Georgia election official Raffensperger backs early primary in 2028 – USA Today

By |2023-02-06T18:20:54-05:00February 6th, 2023|Election 2020|

ATLANTA – Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger wants his state to become an early presidential primary host – just not in 2024, as President Joe Biden and the Democratic Party are pushing.The Republican election chief, who garnered attention for rebuffing then-President Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn his 2020 loss in Georgia, told The Associated Press he’d back an early primary in 2028.It’s the first time Raffensperger, who sets Georgia’s primary election dates, has endorsed the idea of Georgia as an early nominating state, though not as soon as the Democratic National Committee and the White House want.“Georgia would be a great early primary state in 2028,” Raffensperger told the AP.“It has a good cross-section of engaged voters from both parties, and, as everyone seems to now recognize, we run great elections,” the secretary added in a dig at Democrats’ assertions that he and Republican Gov. Brian Kemp have worked to limit ballot access.Raffensperger’s position highlights the Democrats’ challenge in reordering their nominating calendar to elevate racially diverse electorates and de-emphasize Iowa and New Hampshire. Those overwhelmingly white states have opened the nominating process for both major parties for decades and still lead Republicans’ 2024 calendar as it’s set – with national GOP officials showing little interest in reconsidering their slate.The secretary’s announcement nonetheless shows Democrats aren’t alone in wanting Georgia, now a premier general election battleground, to expand its burgeoning influence into presidential nominating politics.The question is whether Democrats can find momentum among the Republicans who control the Georgia statehouse and with the national GOP forces necessary to make such a change. That’s decidedly harder than Atlanta’s push to win the 2024 Democratic convention, a decision that will be made entirely within the party.Live updates:Biden State of the Union address clouded by spy balloon criticism, House GOP investigations ramp upTop Georgia Democrats including Sen. Raphael Warnock and U.S. Rep. Nikema Williams of Atlanta support a presidential primary move, and the state party’s former executive director, Scott Hogan, has taken on the role of the top unofficial lobbyist for the idea, reaching out to Republicans and the business community.“This isn’t just a political conversation. This is very much an economic conversation,” said Williams, who is also the state Democratic chairwoman. “It’s a benefit across the board, whether Republicans or Democrats.”Audrey Haynes, a University of Georgia professor tracking the debate, cited studies showing how much more influential an average American voter becomes when they live in an early nominating state. The economic boon, she added, ranges from candidates’ television advertising to a year’s worth of tourism and consumer spending by traveling national media and the top campaigns’ permanent field staffers.“There’s just all this spending to go along with the attention on voters and on local elected officials,” Haynes said.Under the Democratic National Committee plan approved Saturday, the party’s 2024 presidential primaries would begin Feb. 3 in South Carolina, the state that propelled Biden’s campaign in 2020. That primary would be followed by Nevada and New Hampshire on Feb. 6, Georgia on Feb. 13 and Michigan on Feb. 27.The national party has given Georgia Democrats until June to show they can comply with that calendar, though the deadline could be extended.Raffensperger noted the Republican National Committee has locked in its 2024 calendar, with the usual opening slate of Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada. The GOP also plans to limit convention delegates from states that move up to disrupt that traditional quartet.“This type of move would need to be equitable, take place on the same day, and ensure that no one loses delegates,” Raffensperger said, offering no indications that he’d try to persuade the RNC to reconsider.Jordan Fuchs, Raffensperger’s deputy, said calendar reshuffles must “at the start” be a “bipartisan decision,” a tacit acknowledgment that Biden being the genesis of Democrats’ plan does it no favors in Georgia.Multiple recent presidential cycles – Barack Obama’s nomination in 2008, Hillary Clinton’s in 2016 and Biden’s in 2020 – have highlighted the power Black voters in the South already have in Democratic politics. Biden’s path was especially emphatic, as he stormed to the nomination in a matter of weeks after finishing fourth in Iowa and fifth in New Hampshire, effectively highlighting their shortcomings as Democratic bellwethers. Those two states, though, still reflect the Republican Party’s overwhelmingly white base, giving the GOP little incentive to depose them.National Democrats, meanwhile, have made clear they want their early nominating window to be stacked with November battlegrounds; that would give their eventual nominee early exposure in key Electoral College states. Georgia Republicans, conversely, are still adjusting to their state’s tossup status after dominating at all levels of government for decades before 2020, when Georgia opted narrowly for Biden and two Democratic senators.“I certainly believe it’s a two-party state,” said Chip Lake, a veteran GOP campaign operative. “But the conversations among Democrats on what all this means at the presidential level is just more advanced than it is for Republicans right now,” Lake said.And, he added, Kemp’s previous statements have effectively cut off any bipartisan movement on primaries.“No one,” Lake said, “wants to get out in front of the governor.”

