view original post

LIVE – Updated at 20:42

© Photograph: José Luis Magaña/AP Part of the mob outside the US Capitol on 6 January.

Five new subpoenas sent to Proud Boys, Oath Keepers and 1st Amendment Praetorian– follow all the latest.

 

The latest round of subpoenas from the House select committee investigating the Capitol insurrection comes one day after the panel subpoenaed a group of far-right political activists, including Roger Stone and Alex Jones.

Hugo Lowell reported yesterday:

The subpoenas demanding documents and testimony expand the select committee’s inquiry focused on the planning and financing of the rally at the Ellipse, by targeting operatives who appear to have had contacts with the Trump White House.

House investigators issued subpoenas to the veteran operatives Stone and Jones, Trump’s spokesperson Taylor Budowich, and the pro-Trump activists Dustin Stockton and his wife, Jennifer Lawrence.

The chairman of the select committee, Bennie Thompson, said the subpoenas aimed to uncover ‘who organized, planned, paid for, and received funds related to those events, as well as what communications organizers had with officials in the White House and Congress’.

Related: Roger Stone and Alex Jones among five to receive Capitol attack subpoenas

 

The Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio, who was just subpoenaed by the House select committee investigating the Capitol insurrection, is currently sitting in a DC jail.

Tarrio is about halfway through a five-month sentence for his illegal activity at a pro-Trump rally last December, during which he set fire to a stolen Black Lives Matter banner.

Although Tarrio did not actually participate in the insurrection, the Proud Boys leader is believed to have been involved in the preparation for the Capitol attack, according to the select committee’s latest statement.

(On a related note, Tarrio’s request for an early release from jail due to unsanitary conditions was just denied by a judge.)

 

Bennie Thompson, the chair of the House select committee investigating the Capitol insurrection, said the subpoenaed far-right groups and leaders would be able to shed light on the days leading up to the attack.

“We believe the individuals and organizations we subpoenaed today have relevant information about how violence erupted at the Capitol and the preparation leading up to this violent attack,” Thompson said in a statement announcing the latest round of subpoenas.

“The Select Committee is moving swiftly to uncover the facts of what happened on that day and we expect every witness to comply with the law and cooperate so we can get answers to the American people.”

Capitol attack committee subpoenas far-right groups and leaders

The House select committee investigating the Capitol insurrection has subpoenaed far-right groups believed to have been involved in planning the attack.

The five new subpoenas were sent to the far-right groups Proud Boys, Oath Keepers and 1st Amendment Praetorian.

Leaders of those groups — Enrique Tarrio of Proud Boys, Elmer Stewart Rhodes of Oath Keepers and Robert Patrick Lewis of 1st Amendment Praetorian — were also subpoenaed by the committee.

 

Joe Biden also promised that grocery stores will be “well-stocked” for the Thanksgiving holiday on Thursday, amid concerns about shortages caused by supply-chain issues.

Biden noted his administration is working to mitigate bottlenecks at ports by working to increase hours of operation at those sites, thus allowing more products to be delivered.

The president said the number of containers sitting on docks has decreased in recent weeks, as shipping prices have also fallen.

“More goods are moving more quickly and more cheaply out of our ports — onto your doorsteps and onto store shelves,” Biden said.

Noting that he recently met with the CEOs of companies like Walmart and Target, Biden added, “Families can rest easy: grocery stores are well-stocked with turkey and everything else you need for Thanksgiving. And the major retailers I mentioned have confirmed that their shelves will be well-stocked in stores this holiday season.”

The president concluded his prepared remarks and did not answer any of the questions that reporters shouted at him as he departed.

 

Joe Biden pushed back against the “myth” that efforts to combat the climate crisis, like investing in the production of electric vehicles, is raising gas prices.

“My effort to combat climate change is not raising the price of gas,” the president said.

“What it’s doing, it’s increasing the availability of jobs — jobs building electric cars like the one I drove at the GM factory in Detroit last week.”

Biden noted those who buy electric vehicles will save $800 to $1,000 in fuel costs this year, and he expressed hope that those savings will soon be made available to more Americans through his economic policies.

Biden touts decision to release oil from strategic reserve: ‘We’re taking action’

Joe Biden acknowledged many Americans are struggling with the rising price of gas, which has increased by 49.6% over the past year.

“The fact is, we always get through those spikes. We’re going to get through this one and hopefully faster,” Biden said.

“But it doesn’t mean we should just stand by idly and wait for prices to drop on their own. Instead, we’re taking action.”

