Home » Biden: ‘I’ve Never Seen Anything Like The Unrelenting Assault On The Right To Vote’ – Live

Biden: ‘I’ve Never Seen Anything Like The Unrelenting Assault On The Right To Vote’ – Live

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22:59

In an attempt to keep kids in the classrooms in the face of the fast-spreading omicron variant, the Biden Administration released a new strategy to increase Covid testing. Rather than sending children home, schools can now employ the CDC’s “test to stay” strategy, enabling unvaccinated students to remain in class if they test negative at least twice even if they have been exposed to the virus.

Reuters (@Reuters)

U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky said that the agency has released a new strategy called ‘test-to-stay’ that allows unvaccinated children to stay in school even if they have been exposed to COVID-19 t.co/FJQgbyyAj7 pic.twitter.com/eOT7bW3Oj7

December 17, 2021

“If exposed children meet a certain criteria and continue to test negative, they can stay at school instead of quarantining at home,” CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said said during a press briefing on Friday.

Omicron is quickly gaining speed and could soon become the dominant variant in the US, surpassing Delta. Vaccines are still a strong line of defense against the virus but only 18% of kids between the ages of 5 and 11 have received one dose, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. Roughly 61% between the ages of 12 to 17 have gotten a shot.

But studies done by the agency show that the new strategy is effective at stoping transmissions and limits school days missed. The CDC cited how the program, used at 90 schools in Illinois were able prevent 8,000 missed school days, NBC News reports. In Los Angeles County, where the strategy wasn’t used, students lost 92,000 school days.

“The studies demonstrate that ‘test to stay’ works to keep unvaccinated children in schools safely,” Walensky said.

22:27

Gabrielle Canon here in Los Angeles to take you through the rest of Friday’s news.

Three NFL games planned for this weekend had to be rescheduled due to a Covid outbreak among players, the New York Times reports. With the season winding down, the quick-spreading Omicron variant is having an impact on the important games leading up to the Super Bowl and more than 130 players have tested positive.

The NFL said in a news release that the games will be postponed due to the “new, highly transmissible form of the virus this week, resulting in a substantial increase in cases across the league.”

New protocols have also been issued, including mask mandates and limitations placed on in-person activities.

Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet)

NFL statement on adjusted COVID-19 protocols. pic.twitter.com/zz6LA9GfXM

December 16, 2021

Rob Demovsky (@RobDemovsky)

Marcedes Lewis on how he’s tried to minimize COVID risks as it’s running rampant around the NFL:

“My circle is a dot.” pic.twitter.com/p3L0TmQJXX

December 16, 2021

From the NYT:

If the outbreak worsens, the NFL has little room to maneuver. Only four more weeks of its regular season remain, and there are no breaks in the schedule besides the week before the Super Bowl, which is scheduled for Feb. 13. Games cannot be played in rapid succession, like in other leagues, because of the necessary recovery time for teams between games. And with just 17 regular season games, a forfeit or game that cannot be rescheduled could drastically affect who qualifies for the playoffs.”

Updated

22:00

Today so far

That’s it from me today. My west coast colleague, Gabrielle Canon, will take over the blog for the next few hours.

Here’s where the day stands so far:

  • Joe Biden once again underscored the urgent need to pass national voting rights legislation, which has stalled in the Senate due to Republican filibustering. “This battle is not over,” Biden said at South Carolina State University’s commencement ceremony this morning. “We’re going to keep up the fight until we get it done, and you’re going to keep up the fight, and we need your help badly.”
  • Omicron is expected to soon become the dominant strain of coronavirus in the US, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said. “Although Delta continues to circulate widely in the United States, Omicron is increasing rapidly, and we expect it to become the dominant strain in the United States, as it has in other countries, in the coming weeks,” Dr Rochelle Walensky said at a press briefing today.
  • A Capitol insurrectionist was sentenced to more than five years in prison for attacking police officers on 6 January. The punishment of Robert Palmer represents the longest sentence given to a Capitol rioter so far. Palmer told the judge overseeing his case, “I’m really, really ashamed of what I did.”
  • Roger Stone invoked his fifth amendment rights against self-incrimination today, when he appeared for his deposition with the House select committee investigating the Capitol insurrection. “I did invoke my fifth amendment rights to every question – not because I have done anything wrong, but because I am fully aware of the House Democrats’ long history of fabricating perjury charges,” the Trump ally and political operative said.
  • A report suggests that former Texas governor and energy secretary Rick Perry was the author of a controversial text sent to Mark Meadows, the former chief of staff to Donald Trump, on 4 November 2020. The text was revealed as part of the documents that Meadows turned over to the select committee investigating the insurrection, and it reads, “HERE’s an AGRESSIVE (sic) STRATEGY: Why can t (sic) the states of GA NC PENN and other R controlled state houses declare this is BS (where conflicts and election not called that night) and just send their own electors to vote and have it go to the SCOTUS.”

