George Clooney says Trump was just a ‘knucklehead’ who was always ‘chasing girls’ before he was president

George Clooney
George Clooney attends “The Tender Bar” Premiere during the 65th BFI London Film Festival at The Royal Festival Hall on October 10, 2021 in London, England.

  • George Clooney said Trump was “just this knucklehead” before he was president.
  • “He was just a guy who was chasing girls,” Clooney told BBC.
  • Clooney also defended President Joe Biden’s declining approval ratings.

Award-winning actor and director George Clooney in a new interview on Sunday said he hopes the US will move past former President Donald Trump.

“He’s going to be a factor for a while. It’s so funny because, you know, he was just this knucklehead,” Clooney said of Trump on the BBC’s “The Andrew Marr Show.”

“I knew him before he was a president. He was just a guy who was chasing girls. Every time you went out, he’d come over and be like, ‘What’s the name of that girl?’ That’s all he was,” Clooney added.

Since he left office, Trump has stayed in the spotlight and tried to maintain his grip on national politics, with many GOP officials rallying around him and voters expressing their support for him as the party’s leader. The former president has also repeatedly teased a 2024 run.

Clooney acknowledged Trump’s following, saying: “He’s going to play this out for a while and we’ll see where we go with it as a country.

But “my hope is we have a little better sense than” to put Trump in the White House again, Clooney added.

Clooney, a Democrat, also weighed in on President Joe Biden’s recent declining approval ratings, saying that he’s still struggling to repair the country after Trump.

“It’s like taking a battered child and thinking everything’s going to be OK his first day in school,” the movie star said. “There’s a lot of things that have to be repaired. There’s a lot of healing that has to happen and it’s going to take time.”

“Poll numbers come up and go down. I would expect them to go back up again,” he added.

Clooney also shut down any ideas of him leaving Hollywood to run for public office.

“I actually would like to have a nice life,” Clooney said. “I’m 60 and I can still play basketball and still do the things I love. But in 20 years, I’ll be 80 … We have to make sure we enjoy and live these years in the best possible way.”

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Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is projected to keep his role, but without the majority government he wanted

Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (R), his wife Sophie Gregoire Trudeau and their children Xavier (L-R), Ella-Grace and Hadrien waves to supporters while boarding his campaign bus on August 15, 2021 in Ottawa, Canada.
Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (R), his wife Sophie Gregoire Trudeau and their children Xavier (L-R), Ella-Grace and Hadrien waves to supporters while boarding his campaign bus on August 15, 2021 in Ottawa, Canada.

  • Canadian PM Justin Trudeau is projected to form a minority government in the current snap election.
  • Trudeau’s minority win means he will need to continue working with opposition parties to get enough support to pass laws.
  • Polls closed on Monday and voting results are still being tallied.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is expected to win a snap federal election but is unlikely to lead a majority parliamentary government after polls closed on Monday.

Results are still being tallied, but Canadian networks CTV and CBC have projected that Trudeau’s Liberal Party will win to form a minority government in the country’s 44th general election. The projected result is a comeback for the Liberal party, which was lagging behind their main opposition, the Conservative party, in early surveys several weeks ago.

But it’s also a disappointment for the party and Trudeau. He’s currently at the head of a minority in the House of Commons, meaning he has to rely on support from other parties to pass laws.

He called an election two years early, which some say was a bid to win a majority government.

Opposition leaders have criticized Trudeau’s decision, citing concerns about holding an election during the COVID-19 pandemic. The prime minister said it was up to Canadians to decide which party would lead them through their pandemic response.

The projected minority win means he will need to continue working with the opposition on future national decisions.

Trudeau’s closest ally in that regard has been the leftwing New Democratic Party (NDP), a much smaller party that has lent support to his pandemic relief programs that pay unemployed Canadians up to $1,566 a month, reported Politico.

His Liberal Party was leading with 157 seats out of 338, per Elections Canada at around 12:40 a.m. Ottawa time. They need 170 seats in the House of Commons to form a majority government.

These results indicate the party’s popularity has declined since Trudeau was first elected leader in 2015. Back then, the Liberal party took 184 seats and won a majority government, but subsequently lost their majority in the 2019 election with 157 seats.

As Monday’s election drew closer, polls indicated that Trudeau was not only going to fall short of a majority government, but that his job was now on the line.

Earlier on Saturday, he warned Canadians that voting for smaller left-wing parties may result in the Conservative party gaining the upper hand and winning the election, per Reuters. In August, he promised to ban foreign home buyers for two years if he gets re-elected.

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House passes major bill to restore the Voting Rights Act with no Republican support

Civil rights leader Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., flanked by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., left, and Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., speaks at an event with House Democrats before passing the Voting Rights Advancement Act to eliminate potential state and local voter suppression laws, at the Capitol in Washington, Friday, Dec. 6, 2019.
House Democrats passed a major voting-rights bill named for Rep. John Lewis, pictured here in 2019.

  • The US House passed a major bill to restore the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
  • The John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act passed along party lines by a 219-212 vote.
  • Republicans say the legislation is a partisan “power grab” and an overreach into federal elections.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The US House passed a major bill that would restore two key sections of the Voting Rights Act and rebuff much of the Supreme Court’s election jurisprudence over the past 15 years.

The John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, or H.R. 4, named for the former Georgia congressman and civil-rights leader, passed along party lines with the votes of 219 Democrats and no Republicans on Tuesday.

