We’ll close the blog here, on the Friday of the week the leak of a draft supreme court ruling heralded the end of the right to abortion and sent the nation into uproar.
Joan E Greve and Gloria Oladipo have been looking at what it all might mean for the midterm elections:
Speaking to reporters on a Thursday press call, Jaime Harrison, chair of the Democratic National Committee, argued that abortion rights will become a critical issue in the November midterms if the 1973 landmark decision in the Roe v Wade case is overturned.
“The Republican attacks on abortion access, their attacks on birth control and women’s healthcare – these things have dramatically escalated the stakes of the 2022 election,” Harrison said.
“In November, we must elect Democrats who will serve as the last lines of defense against the GOP’s assault on our established and fundamental freedoms.”
“Could be wrong, but I’d predict that all those issues that have 60% of Americans [feeling] we are on the wrong track (high inflation, rising crime, the border, etc.) will play a bigger role in the elections [than] a supreme court decision on Roe,” Republican strategist Doug Heye said on Twitter.
Here’s the full read:
Shortly before the 2020 election, Donald Trump’s national security adviser, Robert O’Brien, “stunned” the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff by saying the president wanted to kill a senior Iranian military officer operating outside the Islamic Republic.
“This was a really bad idea with very big consequences,” Mark Esper, Trump’s second and last secretary of defense, writes in his new memoir, adding that Gen Mark Milley suspected O’Brien saw the strike purely in terms of Trump’s political interests.
Throughout the memoir, Esper presents himself as one of a group of aides who resisted bad or illegal ideas proposed by Trump or subordinates – such as the proposed strike on the Iranian officer.
Among other such ideas that were discussed, Esper says, were sending “missiles into Mexico to destroy the drug labs”; sending 250,000 troops to the southern border; and dipping the decapitated head of a terrorist leader in pig’s blood as a warning to other Islamist militants.
Joe Biden just wrapped up speaking in Ohio where he announced a new program where large manufacturers will be partnering with small and medium firms on 3D printing.
Biden also used the opportunity to promote a new competition and innovation bill that he is hoping Congress will pass, legislation he says is critical to addressing production delays across the country.
Here are some clips from today’s speech.
From the Recount via Twitter:
From Now This via Twitter:
Tennessee governor Bill Lee also signed legislation today banning trans women from participating in collegiate athletics, reports the Associated Press.
After the legislation passed through the GOP statehouse, Lee signed the bill today, not providing comment on why he signed the law. However, previously, Lee has stated that allowing trans women to participate would “destroy women’s sports,” reports AP.
The bill will go into effect on 1 July. Tennessee is one of eight states that have passed anti-transgender sports bills. Other states include Arizona, Georgia, Iowa, Kentucky, Oklahoma, South Dakota and Utah.
Tennessee will strictly regulate the dispensing of abortion pills, including imposing harsh penalties on doctors who violate them, under legislation recently signed into law by Republican Governor Bill Lee, reports the Associated Press.
The measure, which Lee signed on Thursday, will go into effect Jan. 1, 2023. Once enacted, a medical clinician will be required to be physically present when abortion pills are administered to a patient even though federal regulations now allow mail delivery nationwide.
The issue has become even more important as the U.S. Supreme Court seems poised to overturn the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision as suggested through a recently leaked draft opinion. Notably, Tennessee is among the 13 states with a so-called trigger law that would make abortion illegal should Roe be overturned.
To date, 19 states have placed strict restrictions on accessing medication abortion. Under the Tennessee version, delivery of abortion pills by mail would be outlawed and anyone who wanted to use abortion pills would be required to visit a doctor in advance and then return to pick up the pills.
The drugs may be dispensed only by qualified physicians which would include barring pharmacists from doing so. Violators would face a Class E felony and up to a $50,000 fine.
However, according to abortion law experts, it’s an unsettled question whether states can restrict access to abortion pills in the wake of the FDA’s decision.
