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Live politics updates: Twitter temporarily suspends account of Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene – USA TODAY

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Rebecca Morin

David Jackson

Matthew Brown
 
| USA TODAY

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COVID relief: Biden introduces plan that includes $1,400 stimulus checks

Joe Biden introduced a $1.9 trillion spending package that aims to speed distribution of the coronavirus vaccines and provide economic relief.

Associated Press, USA TODAY

Twitter temporarily suspends account of Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene

Twitter announced Sunday it had suspended the account of freshman Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene for 12 hours.

The Georgia Republican’s last post to the site was a video in which she continued to allege debunked and unfounded conspiracy theories about widespread voter fraud in Georgia. Twitter flagged the post with a warning and blocked users from liking or commenting on the post.

In another post earlier in the day, Greene attacked Gabriel Sterling, Georgia’s voter system implementation manager, spreading a false claim about alleged corruption from Dominion voting machines.

“Morons like you are responsible for losing GA’s 2 Republican Senate seats,” Greene said. The post was again flagged by Twitter for spreading misinformation.

Greene is a firebrand conspiracy theorist who has claimed the United States is experiencing an “Islamic invasion into our government offices,” that the Pentagon was not actually attacked on 9/11, that Black people are “slaves to the Democratic Party” and that billionaire Jewish philanthropist George Soros is a Nazi.

And she has expressed support for the baseless and wide-ranging QAnon conspiracy theory.

“Q is a patriot. We know that for sure,” Greene has said.

Twitter’s temporary suspension of Greene comes after it suspended 70,000 Twitter accounts connected to the QAnon believers, as well as prominent rightwing pundits and President Donald Trump.

CNN host Jake Tapper was not optimistic that Twitter’s brief suspension would change Greene’s ways. 

“I’m sure the woman who claimed a plane never really flew into the Pentagon on 9/11, an anti-Muslim bigot who has been nonetheless welcomed by @GOPLeader and @SteveScalise into the GOP caucus, will totally be chastised by this 12 hour suspension, examining her life choices,” Tapper tweeted with sarcasm. 

– Matthew Brown

GOP Sen. Ben Sasse denounces QAnon, conspiracy theories on the right

Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., condemned the popularity of conspiracy theories within the Republican Party and the broader conservative movement in a blistering op-ed for The Atlantic, telling his party it must “reject conspiracy theories or be consumed by them.”

Sasse’s opinion piece comes after a mob ransacked the U.S. Capitol. President Donald Trump had called on the crowd of his supporters to “march down Pennsylvania Avenue” and “show strength” as Congress voted to certify the Nov. 3 presidential election.

Sasse admonished his fellow Republicans, stating that many had deluded themselves about the threat conspiracy theories posed to the party. Sasse said prominent newly-elected conspiracy theorists like freshman Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., whom he called “cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs.”

“Until last week, many party leaders and consultants thought they could preach the Constitution while winking at QAnon. They can’t,” Sasse wrote. “Now is the time to decide what this party is about.”

Sasse argues that the rise of right-wing conspiracy theories in the Trump era has occurred for three reasons: the ostensibly poor media diet of Americans, a collapse of trust and engagement with civic institutions, and a loss of national meaning.

“A conspiracy theory offers its devotees a way of inserting themselves into a cosmic battle pitting good against evil. This sense of vocation that makes it dangerous is also precisely what makes it attractive in our era of isolated, alienated consumerism,” Sasse writes.

The junior Nebraska senator argued that to win again, Republicans must “repudiate the nonsense that has set our party on fire” and then “offer a genuine answer to the frustrations of the past decade.”

Referencing a viral confrontation between Capitol Police officer Eugene Goodman and a QAnon adherent storming the Capitol, Sasse wrote. “In a standoff between the Constitution and madness, both men picked a side. It’s the GOP’s turn to do the same.”

– Matthew Brown 

Biden aides: Threats won’t stop Joe Biden from taking the oath of office and getting to work

Aides to President-elect Joe Biden said Sunday they are aware of threats nationwide surrounding this week’s inauguration, but they won’t stop his plans to take the oath of office and get to work.

Incoming White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain, speaking on CNN, said he has confidence that the Secret Service, National Guard, and others can protect Washington, D.C., but “we are concerned, certainly, about these threats in other places.”

“We will have a team in place in the White House to monitor these actions going forward starting on 12:00 noon on Jan. 20,” Klain said during an interview on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

Less than two weeks after a mob of Trump supporters attacked the U.S. Capitol, officials in Washington are bracing for the inauguration with street closings, high fences and concrete barriers, and thousands of armed police officers and National Guard troops.