The House returned from its August recess to pass that legislation and the resolution that will serve as the blueprint for Democrats’ $3.5 trillion budget plan. The chamber eventually proceeded to vote on both measures after a prolonged standoff over the budget between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and a group of moderate Democrats.

The voting-rights bill was carefully crafted to focus on combating the judiciary’s narrowing of key voting-rights protections. That’s in contrast with the For the People Act (H.R. 1), congressional Democrats’ wide-ranging voting-rights and democracy-reform package that has earned much of the focus on Capitol Hill this year and was filibustered by Senate Republicans in June.

Read more: These are the 13 best crisis experts politicians call to manage scandals and crush bad press reports

The 2021 version of the Voting Rights Advancement Act comes out swinging specifically at the majority-conservative Supreme Court with precision, seeking to undo years of the court undermining the Voting Rights Act and broadly making it more difficult for plaintiffs to win emergency election-related lawsuits.

The most consequential portion of the bill would restore the federal preclearance regime that, for decades, required states and municipalities with histories of discrimination to seek permission from the federal government before enacting voting changes or new district maps.

In Shelby County v. Holder in 2013, the Supreme Court majority ruled that the previous formula used to determine which jurisdictions were covered under that requirement was unconstitutional, leaving the preclearance provision unenforceable for the eight years since.

The ruling was a seismic change in election law and shifted the bulk of the federal action around voting rights to Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. The Supreme Court also undercut that portion of the act in its decision this year in Brnovich v. Democratic National Committee, a ruling that the Voting Rights Advancement Act hopes to roll back.

The new formula in the bill would cover states and jurisdictions that were determined by a court to have violated the 14th or 15th amendments or the Voting Rights Act a certain number of times within a 25-year period. It would also apply to state that or admitted in a settlement to such violations.

Previous reauthorization and extensions of the Voting Rights Act have previously garnered strong bipartisan support, including in 2006.

But in the 15 years since, and especially after Shelby County v. Holder, GOP legislatures in many states have enacted aggressive voting rules and redistricting plans, leading political parties to descend into increasingly intense political and legal fights that spurred many of the court rulings that House Democrats are now hoping to reverse.

The 13 still serving House Republicans who voted to reauthorize the Voting Rights Act in 2006, including Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania, the sole Republican to vote for the 2019 version of the Voting Rights Advancement Act, all voted against H.R. 4.

Republicans say the legislation is a partisan “power grab” and a massive overreach into federal elections.

“After they failed to gain enough support from their own party to get H.R. 1 across the finish line, Democrats are now trying a back-door attempt at nationalizing our elections to ensure their party remains in power for years to come,” Rep. Rodney Davis of Illinois, the ranking member of the House Administration Committee, which has oversight over federal elections, said in a statement upon the bill’s release.

The bill heads next to the Senate, where it faces much tougher odds of passage because of GOP opposition and the filibuster rules requiring a three-fifths majority to pass most legislation. So far, just one GOP senator, Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, supports the key goal in H.R. 4 of restoring the Voting Rights Act.

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From Mike Lindell to OAN, here’s everyone Dominion and Smartmatic are suing over election conspiracy theories so far

Three side-by-side images of MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell, Sidney Powell, and Rudy Giuliani.
MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell, Sidney Powell, and Rudy Giuliani are being sued by Dominion.

  • Conspiracy theorists claim Dominion and Smartmatic “flipped” votes from Donald Trump to Joe Biden.
  • The election technology companies are now suing the people who spread those claims.
  • Here’s who’s being sued so far.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

Dominion and Smartmatic have launched a series of defamation lawsuits against individuals and groups who spread election fraud conspiracy theories related to their voting machines during the 2020 presidential election.

Dominion filed a $1.6 billion defamation suit against Fox News on Friday, and more could be on their way. Dominion has sent cease-and-desist notices and warnings to preserve documents to more than 150 people, and its CEO previously told CNBC that the company was “not ruling anyone out.”

Because of the coronavirus pandemic, people turned to alternative ways to vote in the election, and voter fraud conspiracy theories quickly sprung up.

One posited that Dominion and Smartmatic developed technology that “flipped” votes from Donald Trump to Joe Biden through a method developed with the regime of the late Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chávez.

The theory has been thoroughly debunked. That didn’t stop pro-Trump attorney Sidney Powell and Trump’s former personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani from pushing elements of the theory while filing a series of failed lawsuits seeking to overturn the results of the election. Lindell has also spread misinformation about the machines, saying Dominion “built them to cheat.”

As well as making the brand “radioactive” and putting its multiyear contracts in jeopardy, according to its attorney Tom Clare, the allegations about Dominion also put its employees in danger, the company wrote in a lawsuit.

Its customer support number received a voicemail message saying “we’re bringing back the firing squad,” it wrote in the suit in January. The need for heightened personal security cost Dominion $565,000, according to the lawsuit, bringing its total costs attributed to the vote fraud claims to almost $1.2 million.

Here’s a list of everyone is being sued so far.

Sidney Powell by Dominion and Smartmatic

Sidney Powell
Attorney Sidney Powell at a Trump Campaign press conference.

Dominion was the first to snap.

On January 8, it filed a defamation suit against pro-Trump attorney Sidney Powell, seeking $1.3 billion in damages.

Powell was one of the faces of the Trump campaign’s legal team in November, but Trump kicked her off the team after she floated her conspiracy theory at a press conference.