Taking Aim at Trump, Koch Network Will Back G.O.P. Primary Candidates

By |2023-02-06T18:20:56-05:00February 6th, 2023|Election 2020|

The move by the alliance of conservative donors could provide an enormous boost to a Republican alternative to the former president.The donor network created by the billionaire industrialist brothers Charles G. and David H. Koch is preparing to get involved in the presidential primaries in 2024, with the aim of turning “the page on the past” in a thinly veiled rebuke of former President Donald J. Trump, according to an internal memo.The network, comprising an array of political and advocacy groups that have been backed by hundreds of ultrawealthy conservatives, has been among the most influential forces in American politics over the past 15 years, spending nearly $500 million supporting Republican candidates and conservative policies in the 2020 election cycle alone. But it has never before supported candidates in presidential primaries.The potential move against Mr. Trump could motivate donors to line up behind another prospective candidate. Thus far, only the former president has entered the race.The memo went out to the affiliated activists and donors after a weekend conference in Palm Springs, Calif., where the network’s leaders laid out their goals for the next presidential election cycle. At various sessions, they made clear they planned to get involved in primaries for various offices, and early.“The Republican Party is nominating bad candidates who are advocating for things that go against core American principles,” the memo declares. “And the American people are rejecting them.” It asserts that Democrats are responding with “policies that also go against our core American principles.”The memo’s author is Emily Seidel, chief executive of the lead nonprofit group in the network, Americans for Prosperity, and an adviser to an affiliated super PAC. But the principles sketched out in the memo are expected to apply to some other groups in the network, which is now known as Stand Together.Americans for Prosperity’s super PAC spent nearly $80 million during the 2022 midterm elections, but that is likely just a fraction of the network’s overall spending, much of which was undertaken by nonprofit groups that will not be required to reveal their finances until this fall.One of the lessons learned from primary campaigns in the 2022 midterm election cycle, the memo says, in boldface, “is that the loudest voice in each political party sets the tone for the entire election. In a presidential year, that’s the presidential candidate.”The decision to get involved in the Republican presidential primaries is being viewed as a rebuke to Donald Trump.Doug Mills/The New York TimesIt continues, “And to write a new chapter for our country, we need to turn the page on the past. So the best thing for the country would be to have a president in 2025 who represents a new chapter. The American people have shown that they’re ready to move on, and so A.F.P. will help them do that.”Though the memo did not mention Mr. Trump’s name, leaving open the possibility that the network could fall in behind him if he won the Republican nomination, its references to a “new chapter” and leaving the past behind were unmistakable.The Run-Up to the 2024 ElectionThe jockeying for the next presidential race is already underway.Taking Aim at Trump: The Koch brothers’ donor network is preparing to get involved in the Republican primaries, with the aim of turning “the page on the past”  — a thinly veiled rebuke of Donald J. Trump.Trump’s Support: Is Mr. Trump the front-runner to win the Republican nomination? Or is he an underdog against Ron DeSantis? The polls are divided, but higher-quality surveys point to an answer.Falling in Line: With the vulnerabilities of Mr. Trump’s campaign becoming evident, the bickering among Democrats about President Biden’s potential bid for re-election has subsided.Democrats’ Primary Calendar: Upending decades of political tradition, members of the Democratic National Committee voted to approve a sweeping overhaul of the party’s primary process.Mr. Trump’s early entry into the race, in November, has largely frozen the field. The only other candidate expected to get into the race soon is Nikki Haley, the former governor of South Carolina, whose allies, despite her work as the U.N. ambassador under Mr. Trump, have cast her as a change from the past.Mr. Trump’s early campaign has not shown the financial dominance he did as a nominee, and a number of major donors have made clear they are not inclined to support him over other candidates. The Club for Growth, the anti-tax group that was once aligned with Mr. Trump, has split with him and is said to be interested in opposing his candidacy..css-1v2n82w{max-width:600px;width:calc(100% - 40px);margin-top:20px;margin-bottom:25px;height:auto;margin-left:auto;margin-right:auto;font-family:nyt-franklin;color:var(--color-content-secondary,#363636);}@media only screen and (max-width:480px){.css-1v2n82w{margin-left:20px;margin-right:20px;}}@media only screen and (min-width:1024px){.css-1v2n82w{width:600px;}}.css-161d8zr{width:40px;margin-bottom:18px;text-align:left;margin-left:0;color:var(--color-content-primary,#121212);border:1px solid var(--color-content-primary,#121212);}@media only screen and (max-width:480px){.css-161d8zr{width:30px;margin-bottom:15px;}}.css-tjtq43{line-height:25px;}@media only screen and (max-width:480px){.css-tjtq43{line-height:24px;}}.css-x1k33h{font-family:nyt-cheltenham;font-size:19px;font-weight:700;line-height:25px;}.css-1hvpcve{font-size:17px;font-weight:300;line-height:25px;}.css-1hvpcve