“The general rule is that federal law preempts conflicting state law,” Laura Hermer, a professor at the Mitchell Hamline School of Law in St. Paul, Minnesota, recently told The Associated Press.
No lawsuit has been filed challenging Tennessee’s newly enacted restrictions.
Meanwhile, the in-person requirement had long been opposed by medical societies, including the American Medical Association, which said the restriction offers no clear benefit to patients
Use of abortion pills has been rising in the U.S. since 2000 when the Food and Drug Administration approved mifepristone the main drug used in medication abortions. More than half of U.S. abortions are now done with pills, rather than surgery, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a research group that supports abortion rights.
Two drugs are required. The first, mifepristone, blocks a hormone needed to maintain a pregnancy. A second drug, misoprostol, taken one to two days later, empties the uterus. Both drugs are available as generics and are also used to treat other conditions.
Here’s a piece from the Guardian’s Martin Pengelly about Marjorie Taylor Greene allegedly lying to Congress during testimony on her involvement in the 6 January insurrection.
Greene was accused of lying by the lawyers of the same group who petitioned to have her excluded from the midterm ballot.
Lawyers for voters seeking to bar the far-right Republican Marjorie Taylor Greene from Congress over her support for the January 6 insurrection have accused her of lying in a hearing in the case.
In a filing Friday, lawyers for groups challenging Greene said a text from the Georgia congresswoman to then White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, released by the House committee investigating January 6, shows she lied in testimony.
At the hearing in Atlanta earlier this month, a fractious affair in front of an administrative judge, Greene said she could not recall advocating for Donald Trump to impose martial law after the Capitol attack, as the then president sought to remain in power despite losing the 2020 election to Joe Biden.
In the text message released this week, Greene told Meadows on 17 January 2021, 11 days after the riot and three days before Biden’s inauguration: “In our private chat with only Members several are saying the only way to save our Republic is for Trump to call Marshall [sic] law.
“I just wanted you to tell him. They stole this election. We all know. They will destroy our country next.”
As reported by Bloomberg News, attorneys for Greene’s challengers said: “Greene’s testimony at the hearing that she could not remember discussing martial law with anyone was already dubious.
Read the full article here.
In other GOP news, a judge in Georgia found that US representative Marjorie Taylor Greene is eligible to run for re-election, despite challenges from a group of voters over allegations that Greene played a significant role in the 6 January insurrection, reports the Associated Press.
Judge Charles Beaudrot announced his decision after a daylong hearing in April that included extensive questioning of Greene.
Whether or not Greene is on the ballot will ultimately be decided by Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, who Beaudrot has to submit his findings to according to Georgia state law.
The Texas State Bar has published a statement in response to Ken Paxton’s claim that the bar is conducing a “witch-hunt” over him contesting 2020 election results in Pennsylvania.
Texas’s state bar said, in part:
The system is designed to ensure fairness to all parties. Partisan political considerations play no role in determining whether to pursue a grievance or how that grievance proceeds through the system. Any claims to the contrary are untrue.
Here’s also a statement from Paxton who said he will be investigating the Texas Bar Foundation “for facilitating mass influx of illegal aliens,” shortly after the state bar announced their investigation.
Ken Paxton is a two-term incumbent and drew an unusual number of primary challenges after eight of his top deputies told the FBI in 2020 that the attorney general had been using his office to benefit a wealth donor, The Associated Press writes.
They accused him of bribery, abuse of office and other crimes prompting an ongoing federal investigation.
Paxton has denied wrongdoing and separately pleaded not guilty in a state securities fraud case that has languished since 2015. His defense lawyer, Philip Hilder, declined to comment.
Shortly after saying the bar plans to sue him, Paxton’s office announced that it will be investigating the Texas Bar Foundation for “its possibly aiding and abetting the mass influx of illegal aliens.”
The charitable group’s broad is partially appointed by the bar president.