Despite being purged from Trump’s “Elite Strike Force” legal team Powell used her false theories as the premise of four federal lawsuits seeking to overturn the election result. All of them failed, and some have resulted in motions for her to be disbarred.

Dominion’s lawsuit alleges that Powell’s claims caused the company business losses after she baselessly accused the company of fraud, election rigging, and bribery.

“Powell’s statements were calculated to — and did in fact — provoke outrage and cause Dominion enormous harm,” Tom Clare, the attorney representing Dominion, wrote in the lawsuit.

The 124-page defamation lawsuit also outlines how Powell raised money from her media tour peddling her conspiracy theory through a corporate vehicle called “Defending the Republic,” also named as a party in the lawsuit.

Powell responded by tweeting that the lawsuit “is baseless & filed to harass, intimidate, & to drain our resources as we seek the truth of #DominionVotingSystems‘ role in this fraudulent election.”

Smartmatic filed a defamation lawsuit against Powell a month later, suing her at the same time it sued Rudy Giuliani, a fellow conspiracy theorist, and Fox News.

The company claimed that Powell and Giuliani used right-wing media outlets like Fox News to make their conspiracy theories go viral.

“These defendants are primary sources of much of the false information,” the company said. “Their unfounded accusations were repeated by other media outlets, journalists, bloggers and influencers the world over.”

A federal judge Wednesday denied Powell’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit.

Rudy Giuliani by Dominion and Smartmatic

Rudy Giuliani
Former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani at a Trump Campaign press conference.

On January 26, Dominion filed a defamation suit against Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s now-former personal lawyer, again seeking $1.3 billion in damages.

In the lawsuit, Dominion accused Giuliani of creating “a viral disinformation campaign about Dominion,” referring to more than 50 of his statements.

Through hearings, television appearances, Twitter, and his own YouTube show, it said, Giuliani repeatedly accused Dominion of election fraud and misrepresented the company’s security measures while doing so.

He “cashed in by hosting a podcast where he exploited election falsehoods to market gold coins, supplements, cigars and protection from ‘cyberthieves,'” Dominion wrote in the lawsuit.

The 107-page document also cited numerous other people who said they believed Giuliani’s claims, which it argued demonstrated the scope of the damage.

“Rudy Giuliani actively propagated disinformation to purposefully mislead voters,” Dominion CEO John Poulos said in a statement. “Because Giuliani and others incessantly repeated the false claims about my company on a range of media platforms, some of our own family and friends are among the Americans who were duped.”

In a statement, Giuliani said he welcomed the lawsuit and suggested he had not previously done a thorough investigation of Dominion’s practices.

A federal judge Wednesday denied Giuliani’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit.

Smartmatic also included Giuliani as a defendant in its lawsuit filed in February.

The company said Giuliani used the conspiracy theories to enrich himself.

“He reportedly would seek thousands of dollars ($20,000/day) in fees from President Trump to spread the story and file frivolous lawsuits,” Smartmatic wrote in its lawsuit.

“He would also use the attention brought to him as one of the primary storytellers to sell various products – from coins to supplements to title fraud protection.”

Mike Lindell by Dominion

mike lindell trump
MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell.

On February 22, Dominion filed a defamation suit against MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell, also seeking $1.3 billion in damages.

Lindell is a staunch ally of former president Donald Trump and a major GOP donor, who has repeatedly supported Trump’s claims challenging the integrity of the election.

Dominion’s lawsuit accused Lindell of repeatedly making false allegations while knowing there was no credible evidence to support his claims. As well as rallies, interviews, and a two-hour movie, Lindell used his social-media profiles to spread his baseless claims of voter fraud.

In the lawsuit, Dominion claimed Lindell used the claims as a way to ramp up his pillow sales, advertising on far-right media outlets that parroted his claims and sponsoring a bus tour that sought to overturn the election results. Lindell told Insider that retailer boycotts of MyPillow following the insurrection have cost him tens of millions of dollars in business.

He “knowingly lied about Dominion to sell more pillows to people who continued tuning in to hear what they wanted to hear about the election,” Dominion wrote.

Lindell told Insider Dominion had “zero, zero, zero” chance of winning. The lawsuits were part of cancel culture’s attempts at silencing voices, he said.

“I looked at it as a great day for America when they sued me,” Lindell added. “I can put the evidence for the whole world to see, and it’ll be public record, and the media will quit trying to suppress it.”

A federal judge Wednesday denied Lindell’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit.

Fox News by Smartmatic and Dominion

Donald Trump Fox News
A close-up of the Fox News Channel website with a picture of President Donald Trump displayed on a smartphone.

On February 4, Smartmatic filed a $2.7 billion lawsuit against Fox News, accusing it of waging disinformation campaigns about the company’s role in the 2020 election.

“In November and December 2020, Fox News broadcast multiple reports stating and implying that Smartmatic had fixed and rigged the 2020 election,” the company said.

“They repeated the false claims and accusations on air and in articles and social media postings that were together seen by millions in the US and even more around the world.”

Fox called the lawsuit “meritless” and asked a judge to dismiss the case.

On March 26, Dominion also filed a lawsuit against Fox News. The $1.6 billion suit – its biggest yet – claimed that the network gave prominence to the election-fraud claims as a tactic to revive viewership as ratings dropped after President Donald Trump’s loss.

The voting-technology company said that Fox News “sold a false story of election fraud in order to serve its own commercial purposes, severely injuring Dominion in the process.”

