An Arizona GOP state senator who backed the election audit withdrew her support, attacking the process as botched

Arizona
Contractors working for Cyber Ninjas, who was hired by the Arizona State Senate, examine and recount ballots from the 2020 general election on May 3, 2021 in Phoenix, Arizona.

  • Arizona state Sen. Michelle Ugenti-Rita thinks the Maricopa County audit has been “botched.”
  • She cited poor execution and transparency as reasons for withdrawing her support.
  • The audit, drawing to a close, has been mired in controversy since being launched in March.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Republican Arizona state Sen. Michelle Ugenti-Rita withdrew her support for the much-criticized audit of votes from last year’s presidential election being conducted in Maricopa County.

Ugenti-Rita in a Twitter thread said that she believed the audit, which was launched in April by a firm owned by an ally of President Donald Trump, had been “botched.”

She criticized Senate President Karen Fann for the process, which was authorized by a vote from the legislature.

“I supported the audit, but I do not support the Trump audit any longer,” Ugenti-Rita said.

“I wanted to review our election processes and see what, if anything, could be improved. Sadly, it’s now become clear that the audit has been botched. The total lack of competence by @FannKfann over the last 5 months has deprived the voters of Arizona a comprehensive accounting of the 2020 election,” she wrote.

In comments to The Washington Post on Thursday she repeated her concerns, and said that she was particularly worried by the delay in concluding the audit, the lack of transparency, and the extent to which the process had been delegated to Cyber Ninjas.

She also said that Fann had failed to control expectations, allowing Trump and his allies to falsely claim the result of the audit could be used to overturn the result of the election, which Joe Biden won both in Arizona and overall.

Ugenti-Rita’s decision to withdraw support for the audit is significant because the Republicans hold a narrow one-vote majority in the Senate, meaning Fann faces potential defeat in future votes on the audit.

The GOP-controlled chamber authorized the audit in April, using around $150,000 of taxpayer money. Most of the funding came from Trump-supporting private donors.

Fann has defended the audit, saying it is necessary for restoring trust in the elections, even though there had already been two prior audits which did not reveal evidence of widespread fraud.

Insider has contacted a representative for Fann for further comment.

The audit has been beset by controversy since being launched in April, with contractors at one point searching for traces of bamboo on ballots, seeking to confirm a conspiracy theory that thousands of illegal votes were sent from China.

Maricopa County election officials and election observers from the office of the Arizona secretary of state have decried the recount as shambolic and motivated by a partisan desire to delegitimize Biden’s win.

The audit of ballots wrapped up this week, long after its projected completion date. The physical ballots were returned to Maricopa County officials, and the Cyber Ninjas is due to issue a report in the coming weeks.

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GOP lawmaker who downplayed the Capitol riot as ‘a normal tourist visit’ doubled-down on the remark after police testified about the violence they faced

Andrew Clyde
Rep. Andrew Clyde, R-Ga., walks down the House steps after the last vote of the week in the Capitol on Friday, April 16, 2021.

  • Reps. Andrew Clyde and Jamie Raskin had a heated exchange over comments made about January 6.
  • Raskin pressed Clyde about whether he listened to the officers who served during the Capitol riot.
  • Clyde stood by his past statements comparing the insurrection to “a normal tourist visit.”
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

GOP Rep. Andrew Clyde of Georgia, who previously compared the Capitol riot to “a normal tourist visit,” stood by his comments in an explosive Tuesday night exchange with Democratic Rep. Jamie Raskin of Maryland.

During a House Rules Committee hearing, Raskin, who is a member of the panel investigating the January 6 attack and served as the lead impeachment manager for former President Donald Trump’s trial, asked Clyde if he watched the searing testimony from officers who fought back against the insurrectionists who breached the Capitol.

Clyde described Raskin’s line of questioning as “absolutely irrelevant.”

Raskin pressed Clyde for not disclosing whether he heard the officers speak.

“He refuses to say whether or not he heard the Capitol officers who risked their lives and have experienced traumatic medical injuries,” he said. “That’s his prerogative.”

He then asked: “Do you stand by your statement that they were tourists?”