em{font-style:italic;}.css-1hvpcve strong{font-weight:bold;}.css-1hvpcve a{font-weight:500;color:var(--color-content-secondary,#363636);}.css-1c013uz{margin-top:18px;margin-bottom:22px;}@media only screen and (max-width:480px){.css-1c013uz{font-size:14px;margin-top:15px;margin-bottom:20px;}}.css-1c013uz a{color:var(--color-signal-editorial,#326891);-webkit-text-decoration:underline;text-decoration:underline;font-weight:500;font-size:16px;}@media only screen and (max-width:480px){.css-1c013uz a{font-size:13px;}}.css-1c013uz a:hover{-webkit-text-decoration:none;text-decoration:none;}How Times reporters cover politics. We rely on our journalists to be independent observers. So while Times staff members may vote, they are not allowed to endorse or campaign for candidates or political causes. This includes participating in marches or rallies in support of a movement or giving money to, or raising money for, any political candidate or election cause.Learn more about our process.It remains to be seen how successful the Koch group will be marshaling resources behind a single candidate, or if Charles Koch will donate significantly himself. But at minimum, the development is the latest indication that traditional aspects of the Republican ecosystem are less fearful of Mr. Trump than they had been.The Koch network publicly opposed some of Mr. Trump’s policies, including tariffs he imposed as president, though it worked with his administration on an overhaul of the criminal justice system that slashed some sentences.If the network were to unite behind an alternative to Mr. Trump, it could give that candidate a tremendous boost, given the resources at its disposal, which at times have rivaled — and even surpassed — those of the Republican National Committee.It would also be a stark departure for the Koch network, which was begun by the Koch brothers during former President George W. Bush’s administration as an effort to reorient the Republican Party and American politics around their libertarian-infused conservatism.A number of the party’s most prolific donors have remained on the sidelines, with a Republican primary field that has yet to take shape.The network has had ties to former Vice President Mike Pence, who is taking steps that could lead to a presidential campaign. And some major donors have expressed interest in Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida, who is also weighing a potential campaign. But if Mr. DeSantis enters the race, he is likely months away from doing so, according to people familiar with his thinking.A number of big donors who backed Mr. Trump in 2016 and 2020 have yet to say they will do so again. Other groups of donors, such as those belonging to the hedge fund billionaire Paul Singer’s American Opportunity Alliance, which overlaps with the Koch network, are also largely on the sidelines so far.It may be easier for the Koch network to decide to oppose Mr. Trump than to agree on an alternative.In past election cycles, the ideological diversity of the network’s donors, as well as the Kochs’ commitment to their own ideology, have been impediments to uniting behind a single presidential candidate.While Charles Koch is the most prominent figure in the network — his brother David began stepping back from it before his death in 2019 — it draws its influence partly from its ability to pool resources from an array of major donors who represent sometimes divergent wings of the Republican Party, including noninterventionists, foreign policy hawks and religious conservatives.Perhaps the closest the network came to wading into a Republican presidential nominating contest was in 2016, when it was pressured by some donors and operatives to back an opponent of Mr. Trump, who was seen as anathema to the Kochs’ limited government, free-trade instincts.But the network wavered. And one of its top operatives, Marc Short, decamped for the presidential campaign of Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, who was viewed by many Koch-aligned donors as having the best chance to defeat Mr. Trump, but whose hawkish instincts ran afoul of the Kochs.The network remained largely on the sidelines of the 2016 presidential race after Mr. Trump won the Republican nomination: Charles Koch at one point compared having to decide whether to support Mr. Trump or Hillary Clinton, the Democratic nominee, to being asked to choose between cancer or a heart attack.It continued to sit out presidential politics in 2020, when Mr. Koch expressed regret over the network’s financial backing of Republicans and proclaimed that it had “abandoned partisanship” in favor of bipartisan efforts like overhauling the criminal justice system.While the network has cast itself as motivated by issues, not partisanship, and has expressed willingness to support Democrats who align with it on some policies, its federal election spending has almost exclusively gone toward Republicans.Ms. Seidel wrote in the memo that “it looks like the Democrats have already chosen their path for the presidential — so there’s no opportunity to have a positive impact there.” Americans for Prosperity’s super PAC, she added, “is prepared to support a candidate in the Republican presidential primary who can lead our country forward, and who can win.”Ms. Seidel also rejected the idea that the network had retreated from politics, noting in the memo that Americans for Prosperity engaged in more primary elections last year — about 200 at the state and federal level — than ever before, and that the candidates it supported won in more than 80 percent of those races.