In a statement, Fox News said: “Fox News Media is proud of our 2020 election coverage, which stands in the highest tradition of American journalism, and will vigorously defend against this baseless lawsuit in court.”

Fox News representative told Insider in February that the network ran several “fact-check” segments “prior to any lawsuit chatter.”

While several of its news shows reported that there was no evidence of Dominion’s systems changing votes, Fox News, in particular its opinion hosts, “questioned the results of the election or pushed conspiracy theories about it at least 774 times” in the two weeks after the network called the race, according to Media Matters.

Jeanine Pirro, Maria Bartiromo, and Lou Dobbs by Smartmatic

Jeanine Pirro, Maria Bartiromo, Lou Dobbs
Fox News hosts Jeanine Pirro, Maria Bartiromo, and Lou Dobbs.

Smartmatic’s 285-page lawsuit against Fox News also named the hosts Lou Dobbs, Maria Bartiromo, and Jeanine Pirro as defendants.

Smartmatic said the hosts had offered Powell and Giuliani a platform and endorsed their falsehoods.

Bartiromo, Pirro, and Dobbs all filed separate motions to dismiss the lawsuit.

Fox News canceled Dobbs’ show days after the lawsuit was filed and said he would no longer have a relationship with the network. It added that the move had been planned.

Newsmax by Dominion

Rudy Giuliani on Newsmax.
Newsmax hosted Powell and Giuliani on its shows.

Dominion filed a $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit against Newsmax, the right-wing outlet owned and run by Trump’s friend Chris Ruddy, on Tuesday.

Newsmax was slow to acknowledge the reality of Biden’s victory in the November 2020 election. Dominion accused Newsmax of promoting falsehoods about the company in order to compete with Fox News, which had correctly recognized Biden’s victory in November.

“Newsmax chose to prioritize its profits over the truth,” the lawsuit said. “For Ruddy and Newsmax, the facts did not matter. What mattered was feeding the audience what it wanted — even if it was spreading false information. And the race to the bottom began in earnest, dragging Dominion down with it.”

After the election, the network also hosted Powell and Giuliani. By allowing them to spout their false theories unchallenged on Newsmax’s programs, this amounted to defamation, Dominion said.

Newsmax representative Brian Peterson told Insider that the media organization was simply reporting on what notable figures said.

“While Newsmax has not reviewed the Dominion filing, in its coverage of the 2020 Presidential elections, Newsmax simply reported on allegations made by well-known public figures, including the President, his advisors and members of Congress — Dominion’s action today is a clear attempt to squelch such reporting and undermine a free press,” Peterson said.

One America News by Dominion

one america news oan
A One America News reported.

Dominion filed a $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit against One America News (OAN) Tuesday, accusing it of engaging “in a race to the bottom with Fox and other outlets such as Newsmax to spread false and manufactured stories about election fraud.”

OAN refused to acknowledge Biden’s victory in the 2020 election even as Fox News and Newsmax pulled back on far-fetched election claims and aired videos attesting to the legitimacy of the results.

Dominion said that OAN’s falsehoods contributed toward the insurrection at the Capitol on January 6 and that it defamed Dominion by broadcasting “Absolute Proof,” Lindell’s conspiracy theory-filled documentary about voter fraud.

Dominion also accused OAN hosts Chanel Rion and Christina Bobb of amplifying and spreading false claims about Dominion.

After Dominion threatened to sue OAN for defamation in December, OAN warned Dominion of a countersuit.

Patrick Byrne by Dominion

patrick byrne overstock
Overstock CEO Patrick Byrne.

Dominion filed a $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit against former Overstock CEO Patrick Byrne Tuesday.

The lawsuit accuses Byrne, a staunch Trump ally, of waging “a defamatory disinformation campaign against Dominion” in collaboration with Powell, Giuliani, Lindell, and others. This includes pushing election conspiracy theories in television appearances, a blog series, a book, and a film, Dominion said.

“Byrne continues to stick to his manufactured, inherently improbable, profitable, and demonstrable lies,” the lawsuit said.

Dominion is ‘still exploring’ whether to sue Trump over election lies

Trump
Former President Donald Trump.

More lawsuits could be on their way, with Dominion’s CEO telling CNBC in February that the company was “not ruling anyone out” after sending cease-and-desist notices and warnings to preserve documents to more than 150 people.

Asked directly if Dominion would sue Trump, Shackelford, an attorney at Susman Godfrey LLP, told Insider’s Jacob Shamsian Tuesday that the company has not ruled it out.

“We are still exploring options as to how to hold other participants in the campaign of lies against Dominion to account,” Shackelford said.

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RESULTS: Nina Tuner and Shontel Brown face off in a high-profile Ohio special House election

Nina Turner, left, and Shontel Brown, right, campaign in Ohio's 11th Congressional District
Former state Senator Nina Turner, left, and Cuyahoga County Councilwoman Shontel Brown, right, are the frontrunners in the Democratic primary for the special election in Ohio’s 11th District

  • Voters are choosing the special Democratic primary election in Ohio’s 11th District.
  • Nina Turner and Shontel Brown are the frontrunners for the seat, formerly held by HUD Sec. Marcia Fudge.
  • Polls in Ohio closed at 7:30 pm ET. Follow along for live election results.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Polls in Ohio’s 11th Congressional District closed at 7:30 pm ET.