The president touted his administration’s decision to release 50m barrels of oil from the strategic petroleum reserve to help lower gas prices as the country enters the holiday season.

“It will take time, but before long, you should see the price of gas fall where you fill up your tank,” Biden said.

Biden delivers remarks on the need to lower prices

Joe Biden is now delivering remarks on the state of the US economy and the need to lower prices for American families.

The president’s speech comes as the country grapples with the highest rate of inflation in 31 years, with prices rising by 6.2% over the past 12 months.

“We’ve made historic progress over the last 10 months,” Biden said, pointing to the 5.6m jobs added to the economy since he took office in January.

But the president acknowledged the economy is still struggling in certain sectors, saying, “Disruptions related to the pandemic have caused challenges in our supply chain, which have sparked concern about shortages and contributed to higher prices.”

 

Joe Biden announced today that he will release 50m barrels of oil from the strategic petroleum reserve to help address high gas prices.

The move is being done in coordination with other major energy consumers like China, India, Japan, South Korea and the UK.

But it remains unclear whether the move will actually lower gas prices, which have increased by 49.6% over the past year.

Bloomberg News explains:

Everyone’s been talking about this possibility for so long that many traders say the plan for the release was already baked into oil prices. That would explain why oil prices are up following the announcement. There’s also a fear OPEC+ officials, who don’t like being bossed around, could respond by canceling plans to boost their own production, negating the addition of stockpiled oil onto the market. The standoff sets up a fight for control of the global energy market. In short, consumers looking for relief at the pump may not see lower gasoline prices for months yet, if at all.

Trump ally Gohmert enters Texas AG race

18:58 Richard Luscombe

The rightwing Texas congressman Louie Gohmert, a prominent climate change denier and Covid anti-masker, has joined an already rambunctious pursuit for the state’s attorney general office involving George P Bush, nephew of the former president George W Bush, and the embattled incumbent Ken Paxton.

© Provided by The Guardian Louie Gohmert. Photograph: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

The entry of the fierce Donald Trump loyalist into the race is seen by some in Republican circles as part of the former president’s push to install allies in powerful state positions ahead of the 2024 election.

Efforts by Trump to overturn Joe Biden’s 2020 victory in the courts and several state legislatures fell flat, and analysts say he is determined to secure a friendlier playing field if he runs again.

He could not ask for a more supportive candidate than the allegedly QAnon-aligned Gohmert, a proponent of extreme conspiracy theories including one that terrorists were sending pregnant women to the US to raise America-hating offspring.

In December 2020, Gohmert filed a federal lawsuit against Trump’s vice-president, Mike Pence, swiftly rejected by courts up to and including the US supreme court, seeking to allow him to replace certified state electors with those chosen by Republicans.

One problem for Gohmert is that Trump has already endorsed Paxton, who is battling a long-running securities fraud indictment and is under separate investigations by the FBI and the Texas state bar.

George P Bush, the current Texas land commissioner and son of the former Florida governor Jeb Bush, had hoped Trump would back him, despite his apparent loathing of the Bush family. His efforts to ingratiate himself ended in humiliation.

 

18:40 Oliver Laughland

A jury in Georgia has begun deliberations in the trial of the three white men accused of murdering Ahmaud Arbery, after 10 days of evidence and lengthy closing arguments in the closely watched case, which like that of Kyle Rittenhouse in Wisconsin has become part of the ongoing movement for, and debate over, racial justice in the US.

On Tuesday morning, prosecutors ended closing arguments before Judge Timothy Walmsley, who briefed the jury on the multiple counts of murder, false imprisonment and other charges faced by the three defendants.

Travis McMichael, his father Greg McMichael and their neighbour William “Roddie” Bryan pursued Arbery, a Black 25 year-old, for five minutes in February 2020 in the neighborhood of Satilla Shores, south Georgia.

Travis McMichael, armed with a pump action shotgun, fire three times at Arbery, who was unarmed. Prosecutors say the three men had no legal justification to chase Arbery and box him in with their trucks. The shooting was captured on video by Bryan who, prosecutors say, repeatedly attempted to ram Arbery during the pursuit.

The three men have pleaded not guilty to all charges, claiming they attempted to enact a citizen’s arrest. The McMichaels have claimed they believed Arbery was involved in a spate of break-ins and burglaries in the neighborhood, and that Travis McMichael opened fire in self-defense.