Kate Bedingfield, the incoming White House communications director, told ABC News’ “This Week” that “you only have to look at the chatter on social media to see that we are in a volatile time, and so we are making preparations.”

That said, she added, it is “our plan and our expectation” to have Biden take the oath of office outside on the west front of the Capitol.

After that, aides said, Biden has an agenda of items to move forward on. They ranged from having the United State rejoin the Paris climate change accord to new plans to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We’re inheriting a huge mess here,” Klain said, referring in particular to problems with distributing COVID vaccines. “But we have a plan to fix it.”

– David Jackson

Trump aide: Members of impeachment legal team (including Giuliani) yet to be determined

While Rudy Giuliani was at the White House on Saturday, an adviser to outgoing President Donald Trump said he has not selected members for his impeachment defense team.

Trump “has not yet made a determination as to which lawyer or law firm will represent him for the disgraceful attack on our Constitution and democracy, known as the ‘impeachment hoax,'” spokesman Hogan Gidley tweeted Sunday. “We will keep you informed.”

The House impeached Trump last week on charges of inciting the insurrection and attack on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. The Senate is scheduled to try Trump later this year, even though he will be out of office.

Giuliani told ABC News he is working on Trump’s defense, though Gidley’s statement indicates that is not official – at least not yet.

– David Jackson

Trump approval ratings hold steady after Capitol riot, second impeachment

President Donald Trump will be leaving office with a record low, yet historically stable approval rating, according to recent polls.

An NBC News poll found that Trump’s approval rating with voters nationwide stood at 43%, slightly down from the 45% the poll registered before the November election. A similar Washington Post/ABC News poll found Trump held a 38% approval rating, down seven points from when that poll was conducted in October.

The findings come after Trump became the first president in American history to be impeached twice by Congress, a week after he told a large crowd of his supporters to march to the Capitol ahead of a deadly riot in which the mob stormed the building. 

The recent polls underscore Trump’s tenure as one of the most polarizing figures in American history.

While only 5% of Democrats approved of Trump in the NBC News poll, 87% of Republicans gave the president a positive approval rating. Those numbers show only marginal declines from late October, when Trump had a 6% and 89% approval rating among Democrats and Republicans, respectively. In both reports, independents gave the president a 44% approval rating.

Forty-nine percent of respondents said Trump was “one of the worst” presidents, and an additional 9% said he was “not as good as most,” in the NBC News poll. Nineteen percent of respondents, however, believed Trump was “one of the best,” and another 21% said he was “better than most.”

A new USA TODAY/ Suffolk University poll found Americans are worried about the health of the nation’s democracy. Seventy percent of respondents in that poll said American democracy was weaker than it was four years ago. Another 70% called the Capitol rioters “criminals,” though one in four felt the rioters “went too far, but they had a point.”

A recent CBS News poll found that 54% of Americans believed that the biggest threat to the American way of life was “other people in America,” highlighting high levels of distrust within the nation.

Divisions over Trump’s conduct and the legitimacy of the presidential election are also evident in the polls.

Sixty-six percent of respondents in the Post/ABC poll said Trump acted irresponsibly in the aftermath of the November election. Sixty-two percent believed that Joe Biden won the presidential election legitimately and that there was no solid evidence of widespread voter fraud in the election.

The Post/ABC poll also found persistent divides over not only the 2020 election, but also Trump’s win in 2016. Fifty-seven percent of respondents said Trump’s 2016 victory was legitimate versus 42% who said it was not.

It is likely these divides will persist. While 69% of voters overall would like to see the Republican Party chart a new path after Trump, 57% of Republican-leaning voters want Republican leaders to follow Trump’s lead, the Post/ABC poll found.

– Matthew Brown

Lindsey Graham to Trump: Don’t pardon insurrectionists

South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham once criticized President Donald Trump over his demands to overturn his election loss to Joe Biden, but Graham was full of support in an interview broadcast Sunday – though he did warn Trump not to pardon extremist supporters who stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.

“To seek a pardon of these people would be wrong … I think it would destroy President Trump,” Graham said on the Fox News program “Sunday Morning Futures.” “And I hope we don’t go down that road.”

Graham also praised Trump’s accomplishments in office and reaffirmed the president’s place as the leader of the GOP. 

“Mr. President, your policies will stand the test of time,” he said on the Fox program that Trump is known to watch. “You’re the most important figure in the Republican Party. You can shape the direction of the party, keep your movement alive.”