Former state Sen. Nina Turner and Cuyahoga County Council member Shontel Brown are the frontrunners in a multicandidate Democratic primary for the special election in Ohio’s 11th Congressional District.

In March, the seat was vacated by then-Democratic Rep. Marcia Fudge, who stepped down to become the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development under President Joe Biden.

The racially diverse, reliably Democratic 11th district stretches from Cleveland’s east side to Akron, with a mix of working-to-upper-middle-class suburbs including Euclid and Shaker Heights. The district backed Biden by a margin of 60 percentage points, 79.8 to 19.2%, over former President Donald Trump in the 2020 election.

The winner of the Democratic primary will be the overwhelming favorite to win the Nov. 2 general election.

Turner, who served on the Cleveland City Council from 2006 to 2008 and was a member of the Ohio Senate from 2008 to 2014, became a nationally-known figure as president of the political organization Our Revolution, which was spun off from the 2016 presidential campaign of Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and has led the largest outside grassroots mobilization effort for her campaign.

Last year, Turner was a national co-chair for the 2020 Sanders presidential campaign, and she has been a leading voice for progressive issues, including a $15 minimum wage and student loan debt cancelation. She has attracted the support of progressive stars such as Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and Cori Bush of Missouri, who view her as a like-minded ally who will demand real accountability in Congress.

Brown, who also chairs the Cuyahoga County Democratic Party, has promoted herself as an ally of Biden who would not shift the agenda of the narrow Democratic majority too far to the left. Her more moderate stances have attracted the support of party stalwarts like former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn of South Carolina, the highest-ranking Black lawmaker in Congress.

The race has become increasingly heated in recent weeks, with Brown seeking to use Turner’s national profile against her, portraying the former state lawmaker as a Democrat who wouldn’t be a reliable partner with the White House. Turner has rejected such assertions and recently released a pointed television advertisement that questioned Brown’s ethics.

While some groups have deemed the race as a proxy between moderate and progressive Democrats, the race is much more nuanced on the local level.

Turner and Brown have deep roots in the community, and both have indicated that issues such as poverty and criminal justice reform would be major priorities if elected to office.

Turner spoke to Insider in March and explained the need to combat economic inequities, a huge issue in the Rust Belt district.

“Having one job should definitely be enough and we’ve got to work to make sure that’s the case,” she said. “COVID-19 has only exacerbated social, economic, racial, and environmental fissures, and we need to center poor people and working-class people in a way that gives them a shot to live their measure of the American dream. This is going to require us to see the system through a different lens.”

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RESULTS: A crowded field of candidates vies for the GOP nomination in the special election for Ohio’s 15th District

Ohio congressional candidate Mike Carey
Mike Carey speaks at a rally hosted by former President Donald Trump after receiving his endorsement on June 26, 2021 in Wellington, Ohio

  • A crowded field of GOP candidates are competing for the special primary election for Ohio’s 15th District.
  • Former President Trump has endorsed and campaigned for coal lobbyist Mike Carey.
  • Polls in Ohio closed at 7:30 pm ET. Follow along for live results.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Polls in Ohio closed at 7:30 pm. Follow along for live results.

A crowded field of candidates are competing in the special primary election to replace former Republican Rep. Steve Stivers in Ohio’s 15th District, which encompasses the suburbs and exurbs south of Columbus.

The contenders for the GOP nomination include state Rep. Jeff LaRe, who has been endorsed by Strivers, state Rep. Bob Peterson, state Sen. Stephanie Kunze, minister and former Columbus NAACP President Ruth Edmonds, Hilliard Councilman Omar Tarzai, and coal lobbyist Mike Carey, who is endorsed by former President Donald Trump.

Trump held his first rally since leaving office to campaign for Carey on June 26.

The special election will pose another test of Trump’s continued influence over down-ballot GOP races in his post-presidency, Insider’s Warren Rojas and Tom LoBianco report.

Read more: Donald Trump’s ‘golden ticket’ is on trial in Ohio, where a special election is again testing his political prowess

Trump’s track record of backing winning candidates suffered a blow last week, when his endorsed candidate Susan Wright lost a special runoff election in Texas 6th Congressional District to state Rep. Jake Ellzey. While it can be difficult to draw sweeping conclusions from individual, low-turnout special elections, tonight’s results will be another data point to Trump’s continued influence over Republican primary voters.

The number of candidates in the field and all the different constituencies at play in the primary make it difficult to discern a clear frontrunner.

“5,000 votes could win this thing, no poll could properly catch the turnout, there’s just no way to guess,” one Ohio GOP consultant told Insider. “Your guess is as good as mine.”

The winner of the special GOP primary will be heavily favored to win the November 2 special general election in the 15th District, which backed Trump over President Joe Biden by 14 percentage points, 56% to 42%, in 2020.

Read the original article on Business Insider

AOC says the notion that activists can ‘out-organize’ voter suppression is ‘a ridiculous premise’ that ‘verges on naïveté’

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez appearing on CNN's "State of the Union"
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said Sunday that the idea of “out-organizing” voter suppression “verges on naïveté”

  • AOC is joining progressives criticizing the notion that voter suppression can be out-organized.
  • Ocasio-Cortez told CNN that the notion “verges on naïveté” and is a “ridiculous premise.”
  • The Times reported that White House officials believe organizing can overcome restrictive voting rules.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said the notion that grassroots organizing alone can combat voter suppression “verges on naïveté” and is a “ridiculous premise” in a Sunday interview on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

Ocasio-Cortez was responding to a New York Times report published July 23 which detailed the tension between the Biden White House and civil rights activists over voting rights issues. The Times reported that in “private calls” with activists, White House officials and close allies of the president have expressed confidence that it is possible to ‘out-organize voter suppression.'”

