TAG SEARCH RESULTS FOR: ""

House sending Trump impeachment to Senate, GOP opposes trial

By MARY CLARE JALONICK and LISA MASCARO

WASHINGTON (AP) — As the House prepares to bring the impeachment charge against Donald Trump to the Senate for trial, a growing number of Republican senators say they are opposed to the proceeding, dimming the chances that former president will be convicted on the charge that he incited a siege of the U.S. Capitol.

House Democrats will carry the sole impeachment charge of “incitement of insurrection” across the Capitol late Monday evening, a rare and ceremonial walk to the Senate by the prosecutors who will argue their case. They are hoping that strong Republican denunciations of Trump after the Jan. 6 riot will translate into a conviction and a separate vote to bar Trump from holding office again.

But instead, GOP passions appear to have cooled since the insurrection. Now that Trump’s presidency is over, Republican senators who will serve as jurors in the trial are rallying to his legal defense, as they did during his first impeachment trial last year.

“I think the trial is stupid, I think it’s counterproductive,” said Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla.. He said that “the first chance I get to vote to end this trial, I’ll do it” because he believes it would be bad for the country and further inflame partisan divisions.

Trump is the first former president to face impeachment trial, and it will test his grip on the Republican Party as well as the legacy of his tenure, which came to a close as a mob of loyal supporters heeded his rally cry by storming the Capitol and trying to overturn Joe Biden’s election. The proceedings will also force Democrats, who have a full sweep of party control of the White House and Congress, to balance their promise to hold the former president accountable while also rushing to deliver on Biden’s priorities.

Arguments in the Senate trial will begin the week of Feb. 8. Leaders in both parties agreed to the short delay to give Trump’s team and House prosecutors time to prepare and the Senate the chance to confirm some of Biden’s Cabinet nominees. Democrats say the extra days will allow for more evidence to come out about the rioting by Trump supporters, while Republicans hope to craft a unified defense for Trump.

Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., said in an interview with The Associated Press on Sunday that he hopes that evolving clarity on the details of what happened Jan. 6 “will make it clearer to my colleagues and the American people that we need some accountability.”

Coons questioned how his colleagues who were in the Capitol that day could see the insurrection as anything other than a “stunning violation” of tradition of peaceful transfers of power.

“It is a critical moment in American history and we have to look at it and look at it hard,” Coons said.

An early vote to dismiss the trial probably would not succeed, given that Democrats now control the Senate. Still, the mounting Republican opposition indicates that many GOP senators would eventually vote to acquit Trump. Democrats would need the support of 17 Republicans — a high bar — to convict him.

When the House impeached Trump on Jan. 13, exactly one week after the siege, Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., said he didn’t believe the Senate had the constitutional authority to convict Trump after he had left office. On Sunday, Cotton said “the more I talk to other Republican senators, the more they’re beginning to line up” behind that argument.

“I think a lot of Americans are going to think it’s strange that the Senate is spending its time trying to convict and remove from office a man who left office a week ago,” Cotton said.

Democrats reject that argument, pointing to a 1876 impeachment of a secretary of war who had already resigned and to opinions by many legal scholars. Democrats also say that a reckoning of the first invasion of the Capitol since the War of 1812, perpetrated by rioters egged on by a president who told them to “fight like hell” against election results that were being counted at the time, is necessary so the country can move forward and ensure such a siege never happens again.

A few GOP senators have agreed with Democrats, though not close to the number that will be needed to convict Trump.

Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, said he believes there is a “preponderance of opinion” that an impeachment trial is appropriate after someone leaves office.

“I believe that what is being alleged and what we saw, which is incitement to insurrection, is an impeachable offense,” Romney said. “If not, what is?”

But Romney, the lone Republican to vote to convict Trump when the Senate acquitted the then-president in last year’s trial, appears to be an outlier.

Sen. Mike Rounds, R-South Dakota, said he believes a trial is a “moot point” after a president’s term is over, “and I think it’s one that they would have a very difficult time in trying to get done within the Senate.”

On Friday, GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, a close Trump ally who has been helping him build a legal team, urged the Senate to reject the idea of a post-presidency trial — potentially with a vote to dismiss the charge — and suggested Republicans will scrutinize whether Trump’s words on Jan. 6 were legally “incitement.”