Gary Ratner, a Maryland attorney with Lawyers Defending American Democracy, which brought one of the complaints against Paxton, declined to comment.
Kevin Moran, a Democratic Party activist in Galveston, who brought another, did not immediately respond to a phone message seeking comment.
More on the news that Texas attorney general Ken Paxton is apparently being sued by the bar in his own state for his efforts in the failed attempt to overturn Donald Trump’s election defeat in 2020.
In December 2020, the US supreme court unanimously rejected a baseless lawsuit filed by Paxton on behalf of Texas, seeking to overturn the 2020 presidential election result.
The suit had been yet another move by the right in the increasingly desperate and ludicrous efforts to reverse Trump’s loss and all nine justices (bearing in mind the six-to-three, ultra-conservative supermajority on the nine-member bench).
Paxton wasn’t even suing on behalf of Texas, of course, which Trump legitimately won, but to try to get the result overturned in four decisive states where Trump lost to Joe Biden - Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
The Associated Press adds that, in bringing a court action against an attorney, the bar can seek punishment ranging from a written admonition to suspension or disbarment.
The discipline process resembles a trial and could include both sides taking testimony and obtaining records through discovery.
The bar complaints against Paxton alleged that his petitioning the US supreme court to overturn the 2020 election was frivolous and unethical.
Paxton forecast the legal action against him during the final weeks of his Republican primary runoff against state land commissioner George P. Bush.
Texas attorney general says state bar plans to sue him over his efforts to overturn Trump 2020 defeat
The Texas attorney general, Ken Paxton, has announced that the state bar plans to sue him over his failed efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election based on bogus claims of fraud, raising yet another legal danger as the embattled Republican is locked in a primary runoff, the Associated Press reports.
Since last summer, the state bar of Texas has been investigating complaints over Paxton’s petitioning of the US supreme court to block Joe Biden’s victory over Donald Trump.
The professional group has not publicly filed a suit but Paxton, saying it plans to bring one against him and his top deputy, suggests the agency may believe their actions amounted to professional misconduct.
The attorney general said he stood behind his challenge to the “unconstitutional 2020 presidential election,” even as he blasted the bar and announced an investigation into a charitable group associated with it.
I am certain that the bar will not only lose but be fully exposed for what they are: a liberal activist group masquerading as a neutral professional association,” Paxton said on Twitter.
The bar, which is a branch of the Texas supreme court, said in a statement that “partisan political considerations play no role” in its actions.
State law prohibits it from discussing investigations unless a public complaint is filed and a spokesman declined to comment.
Stay tuned for more on this....
A New York state judge’s son who dressed like a caveman and helped a pro-Donald Trump mob storm the US Capitol has received a prison sentence for his role in the 6 January 2021 attack.
Aaron Mostofsky, 35, must spend eight months in prison – and after his release, he must spend a year under federal supervision while also performing 200 hours of community service, a US district court judge in Washington, DC, ruled Friday.
The judge, James Boasberg, also ordered Mostofsky to pay $2,000 in restitution to the federal government, court documents show.
According to prosecutors, Mostofsky donned a caveman costume and wielded a walking stick while forming part of a crowd of Trump supporters who broke past a line of police officers trying to protect the Capitol, in the deadly insurrection that occurred on the day that Congress had convened to certify Joe Biden’s win in the 2020 presidential election.
He broke into the Capitol through a door that was forced open, stole body armor and a riot shield from the police, and even gave an on-camera interview to a media reporter, prosecutors alleged in a summary of the case that Mostofsky endorsed.
Mostofsky, in the video interview, repeated Trump supporters’ lies that Biden had won thanks to election fraud. “The election was stolen. … We were cheated. … I don’t think 75 million people voted for Trump. I think it was close to 85 million,” Mostofsky said during the interview, according to court documents.
Prosecutors have charged about 800 people in the attack. More than 250 have already pleaded guilty, mostly to misdemeanors, and about 160 have been sentenced.