The Atlantic’s Ron Brownstein similarly reported in late May that White House officials believe “there are work-arounds to some of these provisions” on voting through organizing, with one official saying: “show us what the rules are and we will figure out a way to educate our voters and make sure they understand how they can vote and we will get them out to vote.”

“I appreciate the White House’s optimism, but I believe it verges on naïveté,” Ocasio-Cortez told CNN’s Jake Tapper. “It already took unprecedented, historic organizing to overcome the historic voter suppression efforts in 2020 and we barely squeaked through on the majorities and the White House election that we had.”

Ocasio-Cortez also referenced the emerging threat of GOP-backed election subversion in the states, noting that no amount of organizing can stop partisan interference in the counting of votes.

“Even if we are successful in ‘out organizing voter suppression, which is a ridiculous premise on its face, Republicans are already laying the groundwork in installing state-level attorney generals and beyond to overturn the results of any state election that they frankly do not like in states where they have taken power,” Ocasio-Cortez said.

A June update to a report from Protect Democracy, States United Democracy Center, and Law Forward identified 24 laws passed and enacted in 14 GOP-controlled states that criminalize aspects of the election administration process and give partisan officials more control over how elections are conducted and certified. That’s in addition to GOP lawmakers pursuing dubious “audits” and recounts of already-certified elections in states like Arizona and Pennsylvania.

“Even if you are successful in out-organizing, they are laying the groundwork to not even certify the results of the election. They are holding, essentially dress rehearsals in states like Arizona in order to do that. And I think we should be extremely alarmed,” Ocasio-Cortez added.

Ocasio-Cortez is joining a growing chorus of progressive voices criticizing President Joe Biden’s White House for not pushing forcefully enough for voting rights protections.

Ocasio-Cortez previously tweeted that “communities cannot ‘out-organize’ voter suppression when those they organize to elect won’t protect the vote.& Even if they DO out-organize, the ground is being set to overturn results. The time to fight like hell for democracy is right now. We may not get another chance.”

Many activists are frustrated that Biden, who has called new GOP election laws “Jim Crow on steroids” and described them as the biggest challenge American democracy has faced since the Civil War, isn’t calling for reforms of the Senate filibuster to pass voting rights legislation.

The current Senate filibuster rules require 60 votes to debate and pass most legislation. In late June, Senate Republicans filibustered the For The People Act, or S. 1, Democrats’ sweeping voting rights legislation. Senate Democrats are now drawing up a revised, more narrowly-tailored version of the bill focused on voting rights.

House Democrats are also preparing the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, which would restore a key provision of the Voting Rights Act that the Supreme Court struck down in 2013 in the Shelby v. Holder case.

Biden continued to reject the idea of nixing the filibuster in a July 21 CNN town hall, saying that getting rid of it would “throw the entire Congress into chaos and nothing will get done.”

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Arizona and Michigan election officials plead with Congress for protection against mounting threats and harassment: ‘We need your help’

Surplus election challengers yell behind windows at the central counting board in Detroit, Michigan
Surplus election challengers yell behind windows at the central counting board, as police helped to keep additional challengers from entering due to overcrowding, Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2020, in Detroit.

  • Arizona and Michigan election officials on Wednesday appealed to Congress to address threats and harassment.
  • They testified one day after officers relived the harrowing Capitol attack in a widely-watched hearing.
  • “All of us have been threatened simply because we’re trying to represent our community,” Detroit City Clerk Janice Winfrey said.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Adrian Fontes, the former top election official in Maricopa County, Arizona recalled a bomb squad being called to his house in 2018 after his daughter brought in an unidentified package. By November 2020, he shared in written testimony, Fontes had prepared “go bags” for his daughters and dealt with direct threats to his staff that required law enforcement protection as pro-Trump protesters engulfed the office where workers were counting ballots.

After a rash of harassing text messages and calls in the wake of the 2020 election, Detroit City Clerk Janice Winfrey recounted a man approaching and physically threatening her in her own neighborhood. “I have COVID-19 and I’ll spit on you,” Winfrey responded at the time.

Later, she testified, the man messaged her on Facebook threatening to blow up her block, with continued threats against her requiring law enforcement attention as recently as February.

On Tuesday, four law enforcement officers shared in a nationally-televised House hearing emotional, vivid recountings of their experiencing defending the Capitol during the January 6 insurrection. The next day, Fontes and Winfrey shared with Congress their own stories of facing threats of violence for defending the outcome of the 2020 election.

In Wednesday’s smaller and more sparsely-attended hearing held by the House Committee on Administration, Fontes and Winfrey appealed to Congress for help addressing the root causes of the insurrection: pervasive GOP-backed efforts to undermine and subvert election results that escalated into threats against local election officials and, ultimately, the Capitol riot.

Gowri Ramachandran, senior counsel at the Brennan Center for Justice, argued in the hearing that the January 6 insurrection was, in essence, an attack on election officials since members of Congress were attacked for fulfilling their duty to count electoral votes and affirm the winner of the Electoral College.

