumenthal is trying to see if there’s a deal with Graham on a bill to bolster so-called red-flag laws that would empower states to remove guns from individuals deemed mentally unfit. But both Blumenthal and Murphy acknowledged that it seemed doubtful that a vote on gun legislation could occur before the August recess — given that action will be dominated by infrastructure over the next few weeks.
“I’m not sure it’s on the front burner right now,” Blumenthal said.

Fight over Chipman

But the fight over Chipman’s nomination could come to a head within days.
Democratic Sens. John Hickenlooper of Colorado, Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona said they are still reviewing the nomination. Sen. Gary Peters, a Democrat from Michigan, told CNN he has not spent time yet deciding whether he would vote for Chipman.
“I haven’t made a determination yet,” Tester said.
Democratic leaders said they are whipping the nomination to see if they can get 50 votes.
“I would say there’s a hesitation, but it’s understandable,” said Senate Judiciary Chairman Dick Durbin, an Illinois Democrat, referring to his members. “This man will only be the second director of the Alcohol and Tobacco, Firearms agency in its history. It’s notorious for being vacant at the top, and I think that was a specific strategy for the gun lobby. They don’t want this agency to do its work.”
Durbin added that Chipman is a “gun owner and his achievements I think are clear. He respects the Second Amendment, he just wants to stop the crimes of guns.”
Chipman has reiterated that message in his private meetings. And on Tuesday, he won the support of Democratic Sen. Maggie Hassan, who is facing reelection in New Hampshire and announced she would back his nomination.
Winning over Republicans remains an open question. Toomey declined to comment on Tuesday, saying he planned to put a statement out on the nomination.
Complicating the vote for Democrats is that Chipman has faced a series of tough blows from hunting and sportsman groups like Ducks Unlimited who have argued that his views on an assault weapons ban are too extreme for the job.
“This is the first time I have seen such a broad array of sporting groups, conservation groups like Ducks Unlimited come out in opposition to a nominee. That shows how divisive he is,” Collins said.
But Democrats believe ultimately he will get the job.
“He still needs to answer some questions and concerns, but I am confident he is going to have 50 votes on the floor. This is a mainstream nominee, someone who knows the ATF backwards and forward. It would be a gift to the gun lobby if somebody with that kind of qualification wasn’t supported by the Democratic caucus,” Murphy said.

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Politics Briefing: Pallister apologizes for remarks on Canadian history, reconciliation – The Globe and Mail

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Hello,

This is the daily Politics Briefing newsletter, written by Ian Bailey. It is available exclusively to our digital subscribers. If you’re reading this on the web, subscribers can sign up for the Politics newsletter and more than 20 others on our newsletter signup page. Have any feedback? Let us know what you think.

BREAKING – Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister is apologizing for remarks on reconciliation that have caused a cabinet resignation and other turmoil in his province.

“I feel awful about the reaction and the misunderstanding I created with my comments,” the Progressive Conservative Premier told a news conference in Winnipeg on Tuesday.

“I am going to issue a statement later today, ask for forgiveness and understanding and ask that we unite,” he said.

In July, Mr. Pallister criticized protesters who had toppled statues of Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria on the grounds of the legislature, then made remarks that have been widely criticized,

“The people who came here to this country before it was a country, and since, didn’t come here to destroy anything,” Mr. Pallister said. “They came here to build.”

With his earlier statement, Mr. Pallister said he was trying to unite people to build “as our Indigenous people have done for millennia, as our Metis population has done, as our more recent immigrants have done.”

On reflection, Mr. Pallister said he understood he was misunderstood. “I apologize for that. I should have been clearer in my comments, but my heart was in the right place and so that’s why I am offering this statement of apology today, and asking for people’s understanding. Let’s move forward.”

The Premier’s comments were criticized by Indigenous leaders for downplaying the impact of colonialism. Indigenous and Northern Relations Minister Eileen Clarke quit her cabinet post, saying she and other cabinet ministers had not been listened to. Some caucus members have distanced themselves from Mr. Pallister’s remarks. Winnipeg Mayor Brian Bowman urged Mr. Pallister to apologize.

Also, Alan Lagimodiere, named as a replacement for Ms. Clarke, defended some intentions behind residential schools, and was called out on the spot by Opposition NDP Leader Wab Kinew. Mr. Lagimodiere later apologized.

“Alan is a fine man,” Mr. Pallister said Tuesday, noting he immediately apologized. “I stand by him.”

Asked directly if he was thinking of resigning, Mr. Pallister said, to the journalist who asked, “You’ll be among the first to know if that’s the decision.”

