Will Republican Senators See The Light And Do What Is Right

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HILL NEWS)

 

This week the Democrats laid out the case for impeaching and removing President Trump from office. House impeachment managers serving as prosecutors did a masterful job of weaving a damning narrative against Trump as they described in pernicious detail how Trump abused the power of the presidency, obstructed Congress, attempted to cover it all up and in the process put our national security and the integrity of our elections at risk — all for his personal political benefit.

The presentations were eloquent, impactful and exacting. They summarized what has been weeks of investigation, testimony, press coverage, documents, emails and texts from former administration officials with firsthand knowledge of Trump’s infamous phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and his plot to withhold military aid to Ukraine until Zelensky publicly announced an investigation into the Bidens in an effort to hurt the person Trump saw as his greatest political threat.

In the end, however, the question for all of us must be, does any of it matter? In this age of a “see no evil, hear no evil” Republicans who acquiesce to a delinquent president for their own political self-preservation and who fall back on lies, defamation of character (see Sen. Marcia Blackburn’s (R-Tenn.) shameful smear of decorated veteran Colonel Vindman) and promulgation of debunked conspiracy theories to justify their support of Trump, does truth and right still matter?

Of course it does. It must.

Videos, quotes, texts, testimonies and Trump’s own words paint a picture of a president obsessed with harming former Vice President Joe Biden and using the powers of the presidency to do it.

We also see that Republicans really aren’t arguing the merits of the case. They simply either argue with lies such as that Trump was concerned with our national security or rooting out corruption, or they argue that what he did may have been inappropriate but it doesn’t rise to the level of impeachment. (Sadly, very few Republicans have even acknowledged that what Trump did was inappropriate).

I agree with lead impeachment manager Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) who, in his moving closing remarks Thursday night, stated that when the Democrats are done prosecuting the case against President Trump there will be no room for doubt as to Trump’s guilt.

So, if Trump is guilty of what he is charged with, does that warrant his removal from office?

Schiff argues that it does. He makes the case that Trump not only put our nation at risk, but that he also put our whole value system in jeopardy. Frighteningly, if he gets away with it, we can be sure that he will do it again.

So, if Trump is guilty, and everyone knows he is capable of repeating these abhorrent actions, his removal becomes not only necessary but the only way out for a party that is already in peril of becoming a shell of what it once was.

Schiff’s questions for Republicans are: Does the truth still matter to them? And does doing the right thing still matter to them?

As Schiff says, it must. It must for all of us. The most frustrating thing is that we all know there are many Republicans who are repulsed by what Trump is, what he represents and the damage he has done to their party and to our country. Many have said so in private, but most dare not say anything in public.

As Chairman Schiff said so eloquently and emotionally on Thursday, “No constitution can protect us if right doesn’t matter anymore.” We have all learned that we cannot trust that Trump will do what is right for the country. We can only trust that Donald Trump will do what is right for him.

Now is the time for Republicans to step up and do right. That doesn’t necessarily mean coming out with how they really feel about Trump, as it would be political suicide. But it’s time for them to vote with the Democrats to have witnesses and more documents come to light. Most Americans believe that is critical. It is the only way to have at least a semblance of a fair trial and not a coverup.

With witnesses on the stand and additional documents out in the open, it is very possible that the truth will shine so brightly that it will be impossible for any sensible Republican senator to ignore. Maybe even impossible for 20 of them to ignore.

We shall see. Truth and right have a way of overcoming efforts to eradicate them. Sadly, that is where we are in the United States, the greatest democracy in the world. At least it will be once again, either when Republicans see the light and do right, or when voters hold them to account in November.

Maria Cardona is a principal at the Dewey Square Group, a Democratic strategist and a CNN/CNN Español political commentator. Follow her on Twitter @MariaTCardona.

Law professor writes Kentucky newspaper op-ed accusing McConnell of breaking two oaths

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HILL NEWS PAPER)

 

 

Law professor writes Kentucky newspaper op-ed accusing McConnell of breaking two oaths

A Kentucky-born law professor went after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) in an op-ed Friday, saying that the senator broke two of the three oaths in the U.S. Constitution.

