House Democrat accuses Ratcliffe of politicizing election security intelligence

Rep. Elissa SlotkinElissa SlotkinOvernight Defense: Congress recommends nuclear arms treaty be extended | Dems warn Turkey | Military’s eighth COVID death identified Bipartisan congressional task force recommends extending nuclear treaty with Russia Wray: Racially motivated violent extremism makes up most of FBI’s domestic terrorism cases MORE (D-Mich.) on Wednesday accused Director of National Intelligence John RatcliffeJohn Lee RatcliffeDemocrats demand DHS release report warning of election interference Democrat asks intelligence director if Trump’s personal debt is security problem Comey defends FBI Russia probe from GOP criticism MORE of politicizing election security intelligence on behalf of President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump and Biden’s plans would both add to the debt, analysis finds Trump says he will back specific relief measures hours after halting talks Trump lashes out at FDA over vaccine guidelines MORE and urged him to take a number of steps to improve transparency.

Slotkin, a former CIA officer and former special assistant to the director of national intelligence, pointed to serious concerns over Ratcliffe’s decision last month to declassify a letter citing unverified Russian intelligence that claimed former Secretary of State Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonChance the Rapper, Demi Lovato to play digital concert to encourage voting New York Times editorial board endorses Biden The Hill’s Morning Report – Sponsored by Facebook – Trump resumes maskless COVID-19 recovery at White House MORE approved a plan to “stir up scandal” against President Trump during her 2016 presidential campaign.

“Recently, you declassified information—which the Intelligence Community cannot corroborate—as part of an apparent effort to undermine the past assessments of nonpolitical career intelligence analysts,” Slotkin wrote in a letter to Ratcliffe on Wednesday. “Press reports indicate that you released this information despite concerns from the leadership of both the Central Intelligence Agency and National Security Agency.”

Slotkin noted that “the uncorroborated claims, which you hastily briefed to Republican Senators on September 29, were subsequently repeated by the President during the first presidential debate in a further attack on the patriotic, hard-working women and men of the Intelligence Community which you lead.”

Ratcliffe and other intelligence officials have been involved in briefing members of Congress in recent months about election threats. One senior official at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) assessed in August that Russia, China, and Iran were actively interfering in U.S. elections. 

Slotkin cited classified information on election security threats in sharply criticizing Ratcliffe and the intelligence community for “drawing false equivalency” between threats from the three countries, accusing Ratcliffe of “seeking to bolster a future case by President Trump, if he loses, that Chinese interference caused his loss.”

“I am intimately familiar with your obligation to provide unvarnished, fact-based analysis to senior policy officials,” Slotkin wrote. “Your actions appear intent at distracting from the primary threat to our democratic process posed by Russia, and instead amplifying claims about China’s influence efforts.”

Slotkin noted that public statements by Ratcliffe and the ODNI did “not accurately reflect” information given to members of Congress during an Oct.

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Top House Democrat: Parties ‘much closer’ to a COVID deal ‘than we’ve ever been’

The head of the House Democratic Caucus said Wednesday that the negotiators seeking an emergency coronavirus deal are “much closer” to a deal than they have been at any point during the long weeks of on-again-off-again talks.

Rep. Hakeem JeffriesHakeem Sekou JeffriesDemocratic leaders: Supreme Court fight is about ObamaCare Pelosi: House will stay in session until agreement is reached on coronavirus relief Races heat up for House leadership posts MORE (D-N.Y.) pointed to recent comments by Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinTreasury offers coronavirus relief loans to seven major US airlines House GOP leaders rally opposition to Democrats’ scaled-down COVID bill On The Money: Biden releases 2019 tax returns hours before first debate | COVID relief talks hit do-or-die moment | Disney to layoff 28K workers MORE indicating a willingness to embrace $1.5 trillion in new stimulus spending — a number on par with the bipartisan relief package offered last week by the Problem Solvers Caucus — noting that that figure is far closer to the Democrats’ $2.2 trillion package than Republicans have previously backed.

“If you look at the Problem Solvers proposal, at the high end it’s approximately $2 trillion,” Jeffries told reporters in the Capitol. “And so I think that to the extent that Secretary Mnuchin has indicated that he will use the Problem Solver proposal as a basis for any counteroffer actually brings us much closer to an agreement than we’ve ever been.”