TODAY’S HEADLINES

MUSICAL CALL FOR MICHAEL’S RELEASE – The former bandmates of the Hungarian punk band that Michael Kovrig founded in 1996 have put out a song calling on all governments involved to work toward the release of Mr. Kovrig and Michael Spavor, both arrested in China in December, 2018. The two men were taken into custody soon after the detention in Vancouver of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou on a U.S. Justice Department extradition request.

SCORES IN REFUGEE CAMP DESPITE CANADIAN PLEDGES – Three years after Canada promised to find permanent homes for hundreds of rescue workers and their family members who were evacuated from Syria during its civil war, dozens of adults and children remain stuck in a Middle East refugee camp where their mental and physical health is deteriorating, according to federal officials.

CONCERNS RAISED ABOUT RACIAL PROFILING – Two organizations representing academics of Chinese origin in Canada are warning that new mandatory national security assessments for federal funding of university research could lead to “racial profiling Chinese researchers as foreign agents.”

DEFENCE CHIEF NOTES CHRONICLE FORTIN TURMOIL – An extraordinary set of handwritten notes by Canada’s acting defence chief appear to reveal a behind-the-scenes struggle between due process, political optics and support for the complainant after a sexual misconduct allegation emerged against Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin.

VOICES FROM MICHIGAN ON LINE 5 – The Globe and Mail’s U.S. Correspondent Adrian Morrow visits the Straits of Mackinac in Michigan to talk to residents about discontent relating to Enbridge’s Line 5 pipeline, which has the United States and Canada at odds. Story here.

WERNICK HAS WRITTEN GOVERNING GUIDE – Former top federal civil servant Michael Wernick says he has written a non-fiction book drawn from his more than three decades of experience in Ottawa, including time spent in cabinet rooms with ministers and prime ministers. Governing Canada: A Guide to the Tradecraft of Politics, is a “modest contribution” to Canada’s political literature, intended give people who are studying Canadian government, or those generally interested in it, another resource, says Mr. Wernick.

MCLACHLIN REUPS WITH HONG-KONG COURT – Despite Beijing’s tightening grip on Hong Kong, Beverley McLachlin, the former chief justice of the Supreme Court of Canada, has agreed to serve another three-year term as a foreign judge on Hong Kong’s highest court. Story here. From The Montreal Gazette.

THE LOOMING ELECTION

-The Hill Times suggests here that Liberal candidates, and campaign managers are preparing for an election campaign to get started on Aug. 8 or Aug. 15, with the election date set to be Sept. 13 or Sept. 20.

-Federal political parties say they hope to hold lively in-person campaign rallies if an election is called – but, with pandemic restrictions still in place, they acknowledge that the events won’t look the same as they have in the past. Story here.

Writing in Maclean’s, Philippe J. Fourner says the Liberals are intent on an election despite data suggesting the likely outcome would be a Liberal-led minority government – and not a majority -“Because [they] could potentially secure a majority and may not have another window to do so in the foreseeable future.” Story here.

PRIME MINISTER’S DAY

“Personal” according to the advisory issued by the Prime Minister’s Office.

LEADERS

Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet visits the riding of Salaberry—Suroîtand Châteauguay—Lacolle

Conservative Party Leader Erin O’Toole – No schedule provided by Mr. O’Toole’s office.

Green Party Leader Annamie Paul – No schedule provided by Ms. Paul’s office.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh celebrates the 60th anniversary of the NDP, and holds a media availability.

OPINION

André Picard (The Globe and Mail) on whether you need to worry about breakthrough COVID-19 infections after getting vaccinated?: Don’t be duped by the “news” that infections and hospitalizations are up among the vaccinated. Of course they are. A lot of people are getting vaccinated. But, relatively, way fewer vaccinated people are ending up sick or in hospital and, here, relativity matters. The pandemic has become a pandemic of the unvaccinated.”

Kluane Adamek (Contributor to The Globe and Mail) on why Canada should Indigenize the Senate: “Transforming the Senate to truly reflect and include a majority Indigenous representation would be a significant gesture toward reconciliation. It would have natural legitimacy as a custodial body safeguarding the land and all peoples. In using his discretion to establish this new convention, Mr. Trudeau would set Canada on a new and more equitable constitutional path. “Indigenizing” the Senate could be among the Prime Minister’s most consequential legacies.”