The Boston College law professor, Kent Greenfield, criticized McConnell’s comments about an impeachment trial for President Trump.

“We Kentuckians know that our word is our bond. Oaths are the most solemn of promises, and their breach results in serious reputational — and sometimes legal — consequences,” Greenfield wrote in his op-ed published by the Courier Journal.

“President Donald Trump will soon be on trial in the Senate on grounds that he breached one oath,” Greenfield wrote. “Senate Leader Mitch McConnell is about to breach two.”

The first oath McConnell is breaking, Greenfield states, is the oath that he took when took office. It’s an oath that all state and federal officers take, an “Oath … to support this Constitution.”

The second oath pertains to the impeachment trial that will take place sometime after the new year.

“In Article I, the Constitution gives the Senate the ‘sole’ power to ‘try all impeachments,’ and the Constitution requires that ‘when sitting for that Purpose, they shall be on Oath or Affirmation,’ ” Greenfield wrote.

Continuing, he wrote: “The framers wanted to make sure the Senate would never take such a trial lightly — this oath requirement is over and above the oath each senator has already taken to support the Constitution.”

McConnell has openly said that he plans to coordinate with Trump’s defense team and that he doesn’t view himself as an “impartial juror.”

Greenfield, a sixth-generation Kentuckian, targeted those comments in his op-ed.

“McConnell’s loyalty to Trump should not overwhelm his loyalty to the Constitution,” he asserts. “If he fails in this, he is not only violating his Article I oath but his Article VI oath.”

Greenfield concludes his piece by stating that history will be a “harsh judge,” and urges the longtime Kentucky senator to take his “obligation of faithful impartiality seriously.”

Which One Would It Be?

Which One Would It Be?

 

This title is something that I just had cross across my mind a few moments ago. Turns out it is a short thought but with a very real possibility of coming true, maybe. And, is the thought here, what if is the answer to the question, what if, one of these Democratic candidates for President was going to be our Nations next President whether we like the person at all, or not, which one would you choose? I know that it is still months away, this Presidential voting season, yet eventually we are all going to have to choose someone, even if we choose to not vote at all, that is still a vote you gave away to someone else to do for you.

 

I am not saying that Donald Trump won’t be our next President, or some yet unannounced candidate Or even Mr. Putin. What I am saying is what if, what if one of those top dozen of so candidates running for the office of President, which one would you honestly say is your first choice? Maybe even who would then be your choice for VP? I guess I am just not fully satisfied with the choices, I am not fully sold on anyone of them, are you? I guess my leanings are as an independent that leans toward the conservative/moderates in the Democrats direction. I have turned my face from the Republican side of the Isle mainly because of folks like Donald Trump, Mitch McConnell and Fox News. Hate, hate and more hate, very sad. This is not the Republican Party of Ronald Reagan.

 

Mr. Biden they say is probably the most ‘conservative’ yet for me I just don’t trust him and as far as I believe, to old, and I am a 63 year old saying that. I don’t know who is going to win, I certainly have not been shown such a thing. What if, just what if now, what if (already to old) Bernie Sanders was our next President and lets say, Senator Warren as the VP? What if? I am being serious, what if one of the folks was going to be our next President, who would you choose? This short article was designed to be a little snack for your inner thoughts, I hope you enjoyed this food for your thoughts on this matter. May God have mercy on us all, no matter what flesh and bones sits in That Chair.

Trump top adviser: ‘Traditionally, it’s always been Republicans suppressing votes’

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF NBC NEWS)

 

Trump top adviser: ‘Traditionally, it’s always been Republicans suppressing votes’

The campaign aide, who was recorded at a private event, said later he was referring to false allegations against the GOP.
Image: President Donald Trump listens to questions in the Oval Office on Dec. 17, 2019.

