Latest Headlines: What We’ve Been Watching

September 21, 2022

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In case you missed ’em—here are some of the stories making headlines this week.

Judge Raymond Dearie, named an independent arbiter, or “special master,” to review the 11,000 documents confiscated by the FBI in its August 8 search warrant upon Mar-a-Lago, Donald Trump’s country club residence, said in a filing Thursday that the former President’s attorneys had until September 30 to submit to the court a sworn statement backing up Trump’s assertions on the Fox News program “Hannity” that the FBI may have planted evidence during its search.

On Tuesday Dearie asked Trump attorneys why he should not consider roughly 100 documents marked as such as genuinely classified.

Judge Dearie referred to the records as “prima facie evidence”—or presumed to be true. When Trump attorney James Trusty argued it was too early to say whether Trump had used his powers while he was still President to declassify the documents, Dearie rejoined, “You can’t have your cake and eat it.”

Biden Condemns Putin at the UN

President Biden addressed world leaders at the United Nations with a call for unity while at the same time rebuking Russian President Vladimir Putin for violating the UN charter by attacking Ukraine without cause.

He blasted a speech made earlier by Putin, who had alluded to the possibility of using nuclear weapons in Ukraine. Biden accused Russia of making “irresponsible nuclear threats” and stating that “a nuclear war cannot be won, and must never be fought.”

Poll: GOP, Dems Dead Even in Race for Congress

Less than 50 days before the November midterm election, a new NBC News polls shows a dead heat between which party voters prefer takes control of Congress, with both Democrats and Republicans polling at 46%.

Meanwhile, the RealClearPolitics data has flipped since August 31, with Democrats now squeezing ahead of Republicans by a 1.1-point margin in the 2022 Congressional Vote polling average.

League of Women Voters Celebrates National Voter Registration Day

On Tuesday the League of Women Voters hosted 600 registration events and virtual activities across the country to celebrate National Voter Registration Day.

Even if you missed it, there’s still plenty of opportunity to make your voice heard. 42 states and Washington, DC offer online voter registration. You can learn how to register—both online and off—and find other personalized voter information, like how to find your polling place or to see who will be on your ballot November 8, at vote411.org.

Protests Erupt in Iran Over Woman’s Arrest

The death of a young woman who’d been arrested by Iran’s so-called “morality police” for improperly wearing a hijab, or Islamic headscarf, sparked protests across some 16 Iranian provinces.

The United Nations’ human rights office has called for an investigation, and the United States is among the countries that have condemned the woman’s death.

The Iranian Fars news agency reported some 300 protesters had gathered in downtown Tehran Tuesday, chanting, “Death to the dictator!” The Associated Press reported trash cans set on fire amid a heavy police presence in the city.

Legal Fallout Over Transported Migrants

On Tuesday the nearly 50 migrants flown to Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, filed a class action lawsuit against Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and other Florida officials, alleging they were misled with false promises of housing and cash assistance, and employment services.

The suit follows Bexar County, Texas Sheriff Javier Salazar announcing on Monday that he had opened a criminal investigation into the Martha’s Vineyard flights.

Salazar said the migrants were “lured under false pretenses” from the streets of San Antonio (Bexar County’s largest city), put up in a hotel, bused to planes and “stranded unceremoniously in Martha’s Vineyard…for nothing other than a photo op” by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.

DeSantis’ Communications Director, Taryn Fenske, said in a statement, “Florida gave them an opportunity to seek greener pastures in a sanctuary jurisdiction that offered greater resources for them, as we expected.”

Meanwhile, Mayor Eric Adams of New York City, where some 11,000 migrants have been bused from Texas, says a woman seeking asylum died by suicide in one of the city’s homeless shelters. Adams said he was barred legally from disclosing any details other than that the woman was a mother.

House Passes Bill to Reform Electoral Count Act

The House passed a bill Wednesday to update the language in the Electoral Count Act (ECA) by a vote of 229-203.

Reps. Liz Cheney (R-WY) and Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), both members of the January 6 Committee investigating the attempted overthrow of the 2020 Presidential election, introduced the bipartisan legislation. The vague and antiquated language in the ECA, passed in 1887, was exploited by those who wished to stop the Electoral College vote count on January 6, 2021, at both the state and the federal level.

Bipartisan groups of Senators have already introduced two bills in an attempt to install new safeguards in certifying the Presidential election. One point underscored in all of these proposed bills is the notion that the Vice President’s role in election certification is entirely ceremonial; he or she has no power to turn down any state’s official electoral slates. 

Lofgren said on August 31 the House group would be “collaborating with our Senate partners to see if we can meld different versions.”

January 6 Chair: Next Hearing Likely Last

As for the January 6 Committee itself, Chair Bennie Thompson said Tuesday the panel plans to hold a ninth televised hearing next week, as anticipated. It’s expected to take place on September 28, which would be a day after the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashana.

Rep. Thompson (D-MS) further told reporters he expects the next hearing will likely be the Committee’s last—unless something else happens.

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