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'You stole a Supreme Court seat': Critics slam McConnell threat to sabotage Democratic senate

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell threatened Tuesday to grind the workings of the notoriously sluggish upper chamber to a complete halt if the Democratic majority attempts to scrap the legislative filibuster, a warning that was met with immediate derision given the Kentucky Republican's elimination of the 60-vote rule for Supreme Court nominees less than four years ago.

In a speech on the Senate floor just hours after he dropped his demand that Democrats commit to leaving the legislative filibuster intact as part of a must-pass organizing resolution, McConnell cautioned that "destroying the filibuster would drain comity and consent from this body to a degree that would be unparalleled in living memory.""Taking that plunge would not be some progressive dream. It would be a nightmare. I guarantee it," added McConnell, who said Republicans could obstruct Senate business by denying a quorum, the number of senators required to be present for the chamber to operate.

As Daily Kos political director David Nir pointed out, "if Republican senators refuse to show up for a quorum call, Democrats can direct the Senate's sergeant at arms to arrest them and compel their attendance."

"That's how radical a threat withholding quorum is—you can be arrested for doing so," Nir noted.

The minority leader echoed the message of his floor speech in a tweet Tuesday evening, declaring that nuking the filibuster "would drain the consent and comity out of the institution" and leave the Senate unable to function.

Democratic lawmakers and commentators responded by pointing to McConnell's refusal to allow a vote on former President Barack Obama's Supreme Court nominee and subsequent elimination of the judicial filibuster to confirm right-wing Justice Neil Gorsuch in April of 2017—and clear the way for later confirmation of two additional Trump high court nominees.

"You lost all credibility when you stole a Supreme Court seat," tweeted Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.). "The filibuster is a Jim Crow relic. It represents everything wrong with Washington. Abolish it."

"By the way," the Minnesota Democrat added, "Senate Democrats represent 41.5 million more Americans than Mitch and his caucus. Blocking needed relief for Americans has nothing to do with 'consent and comity' and everything to do with destroying democracy."

Ari Berman of Mother Jones said it is "truly maddening to hear Mitch McConnell warn of 'nightmare' if Dems abolish filibuster when he already killed it to put three Trump justices on the Supreme Court and confirmed Amy Coney Barrett eight days before an election."

McConnell's threat to gum up the works of the Senate even more than he already has came as the chamber's new Democratic majority began taking steps to advance President Joe Biden's proposed coronavirus relief package through the special budget reconciliation process, a move made necessary by vocal Republican opposition to the new aid measure.

The Washington Post reported late Tuesday that "Democratic leaders in both chambers are tentatively planning to introduce a budget resolution on Monday that could come to a vote later in the week."

"The resolution would instruct committees to write legislation codifying Biden's $1.9 trillion pandemic relief plan," the Post reported. "Under special rules governing the budget resolution, the resolution could pass the Senate with a simple majority vote, and the subsequent Covid-19 relief bill could also pass with a simple majority—even without eliminating the filibuster."

While a coronavirus relief package could clear the Senate with the filibuster intact, former Senate staffer Adam Jentleson said in an interview with The.Ink Tuesday that Democrats "will never be able to use reconciliation to pass things like civil rights, democracy reforms, statehood, gun control, or many climate change solutions" due to rules restricting the kind of legislation that can be passed through the expedited budget process—meaning the urgency of abolishing the archaic 60-vote rule remains.

"Pulling our punches now will mean that we fail to reform our democracy and get climate change under control, for starters," Jentleson said. "Then, when McConnell is back in power, he will chuckle and nuke the filibuster himself the first time it serves his interests."

In a series of tweets Tuesday, Jentleson argued that the minority leader's threat to defend the filibuster by plunging the Senate into chaos "is the worst he can come up with and it's vastly preferable to letting McConnell block Biden's agenda."

"Unintentionally," Jentleson added, "McConnell is revealing how his power relies heavily on the filibuster."

There's a glaring problem with the GOP's bid to stop Trump's impeachment trial in its tracks

Despite widespread demands that the U.S. Senate hold former President Donald Trump accountable for helping to incite a deadly insurrection at the U.S. Capitol just before leaving office, all but five Republican senators on Tuesday voted to invalidate the trial as unconstitutional—a move that ultimately failed but portends poorly for those hoping for conviction.

Just 10 House Republicans joined with Democrats earlier this month to impeach Trump—the only president to be impeached twice—for his role in sparking the January 6 attack on Congress. House impeachment managers delivered the article to the Senate on Monday.

While senators were sworn in on Tuesday for Trump's second impeachment trial, arguments aren't set to start until February 9.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) on Tuesday claimed that the trial is unconstitutional and forced a procedural vote on the matter. Paul's move "might seem like a silly procedural gambit, but it's important," reported Politico, because it forces GOP senators to go on record about whether they think the trial should be allowed to proceed.

Only Republican Sens. Susan Collins (Maine), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), Mitt Romney (Utah), Ben Sasse (Neb.), and Pat Toomey (Pa.) joined with Democrats to oppose Paul's effort, which Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) supported. The 55-45 vote signals that the necessary two-thirds of senators do not support a conviction.

The Senate vote was swiftly condemned, including by House Democrats who supported Trump's impeachment:

As MSNBC's Chris Hayes noted: "McConnell delayed the trial and then voted in favor of a point or order to dismiss it because it was...starting too late."