Trump campaign staff on 2020 election lies: ‘Fan the flame’ – Wisconsin Watch

By |2023-02-06T18:21:02-05:00February 6th, 2023|Election 2020|

Reading Time: 3 minutes Wisconsin Watch is a nonprofit and nonpartisan newsroom. Subscribe to our our newsletter to get our investigative stories and Friday news roundup. This story is published in partnership with The Associated Press. A newly released audio recording offers a behind-the-scenes look at how former President Donald Trump’s campaign team in a pivotal battleground state knew they had been outflanked by Democrats in the 2020 presidential election. But even as they acknowledged defeat, they pivoted to allegations of widespread fraud that were ultimately debunked — repeatedly — by elections officials and the courts. The audio from Nov. 5, 2020, two days after the election, is surfacing as Trump again seeks the White House while continuing to lie about the legitimacy of the outcome and Democrat Joe Biden’s win. The Wisconsin political operatives in the strategy session even praised Democratic turnout efforts in the state’s largest counties and appeared to joke about their efforts to engage Black voters, according to the recording obtained Thursday by The Associated Press. The audio centers on Andrew Iverson, who was the head of Trump’s campaign in the state. “Here’s the drill: Comms is going to continue to fan the flame and get the word out about Democrats trying to steal this election. We’ll do whatever they need (inaudible) help with. Just be on standby in case there’s any stunts we need to pull,” Iverson said. Iverson is now the Midwest regional director for the Republican National Committee. He deferred questions about the meeting to the RNC, whose spokesperson, Keith Schipper, declined comment because he had not heard the recording. Get Wisconsin news you need straight to your inbox. Sign up for our free story updates and Friday news roundups.  The former campaign official and Republican operative who provided a copy of the recording to the AP was in the meeting and recorded it. The operative is not authorized to speak publicly about what was discussed and did not want to be identified out of concern for personal and professional retaliation, but said they came forward because Trump is mounting a third attempt for the White House. In response to questions about the audio, Trump campaign spokesperson Steven Cheung said: “The 2024 campaign is focused on competing in every state and winning in a dominating fashion. That is why President Trump is leading by wide margins in poll after poll.” Wisconsin was a big part of Trump’s victory in 2016, when he smashed through the Democrats’ so-called “Blue Wall” in the upper Midwest, and his campaign fought hard to keep the swing state in his column four years later before his loss to Biden. Biden defeated Trump by nearly 21,000 votes in Wisconsin in 2020, a result that has withstood independent and partisan audits and reviews, as well as lawsuits and recounts in the state’s two largest and Democratic-leaning counties. Yet, two days after the election, there was no discussion of Trump having won the state during the meeting of Republican campaign operatives. Support a free and independent press. If you value news from Wisconsin Watch, make a tax-deductible donation today so we can continue doing statewide investigations that matter to you.  Instead, parts of the meeting focus on discussions about packing up campaign offices and writing final reports about how the campaign unfolded. At one point on the recording, Iverson is heard praising the GOP’s efforts while admitting the margin of Trump’s defeat in the state. “At the end of the day, this operation received more votes than any other Republican in Wisconsin history,” Iverson said. “Say what you want, our operation turned out Republican or DJT supporters. Democrats just got 20,000 more than us, out of Dane County and other shenanigans in Milwaukee, Green Bay and Dane. There’s a lot that people can learn from this campaign.” The meeting showcases another juxtaposition of what Republican officials knew about the election results and what Trump and his closest allies were saying publicly as they pushed the lie of a stolen election. Trump was told by his own attorney general there was no sign of widespread fraud, and many within his own administration told the former president there was no substance to various claims of fraud or manipulation — advice Trump repeatedly ignored. In the weeks after the election, Trump and his allies would file dozens of lawsuits, convene fake electors and pressure election officials in an attempt to overturn the will of the voters and keep Trump in office. It’s unclear whether the staff in Wisconsin coordinated their message directly with campaign officials in Washington. Parts of the Nov. 5 meeting also center on Republican outreach efforts to the state’s Black community. At one point, the operatives laugh over needing “more Black voices for Trump.” Iverson also references their efforts to engage with Black voters. “We ever talk to Black people before? I don’t think so,” he said, eliciting laughter from others in the room. Another speaker on the recording with Iverson is identified by the source as GOP operative Clayton Henson. At the time, Henson was a regional director for the RNC in charge of Wisconsin and other Midwestern states. They give a postmortem of sorts on the election, praising Republican turnout and campaign efforts while acknowledging the Democrats’ robust turn-out-the-vote campaign. Henson specifically references Democratic turnout in Dane County, which includes Madison, the state capital, and is a liberal stronghold in the state. A record-high 80% of the voting-age population cast ballots in 2020 in the county, which Biden won with 76% of the vote. “Hats off to them for what they did in Dane County. You gotta respect that,” Henson said. “There’s going to be another election in a couple years. So remember the lessons you learned and be ready to punch back.” Henson, reached by phone Thursday, said, “No thank you” when asked to comment about the meeting.

Key Republican wants Ga. as early primary state — in 2028 | Georgia Public Broadcasting