“We encourage you to continue to listen to the voices of those who are most directly responsible for making our democracy work in service of this Republic,” Fontes told the committee. “We need your help. We need your protection.”

Maricopa County Sheriff's Deputies stand at the door of the Maricopa County Recorder's Office
Maricopa County Sheriff’s Deputies stand at the door of the Maricopa County Recorder’s Office as President Donald Trump supporters rally outside, Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2020, in Phoenix.

After Senate Republicans filibustered the For the People Act, also known as S.1, Democrats’ sweeping voting rights and democracy reform bill, in late June, election policy has taken a backseat to the landmark bipartisan infrastructure deal. But with the select House committee investigating January 6 putting political violence back in the spotlight, the witnesses hope Congress will also act on threats against election officials.

“I think bringing the real stories of real election officials across the country at the local, municipal, and county level is important for these folks to hear. I don’t know that they get a lot of stories told to them,” Fontes, now a Democratic candidate for secretary of state in Arizona, told Insider in an interview after the hearing.

Without the work of local officials, ‘none of you would be here in this room’

A recent report from the Brennan Center and other think tanks found that one in three election officials now feels unsafe in their jobs and one in five identified threats to their safety as a concern they face at work, compounding the low pay and lack of resources these officials have contended with for years.

“All of us have been threatened simply because we’re trying to represent our community. If it weren’t for the work of local election officials, none of you would be here in this room. We just want to uphold democracy. We just want to ensure everyone votes,” Winfrey told the committee.

“I feel afraid,” she added.

The physical threats have now been followed by efforts in GOP-controlled state legislatures to strip election officials of power, criminalize the work done by election officials, and exact more partisan influence into election administration.

A June report from Protect Democracy, States United Democracy Center, and Law Forward found that 14 state legislatures passed 24 laws that criminalize aspects of the election administration process and give partisan officials more control over how elections are conducted and certified.

Democratic lawmakers have responded with the Preventing Election Subversion Act of 2021, which would prohibit local election officials from being fired without cause, make it a federal crime to harass or threaten an election official, and establish more protections against voter intimidation.

Republicans on the committee largely didn’t engage with the physical threats described by the election officials, instead decrying the anti-election subversion bill as a federal takeover of elections and criticizing Democrats for vastly exaggerating the impacts of GOP voting laws for their own political advantage.

Municipal workers extract Luzerne County ballots from their envelopes, in Wilkes-Barre, P
In this Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2020, file photo, municipal workers extract Luzerne County ballots from their envelopes, in Wilkes-Barre, Pa

GOP lawmakers lack ‘the courage to face responsibility for their own dangerous rhetoric’

Fontes, for his part, expressed dismay to the GOP’s “overblown” reaction in the hearing, telling Insider it “betrays a sense of desperation.”

“They’re grasping at straws to keep Americans from being protected for political gains, and that’s too bad,” Fontes said.

The election officials that process registrations, send out absentee ballots, and open polling sites at the crack of dawn for Democratic and Republican voters alike are now getting burned out and retiring in unusually high numbers.

And while burnout and threats aren’t exclusive to officials of any party, Fontes told Insider that GOP lawmakers casting doubt on election results or looking the other way when it comes to conspiracy theories fuels threats and harassment that election officials face in their communities.

“They avoided it on purpose because they know their rhetoric is what’s causing this,” he said.

Fontes continued: “They’re embarrassed about it, and they’re running away from it, and that was painfully obvious from the questions that they asked, and the questions that they didn’t ask. And it’s too bad that they don’t have the courage to face responsibility for their own dangerous rhetoric.”

While the hearing was ongoing, The Washington Post reported that on the other side of the Capitol, a group of Democratic senators met with Majority Leader Chuck Schumer to work out a revised, possibly slimmed-down version of S.1. While details on the new bill are so far scant, it could include elements of the Preventing Election Subversion Act.

“We’re working on as comprehensive of a package as we can get the votes for,” Sen. Alex Padilla of California, who previously served as the state’s chief election official, told Insider at the Capitol on Wednesday evening.

Meanwhile, Fontes, who in 2020 ran an election where he was on the ballot and lost, told Insider that he hopes “the grown-ups can get back into the conversation and help folks understand that this is something that ought not to be politicized. This is something that you can be reasonable about, and that it’s OK to lose.”

“That’s what elections are for – to make a decision. And you won’t always win, and that’s OK,” he said.

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Key moments where Ted Cruz tried to steal the 2016 nomination and spotlight away from Donald Trump

Sen. Ted Cruz surveys the sea of delegates surrounding him all sides as he addressed the 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio.
Sen. Ted Cruz spoke on the third day of the Republican National Convention on July 20, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.

  • Ted Cruz and Donald Trump haven’t always been as chummy as they are now.
  • A bungled handshake during the 2016 campaigns marred Cruz’s initial attempt to subvert Trump.
  • Trump later worked up the crowd at the Republican National Convention, generating boos for Cruz.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Ted Cruz’s road to ruin in the 2016 GOP presidential race was littered with missteps, including a poorly choreographed self-own and a prime time ambush by then-rival Donald Trump during a key Republican gathering.

Cruz relived the jarring experiences as part of Insider’s exhaustive oral history of Trump’s takeover of the Republican party, breaking down the most iconic events during a series of interviews on Capitol Hill.

The Republican senator from Texas survived the brutal multi-candidate debates and managed to string together some early primary wins. But by spring 2016 he was scrambling to derail Trump’s seemingly unstoppable campaign.

