GOP to block Democrat from state Senate in mail ballot fight
Sen. Jim Brewster, of Allegheny County, defeated challenger Nicole Ziccarelli by 69 votes in the Nov. 3 election, according to state-certified returns.
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) —
A day before Pennsylvania state lawmakers will be sworn in for a new two-year session, state Senate Democrats said Monday that the Republican majority is trying to “steal an election” by objecting to letting a Democratic member take his seat for a fourth term.
The dispute revolves around the election of Democratic Sen. Jim Brewster of Allegheny County and could leave the decision on who to install in the Senate district to a majority of senators.
The contest between Brewster and Republican challenger Nicole Ziccarelli hinged on court decisions that said mail-in ballots that lack a handwritten date on the ballot envelope is not a reason to disqualify someone’s vote.
Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa, D-Allegheny, called the Republicans’ refusal to swear in Brewster during Tuesday’s ceremony “unlawful" and suggested that his caucus will go to court.
Republicans were trying to “steal an election” in what Costa framed as a continuation of “the Trump playbook. It’s about abusing the process that’s in place.”
Costa also pointed out that U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi swore in Rep.-elect Mariannette Miller-Meeks, R-Iowa, even as her Democratic opponent’s challenge to the election results remains under review by the House.
The Senate’s top Republican, President Pro Tempore-elect Jake Corman, R-Centre, called it a “fairly unique, if not unprecedented situation."
Ziccarelli has filed a complaint with the Senate and a lawsuit in federal court in an “extremely close” election affected by court rulings, Corman said.
“I think this unique set of circumstances dictates that the Senate review it and take very seriously the contest,” Corman said.
He did not say how long the Senate will need to review Ziccarelli’s filing before voting, or how long the Senate is willing to leave the seat vacant.
Brewster beat Ziccarelli by 69 votes in the Nov. 3 election, according to state-certified returns last month.
On Friday, she filed a roughly 550-page complaint with the Senate under a little-used constitutional provision that says each legislative chamber “shall judge of the election and qualifications of its members.”
Brewster’s lawyer, Cliff Levine, said the move “completely violates” any established procedure in state law to contest an election.
Corman, however, said that, in the Senate, “the Senate determines what is proper and what is not proper and that is determined by 26 members of the Senate.”
In late November, Ziccarelli sued in federal court in Pittsburgh to overturn the election result. Briefs are due later this week.
In the lawsuit, Ziccarelli is asking the judge to effectively throw out 311 mail-in ballots counted in Allegheny County that lacked a handwritten date on the outer ballot envelope. Ziccarelli’s complaint in the Senate makes the same argument, saying that counting those “unlawful” ballots provided the margin to give Brewster a victory. Without them, Ziccarelli would win by 24 votes, it said.
The state Supreme Court, in a 4-3 decision, ruled in November that it would not apply a handwritten date requirement in the just-passed election, and said the lack of a handwritten date is not a compelling enough reason to throw out the ballot of an eligible voter. In doing so, it dismissed Ziccarelli’s arguments.
State law says the voter shall “fill out, date and sign” a declaration on the outside envelope, although it does not say that leaving off a date automatically disqualifies the ballot.
The state Senate district also includes part of Westmoreland County, which decided against counting 343 mail-in ballots that lacked a handwritten date on the outer envelope.
Ziccarelli’s lawsuit says the different treatment of voters in different counties violates their constitutional rights.
Lawyers for Brewster, the Democratic Party and the state say the federal court lacks jurisdiction to overturn a state-court decision. They also say Ziccarelli lacks standing to sue and that throwing out the ballots of those 311 Allegheny County voters would violate their constitutional rights.
Even so, the conflicting decisions of the counties to count certain mail-in ballots does not violate the constitutional rights of voters, they say.
In Brewster’s response in the Senate, his lawyers wrote that the decision by a Senate majority to disagree with a court order interpreting election law “would create a dangerous precedent that would challenge the bedrock of American principles.”
The outcome will not change the balance of power in the 50-seat state Senate, where Republicans have 28 returning members. There is one independent and 21 Democrats, counting Brewster.
Trumpism promotes these assaulting accusations.
How to set up the 25th Amendment
Because Trump is “out of his mind.”
Good information thanks for sharing
This is a moment of shame and grief.
If we are not very careful, it will also be a terrible moment of opportunity for President Donald Trump. The violence Trump incited could be his pretext for further abuses of presidential power.
As so often with Trump, he has indicated the plan in advance: Use the Insurrection Act to somehow interfere with the transition of power. He could try it this very day.