By |2023-02-06T18:21:03-05:00February 6th, 2023|Election 2020|

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger wants his state to become an early presidential primary host — just not in 2024, as President Joe Biden and the Democratic Party are pushing. The Republican election chief, who garnered attention for rebuffing then-President Donald Trump's efforts to overturn his 2020 loss in Georgia, told The Associated Press he'd back an early primary in 2028. It's the first time Raffensperger, who sets Georgia's primary election dates, has endorsed the idea of Georgia as an early nominating state, though not as soon as the Democratic National Committee and the White House want. "Georgia would be a great early primary state in 2028," Raffensperger told the AP. "It has a good cross-section of engaged voters from both parties, and, as everyone seems to now recognize, we run great elections," the secretary added in a dig at Democrats' assertions that he and Republican Gov. Brian Kemp have worked to limit ballot access. Raffensperger's position highlights the Democrats' challenge in reordering their nominating calendar to elevate racially diverse electorates and de-emphasize Iowa and New Hampshire. Those overwhelmingly white states have opened the nominating process for both major parties for decades and still lead Republicans' 2024 calendar as it's currently set — with national GOP officials showing little interest in reconsidering their slate. The secretary's announcement nonetheless shows Democrats aren't alone in wanting Georgia, now a premier general election battleground, to expand its burgeoning influence into presidential nominating politics. The question is whether Democrats can find momentum among the Republicans who control the Georgia statehouse and with the national GOP forces necessary to make such a change. That's decidedly harder than Atlanta's push to win the 2024 Democratic convention, a decision that will be made entirely within the party. Top Georgia Democrats including Sen. Raphael Warnock and U.S. Rep. Nikema Williams of Atlanta support a presidential primary move, and the state party's former executive director, Scott Hogan, has taken on the role of the top unofficial lobbyist for the idea, reaching out to Republicans and the business community. "This isn't just a political conversation. This is very much an economic conversation," said Williams, who is also the state Democratic chairwoman. "It's a benefit across the board, whether Republicans or Democrats." Audrey Haynes, a University of Georgia professor tracking the debate, cited studies showing how much more influential an average American voter becomes when they live in an early nominating state. The economic boon, she added, ranges from candidates' television advertising to a year's worth of tourism and consumer spending by traveling national media and the top campaigns' permanent field staffers. "There's just all this spending to go along with the attention on voters and on local elected officials," Haynes said. Under the Democratic National Committee plan approved Saturday, the party's 2024 presidential primaries would begin Feb. 3 in South Carolina, the state that propelled Biden's campaign in 2020. That primary would be followed by Nevada and New Hampshire on Feb. 6, Georgia on Feb. 13 and Michigan on Feb. 27. The national party has given Georgia Democrats until June to show they can comply with that calendar, though deadline could be extended.Raffensperger noted the Republican National Committee has locked in its 2024 calendar, with the usual opening slate of Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada. The GOP also plans to limit convention delegates from states that move up to disrupt that traditional quartet. "This type of move would need to be equitable, take place on the same day, and ensure that no one loses delegates," Raffensperger said, offering no indications that he'd try to persuade the RNC to reconsider. Jordan Fuchs, Raffensperger's deputy, said calendar reshuffles must "at the start" be a "bipartisan decision," a tacit acknowledgement that Biden being the genesis of Democrats' plan does it no favors in Georgia. "Just because one party is pushing it doesn't mean it has bipartisan support," she said. Kemp, meanwhile, has given no public sign that he wants a change ahead of 2024. Additionally, Kemp's advisers have noted he has no official role in setting the primary dates. That said, Kemp is at the apex of his influence as a second-term, battleground governor who won reelection by nearly 8 percentage points; he defeated Democratic power player Stacey Abrams for a second time after dominating a Republican primary challenger who had Trump's backing. So he would be key in any eventual shift. A top Kemp adviser, who wasn't authorized to speak on the record about an issue the governor isn't actively pursuing and requested anonymity, said Kemp and his inner circle do not dispute the long-term benefits Georgia would accrue as an early state. Yet the considerations for the GOP aren't as straightforward as for Democrats. Multiple recent presidential cycles — Barack Obama's nomination in 2008, Hillary Clinton's in 2016 and Biden's in 2020 — have highlighted the power Black voters in the South already have in Democratic politics. Biden's path was especially emphatic, as he stormed to the nomination in a matter of weeks after finishing fourth in Iowa and fifth in New Hampshire, effectively highlighting their shortcomings as Democratic bellwethers. Those two states, though, still reflect the Republican Party's overwhelmingly white base, giving the GOP little incentive to depose them. National Democrats, meanwhile, have made clear they want their early nominating window to be stacked with November battlegrounds; that would give their eventual nominee early exposure in key Electoral College states. Georgia Republicans, conversely, are still adjusting to their state's tossup status after dominating at all levels of government for decades before 2020, when Georgia opted narrowly for Biden and two Democratic senators. "I certainly believe it's a two-party state," said Chip Lake, a veteran GOP campaign operative. "But the conversations among Democrats on what all this means at the presidential level is just more advanced than it is for Republicans right now," Lake said. And, he added, Kemp's previous statements have effectively cut off any bipartisan movement on primaries. "No one," Lake said, "wants to get out in front of the governor."

Kentucky Rep. James Comer to lead House hearing this week about Hunter Biden’s laptop