On Tuesday, lead prosecutor Linda Dunikoski repeatedly ripped into the claim of self-defense.

“You can’t claim self-defense if you are the unjustified aggressor,” Dunikoski said. “Who started this? It wasn’t Ahmaud Arbery.”

Related: Ahmaud Arbery killing: three men charged provoked confrontation, prosecutor says

 

18:18 Martin Pengelly

Donald Trump’s pollster thinks he will run for the White House again in 2024, with a clear path to victory through five states he lost to Joe Biden in 2020: Arizona, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin.

But Michael Cohen, Trump’s former attorney and fixer who is fresh out of house arrest, thinks he will not.

“His fragile ego cannot stand to be considered a two-time loser,” Cohen said on Monday.

Trump lost the five states in question by narrow margins – defeats he refuses to accept, continuing to promote the lie that Biden won thanks to electoral fraud, which led to deadly violence at the US Capitol on 6 January.

Politico obtained a memo from Trump’s pollster, Tony Fabrizio, which said a poll carried out for the former president’s fundraising committee put him up over Biden in all five states, by margins ranging from three points in Georgia to 12 in Michigan.

In recent books about the Trump administration, Fabrizio is depicted as willing to give Trump polling news he did not want.

But he told Politico: “Poll after poll clearly demonstrates that … Trump is still the 800lb gorilla in the [Republican party] and would be its 2024 nominee should he run.”

“This new data clearly shows that today the voters in these five key states would be happy to return Trump to the White House and send Biden packing.”

Amid speculation, the White House said on Monday Biden, 79, intends to run for re-election.

The same day, Cohen told CNN: “Donald will not run. Why? Because first of all, he has an incredibly fragile ego. He lost by 9m votes the first time [actually a little more than 7m]. He will lose by more than 9m the second and his fragile ego cannot stand to be considered a two-time loser.”

Related: Michael Cohen says Trump will not run in 2024: ‘His ego can’t stand to be a two-time loser’

Today so far

Here’s where the day stands so far:

  • Joe Biden will deliver a speech this afternoon on the US economy and the need to lower prices for American families. The speech comes as inflation has hit a 31-year high, with prices increasing by 6.2% over the past 12 months. That’s the most rapid acceleration since December 1990.
  • Biden announced he will release 50m barrels of oil from the strategic petroleum reserve, in an effort to lower gas prices. The price of gas has increased by 49.6% over the past year, bringing the national average for a gallon of gas to $3.40, per AAA.
  • The Biden administration has asked a federal court to lift the stay on a coronavirus vaccination rule for large businesses. The rule, which was set to go into effect on January 4, would require those working for companies with at least 100 employees to get vaccinated or receive weekly coronavirus tests to mitigate the spread of the virus.

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

 

Meanwhile, Enrique Tarrio, a leader of the far-right group Proud Boys, was denied early release from a DC jail after complaining of unsanitary conditions there.

Tarrio has served about half of a five-month sentence for illegal acts during a pro-Trump rally in DC last December, during which the Proud Boys leader set fire to a stolen Black Lives Matter banner.

The Washington Post reports:

In a written ruling Friday night, D.C. Superior Court Judge Jonathan H. Pittman said he largely believed Tarrio’s allegations, made at a Nov. 15 hearing, about experiencing unsanitary conditions and mistreatment at the jail. The judge noted that the D.C. Department of Corrections ‘admits that much of what the defendant has claimed did in fact occur.’

But after reviewing Tarrio’s three legal arguments for being let out of jail, Pittman said each argument fell short.

 

Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones said he will likely invoke his Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination after being subpoenaed by the House select committee investigating the Capitol insurrection.

On his far-right show, Jones said he would invoke the Fifth Amendment not because of his own potentially illegal deeds but because the committee members are “political criminals that have an axe to grind,” per Politico.

According to the statement released by the committee yesterday, investigators are seeking Jones’ testimony about his alleged involvement in the planning of the January 6 rally that culminated in the Capitol attack.

 

In case you missed it yesterday: the House select committee investigating the Capitol insurrection issued five more subpoenas to right-wing political operatives, including former Trump associate Roger Stone and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones.

Hugo Lowell reports:

The subpoenas demanding documents and testimony expand the select committee’s inquiry focused on the planning and financing of the rally at the Ellipse, by targeting operatives who appear to have had contacts with the Trump White House.

House investigators issued subpoenas to the veteran operatives Stone and Jones, Trump’s spokesperson Taylor Budowich, and the pro-Trump activists Dustin Stockton and his wife, Jennifer Lawrence.