President Donald Trump listens to questions in the Oval Office on Dec. 17, 2019.Evan Vucci / AP

By Associated Press

MADISON, Wis. — One of President Donald Trump’s top re-election advisers told influential Republicans in swing state Wisconsin that the party has “traditionally” relied on voter suppression to compete in battleground states but will be able to “start playing offense” in 2020 due to relaxed Election Day rules, according to an audio recording of a private event obtained by The Associated Press.

“Traditionally it’s always been Republicans suppressing votes in places,” Justin Clark, a senior political adviser and senior counsel to Trump’s re-election campaign, said at the event. “Let’s start protecting our voters. We know where they are. … Let’s start playing offense a little bit. That’s what you’re going to see in 2020. It’s going to be a much bigger program, a much more aggressive program, a much better-funded program.”

Asked about the remarks by AP, Clark said he was referring to false accusations that the GOP engages in voter suppression.

“As should be clear from the context of my remarks, my point was that Republicans historically have been falsely accused of voter suppression and that it is time we stood up to defend our own voters,” Clark said. “Neither I nor anyone I know or work with would condone anyone’s vote being threatened or diluted and our efforts will be focused on preventing just that.”

Clark made the comments Nov. 21 in a meeting of the Republican National Lawyers Association’s Wisconsin chapter. Attendees included the state Senate’s top Republican, Scott Fitzgerald, along with the executive director of the Wisconsin Republican Party.

Audio of the event at a country club in Madison obtained by the liberal group American Bridge was provided to AP by One Wisconsin Now, a Madison-based liberal advocacy group.

The roughly 20-minute audio offers an insider’s glimpse of Trump’s re-election strategy, showing the campaign is focusing on voting locations in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania, which form the the so-called “blue wall” of traditional Democratic strength that Trump broke through to win in 2016. Both parties are pouring millions of dollars into the states, anticipating they’ll be just as critical in the 2020 presidential contest.

Image: Justin Clark
Justin Clark discusses the tentative ruling by a federal judge to halt a California law that’s aimed at forcing the president to release his tax returns, in Sacramento, Calif., on Sept. 19, 2019.Rich Pedroncelli / AP file

Republican officials publicly signaled plans to step up their Election Day monitoring after a judge in 2018 lifted a consent degree in place since 1982 that barred the Republican National Committee from voter verification and other “ballot security” efforts. Critics have argued the tactics amount to voter intimidation.

The consent decree was put in place after the Democratic National Committee sued its Republican counterpart, alleging the RNC helped intimidate black voters in New Jersey’s election for governor. The federal lawsuit claimed the RNC and the state GOP had off-duty police stand at polling places in urban areas wearing armbands that read “National Ballot Security Task Force,” with guns visible on some.

Without acknowledging any wrongdoing, the RNC agreed to the consent decree, which restricted its ability to engage in activities related to ballot security. Lifting of the consent decree allows the RNC to “play by the same rules” as Democrats, said RNC communications director Michael Ahrens.

“Now the RNC can work more closely with state parties and campaigns to do what we do best, ensure that more people vote through our unmatched field program,” Ahrens said.

Although the consent decree forced the Trump campaign to conduct its own poll monitoring in 2016, the new rules will allow the RNC to use its multi-million dollar budget to handle those tasks and coordinate with other Republican groups on Election Day, Clark said. State directors of election day operations will be in place in Wisconsin and every battleground state by early 2020, he said.

In 2016, Wisconsin had 62 paid Trump staff working to get out the vote; in 2020, it will increase to around 100, Clark said.

Trump supports the effort, he said in the audio recording.

“We’ve all seen the tweets about voter fraud, blah, blah, blah,” Clark said. “Every time we’re in with him, he asks what are we doing about voter fraud? What are we doing about voter fraud?’ The point is he’s committed to this, he believes in it and he will do whatever it takes to make sure it’s successful.”

Clark said Trump’s campaign plans to focus on rural areas around mid-size cities like Eau Claire and Green Bay, areas he says where Democrats “cheat.” He did not explain what he meant by cheating and did not provide any examples.

