According to a report from Politico, the COVID-19 aid bill recently passed by Democrats and signed by President Joe Biden got an assist from former President Donald Trump's administration that left behind a pile of cash that is already being distributed to struggling Americans this weekend.
The $1.9 trillion aid package passed without one Republican Senate vote -- with GOP senators bashing it because Democrats hold a majority that allowed them to pass it without their help -- is highly popular with voters and the ability to immediately disperse the money will likely pay dividends for Democrats down the line.
As Politico's Victoria Guida wrote, "The Treasury has a cash pile of well over $1 trillion, which will allow the government to quickly disburse money in line with the sweeping new law, including direct checks to millions of Americans that are expected to start hitting bank accounts in the coming week," adding, "That robust rainy-day fund was built last year by then-Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who preemptively cranked up the pace of government borrowing, unsure of how and when Congress might mandate further relief measures."
As the report notes, Mnuchin was amassing the cash in case Trump's administration and Senate Republicans pushed through their own package -- a move that could have helped the ex-president's popularity prior to the November election.
"Treasury always has to have enough cash on hand to fund immediate government spending obligations, which it keeps as deposits at the Federal Reserve. But those funds more than quadrupled in 2020," Guida explained. "When Biden took office, Treasury's deposits at the Fed stood at about $1.6 trillion, compared to $400 billion in 2019, and Treasury is expected to burn through about $1 trillion of that already-borrowed cash to help fund the relief package."
According to Seth Carpenter, chief U.S. economist at UBS, "That is $1 trillion of money that the Treasury does not have to borrow this year."
You can read more here.
The private evangelical school founded by Jerry Falwell, Sr. has hired a Republican official who officially announced he is leaving his position in the GOP.
"Glenn Clary, chairman of the Alaska Republican Party, formally resigned Friday to take a job at Liberty University in Virginia. Under state party rules, he is automatically replaced by the party's vice chair, Ann Brown of Fairbanks," the Anchorage Daily News reported on Saturday.
"In a message to members of the Republican State Central Committee, Clary wrote that he will become vice president of strategic partnerships and alliances at Liberty. That role will entail lobbying federal and state legislators as part of a network of Christian organizations," the newspaper reported. "Among the priorities for that network, known as the Standing for Freedom Center, is the defeat of federal legislation mandating elections standards and a separate piece of legislation banning discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer Americans."
Clary has also been a pastor at Anchorage Baptist Temple.
Glenn Clary, chairman of the Alaska Republican Party, formally resigned Friday to take a job at Liberty University… https://t.co/lqVeMwUNuJ— Anchorage Daily News (@Anchorage Daily News)1621121222.0
Perjury charges could hit gun dealer in Congress for testimony in Trump insurrection cases: Ex-prosecutor
The Georgia Republican who made national headlines after trying to minimize Capitol insurrectionists as tourists could soon be facing charges of his own.
"There was no insurrection," Clyde falsely claimed during a House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing. "And to call it an insurrection, in my opinion, is a bold-faced lie."
"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 sixth, you'd actually think it was a normal tourist visit," he argued.
Former federal prosecutor Glenn Kirschner on Saturday offered his analysis.
"How's that for propaganda? I mean, that kind of statement would make George Orwell blush," he said.
"So why is Congressman Clyde's statement as dangerous as it is idiotic? Well, first of all, he's plainly giving aid and comfort to those who attacked the U.S. Capitol on January 6th," Kirschner said. "But even more importantly, but making those statements, he has made himself a star witness — a marquee witness — in the upcoming trials of those individuals who attacked the Capitol on January 6th."
He laid out why he anticipated Clyde would be the first witness called by defense lawyers in upcoming trials.
He predicted, "the questions will go something like, 'Congressman Clyde, you were in the Capitol on January 6th, was there an insurrection that day?' And Congressman Clyde will say, 'No, there wasn't and the prosecutors are engaged in a bald-faced lie when they say there was an insurrection at the Capitol on January 6th.'"
He said "that kind of testimony would be absurd, it would be propaganda, it would be false," but went on to suggest it could influence a juror to have reasonable doubt.
"You know, if Congressman Clyde testified that way — the same way he just spoke to the American people during a congressional hearing — he would be probably on the hook for perjury, obstructing justice, accessory after the fact," he said. "But let's face it, Congressman Clyde was willing to lie to 360 million Americans in that congressional hearing, might he be willing to lie 12 jurors in the jury box about what happened on January 6th?"
"You know what folks, I have a feeling justice might be waiting around the corner for a guy like gun salesman turned congressman, Andy Clyde," Kirschner concluded. "And justice, matters."