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, who said last week that Trump “provoked” his supporters before the riot, has not said how he will vote or argued any legal strategies. The Kentucky senator has told his GOP colleagues that it will be a vote of conscience.

One of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s nine impeachment managers said Trump’s encouragement of his loyalists before the riot was “an extraordinarily heinous presidential crime.”

Rep. Madeleine Dean, D-Pennsylvania., said “I mean, think back. It was just two-and-a-half weeks ago that the president assembled a mob on the Ellipse of the White House. He incited them with his words. And then he lit the match.”

Trump’s supporters invaded the Capitol and interrupted the electoral count as he falsely claimed there was massive fraud in the election and that it was stolen by Biden. Trump’s claims were roundly rejected in the courts, including by judges appointed by Trump, and by state election officials.

Rubio and Romney were on “Fox News Sunday,” Cotton appeared on Fox News Channel’s “Sunday Morning Futures” and Romney also was on CNN’s “State of the Union,” as was Dean. Rounds was interviewed on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

___

Associated Press writer Hope Yen contributed to this report.

Iowa budget surplus

Iowa’s budget surplus was one of the topics discussed at Saturday’s (1/23) Eggs and Issues forum sponsored by the Mahaska Chamber and Development Group.  State Representative Holly Brink of Oskaloosa pointed out that having a surplus came in handy when the coronavirus pandemic began.

“The pandemic did prove that we need to make sure that we do have that surplus in place.  Because everything we did was cash on hand.  When we were putting out the first $2 million in an amendment and then we did another $24 (million) for economic development and helping our small businesses.  That was cash on hand.  We’re not going to the federal government begging for money because we overspent.”

State Senator Ken Rozenboom of Oskaloosa also pointed out that the Legislature has to pass a balanced budget.

Snow emergencies declared

A few cities in the No Coast Network listening area have declared snow emergencies. Oskaloosa and Ottumwa have snow emergencies in effect until further notice, while Sigourney will have a snow emergency beginning at 12 noon Monday (1/25).  Remember, under a snow emergency a vehicle cannot be parked on a city street until the snow has been removed from that street.  If your vehicle is still on the street, it could be towed, ticketed or both.

Winter Storm Warning for No Coast Network listening area

Stand by for snowfall.  A Winter Storm Warning for the No Coast Network listening area will take effect at 8am Monday (1/25) until 6am Tuesday (1/26).  The National Weather Service says we can expect 8 to 13 inches of snow with locally heavier amounts.  Throw in winds gusting up to 35 miles an hour and that will make travel very difficult.  Keep tuned to the No Coast Network for the latest updates.  Again, a Winter Storm Warning will be in effect starting at 8am Monday until 6am Tuesday.

Biden ordering stopgap help as talks start on big aid plan

By JOSH BOAK

BALTIMORE (AP) — President Joe Biden plans to take executive action Friday to provide a stopgap measure of financial relief to millions of Americans while Congress begins to consider his much larger $1.9 trillion package to help those affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

The two executive orders that Biden is to sign would increase food aid, protect job seekers on unemployment and clear a path for federal workers and contractors to get a $15 hourly minimum wage.

“The American people cannot afford to wait,” said Brian Deese, director of the White House National Economic Council. “So many are hanging by a thread. They need help, and we’re committed to doing everything we can to provide that help as quickly as possible.”

Deese emphasized that the orders are not substitutes for the additional stimulus that Biden says is needed beyond the $4 trillion in aid that has already been approved, including $900 billion this past December. Several Republican lawmakers have voiced opposition to provisions in Biden’s plan for direct payments to individuals, state and local government aid and a $15 hourly minimum wage nationwide.

Most economists believe the United States can rebound with strength once people are vaccinated from the coronavirus, but the situation is still dire as the disease has closed businesses and schools. Nearly 10 million jobs have been lost since last February, and nearly 30 million households lack secure access to food.

One of Biden’s orders asks the Agriculture Department to consider adjusting the rules for food assistance, so that the government could be obligated to provide more money to the hungry.

Children who are unable to get school meals because of remote learning could receive a 15% increase in food aid, according to a fact sheet provided by the White House. The lowest-income households could qualify for the emergency benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. And the formula for calculating meal costs could become more generous.

The order also tries to make it easier for people to claim direct payments from prior aid packages and other benefits. In addition, it would create a guarantee that workers could still collect unemployment benefits if they refuse to take a job that could jeopardize their health.