The chairman of the select committee, Bennie Thompson, said the subpoenas aimed to uncover ‘who organized, planned, paid for, and received funds related to those events, as well as what communications organizers had with officials in the White House and Congress’.

Related: Roger Stone and Alex Jones among five to receive Capitol attack subpoenas

 

Eric Berger reports for the Guardian:

While people are expected to again travel at levels similar to a pre-pandemic Thanksgiving, airlines are still contending with staffing shortages, which could lead to additional flight cancelations.

“It doesn’t really matter if a travel disruption is coming from a lack of staffing or shortage of routes or weather, it’s still something that is very frustrating for customers,” said Lindsey Roeschke, travel and hospitality analyst for the Morning Consult, a market research firm.

In spite of the Covid-19 pandemic, Thanksgiving flight bookings in the United States are up 78% from 2020 and 3.2% from 2019, according to a Adobe Digital Economy Index report published earlier this month.

“When it is busy, it’s very possible that [flights] will be over capacity – and that means the possibility of things going wrong is very high,” said Narendra Khatri, principal of Insubuy, a travel insurance company.

Over the Halloween weekend, American Airlines canceled more than 2,000 flights because of weather and staffing issues.

In letters to employees, David Seymour, chief operating officer of the airline, described the weekend as a “brief irregular ops period” and said that “on the schedule front, we’ve ensured that November and December are built to meet customer demand and that they are fully supportable by our staffing”.

Related: Thanksgiving challenges airlines as US travel nears pre-pandemic levels

Biden administration asks court to lift stay on vaccination rule

The Biden administration has asked a court to immediately lift a stay on a rule requiring employees of large businesses to get vaccinated against coronavirus.

Reuters reports:

Delaying the rule by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) that requires employees to be vaccinated or tested weekly would lead to thousands of hospitalizations and deaths, the government said in a Tuesday filing with the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. …

The rule was challenged by Republican-led states, businesses and trade groups and the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans quickly blocked it, calling it ‘staggeringly overbroad’ and a ‘one-size-fits-all sledgehammer.’

After the stay was imposed by the 5th Circuit, lawsuits from around the country were transferred to the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati.

The rule requires those working at companies with 100 or more employees to get vaccinated or receive weekly coronavirus tests to mitigate the spread of the virus. It was set to go into effect on January 4.

Related: US asks court to immediately lift stay on workplace vaccine rule

 

Energy secretary Jennifer Granholm will join the daily White House briefing this afternoon, giving her an opportunity to offer more details on the release of oil from the strategic reserve.

Speaking at yesterday’s briefing, press secretary Jen Psaki noted the Biden administration is using a variety of tools to address high gas prices.

Last week, Joe Biden sent a letter to the Federal Trade Commission asking the agency to investigate “mounting evidence of anti- consumer behavior by oil and gas companies”.

“We will continue to press oil companies who have made record profits and are overseeing what we consider to be price gouging out there,” Psaki said aboard Air Force One yesterday.

“When there’s a supply of oil or the price of oil is coming down and the price of gas is not coming down, it does not take an economic expert to know that’s a problem.”

 

Senate Republicans’ campaign arm is using high gas prices to attack Democrats as Americans travel for Thanksgiving, which the country will celebrate on Thursday.

NBC News reports:

Americans on the road for Thanksgiving will be reminded of high gas and grocery prices with an ad push from the Republican Senate campaign arm airing at gas stations across the country this week.

‘You like high gas prices?’ the ad intones, with cartoonish graphics and sound effects. ‘If so, introducing: Joe Biden and Democrats.’

The National Republican Senatorial Committee’s five-figure, multi-day buy — first reported by NBC News — goes across ten battleground states where Republicans hope to flip or keep Senate seats in the upcoming 2022 midterms. The advertisements are intended to hit travelers on the road for the Thanksgiving holiday who are filling up their gas tanks.

The Senate is currently split 50-50, but Democrats control the chamber because of Vice-President Kamala Harris’ tie-breaking vote.

So Republicans only need to flip one Senate seat in next year’s midterm elections to regain control of the upper chamber.

 

Republicans, who have been attacking Joe Biden over the rising prices of gas and groceries, criticized the release of oil from the strategic reserve as a political ploy.

House minority leader Kevin McCarthy said in a statement, “Today’s announcement – which will release just three days’ worth of oil onto the market – is not about a real solution to our energy crisis. It is a crass political ploy just ahead of Thanksgiving.”