In institutional self-defense, Trump must be impeached again and this time removed. That needs to happen immediately, before he can declare martial law, so that Vice President Mike Pence can oversee the constitutional transition of power, the first time since the Civil War that such a transition can no longer be described as “peaceful.”
What’s needed, this time, is for a saving remnant of Republican senators to emulate the integrity that was embodied last time around only by Senator Mitt Romney. The leaders of Trump’s own party have to do the job of protecting the country from Trump’s violent lawlessness. Last time, the other senators refused. Now they need to feel real pressure.
All through this day, Republican pundits have expressed shock and puzzlement that it could come to this. “We don’t know who these people are,” the radio host Mark Levin tweeted. That’s the same Mark Levin who wrote an article urging Congress to challenge the results of the 2020 election, an article approvingly tweeted by Trump on December 30. In fact, we know “who these people are.” They are the monsters incubated, birthed, nurtured, fed, trained, and now loosed by Trump and by his enablers in politics and the media.
“This is not who we are,” Donald Trump Jr. tweeted this afternoon, although earlier today he had been doing plenty of incitement of his own. As the whole world now sees, this is exactly who the Trumps are and who his most loyal supporters are. But it does not have to be the enduring legacy of all Republicans and all conservatives.
Everybody connected in any way to Trumpism must instantly put as many miles of distance as possible between themselves and this president and the mob that he raised and unleashed. There is still hope that the word Republican can be wrenched back from the thugs and insurrectionists. And the new majority in the House and Senate should act fast to offer Republicans the chance to return to faith in the Constitution they have attacked.
Schedule an impeachment vote for this very night. Stay ’til dawn. Do whatever is necessary. Avert any potential for martial law. Deny Trump command of the military; withdraw the nuclear codes. Don’t wait until the next crossed red line, until the next smashed barrier, until the next putsch attempt. Install Mike Pence right away as the 46th president and work with him to manage the transition on January 20 to Joe Biden as the 47th. Bar Trump from ever again holding office—and get ready to prosecute him for his crimes on January 21.
Act now. And everyone who acts now—even those who were most in the wrong until now—can share the credit and recognition as a protector of the Constitution. There is no time for delay.
Remove this treasonous president. Invite his own party to join the effort to remove him now, or to share now and forever Trump’s guilt.
Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf criticizes Trump. Trump immediately withdraws his full nomination.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer taking actions to moving quickly to get Trump out - Impeachment or 25th Amendment.
But the real blame lies with not an individual group or person, but with an idea; specifically, the notion that dismissing erroneous beliefs as toothless murmurings in shadowy internet echo chambers does not make them so. For years, as QAnon festered in these corners, there was a belief among some members of the media that openly discussing it would provide adherents with a platform and lend credence to their beliefs; better, they thought, to let it quietly wither on the vine, as most bad ideas on the internet do. But just because an idea is bad doesn’t mean it will go silently into the night, or that it won’t inspire people to kidnap their children, or storm the Hoover Dam, or stand on the dais in a government building as congress cowers in their offices. When it comes to whether we have the luxury of ignoring bad ideas like QAnon, that horse is well out of the barn, and in this case, we let it run wild enough for so long that it stampeded straight onto the senate floor. Trump may only have 14 days left in office, but he has issued a chilling warning that he will use his waning power to the best of his ability. It was only a matter of time before Angeli, and people like him, heeded the call.
More than 100 members of Congress are calling for Trump’s removal.
On Tyranny - “The eight senators and 139 representatives who voted to overturn democracy own this attempted coup, forever. Led by Josh Hawley and Ted Cruz, they are the fascist faction of the Republican Party.”
Interview with Timothy Snyder, Professor/Yale (and others) on WBUR
Radio Interview on the Chaos at the Capitol.
Chaos At The Capitol: A Day Of Insurrection And What It Means For America
Jennifer Horn , co-founder of the Lincoln Project. Former chair of the New Hampshire Republican Party from 2013 to 2017. Last month, she announced her departure from the Republican Party. She is now a registered independent. (@NHJennifer)
Huffington Post : “After Day Of Chaos, Congress Certifies Joe Biden As The Election Winner” — “Hours after rioters violently stormed the Capitol and put the building into lockdown, lawmakers returned to the House chamber and certified Democrat Joseph Robinette Biden Jr. in the early hours of Thursday morning as the winner of the Electoral College and the next president of the United States.”
Associated Press : “A moment in America, unimaginable but perhaps inevitable” — “To see it unspool — to watch the jumbled images ricochet, live, across the world’s endless screens — was, as an American, a struggle to believe your eyes. But there it was, in the capital city of the United States in early January 2021: a real-time breaking and entering the likes of which the republic has never seen.”