Despite the timing of the House impeachment vote, McConnell, while he was still Senate majority leader in the immediate wake of the attack, refused to start a trial before President Joe Biden's inauguration.

Ahead of the Tuesday vote, Paul told reporters: "I think there will be enough support on it to show there's no chance they can impeach the president... If 34 people support my resolution that this is an unconstitutional proceeding, it shows they don't have the votes and we're basically wasting our time."

Paul tried to claim that the trial is unconstitutional because Trump is no longer in office. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) responded by pointing to Article II, Section II of the U.S. Constitution, which allows for the "removal of office and disqualification to hold and enjoy any office honor."

"If the framers intended impeachment to merely be a vehicle to remove sitting officials from their office they would not have included that additional provision, disqualification from future office," he said.

"The language is crystal clear without any ambiguity," Schumer said. "The history and precedent is clear. The Senate has the power to try former officials, and the reasons for that are basic common sense."

Common Dreams reported earlier Tuesday that polls continue to show that the American public supports convicting Trump and barring him from ever holding office again. A survey conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute from January 21 to January 24 found 56% of Americans approve of the House impeaching Trump.

That polling results also showed that 52% of the U.S. public wants the Senate to convict Trump on the impeachment charge. Additionally, when those surveyed were told that a conviction must precede a ban on Trump holding office in the future, support for the Senate convicting the ex-president jumped from 52% to 55%.

As the advocacy group Stand Up America put it in a tweet Tuesday: "Convicting Donald Trump for inciting a white supremacist insurrection against the government of the United States should be a given."

REVEALED: QAnon congressmember showed support for murdering Democrats

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene—a freshman Republican lawmaker, prolific bigot and conspiracy theorist, and staunch backer of former President Donald Trump—repeatedly showed support online for executing prominent Democrats including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, former President Barack Obama, and former Secertary of State Hillary Clinton, CNN reported Tuesday.

Greene, who represents Georgia's 14th Congressional District, in January 2019 "liked" a Facebook comment asserting that "a bullet to the head would be quicker" to oust Pelosi (D-Calif.) from the House speakership.

In April 2018, she responded to a Facebook post asking if "we get to hang" Obama and Clinton over their support for the Iran nuclear deal by saying the "stage is being set" and "players are being put in place."

"We must be patient," wrote Greene. "This must be done perfectly or liberal judges would let them off."

Greene also liked Facebook comments supporting the assassination of FBI agents who were purportedly part of the "deep state" opposition to Trump.

On Tuesday, Greene tweeted that "fake news CNN is writing yet another hit piece on me focusing on my time before running for political office."

"Over the years, I've had teams of people manage my pages," she wrote. "Many posts have been liked. Many posts have been shared. Some did not represent my views. Especially the ones that CNN is about to spread across the internet."

Greene's views, however, have been clearly on display in recent years. These include—but are not limited to—the following:

An incessant tweeter of lies and conspiracy theories, Greene—who won 74.7% of the vote in her 2020 House race—is also known for menacing Democrats in Congress, including the so-called "Squad."

While campaigning last year, Greene posted an image of her holding a gun alongside Squad members, with a caption reading: "We need strong conservative Christians to go on the offense against these socialists who want to rip our country apart."

Greene was one of the 147 Republican lawmakers who attempted to overturn President Joe Biden's Electoral College victory, helping to incite the deadly January 6 pro-Trump terror attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Squad member Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.)—who took refuge in a secure room with maskless, coronavirus-spreading Republican lawmakers including Greene during the Capitol siege—said afterward that she had feared for her life due to "QAnon and white supremacist sympathizers, and frankly white supremacist members of Congress in that extraction point, who I know, and who I had felt would disclose my location… who would create opportunities to allow me to be hurt, kidnapped."

After delaying Trump impeachment trial, all but 5 GOP senators vote in favor of saying now it's too late

Despite widespread demands that the U.S. Senate hold former President Donald Trump accountable for helping to incite a deadly insurrection at the U.S. Capitol just before leaving office, all but five Republican senators on Tuesday voted to invalidate the trial as unconstitutional—a move that ultimately failed but portends poorly for those hoping for conviction.

"Convicting Donald Trump for inciting a white supremacist insurrection against the government of the United States should be a given."
—Stand Up America

Just 10 House Republicans joined with Democrats earlier this month to impeach Trump—the only president to be impeached twice—for his role in sparking the January 6 attack on Congress. House impeachment managers delivered the article to the Senate on Monday.

While senators were sworn in on Tuesday for Trump's second impeachment trial, arguments aren't set to start until February 9.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) on Tuesday claimed that the trial is unconstitutional and forced a procedural vote on the matter. Paul's move "might seem like a silly procedural gambit, but it's important," reported Politico, because it forces GOP senators to go on record about whether they think the trial should be allowed to proceed.

Only Republican Sens. Susan Collins (Maine), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), Mitt Romney (Utah), Ben Sasse (Neb.), and Pat Toomey (Pa.) joined with Democrats to oppose Paul's effort, which Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) supported. The 55-45 vote signals that the necessary two-thirds of senators do not support a conviction.

The Senate vote was swiftly condemned, including by House Democrats who supported Trump's impeachment:

As MSNBC's Chris Hayes noted: "McConnell delayed the trial and then voted in favor of a point or order to dismiss it because it was...starting too late."