“Cheating doesn’t just happen when you lose a county,” Clark said. “Cheating happens at the margin overall. What we’re going to be able to do, if we can recruit the bodies to do it, is focus on these places. That’s where our voters are.”

There is no evidence of widespread voter fraud in Wisconsin.

“If there’s bad behavior on the part of one side or the other to prevent people from voting, this is bad for our democracy,” Wisconsin Democratic Gov. Tony Evers said in reaction to Clark’s comments. “And frankly, I think will whoever does that, it will work to their disadvantage. It will make them look, frankly, stupid.”

Wisconsin’s attorney general, Democrat Josh Kaul, represented the Democratic National Committee in a 2016 New Jersey lawsuit that argued the GOP was coordinating with Trump to intimidate voters. Kaul argued then that Trump’s campaign “repeatedly encouraged his supporters to engage in vigilante efforts” in the guise of ferreting out potential voter fraud. The Republican Party disputed any coordination.

“It is vital that Wisconsinites have free and fair access to the polls, and that we protect the security and integrity of our elections,” Kaul said in a statement in reaction to Clark’s comments. “The Wisconsin Department of Justice has been and will continue working with other agencies to protect our democratic process.”

Mike Browne, deputy director of One Wisconsin Now, said Clark’s comments suggest the Trump campaign plans to engage in “underhanded tactics” to win the election.

“The strategy to rig the rules in elections and give themselves an unfair partisan advantage goes to Donald Trump, the highest levels of his campaign and the top Republican leadership,” Browne said. “It’s clear there’s no law Donald Trump and his right-wing machine won’t bend, break or ignore to try to win the presidency.”

Kentucky: Matt Bevin pardoned killer whose brother hosted campaign fundraiser

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HILL NEWS)

 

Former Kentucky governor pardoned convicted killer whose brother hosted campaign fundraiser: report

Former Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin (R) reportedly ended his term in office with hundreds of pardons, including one for a man convicted of reckless homicide whose brother hosted a fundraiser for Bevin’s campaign.

According to the Courier-Journal in Louisville, Bevin made hundreds of pardons before leaving office this week, one of which involved Patrick Brian Baker, who was convicted for the 2014 home invasion death of a man in front of his wife and three children.

In a statement to the newspaper, Bevin called the evidence against Baker “sketchy at best,” adding: “I am not convinced that justice has been served on the death of Donald Mills, nor am I convinced that the evidence has proven the involvement of Patrick Baker as a murderer.”

The Courier-Journal noted that Baker’s brother, Eric Baker, hosted a fundraiser for Bevin that raised $21,500 last year to help clear Bevin’s debt from the governor’s 2015 campaign. Eric Baker and his wife also gave $4,000 to Bevin’s campaign on the day they of the fundraiser, according to the newspaper, which cited state election finance data.

One state’s attorney involved in the prosecution of Patrick Brian Baker told the Courier-Journal that Bevin had given prosecutors no warning of his plans.

“No one from the Bevin administration gave any warning this was coming. If they had, we’d have shown them why these rapists and killers were behind bars to begin with. These pardons regurgitate false statements of defense attorneys that juries of Kentucky citizens obviously didn’t believe,” the attorney told the Courier-Journal.

Gov. Andy Beshear (D), who narrowly defeated Bevin last month, took office on Tuesday.

Updated at 10:02 a.m.

Trump Now Throwing Rudy Giuliani Under The Bus: Trump Says “I hardly Know Him”

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE INDEPENDENT)

 

It looks like President Donald Trump is finally tiring of his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani. Gone are the days when he casually directed the leaders of foreign governments to “talk to Rudy” about matters of pressing national security policy.

A month ago, Trump offered a public show of support for the embattled former New York mayor; now, he says, he hardly knows the poor sap.

This week’s sudden split was a long time coming. In October, federal prosecutors nabbed Giuliani henchmen Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman as they attempted a one-way trip out of the United States. In the weeks since their arrest, Parnas provided audio and video recordings to the House Intelligence Committee that implicate Giuliani in corrupt foreign dealings. A federal criminal indictment against Giuliani appears imminent.

