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US Attorney General Merrick Garland Held in Contempt of Congress

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US Attorney General Merrick Garland Held in Contempt of Congress
Attorney General Merrick Garland testifies during a House Judiciary Committee hearing: AP Image

The United States Congress has voted to hold Attorney General Merrick Garland in contempt for refusing to send over recordings of President Joe Biden’s interview with Special Counsel Robert Hur about his handling of secret information.

The final vote was 216-207. Rep. David Joyce of Ohio was the lone Republican to vote against the contempt resolution.

Speaker Mike Johnson described the outcome as “a significant step towards maintaining the integrity of our oversight processes and responsibilities.”

“It is up to Congress – not the Executive Branch – to determine what materials it needs to conduct its own investigations, and there are consequences for refusing to comply with lawful Congressional subpoenas,” Johnson stated in a statement.

Garland responded, stating that it was “deeply disappointing that this House of Representatives has turned a serious congressional authority into a partisan weapon.”

“Today’s vote disregards the constitutional separation of powers, the Justice Department’s need to protect its investigations, and the substantial amount of information we have provided to the Committees,” Garland stated in a press release. “I will always stand up for this Department, its employees, and its vital mission to defend our democracy.”

Biden Hur

President Biden as he was under investigation over his possession of classified documents by Special Counsel Robert Hur. – Getty Images

General Merrick Garland Refuses

While the Department of Justice has made a transcript of Hur’s interview with Biden accessible to the GOP-led committees, House Republicans say that the audio tapes are required for their delayed impeachment probe into the president.

“The Committees need the audio tapes to verify the accuracy of the written transcripts given this White House has been known to heavily edit the President’s statements,” Johnson stated. “This is a simple matter — we have the transcript, and we need the audio.”

The contempt resolution instructs the House speaker to report the case to the United States Attorney for the District of Columbia for potential criminal prosecution.

Garland continued to defend his choice not to turn up audio tapes of the interview before the House Judiciary Committee last week, despite President Biden’s assertion of executive privilege.

“I shall not be scared. And the Justice Department will not be frightened. We shall continue to conduct our work without political influence. “And we will not back down from defending our democracy,” Garland stated during the hearing.

Representative Jerrold Nadler, the House Judiciary Committee

Representative Jerrold Nadler (D), the House Judiciary Committee – Getty Images

Democrat Protect General Merrick Garland

Democrats have also defended Garland, condemning the GOP’s attempt to hold him in contempt as a politically driven endeavour.

“This isn’t really about a policy disagreement with the DOJ, this is about feeding the MAGA base after 18 months of investigations that have produced failure after failure,” Democratic Rep. Jerry Nadler, the ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee, said in testimony before the House Rules Committee on Tuesday.

Joyce, the single Republican who voted against the measure, also claimed it was a politicised act.

“As a former prosecutor, I cannot in good conscience support a resolution that would further politicize our judicial system to score political points,” Joyce stated. “The American people expect Congress to represent them, solve policy issues, and prioritise good governance. “Enough is enough.”

MORE: ‘I did not exonerate him,’ Hur says about Biden

Congress has previously found Cabinet officials in contempt of Congress for refusing to comply with a House subpoena, notably Attorney General William Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in 2019 and then-Attorney General Eric Holder in 2012.

In 2022, Congress found Peter Navarro, a former top trade advisor in the Trump administration, in contempt of Congress for allegedly falsifying records and testimony to the now-defunct House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the US Capitol.

Navarro was recently sentenced to four months in prison.

Steve Bannon, a Trump associate who was previously held in contempt of Congress in 2022 for failing to comply with the Jan. 6 select committee, has been ordered to report to jail on July 1.

Source: Yahoo News

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Obama’s Dilemma: Balancing Democrats’ Worry About Biden And Maintaining Influence With President

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Biden | AP news Image

Washington — Former President Obama must strike a difficult balance between the growing opposition to President Joe Biden’s continued campaign and his allegiance to his former running mate.