Despite the timing of the House impeachment vote, McConnell, while he was still Senate majority leader in the immediate wake of the attack, refused to start a trial before President Joe Biden's inauguration.

Ahead of the Tuesday vote, Paul told reporters: "I think there will be enough support on it to show there's no chance they can impeach the president... If 34 people support my resolution that this is an unconstitutional proceeding, it shows they don't have the votes and we're basically wasting our time."

Paul tried to claim that the trial is unconstitutional because Trump is no longer in office. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) responded by pointing to Article II, Section II of the U.S. Constitution, which allows for the "removal of office and disqualification to hold and enjoy any office honor."

"If the framers intended impeachment to merely be a vehicle to remove sitting officials from their office they would not have included that additional provision, disqualification from future office," he said.

"The language is crystal clear without any ambiguity," Schumer said. "The history and precedent is clear. The Senate has the power to try former officials, and the reasons for that are basic common sense."

Common Dreams reported earlier Tuesday that polls continue to show that the American public supports convicting Trump and barring him from ever holding office again. A survey conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute from January 21 to January 24 found 56% of Americans approve of the House impeaching Trump.

That polling results also showed that 52% of the U.S. public wants the Senate to convict Trump on the impeachment charge. Additionally, when those surveyed were told that a conviction must precede a ban on Trump holding office in the future, support for the Senate convicting the ex-president jumped from 52% to 55%.

As the advocacy group Stand Up America put it in a tweet Tuesday: "Convicting Donald Trump for inciting a white supremacist insurrection against the government of the United States should be a given."

As planet cooks, one of the world's coldest towns bids to host 2032 summer Olympics

With temperatures across the globe—and particularly in the Arctic—rising thanks to lackluster efforts to address the human-caused climate crisis, one of the coldest towns on Earth is throwing its hat in the ring to host the 2032 Summer Olympics.

"Our intention here is clear: we want to keep Salla as it is, and our winters cold and full of snow."
—Salla Mayor Erkki Parkkinen

Salla is located in Finland's Lapland region and touts the tagline, "in the middle of nowhere." The average temperature is below freezing and the area boasts a ski resort, reindeer park, Arctic Circle safaris, and even a snow and ice hotel.

With support from Fridays for Future—the youth-led movement launched by Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg—Salla announced its Olympic bid to build awareness about "the consequences of global warming and the need for urgent action."

"Our intention here is clear: we want to keep Salla as it is, and our winters cold and full of snow," said Salla Mayor Erkki Parkkinen. "So, there was this crazy idea: to host the Summer Games in one of the coldest towns on the planet."

"If we stand back and do nothing, letting global warming prevail," Parkkinen warned, "we will lose our identity, and the town we love—as well as many others around the world—will cease to exist as we know it."

The campaign, detailed at www.savesalla.com, includes a short video.

WATCH:

"Despite the obviousness of the global warming, the ideology of climate change denial is gaining traction all over the world and increasing every year," the campaign website says. "So, we've created this bid to raise attention about the climate emergency. Salla is changing. The whole planet is changing. Not in a good way."

As Common Dreams has reported, while projections for the entire planet are dire if policymakers don't urgently work to "effect unprecedented transitions in all aspects of society, including energy, land and ecosystems, urban and infrastructure as well as industry," the Arctic is particularly at risk.

"We have only one planet to live in and an immense responsibility to future generations. We can all make a difference. What we cannot do under any circumstances is deny the problem and omit ourselves. The risks will be severe and unavoidable," said Joe Hobbs, a Fridays For Future activist and operations director for Climate Cardinals. "Global warming does not have to be a self-fulfilling prophecy and everyone can make a significant and decisive contribution to stop this process."

"Global warming does not have to be a self-fulfilling prophecy and everyone can make a significant and decisive contribution to stop this process."
—Joe Hobbs, Fridays For Future

Hobbs joined Parkkinen and multiple experts for a press conference about the campaign on Tuesday.

The event came a day after a new study that showed ice loss worldwide is increasing at a record rate. Lead author Thomas Slater of Leeds' Centre for Polar Observation and Modeling said that "although every region we studied lost ice, losses from the Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets have accelerated the most."

"The ice sheets are now following the worst-case climate warming scenarios set out by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change," Slater added. "Sea-level rise on this scale will have very serious impacts on coastal communities this century."

Also on Monday, Thunberg delivered an address to the World Economic Forum's annual meeting—held digitally rather than in Davos, Switzerland this year because of the raging coronavirus pandemic. She told political and business leaders that "when it comes to facing the climate emergency, the world is still in a state of complete denial."

"Safeguarding the future living conditions and preserving life on Earth as we know it is voluntary. The choice is yours to make," the 18-year-old Swede said. "But I can assure you this: You can't negotiate with physics. And your children and grandchildren will hold you accountable for the choices that you make."

Majority in US want Senate to convict Trump and bar him from holding office ever again: poll

A clear majority of Americans want twice-impeached former President Donald Trump to be convicted by the Senate and barred from holding office in the future, according to polling results released Monday, the same day the House of Representatives delivered an article of impeachment against Trump for "incitement of insurrection" to the upper chamber of Congress.

The phone survey (pdf) was conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute, which interviewed 809 adults in the U.S. from January 21 to January 24, roughly two weeks after a pro-Trump mob invaded the halls of Congress as lawmakers attempted to certify President Joe Biden's electoral victory.