Biden’s second executive order would restore union bargaining rights revoked by the Trump administration, protect the civil service system and promote a $15 hourly minimum wage for all federal workers. The Democratic president also plans to start a 100-day process for the federal government to require its contractors to pay at least $15 an hour and provide emergency paid leave to workers, which could put pressure on other private employers to boost their wages and benefits.

These orders arrive as the Biden White House has declined to provide a timeline for getting its proposed relief package through, saying that officials are beginning to schedule meetings with lawmakers to discuss the proposal.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said at a Thursday briefing that the proposal has support ranging from democratic socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

But not all components of the package are popular among Republicans, and that could delay passage in ways that could injure the economy. Psaki stressed that Biden wants any deal to be bipartisan and that the process of meeting with lawmakers to talk through the plan is just beginning.

Biden must balance the need for immediate aid against the risk of prolonged negotiations. Psaki told ABC’s “Good Morning America” on Friday that Biden is “not going to take tools off the table” as he looks to bring Republicans to the table, and she argued that the back-and-forth is “exactly how it should work.”

“We’ll figure out what the sausage looks like when it comes out of the machine,” she said.

Neil Bradley, chief policy officer at the Chamber, told reporters Thursday that Congress should act fast to approve the roughly $400 billion for national vaccination and reopening schools and other elements of the plan with bipartisan support, rather than drag out negotiations.

“We’re not going to let areas of disagreement prevent progress on areas where we can find common ground,” Bradley said. “We cannot afford six months to get the vaccination process working right. … We can’t even wait six weeks to get vaccinations distributed and schools reopened.”

___

AP writer Zeke Miller in Washington contributed.

Supreme Court hears appeal in Jason Carter civil case

BY 

The Iowa Supreme Court is considering the request of Jason Carter to overturn the ten-million-dollar verdict in a civil trial that found him liable in his mother’s 2015 shooting death.

Jason Carter’s attorney Allison Kanne says the civil verdict should be set aside because the prosecution withheld evidence. “Because the evidence that was unknown to Jason at the time of the civil trial was both admissible and reasonably would have changed the outcome of the civil trial,” Kanne says.

Carter was found “not guilty” of second-degree murder in his 2019 criminal trial that was held after the civil trial. Kanne says the failure to disclose other potential suspects in the shooting at Shirley Carter’s home in Lacona during the civil trial prevented a similar verdict in the criminal trial.

“We would have had the opportunity to investigate. Second, we would have called those witnesses to the stand potentially. Or we would have done what we ultimately did in the criminal trial and called law enforcement to the stand to testify about their failure to investigate this case,” according to Kanne.

Kanne was asked about the difference in the burden of proof in a civil and criminal trial. She agreed there is a difference — but says that was not a factor in the case. “The evidence that is now available to us would have changed the outcome of the civil trial — and this is perfectly exemplified by the fact that…. we did prove in Jason Carter’s criminal case that this did change the outcome,” Kanne says.

The civil lawsuit was brought by Jason Carter’s dad Bill after there were no arrests in the case. Attorney Mark Weinhardt urged the justices to keep the verdict in place.

“We are now in the sixth year of an unimaginable tragedy for a husband and a father — Bill Carter. We are now in the fourth year of trying to get finality for the jury verdict that was returned in this case,” Weinhardt says. ” It is time for some small measure of justice for Bill and his wife’s memory.”

Weinhardt says the defense is trying to get the verdict thrown out based on the theory that an outsider showed up and shot Shirley Carter during a robbery. He says that doesn’t hold up. “At the trial of this case, both sides called extensively credentialed and experienced crime scene reconstruction experts. Both sides experts agreed that the burglary-robbery scene at the house was faked,” Weinhardt says.

He says the evidence shows that Jason Carter knew details of the shooting that only the killer would have known. Weinhardt summed up his argument by asking the justices to uphold the civil verdict. “It is time for a modicum of justice for Shirley Carter’s memory,” he says.

The Supreme Court will issue a ruling at a later date.

Grassley says Trump EPA’s ethanol waivers ‘a disgrace’

BY 

Republican Senator Chuck Grassley is blasting the Trump Administration for granting more ethanol waivers to the oil industry, just before Joe Biden became president.