Clyde refused to answer the question and told Raskin that he should read his “exact statement” and not an “interpretation” of his statement.

Raskin proceeded to read Clyde’s statement that was made in May.

“Watching the TV footage of those who entered the Capitol and walked through Statuary Hall showed people in an orderly fashion staying between the stanchions and ropes, taking videos and pictures. You know, if you didn’t know the TV footage was a video from January the 6th, you would actually think it was a normal tourist visit,” Raskin said, quoting Clyde.

Read more: These 20 millennial Democratic campaign operatives are reshaping politics in the US

He added: “Those are your words.”

Clyde responded: “I stand by that exact statement as I said it.”

The GOP congressman later expressed that he did not state that those who breached the Capitol were “tourists.”

“That is not my statement!” Clyde said, becoming increasingly rankled by the tenor of the questioning.

“You want to make this another January 6th hearing, and this is not! This is the Rules Committee!” he added.

Democratic Rep. Jim McGovern of Massachusetts, the chair of the Rules Committee, chimed in and asked for the men to “lower the decibel.”

During Tuesday’s hearing of a House select committee that’s probing the January 6 riot, panel members heard from Metropolitan DC Police Officers Michael Fanone and Daniel Hodges, US Capitol Police Sgt. Aquilino Gonell, and Capitol Police Officer Harry A. Dunn, who all testified about the atrocities from that day, detailing the sheer violence and emotional scars that were borne that day by rioters upset over the certification of now-President Joe Biden’s electoral victory.

The Democratic-led panel also featured GOP Reps. Liz Cheney of Wyoming and Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, both conservatives who have been highly critical of Trump and many in the GOP who have sought to downplay the attack.

Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California has fermented GOP opposition to the January 6 panel, yanking off other Republicans after Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California rejected Reps. Jim Banks of Indiana and Jim Jordan of Ohio from serving on the House committee.

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Rep. Jim Jordan – whom Republicans nominated to investigate the Capitol riot – now says he spoke to Trump on the day but won’t say what they talked about

Rep. Jim Jordan
Rep. Jim Jordan at a pro-Trump rally.

  • GOP Rep. Jim Jordan said on Tuesday he had spoken to Donald Trump on January 6.
  • Jordan was barred from serving on the Jan. 6 committee over concerns he was involved in the events.
  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Jordan could be called as a witness by the Jan. 6 panel.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Republican Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio said he had spoken to then-President Donald Trump on the day of the Capitol riot, but wouldn’t say what they talked about.

In a Tuesday interview with Fox News’ Bret Baier, Jordan discussed the opening day of the House Select Committee appointed to investigate the January 6 riot.

Jordan was previously slated as one of the five Republicans to serve on the bipartisan panel by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, but was barred from taking part by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi over concerns about his role pushing the bogus election-fraud claims that instigated the violence.

One the key questions that lawmakers on the panel will seek to answer is what specifically Trump did on the day of the riot after delivering his incendiary speech to supporters near the Capitol.

Rep. Liz Cheney, a Republican on the committee, said on Tuesday that witnesses who can testify about the former president’s actions that day will be subpoenaed.

In his Fox News appearance, Jordan revealed for the first time that he had spoken to the president that day, meaning he is a witness who could be called on to testify about Trump’s actions.

“I talked to the president. I never talk about what we talk about. I just don’t think that’s appropriate, just like I don’t talk about what happens in Republican conferences. So I talked to the president numerous times. I continue to talk to the president,” said Jordan.

Baier pressed him, asking: “No, no. I mean on January 6, congressman?”

Jordan responded: “Yes. I mean I’ve talked the president so many – I can’t remember all the days I have talked to him, but I have certainly talked to the president.”

He went on to say that security failings in the House should be the real focus of the probe.

“Why didn’t the United States Capitol – the people’s house – have an appropriate security posture on that day and what have we done?” he said.

Pelosi’s decision last week to bar Jordan and Rep. Jim Banks, another Trump loyalist, from the committee prompted McCarthy to withdraw all of the Republicans he had nominated to take part in the investigation.