Mostofsky in February pleaded guilty to felony civil disorder as well as two misdemeanors: theft of government property and entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds. He technically faced up to seven years in prison when he appeared for his sentencing Friday in front of Boasberg, though defendants who plead guilty without going to trial generally don’t receive the harshest punishments available.
Mostofsky’s father, Steven Mostofsky, is a judge in the Brooklyn-based New York supreme court’s second district.
Here’s fuller comments made by White House press secretary Jen Psaki today about claims that US intel helped sink the Russian ship Moskva.
From Bloomberg News’ Jennifer Jacobs:
The White House disputed a claim that US intel helped Ukraines sink the Russian ship Moskva last month.
During a gaggle on AF1, White House press secretary Jen Psaki responded to a question on whether US intel helped sink the Russian ship.
“To speak to the reports, they’re inaccurate,” said Psaki.
Psaki said that the US was not involved in the decision to strike Moskva and had no prior knowledge of Ukraine’s intent to strike the ship, adding that any intel reports of US involvement are an “overclaiming” of the US’ role and an “underclaiming” of the role of Ukraine and their intelligence capabilities.
Jen Psaki began her last gaggle as White House press secretary, with her last day on 13 May.
While aboard AF1, Psaki joked:
This is my last gaggle on Air Force One. So I have a lot of things to get off my chest.
Stay tuned for more from today’s gaggle, happening now.
Joe Biden is currently en-route to Ohio, where he is set to announce that five US manufacturers have made commitments to boost their dependence on small and medium American firms for 3D printing, reports the Associated Press.
Biden’s visit to the Midwest and announcement of the 3D printing program coincides with his ask to Congress to approve a stalled competition and innovation bill.
Biden says the bill is critical to boosting domestic manufacturing and addressing production delays throughout the country, reports AP.
“I’m determined to make sure the United States holds the technological high ground in competition with other nations, especially China, as we move forward,” said Biden this week ahead of his visit.
Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren said today that a roll back of Roe v Wade would “fall on the most vulnerable women in our country,” while appearing on a talkshow.
During her appearance on the View, host Joy Behar asked the senator: “What do you say to the American women who are just as angry as you are, about the fact that they are about to lose the autonomy over their own bodies?”
Warren replied: “So, I start with getting centered on what this is about. Understand, well-to-do women, they’re gonna do fine,” adding that more privileged women can travel to get abortions if they are in a restrictive state.
Warren continued: “Who is this going to fall on? This is going to fall on the most vulnerable women in our country,” adding that poor women, women of color, and victims of sexual violence will be disproportionately impacted.
“That is what makes me furious and gets me into this fight,” added Warren.
US congresswoman Cori Bush stopped by an abortion clinic in St. Louis, following news that the Supreme Court is prepared to roll back abortion rights.
In a Tik Tok posted by staff at a Planned Parenthood clinic in the St. Louis region, Bush is seen dancing and laughing with staff as the group attempts to replicate a dance on the app.
Bush wrote via Twitter:
Joy is an act of resistance. I stopped by the our local abortion clinic, and we made a TikTok together.
Colleagues looking to support our community during this tough time: reach out to abortion clinics in your district. They deserve our love, especially right now.
Umi, a staff member who was retweeted by Bush, wrote:
My Congresswoman is the absolute BEST! She is not only talking that talk but walking the walk for all Missourians and making sure that we have access to affordable healthcare. Thank you to all the staff at @PPSLR for truly doing the work you do. Our Congresswoman loves us.
Bush has publicly shared the story behind her own abortion, joining two other Democratic congresswoman last September who shared their personal stories during a House oversight committee meeting on reproductive rights.
Here are more pictures from Jill Biden’s trip to Romania and Slovakia, where she will visit with Ukraine refugees over Mother’s Day weekend.