“What we saw in the final hours of the Trump Administration was a disgrace to the biofuels community,” Grassley told reporters.

A federal court already has temporarily blocked the three waivers Trump’s EPA granted to small refineries, excusing them from the requirement to blend ethanol into gasoline. Grassley said the waivers are part of a flawed system.

“One of the problems we’ve had with how that program’s administered is there’s not enough transparency in it,” Grassley said.

Due to the way the EPA has run the program, it’s still not clear which refineries were granted these last-minute waivers. Republican Joni Ernst, Iowa’s other U.S. Senator, issued a written statement about the last-minute Trump Administration waivers from ethanol blending requirements.

“I’m disappointed that on his way out the door EPA Administrator Wheeler decided to grant three more harmful, so-called small refinery exemptions,” Ernst said. “Iowans are demanding the new administration uphold the RFS and finalize the new proposed rule to grant more access to E15.”

Miller-Meeks asks Congress to dismiss Hart’s complaint

Republican U.S. Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks of Iowa will ask the U.S. House to dismiss an election contest filed by her Democratic challenger that argues the 6-vote race was wrongly decided.

Miller-Meeks will argue in a filing to the House that lawmakers shouldn’t consider Rita Hart’s appeal because Hart did not contest the outcome under Iowa law, the Des Moines Register reported.

An attorney for Miller-Meeks argues that House precedents going back a century “require contestants to avail themselves of every single remedy before they go to Congress.” The filing is expected to be delivered to the House clerk Thursday (1/21).

After a recount, Iowa’s canvassing board certified Miller-Meeks as the vote winner in Iowa’s 2nd District with a tally of 196,964 to 196,958 — the closest congressional race nationwide in decades.

Hart declined to challenge the result under Iowa law, saying it did not allow enough time to conduct additional recount proceedings. The law would have required a panel of judges to rule on challenges within days.

Instead, Hart filed a contest in December directly to the House under a 1969 law that spells out how congressional candidates can challenge elections that they believe were marred by serious irregularities.

Hart’s attorneys claim they have identified 22 votes that were wrongly excluded due to errors, including 18 for Hart that would change the outcome if counted. They also want the House to examine thousands of ballots marked by machines as undervotes and overvotes that weren’t visually inspected during the recount.

The House decided earlier this month to provisionally swear in Miller-Meeks, pending the outcome of Hart’s challenge. The two candidates had been competing to replace seven-term Democratic Rep. Dave Loebsack in the southeastern Iowa district that has trended Republican in recent years.

The House Administration Committee will determine how to proceed, including whether to investigate or dismiss the case. It plans to closely review filings from both campaigns, as required by law.

One dead in accident near Eddyville

A man from Clear Lake was killed in a one car crash Thursday (1/21) near Eddyville.  The Iowa State Patrol says 81-year-old Ray Curtis was driving north on Highway 63 near mile marker 50 around 9:20am when his car left the road to the right, went into the ditch, overturned and came to rest on its side.  Curtis was taken to Ottumwa Regional Health Center, where he died from his injuries.

Biden to sign virus measures, requires mask use to travel

By RICARDO ALONSO-ZALDIVAR

WASHINGTON (AP) — Deep in the deadliest coronavirus wave and facing worrisome new strains, President Joe Biden will initiate a national COVID-19 strategy to ramp up vaccinations and testing, reopen schools and businesses and increase the use of masks — including a requirement that Americans mask up for travel.

Biden also will address inequities in hard-hit minority communities as he signs 10 pandemic-related executive orders on Thursday.

Biden has vowed to take far more aggressive measures to contain the virus than his predecessor, starting with stringent adherence to public health guidance. He faces steep obstacles, with the virus actively spreading in most states, slow progress on the vaccine rollout and political uncertainty over how willing congressional Republicans will be to help him pass a $1.9 trillion economic relief and COVID response package.

“We need to ask average Americans to do their part,” said Jeff Zients, the White House official directing the national response. “Defeating the virus requires a coordinated nationwide effort.”

Biden officials say they’re hampered by lack of cooperation from the Trump administration during the transition. They say they don’t have a complete understanding of their predecessors’ actions on vaccine distribution. And they face a litany of complaints from states that say they are not getting enough vaccine even as they are being asked to vaccinate more categories of people.