The two Republicans on the panel, Cheney and Rep. Adam Kinzinger, were appointed by Pelosi and are considered pariahs in their party due to their decision to take a stand against Trump over the insurrection.

Earlier on Tuesday, before Jordan’s revelation that he spoke to Trump on January 6, Cheney suggested that Jordan could be called as a material witness as part of the committee’s investigation.

“I think that Congressman Jordan may well be a material witness,” she said on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

“He’s somebody who was involved in a number of meetings in the lead-up to what happened on January 6th, involved in planning for January 6, certainly for the objections that day as he said publicly, so he may well be a material witness.”

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Trump blasted GOP Gov. Doug Ducey during Arizona rally: ‘He doesn’t do a damn thing’

Trump
Former President Donald Trump.

  • Former President Trump on Saturday criticized Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey at a Phoenix rally.
  • Trump praised Arizona conservatives who backed an audit of the Maricopa County election results.
  • In 2020, President Biden became the first Democrat to win Arizona’s electoral votes in 24 years.
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Former President Donald Trump on Saturday praised the Republican-controlled state Senate for its ongoing audit of the 2020 election results while saving plenty of time to berate GOP Gov. Doug Ducey.

At the “Rally to Protect Our Elections” in Phoenix, Trump thanked the “brave and unyielding conservative warriors in the Arizona state Senate” for proceeding with the partisan audit, which is examining the results in Maricopa County, the most populous jurisdiction in the state.

Trump then praised GOP state Senate President Karen Fann and Arizona Republican Party Chairwoman Kelli Ward for their support in his effort to review President Joe Biden’s 10,457-vote statewide victory.

Ward, a former state senator who ran unsuccessfully for the US Senate in 2016 and 2018, was called a “fighter” by the former president. However, Ducey, a two-term governor who certified Biden’s win in Arizona last year, much to the consternation of Trump, received no such praise.

Read more: Where is Trump’s White House staff now? We created a searchable database of more than 327 top staffers to show where they all landed

“Republican Party chairwoman – somebody that has tremendous courage,” Trump said of Ward. “She’s really a fighter, and she fights your governor, who doesn’t do a damn thing.”

“I called up Kelli recently and said ‘Why wouldn’t the governor want an audit?’ Maybe everything will prove to be correct, which we know won’t happen. … When I did rallies, he always wanted to be in the front row. ‘Sir, could you mention my name please?'”

The former president added: “He wasn’t very popular … I’d introduce him and I wouldn’t get much of an applause … and I kept saying, you know, this guy’s not very popular. But now, you know what? He’s not popular with me either.”

The rallygoers cheered at Trump’s proclamation.

The former president also threw cold water on supporting Ducey in a possible 2022 US Senate campaign.

“He’s not getting my endorsement, I can tell you,” he told the crowd.

Last month, Ducey told KTAR News 92.3 FM that he looked forward to the results of the Maricopa audit, but was confident that the outcome of the race would not change in Arizona.

“I do stand behind by what I did,” he said at the time. “I know that there are people that want to complete this audit. I look forward to the findings.”

In 2020, Biden became the first Democratic presidential nominee since Bill Clinton in 1996 to secure the state’s electoral votes. When Biden won the state last year, he also carried Maricopa by a 50% to 48% margin.

Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, a 2022 Democratic gubernatorial candidate, has repeatedly criticized the audit process and said on Friday that Trump should “accept” his loss to Biden and “move on.”

“The bottom line is that Arizonians are tired of being led by conspiracy theorists,” she said. “They don’t support this fake audit and they’re ready for leaders who are going to put those partisan games aside and deal with real issues.”

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Pelosi appoints GOP Rep. Adam Kinzinger to serve on the January 6 select committee

Adam Kinzinger
Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois.

  • Pelosi has tapped Rep. Adam Kinzinger to serve on the select committee that will investigate the January 6 Capitol attack.
  • “When duty calls, I will always answer,” the congressman said in accepting the appointment.
  • Pelosi hopes to add additional Republicans to the committee in the coming days.
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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Sunday named GOP Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois to the select committee set to investigate the January 6 Capitol attack.