Politico : “‘He screwed the country’: Trump loyalty disintegrates” — “It was, for many of President Donald Trump’s own allies, the final straw.”
Reuters : “Twitter, Facebook freeze Trump accounts as tech giants respond to storming of U.S. capitol” — “Twitter Inc and Facebook Inc on Wednesday temporarily locked the accounts of U.S. President Donald Trump, as tech giants scrambled to crack down on his baseless claims about the U.S. presidential elections amid riots in the capital.”
Washington Post : “Trump issued a call to arms. Then he urged his followers ‘to remember this day forever!’” — "
NPR : “Congress Rejects Objection To Arizona Votes, Takes Up Pennsylvania Objection” — “Members of the U.S. House and Senate on Wednesday voted to reject objections to President-elect Joe Biden’s election victory in the state of Arizona, hours after violent insurrectionists stormed the Capitol, forcing party leadership to evacuate the scene while rioters overtook the complex.”
CBS News : “4 dead after Trump supporters storm U.S. Capitol” — “Four people died during violent pro-Trump protests at the U.S. Capitol, the Metropolitan Police Department said Wednesday night. One woman was shot inside the Capitol, and three others died after suffering ‘medical emergencies,’ police said.”
USA Today : “Texas lawsuit was the last straw. I’m leaving the Republican Party: Former NH GOP chair” — “My mother spent a lifetime trying to teach me to stand for what is right. ‘You do the right thing because it is the right thing,’ she would tell me, ‘no matter how hard it might be. You will be better and stronger for having done so.’”
Timothy Snyder , professor of history at Yale. Permanent fellow at the Institute for Human Sciences in Vienna. Author of several books, including “Our Malady” and “The Road to Unfreedom.” (@TimothyDSnyder)
Kwame Rose , social activist, artist and organizer in Baltimore. (@kwamerose)
From Axios, just got in email.
They go on to say, current GOP is still Trump’s party, whatever other leaders say, or try to say.
Speculation is rampant now that Trump and his cronies at the Pentagon purposely hamstrung the National Guard to enable his insurrection attempt.
Pentagon under fire after memos reveal tight limits on National Guard response to Trump insurrection
The Pentagon placed tight limits on the D.C. National Guard ahead of pro-Trump protests this week, trying to ensure the use of military force remained constrained, as the Guard carried out a narrow, unarmed mission requested by the city’s mayor to help handle traffic ahead of planned protests.
In memos issued Monday and Tuesday in response to a request from the D.C. mayor, the Pentagon prohibited the District’s guardsmen from receiving ammunition or riot gear, interacting with protesters unless necessary for self-defense, sharing equipment with local law enforcement, or using Guard surveillance and air assets without the defense secretary’s explicit sign-off, according to officials familiar with the orders. The limits were established because the Guard hadn’t been asked to assist with crowd or riot control.
The D.C. Guard was also told it would be allowed to deploy a quick-reaction force only as a measure of last resort, the officials said.
Then the mission abruptly changed — and the Pentagon is now facing criticism from governors and local officials who say it moved too slowly to send National Guard troops to respond, a charge that its leaders denied Thursday.
The Capitol Police, the law enforcement force that reports to Congress and protects the House and Senate, hadn’t requested help from the Guard ahead of Wednesday’s events. But early Wednesday afternoon, its chief made an urgent plea for backup from 200 troops during a call with top Pentagon and city officials, according to officials familiar with the call.
On the call, Capitol Police Chief Steven A. Sund was asked whether he wanted help from the National Guard. “There was a pause,” one of the D.C. officials said. And Sund said yes. “Then there was another pause, and an official from the [office of the] secretary of the Army said that wasn’t going to be possible.”
The Army official — who was speaking on behalf of the secretary of the Army, who was de facto commanding the D.C. Guard but was not on the call — said the “optics” of soldiers inside the Capitol building was not something they wanted, the two District officials said.
Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) confirmed that account in an interview with The Washington Post, saying Capitol Police “made it perfectly clear that they needed extraordinary help, including the National Guard. There was some concern from the Army of what it would look like to have armed military personnel on the grounds of the Capitol.” One concern was whether the Army had been invited by Congress.
A U.S. defense official said the Army general on the call didn’t formally deny the request but rather reinforced the negative optics of having uniformed personnel inside the Capitol, a point on which Bowser had agreed, and later checked with the chain of command. The defense official said Bowser agreed that if further support was necessary, D.C. police would provide it inside the Capitol, and the Guard would backfill D.C. police positions away from the building.