Demonstrating his fealty to Trump, Graham later released a letter to incoming Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., requesting a dismissal of the impeachment case charging him with inciting the Capitol riot. Holding a Senate trial, he said, would delay “the healing of this great Nation.”

Schumer is not expected to grant the request, and several political analysts mocked Graham’s call for unity. 

“You don’t get to whine about ‘healing’ now after you personally inflicted so many of the wounds,” tweeted historian Kevin Kruse.

– David Jackson

House prosecutor: We’re developing a trial plan to detail Donald Trump egged on capital rioters

WASHINGTON – The top House impeachment prosecutor said Sunday his team is developing a “trial plan” designed to detail President Donald Trump’s role in the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol by his supporters.

Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., told CNN the plan would be used during Trump’s Senate trial later this year. Raskin said he did not know exactly when the trial might take place, but noted that a conviction would bar Trump from holding future office and end any of his remaining presidential aspirations.

“This was the most serious presidential crime in the history of the United States of America,” Raskin said on “State of the Union.”

The House impeached Trump on charges of inciting an insurrection designed to intimidate lawmakers into reversing his election loss to Democrat Joe Biden. Ten Republicans voted for the impeachment of Trump as a result of the riot that left five people dead.

Raskin said Trump inspired the insurrection with his constant lies about widespread election fraud after Biden’s win, from a series of lawsuits to his fiery speech at a rally right before the invasion of the Capitol building.

House leaders have not delivered the impeachment article to the Senate, which is responsible for trying Trump even though he is out of office. Democrats will take political control of the Senate later this week.

Raskin is leading the House prosecution team in the wake of his son’s self-inflicted death.

The Maryland congressman told CNN he is inspired by the memory of his late son, as well as colleagues, aides, and workers who were threatened by the mob at the U.S. Capitol.

“I’m not going to lose my son at the end of 2020, and lose my country and my republic in 2021,” Raskin said.

– David Jackson

Biden outlines executive orders planned for first 10 days

President-elect Joe Biden will sign more than a dozen executive orders on his first day in office reversing key Trump Administration policies on issues from immigration to climate change, Biden’s transition team announced Saturday.

On Wednesday, the day Biden is inaugurated as president, his executive actions will include:

  • Asking the Department of Education to extend the pause on student loan payments and interests on federal student loans
  • Rejoin the Paris Agreement, which focuses on goals to help mitigate climate change
  • Reverse the travel ban for Muslim-majority countries

He will also enact orders that address the ramifications of the COVID-19 pandemic. As president, he will launch his “100 Day Masking Challenge,” which includes a mask mandate on federal property and inter-state travel. He will also extend nationwide restrictions on evictions and foreclosures.

On Biden’s second day in office, he will sign more executive actions addressing the pandemic that will “change the course of the COVID-19 crisis and safely re-open schools and businesses,” the transition team said. He will take actions that aim to mitigate the spread of the virus by expanding testing, protecting workers and establishing public health standards.

More: A Biden presidency could bring a wave of policy shifts. Here are the ones you likely care about.

On his third day in office, Biden will direct his Cabinet agencies to take immediate action to deliver economic relief to working families, though the transition team did not provide specifics. 

Between Jan. 25 and Feb. 1, Biden will sign more executive actions, memoranda and issues additional Cabinet directives, including ones addressing equity and support in communities of color and underserved communities, and criminal justice system reforms.

Biden also plans to sign more executive actions addressing the climate crisis, in addition to taking his first steps to expand access to health care. And he will begin reuniting families separated at the border. As of December, 628 parents who were separated from their children at the border are still missing.

– Rebecca Morin

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Week In Politics: House Approves $1.9 Trillion Pandemic Relief Package – NPR

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The Saudi crown prince may escape punishment for his order to kill a columnist. A pandemic relief package is moving through Congress. Donald Trump remains popular with conservative activists.



SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

A few acronyms to chew over this morning – hope it doesn’t make breakfast taste flat – MBS, CPAC, OMB, if we have the time. Joining us now to spell it all out, NPR senior Washington editor and correspondent Ron Elving. Ron, thanks so much for being with us.

RON ELVING, BYLINE: Good morning. Hope things are A-OK with you, Scott.

SIMON: (Laughter) Oh, I walked into that, didn’t I? Of course, MBS is what they call Mohammed bin Salman, the Saudi crown prince. U.S. officials say that he approved the grisly murder of Jamal Khashoggi in 2018 – approved it, lied about it afterwards. Not clear if President Biden will do anything in response to this finding.