Rep Andrew Clyde's Lies About Capitol Attack Make Him Star Defense Witness in Insurrectionist Trials www.youtube.com
By Nidal al-Mughrabi and Stephen Farrell
GAZA/JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israel bombed the home of Hamas's chief in Gaza early on Sunday and the Islamist group fired rocket barrages at Tel Aviv as hostilities stretched into a seventh day with no sign of abating.
At least three Palestinians were killed in Israeli air strikes across the coastal enclave, health officials said, and many were injured as the sounds of heavy bombardment roared through the night.
Israelis dashed for bomb shelters as sirens warning of incoming rocket fire blared in Tel Aviv and its suburbs. Around 10 people were injured while running for shelters, medics said.
At least 148 have been killed in Gaza since the violence began on Monday, including 41 children, health officials said. Israel has reported 10 dead, including two children.
Envoys from the United States, United Nations and Egypt were working to restore calm but have yet to show any signs of progress. The U.N. Security Council was due to meet later on Sunday to discuss the worst outbreak of Israeli-Palestinian violence in years.
Both Israel and Hamas have insisted they would continue their cross-border fire, a day after Israel destroyed a 12-storey building in Gaza City that had housed the U.S. Associated Press and Qatar-based Al Jazeera media operations.
The Israel military said the al-Jala building was a legitimate military target, containing Hamas military offices, and that it had given warnings to civilians to get out of the building before the attack.
The AP condemned the attack, and asked Israel to put forward evidence. "We have had no indication Hamas was in the building or active in the building," the news organisation said in a statement.
In what it called a reprisal for Israel's destruction of the al-Jala building, Hamas fired rockets at Tel Aviv and towns in southern Israel early on Sunday.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said late on Saturday that Israel was "still in the midst of this operation, it is still not over and this operation will continue as long as necessary."
In a burst of air strikes early on Sunday, Israel targeted the home of Yehya Al-Sinwar, who since 2017 has headed the political and military wings of Hamas in Gaza, the group's TV station said.
Hamas began its rocket assault on Monday after weeks of tensions over a court case to evict several Palestinian families in East Jerusalem, and in retaliation for Israeli police clashes with Palestinians near the city's Al-Aqsa Mosque, Islam's third holiest site, during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
Speaking to crowds of protesters in the Qatari capital of Doha, Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh said late on Saturday that the underlying cause of the hostilities was Jerusalem.
"The Zionists thought ... they could demolish Al-Aqsa mosque. They thought they could displace our people in Sheikh Jarrah," said Haniyeh.
"I say to Netanyahu: do not play with fire," he continued, amid cheers from the crowd. "The title of this battle today, the title of the war, and the title of the intifada, is Jerusalem, Jerusalem, Jerusalem," using the Arabic word for 'uprising'.
Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other militant groups have fired around 2,300 rockets from Gaza since Monday, the Israeli military said on Saturday. It said about 1,000 were intercepted by missile defences and 380 fell into the Gaza Strip.
Israel has launched more than 1,000 air and artillery strikes into the densely populated coastal strip, saying they were aimed at Hamas and other militant targets.
Earlier this week, the International Criminal Court's chief prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, told Reuters the court was "monitoring very closely" the latest escalation of hostilities, amid an investigation now under way into alleged war crimes in earlier bouts of the conflict.
Netanyahu accused Hamas of "committing a double war crime" by targeting civilians, and using Palestinian civilians as "human shields."
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres reminded "all sides that any indiscriminate targeting of civilian and media structures violates international law and must be avoided at all costs," U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said in a statement on Saturday.
There has been a flurry of U.S. diplomacy in recent days to try to quell the violence.
President Joe Biden's envoy, Hady Amr, arrived in Israel on Friday for talks. Biden spoke with both Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas late on Saturday, and updated them on U.S. diplomatic efforts, the White House said.
But any mediation is complicated by the fact that the United States and most western powers do not talk to Hamas, which they regard as a terrorist organisation. And Abbas, whose power base is in the occupied West Bank, exerts little influence over Hamas in Gaza.
In Israel, the conflict has been accompanied by violence amongst the country's mixed communities of Jews and Arabs, with synagogues attacked and Arab-owned shops vandalised.
There has also been an upsurge in deadly clashes in the occupied West Bank. At least 12 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli troops in the occupied West Bank since Friday, most of them during clashes.
(Additional reporting by Michelle Nichols in New York; Writing by Rami Ayyub; Editing by Frances Kerry, Mark Potter and Daniel Wallis)
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