The defense official said the military wanted to be the force of last resort, and that military officials had urged Bowser to request more support from federal law enforcement but that she didn’t do so until Wednesday.
Higher-up leaders at the Pentagon then evaluated the request and activated the full D.C. Guard, in addition to later calling the governors of other states to send their Guard forces as reinforcements. The officials also lifted limits on the Guard for the new mission, arming guardsmen with riot gear, but not guns, before they headed to create a perimeter around the Capitol.
In the roughly three hours it took the Pentagon to make the shift from traffic policing to full-fledged riot response, the Capitol Police found themselves overwhelmed and rioters stormed the building, forcing lawmakers to take cover and barricade themselves in their offices. The Pentagon left it to federal law enforcement to clear the Capitol of the rioters, amid the hesitancy about sending Guard units into the building itself. By the evening, Guard units helped the Capitol Police and federal and city law enforcement reestablish a perimeter around the building.
By Thursday, National Guard forces from across the Mid-Atlantic region were moving into the Washington area.
On Thursday afternoon, 24 hours after the Capitol breach, acting defense secretary Christopher C. Miller called the violence “reprehensible and contrary to the tenets of the United States Constitution.”
“I, and the people I lead in the Department of Defense, continue to perform our duties in accordance with our oath of office, and will execute the time-honored peaceful transition of power to President-elect Biden on January 20,” he said in a statement.
Images of rioters overpowering a light law enforcement force and smashing their way into the Capitol building prompted immediate questions about how such a dramatic security breakdown could occur, especially given that rioters had openly voiced their intent to use violence on social media.
One contributing factor: As the seriousness of the threat became clear, the jumble of jurisdictions and command structures made it more difficult to respond with speed. Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy, who functions as de facto commander of the D.C. National Guard on behalf of the president, because the District is not a state, said 6,200 troops would be positioned in and around the city by the weekend, including Guard forces from Pennsylvania, New York and other nearby states.
Speaking alongside Bowser on Thursday, McCarthy said the military acted as quickly as it could once it received local authorities’ request for additional support and said officials had not been anticipating such a violent event, despite prolific calls on online platforms for violent action to overturn the Nov. 3 election.
McCarthy said officials didn’t in their “wildest imagination” envision rioters breaching Capitol grounds. City leadership had asked the Guard to carry out only a narrow mission, defense officials noted.
The chaotic and violent outcome of the events, which claimed four lives Wednesday, including a rioter who was shot by Capitol Police, came shortly after Trump egged on supporters in an address outside the White House, falsely insisting the election was fraudulent and urging the crowd to fight to keep him in office.
The protests triggered by Floyd’s death and race-related violence appeared to have prompted both city and Pentagon officials to opt for a muted response that kept military personnel far from protesters and let local and Capitol police take the lead. The Pentagon came under severe criticism in June, after National Guard forces were on hand when unarmed protesters were forcibly cleared from an area near the White House and front-line troops were positioned outside of Washington.
On Thursday, some local officials complained about a delay in granting their request for additional National Guard help as rioters swarmed the Capitol.
But Guard units arrived less than three hours after local authorities made the emergency request for more help, defense officials said.
The Defense Department controls the D.C. Guard because the military force answers to the president rather than the mayor. The president’s power over the D.C. Guard is delegated to the defense secretary, then the Army secretary, who makes command decisions. It is therefore up to the Pentagon leadership to call state governors if the D.C. Guard needs reinforcement.
Security preparations ahead of Wednesday’s events came after Trump ordered a mass military response to racial justice protests in the nation’s capital this summer, prompting a public outcry when military helicopters flew low over protesters, surveillance assets hovered above the city and residents were left with a sense that the District was being occupied or was under siege.
A U.S. defense official, who like other officials spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive deliberations, said the military always issues memos outlining the parameters of any mission. The limits added ahead of Wednesday’s events made sense, the official said, given that D.C. officials requested the deployment of only a small contingent of some 340 guardsmen, primarily to control traffic and monitor Metro stations.
“All commanders have left and right limits,” the official said. “There is no such thing as carte blanche.”
The official said that when the mission changed Wednesday afternoon, the Pentagon provided more forces than were requested, bringing in Guard units from outside states and loosening the restrictions, and moved quickly.
The scope of the initial mission request by D.C. and the unique command structure of the D.C. Guard may have made it more difficult for authorities to quickly send guardsmen to aid at the Capitol. Defense leaders defended the timing of the Guard response, citing “confusion” in scoping out a revised mission among multiple agencies and jurisdictions.