At the same time, three rounds of highly credible witnesses testified at House impeachment hearings that Giuliani put American foreign policy at risk by conducting an unofficial, Trump-approved intimidation campaign against American-allied Ukraine. The goal? To deliver damaging political dirt on political rival Joe Biden. Trump mega-donor and Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland asserted under oath that Giuliani’s behavior amounted to a corrupt quid pro quo.

Now, at last, Trump is pulling the plug on another failed business venture. In a bizarre interview with disgraced former Fox News personality Bill O’Reilly, the president disavowed ever sending Giuliani to Ukraine. Giuliani, he argued, must have been operating independently. 

“I didn’t direct him,” Trump told O’Reilly.. “But he’s a warrior. Rudy’s a warrior. Rudy went. He possibly saw something… Rudy has other clients, other than me.”

Gordon Sondland: We did not want to work with Mr. Giuliani. Simply put, we played the hand we were dealt

Even by the standards of Trump’s well-known disloyalty, his comments to O’Reilly represent a stunning willingness to throw even his closest advisers to the wolves. Of course, the idea that Giuliani acted on his own is risible — the official transcript of Trump’s call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky includes a direct instruction to “talk to Rudy.” Trump’s comments are an act of desperation, a last-ditch attempt to cut off the cancerous limb that is Giuliani’s ineptitude. 

Friendship with Donald Trump is a fleeting affair filled with reputational risks. Just ask Trump’s former attorney Michael Cohen, currently serving three years in federal prison for his role in covering up Trump’s hush-money payments to porn stars and mistresses. By the end,of Cohen’s sordid saga, Trump claimed to barely know a man he had worked with for more than a decade.

Or take former White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci, who went from Trump confidante to personal nemesis in the span of only 11 dizzying days. Or former Senior Adviser Steve Bannon, who guided Trump’s campaign and occupied a plush White House office until Trump fired him. Trump spent weeks dragging Bannon in the press as “sloppy” and a crybaby who couldn’t handle the pressures of government. 

For all his laughable incompetence, Giuliani represents a far more dangerous challenge for Trump than Bannon, Scaramucci or even Cohen. Giuliani is every bit as transactional as Trump. On one occasion last week, Giuliani claimed he had an “insurance policy” to ensure Trump didn’t turn on him — evidence that, for all their camaraderie, Giuliani knows the best way to handle Trump is through mutually assured destruction. 

With pressure mounting on Giuliani to testify under oath about his shady dealings in Ukraine, Trump has every reason to put miles between himself and his personal attorney. Trump’s claim that Giuliani was just a freelancer don’t hold water. It is too cute by half to assert that Giuliani’s efforts in Ukraine just happen to match one-for-one with the quid pro quo Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney admitted to on live television

It doesn’t help that Giuliani has admitted on multiple occasions in rambling Fox News interviews that he acted at Trump’s direction — a self-serving effort to shield himself from legal fallout in much the same way Trump now seeks to shield himself from Giuliani. In a White House governed by opaque dealings, the Trump-Giuliani relationship is one of the few transparent elements.

President Trump is trying his best to wash his hands of Rudy Giuliani’s lethal radioactivity. Unfortunately for Trump, Giuliani is a fellow expert in the fair weather friendships of high-level politics. How Giuliani responds to Trump’s latest incitement will determine whether the White House survives the gathering impeachment storm.

Gordon Sondland’s impeachment testimony was beyond damning. Will it matter?

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE LOS ANGLES TIMES)

 

Editorial: Gordon Sondland’s impeachment testimony was beyond damning. Will it matter?

U.S. Ambassador to the EU Gordon Sondland

Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, has emerged as a key figure in the House impeachment inquiry.
(Jim Lo Scalzo / EPA/Shutterstock )

Even before Gordon Sondland testified publicly Wednesday in the House impeachment inquiry, investigators had assembled a persuasive if circumstantial case that President Trump abused his power to prod Ukraine to conduct investigations that would benefit Trump politically — just as the unnamed whistleblower contended. But Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, strengthened that case immeasurably with his testimony, which had added weight because he is a Trump political appointee who can’t be accused of being part of a sinister “deep state.”