In recent days, Obama has received calls from legislative leaders, Democratic governors, and important funders who have expressed concern about the likelihood of Biden’s candidacy following his disastrous June 27 debate performance against his predecessor, Donald Trump.

Despite listening to Democrats’ concerns, Obama has emphasized that the decision to remain in the race is solely up to Biden, according to several people familiar with the situation who requested anonymity to discuss the private conversations.

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Biden | AP news Image

Obama’s Dilemma: Balancing Democrats’ Worry About Biden And Maintaining Influence With President

Obama is navigating the most difficult political situation for Democrats since former President Bill Clinton’s impeachment, and the stakes are higher. At this moment, Obama must strike a balance between his duty as a party elder and an honest broker for Democrats seeking counsel and avoid appearing to betray his former vice president.

“President Obama has to and wants to play the role of statesman, above the political fray that former presidents have traditionally played,” said Matt Bennett, a former aide to Vice President Al Gore and current executive vice president of the Democratic-leaning Third Way. “He also wants to be a reliable sounding board for President Biden. If he takes a public stance, that’s it.”

When Obama chose Biden as his vice president in 2008, it began as a marriage of political convenience. They were not particularly close throughout their time in the Senate.

It was a decision made in part to alleviate worries about Obama’s relative inexperience and make white Democrats more comfortable voting for the Black politician with less than four years in the Senate. The pragmatic connection progressed into a genuine partnership and friendship.

Julian Castro, Obama’s Housing and Urban Development secretary, said he was unaware of Obama’s private discussions with Biden, but he emphasized the importance of “respected, trusted elders within the party” speaking clearly to Biden about the challenges Democrats will face if he remains in the race.

“Whether it’s President Obama, former President Clinton, or Secretary Clinton, I think their most important role, at this point, is helping to ensure that we have a successful November,” said Castro, who ran for the Democratic presidential nomination against Biden in 2020 and has recently called on him to end his current campaign.

Obama’s concerns have surfaced as former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi presented polling to Biden, arguing that he is unlikely to defeat Trump. Influential Democrats such as Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries have also expressed concern about Biden’s political viability.

Meanwhile, nearly two-thirds of Democrats nationwide, according to an AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll released this week, believe Biden should step down and allow his party to pick another candidate. That severely undermines Biden’s post-debate argument that “average Democrats” still support him, even if some “big names” are moving against him.

Biden relies on veteran advisers as he decides whether to succumb to demands to resign. He continues to publicly claim that he is the Democrat best positioned to defeat Trump.

Campaign officials say Biden was even more determined to stay in the race as calls for him to leave grew. But there was also time for Biden to reconsider, a tiny window of opportunity that party leaders appeared to be taking advantage of to organize his exit.

According to those acquainted with his thinking, Obama has been taking more calls than he has been making on the subject. He sees protecting Biden and his legacy as his primary priority. He has largely been publicly silent regarding Biden’s political downfall.

According to those familiar with the situation, the former president has protected Biden during his talks with allies and does not believe that taking a firmer or private stance would be constructive.

The former president is also aware of persistent animosity in Biden’s political circle, which stems from some of Obama’s senior staff asking Biden to withdraw from the 2016 presidential election while he was vice president.

In his memoir “Promise Me, Dad,” Biden wrote about having lunch with Obama in 2015, only months after his son Beau died of cancer, and discussing the potential of a 2016 campaign.

Biden recalls Obama asking whether he would run in the campaign. Biden stated that he told Obama that he was not ready to make a decision yet but that if he decided to run, he would do so in time to be competitive.

“The president was not encouraging,” Biden stated.

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Biden | AP News Image

Obama’s Dilemma: Balancing Democrats’ Worry About Biden And Maintaining Influence With President

Obama also persuaded Biden, considering running in 2016, to meet with David Plouffe, the architect of Obama’s successful 2008 campaign. Plouffe made it apparent to Biden that he would face stiff competition from Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and the eventual Democratic nominee, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Since last month’s dismal debate performance, more than 20 Democratic lawmakers have called for Biden’s removal. He’s also received sharp criticism from notable Obama White House alumni, notably a group of senior aides who produce the famous Pod Save America podcast and former Obama senior adviser and CNN analyst David Axelrod.