Speaking to reporters by phone Thursday, McCarthy said that after violence erupted around 2 p.m. Wednesday, he spoke with Bowser and the request was relayed for about 200 additional soldiers.
“It was at that time we were trying to get to figure out the situation up on the Capitol Hill between our two entities and phone calls from members of Congress and others,” he said.
McCarthy then briefed Miller, who authorized the deployment of all available D.C. Guard troops, some 1,100 soldiers, with the goal of getting them to the D.C. Armory within four hours.
At the same time, McCarthy said, they began trying to pull the approximately 250 Guard troops who were already deployed in D.C., return them to the Armory to don riot gear and redirect them to the Capitol. By early evening, D.C. Guard troops were in place around the Capitol, allowing police and FBI to search the building and clear it for lawmakers’ return.
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan ® said he received a call from House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.), who said he was in a secure location with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer.
“I was actually on the phone with Leader Hoyer, who was pleading with us to send the guard,” Hogan said. “He was yelling across the room to Schumer and they were back and forth saying we do have the authorization, and I’m saying, ‘I’m telling you we do not have the authorization.’ ”
Hogan said Maj. Gen. Timothy Gowen, the adjutant general of the Maryland National Guard, was repeatedly rebuffed by the Pentagon. “The general . . . kept running it up the flagpole, and we don’t have authorization,” he said.
Ninety minutes later, Hogan said, he received a call “out of the blue, not from the secretary of defense, not through what would be normal channels,” but from McCarthy, who asked if the Maryland guardsmen could “come as soon as possible.”
“It was like, yeah, we’re waiting, we’re ready,” said Hogan, who had already sent 200 State Police troopers at Bowser’s request.
Virginia sent in its Guard after Gov. Ralph Northam (D) received a call from Pelosi asking for help.
Clark Mercer, Northam’s chief of staff, said he received a call from his counterpart in Bowser’s office, who suggested the Defense Department wasn’t moving fast enough and asked for Virginia to send in its own state Guard.
Northam spokeswoman Alena Yarmosky said the governor called up the Guard immediately after talking with Bowser, knowing it would take some time for guardsmen to prepare. The Northam administration worked with the Defense Department only after the fact, but was able to reach the necessary agreements before guardsmen crossed state lines, she said. The governor’s office publicly announced that he had called up the Guard at 3:29 p.m.
Once the Pentagon signed off, the Guard mounted a vast response.
“Going through that mission analysis process, we were able to do an analysis and provide more than what they asked for,” the defense official said. “No one asked us to activate the entire Guard. Those are decisions we made on our own by taking a pause and conducting another analysis.”
Ammunition and riot gear were severely limited, along with keeping the National Guard to directing traffic and not allowing them to confront or interact with Trump’s rioters.
So Trump put police and soldiers in harm’s way for his coup.
Pelosi consults general on restricting Trump military powers
“This morning, I spoke to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley to discuss available precautions for preventing an unstable president from initiating military hostilities or accessing the launch codes and ordering a nuclear strike,” Pelosi said in a letter to her Democratic House colleagues Friday.
“The situation of this unhinged President could not be more dangerous, and we must do everything that we can to protect the American people from his unbalanced assault on our country and our democracy.”
There aren’t enough womps for this one.
Sidney Powell Sued by Dominion for $1.3 Billion Over Vote-Fraud Claims
Trump was ‘confused’ when others in the White House weren’t as ‘delighted’ as he was about Capitol violence: GOP’s Ben Sasse
Of course he was confused; Trump has no empathy. He revels in violence and pain, and has shown us that all along.
An interesting listen to the Capitol House attempted ‘takeover’ on Wed 1/6/21 - with those who are asserting that the election was ‘stolen,’ and the Republican enablers, and the Trump factor.
A good discussion on all those issues from historian and political commentators - Heather Cox Richardson and Bill Moyers, of PBS fame.
ANNOUNCER : Welcome to Moyers on Democracy. President Trump urged his followers to come to Washington for a “big protest” on January 6th. He wanted their help in reversing the results of the election he lost. “Be there,” he said.“ (It) will be wild.” And they came. By the thousands, they came, and sure enough, it was not only “wild,” as the President had promised, it was worse. Much worse. The protesters became a mob, stormed the US Capitol, drove the vice president and members of the House and Senate out of their chambers, and turned a day meant for celebrating democracy into a riot that sought to overturn a free and fair election. Across the country and around the world people watched, horrified, dumbfounded and disbelieving, as insurrection incited by the president of the United States and his Republican enablers struck at the very centerpiece of American governance. Here’s Bill Moyers, to talk about that day with the historian Heather Cox Richardson.