Former president Donald Trump similarly criticized Biden’s decision, saying, “Those reserves are meant to be used for serious emergencies, like war, and nothing else.”

Biden to release 50m barrels of oil from strategic reserve to address high gas prices

Joe Biden announced this morning that his administration will release 50m barrels of oil from the strategic petroleum reserve to help address high gas prices.

The president said on Twitter that the action “will be taken in parallel with other major energy consuming nations including China, India, Japan, Republic of Korea and the United Kingdom”.

The news comes as gas prices have increased by 49.6% over the past year, bringing the national average for a gallon of gas to $3.40, per AAA.

“As we come out of an unprecedented global economic shutdown, oil supply has not kept up with demand, forcing working families and businesses to pay the price,” energy secretary Jennifer Granholm said in a statement.

“This action underscores the President’s commitment to using the tools available to bring down costs for working families and to continue our economic recovery.”

Read more about the announcement here:

Related: Biden to release 50m barrels of oil in effort to bring down rising US gas prices

Biden to address lowering prices as inflation hits 31-year high

Greetings, live blog readers.

Joe Biden will deliver a speech this afternoon on the state of the US economy and the need to lower prices for American families.

The president’s speech comes as inflation has hit a 31-year high, with prices increasing by 6.2% over the past 12 months. That’s the fastest acceleration since December 1990.

And Americans are growing more concerned about high prices as they continue to rise. According to a poll conducted by the progressive firm Navigator Research earlier this month, 54% of Americans now say the cost of groceries and gas is a “major crisis”.

© Provided by The Guardian Joe Biden announces Jerome Powell as his nominee for a second term as the Federal Reserve chair. Photograph: Yuri Gripas/UPI/REX/Shutterstock

Biden has pledged to tackle the issue, arguing that Democrats’ $1.75tn social spending package will lower families’ costs for healthcare and childcare.

Speaking at an event yesterday to announce his nominations for the Federal Reserve board, Biden said, “Because so much of the rest of our economy is doing well, because we have created so many new jobs as fast as we have, we’re in a position to attack inflation from a position of strength, not weakness.”

But if Americans don’t start to see prices come down soon, it could make it all the more difficult to enact Biden’s agenda.

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

 

Joe Biden has argued that Democrats’ $1.75tn social spending package, which passed the House on Friday, will help families struggling with higher prices by lowering the costs of healthcare and childcare.

However, there are lingering concerns about how the high rate of inflation may impact the negotiations over the bill in the evenly divided Senate.

Senator Joe Manchin, one of the key holdouts in Democrats’ negotiations over the bill, has said he is hearing more from constituents who are concerned about their gas and grocery bills.

“By all accounts, the threat posed by record inflation to the American people is not ‘transitory’ and is instead getting worse,” Manchin said earlier this month. “From the grocery store to the gas pump, Americans know the inflation tax is real and DC can no longer ignore the economic pain Americans feel every day.”

Manchin has previously expressed concern that Democrats’ spending package, known as the Build Back Better Act, could negatively contribute to inflation.

In a September op-ed for the Wall Street Journal, Manchin warned against approving more government spending, saying, “An overheating economy has imposed a costly ‘inflation tax’ on every middle- and working-class American.”

However, since that op-ed was written, the cost of the package has been cut in half — from $3.5tn to $1.75tn. And a number of economists have said the bill will not add to inflationary pressure.

Biden is hoping those arguments will be enough to make Manchin a “yes” vote, as he will need all 50 Democratic senators’ support to get the bill through the upper chamber.

Related: Democrats worry inflation could imperil agenda and congressional majorities

 

Joe Biden’s nominees for the Federal Reserve board have also pledged to tackle inflation aggressively if they are confirmed by the Senate.

Jerome Powell, who has been nominated to a second term as the chair of the Fed board, said yesterday, “We know that high inflation takes a toll on families, especially those less able to meet the higher costs of essentials, like food, housing and transportation.”

© Provided by The Guardian Jerome Powell speaks as Lael Brainard listens during an announcement. Photograph: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Powell, who was first nominated by Donald Trump, said he would use the tools of the central bank “to prevent higher inflation from becoming entrenched”.

Dr Lael Brainard, Biden’s nominee for vice-chair of the board, echoed that message, saying, “I’m committed to putting working Americans at the center of my work at the Federal Reserve. This means getting inflation down at a time when people are focused on their jobs and how far their paychecks will go.”