The events Sondland recounted dovetailed with what previous witnesses had revealed. He testified that there was indeed a “quid pro quo” involved in Ukraine policy: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky would not get the coveted White House visit he was promised unless he announced investigations into a Ukrainian energy company for which former Vice President Joe Biden’s son served as a director and into a conspiracy theory that Ukraine, not Russia, interfered in the 2016 U.S. election. In an important revelation, Sondland said he also concluded from all he was hearing that, as surely as “two plus two equals four,” U.S. security aid was being held up as well in order to pressure Ukraine into announcing those investigations.

There was more: Sondland made it clear that Trump had expressly directed him and other U.S. officials to work with Rudolph W. Giuliani, Trump’s personal lawyer, who has agitated for a Ukrainian investigation of the Bidens and who was Trump’s emissary on the demand for a quid pro quo. “We did not want to work with Mr. Giuliani,” Sondland testified. “Simply put, we played the hand we were dealt.”

Finally, Sondland testified that his efforts and Guiliani’s weren’t the result of a rogue foreign policy. Instead, he said, important officials in the administration — including Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo and acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney — were “in the loop” about the pressure campaign.

What emerges from his testimony and that of other witnesses is an all too believable picture of a foreign policy process hijacked by the president’s willingness to use the powers of his office to benefit his domestic political interests.

Republicans on the Intelligence Committee argued that Sondland’s testimony wasn’t a smoking gun because he couldn’t cite any conversation in which Trump had told him that there was a quid pro quo. The president himself pointed reporters to a Sept. 9 telephone call in which Trump, Sondland testified, told him that “I want nothing” from Ukraine and forswore any quid pro quo. But that call took place after the whistleblower complaint was filed, and on the same day Congress announced an investigation of whether there was a quid pro quo. The timing of Trump’s denial makes it suspect, to say the least.

Moreover, the idea that Trump wanted nothing from Ukraine conflicts with what remains the most incriminating evidence against the president: the reconstructed transcript of the president’s July 25 telephone call with Zelensky in which, after noting that “we do a lot for Ukraine,” Trump suggested that Ukraine “do us a favor.” He asked Zelensky to investigate a conspiracy theory linking Ukraine to hacked Democratic emails and suggested that he talk with Atty. Gen. William Barr about rumors that Biden as vice president had forced the firing of a Ukrainian prosecutor widely viewed as corrupt in order to protect Hunter Biden. Both ideas emanated from discredited Ukranian sources, some of whom have since recanted the allegations that Giuliani had fed to Trump.

Significantly in light of Sondland’s testimony, Trump in that call said it “would be great” if Zelensky would speak to Giuliani.

An array of witnesses, including Sondland, have provided the larger context in which that conversation — which Trump has defended as “perfect” — must be viewed. The fact that the administration has blocked the testimony of witnesses in close contact with Trump, such as Mulvaney or former national security advisor John Bolton, is outrageous. Trump himself should testify, as he suggested this week he might.

But let’s be clear. Even without such testimony, the House committee has pieced together a plausible and damning narrative, and Trump’s defenders are forced to rely on utterly incredible arguments. They include the laughable idea that Trump might have a principled objection to corruption in Ukraine (or anywhere else) and the “all’s well that ends well” defense: The administration ultimately released the aid for Ukraine — after the whistleblower complaint was filed and Congress started looking into the delay.

The testimony will go on, and some point the House may decide that Trump’s abuse of power justifies the extraordinary step of impeachment. But even if the president is impeached, the servility of congressional Republicans makes it unlikely that he would be convicted by the Senate and removed from office before the end of his term. That means his corrupt and chaotic presidency must be brought to a merciful end next year, at the ballot box.