By |2023-02-06T18:21:07-05:00February 6th, 2023|Election 2020|

WASHINGTON – Kentucky Rep. James Comer will lead the charge, in his new role as the head of an influential congressional committee, when the curtain goes up this week on House Republican investigations into President Joe Biden and his family − starting with a hearing Wednesday about how Twitter blocked messages about Hunter Biden’s laptop.The House Oversight and Accountability Committee hearing will open the panel’s door on investigations into Hunter Biden and potential attempts to influence his father’s politics through business deals in Ukraine or China, or through high-price sales of his own paintings.Comer became Oversight chairman after his party won control of the House in November's election, “We’re going to start with the hard drive because there’s a lot of evidence on the hard drive that suggests Joe Biden knew very well what his family was involved in," he told reporters last month. "We want to make sure that our national security isn’t compromised because China is an adversary right now."More:Who is James Comer? What to know about 2023's House Oversight Committee chairJoe Biden has denied discussing business or benefiting from his son’s deals. Hunter Biden's lawyers have asked the Justice Department and Delaware attorney general to investigate the distribution of information from the laptop for possible criminal prosecution.The Oversight hearing, coming the day after Biden’s State of the Union speech, offers a showcase of Republican investigations into the Democratic president. But Democratic lawmakers blasted the inquiry as “hyper-partisan” conspiracy theories that have been debunked.Here’s what we know about the committee investigation so far:Hunter Biden's laptop: What does it have to do with Trump, Giuliani and the 2020 election?The laptop has become a focal point of Republican investigations because it contains a trove of documents and pictures of Hunter Biden.A computer repairman, John Paul Mac Isaac, gave the laptop information to the FBI after Hunter Biden failed to pick up the MacBook Pro following repairs in April 2019. Mac Isaac later gave the laptop to former President Donald Trump's personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani. Giuliani gave the laptop to local police and shared the contents with reporters.The New York Post reported in October 2020 – weeks before the presidential election – on emails about Hunter Biden's business dealings in Ukraine and possible links to his father.The story described 2015 emails indicating then-Vice President Joe Biden met with a high-ranking official at Burisma Holdings, a Ukrainian energy company whose board employed Hunter Biden. The meeting would have come at a time when Biden was pressuring Ukraine to fire its prosecutor general, who was investigating the company Trump has criticized.But Biden’s campaign said, “No meeting, as alleged by the New York Post, ever took place.”When Trump raised questions about the laptop at a presidential debate, Biden replied that it was Russian disinformation. The laptop’s legitimacy has since been confirmed by CBS News, but the contents remain under investigation.More:Biden family hearings to begin Feb. 8 as House GOP probes Twitter, Hunter Biden laptopHunter Biden asks DOJ, Delaware attorney general to investigate distribution of laptop informationHunter Biden’s lawyers sent letters Wednesday asking the Justice Department and Delaware’s attorney general to investigate who accessed, copied and disseminated information from the laptop.Abbe Lowell, one of Hunter Biden’s lawyers, said the actions taken with the laptop “more than merit a full investigation and, depending on the resulting facts, may merit prosecution under various statutes.”The committee seeks Treasury documents about 'suspicious' Hunter Biden banking transactionsThe committee asked the Treasury Department for documents about 150 alerts from U.S. banks about suspicious transactions involving Hunter Biden and James Biden, the president's brother. The committee also asked the Prewitt Mahler Tucker Private Wealth Management Group about its management of Hunter Biden’s finances including “questionable business dealings.”The suspicious transaction reports don’t necessarily flag wrongdoing because they generally cover transactions greater than $5,000 and the department received 3.6 million reports last year.Comer said documents suggest Hunter Biden was paid $80,000 per month by Burisma and benefitted from a $5 million deal in China, which was wire-transferred through corporate intermediaries. Comer said he would like to find out what Hunter Biden provided in exchange.Comer argued the payments were "influence peddling," and acknowledged there might be nothing to the suspicious reports, but he wants to review them.Ian Sams, a White House spokesperson for oversight, called the request for banking records a political stunt driven by the most extreme members of the Republican conference.More:'The Joe Biden investigation': What to expect from Jamie Comer as House Oversight chairJoe Biden denies profiting from sonJoe Biden denied repeatedly he received any benefit from his son’s business deals. Republicans questioned his truthfulness.“I have never spoken to my son about his overseas business dealings,” Biden said in 2019.But Comer labeled the claim “false” because of documentation of meetings from Hunter Biden’s personal calendar and White House visitor records.Joe Biden earlier denied receiving foreign payments during a 2020 presidential debate.“I have not taken a penny from any foreign source at any point in my life,” Biden said.The former vice president denied accusations from Trump about a secret bank account in China.“He’s talking about me taking money from China?” Biden said of Trump. “I’ve not taken a penny from any country. Ever. Ever. Ever.”What do the Secret Service and FBI know?The committee is also investigating how federal agencies such as the Secret Service and the FBI have dealt with Hunter Biden.The panel asked who had access to Joe Biden’s former office and his home, where classified documents from his time as vice president were discovered in November and December.Ron Klain, Biden’s chief of staff, told the panel the White House doesn’t maintain visitor logs for the house. But the Secret Service generates law enforcement records for people who visit, so Comer asked the agency for those records from when Biden left the Obama administration in January 2017.The committee asked the FBI for information about Hunter Biden's relationship with JiaQi "Jackie" Bao, whom lawmakers identified as having ties to the Chinese Communist Party. Bao helped Hunter Biden broker a 2017 deal for a U.S. purchase of liquefied natural gas through CEFC China Energy, according to the committee.But the deal collapsed in 2019 when CEFC's leaders were arrested in the U.S. and charged with corruption for projects in Africa, according to the committee.Previous Senate investigation found no evidence of wrongdoingRepublicans on a pair of Senate committees investigated the laptop and found in September 2020 no evidence of wrongdoing or corrupt actions by Joe Biden in connection with his son’s dealings in Ukraine.The 87-page report found Hunter Biden’s role at the Ukrainian energy company Burisma “problematic” but said it was “unclear” whether he influenced U.S. foreign policy while Joe Biden was vice president.But Republicans serving in the minoritydidn’t have the authority to subpoena witnesses, which Comer now has.Who is testifying from Twitter?Republicans have accused social media companies such as Twitter of suppressing information about Hunter Biden’s laptop in the weeks before the 2020 election.Jack Dorsey, Twitter’s CEO at the time, said later that blocking the article with “zero context” was “unacceptable.”The committee called former Twitter executives as witnesses for the hearing: Yoel Roth, former global head of trust and safety; Vijaya Gadde, former chief legal officer and James Baker, former general counsel.Baker is a former general counsel for the FBI, an agency lawmakers accused of encouraging social media companies to suppress stories before the election because of concerns about hacking. Gadde explained at the time how Twitter revised its policy allowing tweets about the laptop after suppressing them for days.Courier Journal reporter Morgan Watkins contributed to this article.