According to the poll, 56% of Americans approve and 42% disapprove of the House impeaching Trump for a second time, which happened on January 13 when members of the lower chamber of Congress passed an article charging the former president with "high crimes and misdemeanors" for his role in provoking the deadly mayhem at the Capitol.

All 222 House Democrats voted to impeach Trump, but only 10 House Republicans joined them, and the partisan divide is reflected in the survey results. While 92% of Democrats approve of Trump's second impeachment, support drops to 52% among independents, and just a mere 13% among Republicans.

More than half (52%) of the U.S. public wants the Senate to convict Trump on the impeachment charge versus 44% of Americans who do not.

According to Monmouth, the level of support among Americans for disciplining Trump is slightly higher now than it was when the former president was impeached for the first time in January 2020. Last year, 49% backed removing Trump from office via an impeachment conviction, while 48% opposed such a move. Now, 57% want the Senate to take action to prevent Trump from holding federal office in the future, compared with 41% who are opposed.

When respondents were informed that a ban on future office-holding must be preceded by a conviction, the support for a Senate conviction on the impeachment charge increased from 52% to 55%.

"There is somewhat more agreement that Trump did something wrong than there was with the first impeachment. But there are still a good number of Republican stalwarts who continue to stand with the former president regardless," said Patrick Murray, director of Monmouth.

The January 6 riot was sparked by incessant GOP lies that the election was "stolen." The false claims of Trump and his allies that Biden's victory was the result of widespread voter fraud and therefore illegitimate has had a lasting detrimental impact.

The poll found that roughly one-third (32%) of Americans think Trump's defeat is attributable to fraud. Nearly three-quarters (72%) of Republicans continue to believe Biden won as a result of fraud.

About two-thirds (65%) of the U.S. public agrees that Biden won the election "fair and square." Among those who still think Trump lost due to fraud, nearly two-thirds claim to want to move on, but one-third of this group—which represents 10% of the nation's adults—say they will never accept Biden as president.

"A number of ostensible leaders in the Republican Party continue to peddle this false narrative and many more who know this claim is wrong have not been particularly outspoken in disavowing it," said Murray. "Their fellow partisans in the American public are simply following that lead."

The potential for Trump and his allies' lies to cause irreversible damage to democracy in the U.S. has prompted some lawmakers, including Rep. Mondaire Jones (D-N.Y.), to characterize Trump's Senate trial, which is set to begin on February 9, as a life-or-death battle for the future of the country.

"Convicting Donald Trump to save our democracy is not a distraction," Jones tweeted on Tuesday. "It's essential."

McConnell and Schumer face demands to 'remove seditious senators' from Trump impeachment trial

As the House of Representatives formally sent an article of impeachment against Donald Trump to the Senate on Monday for the former president's upcoming trial for inciting this month's deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol, a leading progressive advocacy group implored Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to preclude lawmakers who supported the January 6 insurrection from the proceedings.On Monday evening, House impeachment managers delivered a single article of impeachment against Trump—who is the only president to have been impeached twice—to the upper chamber of Congress. In that legislative body are 11 Republicans who supported efforts by Sens. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas) to thwart the peaceful transition of power to President Joe Biden by challenging certification of the Electoral College vote for the 2020 presidential election.

The offending senators' at least tacit embrace of Trump's myriad lies and conspiracy theories regarding the election has been blamed for helping to incite the mob that attacked the Capitol in a failed bid to overturn the election results. In the wake of the attack, House Democrats including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) have called on Hawley and Cruz to resign or be expelled from the Senate, while a group of Democratic senators has filed an ethics complaint against them.

Rahna Epting, executive director of MoveOn, says the 13 "seditious" GOP senators should be barred by Schumer (D-N.Y.) and McConnell (R-Ky.) from participation in Trump's impeachment trial.

"Trump has been impeached for inciting a mob to attack our country and its lawmakers with deadly violence in an effort to override his election loss," Epting said in a statement on Monday.

"But Trump did not act alone," she added. "Senators who participated in Trump's campaign to undermine our free and fair election and fan the flames of insurrection share responsibility for gathering and inciting the crowd that assaulted the Capitol and killed a police officer on January 6."

"Senators who supported Trump's insurrection cannot also be his judges," stressed Epting. "Senators cannot be impartial jurors in a trial for acts in which they themselves are implicated. These senators should be witnesses, not jurors. Senators Schumer and McConnell must remove seditious senators from Trump's impeachment trial via the trial rules once Speaker Pelosi sends the article of impeachment to the Senate."

Trump's Senate trial is scheduled to begin on February 8. Sen. Pat Leahy (D-Vt.), the chamber's president pro tempore, will preside over the proceeding.

Members of Congress reportedly facing death threats ahead of Trump impeachment trial

Federal law enforcement agents are reportedly assessing several menacing statements, including death threats, directed toward congressional lawmakers ahead of the second impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump.

That's according to what a U.S. official, who was not authorized to publicly discuss an ongoing investigation and therefore spoke on the condition of anonymity, told The Associated Press on Sunday.

"Though much of the security apparatus around Washington set up after the riot and ahead of Biden's inauguration—it included scores of military checkpoints and hundreds of additional law enforcement personnel—is no longer in place, about 7,000 members of the National Guard will remain to assist federal law enforcement," AP reported on Monday. "The number of troops in D.C. would then continue to decline in the coming weeks."