Gabrielle will have more coming up, so stay tuned.

Updated

21:45

Rick Perry wrote text to Meadows suggesting strategy to undermine election – report

A new report suggests that former Texas governor and energy secretary Rick Perry was the author of a controversial text sent to Mark Meadows, the former chief of staff to Donald Trump, on November 4, 2020.

The text was revealed on Tuesday night as part of the documents that Meadows turned over to the House select committee investigating the Capitol insurrection, before the former Trump aide ended his cooperation with investigators.

The text reads, “HERE’s an AGRESSIVE (sic) STRATEGY: Why can t (sic) the states of GA NC PENN and other R controlled state houses declare this is BS (where conflicts and election not called that night) and just send their own electors to vote and have it go to the SCOTUS.”

CNN reports:

A spokesman for Perry told CNN that the former Energy Secretary denies being the author of the text. Multiple people who know Rick Perry confirmed to CNN that the phone number the committee has associated with that text message is Perry’s number.

The cell phone number the text was sent from, obtained from a source knowledgeable about the investigation, appears in databases as being registered to a James Richard Perry of Texas, the former governor’s full name.

The number is also associated in a second database as registered to a Department of Energy email address associated with Perry when he was secretary. When told of these facts, the spokesman had no explanation.

Democrats had warned that the text message indicates Trump and his allies were working to overturn the results of the 2020 election even before a winner was declared in multiple battleground states.

21:26

One House progressive suggested he felt betrayed by the Senate’s failure to pass the Build Back Better Act after he supported the bipartisan infrastructure bill.

“The House acted in good faith and passed the infrastructure bill, on the promise that the Senate would do the same with Build Back Better,” congressman Ro Khanna said. “It’s time for the Senate to hold the vote that the president promised.”

Ro Khanna (@RoKhanna)

The House acted in good faith and passed the infrastructure bill, on the promise that the Senate would do the same with Build Back Better.

It’s time for the Senate to hold the vote that the President promised.

December 17, 2021

It’s worth noting that six House progressives – Jamaal Bowman, Cori Bush, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley and Rashida Tlaib – opposed the infrastructure bill out of concern that its passage would slow momentum for the Build Back Better Act.

And indeed, since the infrastructure bill passed last month, centrist Democrat Joe Manchin has raised more objections to the Build Back Better Act, leaving a deal out of reach as the end of the year approaches.

Updated

21:07

Set the DVR: Joe Manchin will be speaking to Bret Baier on Fox News this Sunday, as the centrist senator’s talks with Joe Biden over the Build Back Better Act drag on.

FoxNewsSunday (@FoxNewsSunday)

SUNDAY: Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) joins Bret Baier for an exclusive interview on on-going negotiations to pass the President’s social spending package. pic.twitter.com/oEHwys53f9

December 17, 2021

The interview comes as Biden has acknowledged that Democrats’ $1.75tn spending package will not pass this year, largely because Manchin is not yet on board.

Manchin’s reluctance is enraging progressives, who have warned that the party will suffer widespread losses in the midterm elections next year if Congress cannot deliver.

“It is actually delusional to believe Dems can get re-elected without acting on filibuster or student debt, Biden breaking his BBB promise, letting [the expanded child tax credit] lapse, 0 path to citizenship, etc,” congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said on Twitter today. “We need to act now.”