After almost two months of stalled talks, Mnuchin and Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiGOP seeks to redirect criticism over Trump tax returns House rebuffs GOP lawmaker’s effort to remove references to Democrats in Capitol Grassley says disclosing Trump’s tax records without authorization could violate law MORE (D-Calif.) have resumed the negotiations this week by phone. In some sign that progress is being made, Mnuchin is expected to huddle with Pelosi in the Speaker’s office at 12:45 p.m. on Wednesday afternoon, according to a source familiar with the gathering.

It marks the first in-person meeting between the pair on COVID-19 aid since the initial talks on another relief package broke down on Aug. 7.

Even as the talks seem to be bearing some fruit, Democratic leaders are also readying a floor vote Wednesday afternoon on their $2.2 trillion partisan package — a vote demanded for weeks by a number of moderate Democrats leery of leaving Washington to face voters without acting on some new round of emergency aid.

House Majority Leader Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerThe House’s stake in filibuster reform Centrist Democrats got their COVID bill, now they want a vote House to vote on resolution affirming peaceful transition of power MORE (D-Md.), who has urged such a vote for weeks, told reporters Wednesday morning that Democrats would scrap that plan and vote on a bipartisan deal instead if such an agreement were to emerge following the talks between Pelosi and Mnuchin.

“If we have a bipartisan deal … that is what we will move,” Hoyer said on a press call.

Hoyer

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Jim Himes: Democrat, candidate for U.S. House 4th District

Name: Jim Himes

Party: Democrat

Race: U.S. House 4th District

Greenwich residents have known Jim Himes for years first as a resident and neighbor and now as a congressman. In his hometown, Himes served as a chair of the Housing Authority’s Board of Commissioners, as a member of the Board of Estimate and Taxation and as chair of the Democratic Town Committee in Greenwich.

He was elected to the House in 2008, defeating longtime Republican incumbent Christopher Shays in the 4th District, which covers 16 municipalities in coastal Fairfield County and one town in New Haven County.

Himes is a father of two girls, speaks fluent Spanish and had a career in investment banking.

Now a six-term incumbent in the 4th District, Himes currently serves on the House Financial Services Committee and the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, where he is the ranking member of the NSA and Cybersecurity Subcommittee.

Himes has taken what was once a Republican seat for generations and seemingly turned it safely blue, easily defeating his past Republican challengers.

A frequent guest on MSNBC and CNN, Himes has raised his national profile with his frequent criticism of the policies and conduct of President Donald Trump. Himes has also been active on social media, particularly Twitter, where in addition to politics,he has discussed his hobbies of making mead, backyard beekeeping and making maple syrup.

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Minnesota Democrat sues to have House race held in November

Rep. Angie Craig (D-Minn.) filed a federal lawsuit to allow her district’s House race to be held in November after a minor party candidate’s death pushed the election back to February. 

Craig, who is running to keep her seat for Minnesota’s 2nd Congressional District, filed a federal complaint to counter the state law that forces a February special election after Adam Weeks, the Legal Marijuana Now Party’s candidate, died suddenly last week. 

Weeks died 40 days before Election Day, which activated a state law mandating the election be delayed. No cause of death was provided. 

Under state law, Craig would be required to vacate her seat when the new Congress was sworn in and wait for the February special election.

Craig argued in a statement that federal law requires the election to proceed in November and that a February election would leave people in her district without representation at the beginning of the 117th Congress. 

“The people of Minnesota’s Second Congressional District deserve to have a voice fighting for them in Washington,” she said.  

“Unfortunately, the process currently in place would deprive Minnesotans of their seat at the table when critical legislation affecting our state will be debated – including bills to rid politics of special interests, ensure quality affordable health care for every Minnesotan and safeguard our family farmers,” she added. 

The Minnesota Democrat said she “strongly” urges voters to continue to fill out their ballots “to ensure that every Minnesotan has the representation they deserve in Congress next year.”

In her lawsuit, Craig alleges Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon (D) is “in clear violation of federal law,” according to CBS affiliate WCCO in Minneapolis

Craig is running against Republican candidate Tyler Kistner, whose campaign released a statement early Monday saying the Democrat “is trying to play politics with Minnesotans’ voting rights.”

“Despite Secretary of State Simon being crystal clear that there will be a special election in February, Angie Craig is trying to rewrite laws to disenfranchise voters,” his campaign said, according to WCCO. “The people in Minnesota’s Second Congressional District will not be fooled.”

His campaign noted the state law was passed in 2013 with bipartisan support and the backing of the Democratic-Farmer-Labor party in the state. 

The law requires the election to be delayed to the second Tuesday of February if a major party candidate dies within 79 days of Election Day.