About 5,000 troops are expected to stay in Washington until mid-March. One reason for their prolonged presence is "ominous chatter about killing legislators or attacking them outside of the U.S. Capitol," AP noted.

Those threats, as well as "concerns that armed protesters could return to sack the Capitol anew... prompted the U.S. Capitol Police and other federal law enforcement to insist" that thousands of troops remain in the nation's capital "as the Senate moves forward with plans for Trump's trial," which is scheduled to begin on February 9.

According to AP:

The shocking insurrection at the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob prompted federal officials to rethink security in and around its landmarks, resulting in an unprecedented lockdown for Biden's inauguration. Though the event went off without any problems and armed protests around the country did not materialize, the threats to lawmakers ahead of Trump's trial exemplified the continued potential for danger.
Similar to those intercepted by investigators ahead of Biden's inauguration, the threats that law enforcement agents are tracking vary in specificity and credibility, said the official, who had been briefed on the matter. Mainly posted online and in chat groups, the messages have included plots to attack members of Congress during travel to and from the Capitol complex during the trial, according to the official...
Law enforcement officials are already starting to plan for the possibility of armed protesters returning to the nation's capital when Trump's Senate trial on a charge of inciting a violent insurrection begins the week of Feb. 8

Inspired by Trump's lies about voter fraud—which were explicitly and tacitly backed by hundreds of Republican lawmakers and right-wing media outlets—thousands of the 45th president's supporters violently invaded the halls of Congress during the certification of President Joe Biden's victory in the 2020 election.

Although there was, as AP noted, "intelligence suggesting the rally would descend into a riot," Capitol police said they prepared for a "free speech demonstration," not an insurrection. Five people, including a Capitol police officer hit in the head with a fire extinguisher, were killed during the chaotic siege in which law enforcement was overwhelmed.

The news outlet reported:

More than 130 people have been charged by federal prosecutors for their roles in the riot. In recent weeks, others have been arrested after posting threats against members of Congress.
They include a Proud Boys supporter who authorities said threatened to deploy "three cars full of armed patriots" to Washington, threatened harm against Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.) and who is accused of stockpiling military-style combat knives and more than 1,000 rifle rounds in his New York home. A Texas man was arrested this week for taking part in the riot at the Capitol and for posting violent threats, including a call to assassinate Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.).

This dangerous context has led some to suggest that the Senate's upcoming vote on whether to convict Trump should be conducted via a secret ballot. Former labor secretary Robert Reich explained that doing so will "protect [the] safety of senators, and allow them to vote their consciences."

"If Republican senators had integrity and if Trump supporters were peaceful, this wouldn't be necessary," Reich added. "But they're not and they're not. So a secret ballot offers a better chance of convicting Trump and ensuring he'll never again be president."

'Jim Crow relic': Progressives ramp up efforts to finally get rid of the GOP's favorite tool

A coalition of more than 40 progressive groups— Just Democracy—is ramping up the pressure on Majority Leader Chuck Schumer by running a digital billboard in New York's Times Square—the heart of Schumer's district—urging him to end the Senate filibuster. The filibuster rule requires most legislation to reach 60 votes to pass in the Senate.

The coalition—made up of over 40 grassroots civil rights and social justice groups from around the country—created and paid for the week-long billboard starting Monday.

Just Democracy tweeted Sunday that the billboard was previewed on NBC's "Meet the Press" earlier in the day:

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), the majority whip, said on " Meet the Press" that "the American people want us to take action, action on this pandemic, action on this economy and on a host of other issues, and if this filibuster has become so common in the Senate that we can't act, that we just sit there helpless, shame on us. Of course we should consider a change in the rule under those circumstances."

The Just Democracy ad quotes Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: " A Cherished Tool of Segragationists"; former President Barack Obama: "Jim Crow Relic"; and ex-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid: "Outlived Its Usefulness." Ocasio-Cortez is reportedly considering a challenge to Schumer for his Senate seat in 2022.

"Democrats gained control of the Senate because of Black and Brown organizers and voters," Stasha Rhodes, campaign director for 51 for 51 and a member of the Just Democracy coalition, said in a statement. "Now they have a chance to remove the biggest impediment to the legislation those voters care about most — voting rights, healthcare, a serious COVID rescue package and more."

Meanwhile, another progressive/labor coalition— Fix Our Senate—ran a full-page ad in Sunday's New York Times that also pushed Schumer to end the filibuster. "There is absolutely no reason to give Sen. McConnell months and months to prove what we absolutely know — that he is going to continue his gridlock and dysfunction from the minority," said Eli Zupnick, a spokesman for Fix Our Senate. The group has launched a six-figure ad campaign and plans to deploy field staff in states where Democratic senators have expressed reluctance to ditch the rule.

Dr. Birx criticized for failing to speak out on Trump's 'parallel data': Her 'legacy is one of sycophancy and failure'

Dr. Deborah Birx, who was the Trump administration's coordinator of the Coronavirus Task Force, said in a CBS News' Face The Nation interview that aired Sunday that ex-President Donald Trump had been reviewing "parallel" data sets on the coronavirus pandemic from someone inside the administration.

"I saw the president presenting graphs that I never made," Birx said. "So, I know that someone out there or someone inside was creating a parallel set of data and graphics that were shown to the president."