In addition to serving food, Biden also brought ketchup for personnel stationed overseas, as many have run out of different comforts from home like the condiment.
Joe Biden and other G7 leaders will hold talks with Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelenskiy on Sunday, reports Reuters.
The world leaders will meet in a virtual meeting on Sunday, confirmed a spokesperson for the White House’s National Security Council today.
Follow the Guardian’s live blog coverage of the Russia-Ukraine war here.
Jill Biden is currently in Romania, using her second solo trip overseas to visit those impacted by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Departing Washington DC on Thursday night, Biden said:
It’s so important to the president and to me that the Ukrainian people know that we stand with them.
After flying overnight, Biden is at the Mihail Kogalniceanu Air Base in Romania, where she is serving dinner to US service members stationed there, reports the Associated Press.
In addition to visiting Romania, Biden will also travel to Slovakia. The two countries, both NATO allies, border Ukraine and have taken in millions of refugees since Russia invaded Ukraine.
Biden will specifically be in Slovakia on Sunday Mother’s day to meet with displaced Ukraine refugees, reports AP. Biden’s daughter, Ashley Biden, had planned to join her mother on the trip, but backed out after learning she had been in close contact with someone who tested positive for Covid-19.
428,000 jobs added in April- US Department of labor report
US employers added 428,000 jobs in April, extending a streak of hires despite inflation, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, chronic supply chain issues, and other economic woes, reports the Associated Press.
The latest report today from the US department of labor showed that last month’s hiring kept the unemployment rate at 3.6%, among the lowest rates in almost 50 years.
Hiring gains have also been steady despite ongoing inflation, some of the worst in four decades. Despite that, employers have consistently added 400,000 jobs for 12 straight months, reports AP.
However, the most recent employment figures did include some warnings about the job market. The government revised down its estimate of job gains for February and March by a total of 39,000.
The number of people in the labor force also decreased in April by 363,000, the first drop since September 2021. The drop reduced the amount of Americans who are either working or looking for work from 62.4% to 62.2%.
A coalition of abortion rights groups announced today that they will be holding a nationwide day of action, “Bans off Our Bodies” day, on 14 May.
In light of the potential rollback of abortion rights, several groups, including Planned Parenthood, UltraViolet, Women’s March and MoveOn, will hold marches across the country, with four “anchor marches” to be held in New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Washington DC, reports Axios.
“We’re expecting hundreds of thousands of folks in these anchor cities and still hundreds of events all across the country. So no matter where you are, there’s somewhere for you to go,” said Kelley Robinson, Planned Parenthood Action Fund’s executive director.
Abortion would immediately become illegal in at least 13 states if Roe v Wade was overturned, reports Axios.
Here’s a piece from the Guardian’s David Smith on Trump being a hero for the anti-abortion movement after placing several conservative justices on the Supreme Court:
“I’m very pro-choice.” So said Donald Trump in an interview on NBC’s Meet the Press in 1999, attributing his views on abortion to “a little bit of a New York background”.
Two decades later, the businessman and reality TV star is the unlikeliest of heroes for social conservatives and Christian evangelicals because he delivered the ultimate prize: the end of America’s constitutional right to abortion.
The leak this week of a draft supreme court opinion showing that the court’s conservative majority is poised to overturn Roe v Wade, the landmark 1973 decision legalising abortion, represented a vivid aftershock of the Trump presidency.
He had reversed his position on the issue by the time he reached the White House and, with uncharacteristic discipline, spent his four years in office bending the federal judiciary to the right, including with three supreme court appointments.
“The supreme court will be his most important and long-lasting political legacy,” said Amanda Hollis-Brusky, an associate professor of politics at Pomona College in Claremont, California.
Read the full article here.
Donald Trump has remained uncharacteristically quiet on the news that the Supreme Court is ready to roll back abortion rights, despite adding several conservative justices during his administration.