During a morning appearance on ABC’s “This Week,” the California Democrat said she would have to consult with Kinzinger about the committee, who has been one of the most prominent Republican voices against former President Donald Trump’s influence within the party.

Shortly after Pelosi’s television appearance, Kinzinger released a statement confirming that he would join the committee.

“Today, I was asked by the Speaker to serve on the House Select Committee to Investigate January 6th and I humbly accepted,” he wrote. “I will work diligently to ensure we get to the truth and hold those responsible for the attack fully accountable.”

He added: “For months, I have said that the American people deserve transparency and truth on how and why thousands showed up to attack our democracy, and ultimately, what led to the insurrection at the US Capitol Complex on January 6, 2021. … Let me be clear, I’m a Republican dedicated to conservative values, but I swore an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution – and while this is not the position I expected to be in or sought out, when duty calls, I will always answer.”

In a statement, Pelosi praised Kinzinger for joining the committee.

“He brings great patriotism to the Committee’s mission: to find the facts and protect our Democracy,” she said.

Read more: Where is Trump’s White House staff now? We created a searchable database of more than 327 top staffers to show where they all landed

When asked on ABC if she planned to appoint additional Republicans to the panel, Pelosi expressed her support.

“That would be my plan … other Republicans have expressed an interest to serve on the select committee,” she said.

GOP Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, who in May was removed from her leadership role as House Republican Conference Chair over her criticism of Trump, will be a part of the committee.

Kinzinger and Cheney were among 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump in January for “incitement of insurrection” over his role in the riot.

Last week, Pelosi rejected the selection of GOP Reps. Jim Banks of Indiana and Jim Jordan of Ohio to the committee investigating the Capitol riot, citing “concern about statements made and actions taken by these Members.”

Banks and Jordan are both deeply conservative and longtime Trump loyalists. The two men also voted to challenge President Joe Biden’s Electoral College certification, but Pelosi said that the vote did not drive her decision to boot them from the committee.

After Pelosi’s decision, GOP House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California said that he would pull every Republican member from the committee and pursue a separate Jan. 6 investigation, an effort that the speaker dismissed last week.

Pelosi indicated last week that she could back the appointments of McCarthy’s other committee picks, which included GOP Reps. Rodney Davis of Illinois, Kelly Armstrong of North Dakota, and Troy Nehls of Texas.

However, on “This Week,” the speaker doubled down on her opposition to Banks and Jordan being a part of the panel.

“The two that I would not appoint are people who would jeopardize the integrity of the investigation,” she said. “There’s no way I would tolerate their antics as we seek the truth.”

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House Freedom Caucus pushes McCarthy to force vote to oust Pelosi as speaker

Kevin McCarthy
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California speaks at the Capitol on July 21, 2021.

  • The House Freedom Caucus called on Kevin McCarthy to force a vote to oust Nancy Pelosi as speaker.
  • Pelosi has rejected Reps. Jim Banks and Jim Jordan being a part of a Jan. 6 select committee.
  • Conservatives are upset by what they describe as Pelosi’s “authoritarian reign” of the House.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The House Freedom Caucus on Friday called on GOP Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy to force a floor vote to oust Democratic Speaker Nancy Pelosi from her position after she rejected two Republicans who were tapped to serve on the Jan. 6 select committee.

In a letter, the group, which is composed of some of the most conservative members of the House, asked McCarthy to bring up a privileged motion by July 31 in order “to vacate the chair and end Nancy Pelosi’s authoritarian reign as Speaker of the House.”

“Speaker Pelosi’s tenure is destroying the House of Representatives and our ability to faithfully represent the people we are here to serve,” they wrote. “Republicans, under your leadership, must show the American people that we will act to protect our ability to represent their interests.”

The group also alleged that Pelosi “has no interest in representative democracy” and lamented proxy voting and the installation of metal detectors to access the House floor.

With Democrats in control of the House, the motion is virtually guaranteed to fail. However, the episode exposes the simmering tensions that have erupted at the Capitol since Jan. 6, as well as the political angst of Republicans as they look to regain a House majority in the 2022 midterm elections.