Read more: The definitive oral history of how Trump took over the GOP, as told to us by Cruz, Rubio, and 20 more insiders

His solution: an unprecedented attempt at naming fellow Republican contender Carly Fiorina his vice presidential running mate even though first-timer Trump was running away with the nomination.

Cruz figured he and Fiorina could project a strong, principled, united front.

Unless, of course, they did something crazy like bungle a simple handshake that will live on in the internet as a cringe-worthy gif.

“We freaking practiced it, and they still screwed it up,” then-Cruz campaign manager Jeff Roe said of the awkward moment Cruz and Fiorina got knotted up in Indianapolis while trying to join hands.

Today Cruz laughs that off, describing the gaffe as something that “makes for an amusing video after the fact.”

Cruz’s ‘vote your conscience’ RNC speech

Things got rawer while recounting the time Trump, who’d clinched the GOP nomination, turned Republican National Convention attendees against him on July 20, 2016 at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio.

Cruz had prepared a “vote your conscience” speech he said was designed to unite conservatives – even though he hadn’t yet endorsed Trump.

“What I said in the speech is vote for candidates who you trust to defend freedom and to defend the Constitution,” Cruz told Insider. “And that is very much what I hoped Donald Trump would do. At the time I didn’t know if he would or not. There were reasons to have concerns. I did have concern.”

Rick Gates, Trump’s then-deputy campaign manager, told Insider Cruz was given the greenlight to say his piece. But then the man who’d formally accept the GOP nomination the next night decided to steal the spotlight from his rival.

“We have Trump in a holding room, and he’s watching the proceedings on TV,” Gates said. “He asked me where the rest of the family is. We had a family box, which we called the VIP box, in the corner of the convention center, looking directly onto the stage. Trump said: ‘We’ll check it out. Let’s go.'”

Trump ventured out into a corner of the arena to loud cheers of support, surprising Cruz. “I didn’t know it was coming,” the Texas senator said. “I had no idea. It didn’t occur to me that that would be the campaign’s reaction. Given that, for any nominee, the objective typically is to unify the party and win in November.”

Amanda Carpenter, a former Cruz aide who had left his campaign by the RNC, told Insider she was uncomfortable watching the sequence of events. “I just remember how loud the boos were,” she said. “And how I was worried for Heidi, watching her just kind of whisked out.”

For his part, Cruz five years later still defends his remarks.

“If you look at what I said in the speech, the words were virtually identical to what Ted Kennedy said about Jimmy Carter and to what Ronald Reagan said about Gerald Ford,” he said. “Neither one of them, at their respective conventions, endorsed the nominee. And the reason I know it was identical is I had both of those speeches in front of me when I was writing it and very deliberately used the same language.”

To read the full story click here.

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GOP Gov. Greg Abbott says drive-thru voting could lead to ‘coercive’ passengers, defends Texas voting restrictions

Greg Abbott texas bar close order
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott.

  • Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Sunday defended the proposed GOP-led Texas voting restrictions.
  • On “Fox News Sunday,” Abbott told Chris Wallace that the legislation would not suppress voters of color.
  • Abbott took aim at drive-thru voting, decrying a possible “coercive effect” from passengers.
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GOP Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas on Sunday contended that drive-thru voting, which was a popular method of voting in the 2020 election, could potentially allow passengers to have a “coercive effect” on voters.

During an appearance on “Fox News Sunday,” host Chris Wallace questioned Abbott about the need for the restrictive voting bill up for debate in the current Texas special legislation session and asked if the law would suppress minority voters.

“More than half of the voters who showed up [for these voting options] were people of color. You say you want to make it easier to vote. That’s going to make it harder to vote, and the question is, why make it harder for some Texans to vote unless the point is to suppress voting by people of color?” he asked Abbott.

Abbott argued that counties needed to have policies in place to protect the integrity of their ballots.

“If you do drive-thru voting, are you going to have people in the car with you? It could be somebody from your employer or somebody else that may have some coercive effect on the way that you would cast your ballot, which is contrary to you going into the ballot box, alone and no one there watching over your shoulder,” he said.

Read more: 20 sought-after female political strategists to watch as more women in the US enter politics

Abbott said that populous Harris County, which tested drive-thru voting in a primary runoff election last year before expanding it to the general election, lacked the authority to “create its own election system.”

“With regard to the drive-thru voting, this violates the fundamentals of what – the way that voting integrity has always been achieved and that is the sanctity of the ballot box,” he said.

Harris County is anchored by Houston, a longtime Democratic stronghold.

Wallace also questioned the GOP-led push to halt 24-hour voting centers, which was popular with shift workers who work nontraditional hours.

“If 24-hour voting worked, why not continue it?” Wallace asked.

“We are providing more hours per day for voting to make sure that anybody with any type of background, any type of working situation is going to have the opportunity to go vote,” Abbott said.

The proposed Texas voting law would bar officials from permitting 24-hour voting centers during early voting and would make it a felony for election officials to send unsolicited vote-by-mail applications to voters, among other measures.

Texas Democratic lawmakers are reportedly mulling over whether to leave the state to block the election overhaul from passing, according to The New York Times.

The lawmakers who support leaving the state have argued that the action “would bring a renewed spotlight to voting rights in Texas” and put pressure on Democrats in the US Senate to enact federal voting reforms, according to several Democratic lawmakers who spoke with The Times.

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