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Top Democrat expresses hope deal can be reached with White House on COVID-19 relief

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the top Democrat in Congress, said on Sunday she thinks a deal can be reached with the White House on a coronavirus relief package and that talks were continuing.

“We are having our conversations. And when I have a conversation with the administration, it is in good faith,” Pelosi said on CNN. “I trust (Treasury) Secretary (Steve) Mnuchin to represent something that can reach a solution. And I believe we can come to an agreement.”

Formal talks between Pelosi, Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer, Mnuchin and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows aimed at hammering out a relief package broke down on Aug. 7 with the two sides far apart. Pelosi and Mnuchin have since spoken by phone.

With formal COVID-19 relief talks stalled for weeks, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal on Thursday said Democratic lawmakers were starting to draft a bill totaling at least $2.2 trillion.

Pelosi on Sunday said it was “definitely a possibility” that she would offer legislation in the coming days if the impasse with the Trump administration continued but said she would rather have a deal with the White House than a “rhetorical argument.”

Any legislation the Democratic-led House might approve would be unlikely to advance in the Senate, which is controlled by Republicans.

Pelosi and Schumer had originally sought a $3.4 trillion relief package but have scaled back their demands. Meadows has previously said that Trump would be willing to sign a $1.3 trillion bill.

(Reporting by Valerie Volcovici; Editing by Tim Ahmann)

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Rep. McCarthy: What has Pelosi, Democrat majority solved in the House?

The Republican Party retaking the House of Representatives is not a far-off fantasy, Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Ca., told “The Ingraham Angle” host Laura Ingraham.

Under House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, not many problems have been solved, McCarthy argued, and Democratic representation is dwindling.

“Do you know that there are fewer Democrats in the House since Nancy Pelosi held the gavel?” he asked. “We won every special election we played in, and that was in Democrats’ seats that Democrats won by more than nine points. And it happened to be in California.”

MODERATE DEMOCRATS PRESSURE PELOSI, HOUSE LEADERSHIP TO MOVE NEW CORONAVIRUS BILL: ‘STOP THE STUPIDITY’

“The real question is, what are the results of the Democrats?” he continued. “They should be embarrassed of how much they have embraced the socialists. Name me one problem this Democrat majority has solved. There isn’t one.”

Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi rips a copy of President Donald Trump's speech after he delivered the State of the Union address at the US Capitol in Washington, D.C., on Feb. 4, 2020. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)

Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi rips a copy of President Donald Trump’s speech after he delivered the State of the Union address at the US Capitol in Washington, D.C., on Feb. 4, 2020. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)

McCarthy argued that Republicans have been committed to America by growing the economy and adding jobs. On the other hand, he admitted he hasn’t had a “substantive” conversation with Pelosi in “more than a year.”

“Yesterday, we watched world peace happen for the Middle East on the steps inside the White House,” he said. “You know what Nancy Pelosi did? She turned down the invitation and she held votes in the floor of the House trying to make members not go there.”

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According to a Politico report, McCarthy is being pressed to oust Pelosi from her seat, but he told Ingraham that he doesn’t think it’s the best tactic prior to the election.

“I think the best move is win 218 seats, and that defeats Nancy Pelosi,” he said. “But you know what else it defeats? [Jerry] Nadler. Maxine Waters. Adam Schiff and the others. That is our best play right now.”

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Democrat challenging QAnon conspiracist candidate in Georgia drops out

  • Kevin Van Ausdal, the Democrat candidate in the race for Georgia’s 14th congressional district, announced on Friday he was dropping out of the race and moving out of the state.
  • Van Ausdal was running opposite the GOP candidate Marjorie Taylor Greene, the staunchly pro-Trump candidate who has expressed support for the baseless, far-right QAnon conspiracy theory. 
  • Greene, who won a runoff primary race last month, had already been expected to win the seat in a heavily Republican district.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Kevin Van Ausdal, the Democratic candidate running against controversial GOP candidate Marjorie Taylor Greene in Georgia’s 14th congressional district, suddenly dropped out of the House race on Friday.

“I am heartbroken to announce that for family and personal reasons, I cannot continue this race for Congress,” he said in a statement posted to Twitter. “After lengthy discussions with my team, attorneys, party officials, and others, the answer was clear, stepping aside would be best for the voters.

Van Ausal said he would be moving from Georgia, which would render him ineligible to run for the seat. He said he was resigning from the race so that the Democratic Party had “a chance to put forward a candidate that can carry this fight to the end.”  