Fortenberry and Sasse headline unusual year-end campaign finance reports

By |2023-02-06T18:21:09-05:00February 6th, 2023|Election 2020|

OMAHA — The departures of a congressman and a U.S. senator spiced up the final campaign finance reports for Nebraska’s congressional races in 2022. State Sen. Patty Pansing Brooks of Lincoln, left, and U.S. Rep. Mike Flood, R-Neb., competed in 2022 in the 1st Congressional District. (Aaron Sanderford/Nebraska Examiner) In eastern Nebraska’s 1st Congressional District, U.S. Rep. Mike Flood, R-Neb., defeated Democratic State Sen. Patty Pansing Brooks in a rare special election. The seat opened when Rep. Jeff Fortenberry resigned after being convicted of three federal felonies, related to illegal foreign campaign funds raised for one of his previous bids. Flood, who challenged Fortenberry in the Republican primary, raised $2.2 million and spent $2.1 million in the primary, special and general elections combined. Pansing Brooks raised and spent $1.8 million over the same span. Fortenberry who is appealing his convictions, paid $783,000 in legal fees from his House campaign account in 2021 and 2022.  He folded up his federal campaign committee in October, having spent $1.68 million in his final two years, primarily on legal fees, campaign consultants and advertising. Political observers have speculated that Fortenberry might run again for his old seat if he is successful on appeal. U.S. Rep. Don Bacon, R-Neb., at left, and State Sen. Tony Vargas of Omaha competed the 2nd District seat in the Omaha area. (Photos/House of Representatives and Unicameral Information Office) In the Omaha-based 2nd District, Nebraska’s most competitive, Rep. Don Bacon, R-Neb., outraised his Democratic opponent, State Sen. Tony Vargas.  Bacon raised and spent about $4 million. Vargas raised and spent $3.4 million, the second highest of any Democratic candidate in the district over the years. He trailed only Kara Eastman, who raised and spent $4.5 million in 2020. But like Eastman, Vargas faced an onslaught of outside spending, $5.2 million, according to OpenSecrets.org, which tracks congressional campaign spending by race. Outside groups spent $3.5 million against Bacon.  Bacon also benefited from outside groups spending $2.1 million to support him. By contrast, outside groups spent $101,872 backing Vargas. Rep. Adrian Smith, who serves Nebraska’s largely rural 3rd District, raised $1.7 million and spent $1.9 million – most of that in supporting other House Republicans. He spent about $70,000 on his own race, most of that for political and fundraising consultants.  His challenger, Democrat David Else of Overton, didn’t raise or spend the $5,000 minimum that triggers the obligation to file a report. Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., questions William Burns, nominee for Central Intelligence Agency director, during his Senate Select Intelligence Committee confirmation hearing. (Tom Williams-Pool/Getty Images) U.S. Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., left the Senate in January for the University of Florida’s presidency with $2.7 million left in his campaign coffers, which he could use in Florida.  He had raised nearly $2 million since his 2020 election, almost all before he announced in late 2022 that he was a finalist for the academic job. Nebraska Gov. Jim Pillen appointed former Gov. Pete Ricketts to replace Sasse. Ricketts recently spun up a new Senate campaign committee but has not yet reported raising money. Ricketts has said that he will run in 2024 to fill out the final two years of Sasse’s term and that, if successful, he will run in 2026 for a full six-year term.  Former Nebraska gubernatorial candidate Charles Herbster has been considering running against him. GET THE MORNING HEADLINES DELIVERED TO YOUR INBOX SUBSCRIBE

Trump Aides Planned to Whip up Election Lies While Admitting Biden Won: Audio Leak