Birx said she doesn't know who gave the Trump competing information but "I know now by watching some of the tapes that certainly Scott Atlas brought in parallel data streams." She added: "I don't know who else was part of it, but I think when the record goes back and people see what I was writing on a daily basis that was sent up to White House leadership, that they will see that I was highly specific on what I was seeing and what needed to be done."

Birx was blasted after her comments Sunday for failing to speak out at the time to set the record straight about what she saw in the White House:

Birx also said that there were COVID-19 deniers at the White House.

"There were people who definitely believed that this was a hoax," she said. "I think the information was confusing at the beginning. I think because we didn't talk about the spectrum of the disease, everyone interpreted what they knew."

When asked what her biggest mistake was during her time in the Trump administration, Birx said she should have been "more outspoken," especially on the issue of COVID testing. "I didn't know all the consequences of all these issues," she said. Birx has been criticized for never publicly challenging Trump's suggestion to inject bleach, and after she warned of a dangerous "new phase" of the pandemic last August, Trump tweeted that her comments were "pathetic."

So Crazy Nancy Pelosi said horrible things about Dr. Deborah Birx, going after her because she was too positive on the very good job we are doing on combatting the China Virus, including Vaccines & Therapeutics. In order to counter Nancy, Deborah took the bait & hit us. Pathetic!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 3, 2020

John Dean: Insurrectionist senators are co-conspirators and should not sit in judgment of Trump

On Friday evening Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced that opening arguments in the Senate impeachment trial for Donald Trump over the deadly Capitol insurrection will begin the week of Feb. 8.

"We all want to put this awful chapter in our nation's history behind us. But healing and unity will only come if there is truth and accountability. And that is what this trial will provide," said Senator Schumer.

"The names of Cruz and Hawley should go down in history next to people like Benedict Arnold," Arizona Rep. Ruben Gallego told Business Insider. "They are just traitors to the country and traitors to the Constitution."

John Dean, the former White House Counsel for Richard Nixon who provided key testimony against Nixon as a witness in the 1973 Nixon impeachment hearings, took to Twitter Saturday afternoon:


As Common Dreams reported Thursday, a group of seven Democrats filed an ethics complaint on Thursday requesting an investigation into the two senators' roles in inciting the deadly insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

Friday, Hawley attempted to defend his role saying "I will never apologize for giving voice to the millions of Missourians and Americans who have concerns about the integrity of our elections. That's my job, and I will keep doing it."

But few were buying Hawley's defense:




Dems urged to deny committee seats to Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley for inciting 'deadly insurrection'

Progressive advocacy group MoveOn is calling on Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer to deny committee seats to Sens. Ted Cruz, Josh Hawley, and other Republicans who attempted to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election and incited the violent siege of the U.S. Capitol Building earlier this month."Elected officials like Ted Cruz, Josh Hawley, and other senators who sought to use their power to promote the big lie to overturn the results of the 2020 election—and who incited a deadly insurrection—have no place in the U.S. Senate and most certainly should not be rewarded for their deadly attacks on democracy with seats leading important committees in the next Congress," Rahna Epting, MoveOn's executive director, said in a statement late Thursday.

"Senate Majority Leader Schumer must work to ensure that any power-sharing agreement with Mitch McConnell keeps these insurrectionist senators from committee positions where they can use their influence to further undermine our democracy," Epting continued. "Josh Hawley, Ted Cruz, and their allies in the Senate must be held accountable for their attacks on our democracy."

Schumer and McConnell have yet to reach an agreement on so-called organizing resolution that establishes the rules and committee assignments of the new session. As Common Dreams reported Friday, the Kentucky Republican is holding up the measure in an effort to preserve the legislative filibuster, an archaic 60-vote rule that progressives are urging Democrats to eliminate.

MoveOn's demand came amid growing calls for the immediate resignation or expulsion of Cruz and Hawley, the most prominent Republican senators to vote against the certification of Biden's Electoral College victory earlier this month. Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), the number three Democrat in the Senate, is among those who have demanded that Cruz and Hawley step aside for inciting the January 6 invasion of the halls of Congress.

"Any senator who stands up and supports the power of force over the power of democracy has broken their oath of office," Murray said in a statement two days after the attack. "Senators Hawley and Cruz should resign."

On Thursday, as Common Dreams reported, a group of Senate Democrats demanded that the Ethics Committee launch a "thorough and fair investigation" into Cruz and Hawley and "consider any appropriate consequences."

"Cruz and Hawley continued to amplify the claims of fraud that they likely knew to be baseless and that had led to violence earlier that day," reads the Democrats' ethics complaint against their GOP colleagues. "Violent action provoked by false fraud claims remains a persistent threat."

'Even David Brooks agrees' Democrats should 'absolutely kill the filibuster'

Even New York Times columnist David Brooks—widely reviled over many years for his "wrongheaded and naive" brand of right-wing commentary—agreed Friday with the many progressive voices arguing that Democrats will ultimately be justified in abolishing the legislative filibuster in the U.S. Senate if Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell continues his obstructionist ways.

In his latest column—titled the "The Case for Biden Optimism"—Brooks contends that if current efforts to forge a bipartisan power-sharing agreement fail, efforts to pass a comprehensive Covid-19 economic relief package put forth by President Joe Biden are stymied, and "Republicans go into full obstruction mode" then the Democrats, led by Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York, "should absolutely kill the filibuster."