“I will put every resource, every bit of knowledge into the campaign that comes behind me to defeat Marjorie and restore hope to the people of Northwest Georgia,” he said.

According to a Politico report, the Georgia Democratic Party asked Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to officially disqualify Van Ausdal from the ballot and to be allowed to name a replacement candidate, though it’s not clear if he will allow them to do so.

According to Georgia law, a vacancy stemming from the “withdrawal of a candidate less than 60 days prior to the date of the election shall not be filled,” as Politico noted.

Greene was already favored to win the race because the district leans strongly Republican. President Donald Trump won 75% of the vote there in 2016, Business Insider previously noted.

Greene, who in August won a runoff primary race to become the only Republican candidate in the race, has made headlines for controversial statements and her promotion of a baseless, far-right QAnon conspiracy theory that the world is run by a Satanic cabal of elites aiming to bring down Donald Trump and his presidency.

The QAnon the conspiracy theory, which originated on 4chan, is centered around an unknown online individual called “Q,” who claims to have a top-security security clearance, as Business Insider’s Sonam Sheth and Eliza Relman previously reported.

 

 

“Q is a patriot, we know that for sure, but we do not know who Q is,” Greene said in a 2017 video posted to social media. “I don’t know who Q is, but I’m just going to tell you about it because I think it’s something worth listening to

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House of Representatives, and its longest-serving Democrat, adapts to the pandemic

Pushed by rank-and-file Democrats to adapt, as the rest of America has done, Hoyer led a group that came up with new rules allowing lawmakers to vote from home to avoid risky travel and implementing technological changes that created virtual hearings in which members and witnesses could appear through video conferencing.

Six months later, the House has regained its footing. Ten of the 12 annual spending bills for federal agencies got approved, as did the Pentagon’s annual policy outline, along with some Democratic bills that served as markers on how they would overhaul police rules and guarantee safe delivery of mail ballots in the upcoming election.

The House looks entirely different — up to 20 percent of members vote by proxy, through a lawmaker who is present, and some hearings are entirely virtual — yet it is functioning. Plenty of little gritty work that the public rarely sees is getting done.

Yes, House Democrats are still clashing with the Senate in a higher-profile fashion, often ending in a gridlock that frustrates the public, and, yes, the Trump administration is still thumbing its nose at most of their oversight efforts.

Yet, for however long the pandemic makes a normal Congress high risk, Hoyer believes this new normal is certainly better than the alternative.

“The Congress could have been immobilized. I mean, a lot of state legislatures, they adjourned,” Hoyer said. “The Congress can’t do that.”

Republicans have fought these changes, first arguing that in drafting the Constitution the Founding Fathers wanted Congress to be physically present to cast votes. They filed a lawsuit in federal courts contesting these rules changes, a losing battle — a federal judge dismissed the suit in August — given that even the Supreme Court adapted to the pandemic with remote hearings and voting.

“That’s so stupid,” Hoyer said, dismissing the concept that a lawmaker violates his oath if he is not physically present. “My constituents don’t care how I vote or where I am when I vote. They care that I represent their viewpoint and I articulate it.”

Hoyer, the longest-serving House Democrat, is an unlikely evangelist for a high-tech Congress. There’s a running joke about how often Hoyer has to be reminded to turn off his mute button on the now-ubiquitous conference calls that have replaced in-person meetings for the caucus. He barely touches email, but he’s adapted to FaceTime and text messages to stay in touch with grandchildren.

“Look, I’m a hugger, I’m a shaker of hands, I’m a slapper on the back. I like to be together with people,” he said, admitting he has gotten “a little buggy being at home all the time.”

He estimates that he used Zoom or Microsoft Teams’ video technology five times, ever, before the coronavirus outbreak. Now? He’s on Zoom or Teams about six hours a day.

But Hoyer has adapted, out of necessity. Where Republicans see changes that are altering the fabric of the House as an institution, Hoyer views these moves as temporary steps to

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A top House Democrat calls for the suspension of Postmaster General Louis DeJoy over campaign finance allegations.

Representative Carolyn B. Maloney, Democrat of New York and the chairwoman of the House Oversight Committee, on Monday called on the Postal Service’s board of governors to suspend Louis DeJoy, the postmaster general, while she investigates allegations that he asked former employees to make campaign contributions to Republicans and gave them bonuses to defray the cost.

“If these allegations are true, Mr. DeJoy could face criminal exposure — not only for his actions in North Carolina, but also for lying to our committee under oath,” Ms. Maloney said in a statement. “We will be investigating this issue, but I believe the board of governors must take emergency action to immediately suspend Mr. DeJoy, who they never should have selected in the first place.”

