By David Morgan and Jarrett Renshaw WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Joe Biden could find himself under pressure on Monday to prove his much-touted interest in working with Republicans in Congress, as lawmakers return from their spring break to grapple with his $2.3 trillion proposal to improve U.S. infrastructure. The Democratic president appears to be losing political capital with a group of Senate Republicans, including Susan Collins and Mitt Romney, who may represent his best chance of enacting legislation garnering the support of both parties. Biden's party holds slim majorities in both t...
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) is fighting subpoenas for depositions from Surgeon General Dr. Scott Rivkees in the lawsuit with school boards over mask mandates. The challenge, in this case, is that the Health Department overstepped its authority when it issued an emergency rule banning masks in schools.
"It matters what the surgeon general was thinking in this case," said David Ashburn, the attorney for the school boards in Broward, Alachua and Orange counties.
The school boards think that the effort to prevent the mask requirements clashes with Dr. Rivkees' past comments about masks being useful in stopping the spread of the coronavirus. But the Florida lawyers are blocking the effort saying it's pointless.
"They (attorneys for the challengers) have means to ascertain the information they want," the state lawyers said. "It's not the surgeon general they need to start with."
The hearing lasted an hour as Administrative Law Judge Brian Newman discussed the protective order to block the surgeon general. He didn't rule on the deposition issue but noted he wants to move quickly on the case. The next hearing is scheduled for Monday to hear motions from the Florida Health Department on why the suit should be dismissed.
"Rather, the emergency rule is facilitating the spread of COVID-19 by banning masks in public schools," the Herald cited one of the challenges by the NAACP, Florida Student Power Network and families.
"At bottom, the school boards disagree with the substance of the department's emergency rule," the motion said. "However, as the public officials charged with operating in accordance with state law, the school boards must presume that state laws applicable to their duties are valid. As such, the school boards lack standing to initiate litigation for the purpose of invalidating the very laws they are duty bound to follow. Put simply, the school boards do not get to pick and choose which state laws they want to follow."
As a top official in the Florida Health Department Rivkees should have information if not advice on the topic.
"Dr. Rivkees' personal knowledge and unique professional experience, including being a renowned pediatrician, make him singly able to answer the questions related to his statements on masks and the efficacy for, and effects on, children," attorneys for the challengers wrote in the documents.
"Given his role, and his history of public health advisories admonishing the public to wear masks, only to reverse them following the direction in Executive Order 21-175 from the governor (at whose pleasure he serves), Dr. Rivkees is in a unique position to explain the actions of the DOH and whether, in fact, the DOH rule's parental opt-out provisions control (as opposed to increase) the spread of communicable disease," the court documents say.
The excuse from their opposition made it sounds as if Dr. Rivkees was more of a ceremonial position and that he doesn't actually have any information.
They alleged that Rivkees doesn't "possess...unique, personal knowledge about the disputed issues in this proceeding that his staff does not otherwise possess. In his position as Florida's surgeon general, Dr. Rivkees is responsible for overseeing the operations of the state health office, county health departments, and certain area and regional offices throughout the state. He is not, however, involved on a granular level with the enactment of every department rule."
Newly unredacted documents reveal a litany of allegations from Mike Pompeo’s time at the State Department
Newly unredacted records from a whistleblower complaint in the State Department have shed light on more allegations against former U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and members of his former staff.
According to documents obtained by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), Pompeo and others were accused of misconduct.
The publication reports: "The alleged misconduct included false or misleading statements to the agency's legal department, misuse of government resources on personal and political activities potentially prohibited by the Hatch Act, verbal abuse of employees by Mike and Susan Pompeo and directives to staff not to communicate in writing in order to evade transparency laws."
The unredacted documents come two years after the redacted version of the whistleblower complaint was filed with the State Department Office of Inspector General (OIG). The OIG is said to have excluded many of the previous redactions in the version of the documents released to CREW.
"The complaint alleges "[s]everal senior career Foreign Service officials who held positions of responsibility within the Executive Secretariat" turned a blind eye to Pompeo's "questionable activities" and, in some cases, "facilitat[ed]" them, according to CREW.
Employees in the State Department's Office of the Legal Adviser "expressed concern that some of these activities may have violated [the] Hatch Act or other regulations," but the whistleblower was "unaware that any resolution was reached, potentially because senior officials in the Executive Secretariat repeatedly declined to seek clarification or guidance from [the Office of the Legal Adviser] despite requests from subordinates to do so."
The new documents also detail the aftermath of former Inspector Steve Linick's removal from his post, which was part of a larger Trump-led effort to oust inspectors. The report also indicated that staff members were "stunned" by the directive.
"[T]his is all so surreal three days later. I'm nervous about the future," the OIG employee wrote in a May 18, 2020 email. In a later email, the official added, "I just heard Trump say we needed to get rid of the 'Attorney Generals' as a whole…Oh dear."
CREW has also received other documentation as part of a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit aimed at uncovering information about Pompeo's attempts to hinder the investigation into the allegations of misconduct against him.
Bill Barr gave Trump a profanity-filled analysis of why he was going to lose the 2020 election: Bob Woodward
Journalists Bob Woodward and Robert Costa claim that former Attorney General Bill Barr last year gave former President Donald Trump a brutally honest -- and profane -- analysis of why he was going to lose the 2020 presidential election.
Business Insider, which has obtained a copy of the reporters' new book "Peril," reports that Barr told Trump that he would not win the election if he kept alienating suburban voters that Republicans have traditionally relied upon to win national elections.
"There are a lot of people out there, independents and Republicans in the suburbs of the critical states that think you're an assh*le," Barr told him, according to Woodward and Costa. "They think you act like an assh*le and you got to, you got to start taking that into account."
Trump would also regularly berate Barr and tell him that he wanted to see prosecutions of his "deep state" enemies such as former FBI Director James Comey ahead of the election, but Barr told him that wouldn't be enough to drag him over the finish line.
"Your base cares about seeing [Comey] and the rest of those guys held accountable, but these other people don't," Barr said. "They don't care about your f*cking grievances. And it just seems that every time you're out there, you're talking about your goddamn grievances."
Trump refused to back down, however, and told Barr that his base loved him because he was a "fighter."
Don't Sit on the Sidelines of History. Join Raw Story Investigates and Go Ad-Free. Support Honest Journalism.
$95 / year — Just $7.91/month
I want to Support More
$14.99 per month