While progressives have been making this argument intensely for weeks, if not months, many were caught off guard by Brooks' endorsement.

"Can't believe David Brooks and I finally agree on a thing," said Winnie Wong, former top aide to the 2020 Bernie Sanders campaign, in response to the column.

"Kill the filibuster. Today. Now," said former secretary of labor Robert Reich in a tweet directed at Schumer. "Hell, even David Brooks agrees."

As columnist Ryan Cooper wrote for The Week on Thursday: "[McConnell] is demanding Democrats preserve his ability to block anything they propose with the Senate filibuster, so he can ruin the country and blame it on them, and he is gambling that moderate Democratic senators will be too scared to call his bluff. Democrats should tell McConnell to go pound sand, and nuke the filibuster right now."

Cooper explained:

Recall that the filibuster allows just 41 senators to block most legislation. Activists have begged Democrats to get rid of the filibuster after witnessing McConnell use it to shamelessly obstruct Democratic priorities and then immediately remove it as an obstacle to his own chief priority, confirming right-wing Supreme Court Justices. Yet so far a crucial segment of moderate Democratic senators have resisted, for reasons of "tradition," or worries it will force them to take difficult votes, or simple timidity. Now McConnell has broken yet another Senate norm by threatening to filibuster the Organizing Resolution unless Democrats agree to keep the legislative filibuster for the next two years. To the best of my knowledge, filibustering the initial organizational rule package in a new Congress has never happened before. (Incidentally, since the Senate will continue to operate under its current rules, that leaves Republicans in charge of the committees so long as it is not passed.)
If Democrats agree, given McConnell's history, he is virtually guaranteed to not allow any normal legislation through, and to drag out the confirmation of any appointee as long as possible. The only way to pass any law will be through the cumbersome and limited reconciliation process. Just as he did under President [Barack] Obama, McConnell wants to throw sand in the gears of government, prevent Biden from accomplishing anything, blame Democrats for the resulting dysfunction, and take back full control of the Senate in two years.

In response to McConnell's request to keep the filibuster in place, Schumer on the Senate floor Friday morning said the proposal "is unacceptable, and it won't be accepted. And the Republican leader knew that when he first proposed it."

In a statement on Thursday, Mairead Lynn, a spokesperson for the watchdog group Accountable.US, also suggested that Schumer should not tolerate McConnell's obstruction for one minute longer and called out the Republican leader's objections to the organizing agreement in the Senate thus far as clearly made in bad faith.

"If McConnell wanted to work with Democrats in good faith," said Lynn, "he would have spent the last two months moving President Biden's Cabinet nominees through the confirmation process—a precedent afforded to every previous president."

McConnell's "unprecedented" and "outsized" demands that would neutralize Democratic control over the Senate, added Lynn, "are nothing more than a last-ditch effort to further obstruct the Biden administration from implementing the will of the people. Enough is enough: McConnell needs to drop his unreasonable demands and let the Senate get to work."

On Thursday, Ezra Klein, Brooks' liberal colleague at the Times, argued that none of the far-reaching bills that Democrats have vowed to pass will be possible in "a Senate in which the filibuster forces 60-vote supermajorities on routine legislation."

Democrats, wrote Klein, "have plenty of ideas that could improve people's lives and strengthen democracy. But they have, repeatedly, proved themselves more committed to preserving the status quo of the political system than fulfilling their promises to voters. They have preferred the false peace of decorum to the true progress of democracy. If they choose that path again, they will lose their majority in 2022, and they will deserve it."

According to Klein, Biden's "agenda will live or die in the Senate"—and if proper action is not taken, he continued, "odds are it will die, killed by the filibuster."

This is exactly why progressive critics have urged Democrats to immediately end the charade orchestrated by McConnell.

In a series of tweets Thursday, Ezra Levin, co-founder of the progressive advocacy group Indivisible, said his read on the situation was this: "McConnell wants to block popular bills this Congress—stuff like D.C. statehood and H.R. 1. He doesn't want to have the filibuster fight with that backdrop, so instead he's picking the fight on a boring-sounding procedure thing hoping it's more favorable ground for him."

"To be clear," he added: "Senate Dems have no reason or need to give into McConnell's BS. It would be a colossal mistake of historic proportions for them to give in. And I don't think they will here."

And as Levin put it on Friday in a tweet linking to Brooks' column: "Killing the Jim Crow filibuster is the institutionalist, pro-democracy position."

'Mask up, America': Biden signs pandemic mandates for traveling and federal properties

In a stark—and according to many public health experts welcome—departure from his mask-averse predecessor, President Joe Biden on Thursday signed an executive order requiring many interstate travelers to wear face coverings in order to help combat the coronavirus pandemic that has now claimed more than 413,000 U.S. lives.

"I'm asking every American to mask up for the next 100 days."
—President Joe Biden

Part of his "100 Days Masking Challenge," Thursday's executive order followed another on Wednesday—the very first of Biden's presidency—mandating masks on federal properties and directing federal agencies to comply with U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines on mask-wearing and social distancing.

"I'm asking every American to mask up for the next 100 days," Biden said at the White House Thursday. "The mask has become a partisan issue, unfortunately. But it's a patriotic act... [Masks] are the single-best thing to do, even more important than vaccines, because they take time to work."