Read more: Where is Trump’s White House staff now? We created a searchable database of more than 327 top staffers to show where they all landed

Last week, Pelosi rejected the selection of Reps. Jim Banks of Indiana and Jim Jordan of Ohio to the committee investigating the Capitol riot, citing “concern about statements made and actions taken by these Members.”

Banks and Jordan are both staunch allies of former President Donald Trump, who was impeached by the House in January for “incitement of insurrection” over his role in the riot. The two men also voted to challenge President Joe Biden’s Electoral College certification, but Pelosi said that the vote did not drive her decision to boot them from the committee.

“Of the three [McCarthy picks] that I appointed, one of them voted against the ratification and the other two voted for it,” she said last week. “Having said that, though, the other two [Jordan and Banks] made statements and took actions that just made it ridiculous to put them on such a committee seeking the truth.”

After Pelosi’s move, McCarthy said that he would pull every Republican member from the committee and pursue a separate Jan. 6 investigation.

However, on Sunday, Pelosi announced that she planned to add GOP Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois to the Jan. 6 committee – he has sought to reorient the party away from Trump.

GOP Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, who was booted from her leadership role as House Republican Conference Chair over her criticism of Trump, will also be on the committee.

Pelosi indicated that she could back the appointments of McCarthy’s other committee picks, which included GOP Reps. Rodney Davis of Illinois, Kelly Armstrong of North Dakota, and Troy Nehls of Texas.

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A second California venue refused to host Matt Gaetz’ and Marjorie Taylor Greene’s ‘America First’ tour

Matt Gaetz and Marjorie Taylor Greene
Matt Gaetz and Marjorie Taylor Greene

  • A convention center in Riverside, California, has refused to host Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene and Matt Gaetz’ “America First” event.
  • The decision was made by a private company that operates the venue, the Riverside mayor said.
  • A hotel last week said it wouldn’t host the event once it realized that Gaetz and Greene were the featured speakers.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

A convention center in Riverside, California, announced it would not host GOP Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene and Matt Gaetz after it received backlash in the latest blow to the lawmakers’ “America First” tour.

The event was scheduled to take place Saturday evening at the Riverside Convention Center but was canceled by Raincross Hospitality Corp., the private company that manages and operates the venue, just 24 hours before it was scheduled to take place, according to a press release from the office of Riverside Mayor Patricia Lock Dawson.

“I recognize this was a divisive issue in our community, and I am glad it has been resolved,” Dawson said in the statement. “I commend Raincross Hospitality Corp. for this decision.”

“Riverside is a diverse and inclusive community, so it is heartening to hear that this event will not move forward,” said Riverside Mayor Pro Tem Gaby Plascencia. “I am disappointed we even got to this point, because these speakers are the antithesis of everything Riverside stands for.”

The tour by two of the most polarizing members of Congress aims to attack Democrats and also Republicans who they believe aren’t loyal to former President Donald Trump. Gaetz has also been embroiled in controversy after reports surfaced in late March that the third-term congressman was under investigation for sex trafficking. Gaetz has denied any wrongdoing.

The decision to cancel the event at the Riverside Convention Center followed a decision by a Laguna Hills, California, hotel last week to cancel the “America First” event after it learned that Gaetz and Greene were the featured speakers. The hotel manager said it previously believed the event to be a “gathering,” according to the Orange County Register.

“We just want to stay clear of that,” the hotel manager told the outlet.

Gaetz, a Republican from Florida, and Greene, a Republican from Georgia, plan to go ahead with the event, hosting it at the Anaheim Event Center in Orange County, closer to the initial venue, according to a report from CBS Los Angeles.

Representatives for Gaetz, Greene, the Riverside Convention Center, and the Anaheim Event Center did not immediately return Insider’s request for comment Saturday

“Democrats are the party of hate,” Greene said in a tweet Saturday morning. “They organized to attack, threaten, & harass every venue we booked in CA to hold an America First rally, which celebrates our great country & freedoms. They think their vicious hate will stop me, but I never give up. See you at the rally tonight!”