ELVING: You know, the role of MBS in this murder has been widely known, both inside and outside the intel community, for roughly two years. But the Trump administration was pursuing an ever-closer relationship with the Saudis, and especially and particularly MBS. And that had a lot to do with arms sales and Israel. So the report was not released, and there was a general refusal to acknowledge the known facts.

Now, the new administration is making more of the reports public but still not doing much about it, at least not yet. The White House says we should stay tuned but suggesting only that the Saudis are on some sort of probation now. And that seems to be the best judgment within Biden’s security team. It’s not good enough for a lot of Biden’s own voters who were expecting much more severe consequences for MBS and for the Saudi regime.

SIMON: It’s irresistible to point out – first military action of the Biden administration launched this week, an airstrike against Syria because Iranian-backed militias there had attacked American assets in the region. That gets an airstrike. Saudi Arabia gets a summary.

ELVING: Yes, President Biden said that strike was a message to Iran to, quote, “be careful. You can’t act with impunity,” unquote. And in substance, it was a far more consequential response than Biden made to the Saudis, a contrast that, as you suggest, made the slap on the wrist for MBS all the more troubling.

SIMON: Conservative Political Action Conference, CPAC, this weekend in Orlando, the largest gathering of conservative activists. Apparently, it includes an inflatable golden bust of Donald Trump. Any room for Republicans like Liz Cheney of Wyoming or Adam Kinzinger of Illinois?

ELVING: Well, what’s the opposite of a welcome mat, Scott? Maybe skull and crossbones on the door? The obvious question is how big a tent the Republicans want. Will it be Reagan’s or Bush’s or Trump’s tent? And will those people who were not welcome at CPAC be part of the party’s campaigns in 2022 and 2024? We’ll stay tuned.

SIMON: A $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package has passed the House, and President Biden spoke about that today at the White House.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: We are one step closer to putting $1,400 in the pockets of Americans. We are one step closer to extending unemployment benefits for millions of Americans who were shortly going to lose them. We are one step closer to helping millions of Americans feed their families and keep a roof over their head. We are one step closer to getting our kids safely back in school.

SIMON: But, Ron, Senate rules won’t allow another thing that the president wanted, which is a hike in the minimum wage.

ELVING: The good news for the White House is that the rest of this relief bill seems remarkably popular, even with some Trump voters. So with the minimum wage issue set aside to be dealt with separately later this year possibly, the overall bill seems increasingly likely to be law.

SIMON: Finally, Neera Tanden is President Biden’s pick to lead OMB, the Office of Management and Budget. As a partisan political figure, she made some colorful observations about some U.S. senators whose votes she may not get now.

ELVING: One lesson here is that a 50-50 Senate truly empowers the individual senator. So losing one or two can cost you your power to act. And that’s a lesson we’re likely to learn over and over. And another lesson is that even in the age of Trump Twitter, what others say on social media can still come back to haunt them.

SIMON: NPR’s senior Washington editor Ron Elving, thanks so much.

ELVING: Thank you, Scott.

Copyright © 2021 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

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Equal Voice delegate in B.C. says gender equality in politics should be considered the norm, not a revolution – TheChronicleHerald.ca

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Maritha Louw, one of three Lower Mainland women selected as delegates for Equal Voice Daughters of the Vote , has often been told she’s too loud and that she shouldn’t share her opinions quite so much.

As a student at a Christian secondary school in Abbotsford, she was even grilled on her dreams of becoming a lawyer. “A classmate asked me how I was going to take care of the children when I had a family?” said Louw.

The consequence is that Louw, now a 20-year-old political science student at Trinity Western University, says she is even more committed to speaking her mind. “I’ve never been afraid to speak my mind because if you don’t stand up for yourself there might not be anyone to stand up for you,” said Louw.

Louw said she’s interested in the power the younger generation has to make the world a better place and that’s exactly what she hopes to do.

Although Louw doesn’t plan on pursuing a political career, she said she is hoping the online summit, which brings together gender-diverse women and youth from across Canada, will give her the opportunity to learn from others, and perhaps even “challenge some of the MPs on the Hill currently.”  Delegates who represent their ridings in the March 8 virtual mock Parliament will meet with MPs and other officials in virtual sessions to learn more about Canada’s political processes.

“It would be great to see a time where having an equal amount of women in politics wouldn’t be seen as record-breaking, or revolutionary ideal,” said Louw.

Barbara Szymczyk, 28, who will be representing Vancouver Centre, said a highlight of the process before the summit was the opportunity to have a one-on-one conversation with her MP, Hedy Fry.