Andrew MacDougall (The Ottawa Citizen) on how little (or how much) Justin Trudeau talks about Erin O’Toole during the pending election campaign will be a sign of the Liberal leader’s confidence: “The Opposition Leader will rail about how much Trudeau has burdened the country with debt. He’ll moan about how Trudeau has loaded families up with extra costs. And he’ll no doubt remind Canadians of how Trudeau has let the country down with his various ethical lapses, whether that be WE, SNC, or blackface (times three). And what can Mr. O’Toole expect to hear back from Justin Trudeau? Well, if the Prime Minister is confident about his prospects, very little. Very little at all. If the Liberals are liking their chances they’ll go back to “sunny ways” and once again promote the power of positivity.”

Send along your political questions and we will look at getting answers to run in this newsletter. It’s not possible to answer each one personally. Questions and answers will be edited for length and clarity.

Got a news tip that you’d like us to look into? E-mail us at tips@globeandmail.com. Need to share documents securely? Reach out via SecureDrop

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35 words that almost certainly will end Andrew Cuomo's political career – CNN

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With those 35 words from the investigators in New York Attorney General Letitia James’ office, the political career of the New York Democrat likely has come to an end.
That pronouncement came after a months-long investigation that included interviews with 179 people and the reviewing of more than 74,000 documents. And ended with the stunning finding that Cuomo sexually harassed 11 women, including state employees and a New York state trooper. He also retaliated against one woman who had gone public with her allegations against him, according to the AG report.
“Our investigation revealed that these were not isolated incidents,” said Joon Kim, one of the lawyers who led the investigation. “They were part of a pattern.”
Cuomo was defiant in an appearance following the release of the James report. He posted a point-by-point response to the allegations laid out by the state’s attorney general and insisted that the “facts are much different” than portrayed in that report. The governor also doubled down on his total innocence; “I never touched anyone inappropriately or made any inappropriate sexual advances,” he said.
Cuomo has, for months, bought time by insisting that he wouldn’t offer any comment about the various allegations against him until James’ report came out. “I ask the people of this state to wait for the facts from the attorney general’s report before forming an opinion,” he said this spring at the height of the furor over the allegations against him.
Well, the report is now out. And it paints Cuomo as a repeat offender, not the unfortunate victim of a single misunderstanding. And makes his assertion from March that “people know the difference between playing politics, bowing to cancel culture, and the truth” ring true — just not in the way that Cuomo intended.
While Cuomo allies have been trying in recent months to paint the James investigation as a political endeavor driven by a politician who would like his job, the details and length of the report make it very hard to sell that case in the court of public opinion. (Which, of course, doesn’t mean Cuomo won’t try!)
So, what now?
Cuomo will have to decide if he will resign his office or announce that he will forgo his planned bid for a fourth term next fall. While the report may alter that personal calculus, he was defiant in the face of calls to resign in the spring. (Much of the New York congressional delegation as well as Sens. Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand called on him to resign at that point.)
“I’m not going to resign, I was not elected by the politicians, I was elected by the people,” said Cuomo at a press conference on March 12. If that’s what he truly believes, then there’s no way he walks away before the end of his term.
Cuomo announcing he won’t seek a fourth term seems more likely. But there’s a bit of personal psychology tied up in Cuomo’s desire for a fourth term that might make it difficult for him to walk away. His father, the late Mario Cuomo, ran and lost his bid for a fourth term as governor to a little-known state legislator named George Pataki back in 1994. Andrew Cuomo would very much like to do what his father never could.
It’s possible, of course, that the Democratic-led legislature in the Empire State will take the decision out of Cuomo’s hands entirely.
New York Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, who has the power to begin impeachment proceedings against the governor, blasted Cuomo in a statement released just after the James report. “The conduct by the Governor outlined in this report would indicate someone who is not fit for office, said Heastie. He did not announce any plans to begin impeachment proceedings, but noted cryptically: “We will have more to say in the very near future.”
Knowing where the voting public comes down on all of this is simply impossible at the moment given the recency of the report and its findings. And the results were mixed even before Tuesday’s bombshell.
While 61% of Democrats had a favorable opinion of Cuomo and 53% said that the Assembly shouldn’t impeach him in a late June Siena College Research Institute poll that same survey showed that more than half of Democrats wanted Cuomo to resign immediately (13%) or not run for another term in 2022 (40%).
Presumably the number of women listed in the James report and the credibility that investigators found in their allegations will change some minds about what Cuomo should do next.
The last six years in politics have taught me — and should teach all of us — not to make any definitive predictions about how the public will react to allegations of this sort against a politician.
But it’s extremely hard to see any sort of path — today at least — for Cuomo to stay in office beyond 2022. If he even makes it that long.