Trump, who appointed three of justices who are prepared to overturn Roe v Wade, told Politico’s Meridith McGraw that he is waiting to see the “finality” of the case and, for now, is only speaking on the decision in interviews.
According to Politico, four of Trump’s current and former advisors believe he will take credit for the abortion rights roll back once the decision is finalized.
Meanwhile, Trump is holding a rally in Pennsylvania today to support celebrity doctor Mehmet Oz, who is a GOP senate candidate, and could give remarks on the leaked decision there.
Politicians are being called out online for using the potential roll back of abortion rights to fundraise for elections.
In one email that is being criticized, House speaker Nancy Pelosi urges recipients to send in $3 to help elect a “slew of pro-choice House Democrats” to “make Republicans regret EVER coming after our reproductive rights.”
Meanwhile, Stacy Abrams, Georgia’s Democratic gubernatorial candidate, pivoted her fundraising efforts on Wednesday and asked people to donate to abortion rights groups active in her state.
From NPR’s Rachel Treisman:
Abrams — who helped turn Georgia blue in the 2020 presidential election after narrowly losing her last governor’s race in 2018 — is continuing to solicit donations for the Feminist Women’s Health Center, SisterSong, Planned Parenthood Southeast, Access Reproductive Care Southeast and NARAL Pro-Choice Georgia.
“We know that no one individual, campaign or organization can guarantee reproductive choice on their own,” Abrams’ campaign wrote in a fundraising email. “We can only win this fight by uniting and doing the work together.”
In a tweet later that night, Abrams thanked the more than 187,000 supporters who have invested in her campaign so far and urged them to consider donating to the reproductive freedom organizations as well.
Abrams, who is running unopposed in the May 24 Democratic primary, has raised large sums of money for causes as well as her own candidacy.
Read the full article here.
Lawmakers across the political aisle are using this week’s seismic news that the supreme court is ready to overturn Roe v Wade and ban abortion to electrify the midterms elections, following the shocking news that US justices are prepared to roll back abortion rights.
Vulnerable democrats, specifically in swing districts, are hoping the issue will rally voters. Specifically in Nevada, a state that largely voted in 1999 to codify Roe v Wade, senator Catherine Cortez Masto has used abortion rights to turn voters against her opponent, reports Politico.
In an interview this week, Cortez said:
I have a record in support of a woman’s right to choose. And my opponent, Adam Laxalt, opposes it, and will take it away.
From Cortez via Twitter:
Republicans have also used the opportunity to challenge their opponents’ commitment to conservative ideals.
In Georgia, candidate David Perdue challenged incumbent governor Brian Kemp to “promise to call a special session of the legislature to ban abortion outright if the court eliminates federal protections for abortion rights and leaves it to states to set their own laws”, reported the New York Times.
From Perdue via Twitter:
Leaked abortion rights decision electrifies midterms
Good morning US live blog readers! This is Gloria Oladipo from the Guardian’s New York office.
Shock from the news that US justices appear ready to roll back abortion rights has electrified midterms, with Democrats hoping to use the issue to motivate voters, reports Politico. Meanwhile, Republicans locked in primaries are using the leak as an opportunity to challenge their opponents to pledge complete bans on abortions.
Donald Trump has been fairly quiet on the Roe v Wade news, despite bringing several conservatives justices to the Supreme Court during his tenure. According to Politico, while the former president never shies away from taking credit for a political accomplishment, he has only addressed the leaked decision in interviews and is waiting on a final ruling to be issued before speaking more widely.
In other news:
- Cities across the nation are bracing for possible civil arrest ahead of large abortion rights gatherings happening throughout the weekend. On Wednesday, 150 officials nationwide joined a call to discuss security concerns in connections to the leaked decision, including possible threats to Supreme Court justices, reported Politico.
Joe Biden is will be visiting Ohio today to meet with manufacturing leaders at United Performance Metals in Hamilton, Ohio. He is set to deliver remarks at 3.45pm Eastern time.