“There’s always been two Joe Bidens. Jon Lovett, a former Obama speechwriter and Pod Save America co-host, said on the social media site X last week: “The empathetic, decent, big-hearted leader, forged in loss and grief, finding the good in his friends and opponents, in love with America, arms wide and open with room for everyone.” “with there’s the blowhard with a chip on his shoulder, defiant, with something to prove, his colleagues senators rolling their eyes as the finger wags harder and the stories grow longer. Statesman and politician; hero and fool.”

In an interview with BET last week, Biden claimed he still has plenty of time to fix his campaign. On Thursday, the campaign said Biden was dedicated to his reelection campaign and will be the Democratic nominee.

Obama’s concerns come as many Democrats fear time is running out to remove Biden from the race, with the Democratic National Convention just a few weeks away.

However, according to Edward Frantz, a presidential historian at the University of Indianapolis, as they try to navigate this time, Biden and Obama appear perplexed by the weight of heritage and precedent.

According to Frantz, Obama has shown himself to be a traditionalist in his nearly eight years out of office, primarily upholding his predecessors’ post-presidency pattern of avoiding major political involvement.

Meanwhile, according to Frantz, Biden appears well aware that history has not always been kind to one-term presidents.

“Both Biden and Obama have legacy on their minds, and they have to juggle that along with duty to party and country,” Frantz pointed out. “To walk away consciously and willingly? Few have done this.”

SOURCE | AP

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Former Trump Executive Allen Weisselberg Released From Jail After Serving Perjury Sentence

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NEW YORK — Allen Weisselberg, a retired Trump Organization executive, was freed from New York City’s Rikers Island jail on Friday after serving a term for lying under oath, his lawyer and corrections authorities said.

The former chief financial officer of Donald Trump’s real estate company has been reunited with his family, according to his lawyer, Seth Rosenberg, who wrote in an email without further details.

The city’s Department of Correction declined to disclose any information regarding Weisselberg’s release other than to certify that it is included in its online inmate database.

Former Trump Executive Allen Weisselberg Released From Jail After Serving Perjury Sentence

In March, Weisselberg pleaded guilty to deception during his testimony in the fraud case filed by New York’s attorney general against the former president.

Weisselberg admits to lying about how Trump’s Manhattan penthouse came to be overvalued on his financial records.

In exchange for pleading guilty to two charges of lying, prosecutors agreed not to charge him with any other offenses related to his long-term job with the Trump Organization.

“Allen Weisselberg accepted responsibility for his actions and now looks forward to the end of this life-changing experience, returning to his family, and retiring,” his attorney, Seth Rosenberg, said after he was sentenced in April.

Former Trump Executive Allen Weisselberg Released From Jail After Serving Perjury Sentence

It was Weisselberg’s second time in prison. Last year, the 76-year-old spent 100 days in jail for evading taxes on $1.7 million in company perks, which included a rent-free Manhattan apartment and luxury cars.

Weisselberg, who worked for the family for nearly 50 years, testified twice during unsuccessful trials for Trump. He stressed that his boss had done nothing wrong.

SOURCE | AP

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Too Soon For Comedy? After Attempted Assassination Of Trump, US Politics Feel Anything But Funny

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Political jokes: is it too soon?

Many quarters responded with a loud yes at midweek, days after an assassination attempt on Republican former President Donald Trump shook the nation over decades of political violence in the United States.

Several late-night shows that rely on political humor instantly modified their plans, with Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show” canceling its Monday show and intending to broadcast from the Republican National Convention in Milwaukee this week. Its host, Jon Stewart, and his guests gave sad monologues.

By Tuesday, the comic rock duo Tenacious D, comprised of Jack Black and Kyle Gass, had canceled the remainder of their global tour “and all future creative plans” after Gass proclaimed onstage his birthday wish: “Don’t miss next time.” Gass apologized.