“The Woketopians are this scared of a dose of #AmericaFirst in California,” Gaetz said in a tweet on Saturday morning. “Rally still happening today!”

The two controversial House Republicans embarked on their “America First” tour earlier this year, Insider previously reported. It began in a conservative Florida retirement community known as The Villages.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Romney ‘felt a pit in his stomach’ at ‘surprisingly good’ early Trump election night numbers, book says

mitt romney
Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, leaves the Senate Republican Policy luncheon in Russell Building on Tuesday, March 17, 2020.

  • Sen. Mitt Romney predicted a Trump election win early on election night, per a new book.
  • Romney, the 2012 GOP presidential nominee, took note of Biden’s less robust performance in Florida.
  • Romney did not cast a ballot for Trump in either of the Republican’s presidential campaigns.
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On election night last November, Sen. Mitt Romney watched the early returns and developed “a pit in his stomach” at then-President Donald Trump’s strong performance in early states, an excerpt from a forthcoming book by Washington Post reporters Carol D. Leonnig and Philip Rucker said.

The Utah Republican, who was the 2012 GOP presidential nominee and has had a turbulent relationship with Trump over the years, was watching the returns with his wife, Ann, and other family members and saw that the early numbers were positive for the president.

In fact, the numbers were “surprisingly good” for Trump, with now-President Joe Biden underperforming in Florida’s Miami-Dade County, where Democratic presidential nominees need to perform strongly in order to capture the populous swing state.

That night, Romney told his family that Trump would be victorious in the presidential election, the excerpt from “I Alone Can Fix It: Donald J. Trump’s Catastrophic Final Year” said.

“I think he’s going to win,” Romney said in the book. “Those polls were way off. I think he’s going to pull it out.”

At the White House, the mood was jovial early in the night, with Trump supporters thrilled with the initial results.

Trump data cruncher Matt Oczkowski saw positive signs in the president’s overperformance among minority groups in Florida, along with his success with turning out rural White voters in North Carolina, according to the excerpt.

However, Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien tried to keep the president’s expectations in check, telling him to “stay calm” as states continued to report their results, according to the excerpt.

Read more: Where is Trump’s White House staff now? We created a searchable database of more than 327 top staffers to show where they all landed

Romney, who was less shocked at Trump’s 2016 victory than many others, had seen the GOP become more beholden to far-right figures over the years, but still sought to deny the president a second term in office.

As the night went on and states were called for Biden, along with the reality that several key states had many more ballots to count, the expectations of a Trump win became increasingly tempered.

Trump, who was anxious to declare victory on election night, instead gave an early morning speech where he challenged the validity of the remaining ballots and sought to involve the Supreme Court in the race.

Romney expressed that was “heartsick” after watching the president’s nationally-televised speech, according to the excerpt.

“We’re in a global battle for the survival of liberal democracy in the face of autocracy and autocratic regimes attempting to dominate the world,” he said. “So saying something and doing things that would suggest that in the free nation of the United States of America and the model of democracy for the world, that we can’t have a free and fair election would have a destructive effect on democracy around the world, not just to mention here.”

The senator voted to convict Trump of abuse of power in his first impeachment trial for this role in the Ukraine scandal, and would later go on to vote to convict the ex-president of incitement of insurrection in connection with the Jan. 6 Capitol riot in his second impeachment trial.

Trump was acquitted of the charges in both Senate trials, as the upper chamber failed to reach the two-thirds threshold needed to convict.

Romney said last year that he did not vote for Trump in either the 2016 or 2020 presidential elections.

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Texas Gov. Abbott vows to arrest Democratic lawmakers who staged walkout

Texas Governor Greg Abbot points at the camera with a stern expression.
Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas.

  • Gov. Greg Abbott said Democratic lawmakers who fled Texas in a walkout would be arrested.
  • Democrats left en masse on Monday to block conservative bills in a legislative special session.
  • Two-thirds of lawmakers must be present for legislative business to proceed in Texas.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Gov. Greg Abbott promised that Democratic lawmakers who staged a walkout in Texas would be arrested.

Speaking to KVUE on Monday, the two-term Republican criticized Democratic lawmakers who fled en masse to block several conservative bills from passing in a legislative special session.