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC)

It is actually delusional to believe Dems can get re-elected without acting on filibuster or student debt, Biden breaking his BBB promise, letting CTC lapse, 0 path to citizenship, etc

Esp when they run from convos abt race+culture (which is what 1/6 was abt)

We need to act now

December 17, 2021

Updated

20:43

Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell has said the House select committee investigating the Capitol insurrection is seeking facts that “the public needs to know”.

Speaking to Spectrum News yesterday, the Republican leader said of the select committee, “I think the fact-finding is interesting. We’re all going to be watching it.”

Julia Benbrook (@JuliaBenbrook)

On the Jan. 6 commission – @LeaderMcConnell said he’s watching the investigation as it occurs over in the House. “It was a horrendous event and I think what they are seeking to find out is something the public needs to know.” pic.twitter.com/Bf63sVHS5o

December 17, 2021

McConnell did not offer any review of the committee’s performance so far, but he acknowledged the importance of the investigators’ work.

“It was a horrendous event, and I think what they’re seeking to find out is something the public needs to know,” McConnell said.

The Kentucky senator made similar comments earlier this week, telling reporters on Capitol Hill, “We’re all watching, as you are, what is unfolding on the House side, and it will be interesting to reveal all the participants who were involved.”

It should be noted that Senate Republicans blocked the creation of a 9/11-style commission to study the insurrection earlier this year.

Updated

20:24

Caroline Wren, one of the organizers of the January 6 rally that culminated in the attack on the Capitol, also met today with the House select committee investigating the insurrection.

Wren did not respond to questions when a CBS News reporter approached her earlier today:

Ellis Kim (@elliskkim)

Caroline Wren is meeting with the Jan. 6 select committee today. A top Trump fundraiser, she was listed as a VIP Advisor in a permit for the rally at the Ellipse.

She did not respond to questions when I approached her earlier; her lawyer John Rowley told me they had no comment. pic.twitter.com/03ySH4tigh

December 17, 2021

Wren was a top fundraiser for Donald Trump’s campaign, and she was listed on the permit paperwork for the January 6 rally as a “VIP adviser”.

The select committee issued subpoenas to Wren and other organizers of the rally in late September.

20:05

Meanwhile, Brandon Straka, who spoke at a “Stop the Steal” rally the day before the Capitol insurrection, appears to have provided the government with information that may impact his sentencing after he pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct during the riot.

Politico reports:

It’s an indication that Straka, one of the few Jan. 6 defendants who is also of interest to congressional investigators, has cooperated with prosecutors in a substantive way.

Straka, who describes himself as a ‘former liberal,’ became a relatively prominent figure in Trump-world in 2018, when he founded the ‘WalkAway campaign’ to encourage liberals to abandon Democrats. He was one of just two speakers at pro-Trump events on Jan. 5 and 6 criminally charged for their roles in the Capitol attack. Owen Shroyer, an InfoWars broadcaster and ally of Alex Jones, also faces misdemeanor charges in the case.

Straka pleaded guilty in October to a single misdemeanor charge and was set to be sentenced next week. But prosecutors have asked for a 30-day sentencing delay so that his new evidence ‘can be properly evaluated.’

The House select committee investigating the Capitol insurrection has also asked the National Archives to provide all Trump White House documents related to Straka.

19:45

Stone confirms he invoked Fifth Amendment rights with Capitol attack committee

Roger Stone confirmed that he did invoke his Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination this morning, when he appeared for a deposition before the House select committee investigating the Capitol insurrection.

“This morning, in fulfillment of a federal subpoena, I did my civil duty, and I responded as required by law,” the Trump ally and political operative told reporters on Capitol Hill.

“I did invoke my Fifth Amendment rights to every question — not because I have done anything wrong, but because I am fully aware of the House Democrats’ long history of fabricating perjury charges.”

Stone challenged the legitimacy of the inquiry, attacking the investigation as “witch hunt 3.0”.