Ms. Maloney’s committee on Wednesday issued a subpoena for documents she said Mr. DeJoy had withheld from Congress related to mail delays and communications with the Trump campaign. Since then, Mr. DeJoy, a Republican megadonor and onetime executive of a shipping company based in North Carolina, New Breed Logistics, has been accused of cultivating an environment at his former company that left employees feeling pressured to make donations to Republican candidates, and rewarded them with bonuses for doing so.

The practice was described to The New York Times by three former employees at New Breed Logistics who said that workers would receive bonuses if they donated to candidates he supported, and that it was expected that managers would participate. A fourth employee confirmed that managers at the company were routinely solicited to make donations. The four former employees spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of professional retaliation.

The former employees did not say how explicit Mr. DeJoy was about linking the campaign contributions he was encouraging to the extra compensation, but three of them said it was widely believed that the bonuses were meant to reimburse the political donations, an allegation first reported by The Washington Post.

Federal campaign finance law bars straw-donor schemes, in which an individual reimburses someone else to donate to a political campaign in order to skirt contribution limits. But it is legal to encourage employees to make donations, as Mr. DeJoy routinely did.

Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader, has called for the North Carolina attorney general to investigate the allegations. At a hearing last month, Mr. DeJoy angrily denied a suggestion by Representative Jim Cooper, Democrat of Tennessee, that he had reimbursed his employees’ political donations.

“That’s an outrageous claim, sir, and I resent it,” Mr. DeJoy responded. “What are you accusing me of?” A spokesman for Mr. DeJoy has insisted that he followed federal and local laws.

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House Democrat offers measures to block Trump’s payroll tax deferral

A House Democrat on Friday introduced two measures in an effort to block President TrumpDonald John TrumpNetanyahu privately condoned US arms sale plan with UAE: report Trump denies report he called U.S. service members buried in France ‘losers’, ‘suckers’ Jim Carrey pens op-ed comparing Trump to Michael Corleone in ‘The Godfather’ MORE‘s initiative to defer payroll taxes.

Rep. John Larson John Barry LarsonSenate Democrats take step toward vote on overturning Trump’s payroll-tax deferral Conservatives urge Trump to take unilateral action to suspend payroll tax collection House Dems introduce bill to require masks on planes and in airports MORE (D-Conn.), the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee’s Social Security subpanel, introduced a bill to nullify IRS guidance implementing the Social Security payroll tax deferral. He also introduced a Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolution to overturn the IRS guidance.

Larson introduced the measures along with several other lawmakers, including Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard NealRichard Edmund NealThe Hill’s 12:30 Report: First Kennedy to lose a Massachusetts election The Hill’s Morning Report – Presented by Facebook – Markey defeats Kennedy; Trump lauds America’s enforcers in Wisconsin Neal beats back primary challenge from progressive Alex Morse in Massachusetts MORE (D-Mass.). The House members introduced the measures after Senate Democrats also launched an effort to overturn the guidance, which implements a memo Trump signed last month.

Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerSchumer calls for accountability in Daniel Prude death in Rochester Top Democrats press Trump to sanction Russian individuals over 2020 election interference efforts Fauci says he ‘would not hesitate for a moment’ to take coronavirus vaccine MORE (D-N.Y.) and Senate Finance Committee ranking member Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenHillicon Valley: Russia ‘amplifying’ concerns around mail-in voting to undermine election | Facebook and Twitter take steps to limit Trump remarks on voting | Facebook to block political ads ahead of election Top Democrats press Trump to sanction Russian individuals over 2020 election interference efforts On The Money: Deficit to reach record .3 trillion | Senate Democrats push to overturn Trump’s payroll-tax deferral | Private sector adds 428K workers in August as job growth slows MORE (D-Ore.) on Wednesday sent a letter to the Government Accountability Office (GAO) asking for a determination about whether the IRS guidance is a rule for purposes of the CRA.

If the government watchdog determines that the guidance is a rule for CRA purposes, Senate Democrats would be able to force a vote on the Senate floor on a resolution to overturn the guidance. But the measure would face an uphill battle given the Republican majority in the chamber.

A spokesperson for Larson said there hasn’t been a response yet from GAO.

Under the IRS guidance, employers can stop withholding employee-side Social Security taxes through the end of the year for workers making under $4,000 biweekly. The money would then be collected by increasing the amount of taxes withheld from workers’ paychecks in the first few months of 2021.

The federal government is

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