Szymczyk doesn’t take the opportunity to be involved in the democratic process for granted. “I grew up with my mom always reinforcing how fortunate I was to live in a country with a well-established democratic system like Canada,” said Szymczyk, whose mother grew up in Poland. “I hold a deep gratitude for the right to vote.”

“It needs to be acknowledged that not all women got the right to vote 100 years ago,” Szymczyk said.  “Black, Asian and Indigenous identifying women got the right much later.”

She’s fascinated with decision-making processes, served three terms as a senator in student government at SFU, and doesn’t rule out a possible future in politics.

“Taking part in Daughters of the Vote will help me in that journey of discovering in how I can best support Canada’s democratic system,” she said.

So what, exactly, did she learn in that conversation with Fry, Canada’s longest serving female member of Parliament?

“She shared a piece of advice she got from (former prime minister Jean Chretien) about needing a thick skin: When you are in politics 15 per cent of people will support you all the time and 15 per cent of people that will have more of a negative attitude and there will be lots of people in between — your job is to serve all of them.”

Daughters of the Vote is a meeting of 338 delegates representing every federal riding in Canada, dedicated to increasing women’s participation in the political arena by connecting them to those already serving in office, and will take place online this year due to COVID-19 restrictions.

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Equal Voice delegate says gender equality in politics should be considered the norm, not a revolution – Vancouver Sun

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Equal Voice Daughters of the Vote hopes to increase opportunities for women in political leadership as part of the 100th anniversary of women’s right to vote

Article content

Maritha Louw, one of three Lower Mainland women selected as delegates for Equal Voice Daughters of the Vote, has often been told she’s too loud and that she shouldn’t share her opinions quite so much.

As a student at a Christian secondary school in Abbotsford, she was even grilled on her dreams of becoming a lawyer. “A classmate asked me how I was going to take care of the children when I had a family?” said Louw.

The consequence is that Louw, now a 20-year-old political science student at Trinity Western University, says she is even more committed to speaking her mind. “I’ve never been afraid to speak my mind because if you don’t stand up for yourself there might not be anyone to stand up for you,” said Louw.

Louw said she’s interested in the power the younger generation has to make the world a better place and that’s exactly what she hopes to do.

Although Louw doesn’t plan on pursuing a political career, she said she is hoping the online summit, which brings together gender-diverse women and youth from across Canada, will give her the opportunity to learn from others, and perhaps even “challenge some of the MPs on the Hill currently.”  Delegates who represent their ridings in the March 8 virtual mock Parliament will meet with MPs and other officials in virtual sessions to learn more about Canada’s political processes.

Article content

Maritha Louw, one of three Lower Mainland women selected as delegates for Equal Voice Daughters of the Vote.
Maritha Louw, one of three Lower Mainland women selected as delegates for Equal Voice Daughters of the Vote. Photo by Handout /PNG

“It would be great to see a time where having an equal amount of women in politics wouldn’t be seen as record-breaking, or revolutionary ideal,” said Louw.

Barbara Szymczyk, 28, who will be representing Vancouver Centre, said a highlight of the process before the summit was the opportunity to have a one-on-one conversation with her MP, Hedy Fry.

Szymczyk doesn’t take the opportunity to be involved in the democratic process for granted. “I grew up with my mom always reinforcing how fortunate I was to live in a country with a well-established democratic system like Canada,” said Szymczyk, whose mother grew up in Poland. “I hold a deep gratitude for the right to vote.”

“It needs to be acknowledged that not all women got the right to vote 100 years ago,” Szymczyk said.  “Black, Asian and Indigenous identifying women got the right much later.”

She’s fascinated with decision-making processes, served three terms as a senator in student government at SFU, and doesn’t rule out a possible future in politics.

“Taking part in Daughters of the Vote will help me in that journey of discovering in how I can best support Canada’s democratic system,” she said.

So what, exactly, did she learn in that conversation with Fry, Canada’s longest serving female member of Parliament?

“She shared a piece of advice she got from (former prime minister Jean Chretien) about needing a thick skin: When you are in politics 15 per cent of people will support you all the time and 15 per cent of people that will have more of a negative attitude and there will be lots of people in between — your job is to serve all of them.”

Daughters of the Vote is a meeting of 338 delegates representing every federal riding in Canada, dedicated to increasing women’s participation in the political arena by connecting them to those already serving in office, and will take place online this year due to COVID-19 restrictions.

dryan@postmedia.com

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