Roger Stone pleads fifth before January 6th Committee. Photograph: Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA

“I stress yet again that I was not on the Ellipse. I did not march to the Capitol,” Stone said. “I was not at the Capitol and any claim, assertion or even implication that I knew about or was involved in any way whatsoever with the illegal and politically counterproductive activities of January 6, is categorically false.”

According to the statement the committee issued when it subpoenaed Stone, investigators are interested in his movements on January 5 and allegations that he used members of the far-right group Oath Keepers as personal security guards while he was in Washington.

Stone claimed his actions on January 5 amounted to “constitutionally protected free speech” and were thus not a legitimate avenue of inquiry for the committee.

19:21

Capitol insurrectionist receives five-year prison sentence

One of the participants in the January 6 insurrection at the US Capitol has been sentenced to more than five years in prison for attacking police officers during the riot.

The AP reports:

Robert Palmer, 54, of Largo, Florida, wept as he told U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan that he recently watched a video of his actions that day and could not believe what he was seeing.

‘Your honor. I’m really really ashamed of what I did,’ he said weeping.

Palmer was one of a few rioters sentenced on Friday in District of Columbia court for their actions on Jan. 6 when the angry mob descended after a rally by then-President Donald Trump to disrupt the certification of Joe Biden’s victory. Scores of police were beaten and blooded, five people died and there was about $1.5 million in damage done to the U.S. Capitol. Palmer is the 65th defendant to be sentenced overall. More than 700 people have been charged.

Palmer’s punishment represents the longest prison sentence given to a Capitol rioter so far. That unwanted record was previously held by Jacob Chansley of Arizona and Scott Fairlamb of New Jersey, both of whom received 41 months in prison.

19:01

Leading progressive Democrat Pramila Jayapal is voicing the frustration felt by many as the year looks set to end with a legislative whimper not a bang for Joe Biden and his administration.

The Washington state congresswoman just tweeted:

Rep. Pramila Jayapal (@RepJayapal)

The House did our job and passed the Build Back Better Act nearly a month ago.

There’s no excuse for the Senate to go on holiday vacation without getting this done for people across America.

December 17, 2021

Liberals tweeted their support, including this cartoon of the bill metaphorically bearing down on Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema on a bicycle made for two (centrist Democrats), who thus with the shakiest of platforms, hold it at bay:

(Italian) Bamboo cryptologist (@TinResistAgain)

pic.twitter.com/OvWd3qMOCF

December 17, 2021

Updated

18:49

New data analysis has revealed that if US Democratic voters were to make up their own country, it would have one of the world’s most vaccinated populations, with over 91% of adults having received at least one shot.

Meanwhile, only approximately 60% of Republican adults have received their first shot, according to data research by the New York Times.

And the gap in Covid’s death toll between blue and red states that voted mostly Republican this fall widened more quickly than at any previous point of the pandemic.

A total of 25 out of every 100,000 residents in counties that voted for Donald Trump died of Covid in October, compared to the 7.8 per 100,000 in counties that voted heavily for Biden, according to the data analysis from the Times.

October marked the fifth consecutive month that the percentage gap of death rates in red and blue counties widened.

Charles Gaba, an independent health care analyst, said that in October, the “reddest” tenth of the US saw death rates from coronavirus six times higher than the “bluest” tenth.

“Those numbers have dropped slightly in recent weeks,” he told National Public Radio. “It’s back down to 5.5 times higher.”

Counties where Trump received over 70% of the vote experienced an even higher average of Covid-19 deaths compared to counties where Trump won at least 60 percent, the new data research revealed.

On the contrary, Covid-19 deaths in heavily Biden counties and swing counties did not rise over the past two months, despite the nationwide surge in cases.

Updated

18:23

The US Postal Service (USPS) and NAACP have reached a settlement in a lawsuit over election mail.

USPS agreed for the 2022 mid-term congressional election to take the same extraordinary measures used to deliver ballots in the November 2020 election, Reuters writes.

The agency further reports:

The Postal Service also agreed for elections through 2028 to post guidance documents publicly reflecting its “good faith efforts to prioritize monitoring and timely delivery of Election Mail.