Vote To Federally Legalize Marijuana Planned In Congress

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF FORBES)

 

560,205 views

Vote To Federally Legalize Marijuana Planned In Congress

A key congressional committee plans to hold a historic vote on a bill to end the federal prohibition of marijuana next week, two sources with knowledge of the soon-to-be-announced action said.

The legislation, sponsored by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), would remove cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) and set aside funding to begin repairing the damage of the war on drugs, which has been disproportionately waged against communities of color.

Those programs—such as job training and legal aid for people impacted by prohibition enforcement, loans for small cannabis businesses owned and controlled by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals and efforts to minimize barriers to licensing and employment in the legal industry—would be paid for with a new federal five percent tax on marijuana sales instituted under the bill, and some of them would be administered by a new Cannabis Justice Office in the Department of Justice.

The proposal, the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act, would also provide for resentencing and expungement of records for people previously convicted of cannabis offenses and would shield immigrants from being denied citizenship status over marijuana.

Today In: Business

It currently has 55 cosponsors, all but one of whom are Democrats.

A Senate companion is being led by Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), a 2020 presidential candidate, though it has not yet been scheduled for action in the GOP-controlled chamber.

Wednesday’s planned Judiciary Committee vote on the far-reaching cannabis reform legislation—which hasn’t yet been officially listed but is expected to be announced on Monday—comes about two months after the full House overwhelmingly approved a bipartisan bill to increase marijuana businesses’ access to banks.

Politico reported on Saturday that Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA), who is not a member of the panel, vaguely mentioned upcoming committee consideration while speaking at a conference in Southern California.

The congresswoman reportedly didn’t clarify that the legislation would be formally “marked up,” or voted on, a detail that sources shared with Marijuana Moment in recent days. A Judiciary Committee spokesperson hasn’t responded to several inquiries about the pending vote.

The planned action on the bill, which would also block federal agencies from denying public benefits or security clearances over marijuana use, follows a hearing a Judiciary subcommittee held in July that examined the connection between marijuana legalization and racial justice.

The markup will provide the opportunity for lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to file amendments to the bill, and could shed further light on an emerging divide between cannabis reform supporters who feel it is essential to address past drug war harms and equity in the cannabis industry immediately and those who believe it makes more sense to advance more limited, states’ rights-focused legislation that could stand a better chance of advancing through the Senate and to President Trump’s desk.

Those tensions surfaced both during the Judiciary hearing this summer as well as in the lead up to the House floor vote on the cannabis banking legislation. Some pro-legalization groups went so far as to ask leadership to delay the scheduled vote on the financial services bill because they took issue with what is seen as an industry-focused proposal moving ahead of one containing restorative justice provisions such as the MORE Act.

In response to those concerns, top Democrats such as Nadler and House Minority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) pledged that while they were moving ahead with the banking vote, they also saw the importance of following up by advancing more comprehensive cannabis legislation.

Advancing the MORE Act or a similar rescheduling proposal through committee and onto the House floor would make good on that pledge.

It’s less certain how the Senate would react to House passage of a far-reaching bill to end federal marijuana prohibition. Some advocates believe that only a more modest proposal to exempt state-approved cannabis activity from federal prohibition stands a chance in the Republican-controlled body.

That bill, the Strengthening the Tenth Amendment Through Entrusting States (STATES) Act, would not formally deschedule marijuana under the CSA and doesn’t include measures aimed at ensuring equity in the legal industry for communities most harmed by the drug war.

President Trump has voiced support for the less far-reaching bill, which is led by Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Cory Gardner (R-CO).

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I’m a 15-year veteran of the cannabis law reform movement, and I know where to look to spot the most interesting legalization developments. I’m the editor of the cannab…

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Louisiana Democrat, Gov. John Bel Edwards, Keeps Seat Despite Trump’s Opposition

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF NPR NEWS)

 

Louisiana Democrat, Gov. John Bel Edwards, Keeps Seat Despite Trump’s Opposition

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards talks to media in Shreveport, La., Thursday. Saturday, Edwards, a Democrat, beat out Republican Eddie Rispone, who President Trump endorsed.