Too Soon For Comedy? After Attempted Assassination Of Trump, US Politics Feel Anything But Funny

Democratic President Joe Biden, no stranger to criticizing Trump, contacted his wounded competitor, paused his political advertisements and messaging, and urged the country to “cool” the rhetoric.

So, if comedy is tragedy plus time, when is joking acceptable again? And who gives a thumbs up, given that the shooter who targeted Trump also killed former fire chief Corey Comperatore while protecting his family?

The attempted assassination on Saturday, or any of the bloodshed that has afflicted the United States since its inception, is not funny. Trump was smacked in the ear while speaking to rallygoers in Pennsylvania. A Trump supporter and the gunman were dead, while two onlookers were injured. The attack sparked severe concerns about security shortcomings. It was the most recent example of political violence in America, where attacks on politicians date back to at least 1798 when two legislators from opposite parties brawled in the United States House.

Other examples abound in history texts, but the list from this century is particularly striking. Former Arizona Representative Gabby Giffords, D, was shot in the head in 2011. Republican Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana, the current House majority leader, was shot and badly injured in 2017. On January 6, 2021, a mob of Trump supporters invaded the US Capitol, preventing Congress from certifying Biden’s election. Paul Pelosi was bludgeoned at his home in 2022 by a guy looking for his wife, former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

In addition to that, unwavering fears about Biden’s fitness for office following his catastrophic debate performance, Trump’s conviction on 34 felony counts, and American politics in 2024 appear anything but hilarious.

However, political comedy is as old as politics and administration.

It softens the impact of democratic decisions and is a powerful tool for politicians aiming to alleviate or increase concerns about themselves or their opponents. And in recent years, Trump has been the focus of more jokes than anyone else. According to a 2020 study by George Mason University’s Center for Media and Public Affairs, late-night hosts made 97% of their jokes about Trump.

“It’s never too soon, unless it’s not funny,” Alonzo Bodden, a 31-year-old stand-up comedian, said in a phone interview Wednesday. He is not a Trump supporter but stated that comedians “will always make it funny no matter what happens.” That is what we do. “It is how we communicate.”

“In this case, Donald Trump is such a character and the fact that he wasn’t killed, the jokes started immediately,” said Bodden. “And I don’t believe he minds. He’s one of those persons who is always happy to be mentioned.”

Humor humanizes large figures.
Perhaps most effectively, political humor can make arrogant leaders appear more human or at least self-conscious.

Consider “covfefe,” Trump’s strange middle-of-the-night tweet in 2017 that went viral, prompting Jimmy Kimmel to despair that he’ll never write something funnier. “Make the Pie Higher,” a poem by late Washington Post cartoonist Richard Thompson, was composed solely of President George W. Bush’s botched words and was published for his inauguration in 2001.

“It is a very complicated economic point I was making there,” Bush said with a smirk at the Radio and Television Correspondents Dinner a few months later. “Believe me, what this country needs is taller pie.”

Before the debate, Biden attempted to use humor to bring the age issue to the forefront, but it became evident that the concern was more about his cognitive ability. “I know I’m 198 years old,” Biden declared, to wild laughter and clapping.

 

Too Soon For Comedy? After Attempted Assassination Of Trump, US Politics Feel Anything But Funny

Humor is such an effective campaign tactic that candidates flock to guest appearances on late-night shows, which have risen in political prominence. However, following the assassination, a pause settled over everything, as indicated by Stewart’s serious address on Monday.

“None of us knows what’s going to happen next other than there will be another tragedy in this country, self-inflicted by us to us, and then we’ll have this feeling again,” Stewart told the crowd.

“The Late Show’s Stephen Colbert recalled his astonishment at the attack, joy that Trump had survived, and “grief for my great country.”

“Though I could just as easily start the show moaning on the floor,” he laughed, “because how many times do we need to learn the lesson that violence has no role in our politics?”

As is customary for social media, it was acting more freely. “I think it’s ironic that Trump almost died from a gun today because he was too far right-leaning,” comedian Drew Lynch remarked on YouTube. “Alright. That’s all I have. I believe my neighbors might be listening.”

SOURCE | AP

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