Biden acknowledged the urgency of the mission in his inaugural address. “We are entering what may well be the toughest and deadliest period of the virus,” he said before asking Americans to join him in a moment of silence in memory of the more than 400,000 people in the U.S. who have died from COVID-19.

Biden’s top medical adviser on COVID-19, Dr. Anthony Fauci, also announced renewed U.S. support for the World Health Organization after it faced blistering criticism from the Trump administration, laying out new commitments to tackle the coronavirus and other global health issues. Fauci said early Thursday that the U.S. will join the U.N. health agency’s efforts to bring vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics to people in need, whether in rich or poor countries and will resume full funding and staffing support for WHO.

The U.S. mask order for travel being implemented by Biden will apply to airports and planes, ships, intercity buses, trains and public transportation. Travelers from abroad must furnish a negative COVID-19 test before departing for the U.S. and quarantine upon arrival. Biden has already mandated masks on federal property.

Although airlines, Amtrak and other transport providers now require masks, Biden’s order makes it a federal mandate, leaving little wiggle room for passengers tempted to argue about their rights. It marks a sharp break with the culture of President Donald Trump’s administration, under which masks were optional, and Trump made a point of going maskless and hosting big gatherings of like-minded supporters. Science has shown that masks, properly worn, cut down on coronavirus transmission.

Biden also is seeking to expand testing and vaccine availability, with the goal of 100 million shots in his first 100 days in office. Zients called Biden’s goal “ambitious and achievable.”

The Democratic president has directed the Federal Emergency Management Agency to begin setting up vaccination centers, aiming to have 100 up and running in a month. He’s ordering the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to begin a program to make vaccines available through local pharmacies starting next month. And he’s mobilizing the Public Health Service to deploy to assist localities in vaccinations.

There’s also support for states. Biden is ordering FEMA to reimburse states for the full cost of using their National Guards to set up vaccination centers. That includes the use of supplies and protective gear as well as personnel.

But some independent experts say the administration should be setting a higher bar for itself than 100 million shots. During flu season, the U.S. is able to vaccinate about 3 million people a day, said Dr. Christopher Murray of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation in Seattle. “Given the number of people dying from COVID, we could and should do more — like what we’re able to do on seasonal flu,” he said.

Zients said Biden will not follow through on a Trump administration plan to penalize states lagging in vaccination by shifting some of their allocation to more efficient states. “We are not looking to pit one state against another,” he said.

Biden has set a goal of having most K-8 schools reopen in his first 100 days, and he’s ordering the departments of Education and Health and Human Services to provide clear guidance for reopening schools safely. States would also be able to tap FEMA’s Disaster Relief Fund to help them get schools back open.

Getting schools and child care going will help to ease the drag on the U.S. economy, making it easier for parents to return to their jobs and restaurants to find lunch-time customers.

But administration officials stressed that reopening schools safely depends on increased testing.

To ramp up supplies, Biden is giving government agencies a green light to use a Cold War-era law called the Defense Production Act to direct manufacturing.

“We do not have nearly enough testing capacity in this country,” Zients said. “We need the money in order to really ramp up testing, which is so important to reopen schools and businesses.”

This means that any efforts to reopen the economy will hinge on how quickly lawmakers act on the $1.9 trillion package proposed by Biden, which includes separate planks such as $1,400 in direct payments to people, a $15 minimum wage and aid to state and local governments that some Republican lawmakers see as unnecessary for addressing the medical emergency. The Biden plan estimates that a national vaccination strategy with expanded testing requires $160 billion, and he wants another $170 billion to aid the reopening of schools and universities. The proposal also calls for major investment in scientific research to track new strains of the virus, amid concern that some may spread more easily and also prove harder to treat.

As part of his COVID-19 strategy, Biden will order the establishment of a COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force to ensure that minority and underserved communities are not left out of the government’s response. Blacks, Latinos and Native Americans have borne a heavy burden of death and disease from the virus. Surveys have shown vaccine hesitancy is high among African Americans, a problem the administration plans to address through an education campaign.

But Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith, the top White House health adviser on minority communities, said she’s not convinced that race should be a factor in vaccination. Disparities seem to have more to do with risky jobs and other life circumstances.

“It’s not inherent to race,” she said. “It’s from the exposures.”

___

Associated Press writers Collin Binkley and Josh Boak contributed to this report.

NEWSLETTER

Stay updated, sign up for our newsletter.