Gerald Herbert/AP

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards, a Democrat, held on to his seat Saturday after a tough challenge from his Republican opponent, Eddie Rispone, a wealthy businessman and political newcomer who President Trump supported.

Edwards is the only Democratic governor in the Deep South and is not a typical Democrat. He’s a pro-Second Amendment gun owner who signed one of the country’s strictest anti-abortion bills this year.

This is the third and final gubernatorial election of 2019 and the second loss for President Trump who campaigned for all three candidates. The president was in Louisiana this week and framed the race as a personal referendum, urging voters to unseat Edwards.

About two weeks ago, Republican Tate Reeves won the open seat in Mississippi, but in Kentucky, Democrat Andy Beshear ousted Republican incumbent Gov. Matt Bevin.

Edwards’ second term may be a bitter pill for Trump who had much invested in this year’s elections ahead of his own election in 2020.

Republican Matt Bevin concedes defeat in Kentucky governor’s race

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

Republican Matt Bevin concedes defeat in Kentucky governor’s race

(CNN)Kentucky Republican Gov. Matt Bevin conceded defeat on Thursday to Democratic state Attorney General Andy Beshear.

“We’re going to have a change in the governorship based on the vote of the people,” Bevin said at a news conference.
The concession comes after Bevin requested all 120 counties in the state recheck the results from last week’s gubernatorial election. That re-canvass showed Beshear still leading over Bevin.
Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes said in a statement that Beshear received 5,136 more votes than Bevin.
“I’m not going to contest these numbers that have come in,” Bevin said Thursday.
“I truly wish the attorney general well as the next governor of this state as he assumes these responsibilities,” Bevin said. Bevin said his team has already been working with Beshear’s and that he expects a smooth transition.
“I love the fact that we’re blessed to live in a nation where things do transition in ways that much of the world wishes they had,” he said.
Beshear said at a news conference he appreciated Bevin’s concession, which he noted came quickly after the re-canvass.
“The race is now officially over,” Beshear said, “which means we can look forward and we can move forward.”
Beshear was elected attorney general of Kentucky in 2015 and is the son of Steve Beshear, Bevin’s predecessor.
The governor-elect tweeted: “It’s official – thank you Kentucky. @GovMattBevin and his team have already begun a smooth transition. It’s time to get to work!”
A Democratic victory in Kentucky, a state Donald Trump carried by 30 percentage points in the 2016 election, could be seen as an ominous sign for the President heading into his 2020 reelection bid. The result shows that Trump wasn’t able to carry his preferred candidate over the finish line. Bevin had the strong backing of the President, and Trump held a rally in Lexington, Kentucky, the night before the election.
Bevin, elected governor in 2015, has faced backlash for seeking to undercut the state’s Medicaid expansion and calling teachers “selfish” and accusing them of a “thug mentality” when they protested after he threatened to cut their pensions.
Bevin requested a re-canvass after the results from last week’s election showed Bevin trailing Beshear by more than 5,000 votes.
The re-canvass began on Thursday morning. Unlike a standard recount of votes, a re-canvass is a reprint of the receipts from voting machines to check for reporting or clerical errors. After ballots are scanned, the machine tabulates those votes and prints out a receipt with the total.
During the re-canvass, those receipts were reprinted and checked again to make sure they were reported properly. It’s not uncommon for some clerical errors to occur during the initial vote tabulation.
Kentucky law does not allow for a recount in a gubernatorial general election, but a campaign may request a re-canvass of the votes with the secretary of state. There is no threshold or margin requirement for a re-canvass.
Bevin previously told CNN affiliate WKYT: “It’s not likely to change a lot numerically, but you have to go through this as a first step … to make sure the numbers that were written down and communicated are accurate.” He said his office is also preparing for Beshear to assume the governorship.
“There are very good odds, he could be the next governor — no question about it,” Bevin told WKYT. “Right now, he is numerically ahead and would seemingly be the next governor, and if that is corroborated and held up through this process, I’ll be his number one cheerleader.”
Representatives from both political parties and the media were allowed to be present for the re-canvass.
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