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Analysis | How to reverse the politics of coronavirus vaccines, as demonstrated by Fox News – The Washington Post

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One underrecognized aspect of American politics is that most of the people who voted for Donald Trump last year live in states that cast more votes for Joe Biden. At a county level, that’s not true; most Trump voters live in counties that voted for Trump. But not by much: About 45 percent of Trump voters live in counties that preferred Biden.

Why? Well, because a lot of people live in big cities, and big cities are often heavily Democratic. While 55 percent of Republicans live in counties that voted for Trump, 55 percent also live in the 300-odd places that are the most heavily populated 10 percent of counties in the United States. (More than three-quarters of Democrats live in those counties; as a corollary, about 73 percent of Democrats live in counties won by Biden.)

The point is straightforward: Places with more people have more people. This is not what one would call a staggering insight, but it’s worth reiterating since people tend to think of heavily populated places as overwhelmingly Democratic. In fact, the most populous counties in the country are less robustly Democratic than the least populous ones are Republican. The 623 least populous counties preferred Trump by 46 points. The 623 most populous counties preferred Biden by less than one-third of that margin.

(The chart below looks at deciles of counties; that is, one-tenth of all counties, ranked from the least to the most populous.)

Why are we going over this? Because of the attempt by Fox News’s Jesse Watters to suggest that, of the current surge in coronavirus infections,
“all of the hot spots are in huge Democrat cities.”

He said this on Friday, even as he (thankfully) encouraged getting more people vaccinated. But he did so while clearly attempting to cast blame for the surge on Democrats — trying to reverse the recent emphasis on the surge of infections in heavily Republican areas, since those places are less likely to be heavily vaccinated. In a statement provided to Mediaite, he tried to defend the claim.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s categorization of places with substantial rates of transmission “applies to nearly every major metropolitan area in the United States … Los Angeles, New York, Atlanta, Houston, Miami, St. Louis, etc. … according to the ‘hot spot’ county map highlighted on the CDC website,” the statement said. “Plus, anyone with common sense understands that 3.5M unvaccinated New York residents living within 300 square miles of each other, is more of a so-called ‘hot spot,’ than just 388,000 unvaccinated Wyoming residents living within 98,000 square miles of each other.”

This is pretty lazy stuff, even for Watters. He first cites the CDC’s definition, pointing out that applies to big cities — though without pointing out that it also applies to hundreds of small counties. Then he throws out the CDC’s definition of a hot spot in favor of his own, in which he begs the question by declaring a hot spot to depend on population density.

So let’s look at the actual numbers, shall we?

There is, in fact, a relationship between the average number of new cases in a county and the county population, according to counties for which we have data. Los Angeles County has seen a lot of new cases in the past two weeks (which is the time period indicated on the graph below), but it also has millions of residents.

But the CDC, not new to this, is familiar with how population works. So it defines community transmission relative to population. It uses two metrics — the rate of cases per 100,000 residents and the rate of positive tests — to determine the places with “substantial” or “high” transmission.

If we plot population against the rate of cases per 100,000 residents, the picture shifts. In the least-populated decile of counties, 69 percent have transmission rates above the median. In the most-populated decile, 54 percent do.

We can look at this another way. Over the past two weeks, most new cases have been in the most populous places for the same reason that so many Trump voters live in Biden counties. Adjusted for population, though, the hardest-hit places shift to the middle of the pack.

If Los Angeles was seeing the same rate of infections as the hardest-hit small county — Sullivan County, Mo. — it would be seeing ten times the number of new cases each day.

It’s true, as Watters points out, that more unvaccinated people live in blue states, since those states have more people. But as of two weeks ago, more unvaccinated adults lived in red states even though those states have fewer adult residents. This issue of vaccination is entirely the point, of course, with places that have lower rates of vaccination seeing more new cases per resident.

The vaccination data, compiled by the CDC, are imperfect, but you can clearly see the pattern below. More than a third of the country lives in the 2,300-odd counties in which more than half the population hasn’t received at least one dose of the vaccine.

What’s particularly alarming is how many seniors have not been fully vaccinated. In more than half of counties, according to the CDC data, fewer than half of those over age 65 have been fully vaccinated.

But this is just running Watters’s playbook in reverse. In the most densely populated counties, home to two-thirds of the population, more than three-quarters of those aged 65 and over have been fully vaccinated.

The risk remains high in places with lower vaccination rates, not just places with more unvaccinated people. Those places are generally places that voted more heavily for Trump in 2020. And the correlation between the two makes sense, given Trump’s — and Fox News’s — rhetoric.

“We have to do away with all the politics and just try to get people vaxxed,” Watters said on Friday. Fine. Let’s.

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