"The experts say that by wearing a mask from now until April, we'd save more than 50,000 lives," he added.

The travel order covers planes, trains, ferries, intercity buses, and public transportation. Additionally, it requires people visiting the United States from other countries to produce proof of a recent negative Covid-19 test and "comply with other applicable CDC guidelines concerning international travel, including recommended periods of self-quarantine or self-isolation after entry into the United States."

Epidemiologists overwhelmingly concur that concerted efforts to implement and enforce mask-wearing guidelines could lead to a significant reduction in coronavirus cases.

Dr. Chris Beyrer, a professor of epidemiology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, told TODAY earlier this week that widespread mask-wearing for 100 days could do a "great deal" to lower virus transmission rates.

"We have ongoing high levels of community transmission all over this country," said Beyrer. "With that rate of community transmission, with the infectiousness of this virus, and with the weather that we're dealing with... consistent mask-wearing could have a major impact on reducing community transmission."

Dr. Ali Mokdad, an epidemiologist at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, called masks "in some ways our best medical tool."

"[Masks] can save hundreds of thousands of lives without the need for surgery, drugs; no side effects, and readily available to everyone," Mokdad told the Washington Post.

Many transportation workers also welcomed the new rules.

"What a difference leadership makes!" said Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA International, in a CNN interview. "We welcome President Biden's nationwide approach to crushing the virus and lifting us out of this pandemic."

It is unclear when the orders will take effect, or how or even if they will be enforced. It is also not known whether masks will be required at outdoor federal properties such as national parks.

On Friday, Dr. Anthony Fauci, Biden's chief medical adviser, told CNN that former President Donald Trump's lies and downplaying of the coronavirus pandemic "very likely" cost lives.

"Particularly when you're in the situation... with the number of cases and hospitalizations and deaths that we have—when you start talking about things that make no sense medically and no sense scientifically, that clearly is not helpful," said Fauci, who also served under—but was increasingly sidelined by—Trump.

Fauci's comments came as Johns Hopkins University's Coronavirus Resource Center reported nearly 24.8 million confirmed U.S. Covid-19 infections and nearly 413,600 deaths.

'A good way to unite the country would be to convict and prosecute Donald Trump': watchdog group

With public and media attention shifting to President Joe Biden, who was sworn in Wednesday and immediately got to work with a series of executive actions, progressives are reiterating demands for holding his predecessor accountable.

Former President Donald Trump, who threw himself a goodbye ceremony at Joint Base Andrews rather than sticking around for Biden's inauguration, was impeached by House Democrats and 10 Republicans an unprecedented second time last week for inciting a deadly insurrection at the U.S. Capitol with lies about the presidential election.

In addition to facing a trial in the Senate, which as of Wednesday is narrowly controlled by Democrats, Trump could face consequences for allegedly committing various state and federal crimes, from obstruction of justice and tax fraud to election interference to campaign finance violations.

Trump's incitement of the Capitol attack—which delayed certification of Biden's electoral victory—provoked a flood of calls for holding him accountable rather than letting him get away with pardoning "his cronies on the way out" then slinking off to Mar-a-Lago, his resort and contested full-time residence in Florida.

Biden, in his speech Wednesday, emphasized the importance of uniting the country, saying that "together we will write an American story of hope, not fear. Of unity not division, of light not darkness. A story of decency and dignity, love and healing, greatness and goodness."

"Donald J. Trump is officially a private citizen. He is now vulnerable to criminal prosecution," the advocacy organization Public Citizen declared in a Wednesday afternoon tweet.

"A good way to unite the country would be to convict and prosecute Donald Trump and hold accountable every member of Congress who incited a white supremacist insurrection," the group added.

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) is also calling for accountability by helping constituents email their senators to pressure them to not only convict Trump but "further protect the country from him by disqualifying him from holding office again."

Before Trump left office but after the storming of Congress, CREW published a report which found that he finished his four-year term "as the most corrupt president in American history with more than 3,7000 conflicts of interest since assuming the presidency."

"The twice-impeached president relentlessly promoted and encouraged visits to his properties throughout his time in office, using patronage as a marker of loyalty to him and a key strategy for those wishing to curry favor with him and influence administration policy," CREW said.

As CREW executive director Noah Bookbinder put it: "For the past four years, the Trump administration has again and again made decisions motivated by the personal, financial, political, and legal interests of the president, rather than the interests of the American people."

"Starting with his decision not to divest from his business interests while in office, there is no doubt that President Trump at every turn sought to find ways to use the presidency to enrich himself, his family, and his businesses," Bookbinder added. "His efforts from the moment he took office to tailor the presidency to benefit his own personal interests set the stage for the lawlessness, corruption, and assaults on democracy that characterized his four years in power."

Recent polling shows 57% of U.S. voters think Trump shouldn't be allowed to seek elected office ever again, as Common Dreams reported Tuesday. Speaking on the Senate floor a day before he become majority leader, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) concurred.

Referencing Trump's incitement of insurrection, Schumer said that "we need to set a precedent that the severest offense ever committed by a president will be met by the severest remedy provided by the Constitution—impeachment and conviction by this chamber, as well as disbarment from future office."

Meanwhile, in New York, state Attorney General Letitia James' office is investigating how Trump and his company valued assets on financial statements used to get loans and tax benefits, while Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr.'s office recently expanded its ongoing criminal probe of Trump's company.