The NAACP president, Derrick Johnson said in a statement, “With the NAACP’s ability to now monitor the performance of the USPS during national elections, we will ensure that the right to vote is protected for of all citizens, including those often suppressed.”

Johnson also reiterated the need to pass national voting rights legislation, saying, “While this is an unprecedented victory, we are now laser-focused on passing federal voting rights protections through the Senate.”

Updated

18:00

Today so far

Here’s where the day stands so far:

  • Joe Biden once again underscored the urgent need to pass national voting rights legislation, which has stalled in the Senate due to Republican filibustering. “This battle is not over,” Biden said at South Carolina State University’s commencement ceremony this morning. “We’re going to keep up the fight until we get it done, and you’re going to keep up the fight, and we need your help badly.”
  • Omicron is expected to soon become the dominant strain of coronavirus in the US, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said. “Although Delta continues to circulate widely in the United States, Omicron is increasing rapidly, and we expect it to become the dominant strain in the United States, as it has in other countries, in the coming weeks,” Dr Rochelle Walensky said at a press briefing today.
  • Roger Stone appeared on Capitol Hill for his deposition with the House select committee investigating the January 6 insurrection. Stone’s lawyer had previously indicated that his client would invoke his Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination to avoid complying with the committee’s subpoena, which was issued last month.

The blog will have more coming up, so stay tuned.

17:43

Major US companies are now pulling back on plans to return to in-person work in light of the Omicron variant’s rapid spread across America.

Employers planning to call remote workers back into the office in the new year are now pausing those efforts, and they are wary of setting new return dates only to push them back once again in the face of continued uncertainty and risks from the pandemic.

The pandemic is also driving changes in how in-person employees work, with a renewed push for strikes and unionization across several industries where workers have frequently faced long hours and unsafe conditions.

Alphabet’s Google, Meta, Apple, Uber, Lyft, Ford, DoorDash, DocuSign and Fidelity are among the companies that have delayed returns to the office.

“It’s warranted, given the uptick that we’ve seen in cases,” Bradford Bell, director of the Center for Advanced Human Resource Studies at Cornell University’s ILR School, said. The delays also depend on where the offices are located, he said. “They’re very much looking at this on a location-by-location basis.”

17:24

The White House pandemic response team coordinator, Jeff Zients, reassured vaccinated Americans that, if they contract Omicron, their case will “likely be asymptomatic or mild”.

“We are intent on not letting Omicron disrupt work and school for the vaccinated. You’ve done the right thing, and we will get through this,” Zients said.

But the White House official issued a dire warning to unvaccinated Americans, saying Omicron poses a serious risk to them and their communities.

“For the unvaccinated, you’re looking at a winter of severe illness and death for yourselves, your families and the hospitals you may soon overwhelm,” Zients said.

“Our message to every American is clear: there is action you can take to protect yourself and your family. Wear a mask in public indoor settings, get vaccinated, get your kids vaccinated and get a booster shot when you’re eligible.”

Joe Biden issued a similar warning yesterday, saying the unvaccinated face “a winter of severe illness and death”.

17:04

Omicron expected to become dominant variant in US, Walensky says

The White House pandemic response team held a briefing this morning to provide an update on the spread of the Omicron variant of coronavirus in the US.

Dr Rochelle Walensky, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said at least 39 states and more than 75 countries have now reported confirmed cases of the Omicron variant.

CSPAN (@cspan)

[email protected] Dr. Rochelle Walensky: “Omicron is increasing rapidly, and we expect it to become the dominant strain in the United States, as it has in other countries, in the coming weeks.”

Watch: t.co/C54s2JZqzH pic.twitter.com/iIIFgZ9viD

December 17, 2021

“Although Delta continues to circulate widely in the United States, Omicron is increasing rapidly, and we expect it to become the dominant strain in the United States, as it has in other countries, in the coming weeks,” Walensky said.

The CDC director noted that the agency is seeing cases of Omicron among people who are both vaccinated and boosted.

But Walensky added, “We believe these cases are milder or asymptomatic because of vaccine protection.”

Updated