“As soon as they come back in the state of Texas, they will be arrested, they will be cabined inside the Texas Capitol until they get their job done,” he said.

Democratic leaders in the Texas House said on Monday that they had flown to Washington, DC, to “refuse to let the Republican-led legislature force through dangerous legislation that would trample on Texans’ freedom to vote.”

Under Texas law, two-thirds of lawmakers must be present for legislative business to proceed.

Abbott convened the special session earlier this month to pass a litany of conservative priorities, including legislation targeting voting, abortion access, transgender rights, and critical race theory.

The marquee issue is a restrictive voting bill that Republican lawmakers have sought largely in response to President Donald Trump’s loss to Joe Biden.

The bill would modify early-voting hours, curb the 24/7 voting centers that were popular with shift workers in Democratic-leaning Harris County in last year’s presidential election, and scrap straight-ticket voting, among other measures.

Democratic state senators on Friday introduced a bill called the Barbara Jordan Fair Elections Act, named after the revered Black senator, designed to expand access to voting, allowing for online and same-day voter registration, among other measures, according to The Dallas Morning News.

However, the GOP-dominated Legislature is unlikely to take up that bill.

While no Democratic state senators had accompanied their House counterparts to the nation’s capital as of Tuesday, a Democratic official said several senators might travel there, according to The New York Times.

Abbott told KVUE that he would not relent from carrying out his legislative objectives.

The governor said he would “continue to call special session after special session” until Democratic lawmakers are present.

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Tennessee’s top vaccine official said she was fired to appease Republicans opposed to plans to vaccinate more teens

Michelle Fiskin
Michelle Fiskin is shown here speaking to the WMCA network in a report on her firing as Tennessee’s top vaccine official.

  • A Tennessee health official was fired after trying to get teens vaccinated against COVID-19.
  • Michelle Fiscus was criticized by GOP lawmakers who wanted to restrict teens from getting the shots.
  • The Delta variant of the coronavirus is currently rapidly spreading through the state.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Michelle Fiscus says she was fired as Tennessee’s top vaccine official to appease Republicans who opposed her bid to allow teenagers to choose whether to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

Fiscus, in a searing op-ed published in The Tennessean newspaper, attacked lawmakers in her state whom she blamed for her ouster.

She said no clear explanation was given when she was fired as medical director for vaccine-preventable diseases and immunization programs at the Tennessee Department of Health.

She provided a copy of her termination letter to the publication, which stated no reason for the firing.

Fiscus said she believed political controversy around the vaccine whipped up by state Republican lawmakers was the reason for her losing her job.

“It was my job to provide evidence-based education and vaccine access so that Tennesseans could protect themselves against COVID-19,” Fiscus said in the op-ed. “I have now been terminated for doing exactly that.”

“I have been terminated for doing my job because some of our politicians have bought into the anti-vaccine misinformation campaign rather than taking the time to speak with the medical experts.

“They believe what they choose to believe rather than what is factual and evidence-based. And it is the people of Tennessee who will suffer the consequences of the actions of the very people they put into power.”

Insider has reached out to the Tennessee Republican Party for comment.

The move comes with the Delta variant spreading rapidly in Tennessee, and the state lagging behind much of the rest of the US in its vaccination rates.

A particular concern of teachers is that the variant could spread in schools, prompting a push by health officials to get teenagers protected against the illness.

Fiscus led the state’s efforts to vaccinate teenagers against the disease, but in doing so became the target of criticism from state GOP lawmakers.

Teens have been eligible for vaccination since the FDA in May allowed those between 12 and 16 to receive jabs after studies proved it was safe and effective. Older teens had already been eligible.

Fiscus had pushed to expand access to some teens whose parents prefer that they not get the shot.

She said that under Tennessee “mature minor” law, teenagers older then 14 could be vaccinated without requiring the consent of their parents or guardian, reported the Tennessee Star.

Some state Republicans were so enraged by the push to vaccinate teenagers using the rule that in June they called for the entire state health department to be dissolved.

Read the original article on Business Insider