By |2023-02-04T22:53:26-05:00February 4th, 2023|Election 2020|

Residents wait in line to vote at a shuttered Sears store in the Janesville Mall on November 03, 2020 in Janesville, Wisconsin. Scott Olson/Getty Images The Associated Press obtained audio of Donald Trump's aides discussing the aftermath of the 2020 election. The Wisconsin aides planned to "fan the flame" about baseless election fraud claims, despite admitting Trump lost. "Just be on standby in case there's any stunts we need to pull," one aide says in the recording. Top editors give you the stories you want — delivered right to your inbox each weekday. Loading Something is loading. Thanks for signing up! Access your favorite topics in a personalized feed while you're on the go. download the app Email address By clicking ‘Sign up’, you agree to receive marketing emails from Insider as well as other partner offers and accept our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. .inline-newsletter-signup.loading { width: 100%; max-width: 640px; margin: 0 auto; visibility: hidden; } In a newly released audio recording, former Donald Trump campaign staff can be heard planning to "fan the flame" by promoting election fraud claims in Wisconsin following the 2020 presidential election, despite acknowledging defeat.In the audio from November 5, 2020, obtained by the Associated Press, Andrew Iverson, the head of Trump's campaign in the state, can be heard speaking to other GOP operatives in a meeting."Here's the drill: Comms is going to continue to fan the flame and get the word out about Democrats trying to steal this election. We'll do whatever they need our help with. Just be on standby in case there's any stunts we need to pull," Iverson says in the recording.Iverson talks about promoting baseless election fraud conspiracy theories despite admitting in another part of the recording that Trump had lost the key battleground state. "At the end of the day, this operation received more votes than any other Republican in Wisconsin history. And it wasn't even close," Iverson says."Say what you want, our operation turned out Republican or DJT supporters. Democrats just got 20,000 more than us, out of Dane County and other shenanigans in Milwaukee, Green Bay, and Dane. There's a lot that people can learn from this campaign."Trump won Wisconsin in 2016, but Joe Biden beat him in 2020 by nearly 21,000 votes. Nonpartisan audits and reviews have since confirmed the results.The audio provides insight into the inner workings of the Trump campaign and the disconnect between their private conversations about the election and public allegations about election fraud. The audio was given to AP by a former campaign official and GOP operative who attended the meeting and recorded it. They have remained anonymous out of fear of retaliation but said they had chosen to share it because of Trump's third presidential run.When asked by AP about the recording, Iverson, now the Midwest regional director for the Republican National Committee, referred the outlet to RNC spokesperson Keith Schipper. Schipper declined to comment, claiming he had not listened to the clip.Trump campaign spokesperson Steven Cheung responded to AP: "The 2024 campaign is focused on competing in every state and winning in a dominating fashion. That is why President Trump is leading by wide margins in poll after poll."At another point in the recorded meeting, the group discusses and laughs about GOP outreach efforts to Black voters in the state and needing "more Black voices for Trump." "We ever talk to Black people before? I don't think so," Iverson says, sparking laughter from others, according to AP.Meanwhile, GOP operative Clayton Henson praises the Democratic campaign for high voter turnout in Dane County,  a liberal stronghold in the state."Hats off to them for what they did in Dane County. You gotta respect that," Henson says, per AP. "There's going to be another election in a couple years. So remember the lessons you learned and be ready to punch back."Henson also declined to comment on the meeting to AP. .content-lock-lock .hidden { display: none; } Sign up for notifications from Insider! Stay up to date with what you want to know. Subscribe to push notifications Close icon Two crossed lines that form an 'X'. It indicates a way to close an interaction, or dismiss a notification.

Electronic pollbook security raises concerns going into 2024 – NewsTimes

By |2023-02-04T22:53:30-05:00February 4th, 2023|Election 2020|

ATLANTA (AP) — They were blamed for long lines in Los Angeles during California’s 2020 presidential primary, triggered check-in delays in Columbus, Ohio, a few months later and were at the center of former President Donald Trump’s call for supporters to protest in Detroit during last November's midterms.High-profile problems involving electronic pollbooks have opened the door for those peddling election conspiracies and underscore the critical role the technology plays in whether voting runs smoothly. Russia and Iran already have demonstrated interest in accessing the systems. Despite their importance and potential vulnerabilities, national standards for the security and reliability of electronic pollbooks do not exist and efforts underway to develop them may not be ready or widely adopted in time for the 2024 presidential election.

Electronic pollbook security raises concerns going into 2024 – Beaumont Enterprise

By |2023-02-04T22:53:31-05:00February 4th, 2023|Election 2020|

ATLANTA (AP) — They were blamed for long lines in Los Angeles during California’s 2020 presidential primary, triggered check-in delays in Columbus, Ohio, a few months later and were at the center of former President Donald Trump’s call for supporters to protest in Detroit during last November's midterms.High-profile problems involving electronic pollbooks have opened the door for those peddling election conspiracies and underscore the critical role the technology plays in whether voting runs smoothly. Russia and Iran already have demonstrated interest in accessing the systems. Despite their importance and potential vulnerabilities, national standards for the security and reliability of electronic pollbooks do not exist and efforts underway to develop them may not be ready or widely adopted in time for the 2024 presidential election.

Kansas Republicans say “Election Day” should mean Election Day. Is that possible?

By |2023-02-04T22:53:32-05:00February 4th, 2023|Election 2020|

#inform-video-player-1 .inform-embed { margin-top: 10px; margin-bottom: 20px; } #inform-video-player-2 .inform-embed { margin-top: 10px; margin-bottom: 20px; } KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Kansas Republicans have repeatedly said they want “Election Day” to mean Election Day as they weigh new rules to restrict mail-in ballots and drop boxes.The phrase is a callback to the 2020 election when ballots counted after election night secured President Joe Biden’s victory in the Electoral College over former President Donald Trump. #inform-video-player-3 .inform-embed { margin-top: 10px; margin-bottom: 20px; }

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